Thursday, December 30, 2010

Random Facts about Me

Ok, guess after several years of this, I should let you in on some of the more interesting facts about yours truly!

Random is pretty easy for me, because I am a pretty random person. My thought process never runs in a straight line, but hops, skips and jumps around from topic to topic. Our family conversations run like this, too. You just never know what will happen next!

I love art. I could spend hours in museums just looking at paintings, sculptures, and any kind of interesting creations. Unfortunately I live in a small town, so just can't get enough of it.

I don't have a musical bone in my body. I joke about it, but would seriously love to have a musical talent transplant. Or even a little gracefulness sprinkled in, because I'm also quite a klutz. I really think these two facts are related somehow.

I talk to myself. All the time. Especially in the car when I am alone. It's a little scary.

I have a hard time choosing a favorite anything. My husband easily rattles off lists of top 10 movies, foods, football players, things he's done in his life. For me, my favorite thing is the one I am doing right now. Even my favorite color changes as my mood does. And a favorite movie list? Makes me nervous just thinking of trying to rank them!

When I am upset and unhappy I clean. Guess I must be happy this week cause my house is a disaster area!

I think if I could choose an alternate career, it would be fun to be a stand up comedian. I love to make people laugh. Humor is a great antidote to the trials of life. In reality, the pressure of coming up with new material would probably erase any hint of humor from my life, though!

I love chocolate. Any chocolate.

I am a huge science fiction fan. Ray Bradbury was one of my favorites growing up. I love the idea of space and exploring the universe.

I am a clutter monster. I hate to get rid of anything, but am working hard on this. On the other hand, I absolutely adore modern design with it's clean uncluttered look. Guess I need to seek a middle ground somehow, right?

I am very competitive. Must win. I'm not a poor sport and do lose graciously, but believe me, I will ramp it up for next time and get you back!

And I guess if you read much here, that I love to write. I hope to do more of that this year, as well as being more disciplined and focused. I feel like much of the time I fly by the seat of my pants, while that is a fun and exciting approach it is not always the most productive. I really would like to take some of the energy I have and use it in a more concentrated manner and see what I can really do instead of just dreaming. I guess that's the New Year sneaking up on me, it's a good time to set goals and make changes. It's like starting fresh, anything can happen!

Now I will go put some of these thoughts into action, and clean up my house a bit. Hope you will join me in 2011 and see what we can accomplish!



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Last Quilt of 2010?

I can't absolutely promise, but I think it quite likely that this will be the last quilt I finish in 2010. Next year I plan to be better about keeping track of how many quilts I actually finish in a year - I know there where quite a few this year, but I'm not sure if I can actually number them all. Maybe over the next couple of days I will see if I can backtrack and figure it out!
For the next couple of days I am going to spend some time cleaning up and organizing in my sewing room. I want to make a list of UFOs to finish, as well as a plan for working on some of the other projects that aren't even started yet, but I have purchased supplies for. I hope to be able to finish quite a few of these this year and clean out some breathing room in my space - I'm pretty tired of all the clutter and mess that I seem to deal with on a daily basis.

Back to the quilt - I think I am going to call it Dragonfly Dance. It is about 42 inches square and is made from the leftover pieces from another quilt. I actually had some good sized pieces of yardage, plenty to make this quilt top and have a bit of the bright green-blue left for my stash! I put the top together back in October, but hadn't found the right backing for it. I had in mind using some green or blue fabric, but wasn't having any luck finding what I had in mind. Tonight I felt like doing some simple quilting, so decided to look through my stash again and see what I might find, since organizing and clearing out the closet. I immediately spotted a tone on tone black print which was perfect. And there was plenty of it! So, a quick press, baste and I was in business quilting away. I even had a lovely green variegated thread that looks super on the top! Instant gratification, and one more off my list - definitely a pleasant evening!
Hopefully I can get a lot of cleaning done tomorrow, then I can do some more quilting - but at least I'm happy getting this one done!
In stitches,

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night (or Why Santa loves the Postal Service!)

A Gift for a Quilter

Twas the night before Christmas
And thought Santa tried
Not every present got delivered
Due to a rough ride.
The lightening flashed brilliant
And thunder did rumble,
Our lead reindeer Rudolph
Took quite a tumble
The magic sack Santa grasped,
But out of the top
Several packages slipped through
Before He could stop.
Those packages were filled
With Fabric and notions
For a quilter who lived
By the side of the Ocean.
Oh no, Santa shouted,
They cannot be lost
We must retrieve them
No matter the cost!
On Dasher, on Dancer,
He cried out in a fury,
This is important, you
Really must hurry!
They raced through the rain,
And cut through the wind,
And retrieved those packages
For their quilting friend.
Though daylight had broken
And Children were at play
Santa knew all was well, our quilter
Would forgive the delay,
So he sipped tea by the fire,
Satisfied by a happy end,
Wrapped up in the quilt
Made by his dear friend.
Santa sighed, knowing that
He had given his all,
Wishing our quilter the most
Merry Christmas of all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Eggnog Cake Fail

