Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday Find - Bark Thins

It's been a long time since I found something worth sharing as a Friday Find but do I ever have a treat for you today!  You know how it is, quilting and chocolate - perfect together!  Well, this product, Bark Thins, is perfect in my book.  They even call it "snacking chocolate."

I was introduced to Bark Thins in the Costco in Lihue, Hawaii.  I'm not a Costco member (there isn't a store near me) but my mother is and we went there to pick up the makings for breakfasts and a few dinners in our Kauai vacation condo.  We saw Bark Thins stacked near the checkout and bought some to try.  My introduction to the product was via the dark chocolate, pretzel, and sea salt flavor and wow, super yummy.  The chocolate is good quality, dark chocolate but not bitter, and the pretzel addition gives it some crunch. 
Once back home, I had to figure out a source of supply and found my original as well as other flavors on  My new love is this dark chocolate with pumpkin seeds and sea salt.  Plenty of antioxidants and other good stuff in there, not to mention it is the best tasting thing I've had in a long time!  It is a bit pricey on Amazon but a pound bag was less than $10 at Costco so try there if you are a member.
I was introduced to another taste treat in Hawaii:  dried mango. I love mangos but had never had the dried version before.  Mmm, good!  Amazon stocks several brands; the 7D brand is the one we had in Hawaii and the ABC Stores site sells it too.  I brought a small supply home with me but will need to stock up soon because Miss Main Street took most of it back to college with her. 
But life is not all about snacks here on Main Street.  I've been busy trimming my blocks.  My next step is to assemble the quilt top.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Is January National Re-Organization Month?

Because, honestly, I think it must be official!  Stores like Walmart and Target are having specials on plastic storage bins, The Container Store is sending me near daily emails with organizing tips, whille quilt bloggers de-stash, refold fabric, and straighten out their sewing rooms.  Okay, the bug bit me! 

First, I reorganized our spices and herbs.  You know, all those tiny bottles and cans from McCormick (and others).  We once had a nice spice rack but it held a too limited array of spices and took up too much kitchen counter space, so I had been keeping all the containers in three shoe boxes in a kitchen cabinet.  A trip to The Container Store later and those boxes are stacked in the cabinet using a wire cabinet shelf and most-often-used items and odd size bottles are on a spinning turntable, all in less space than before.

Second, it has been unusually cold here in NJ, meaning we need hats, scarves, and gloves when outside.  We keep them in a small chest of drawers in the foyer.  It's handy and has plenty of space but as I was digging through, looking for my warmest gloves, it became obvious we had become hat and glove pack-rats.  A quick sorting weeded out the single, unpaired mittens, gloves from Miss Main Street's elementary school years that will never fit on her hands again, and a couple of hats that went with snowsuits from the same era.  With fewer items to stow, it was easier put everything away in an organized fashion; one drawer for each person, what a concept!  It will be faster to find those gloves next time I need them.   

While it is tempting to tackle my sewing room next, I think I'll let it wait.  It's even more tempting to sew.  So, back to our regularly scheduled activity.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Still Christmas

The Christmas decorations have been put away but in my sewing room, it still looks like Christmas.  After a hiatus of several weeks  for holiday celebrating and vacation, I'm back at work on the Christmas Quilt of 2014.

I finished all of these units.  I just need to trim them to size, then four units get combined into one block. 

If you recall my last post on this project, trimming is the tricky part as a result of the pattern directions for this step being rather incomplete.  But I think I've developed a good method to ensure I cut to the correct size, with the block centered accurately, so trimming will be my week night project this week.  Then I can join the blocks over Super Bowl weekend.  And that will be real progress.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fabric Souvenirs from Hawaii

Visiting quilt shops was not a priority of my vacation.  I was traveling with my mother and my daughter, both non-quilters.  But I did get to one shop on Kauai, Kapaia Stitchery.  It is located on Kuhio Highway (aka Rt. 50/56, the main road that runs about 80% of the way around the island). 

