Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quilting To-Do List - A Year-End Update

I am re-visiting the To-Do List I put together at the beginning of the year. Here it is, with annotations added today.
  1. Good Tidings, from Miss Rosie. Directions are in an issue of Australian Homespun that I just happen to have. I lost interest in this and never started; too many other things that I had more love for.  That's ok.  
  2. Brand New Day, another pattern from Miss Rosie. This turned into my quilt Christmas Day.  I pieced it during July using Robyn Pandolph fabrics from my stash then sent it to a longarm quilter.  I blogged about the finish here
  3. Another applique quilt - I am thinking of a design from the Quilting with My Sister book that would make a nice wall hanging for my sewing room. Never got to it but am putting it on the list for 2011.
  4. School Spirit - a gold and blue quilt for the Parents Association auction at my daughter's school. Finished and sold at auction.  
  5. Finish my Dresden plate UFO - this is my portable project. I knew it would be a long-term endeavor when I started it (in 2007 I think) - long-term, not life-time. Still working on it; a nice, portable project for when I get together with my quilting friends.  
  6. Make something that is atypical for me. My plan was to use the turquoise and aqua fabrics I'd been collecting for some time without a real purpose in mind.  That's exactly what I did and my Turquoise blocks are the result.  I will finish this one up in early 2011. 
  7. Skill expander quilt - My skill expander in 2009 was Shasta Daisy, my first machine applique quilt. I started a project based on a variation on the kaleidoscope block, the isosceles triangle being new to me.  However, I was not enjoying the process or the look of the finished blocks so put that one aside.  I'll do something else with the fabric and put a new skill expander project on my 2011 list. 
It's time to turn my attention to what I want to accomplish in 2011.  Stay tuned!

So many quilts, so little time!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cutting Into Rural Jardin

No jardin here, just lots and lots of snow.  We were snowed in yesterday, foiling our plans to go to a museum in Philadelphia.  But I made good use of this found time to do the cut-work on a new project.  

Hard to believe this shoebox size container holds all the pieces for a full bed size quilt top!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winner's Bouquet, Finished At Last

I managed to squeeze one last finish into 2010.  This is the quilt I'm calling Cider Mill, made using the pattern Winner's Bouquet by Terry Atkinson.  I finished the binding while relaxing before dinner on Christmas day.

I started this quilt in 2009, got it to the finished-flimsy stage, then put it away.  I sent it off to be quilted at the end of August and, oh, what a difference the quilting made!  In fact, the quilting makes this quilt.  Kari Ruedisale quilted this for me, along with my quilt Christmas Day, and she did a fabulous job.

The pieces in the pattern are quite large, but the quilting in those spaces gives it more dimension.  I just love the way it looks now. 

Don't be dismayed by the curved pieces in Winner's Bouquet; it is much easier than it looks.  First, the pattern includes plexiglass templates that make it a cinch to cut out with your rotary cutter.  I found that the pieces fit together very easily and were not at all difficult to sew.  (It would be more difficult if they were smaller.)

The pattern is written for fatquarters and yardage for the background and borders, but I used a layer cake (Patisserie by Fig Tree for Moda) with a couple of additional FQs.  While this worked fine, it was not very efficient use of the fabric and I have a lot of scraps left over.  But they fit well with my other scraps from various Fig Tree fabric collections.  I'm sure I'll manage to use them for something-or-other in the future.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

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

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Need Another Christmas Project Like I Need A Hole In The Head!

While out and about on Saturday, getting the dog groomed and doing the last (or nearly the last) of my Christmas shopping, I found this issue of Australian Homespun on the newstand at Barnes & Noble.

 It had to come home with me!  I'm not starting anything now but there's always next year!  I also bought some snowflake patterned flannel to make a pair of pajama pants.  Hopefully, I will get them done while it is still cold enough to need them.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Decorating At My House

I've got our house decorated for Christmas.  Except the tree; we'll do that this coming weekend. 

My snowmen collection is on the mantel, the stockings are hung, and the various quilts are out and about.  If you'd like to see more pictures, it looks pretty much like last year.

