Sunday, December 14, 2014

My day....a top and a book

 Blocks assembled and pressed.... Carolina Chain  taking a rest in the warm afternoon sun while the maker digs in the stash for border fabrics.
    Another view from a different angle and the chains take on a different appearance.  Since it ended up about 50" by 60", it could use a border or two.  I'm just not sure what I will find in the closet.  If I dig deep enough, I am sure to find something that will work.





  And a book....not just any book, but one I have been longing/desiring for a little while.  Some times I pick up books for inspiration, like the old one I found by the Palouse Patchers mentioned in this post.   I have refined my watercolor technique, so my interest was in the designs they showed rather than techniques.
   But I digress.  The new book is this one, Lovely Landscape Quilts by Cathy Geier.
  I have been following her blog for a time and  have become a big fan of her quilts/designs.   Cathy's blog is full, repeat full, of details and information on her designs and techniques.
 But back to her new book.....it is full of wonderful photos, not only her landscapes, but 9 other quest artists who used strip technique for landscape quilts.  A lot of wonderful eye candy for design inspiration found in the first chapter.
  The next thing I noticed was the pages.....not slick and glossy, but matte.  They feel like satin, very nice for a change from most books.  She includes a full chapter on details about her technique of strip piecing on tear away foundation----this helps keep everything perfectly straight and flat.  Cathy has gotten glowing reviews since the book was released, and I am hopping on the wagon and saying it is a keeper for me!  I even purchased a few new fabrics.  I expect to be trying this technique soon.
  So I am going to curl up with my new book, and finish devouring the projects that fill the pages.  Happy stitching.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Plans for Scrappy Irish Chain

  I got the Carolina Chain blocks put together, but not pressed yet, so no photo  :(   Instead, I settled on another block to play with next year.  This is an Irish Chain block from EQ7.   Actually, it is a single Irish Chain.





   And here is how I think I will modify it to a nine patch version.   It will look the same and be much easier to assemble using strip piecing for the 4 patch units.   And of course, I will do a scrappy version of this using up lots of floral pieces.   I know.....I sound like a broken record, but that is what fills my stash.  A nine inch block will use 2 " strips and those are what I have.  Perfect!
  The only debate in my head is the background fabric......mix it up, or use a single fabric?  I am going to let this simmer a while in my brain before I decide.
   I have one more shopping run to make tomorrow, a couple of items to wrap......and  that will take finish off my list.  I might just find time to have a cup of hot chocolate, put up my feet, and read a book.  Ah, that sounds so relaxing.  
Wishing you a relaxing day and happy stitching.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Timing

Time.... is on my mind.... lately.  I remember the Rolling Stones sang that line. Although my favorite has to be Bill Medley singing ...."Now, I've had the time of my life" in the movie Dirty Dancing.  Time.  We can't see it.  We can't hold on to it.  We can use it to accomplish much.  We can live it to the fullness intended. We can enjoy it.  
  Yep, time is catching up to me, but I have figured out how to use it with whatever steam I have left.  I may not set world records, yet my goals seem lofty to me.    With so many seasonal demands on our time, I have learned to work in smaller units of time to do what I want and enjoy.  That means minutes, sometimes, in the sewing room rather than a couple of hours.  Minutes to organize, cut, piece, plan.

  Planning has been going on in the evenings.  I set aside a folder for 2015 projects, and pulled out an index card for a list.  I am planning a year of floral projects......so far I have noted 7 projects.  None of this is in stone, so ideas and direction may change.
   Into the folder go the photos/articles/magazines with the project ideas.  Books are noted on the index card by the project.  This helps me remember where I found the inspiration......(time has caught up to me, and sometimes fogs my memory/recall button!) Oh, yeah, and I have been playing with small 4 patch blocks that you can see in the background. You can clean out a lot of odd size pieces this way in a short amount of time.   I was just using up short pieces.....so I have no idea what will happen with them.