My husband found a recipe that sounded delicious in the newspaper on Tuesday - Eggnog Cake. I am a decent baker, so wasn't worried too much about making it - and we all love Eggnog around here after all, so I was pretty sure it would be a hit.
I got in a hurry, and decided instead of going to the store I would substitute regular flour + cornstarch for the cake flour and butter flavored crisco for the butter (yes, I know, it's not the same thing, but the package says that you can substitute it for butter in baking recipes). The batter mixed up great and looked wonderful, but when I checked the cake at the shortest baking time it was definitely still not fully cooked. When I checked it at the longer time, the center had collapsed. Sad.
It is a yummy cake, though, and I think I might attempt it again, but will use real butter as well as cake flour next time before I declare the recipe a total loss.
On the other hand, the Boston girl and I managed to get an entire quilt top (baby) done yesterday as well as start a second one. She's getting pretty good at this sewing thing!
Joyeux Noel!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Fun!

We had a bit of an early Christmas this year - we traveled up to Portland and spent an evening with all 5 of the girls together, just having a fun time. It was lovely! I took lots of (bad) pictures, but got a few cute ones. This is my girls, all in age order from youngest to oldest. Aren't they pretty? Sassy, too, right?

We had planned on spending the evening at the zoo, but as it was cold and rainy decided not to do that and had a wonderful time just hanging out, laughing at the grandsons, and eating goodies. It could not have been any better! Now we are back home with our girl from Boston, just taking it easy and enjoying a few days of holiday fun. I made fudge last night and it is way too good to resist. I guess that's why the diet always starts after the New Year comes!

Today, we plan on tackling the annual baby quilt marathon. We have three to make, but we have several days to work on them. Today I have assigned the quilter in training to press all her fabric while I go to work and finish the newsletter. Then we will do the cutting and start sewing this afternoon. Should be fun - at leat for me. I think it's a little stressful for her - but she gets better every year!

Merry Christmas to all!

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Crossing the Finish Line!

Yes, I have crossed the finish line, picture me - hands upraised, chest out, in full stride with a jubilant smile on my face - victorious! Now that my quilting jobs are done for this season I can start into holiday mode, and I think it will be a lovely one this year, especially being with all of my children - definitely the best gift of all.
Autumn Winds is finished and ready to be sent off to her new home. I really love this quilt and it was so much fun to work on. I may work with this theme more in the new year, we will see - my original plan was to create one of these for each month of the year, so I might actually do that this year, then put them all together into one quilt. That could be very fun. (Not in this large size, though!)

And Snail's Trail 2 is done also! These were fun to work on also, I loved the bright colors, ijt really is a pick me up during these short winter days to work with bright colors.

So, now, my main goal is to get my sewing room cleaned up. I can see some free-cycle posts in my future as well as a few Salvation Army runs. I am asking myself if I really want to work on all of the projects I have piled up. And if I really WILL work on them in the near future. I have a drawer full of tops to quilt, a drawer full of fabric waiting to be made into tops, and piles of fabric waiting for an idea to strike. Not to mention the bin of strips for string blocks. I suppose most of us quilters are like this, too many projects, not enough time!

So with that deep thought I am off for the day, I am looking forward to entertaining some friends later this morning and showing my work space to them. (They are non-quilters, but all are creative so they know how the projects pile up!) I am grateful for sunshine today, for friends, and for finished projects and some free time!

In stitches!


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Larger Than Life

I was recently asked to make a project of mine in a much larger size than the original. In more than one way, this project is larger than life....because it is actually a self portrait and the finished quilt is definitely larger than real life! I thought I had already blogged about the progression of this project, but since I can't find the post, I must not have. So I must start at the beginning!

This project had it's beginning in February of 2006 - I was exploring the idea of making journal pages. Unfortunately this was the only one I did that year, but I was really happy with it and always intented to come back and do more. This quilt was a self portrait - me standing in a cold windy Oregon rain. I purposely used a blue fabric for my skin because that's what I remember about that winter was it was cold, wet and windy. I put a New York Beauty block on the back of it, then embelished this side with some sparkly fiber. I quilted it with a lot of McTavishing and echoing. I brought it in to the quilt shop and it ended up hanging with a group of other self-portraits - and is still there!

Fast forward a few years, I was out walking on one of those perfect, beautiful fall days and looking up at a clear blue sky through brilliant colored leaves I had the idea to make another quilt using the same basic layout as the first one. After my walk I found the templates I had used for the first piece (after a bit of searching, of course!) and pulled fabric from my stash that reflected the lovely colors of the day. This quilt was more simply finished, just basic outline quilting and no embellishment. I enjoyed it for a while, then decided to add it to my Etsy shop for sale.

One more skip forward and we come to the present, and the larger project! I had a request on Etsy to make a larger version of this to cover a futon. Not being one to back down from a challenge, I readily agreed to make it, thinking that with the help of EQ7 it wouldn't be too hard to import my first quilt and creat templates for the pieces. In reality it was more challenging than I thought it would be, but totally worth it!