At the top of stairs on the second floor landing, I have two curtain rods hung to hold quilts.  I just fold them over the rods.  This is what is usually looks like:

Today, I got this sudden ambition to make enough Christmasy quilts to hang here, as seasonal replacements for the usual collection.  It might take me a few years to make enough but it will be good use for my stash of Christmas fabric!  I've already got a few ideas. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Miss Rosie's Brand New Day Quilt - Finished In The Nick Of Time!

Yes, I finished the binding on my version of Brand New Day, which I'm calling Christmas Day

Miss Main Street was standing on a chair, holding up the quilt for me to take the photo, but her armspan is not quite as wide as the quilt itself.  But that is the best picture I could get.

I'm really happy with how this quilt turned out.  If you recall, I was doing the piecing in July, during my Christmas in July project immersion.  I used my hoarded collection of Robyn Pandolph fabrics, probably 5+ years old so impossible to obtain additional matching yardage and I had to work with what I had on hand.  So had to make a little modification to the pattern, which has you using the same fabric for both the border and unpieced blocks.  But what's a quilting project without a little "modification" to the pattern directions!

The star blocks are a variation on Ohio Star and I really like them.  I'll probably use them again in another quilt sometime.  Here, you can see how the quilter handled the star blocks.  The unpieced blocks are quilted with a different motif, a sort of star/wreath combo, but I could not get a good photo because of the busy-ness of the fabric print.  

Kari Ruedisale did the quilting; I am delighted with her work.  I learned about Kari on Minick and Simpson's blog.  I figured if Kari was quilting for a professional, quilts that are seen by the universe of quilting professionals at Quilt Market, she must be good, so I contacted her about doing something for me.  In fact, Kari squeezed two of my quilts into her schedule and you will be seeing the other one soon.

Christmas Day is now part of our Christmas season decorating, ready for a snuggle in the living room.  But I am thinking of putting it on the guest room bed for my mother's arrival. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

About Those Bags From The Dry Cleaner

It is time to get my sewing room cleaned up so it can be used as a guest room for my mother during her upcoming visit over Christmas.  I started the process yesterday, with a little organization of upcoming projects.  

My dry cleaner uses these bags for sweaters.  (The graphics are either charmingly retro or have not been updated since 1963.) 

I'm recycling the bags into project bags.  I found they are just the right size to hold all the component parts (except batting) and the snap at the top keeps it secure.  This bag has my Aster Manor project, including the pattern and a spool of thread I bought to match the background fabric.

This one has all the parts for my Halloween spiderweb quilt.  I wanted to keep all the parts together, so I don't accidentally use the fabric I bought for one quilt in another project.  Most of these fabric collections are not widely available any longer (because I get carried away and buy more than I can possibly make).

I now have seven of these bags lined up with projects organized for 2011.  I'll be keeping busy in the new year!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Honeysuckle Pink Is The "It" Color For 2011

Pantone, the company that provides the standard language for color communication for the fashion and design industry, announced that Honeysuckle, a shade of pink shown above, is THE color for 2011.  (Turquoise was their color pick for 2010.)

Around here, honeysuckle is yellow or white but I guess it comes in pink where Pantone is located.  Pantone describes Honeysuckle:

Courageous. Confident. Vital. A brave new color, for a brave new world. Let the bold spirit of Honeysuckle infuse you, lift you and carry you through the year. It’s a color for every day – with nothing “everyday” about it.

While the 2010 color of the year, PANTONE 15-5519 Turquoise, served as an escape for many, Honeysuckle emboldens us to face everyday troubles with verve and vigor. A dynamic reddish pink, Honeysuckle is encouraging and uplifting. It elevates our psyche beyond escape, instilling the confidence, courage and spirit to meet the exhaustive challenges that have become part of everyday life.

I'm not sure this shade of pink is really my thing, but we could all use a lift and maybe having a dose of this color around will help!  Will Honeysuckle be part of your quilting in 2011?

Friday, December 10, 2010

And We Have A Winner

Reggie would not cooperate so I had to let do the work.  And our winner is...Dawn!  Dawn wins a copy of Simplify by Camille Roskelley

I got a little gift this week, too. It was a slightly belated birthday present from my husband.  He got me The Practical Guide to Patchwork, by Elizabeth Hartman of Ohfransson blog.

There are three projects in the book that I would like to tackle.  My quilting to-do list is about a yard long!

