Sunday, December 30, 2012

End of the year favorite

   A few quiet and restful days before the end of the year......A little reading, a little cooking, and some family time too, but just a little sewing.  And before anyone asks, I do not do resolutions---because I know I won't keep them.  I hate breaking promises, and  resolutions are like an anchor around my neck.  Every year they weigh more.  
    I  do like to evaluate my past year, reflect a little, and  decide where I  am heading for the next one.  2012 was the year of the "shoulder event"---shudder and cringe---yet I got through it and learned a bit about breaking through that wall of despair / depression/ etc.    It was also the year of the Free Motion Challenge at SewCalGal.  The most important thing is I learned so much doing each lesson.....I hung on and made it to the end....and improved quite a bit.    Looking back at the photos, I  amazed myself at how much I accomplished.   Here's a collage of the major projects from 2012......banners, wall hangings, lap quilts,  scrap quilts, and 2 quilts given in celebration of life events.      

   I think that it is easy to figure out my favorite effort of this past year......front and center is the color study, Wonders of Color.   Inspired by Wanda at Exuberant Color, this is the most viewed post of the year!    I owe her so much.     Rudy does come in a very close second choice for my favorite project.  His story is here.   He will continue to pop up as I share the doll quilts this year as they arrive.  His permanent residence will be on the sewing room door, so he can keep up with all that is going on.
   A very  strong contender for  favorite is the string quilt, Faceted Jewels, which now resides in Michigan with my daughter.  I love the sparkle it has  and turned a photo of this one  into my new banner for this year.  I still have lots of strings, so I am thinking there just may be another  jewel of a quilt that develops this year.
    It was not exactly the year I had planned, yet it was a satisfying year in the end.  I will take that any time.
So till next year....happy stitching.   Happy New Years, too!!! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012


  Sunny and bright today!  I am so tired of the overcast sky, so when the golden rays of light appeared this morning I came awake immediately.  I am ready to finish boxing up the seasonal decor and get back to a routine.
  First I  need get my toes warm, so I will be donning my new socks from Deana.  Beautiful blue and so the stitch pattern she used for them.    And the hang tag is so perfectly me!

  Update to photo storage on Picasa web-----Have you checked your web album lately?  There was an upgrade to free storage.  It is now 5 GB instead of 1 GB.  So we all should be in good standing for a while.  Maybe they added storage space since we figured out how to reduce our photo size?

   I am playing around with the bargello idea on EQ7 today to get the upward curve I am wanting.  Once I have the design worked out, I will start pulling fabrics and coloring in my layout.  Happy stitching.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Catching up

    Step 5 of the Easy Street mystery.....I have some power sewing to do this afternoon on these, and I will be caught up.  Bonnie says no more geese, but I think these still qualify because of the 2" corners.  We must be nearing the end and almost ready to join the units together.

  Good news from the Nifty Stitcher....she will be doing posts after the holidays  to help understand the endless feathers that curls around.  Thank you, I am excited about this.  I want to do a skinny bed runner quilt that is just quilted with these feathers....a NewFO.

  We were given this tin of cookies.  Now mind you, they are not the ordinary tin of cookies like I expected.  After one bite, I knew they were a special toffee cookie treat.  I checked on line to see where I could get more....whoa!  $$$  I was sure surprised.  But they are so good.  And I love the egg shaped tin as well as the color.  A keeper here.


 Merry Christmas to all.  And happy stitching.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Endless feathers and new challenge

    I dropped in to check out what The Nifty Stitcher  had been doing lately.  And once again her stitching blew me away.  She had a sample of a curling /swirling feather that was so fabulous.  Rhianon  has a link to a Russian gal who is doing this technique.  Of course, I was mesmerized by the videos....that I watched them twice and then again!  How did she do that?  She doesn't mark anything?  Just off she goes.  I had to try at least.  Paper practice first...lots of pages filled with feathers of a sort.  Then to the machine.

  I used polyester batting and 2 pieces of white muslin to practice on.  This is the first feathers look a lot more angular than they should.  I haven't figured out the way to make them curl around each other.  I am hoping to coax/ beg/ plead / entice Rhianon  at the Nifty Stitcher to pass on some guiding advice on achieving that.
    So check out the link.....really beautiful feathers.

