Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Booking It...again

  Let's Book It over at Vrooman's quilts has kept me going this year.  So why miss out on a good thing?  Thanks, Sharon, for having the insight to enable so many of us to make those projects!
  From August....a finish.
I showed this a few days ago, but here it is again.  I called it A Nickle Saved because of the 5"squares that it used up.

Sonja's Windows  For the New Year, a new Let's Book It project.  I offered a PDF version of the pattern yesterday.  So far I have sent about a dozen off, but several commenters are "no-reply" bloggers.  That means I have no way to reply and send a pattern.  so either link your email or send me a personal email.
   I thought I would share a few tips to make the Sonja's Windows pattern.

Once the "slabs" of strips are made, you need to square them up to 14" by the pattern.  (Of course, you could make them smaller---like 12".)  But for this one, I think bigger is better.  I do not have a 15" square I rigged this up.

   By taping together two different rulers, I created something that would be stable and not shift while cutting.  I used my 12 1/2" square taped to a longer 6" ruler.   I used a wide blue painter's tape for this.   Then I used the narrow 1/4" masking tape to mark the correct edge measurement.  That is a help for these older eyes of mine.
  Secondly, I made the first cuts to size by trimming the long straight edges first before trimming the top and bottom---across the strips.
 Pin the corners before you sew  two slabs together.  Remember that one slab is running vertical strips and the other one is running horizontal strips.

  Then cut diagonally from corner to corner ---both ways.  You end up with 4 blocks that are 9".  The edges are bias, so don't cut until you are ready to add the narrow strips to stabilize the blocks.

    This is the first batch of blocks with the added strip in a goldish tan. Actually, I am using a couple of different fabrics of the tan.  Also, you might note that some of my strings/strips are pieced.....I needed to do that to get enough length for some pieces.
  More slabs to make....more strips to piece....a couple of quilts to make.
Happy stitching....while Booking It!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

String/strip busting pattern

Sonja's Windows  Time for some string/strip busting around here.  My string bins are overflowing with cut off pieces and leftover strips.  I refuse to move them to larger bins, so it is time to do something about them.   I have them sorted---mostly---by color family.  I pulled out the idea file and found this oldie but goodie.
   This is called Sonja's Windows. And I blatantly stole the photo!    It is from America Loves Scrap Quilts 2009.  The quilt shown is by Candace Hassen.  She was a guest speaker at guild last year, and I really liked this one.   It should be good for using up some strips and strings.
  You begin with a 14" slab of straight strings and strips.  I am playing around with color family that hopefully, one diagonal section  will be of a color family.  Then I think I will mix up the colors in  some other slabs for the other half section.   What is nifty about this pattern.....from 2 slabs  you will get 4 blocks!  More about that later when I get to that part.
   I call this mindless sewing....just the hum of the machine, one string after another until it is wide enough.  My mind wanders and relaxes, while I digest the holidays and anything else that creeps in to my brain.  I am not ready to tackle anything complicated or planned.  I want the cobwebs to float away and be refreshed for the new year in a few days.
   So if you want to join me for a little slab sewing, I have the full pattern in a pdf file......I will be naughty and share, if asked.   That is if the quilt police don't catch me.   Happy stitching.  

NOTE:   Be sure you have your email response turned on.  I can not email you the PDF if you are a no reply blogger!  You will need to send me a direct email otherwise.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wood shop and a finish

From the wood shop:
Some progress on the bed.....

It is time for a "dry fit" to ensure that all the pieces are cut to the right length.   This is the food board section.  This part is much like checking the pieces of a block that are want to make sure you did not over look something before piecing begins.  
    And the next photo is a detail of one of the legs.  I love the slight taper and the extra routed detail.  

   Sir Old Man informed me he needs a few more boards to finish up the head board slats.  So it will be a trip to the wood  Translated that can go get more fabric, if I can get more wood!  Sounds like a fair deal to me.  
   So while there is progress, there is a long way to go.  Sanding, and fuming, more sanding, finally assembly and then the finish goes on.  I think there is more sanding involved with that too.   Like making a quilt, there are steps and details involved that no one ever sees or thinks about.  I am enjoying watching the process.

  I began this project as a stash buster and a Let's Book It project back in August!  Click here for that post.    I have been working on it  off and on, between other things since then.  I used up my stash of 5 " squares and decided to call it done.

   Naming this one was easy....5" squares are nickles, so A Nickle Saved it is.   I decided to just use straight line quilting on either side of the dividing strip, just to keep it simple.

  This pattern is simple, and effective one to keep in mind for those large scraps.  I like mixing it all up, but it would be great with batiks, or solids with mixed lattice strips.   
    I still have a couple more quilts ready to machine quilt before I jump into new projects......but I do have plans for 2015.  It will be time to make more scraps.
Happy stitching.  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Four Days before.....

  With sincere apologies to the real poets of the world......
Four days before Christmas, I had just checked my list.
 Gifts were bought and cookies were made.
Today I'll do laundry, so clean clothes will abound.
I was just sitting down, and there arose such a clatter.
I jumped from my chair to see what was the matter.
The racket was loud, vibrating, a clank.
Sir Old Man came a running, as he yelled "Shut her down".
 Out came the pliers, a screwdriver, and such.
Oh,  there's the flashlight, and the vacuum we need.
Up came the lid, off went the back.
The lint was a flying, while looking
for something  that had to be stuck.
Not the basket, nor belt, no mouse could be seen.
Not a sock, or a goblin making it scream.
Unbolt the front and what did he see.
The fan was dismounted, come loose it would seem.
A screw that was loose had created the scene.
Mrs. Claus feels exhausted, quite shaken you know.
Wet clothes on some hangers are nothing to show.
Sir Old Man is so handy, always ready to work.....
Disaster  averted, all is well...I was such a jerk!
Insight:  Before a holiday, expect an appliance to break or malfunction.  It is part of the cycle of life.  And your temper tantrums do not help.