I need to resolve my inner quilting conflict.  I've recently been attracted to a more simple and modern style of quilt design, like that of Elizabeth Hartman and Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts.  But at the same time, I want to perfect my quilt making skills by tackling more complex and difficult techniques, or at least those that are new to  me.  And to top things off, I want to make many more quilts than I can possibly fit into my schedule (was not born a Rockefeller so work consumes a major part of my week).  I think the answer is to carefully prioritize my quilting to-do list to try to cover as much as I can. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Binding, Lots Of Binding

There's a whole lot of binding going on around here - I've got two quilt tops to bind before I consider them finished.  Binding is not my favorite part of quilting but it's cozy work for cold weather and I get to listen to lots of music while I do it.

I'll be back with some finishes soon.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Little Bit Of Christmas

Over the weekend, I squeezed in a little time working on what is practically a UFO, the Joy Joy dish towels I started a couple of months ago.  I saw one of these towels on display at my local quilt shop's Holiday Open House (I think that was back in early October) and bought the materials then.  I made the towels but did not get to the applique part (plenty of time 'til Christmas! LOL) until Sunday.

The pattern is in this Art To Heart book, Tidings.  You can see one of the towels, very small, in the lower section of the cover photo.  The projects use fusible applique that is zig zagged or buttonhole stitched by machine.  I had to stop when I realized I lack the necessary shade of green thread for the machine applique.  I think I can pick that up on Tuesday evening and resume work.

I really like the Merry Christmas banner.  Might have to tackle it sometime.  (Not this year!!!)  Below is a photo of the scissors I use to cut my applique shapes.  They are made by Fiskars and I highly recommend them.  They are very comfortable in the hand, very sharp, and cut easily even around curves and small pieces.  The blades cut right to the tip.  You deserve a pair if you do any applique - put them on your Christmas wish list!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Celebratory Giveaway

I think a little giveaway in order, to celebrate my birthday yesterday and reaching the milestone of 300 posts on my blog! 

Simplify with Camille Roskelley: Quilts for the Modern Home (Stash Books)

The prize is a copy of Simplify with Camille Roskelley: Quilts for the Modern Home.   It is chock-full of projects that use pre-cuts like layer cakes, jelly rolls, and charm packs in Camille's signature, brightly modern style. 

If you are interested in winning this book, leave a comment on this post.  If you are a follower (over there in the right-hand column), you automatically get a second entry in the drawing, increasing your odds of winning.  Reggie the Corgi will pick a winner on his birthday, Friday, Dec. 10.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Spirit On My Bed

Part of my Christmas decorating is to put a Christmas quilt on each of the beds.  Here is Holiday Spirit, a quilt I made in 2008.

This was an "almost entirely from stash" quilt; I think I bought a few fat quarters to round out my selection of reds and greens.  It is very scrappy.  If I recall correctly, this is an older Miss Rosie's pattern called Midwinter.  I saw it (or something very similar) at a quilt show in the fall made in Luna Notte fabrics and it was gorgeous!  The pattern lends itself to color combinations other than red and green.  And it may look a little complicated but is really just two alternaing blocks - sawtooth star and a 9-patch block that incorporates some 4-patch blocks.  The blocks are set on point, with pieced setting triangles.

This is a very big quilt, ample for a queen size bed (would probably fit a king), so I sent it out to be quilted by a longarm quilter.  She did a pattern of holly vines and berries.

I need to finish this year's Christmas projects so I can finish my holiday decorating!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Let It Snow - It's Finished!

I had plenty of time for sewing over the Thanksgiving weekend and finished up Let It Snow, one of my Christmas In July projects.

I'm happy with the way it came out.  It's pretty cute and something a little different for me.  The carrot noses are wool and the eyes and mouths are wool, buttons, and snaps.  Here's a close-up of one of the faces.

This quilt is pretty easy; I'd say it's suitable for a beginner.  The hardest part for me was taking care not to nip off the tips of the flying geese as I attached the binding. 

A special thanks to Thelma of Cupcakes N Daisies; I won the Let It Snow pattern in a giveaway on Thelma's blog and without that win, I would probably never have stumbled across this pattern or made this wallhanging.  Let It Snow will be my January quilt for my kitchen.  For Christmas, I've hung up Strippy Trees, a quilt I made several years ago from a Possibilites pattern.