Kapaia Stitchery is a quilt shop and more, with some other needlecraft items (most with an Hawaiian theme) and handmade finished craft items to buy as souvenirs.  They have a large selection of traditional Hawaiian print fabric, quilting weight and heavier weight for use in bags and home decor.  They also have an extensive selection of Asian quilting fabric and lots of batiks.  Kapaia Stitchery's website is not set up for e-retail but does include their phone number so if you are looking for something in particular, I bet they would take a phone order. 

I found these strip sets (like a jelly roll) in colors that remind me of Hawaii and could not resist buying both.  Whatever I do with them, it will be something "different' for me as I rarely use batiks.  But I do like these colors!  I had heard of Island Batiks but had not seen these pre-cuts before so thought I better buy them and not have regrets later.

Orchid on the left, Sea Swept on the right

I've been through my patterns and books, looking for ideas for these strips.  I thought of my Kim Brackett books first; there are a few designs there that I am partial to.  I also have a couple of patterns I bought, intending to use them when the right jelly roll came along.  But I think I've settled on a design by Cindy Lammon of Hyacinth Quilt Designs blog.  She has a chevron quilt under her free patterns tab that I admire very much and that is perfect for this particular pre-cut because it requires two strips of each fabric used.  The sets from Island Batik differ from Moda's jelly rolls in that they contain two strips of each of 20 different fabrics.  I've added a photo to my Quilts To Make In 2014 Pinterest board.  Now, I just need to decide which of the two strip sets to use and make a trip to my LQS for the additional yardage for the project (too bad, lol!).

Monday, January 20, 2014


Not much quilting going on here on Main Street so far this year because I was on Hawaii.

We spent six days on Waikiki Beach (where these photos were taken) and six days on Kauai.  It was fantastic!

We flew out just ahead of the polar vortex that so severely impacted travel.  We came home Wednesday to normal winter weather in NJ, but it feels polar after the warmth of Hawaii.

In the days since we returned, I've been adjusting to more than just the weather.  There's also the time difference (5 hours) and resumption of work to contend with.  But I'm adjusted now and ready to get back to quilting. 

JoAnne, The Patriotic Quilter, was a big help in planning the trip.  She used to live in Hawaii and had some good tips for us.  I know for many, January is the official month to declutter and reorganize; JoAnne just had a great post on her wonderul new storage system for fat quarters.  You might get some ideas to use in your sewing room.

I'll be back soon to tell you about the quilting store I visited in Kauai.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Extraordinary Log Cabin Quilts - Book Review

I have several books by Judy Martin (I think I've mentioned Patchwork Among Friends and Stellar Quilts here).  They are absolutely wonderful to look at; somewhat intimidating to tackle.  Judy says, "I aim to make memorable quilts."  She is not interested in making simple quilts.  Her designs tend to be quite complex, requiring excellent cutting and piecing skills to achieve the accuracy required.  Her books do include a lot of "how-to" information though.  There is also a section on color and value in this book, Extraordinary Log Cabin Quilts. 

I've been thinking about making a log cabin quilt using my Fig Tree fabric and am tempted to try one of the "beyond basic" designs from this new book.  I like Main Street Log Cabin (if only for the name!); it's the version with the stars shown at the top of the book cover.  I also like this quilt shown inside the cover.  It is called Paducah Log Cabin.

And I love this third version, called Grandpa's Log Cabin.  The piecing creates a basket weave effect.

Though labor intensive, the directions for each project are more than complete.  Each design is rated for how difficult it is.  A photo of the full size quilt is included, along with several photos showing alternative fabric choices and drawings showing alternative settings for the blocks.  Cutting, sewing, and pressing instructions are included.  Judy even provides tips for organizing your component parts as you progress. 