 So on a merrier note....... my favorite little hang up for Christmas.  He always makes me smile.  And after today, a little cheer will cover me quite well.  My lists are long for the next few days, so I will return next weekend.

  May you find some peace and solace during this season with friends and family.  Hug them, and love them.  Hold on to them tightly and cherish each moment.  The gift of yourself is the one that counts.  And a little fabric never hurts :)

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 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


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 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 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 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 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.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Seeing Red

Seeing red, in this case, is not a bad thing.  I just seem to have a color fixation on red this week.  Both my small projects were heavy on the red and white.....then a red binding  and I am seeing red.

A Cardinal Sings
Christmas Baubles

   Sir Old Man was gracious today and took me to my favorite quilt shop while running errands......we found some white background fabric, a few reds in this particular shade, and a couple of cool blues.  I am quite taken with this project, so a blue one is up next.....but I may do another larger one in red  :)
It's from BabyLock website, an embroidered (by machine) small wall hanging.  So you lucky gals with the embroidery machines could do your own version.  
I have fabric to wash....then happy stitching.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Throwing out some inspiration.

The scrappy top is assembled.    I couldn't find a movie to watch, so I enlisted the aid of the Property Brothers.  Three episodes later, all the scrappy blocks were stitched into a top!  I gave it a good press today and waited for the afternoon shadows to take a photo.   I began this back in August---here is the post----  as a Let's Book It project.  Once quilted, this little throw at 60" will go on the donation stack.

  That meant I could play this afternoon........wonder what she had waiting to try?

I wanted to try stitching a winter a wall hanging I had seen on Pinterest.   So I thought I would experiment.  Instead of the pale blue, I tried the deep burgundy thread.
   First, I thought the technique was all about the quilting.....the colored bauble is really more of a thread sketching using quilting stitches.  It is tough to get good looking stitches, when you are working that small/close/teeny tiny and quilting through batting.  The back is so ugly that I would not let you see it.   Nope, this is not enjoyable for me.

  Second, I noticed a vast improvement in  the McTavishing stitches....I finally am getting the hang of it.  Those "c" stitches make all the difference!

  Third, I decided to try an inspiration of the original on Pinterest.  Beautiful red fabrics for the applique.....a couple of them were from a older charm pack of Christmas fabric.
  I think Christmas Baubles turned out good for a first try!  The shapes I found in EQ7.  I just played around with the sizes.  Light Heat and Bond for the fusible, and stitched with a zig-zag stitch.  This is only about 12" by 20"....a good size for a door banner.    A red binding and this one can be up before next month arrives.
   Wonder if I should try this in pale blues?  Someone stop me.....I need to buy fabrics for more of these!  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

What to do with strings

   I ended up with only 4 string blocks from the weekend play time.  The rest of the time was spent hemming slacks, but that is another story.  So only 4 string blocks, and a little imagination, some fusible pieces and  you get......

A small table topper hanging!  Ready to be quilted and displayed next month.

   A small project always motivates me to tackle what needs to be worked  next up are the scrappy blocks on the design wall.    I have 3 rows sewn.....and it really looks much better than this photo shows.
   I get to the assembly stage on some projects and just get a bit bored.  OK, I get a lot bored.   But I rely on my self imposed rule of  3 to prevent this from becoming a full/total/complete UFO.

    So I am numbering rows and hoping for a good movie just made for sewing rows while watching.  This will go in my stack of quilts for replace one I will deliver on Wednesday.  You can never have too many quilts to share, and there is always someone who needs to be covered.   Especially at this time of year, I am thankful I can share my gift.   Stay warm, and  Happy stitching.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Musing on Fall to Winter

   What happened to our fall?  Like the other 2/3's of the country we went to freezing temperatures overnight.  And we will likely stay there for a good while.
   Fall to me is the time for baking, and finishing up projects, and preparing for the holidays, cool nights and warm days.  This year that time has been snapped up and taken over by frosty nights, and cloudy days.  I did get several days of baking in this week....pumpkin swirl bread and glazed pecans for gifts.
   Then I began to tackle drawers that were full of just "stuff".  On to the closet, and I pared that down quite a bit.  I tend to wear the same items over and over, so why do I have all that other stuff in there?  Out with it!!  Three full  and extra large bags of items to be donated.   The benefit was lots of space in the closet!
   Next a shopping trip---lol---for some updated replacements that I will wear.   No jeans...I have enough...., but I did find a purple sweater that I fell in love with.  That should make it easy to find me in a crowd....:)

   And that was the good part of the week......the other 2 days were spent on the phone and computer comparing insurance and drug plans.  If you are approaching that month for know what I mean.  I can not find words to express the frustration with the quagmire that you have to wade through.  There is nothing easy, simple or pleasant about this task.  It is difficult to get a straight answer to your questions.....all answers seem to be scripted versions no matter who you talk to.  Comparisons of plans are almost impossible because the numbers are "hidden" depending on which company has a deal with which pharmacy or drug company you select or need.  In essence, I feel like I fell into the deep freeze of winter.
    Now I need some therapy....of the stitching kind.  I plan on spending a couple of full days this week in the sewing room getting just what I need.   I have projects to finish up and I think some string piecing would be good for the soul.  Happy stitching.
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