   From my stack of items to be quilted is this watercolor wall hanging.  I cut the backing and batting between baking batches of cookies.  It is on the work table and ready to be pinned.
   I also have another top to pin.....I have the batting cut.  The backing has to be pieced.  My Rule of 3 inspires me to at least get it ready to quilt too.  I so detest those UFOs....and want to have an open slot for a new project.




 Carolina Chain blocks are off the design wall, pressed, stacked ....ready for rows to be assembled.  This was accomplished between loads of laundry and bread baking.   I like having things ready to go....15 minutes of time should equal at least one row stitched.

 

  Seriously.....won't this be a great addition to the sewing room?  Lol....we did a little shopping today after getting haircuts.  Big and little boys like to play with trucks, especially if they are remote controlled.  Last year Remy smoked the Mustang's engine on the remote controlled car.  Hope this one lasts a little longer.

   Finally, a new project bin is filled to await its turn.  It actually took about 3 days to get all the pieces cut in between other things.  I pulled it all together this morning before we headed out.  I did one test block this week to be sure I wanted to do this project, called English Garden.
  The book is a very old one I snared last year from Better World Books, so I know it is not readily available.  But there are some very good project ideas inside---I marked 4 of them!   I won't start on this one until after the first of the year.....but I am set to go.
   There goes my timer....another batch of bread is done.  And it is almost time to pull some dinner together.  Tomorrow it will be time to put up the tree, and the wreaths, and all the other items.  See what I mean.....time has caught up to me.  Grab those moments of time and happy stitching.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Handmade Christmas Challenge

  While I haven't been very good at creating through out the year, I did make a few items to share for the Handmade Christmas Challenge at SewCalGal's blog. 
  Thanks for hosting this Challenge.  Hope everyone will visit all the entries and find some inspiration for your handmade Christmas projects.

    Recycled denim to market bags.....I couldn't bear to just trash a large piece of heavy weight denim. So in August/September, it turned into a trio of gift bags that can be used as a market bag.  I plan to fill each with homemade baked goodies for a few neighbors.
   A  folded piece of chili pepper fabric was used to finish off the top edge and canvas strip handles made these quick projects.


  I did a lot better in the decor department.....as it was time to do a little up-dating around here.  My love of cardinals is documented fact.....and the secret word is there is a cardinal hidden on each quilt I make.  (Always be sure to check the labels  :).    Anyway, this little table topper is called A Cardinal Sings.  Four string blocks create the background, fused applique, machine stitching, and more strings for the top and bottom borders.





 
  By mid-month I was still on the red kick!  I was inspired by a pin on Pinterest .  My version is appliqued instead of thread painted, and bold red for lots of zing!  The ornament shapes were found in EQ7 for this one.  Size is 12" by 24".....just right for the back of a door.











  The adventure continued  as I could not get the blue version out of my head.  Fabric selection actually took a couple of days.....and a quick trip to the LQS.    Here's my description of Winter Baubles in blue from my original post.
   Winter Baubles tells the story in the colors captured here.  There  are the  bright blues of the winter sky, the shadows of blue on snow covered paths,  the watery blues of sunlight reflected off the ice in the birdbath, and the darkest blue of night.  Like colored glass hung in a window to catch the streaming light, the baubles hang against a cloud of white. 
  This version could hang all through the holiday season and on into winter.  One or two baubles would work great on a mug rug.....a horizontal row would make a mantle banner or table runner.......a bauble or two appliqued to a tote bag....I better stop before I get that creative fever again!
Wishing you all a bright season of inspiration.....and happy stitching.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Winter Baubles in blue

 Winter Baubles tells the story in the colors captured here.  There  are the  bright blues of the winter sky, the shadows of blue on snow covered paths,  the watery blues of sunlight reflected off the ice in the birdbath, and the darkest blue of night.  Like colored glass hung in a window to catch the streaming light, the baubles hang against a cloud of white.


  I imagine that the smallest of breeze could set them spinning and twirling to cast a dancing hue of blue light across the wall.   Of course, I am only being fanciful, but I find this one very restful to view.