So far, my Christmas decorating consists of a few quilts about the house.  But I'll be doing more over the next week.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Apricot Citrus Cranberry Compote Recipe

Karen at Sew Many Ways is having a linky party to share favorite family recipes.  I've got lots of those, including dozens for cookies.  But I thought I'd share this fruit dish because it is a little bit different and it is certainly one of our favorites.  It is a nice side dish for a big brunch.

Apricot Citrus Cranberry Compote

2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup picked over cranberries
6 ounces dried apricots
1 grapefruit
2 navel oranges

In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water, bring mixture to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved.  Add cranberries and simmer 5 minutes or until they have barely popped.  Transfer mixture to a small bowl and let cool or chill in refrigerator, covered.  In the saucepan, combine the remaining sugar with 1/3 cup of water, bring to boil, stir until sugar is dissolved, and add apricots.  Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.  Transfer apricots and syrup to another small bowl and let cool.

Working over a bowl, cut away the rinds and piths from grapefruit and oranges with a serrated knife and cut the fruit into sections.  Chill.  Everything may be prepared in advance up to this point.  Mix the citrus sections, cranberries, and apricots with their syrup together and serve. 

Serves 6 to 8.

We have this fruit compote for brunch on Christmas day with quiche, bagels, and scones or cinnamon rolls.  On the "big food" holidays, we usually have just two meals, brunch and dinner, with maybe a little something to nibble inbetween.

If you would like to add more family favorite recipes to your collection, head over to Sew Many Ways.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Over The River And Through The Woods

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother's house we go...

Okay, so it was really over the Verrazano Narrows Bridge and along the Long Island Expressway.. but to grandmother's house we did go for Thanksgiving.  I hope you are having a happy day, full of love and turkey!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

You've Got Mail!

Fat Quarter Shop was having a sale on Halloween fabrics so I placed an order.  And as long as I was ordering some fabric, I threw a few other things into the cart. 

Joseph's Coat is on my lifetime quilt bucket list; I've been following the quilt-along on Don't Look Now (following, not participating).  I'll get to it someday.  So when I saw this Australian Patchwork & Quilting cover, I thought I should pick it up.  Kellie on Don't Look Now is teaching a mostly applique method of making this quilt but the magazine instructions are for curved seam piecing.  Well, I have plenty of time to figure out which method I want to try.

And I threw in a couple of patterns.  I saw this basket quilt calle Petit Fours by Fig Tree in blog photos of the Fall Quilt Market.  A basket quilt is also on my list.  I'm thinking of making this using my hoarded stash of Paris Flea Market, a Moda fabric collection from six or seven years ago.  After seeing all the Paganinis in the La Petite parade of projects, well, it had to go on my list too.

And the real purpose of my purchase, a good deal on some Halloween fabric.  This will be the back of my spider web quilt.  

I'm pretty excited about the spider web quilt and would like to start it now. But it doesn't seem quite right to be working on a Halloween project in December.  Anyway, must finish the Christmasy projects then get the room straightened out.  So this wil be a 2011 project.  I just hope I don't lose the love.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What's Happening?

The answer is "not much!"  Not much of a quilty nature, anyway. 

I did manage to finish all the turquoise blocks - 30 of them.  The next step is to put them together with white sashing. 

But that step will have to wait until January.  I'm loving this project but need to put it aside to do some Christmasy and gifty things.  Then I need to clean up the sewing room and transform it back to the guest room in time for my mother's arrival on Dec. 22.  Better get cracking!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Relaxing with Sew Scrappy

I saved the best for last.  Sew Scrappy is a Better Homes and Gardens publication, from the same company as American Patchwork & Quilting magazine.  If you've been looking for something to do with your scraps, you will find ideas here!

Star quilts are my favorites and I found two drool-worthy examples in this magazine.  The first is called Five-Star Tribute.  If you follow the directions, you end up with a twin-bed size quilt (but why follow directions...?).  This one is going on my to-do list, though maybe with a background color other than pink.

Then I saw Star Tracks.  Wow, another one for the to-do list!  Cream scraps, red scraps, and black scraps.  (In my photo all the black stars look the same but they are actually scrappy.)

Here's a bigger picture of the full quilt.  It is a lap size.  Of course, you could make it bigger or smaller.  The directions don't mention it but I've seen a special Hunter's Star ruler that I think might be a helpful tool for this project.

