Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Last Quilt Finish For 2009

Shasta Daisy, quilted, bound, and labeled!

I finished it yesterday so I am certain this is my last finish of 2009.  I started this quilt back in April but just got it back from the long-arm quilter a couple of weeks ago.  I really like what she did - outlined the daisies, meandering in the background, and a leafy vine on the white sashing.

I used a printed yellow and white gingham for the binding.  That's an American Jane print on the back.

This quilt will be a throw for the spare bed in my sewing room.  It will be a bit of sunny brightness to look at during the winter months.  It is snowing here now, a good day to stay inside and sew some more. 

Talk to you in the new year.  I hope it is a happy and healthy one for all!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Christmas Quilt for 2010

Moda brought out this Christmas line from 3 Sisters last summer.  It is called Glace.  I've admired it ever since I saw it the first time but I resisted.  I have enough projects, I need to whittle my stash down to a size that better fits the available storage, I need to stop "investing" in fabric I won't use right away.  You know the story!

But early in December I received a gift certificate to my local quilt shop (it was a birthday present from Mr. Main Street - a big kiss for him) so when I went in the shop last week, my resistance was low.  And Christmas fabrics were on sale!   And I know exactly what I wanted to make and the pattern was free from Moda Bakeshop!  So I picked up the jelly roll and yardage.  This will become a quilt top soon.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Down Time

I'm not busy with work over the holidays so I have been putting the downtime to good purpose.  I read this:

The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein.  I would never have thought I'd enjoy a story about a race car driver, as narrated by his dog, so much but it is excellent and I highly recommend it!

I also read:

U is for Undertow, by Sue Grafton, also a good read.  I love it when I find a new-to-me author with a long backlist; if Sue Grafton is new to you, you are in for a real treat but start with A is for Alibi, the first in the Kinsey Millhone series.

And I finished this quilt.  Well, I mean I finished the top.  Now it goes to Karen, the long arm quilter.  It is big, 96" by 96" which is ample for our queen size bed. 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wishing You Just the Lovliest Christmas!

Have a wonderful day celebrating with your family and friends. I'll be back to blogging in a day or two.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm Starting A Christmas Quilt Now... I can finish it for Christmas 2010!

A couple of weeks ago, Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie's Quilt Co. blogged about her Christmas quilts. I was particularly attracted to one called Brand New Day. It looked like it would be perfect for my hoarded stash of Robyn Pandolph Folk Art Christmas and Aubrey Rose prints. They go back a few years and, really, I should use them because they are beautiful and so perfect for our house. So I ordered the pattern...

...and when the pattern arrived, I got out my stash to see what would work best. It will be one of these three for the border and alternating squares...

...with these prints for the pieced star blocks.

I still have to pull the light prints for block backgrounds out of my stash (or maybe I need to buy some) and figure out what to use for the setting triangles. I have two different tone-on-tone reds I can use for the inner border and binding, as well as a tone-on-tone green just in case.

And when it's all from your stash, it's practically like getting a quilt for free! Right!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quilted Christmas Tree Skirt

Our Christmas tree is up, finally! The Great East Coast Snow Storm of 2009 put a crimp in our plans and we did not buy the tree until last night. By then, our usual place (local volunteer fire company) was sold out. We went to another local retailer and found this one. It's the right height for our 10' high ceilings but has a major bare spot I did not notice in the near darkness last night. Fortunately, we can turn the bare spot to the corner where no one will see it.

Reggie is being Vanna White in this picture and showing off my tree skirt. This was an early project, made shortly after I took up quilting. Each heart is a mini crazy quilt, quilted and bound, then all eight were sewn to the skirt base. You can hardly see it under the tree because all the wrapped packages cover it up, but the skirt covers up the old plastic shower curtain we use to protect the rug under the tree.

Here's a close-up of one of the hearts. The seams are covered with a variety of embroidery stitches, which I did by hand, not having a "fancy" sewing machine at the time. If I was to make another one, I'd probably use some of the fun stitches on my Bernina.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Altered by a Sewing Machine

I read an article in the New York Times today and immediately thought of my "sewing computer." I think you will find the article an entertaining read; you can find it here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Even More Christmas Decorating

I have a couple of decorator throw pillows that are just for Christmas time. After I started collecting snowmen, my mother gave me this snowman pillow. I think she bought it at a craft show.