The image was very easy to import into the program. Tracing the pieces was a bit tedious, but not overly difficult. What was hard was making the proportions work. Luckily my daughter was able to assist me so that my face doesn't look like I could have beat Quasimodo out for the crown of King of Fools!

This picture is my quilt at the end of the fusing process, before quilting. Another thing I didn't realize when I started it was the challenge that merely handling these large pieces would end up being! Luckily I have a pressing mat for my large cutting table, so that helped immensely, but in order to make my templates for the pieces I had to tape quite a few pieces of paper together, then trace them onto fusible web, then iron the pieces to fabric, cut them out and put it all together.

It took me longer than I thought to get it all together, but I am really pleased with the end product! This will definitely be a statement in my customer's room and I am so pleased that my larger Than life Autumn Winds quilt will be enjoyed and appreciated. Does this mean that I might really be able to call myself a "Quilt Artist" after all? Frankly it doesn't matter what I call myself, as long as I enjoy the process I will continue to challenge myself and enjoy what I do - whether it means making traditional blocks, or creating unique works of quilted art!

In Stitches,


Saturday, December 04, 2010

Snails Trail Twin #1

Since Thanksgiving I have been hard at work on a couple of custom quilt orders. One is for two full size quilts done in the Snail's Trail pattern. One quilt will be orange and blue with green highlights. (It is finished and mailed out!) The second is orange and green with blue highlights. I have it cut out and ready to start sewing. They are such bright and happy quilts, it has been nice working on them during the gray and rainy days we've had lately.

As you can see - my resident quilt inspector agrees - this was within 5 minutes of me finishing quilting it!

I'm taking a quick break before stitching on the second quilt to work on the other project. The second involves me taking a small quilt I made and translating my idea into a larger format, and changing it to a landscape version! It is fun, challenging, a little frightening (fusing large swatches of fabric is definitely not what I am used to doing), and altogether enjoyable! When I finish the large one I will post pictures of them both and let you all tell me what you think of it. And tell the whole story behind the piece as well.
And we celebrated our middle daughters birthday today! Happy Birthday, Catie!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Crazy Jane - D-8

I've only been working on this project for over 6 years now, it's about time it had a name - so Crazy Jane it is. Cause I will probably be crazy before it ever gets finished! When I started this I had a hair brained idea that I would do one block every day and have it done before the year was out. So here I am, almost 7 years later and only 1/4 of the way finished. Oh well. I am going to strive for a block a week, and we'll see if I get inspired to do more!

I had hoped to finish this block sooner this week, but that didn't work out. But it's done, and looks absolutely smashing! I think it looks a bit like a snow flake actually. It was a very straightforward block, just applique the 8 pieces in place. Pretty easy. I folded the background block in half diagonally and horizontally and vertically to make placement lines for the pieces. I stitched the footballs first, then the diamonds. I used a neat technique of painting starch on the seam allowances before pressing them under to make them nice and crisp. (Then I got a little sidetracked and made a roll for my paintbrushes so I didn't have to stuff them back in a plastic baggie in my drawer.)

Pictures done, added a swatch to my sheet for this page and crossed it off the list! Next block is D-11 and it's a bit tricky. Piecing, odd angles and some applique. Might have to go study up on that one!

Happy sewing!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bargello Quilt, Second Thoughts

Well, maybe I was being a little too mean about the table runner last night. Or maybe it's the walking foot's way of catching on the batting and making it hard to get the whole thing out from underneath the foot every time. Or just maybe I'm in a little better mood today, and am almost done with the project so it's more fun? Who knows. But I finished up the last dozen strips and it went so much easier today!
I just used my regular foot today because I forgot that I had taken the walking foot off to hem some drapes last night. But it sewed just as well, and was much easier to use with the exposed batting. I didn't notice any distortion, but did have to watch the seam allowances, which wanted to flip. But it was still much easier!
So after I finished up the strips I trimmed the edges and put the binding on. And it looked terrific! Now if this way my design, I probably just would have left it as is. I'm a Less is More kind of gal and don't always like to add a lot of embellishment and extras to my projects. But the pattern called for some decoration.
But instead of the ones in the pattern, I chose to add some fairies cut out of the fabric I used for the backing. They look so cute on the runner! So now, I just have to edgestitch the cut-outs and just maybe look through my stash of pretties to find some beads, crystals or other fancy stuff to add to the cuteness. I guess even "plain Jane" likes to go a little over the top from time to time!
Happy Quilting

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

B is for Bargello

No, this is not a traditional Bargello quilt. This is what I call my free-form Bargello. I was inspired by a set of fat quarters, and this is what I did with them. I had a vision of the Northern lights dancing across the sky, and this was the best way I could think of to express that. I love it, and had a lot of fun making it!

Today I was working on a table runner that I am supposed to be teaching a class for in a month. It is made with a traditional, quilt as you go, Bargello technique. It's going to be really pretty when it's done, but I don't think it is nearly as fun as my quilt is. For one thing, sewing those strips down to the backing and batting and keeping them straight is not that easy. I keep having to adjust slightly, even though I am using a walking foot. Plus, I think all those perfectly matched corners are a little boring. And even though the quilting will be complete when I am done with the table runner, I really was able to add a lot of character with the quilting in my free-form quilt.