 Notice the new button.....2013  The Year of the Never Too Hot To Stitch!
Finished Project.   Lynne at Never to hot to stitch is organizing a monthly linky party to motivate us to finish up those projects hidden away, or stacked in the corner.  Please click over and check it out.   No rules, but do set your own guidelines.   Lynne's idea for herself is to finish 2 projects before she can start another.  That should help her clear out those UFOs.
   My own general guide lines  will still apply to me---or kind of apply---one project  to be quilted, one being sewn, and one in the planning stage.  Eek...right now I have two I am sewing and 2 being planned.   Already I am breaking my own rules and playing around with feathers.   Of course, the small projects that pop up on the horizon  and fill in some space and time, do not have to play by my guidelines.  Just so you know.
This may prove to be a very dangerous new year.    Happy stitching.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Free label downloads

      I ran across some quilt labels at Connecting threads.  Click here   for a selection of label graphics  to download.

    Down load the labels to your computer and save.  You can then add your text with a word processing program and print onto treated fabric, Printed Treasures, or June Tailor Quick Fuse, for example.  I get requests for labels a lot, so I thought I would share these freebies.  I would grab them soon because I am not sure how long they will be available.   Happy stitching.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Recapping the FMQ year

  To finish off the challenge we need to show proof of completing at least 12 of the tutorials.  I actually did 14---2 of them were bonus tutorials---but I'm only showing 12 here.   Obviously, I liked all the lessons with swirls, but really liked the center tutorial with the trapunto.  A great year from vines and hearts to feathers, swirls to organic fillers, gridded designs to stitching in rows.....we covered a very wide range of techniques.  It's been fun, and now it is done. 

FMQ Challenge for December

   This is the final month for the FMQ Challenge at SewCalGal.  The finale....the finish....I did not quit....I persevered!  Thanks to Patsy Thompson for this one.

    Since I did not have a project with lots of borders that she suggested, I improvised an art project that was unfinished and destined for the trash can.   I thought it was an "ugly"  effort, and put it aside.  Today I added a couple of border strips to the 2 sides.  And off I went.

   When I found the dark purple with the linear graphic, I thought it was perfect for her border quilting idea.   It actually gave me spacing and lines to follow.  And that gave me the idea to use the technique in the background of the center  from another month's tutorial.....the organic quilting of following the fabric motif .  The background fabric was a wipe up cloth from sun painting fabric last year.  I just defined each color area with stitching.

 For the large outer border, I thought I would do multiple rows to simulate multiple borders---wavy curls with semi-straight lines between them.  I like the effect.  In fact I like this ugly now, and will find a binding for it.  It will be a good reminder to think out side my usual box.

Confession time, I wanted to just let this challenge  go several times, and not complete any part of certain month's tutorial.  Sometimes it was too hard, or appeared to be, other times I just did not think I was interested in the technique.  But every lesson offered a tidbit, that one small hint, a tiny jewel of advice that was worth the effort.   I will never be a super, hyper quilter because that is not my style or preference.  Yet, I learned loads of technique and gained much needed experience for the effort.    Big thank you to SewCalGal and all our outstanding has been a good /great / wonderful year!

Happy stitching.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For 2013

Update.....All the hankies are in the mail!  And that was an experience to be sure....I mean jumping through hoops to mail brown envelopes????   The post office worker had to feel each envelope and ask about the contents.  How do you explain "giveaway  for my  blog readers and friends" to someone who has no idea what a blog is?  Or what a "hankies to make into mug rugs" means?  We really do speak a different language in the blog world I guess.  Personally I think I prefer it to some of the real stuff happening.

Yep, making plans for the new year.  The 2013 New FO  is over at Cat Patches.  She is such an enabler.  She "enables" me to buy more fabric, more thread, and make more of everything.  My New FO list has begun but I am also including some items to be finished in the new year.  

   First up  is the guild challenge for 2013, Lemons to Lemonade.  I was given a half yard of "ugly" fabric to use in a quilt or quilted project.  Luckily, mine is not really that ugly, but it is very dated!  It is a calico from the 80's.  The easy way would be to use it in a watercolor, but for me that is not a challenge.  I am thinking of hiding it in plain sight by adding a lot more fabrics.   
   Two ideas that are in the planning stage for 2013, are another bargello quilt and a vertical strip quilt with applique.  So the challenge will probably be one or the other.  I need a bit more thinking time on this, yet I need to get it started.     