It is very simple construction, without piping or a ruffled edge, but the placement of the buttons makes it special.

I love the Hoffman cardinal prints and have some in my stash but have never figured out what I want to do with it. I saw this pillow at an arts cooperative in Cooperstown, NY (yes, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame). I knew I could make something similar but the price was right so I bought it and saved myself the work.

The maker used two fabrics. The print with the cardinal is a circle that was appliqued on top of the evergreen boughs print. The border is a dark green batik, with pine green ribbon sewn over the seam. It is about 16" square. I use the pillow, along with the long cabin quilt, to cozy up this chair in a corner of our living room.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Snowman Collection

You may have noticed in yesterday's post on the Christmas stockings that I have a collection of snowmen that line our mantel at Christmas time.

I began collecting snowmen in 1996. I was visiting my mother in Michigan and we went on a daytrip to Shipshewana, Indiana, where there is a large Amish community. Amish equals quilts and crafts and fabric so I was in heaven! I bought the first guy - the one with the black hat on the far right in the photo below - and began adding to the collection gradually.

I received some as gifts. That tends to happen once people know you collect something. Maybe not so much if you collect gem stones or 19th century Impressionist paintings.

So now I have more than enough snowmen to fit on the mantel. A few years ago, I came across the bottle brush trees at a post-Christmas sale. They are an unusual darker green with gold sparkles. Some years, I display the snowmen in the dining room and decorate the mantel with more formal greenery, candles, and silver balls.

But the snowmen are such a happy sight; they always make me smile!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quilted Christmas Stockings

The stockings have been hung by the chimney with care...

I made Miss Main Street's stocking 14 years ago for her first Christmas. The basic outline and construction method came from a Thimbleberries book or pattern. Front and back are both quilt sandwiches of outer fabric, thin batting (I use Thermore) and lining fabric, quilted together with the front embellished as you please. The front and back are then put together, lining facing in, and bound, like you would bind a quilt. Pretty easy for a quilter. The fun is in the embellishing.

I collect vintage linens and have pieces in my collection known as "cutters." Cutters have stains, tears, or other flaws that prevent their use in the usual way but make them perfect for cutting up and using in crafts or other projects. Miss Main Street's stocking is embellished with a wide piece of vintage lace and prairie points (the fabric was all new at the time of construction).

Reggie's stocking was made nine years later, using the same method. The lace on his stocking is vintage pillowcase edging. (Reggie is our Pembroke Welsh Corgi dog and he is not allowed to play with his stocking.)

I enjoyed making the stockings. When I retire (not anytime soon), I might amuse myself by making and selling Christmas stockings via etsy.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Christmas Log Cabin Quilt

This is Holly and Ivy, aka the Christmas Log Cabin quilt.

I made this a few years ago, thinking it would deplete my overly extensive stash of Christmas fabric. Ha! Despite being about 80" by 60" it hardly made a dent in the red-and-green stash. I've since learned this is often the case; whenever I make a quilt from stash, it doesn't use nearly as much fabric as I think it will.

I've made several log cabin quilts, using two different construction techniques. For method A, one cuts all the logs before sewing, cutting each the exact length to fit its position in the block. Method B might be called sew-and-whack; you cut strips of fabric the correct width and sew them to the block, trimming each to fit before adding the next log. I think Eleanor Burns Quilt-In-A-Day log cabin uses this latter method. I generally prefer this method but have found you have to measure and trim very accurately after sewing each strip on or your blocks can come out all different sizes. And different sizes makes putting them together in the quilt top very tricky!

Here's a close-up that shows the quilting. This was one of the first quilts I had quilted by a professional long-armer. She used a holly leaves and vine pantograph with red and green varigated thread. I think it is very effective for this quilt.
Holly and Ivy gets out of storage and into our living space for about a month each year. It is currently over the back of a chair in the living room, waiting for me to curl up with a book. Maybe later this afternoon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Christmas Decorating

S-l-o-w-l-y, I'm doing some Christmas decorating at home. I got out the holiday table runners so thought I'd show them to you.