Then for something fun and different, I found Lots of Dots, designed by Gwen Sinclair. This is a small applique project that uses wool scraps.  Not that I have any, except for a small bit of orange left over from the carrot noses in Let It Snow.  But now I have an excuse to look for wool..

Lots of Dots would make a good gift too (for Christmas 2011).  Better get to work!

I'll be back later in the week with some progress on my actual projects.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Relaxing with McCall's America Quilts for Christmas

America Quilts for Christmas is a McCall's Quilting publication. As I began reading it, I thought it seemed familiar. Sure enough, I had another copy in my magazine pile. I think I bought it a couple of months ago.

But that's okay because there are several eye-catching projects in this issue, including a star block sampler quilt. But the one that really speaks to me is Lumiere Waltz, designed by Gerri Robinson.

Lumiere Waltz is a full bed size quilt though I am thinking of reducing the block size to make a smaller quilt.  This might well become next year's Christmas project!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Relaxing with Easy Quilts Magazine

Last week I bought some magazines with the intention of getting some time to relax with my feet up, and take in a dose of quilting inspiration.

First up was Easy Quilts, a publication of Fons & Porter.  It bills itself as "Official Publication of the Quilters Club of America."" I had not previously heard of the Quilters Club of America.  And I think this is my first issue of Easy Quilts

Initially, I was a little disappointed.  When I quickly browsed through the magazine on the newstand, my eye was caught by an apron shown on page 48.  I was expecting the magazine to have the pattern and directions for the apron.  It does not; turns out it is a purchased apron that they embellished with rickrack and ribbon.  But then I saw this:

This quilt is called Groovy Petals and was made from the Origins collection of fabric from Moda.  Really groovy in my opinion and going on my to-do list (or lifetime quilt project list), to eventually make in a different color scheme.  All the directions and patterns for the applique shapes for this one are included in the magazine.

So the purchase of this magazine turned out to be worthwhile.  I'll be back soon with another magazine review.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Find - Pumpkin Butter

When I first saw this pumpkin butter in Trader Joe's, I was not enthusiastic.  I can't remember why I bought my first jar but now I am a major fan.  It tastes like pumpkin pie without the crust.

I mix a rounded teaspoon of the pumpkin butter in my morning oatmeal, along with a few chopped walnuts.  Yummy, yummy!  It is also good on an english muffin.  And there are probably other brands, in case you don't shop at Trader Joe's.  But if you do shop at Trader Joe's you better stock up now because this is a seasonal item and they won't have it come January.

That reminds me, oatmeal is my breakfast staple in the winter and I make it the Hungry Girl way, using almond milk, steel cut oats, and a crock pot.  Put 4 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or use sweetened if you prefer) and 1 cup of steel cut oats in the crock pot and heat on warm for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  Stir once or twice during cooking.  Turns out yummy with a creamy texture.  Good for you and low in calories.  I didn't really care for oatmeal until I tried it made this way.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When I Get A Moment To Relax...

I've got some magazines to read savor.

Between the school play, the school concert, and real-world work, I've been very busy.  However, I nipped into Barnes & Noble today and picked up a little something for Friday night.  I'll be back with a book report.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Can You Recommend A Good Digital Camera?

I am thinking about getting a new camera.  I was in Best Buy the other day and noticed digital cameras have gotten a lot smaller and less expensive since I bought mine about seven years ago.  That, coupled with the occasional grainy or blurred picture, got me thinking maybe I could request an upgrade for my birthday or Christmas.

The only difficulty is that there are so many to choose from!  I need easy to use and easy to download.  My current model is a Kodak Easyshare.  It is very easy and I use the Kodak Easyshare software to download and store the pictures I take.

What are you using and would you recommend it to a friend?

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Sneak Peek At What's To Come

A while back, I sent two quilt tops off to a new-to-me longarm quilter for custom quilting.  Kari just emailed to let me know she finished the quilting and the quilts will be back to me soon.  And she sent me a sneak peek photo.

Doesn't it look fantastic!  I'm so excited to be getting this back.  I called this quilt Cider Mill, because the colors reminded me of the Franklin Cider Mill, a place near my childhood home in suburban Detroit.  You can see the finished flimsy here

Also on its way back is Christmas Day, which you can see here.  I'll show you more when they're back in my hands and bound.