I am glad I tried this Bargello project, and even though I don't really like the technique so much, it's always a good thing to learn something new! Plus, the pattern is really well written and I haven't had any trouble following it at all. So, if you want to make a really pretty table runner for Christmas, I have a pattern I can recommend.

Happy Quilting!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Getting back to Jane - D-7

My quilting pal who is also stalled on her Dear Jane quilt and I decided to challenge each other to get back on the project. The challenge is a simple one, just make one block each week before the next quilt guild meeting. I hope this will spur me on toward getting this project finished within the next year or so - at least the top. I think I will want to hand quilt this one, so that part will probably take me a while as well.

This block is D-7 and it was super easy! I made the side triangles by piecing a strip of the blue with the white, then cutting into the triangles. The sides and center were cut in strips, I sewed it up like a 9 patch, the trimmed the corners to the correct size. Woo-hoo! Block 1 for November is done! Now to add the color swatch to the right card and put the block in the envelope for the D row. The next block is hand applique and I have it cut out in a kit, ready to go. So I will work on that through the week and have it done by next Monday!
Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Quiltsy Team Holiday Challenge

One of my teams on Etsy is having a challenge, just for the fun of it and bragging rights. I'm not in it, but you might like to go vote for one of the entries, they are all lovely! Just click on the picture to go to the blog and vote:
Don't forget to check out the challenge items and vote for your favorite!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

First Meeting finally finished!

This was on my list of UFOs to work on this week. It's been in the bottom of my current project pile for months. I thought I was finished with it last year, but my husband (the man who is represented in the picture and the future owner of the quilt) requested that I add some words to the plain brown unquilted borders. Since this was a little out of my comfort zone I have been doing some major procrastination about it, and since he hasn't asked where the quilt just wasn't getting finished. But it was causing me a great deal of guilt every time I would look at my pile. So today was the day I decided to tackle it!

I could not believe how much I actually enjoyed the process of figuring out how to add the words and achieving the effect I wanted. At first I thought I would make a rectangle like an engraved label and cut the letters out, letting the brown show through. After booting up EQ7 and playing for a bit I decided to applique the letters directly to the border using some kind of gold colored fabric. I then went into the sewing room looking for the right fabric. I dug through my stash for a few minutes, then my eye landed on a rolled fat quarter of gold satin that was given to me by a friend. Perfect! Well, maybe. First I had to test out a couple of letters to see if it was practical to fuse and applique satin letters. To my suprise, it worked out pretty well. I wouldn't do it on something that would get a lot of wear, but this is a wall-hanging, so the tendency to fray won't matter much.

I spent a pleasant hour or so tracing and fusing, cutting, then fusing again and was thrilled at the results. I then loaded up my machine with some silk thread and stitched around the letters. I then drew an outline around my letters to look like an engraved plaque. That's the point where I took the picture. After this I added some stitching that looks like wood grain on the rest of the brown border. I did some more stitching on the body of the quilt, fixing my husbands hair so it's not so white, and adding some white to the horse's rear foot. Now I just have to sew the hanging sleeve on and it is finished! I'm so happy to get this done - no more guilt, and my husband will have his quilt to hang in his office.

Maybe next time I won't procrastinate so much about doing something I'm not confident with. After all, doing something badly is better than never doing anything at all!

Happy Sewing!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Ups and Downs

Seems like life is just full of ups and downs. Some of them are big and some of them are small. Somehow they all seem to even out for the most part. I'm always grateful for the high points and try to enjoy every moment, and when I am in a low I try to look for the bright side - I think that there is nothing to be gained in wallowing in your misery.

Sometimes it seems like when you've had a big up - like a wonderful trip of your dreams to a great place like Paris - that you end up paying for it with a bit of a down time. I guess that's normal, but I don't like it. I'd much rather be in my usual happy place, puttering around in my sewing room doing this and that. But I'm getting there again!

I'm ready for some new inspirations - isn't this a lovely one? It makes me think it's time to brush up on my applique skills! But, just like when you have a meeting you start out with the old business - before I go starting some new projects, I am working on finishing up some neglected ones. Many thanks to Pat Sloan and her blog for getting me organized and fired up about working on some of those things that are just hanging about my sewing room. So far, I've finished up a table runner and a wall-hanging. I'm thinking through what I need to do to finish up a quilt for my husband - he wants words on it. I think I might just tackle that tomorrow. And I have a couple of Christmas projects that I want to finish up that will be for sale. So, perhaps some finishing up will inspire some future creativity. At the least it will help create a little more room for that inspiration to show up! And in the meantime, it's another step up to a happier me!

Happy sewing!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trigonometry for Dummies?