I use them on this buffet in our dining room. It holds our good china and crystal and we use the top as a buffet when we have parties. The first runner is a Terry Atkinson design from her book Lessons From Mama. When reading the directions, they seem a little strange but it actually goes together very easily. I made another one for use at other times of the year.

Here's a second runner. I know the directions came out of a book but I can't remember which one. Both of the runners are hand quilted, because that's all I did back when I made them. But now that I think of it, a runner would be good practice for the BSR on my Bernina. Hm, my brain is whirring with new ideas!

We have an island in our kitchen and occasionally, I'll use a runner there on a special occasion but not for every day. I still have a fear of it being ruined by food stains, after all that work! But that would provide a good excuse for making another one.

Monday, December 7, 2009

17 More Shopping Days

A by-product of reading blogs is that I have been introduced to many online retailers I would never have found without the recommendation of bloggers. If you are looking for original, unusual items to give this year, here are a few of my favorites: - vintage button jewelry -jewelry made from broken china, vintage images, lace, silver spoons. I have a necklace made from a tiny piece of vintage lace. - custom silhouettes

PetitDebutant on Etsy - creates a silhouette from a photo and provides a digital file of your custom image for you to use. - personalized jewelry - real books converted into boxes

Brookish on Etsy- Jane Austen inspired wares. Do you know anyone who would like to drink her your morning coffee (or tea) from a mug with Mr. Darcy's proposal on it? - unique journals made from recycled book covers. I bought teacher gifts from this site - old algebra text book for the math teacher, and so on. Or you could be writing your secrets in a recycled Nancy Drew book.

Pomadour24 sells Japanese craft magazines on eBay. This seller usually stocks the famous "cute pink" quilting book.

Personally, I'm hoping for something from JoMalone (I love the Wild Fig & Cassis and the White Jasmine & Mint) or Brahmin (gorgeous mock-croc leather handbags and accessories).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Indulging The Impulse; Where Will It Lead?

Friday evening, I went to an art exhibit of works by my daughter's art teacher, Catherine Watkins. She exhibited the work she did while on an sabbatical last spring. It was interesting to see her work but what made it particularly enjoyable for me was hearing her speak about how she went about it, and it got me thinking a bit differently about my quilting (not that my quilting is in the same category of art as what Ms. Watkins creates).

You see, I have a tendency to mentally berate myself for flitting from project to project, not always finishing what I start, or having a number of quilts in the works in various stages simultaneously. Sometimes we jokingly refer to this as quilters' ADHD. I have tended to view it as a lack of focus or lack of serious intent when it comes to my quilting.

Catherine Watkins got me thinking about it differently. She described her own efforts to make the most of her sabbatical. She started it with an idea of what art she should be making, but she began to gratitate to something else. She came to realize that she needed to relinquish control and give up her set agenda and instead, indulge the impulse, take the risk of doing something new and see where it could lead her.

I like this idea of "relinquishing my agenda" and instead, allowing myself to indulge an impulse when it comes to quilt-making and seeing where it might lead. I've been inspired by the work of other quilters to try some new things, work with new colors and new shapes. I'm going to follow those impulses and be less concerned about the projects left unfinished in order to indulge my impulse. Those UFOs may call to me again at a future date and when they do, I will indulge the call.

Today, I went back to my scrappy string quilt. I like the way it is coming together.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Find - Candy Cane Joe-Joe's

They're back! Trader Joe's has Candy Cane Joe-Joe's back in stock for Christmas-time. I limited myself to one box on this shopping trip but will be stocking up on my next swing by the store. They have them for just a limited time and when they're gone, they are gone!

Candy Cane Joe-Joe's taste as if you put an Oreo and a piece of peppermint candy cane in your mouth simultaneously. Except better!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Need To Make A Christmas Gift, Part 3 - Embellished Kitchen Towel

You might recall that about six weeks ago I found some towels at HomeGoods that are cute as they are, but would be even better if embellished. I blogged about the towels here.

So, I just finished the first one. Cute, yes?