If you want to tackle a quilt that is far from ordinary, Extraordinary Log Cabin Quilts is a good place to start.  And any of Judy Martin's books will provide you with plenty of inspiration.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Christmas Quilt of 2014

I'm still working on the quilt from the Modern Bee book.  I'm making Trellis Crossroads in Christmas colors.  In my last post on this project, I whined about the sparse directions for sewing the pieced strips to the narrow white strip.  Now I'm a couple steps further ahead, having added the white triangles to the sides and ready to trim the blocks. 

Unfortunately, the directions for this step are even more inadequate.  You are supposed to line up the 45 degree diagonal line on a square ruler with the center of the narrow white strip then trim to 6.75 inches square.  There aren't any instructions regarding how to ensure the block is centered and you don't cut too much from one side.  I was going to use my Tucker Trimmer ruler but it uses half inch increments, without markings for 6.75 inches.   

I ended up using my 8 inch square ruler, adding a piece of tape to mark the mid-line for a 6.75 inch square.  Below is the block after trimming.

Four of these pieces are sewn together to make a full block, below. 

A little unsewing was involved in making this first block, in an effort to get all the pieces lined up and the corners matched, etc.  But I think I  have the process down now and the rest should go more smoothly.  Now that I'm this far along, I can see how a similar effect could be achieved using a different, easier constuction method, but it is too late to switch now. 

Despite all my whining about the poor instructions, I like the design and am happy with the fabrics I put together.  It will add another fresh, modern quilt to my Christmas quilt collection.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Simple Circles and Quick Curves - Book Review

I love WishList!  I added some quilting books to my list and voila, someone gave them to me for my birthday!  Mr. Main Street is very suggestible that way.

I've always been intrigued by curved piecing in quilts and have enough practice under my belt now to feel more confident about trying a bigger project.  But the projects in Simple Circles and Quick Curves, by Nancy Mahoney, use machine applique for all the curved pieces, not piecing.  No matter, there's some good inspiration in this book, even if I decide to go with piecing rather than applique to achieve the same effect. 

There are eight projects in the book, all interesting, but I particularly like two of them.  The first is Lots of Dots, a scrap quilt.  For the dots on this quilt, applique is best way to go.  I think this design would be great in 30's repro fabric.  The author used a wide assortment of polka dot and circle printed fabric for her version. 

The second project that grabbed my attention is Passion Vine.  This design combines a tradtional looking applique block (the directions are for fusible applique) with a block called improved nine patch.  The circular effect is achieved by applying arcs of the applique block background fabric on each side of a nine patch block.  This techique could also be used for a Rob Peter to Pay Paul block.

The author, Nancy Mahoney, has a tutorial for the applique technique on YouTube. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Year Ahead In Quilting

I like to set myself some goals when it comes to quilting, partly because I am just oriented that way and have goals and lists for everything, but mainly to ensure I develop as a quilter.  Rather than make the same easy quilts over and over in different color combinations, I want to be sure I develop new skills, like piecing curves and hand applique.  So these goals are about stretching my current skills and developing new ones, not about the number of quilts completed. 

Though I still want to be able to follow a whim and make a specific quilt when the spirit moves me (or, rather, I see something online or in a magazine).  So I don't plan ahead in too much detail.

Pinterest is a perfect tool for my planning purposes.  I recently updated my board formerly known as Quilts To Make in 2013; it is now Quilts To Make in 2014!   I subtracted some pictures, like those that inspired quilts I actually did make in 2013 as well as those that I no longer feel any great longing to make.  And I added some new pictures. 

At the top of my list I have:

  1. a log cabin quilt - a way to use the scraps left in my Fig Tree basket
  2. something curvy - using the Quick Curves Ruler I bought a few months ago
  3. a small project - like pillow shams and/or a sewing machine cover
  4. a bright, fresh color combination - I love the gray, aqua, and lime green combo

And I'm giving myself some leeway to act on a whim, should a new pattern, picture, or fabric grouping catch my fancy. 

Let's not mention the UFOs, PIGS, and other well-intentioned but never fnished projects I have around here.  No, let's not mention them.