My poor daughter was pulling her hair out last night and this morning because she has a big Trigonometry test today. After giving her the usual "good mom" advice about keeping up better on the homework and getting help before the test I hugged her and said "I remember those days. Do you suppose they make a Dummies book for Trigonometry?" At least that got a smile out of her - that, and my confession that my alternative career choice would have been stand up comedian!
I did survive Trig, though I am of absolutely no help with it now. She has a fancy scientific calculator, and I remember endless formulas done by hand. I have a vivid memory of sitting in the class one day, feeling miserably sick to my stomach but refusing to leave because I did not want to miss the class and get behind. Thankfully I passed, but sadly my life as a mother and homework monitor has pushed any residual knowledge of higher math to the inaccessible regions of my brain. My life as a quilter, though, has definitely sharpened my understanding of basic geometry!

In fact my ability with math has greatly enhanced my quilting, giving me the ability to draft blocks in any size I desire, and even makes shopping for fabric an easier task as I can estimate the amount of yardage needed for a backing or a border. I find that the reason why a lot of people stick to basic patterns is that they don't like doing the math and find that it's easier to simply follow a list than it is to create something of their own, so I am glad that my math skills have helped me create my own unique quilts!

If you are working with triangles, you definitely need to have a handle on your fractions because a half-square triangle of any certain size needs to be cut 7/8 of an inch larger for the seam allowances. And good old Pythagoras? His theorem tells us how to figure the diagonal line of the square, very useful for setting blocks on point and figuring the size of those setting triangles we'll be needing.

In order to figure yardage you are definitely going to have to do some multiplying and dividing, then you'll probably have to convert your numbers into actual yardage so knowing how to do that is important - here is a handy Cheat Sheet for converting fractions into decimals and inches into yards or decimals. I can usually do it in my head (due to working in a quilt shop!) but sometimes it's nice to have an easy print out to refer to so you can save your brain for deciding on color schemes!

In fact, quilters use math so much we even have a special calculator made just for us! The Quilter's Fabric-calc is available in many quilt shops and is a handy tool to help make the math a little easier! I'm all about tools, but this is one that hasn't found it's way into my arsenal yet. It does look interesting, though!

Now, not every quilter needs to have passed Trigonometry, but it really does help to have a grasp on your basic math skills. I just look on quilting as one more way to keep my brain active, which is a very good thing. Now I just wish there was a way I could make quilting a more aerobic activity so I wouldn't have to figure out a way to keep my body as active as my brain is. I suppose I'll have to stick with daydreaming about quilts when I do my daily miles!
Happy Quilting!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fall Decor from the Quiltsy Team

Fall is my favorite season, and I always enjoy getting out my seasonal decorations. I have several quilts that I look forward to displaying and using during these months. I now live on the Oregon coast, where the autumn is not quite as colorful, and they bring the colors of fall into my house bringing back fond memories of the fall season where I grew up. Quilts help me mark the change of season, and nothing is more warming than a cozy lap quilt on a rainy fall evening!

In my home we enjoy fall quilts as wall hangings, table toppers, and potholders. They are made in warm shades of brown, orange, and gold with accents of green and purple. I have a small quilt that hangs on the door of the coat closet, and it is a delightful small thing that makes me smile every time I walk by. For me, nothing says fall like a lovely quilt!

These two collages show some of the fine quilted items made in fall colors that you will find on Etsy. Any of these would bring a warm, homey feeling to your fall home decor.
For more items by our team, search Quiltsy Team on Etsy - you're sure to find many lovely items that would look great in your home!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Beautiful Day

After all my ramblings yesterday about lovely late summer days, we had one of the best ones ever today. A wonderful warm, windless day and a beautiful clear crisp night. One of those days that you just want to go on endlessly. So nice!

Tonight was my first guild meeting as DPP (Distinguished Past President) and it was fabulous! Not only did I arrive at the meeting without a ton of baggage, but I also snuck out early so I could relax at home with my family. I am glad I did my service to the guild, but I am so excited to be able to enjoy meetings again without any stress!

One of the highlights of my meeting was being presented with my special presidents quilt. Well, at least I got to see it, it's not quite finished, but that's quite all right, it's too hot for a quilt right now anyway. It's a pretty scrappy star quilt and has signatures in the border. I will be excited to have it finished and to be able to enjoy it as a lap quilt this winter. Isn't it funny that as a quilter we can make any quilt we want, but it's really special to get one that we don't have to make ourselves?

I did some hand quilting this afternoon on my little scrappy star miniature quilt. I've entered it in the quilt show in 2 weeks, so I need to get it finished! I got three of the 12 stars quilted, so I am off to a good start. I also have a queen size quilt to machine quilt, so I hope to get that basted this weekend. I'm glad I was sensible and didn't commit to finishing 12 quilts for the show this year. Anyway, I enjoyed the hand quilting - I forget how pleasant and almost meditative hand quilting is. Once I get myself settled I find it to be quite relaxing - I really need to continue with hand projects because they are so enjoyable, and it's good to keep up my skills.

Tomorrow is more work at the Quilt Shop, registering the girl for school, and possibly a foot-ball game. And hopefully another lovely September day!

Bon Soir!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

I love September

Every since I can remember, I have loved September. Even though it did mean going back to school as a child, I still loved it. I loved the way the sun shines at a different angle, the cool nights and warm days, just the feeling of the air is different. The sky seems somehow more blue, and there is a peacefulness that seems to settle over me, knowing that another fall is about to begin.