I used a pale blue with silver metallic Hoffman print for the prairie points while the band is a mottled light blue with opalescent snowflakes. There is some white ric rac at the top of the band but it doesn't show up against the white towel in the photos. The snowmen were already embroidered on the purchased towel. The top photo shows the towel hanging from our stove handle.

Much as I like it, I think it will be going to live at someone else's house. It took me about 45 minutes to whip up but I think I could make several assembly-line fashion in an hour or so. I have more towels so I better get back to work.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Little Bit Like Christmas

Strippy Trees is up in my kitchen.

I made this quilt using directions from Home for the Holidays, by Lynda Milligan and Nancy Smith. It was a fun quilt to make and I like the addition of colors not usually associated with Christmas decor. Unfortunately, the book is out-of-print though some of the other projects in the book are available as individual patterns.

I'll do some more decorating this weekend but we like a real tree so that will have to wait for a couple more weeks.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Currently Appearing In My Bedroom

I did my first round of Christmas decorating today and got out the Christmas quilt that goes on our bed for the month of December. Yes, a few days early, but I was changing the sheets this morning so it seemed like a good time to change the quilt over too. And we have such a short time to use our Christmas quilts.

This is one of my early quilts, made about 10 years ago using directions that appeared in an issue of American Patchwork and Quilting magazine. They might have the directions on their website. It is fairly easy but does require a large stash to get the scrappy look.

Back in those days, I hand quilted just about every quilt I made (reserved for small quilts like wallhangings now). You can bearly see the stitching in this close-up.

Last year, I made another bed-size Christmas quilt so it may be rotated into use later in the month.

Friday, November 27, 2009

144 Blocks - Finished!

No 5 am doorbusters for me today! Oh no, I stayed home, at work in my studio, and finished all the blocks for my scrappy strip-pieced quilt. But my work is not done; I still have to sew them together into the quilt top.

An explanation for those who are not US residents - Yesterday was Thanksgiving here, an national holiday. It is on the fourth Thursday in November, and many people have Friday off work as well. As a result, Friday has become a big shopping day, as people get a start - or even finish - their Christmas season shopping. About ten years ago, some retailers began opening very early on the Friday after Thanksgiving, to lengthen the selling day. They also believed that shoppers spend the most at the first store they patronize. To help lure shoppers in early, they advertised outstanding bargains available only to early shoppers - things like televisions at 50% or more off the usual price. The bargains are referred to as "doorbusters" and the practice has escalated over the years. Often, the bargains are available in limited quantity, prompting shoppers to line up in the wee hours in order to be one of the first in the store. I love a bargain but this practice is not for me.

I did a little online shopping this morning - can't be too specific, you never know who is reading this - but Apple had some items discounted online.

Must get back to work. There is lots more to be done in the studio!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks

This fantastic magazine arrived in the mail!

Don't be fooled by the fuzzy photo! The magazine itself is perfectly clear! And perfectly wonderful! It has instructions for making 100 different quilt blocks, each block designed by one of today's top quilt designers. All the famous ones, and so many that are new to me. It holds loads of quilting inspiration. I can't tell you how many ideas I've come up with while browsing through; too many to actually make, thats for sure. Look for it at your local quilt shop or newstand because it is well worth the $5.99 price.

And I didn't even have to pay for my copy. I won it in the blogging designers' giveaway, on Kay Mackenzie's blog, Thanks Kay, and thanks Quiltmaker, for coming out with this wonderful resource for quilters.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

You've Got Mail!

"You've got mail," said Mr. Main Street on Saturday morning, as he carried in a large package from our front porch. It was the order I placed at Hancock's of Paducah last week. Inside was the color card I ordered, showing all the colors and shades of Kona Cotton.

There are so many colors! It is pretty cool to look at. When I need a solid, I'll know exactly which one to order. I have a quilt in the planning stages that rquires solids in two different colors to tie all the prints together.

Also inside:

A whole bolt of Kona Cotton in white. A year ago, I would have thought this was the ultimate in BORING! But I've been seeing a lot of quilts on blogs that use white as sashing or accents in a scrappy quilt and they have inspired me to try something similar. I have a few uses for this in mind and it is so reasonable ($3.60 per yard) when you order 15 yards or more.