   Doll quilts from gifted fabrics......I  managed  to get  5  doll quilts cut out with backing!  They are stacked up and ready to work on during the year.

To Be Finished:
  Finish up the small hanging for the table top stand.  And make at least 2 more for Summer and Fall.  
  Complete the Easy Street mystery.
  Finish the shaded 4 patch scrap quilt.
  Finish the quilt for Habitat for Humanity that was on the design wall!

So that's my plan, just don't hold me to it!   I am sure there will be more starts to add as the inspiration hits.
 I am linking this to the New FO Challenge at Cat Patches.   Happy stitching. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Recycle them, please

   While cleaning out Deana's sewing room in preparation for her move, she found a bag of machine embroidered hankies, pink and yellow.  These are not old ones, but still too pretty to discard.
   I can't remember where I saw this idea to turn them into mug rugs.  The fabric is quite thin so I folded them in half and cut off the corner embroidery in a square about 5 1/2".  I added strips around the sides to coordinate with the embroidery.

   And now a nice pair of mug rugs and I know just to person to send these to.   Of course,  these could be used in a wall hanging instead, or even a baby quilt, or tote bag.
  I have about a dozen or so of these to the takers.  No, the cup is not included.  Just a gift from me to you.    Send an email with your address for mailing, and note the color or colors you want.
Happy stitching.
Update:   Thank you all for replying and  wanting to recycle!  All the hankies are spoken for and will be in the mail today.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Doing the mystery dance

    Just to prove I am ...... here are my "parts" so far for the mystery at Quiltville .    I am not even speculating about the arrangement on this one.
   This week was part 4 and involved more flying geese and wings!  I knew it was coming---and expect another batch of them---but I used the no waste method this time.  So much faster for me and I trimmed them while watching TV with Sir Old Man last night.   I still need to cut the squares of the zinger fabric.  I am using red, not lime green.

  And that leaves me some time to work on the scrap blocks.  I have about a dozen put together so far and on the portable design board.  Since the block is a 4 patch, they go together so quick once the units sections are made.  Lots more to go and then I can play around with the layout on the design wall.

  The countdown has begun....only 9 more days till Christmas!  I am enjoying a chocolate a day.
  Happy stitching.  

Friday, December 14, 2012

Scrappy shaded block from 5 " squares

    This is the block from my scrappy project from 5 inch squares.  Each block takes 4 sections.....2 of the dark/light HSTs and two of the 4 patch sections---one in light values and the other in dark values.   Each unit is 4 1/2" unfinished.
   Lay out the units into a block and join together.
 The block will be 8 1/2 " unfinished.

    Here is one block sewn.  It is a great illustration of value.  Notice the rosy square in the light area 4 is really a strong medium, but by placing it among the light fabrics, it appears lighter.  And  it adds just a bit of interest in the light values.   If placed in the dark half,  it stands  out as much  too light.
   Easy Street update:   I got caught up on the mystery from Bonnie Hunter.  And then what does she do?  The next step involves more "wings".....I am going to fall back to the optional no-waste method using squares rather than those tiny triangles.    I'll only need 8 of the large squares for this step!  Sounds better than 100 tiny triangles to me.  
   Sir Old Man cooked breakfast this morning!  Banana waffles were excellent.....and a movie this afternoon.  I better check the calendar, as it must be a special day.  Happy stitching.    

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gifts from the Queen of pickers

   I hereby bestow the title of 
"Queen of the Pickers" 
to my dear friend, Doreen. 
   I won't declare our ages, but know we have been friends since we were 18, and don't ask how long ago that was.  She loves to hit the yard sales, estate sales, and antique malls.  I remember one time we actually stuffed a large braid rug into the back of her small sports car.....OK, it hung out the back a bit, but we got it home.
   She loves to hunt down little things to send me for my antique sewing collection.  She did really good this time.  I love the tiny oil can, it is just so cute!  There was a cute tin of mother of pearl buttons, and an advertising needle set.  Another darling  box was filled with spools of ribbon, candles, magnetic picture frames and notepad.
   And fabric.....about 4 yards of adorable prints that will be perfect for doll quilts.  The one on the left is actually a pre-printed panel for a pillow.  The kittens  in the baskets just need to be a doll quilt.