I loved the new clothes for school, not to mention notebooks, pencils, erasers, and best of all - a brand new box of color crayons! MMMM - the smell of them still makes me smile! Seeing all your old friends, and making some new ones. Just the sense of a new beginning that the school year brought was always something I enjoyed.

As a mom, I enjoyed the start of a new school year because every year it meant a little more time for me, and for quilting! Now I only have one child in school, and it means that I'm usually a little more busy than in summer, but it's also the start of my quilt guild year, which is fun. This year I am looking forward to Quilt Guild because now I am a DPP (Distinguished Past President)! Which means I get to sit with my friends and enjoy the meeting, not stand up in front and run the meeting - WOOHOO!

We also have our annual Quilt Show in September, which I am looking forward to. I am on the publicity committee, so I am busy putting out posters and sending out Press Releases. I have one more quilt to finish, so will have to get busy on that this week, maybe I will actually baste it tomorrow. Anyway, I'm getting back into the groove a little at a time. Maybe that's something I learned from my vacation in Paris. To take time with a cup of coffee and savor the moment - to enjoy the day and savor every day for what it is.

Bon Soir!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bon Jour!

I have just returned from my dream vacation - a week in Paris, France! I have wanted to visit Paris since taking my first French class back in Junior High School, and it was all I ever dreamed it would be. My oldest daughter and I had such a fabulous (not to mention exhausting) time walking the streets, museums and cathedrals of this beautiful place. How do you say We Came, We Ate, We walked our feet off in latin?

Between leasurely meals in cafes, and lots of metro rides we saw some of the great historic sights of the city of lights. We saw L'Arc de Triomphe by day and by twilight, watched the graceful Eiffel Tower explode in twinkling lights, climbed the towers of graceful cathedrals and admired some of the most beautiful art I have ever seen. We admired Winged Victory, Mona Lisa and Monet's Water Lilies.

We admired the lovely bridges from above and below, and photographed Notre Dame from every angle known to man. We cruised the Seine by twilight, and enjoyed the sights of Paris at night as well as by day.

We walked 75 miles in one week, racked up who knows how many miles in the metro as well as thousands of miles flying. Our feet and backs and legs got sore and tired, but we couldn't stop - there was still so much to see and do and experience! We slept like rocks at night and got up to do it all again the next day.

We experienced the frustrations of long lines and crowded museums. We got pleasantly lost, then found our way again. The french people were so pleasant, and we had fun meeting fellow tourists that spoke our language. The weather was cool and wet, then cloudy, then sunny and hot! We ate crepes, drank coffee, but never did find an eclair - so sad! But we did find the quilt shop :)

On our way to the airport we felt like we were running the Amazing Race. We got on the wrong Metro, were short of money for tickets and the credit card wouldn't work, and one of our suitcase handles broke! Then we ended up in the wrong terminal and were seriously afraid that we were not going to make our flight - but we did! We discovered that Air Canada is fabulous - best flight ever! Once home I rediscovered sleep, and couldn't get enough of it for several days.

Now that Jet Lag is abating, I am ready to return to my studio and capture some of these great memories in fabric - but where to start? One step at a time I suppose - what a great trip, I will always remember it, and I'm sure it will be part of my work for quite some time.

Au Revoir, for today!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Farewell, Miss Cat

Today is a very sad day for my family. We unexpectedly had to say goodbye to the sweet little girl that has brightened our lives for almost 7 years. Our consolation is that we still have her brother, but we will never forget our Missy. It was a pleasant September day when we first met her. My husband, our 9 year old daughter and I were out picking the last of the blackberries. In the midst of picking we heard a small but insistent meowing. We saw a pair of the tiniest kittens in the midst of a pile of bramble. Concerned that their mother wouldn't like it if we handled them, we left the area to give her a chance to come and retrieve her babies. After half an hour we came back and the moment they heard us, out they came again.

My husband and I looked at each other, knowing that even though we weren't sure that we wanted the responsiblity of these two little lives, we also couldn't bear the thought of what would likely happen to these two helpless little ones if we just left them.

So we brought them home with us.

We soon realized that the little pale colored female with the crooked short tail had some type of urinary tract infection as she was passing puss with her urine. She also had a lump on her lower belly. I called our veterinarian and she was sweet enough to see our babies, just charging us for medications and not her normal office visit charge.

She advised me that the little ones were only three weeks old and would need a great deal of care if we wanted them to survive. They were both treated for massive flea infestations, and the one we simply called sister was given a course of antibiotics. We fed them cat formula with a dropper until they were old enough to take kitten food. We had to toilet them, then train them to a litter box when they were bigger. Soon brother and sister became Buster and Missy. Missy was a pretty scraggly and sorry looking kitten for quite some time. She had a short tail, about half the length it should have been and it was bent like a lightening bolt. We don't know if she was born this way, or if it was injured before we found her.