  Need I tell you....it is stiff as a board from all the thread and heavy quilting.  Miles of thread does not make a quilt for cuddling!  It does hang straight  :)

 So I think this adventure is over.   I have a couple of tops that are in need of quilting. I may get to them next month.  It is time to crank up the ovens and begin some baking......cookies, and breads.
  Happy stitching.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Selecting the blues of winter

  I have been working on the blue version of the baubles.    I found lots of different shapes and patterns on Pinterest for the baubles.....way more that I needed.  Then the truly difficult part was required, that being fabric selection.     For some reason, I have a hard time selecting blues that blend well.  It has always been that way, and this time was no different.

  My first step was to pull out all the blue fabrics that I liked---any shade, any value, and any pattern.  I just piled them up on the table.  Two fabrics jumped out at me as having the winter blue colors I wanted.....the swirled dark and light blue, and the print on white to the right of the large ornament.   I set those aside.

  Next, I began to eliminate fabrics because of the pattern-----stripes, and  solids just did not read well.
   Then I removed the fabrics that had too gray a tone.....they looked too dirty, like  trampled, wet snow.   Some fabrics were heavy on the green tone, some way too light, and others much too dark.








   This was the stack that I was left with.  I then cut a small piece off of each one and placed it randomly on the white background fabric just to be sure the fabrics reflected all the shades of winter blues.   Stand back and look at them....squint a little, too.  It seems to help :)





 And here it is in progress......... those decorative stitches on my machine have come in handy for this project.  They make a perfect decorative chain between the baubles.   I rarely use these stitches, so I had to experiment to find ones that worked....or at least that I liked.

  On to pie making and some laundry....then happy stitching.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Mrs. Claus story

    If you follow this blog, you know about the Get Your Mrs. Claus On project.  (You can find details on the Mrs. Claus page under the banner.)  And you may have seen the Mrs. Claus buttons on other blogs that participate.   Those buttons and my posts bring in lots of email and inquires about how to participate.          Earlier this year, in the Spring I think, I got an email from someone who was interested in making a couple of doll quilts.  I heard nothing else from her until October.  Here is her email......
    I’m thinking that I’m late with this but I’ve just finished with chemo and wasn’t of the right brain power to have done any quilting during the summer.  I have 4 quilts with pillows for you that I made this past week and would like to send them.  If you already have enough, I would appreciate it if you would allow me to send them anyway and you can use them for next year.  I have stage 4 cancer and I’m afraid that I don’t know what the future will bring for me next year and I would like to know that I have made a contribution to your wonderful project.
And then a few weeks later, another email.....
   Sorry it’s taken me so long to answer your note.  I got to making more and more little quilts for you thinking “if I’m going to send 4, I might as well send 8” and so on.  They’ve been so much fun to work on. It’s been so good to get back to sewing although my skills have gotten a little rusty. ........ I’m having fun!  It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to say that.  In any case, I’ll send them by Thanksgiving so they don’t get messed up in the Christmas packages that will be travelling all over.   I still don’t know what next year will bring but hopefully when I have the next CT scan on Dec 8, the results will still be fine.  I appreciate your prayers;  I couldn’t have gotten to where I am without the grace of God and the prayers of family and friends. 
  Today, her box of goodness arrived, filled with doll quilts and attached pillows!  Angels, and patchwork stars......







kittens, and dancing frogs......(okay, the dancing frogs just stole the show for me.  I love it when one of quilts make me smile!).......







cupcakes, and candies, and mints......










throw in some pink and purple---love it----rail fences for zig-zags.....










mixed with a rose colored quilt of hourglasses.....













 blended with more candy mints made into pinwheels.  And the result is a box of love, therapy,  and outstanding goodness.







    Thank you, Mrs. Claus of Nebraska.  My heart just swells to know how this project touches the quilter as well as the little girls who will love and enjoy these quilts.    
  To all readers, please join me in sending prayers to this Mrs. Claus for a clean scan.  
Happy stitching.
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