  And there were some scraps--large pieces--of oriental fabric that I think is begging to be a tote bag.  Add that to the list for next year.

And at the very bottom of the box was a T-shirt.  Not just any tee, but one that made me giggle.  I mean who doesn't love Snoopy!    I know what I will be wearing this season.

  May your days be merry....thanks, girl, I love it all!
Happy stitching.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Welcome the Carolina Chickadee

Update to this post:   Can I just tell you how boring it is to sew "wings" on to triangles and squares!  I'm stitching on the Easy Street mystery quilt.  I am so very, very glad I decided to do half the number of blocks. So far, so good, I am on to step 3.

   I mentioned I was working on a  chickadee pattern I got from  Carol at The Landscape Lady .  She does beautiful art quilts and designs patterns for Craftsy.  Her original pattern was wider than long, which I loved, but it did not work for the wire hanger I have.  So, I did a little switching around and made mine longer.    This is basic fused applique with an extra layer of batting behind the chickadee and the pine cone for a little trapunto effect.   Carolina chickadee banner is 13" by 16".  A great winter welcome!
Happy stitching.   

Monday, December 10, 2012

4 patch methods

    I heard from a lot of you about the last post on reducing your usage on the Picasa Web I know many were busy the last couple of days resizing photos.  I have an album with 700 photos to resize, so yes, it takes a while but is worth the effort.  Hang in there!  One more hint.....while you are re-sizing photos, you can also add text for marking your photos in the Creative Kit online.  Most of my older photos are not marked, so I am taking the time to add my blog addy to them.

   Guess we all know how to make a basic 4 patch unit or block....cut 4 squares the same size, sew 2 together, then sew the 2 patch units together and you have a 4 patch.  Both the patterns I am working on call for 4 patch units, and I used different methods on both for each of them.  So I thought a little comparison would be good.
  First,  there's the  the mystery at Quiltville called Easy Street.  I know I said I would not do another mystery, but here I am in the midst of part 1.  I decided not to use gray, and  I chose a light blue.  Bonnie's preferred method of making 4 patch units calls for sewing the strips together, and matching the long strips in pairs before cutting  the 2 patch units.  Once cut they are already matched and just need to be joined and pressed.  She gives  excellent details and photos on her blog.
   Pros to this method....everything is matched up, and by working thru  the directions correctly the intersection seam does swirl and lie flat.
   Then there is the method  from Missouri Star Quilts that makes 4 patch units from pre-cuts or in my case
 5" squares.   It can also be adapted when working with jelly roll strips.      

   This technique worked perfect for this scrap quilt because I was concentrating on value rather than color.  I wanted 4 patch units  of light fabrics, and units of dark value fabrics.
  Rather than explain the whole technique, check the link above for the tutorial.  My photo shows the final cuts for the 4 patch units....all are different and very scrappy.  Perfect for this!
  Pros to this method.....quick,  working with large sections, produces very scrappy units, and you are not sewing small pieces together.

  I think there is a time and place for each method depending on what you are trying to achieve.  No cons to either method really.    I am about ready to put a block together for the scrap quilt....maybe tomorrow.  Happy stitching.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Need more photo space?

  Whether you know it or not, you have a Picasa web album space on Google if you have a blog with photos.  That is where the photos we upload to our blogs are stored......and if we go over the limit in size there is a charge.  One of those very pesky things that is in the very tiny fine print that we probably never got to reading when our blog was set up / modified in blogger changes.   I don't have ads on my blog, so why would I want to pay for photo space?   All those monthly charges are less fabric and thread I can purchase!
So here is how I am solving the situation for now......

  1.   Find your web  is the place to look.   Check the very bottom of your page and you should see  the amount of storage you are using.  I was around 60% and figured out how to reduce this without deleting photos.
   2.   This is time consuming but worth the effort.  Click on an album and bring up a photo.  On the right hand side of the page you will see the photo size shown.  If it is over 800 x 800 pixels you are using storage space.  So click on "Actions", and then on "edit in creative kit".  This will bring up the online editor and your photo.
  3.   Click "Resize"  on the left side of the page.  Change the largest pixel size to 800 and mark the "keep proportion" box.   Click apply.
  4.   Then you need to click on "Save to my Album" in the upper right corner.  A pop up box appears.....I choose "Replace"  photo in the album.   You will be returned to your web albums.
  I am working my way through the albums.....don't ask me why so many because I do not know.    My usage  is being reduced bit by bit, and I have 2 more large albums to go through.   As for current and new photos that I add.....I am making sure the upload size is reduced prior to putting on my blog.  But that's another story and there are much better explanations on other blogs on how to accomplish that.    