Friday, November 20, 2009


On Monday, I thought this was going to be an easy week, with lots of time to devote to new quilting projects. I was so wrong! Events on both the work and home fronts conspired against any quilting. But my only obligation this weekend is to drive Miss Main Street and her gang of gal pals to the theater to see New Moon. So I anticipate spending many hours at the Bernina.

And I'll probably take a break to read this.

That's the October edition of Australian Homespun (No. 77, Vol. 10, No. 10). I took a quick glance through when it arrived yesterday and am intrigued by a project that uses many scrappy half square triangles.

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pretty Reds All In A Row

I just washed and ironed all the red fabrics that are going into my next quilting project. I skip this step whenever possible but had a few reds in a scrappy Christmas quilt run on me a few years ago and learnt my lesson. (Fortunately, most of the red that ran washed out in the next wash and you have to look very close to see any problem now, but still, I don't want to go through that again.) And I was reminded to pre-wash a few days ago in a post from Nicole of Sister's Choice.

That crumpled up white thing on top of the red fabric is a Woolite Dye Magnet. Nicole uses a product called Color Catchers, which works similarly. These products attract and hold any dye that runs out of the fabric in the wash water, preventing pink or red smudges in areas that shouldn't be pink and giving you a good idea of how much dye ran when you washed the fabric. In this case, it was hardly anything. There are just a few pinkish smudges on the dye magnet sheet. So I should not have any problems when I wash the finished quilt.

I'm thinking I should wash the rest of the fabric I am using in this project. Not for color fastness but for shrinkage. So it is uniform. Oh boy, more ironing!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Start Of A New Quilt

The pile of fabric you see here is the start of a new project. I got this idea and I'm so preoccupied with it that I can't work on anything else. So the strip/string quilt is being pushed aside for a time while I focus on this brainstorm. Oh, I'll go back to it but I have to get this one out of my head and down on fabric before I forget what I meant to do.

Has this ever happened to you? At least I'm using up stash!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Need To Make A Christmas Gift, Part 2 - Aprons

Over the past couple of weeks, I sewed up two aprons. They are to be part of gift baskets for a silent auction at my sorority's Founders' Day celebration, but aprons make good holiday gifts too. Think Christmas or novelty fabrics. I recently saw some licensed Girl Scout fabric with Thin Mint cookies that would make a great apron for a troop leader.

First is this bib-style apron, trimmed with wide ric rac. I used a pattern called Flirty Skirty by Threaded Pear, but it seems to be out-of-print.

This half apron was very easy. The top of the pocket and the outer edges are bound like a quilt.

The pattern came from this book, A Is For Apron, which has lots of great aprons to make. The only hitch is that the pattern pieces are printed in miniature and you have to enlarge them.

Thank you, Miss Main Street, for modeling!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In The Studio

I spent many hours sewing this weekend in my studio (my husband calls it the sweatshop), working on my strip pieced blocks. There is a quite a mess to show for it!

I had the strips very carefully separated by width into small bags, but along the way, they got quite mixed up. That's okay; the idea is to take a strip and sew it on without worrying too much about your choice. I moved the bags from the sewing table to the floor at my feet so I can reach down and grab a strip as I need it. Seems to work rather well, as long as I don't get concerned about the mess on the floor. We don't have cats and Reggie, the corgi, rarely comes in here.

Here's a pile of completed blocks. 60 down, 84 to go!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mail Call - Blended Borders Book

A box from Amazon arrived in the mail on Friday, with this book inside:

I find the technique, a variation on Broderie Perse, very interesting. The quilts shown have very simple blocks in the center, with the borders enhanced with motifs cut from large scale fabrics, mostly large florals.

I was very taken with this particular quilt. I may give it a try.

One word of warning: there is not much instruction in the book. There are only a few projects with basic directions provided, then a gallery of photos of additional quilts that use the technique. That's fine with me. I'd rather come up with my own variation on the theme, and am unlikely to locate the same fabric used in the samples anyway. But I think a beginner would
have trouble with the lack of detailed directions.