Her beautiful blue eyes stayed blue while her brother's turned green. They grew and became playful and sociable - we had to keep a close eye on them because of their curiosity - we rescued them from various spots like desk drawers and under the refrigerator! As babies they would curl up together, looking like yin and yang. Missy (or Miss Priss) would groom her brother with authority, whether he wanted it or not! She probably would have been a terrific mother, but we decided to have her spayed as soon as she came into her first heat at four months. I think that was the worst thing she went through in her whole life, but she recovered from her surgery and became the sweet, though slightly wild, little cat that we shall always remember. She had a thing for shoes for a while and would delight in sniffing and rolling on them.

She loved to chase the laser mouse, and would often toss and chase the little catnip mice we would buy for her. She loved to chatter at the birds out of the second story window, and even caught a few in her days. She brought one into the house this last Christmas and let it go, prompting a wild chase through the house and the fear that we would end up with a bird in our (artificial) Christmas Tree! (We did catch it and released it, no harm done)

She was always a very nervous cat, jumping at any strange noise. She hated the sound of plastic bags rustling - and just about jumped out of her skin at any loud noise. She wasn't fearful of people, though the only dog she ever tolerated was our Tipper dog. Missy would flop on the floor near the dog and roll on her back, stretching and flirting! It was the funniest sight to see both of them rolling on the floor side by side!

She had a funny thing about sitting on paper. If there was any newspaper or magazine on the floor she could not help but sit on it - we figured it must have felt good on her paws or something! She was a bit of a clutz, there are scars on the upstair stair railing because of her near misses. She walked with a heavy tread, a bit like a bulldog, and always had an attitude. She couldn't stand to be picked up and cuddled, you should have seen the "Dr Evil" face she would make when subjected to this humiliation! We jokingly called her Miss Touch-Me-Not because of her attitude, but when she wanted to be loved on she let us know in no uncertain terms!

I took her some time before she would sit on a person's lap. She was always affectionate, but on her terms. We called her "Stalker" for her habit of walking around you while you tried to pet her. Eventually she came to love sitting on my lap, but always on her terms and when she wanted to. She loved to knead on the soft blankets around the house, and would purr so loudly.
We always felt like she missed her mother because she would knead and purr so intently.

She was a nosy little cat, always checking out anything new that came into the house, and she loved boxes. If she spotted an empty box she would be in it before you knew it! She would even squeeze into the teeniest boxes! We recently discovered her love of cardboard to scratch on. For the last year I kept a box upstairs for her to destroy and she really liked that. She loved to hang out with me in my sewing room, but never messed with my stuff. She would just sit on the ironing board and try to distract me with her cuteness - and it always worked! Sometimes she would insist that I quit what I was doing and just pay attention to her for a while, and it was always a pleasure. She would roll on her back and give me a look with those gorgeous eyes - how could I ever resist!

She was a quiet cat, rarely vocal except when outdoors. When she wanted in she would meow her little head off! Occasionally she would let me know her water dish was empty, but other than that, her purr was the loudest thing about her. We always said she talked with her eyes. I have never seen a cat with more beautiful eyes. And her sweet little pink nose was so adorable. Even the pads of her paws were mostly pink. She was definitely a girly cat, hence the name Miss Priss.
She was quite the socialite. Last year I discovered that she made a habit of visiting the church school across the street, even strolling into the classrooms when the doors were open. Our entire neighborhood will feel the loss as she loved greeting people as they walked by - she didn't let anyone pick her up, but she loved to get a little pet on the head and a hello.
We were stunned this morning when we found her cold and silent. It doesn't seem right that such a sweet cat should live such a short life. We don't know the reason for her death, but we take consolation in the fact that she didn't look like she suffered . We buried her in the side yard, where she liked to sit under the hydrangea bush and watch us work in the yard.

I can't put into words all the things I will miss about my little Miss Cat. My sewing room will be a lonely place now. She was a one of a kind cat and her short stay with us enriched our lives and gave us so much pleasure. She will live forever in our thoughts and memories, though, and she will not be forgotten.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pink Heart Cross Stitch Quilt

Not a very clever title, but sometimes I just don't have words. Not that my husband would agree with that statement, but that's my story and I am sticking to it. At least for today!

I finished this custom quilt order last week, and my customer picked it up today. She was absolutely thrilled with the results and can't wait to show it to her mom, who did the cross stitching. Mom thought this was a table runner, but after looking at it we decided that it is actually the center panel of a quilt. The other two panels would probably have been borders to bring the quilt up to size.

I made two queen size pillow shams to match the quilt by cutting off the top and bottom sections of the long panel. I added Kona Snow to the top and bottom of the borders to make them big enough, bordered the whole thing with 2 1/2 inch pink strips for the flange, then free-motion quilted around the cross-stitching. I added quilted hearts to the plain sections. They are backed with panels of Snow that overlap for the closure.
For the quilt itself I took the large center panel of cross stitching and added a border of pink. The original plan was to simply make the quilt larger by adding a border of Kona Snow, but that was too much white. I designed a border with squares on point to go around it and am very happy with the results - it adds to the quilt without taking the focus away from the lovely center cross-stitch panel.I quilted the outer border with simple diagonal lines. We were trying to stay within a budget, so I didn't do a lot of quilting, but it looks nice. The pink border was quilted with a meander and hearts (using pink thread).I quilted around the motifs in the cross stitch and it really looked nice. I suspect that the lines of french knots may have been intended to be the quilting lines, but we don't know for sure. It took me a while to figure out that the green shape in the hearts is a fleur de lis. It was actually fun to quilt the cross stitch section, except for the french knots. There were several feathered sections stitched in them and it was really hard to stitch by them without stitching through them!