Friday, December 7, 2012

What to do with 5" squares

    Somewhere along the way I ran across this handy chart  from the Moda Bake Shop  with ideas on using 5" squares.  Since I have a large stash / box of 5 " squares, it seemed like a good time to put them to use.
   A few years ago I designed a simple quilt in EQ5 that used hsts and 4 patch units.  And these 5 " squares will work perfectly for this quilt.  It is totally scrappy---anything goes---and the size will just depend on the number of blocks I can get out of the scrap squares.   It is also a  quilt that relies on placement by  value, using mainly dark and light value fabrics.  A few mediums will work themselves in for some variety, of course.
  Waste not and a new FO for next year.....I'm already breaking my own rules because I plan on starting Bonnie's mystery quilt too.  Help!  Happy stitching.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What is Mary Jo's?

What is Mary Jo's?  A sewer's / quilter's smorgasbord  featuring fabric, fabric,  and more fabric!  Imagine a fabric store the size of a large grocery store, and you will get the idea of what awaits inside these doors.   The store is just off the Interstate 85 in Gastonia, North Carolina.....about 10 miles from Charlotte.  
   I thought I would share my visit with those of you who asked for photos and info.

 One side is all cotton and a quilter's heaven, while the rest of the store is bridal, dress, and home dec fabrics.   I won't even admit to how many hours and trips we made to MJ's for Deana's senior collections when she was in design school.  Just believe me, we all know the store very well!   Sir Old Man is well versed in carrying bolts of fabric to the cutting tables.

 Just one of the rows of batik fabrics.  I think I counted 3 aisles this time of Batiks only!

   Now I wonder why I noticed this aisle of black and white prints?
  You can find whole sections devoted to specific colors, like purple, and turquoise, and red, and get the idea!
Prints....florals this time.  But there are rows of reproduction fabrics, civil war prints, novelty prints, fruits, landscape, and on and on. 
   Our guild use to give an annual "Mary Jo's Shock Award" to the first time quilter who ventured into this store totally unaware of what to expect.  I have seen people wander around in a daze with no idea where to begin.  So go prepared with a shopping list!

   So what did I find?   From the scrap bin, I found a few batik ends for 75 cents and $1.50.  Could not resist them.    Considering that my main excuse for shopping was to pick up some muslin,  I really expanded my list once I got inside.  

   This is the rest of my pretties......3 yards of the Hoffman print from the clearance section, some purple, turquoise, and black and white and a strong dash of deep red.   I know I am coming late to the party for Bonnie's  mystery quilt.....but I think I may dive in now!

   And that's the Mary Jo's experience you should have at least once.  Let me know if you are in the area and I would love to meet you there.   Happy stitching!

Monday, December 3, 2012

For the birds

  A couple of really cute items came my way from my an early birthday.    One was the decorative birdhouse with the beautiful glass knob for the perch.  It is covered with all kinds of seed packet graphics!  I just love it.  So colorful and unique.  This is going into my sewing room for sure.

   On the left in the photo is a cage filled with nesting material for the birds!  I thought this was so creative.  The  cage is a type of feeder that usually holds a seed  and berry cake for birds. Instead, here it is filled with wool bits and ends that are too small for spinning.  Now  the birds can pick and pull out what they need to build their nests.    And I can add to it by saving bits of thread and tiny bits of batting, etc.  A way of recycling for the birds!   What I like to call "waste not".    Thank you, Deana, these two are just perfect for me.

   I had a great visit with my brother this weekend, and tomorrow we are heading for Charlotte for the day.  There's a stop at Mary Jo's planned for me---read fabric into that--- before we unload the furniture at Deana's that we have had in storage for her.   She leaves for the north on Friday....  :(   Yes, sad, but happy for them.  Happy stitching.  
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