The mom found this panel (unstitched) at a garage sale and spent all winter doing the stitching. It's really a beautiful piece and I am glad that they allowed me to transform it into a finished quilt. I know it will be very much cherished and loved!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Very Charming Baby Quilts

Wow, I certainly don't know where the last two weeks has gone! Well, actually, four days were spent in Portland visiting our kids and grandkids, two full days and a half at the quilt shop - so that's about half of it! In the mean time I've finished three baby quilts and a Christmas wall hanging, altered a few dresses and re-lined a leather jacket (and what a job that is!). I've got two more quilts basted and ready to quilt, and some window shades to finish and.....that's where all the time goes.

The baby quilts have been an off-shoot of a custom request, and while you are making one, well you might as well make three or four, right? They are just simple quilts made using charm squares and pretty border fabrics.
I pulled a great vintage piece of fabric out of my stash (very sad, things I have purchase myself can be called vintage!) for the backing of three of them. It was supposed to be window curtains for my little girls who are now grown and out of my house - but it makes great quilt backs.

When I am finished with the girl quilts I'll have to make a batch of boy quilts to go with them - baby quilts are always fun!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Project Quilting - Challenge Four

The fourth weekly challenge for Project Quilting was a fun one for me - the challenge was to make a quilt less than 36 inches square using log cabin blocks - one fabric had to be used right side up and back side up. I was extra careful to pay attention to that one detail, because I have a little problem with details sometimes! Check out the link to see all the entries, and make sure you vote!
During the process of thinking about what I wanted to do, I ended up spotting a really awesome selvage log cabin on the Selvage Blog. Since I seem to be in the midst of a selvage fascination I decided to use this as a starting point. I really didn't want to make another wall hanging, so decided to make a small tote/purse. I used some 6 inch squares of muslin for foundations, and got out my shoe box of small scraps (which is starting to overflow!). I chose four different fabrics for the centers, and cut two 2 inch squares of each. I originally intended to use the back side of the pink, but forgot to turn it over, so ended up using the purple square wrong side up! Oh well, at least I didn't have to remake a block in the end!

I used my selvages for the light halves of the blocks and chose a variety of colors from my scraps for the dark sides of the blocks. After completing all 8 blocks I sewed them together to form the body of my bag. I then backed it with Warm and Natural batting. I then used a bright variegated thread to quilt the piece in a swirling design. Unfortunately it was not easy due to the thickness of the foundation with the tight weave of the selvages, but I got through it and it looked lovely when done.
I then made a lining and handles out of blue, adding patch pockets in a pretty blue and purple fabric. I sewed it all together and ended up with a beautiful quilted purse. For sale, but definitely one of a kind as it was a bit too labor intensive for making on a regular basis, so someone will be getting a nice original bag!

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A New Project - Day 2

I had a very productive day today - got several small jobs finished, worked on a large one and made some good headway, then worked on my new project for a while this afternoon. I wanted to make 6 1/2 inch fan blocks for the corners. I printed up some paper piecing templates using my Electric Quilt program and cut some strips for the fan blades. I laid the strips out and decided on the arrangement I wanted, and brought my fabric and paper piecing templates to the sewing machine.

I haven't done any paper piecing for a while, so was off to a slow start, but after getting into the upside down and backwards mode I made short work of sewing the fans. I realized that I made two going one way, and two the other, but decided that would work for my design. At least I didn't have one odd ball, with two you can just say that you meant to do it that way! I trimmed them up, then was ready for the next step.

I wanted to add piping to the curved edges of the fan, so tried out my handy piping foot for this - it worked brilliantly! Now the best thing about this technique - you press the seam allowance on the piping under and are ready to machine applique your fan to your background. To do this you stitch in the ditch of the seam between the piping and the fan. I tried the piping foot for this, but wasn't thrilled with the results. I also tried my regular straight stitch foot, and though it was better, still not very easy. I finally tried my adjustable zipper foot and it was the best for this step. It's pretty tricky to stitch right in that ditch so the visibility of the zipper foot made all the difference.

I think they came out really pretty! My quilt is coming together well and I think it will be wonderful when it is finished!
I also did some quilting this evening. I've got 4 quilts basted and really need to get them going, but seem to be stuck on ideas for how to quilt them. So I started one, just doing some basic outlining, then stitching some curves in the checkerboard border. I then tackled the largest one, more outlining - it's a has a cross stitched center and so far is looking good! Still not sure what I'm going to do in all the borders, which are not cross stitch, but I figure by the time I get there I will have an idea (hopefully!) It felt good to make such good progress on my pile of things to do, I hope I can keep up the good work.