Tuesday, December 28, 2010

my best Christmas gift

I received some really great gifts this year, but this one was my favorite...

My husband put together this collage of some of my 2010 project photos using poster making tool. You just upload your photos, arrange them into a collage as you like, choose a background color, choose a poster size (mine's 20" x 30"), and send it off to one of 1500 nationwide stores with a poster printer. Pick up your printed poster, wrap it up, and voila - you win the medal for "Best Gift Giver".

He choose some really great ones to include: Grandma Elsie, colorful pillows, me and Kaffe :), baby quilts, and my favorite - the Crayon Box!

The colors in these photos aren't exactly true. I was trying to cut down on the glare, so it doesn't look as vibrant as is does in real life. And the clarity is amazing, not at all fuzzy like you sometimes get when expanding a photo to a larger size.

Once I get it framed and hung in my sewing room, it will be a daily reminder of all the things I've worked on and enjoyed this year. Thanks so much to my wonderful husband!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

because I need another project

No. Not really. I don't.

But due to a convergence of several factors...

1. My new car (well, 7 months old) wouldn't start in the garage today.
2. Said car was towed to the dealer to fix the problem of not starting.
3. Said car immediately started just fine for the mechanics (of course).
4. Browsing through a shop full of beautiful handmade items can usually improve a bad mood.
5. I had an hour to kill waiting for kid #2 to finish at her volunteer job.
6. The cutest stitchery shop is located oh so close to the previously mentioned volunteer job.
7. I hadn't visited this stitchery shop in a very long time.

...I ended up browsing at Welcome Stitchery.

And we all know what usually follows browsing - buying. So I came home with these new patterns and the fabric to start on one of them...

Just so you know, I mustered up some unbelievable restraint and did not buy the patterns for these two fun projects...

I'm gonna try and implement that rule about "not starting a new project until the current one is completed." Well, at least as far as cross-stitching is concerned. That's pretty much a lost cause as far as quilting goes...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

crafty weekend how-to

3 girls + 2 hours + 1.5 pounds clear glass gems + old catalogues** + scissors + hot glue + magnet tape =

138 mini-magnet gifts for friends, family and...

a couple of sets to keep...

Shoes (very girly of course!) and Paris (ooh la la!)

You'll need:

* a bunch of dome-topped, flat-bottom, clear glass gems from the craft store (the kind you put in fake flower vases. I bought a 3 pound bag from Michaels for $6.99)

* a roll of 1/2" wide adhesive magnetic tape (also at Michaels - looks like a skinny roll of masking tape. I bought the jumbo roll for $5.99 and now I have enough of this stuff to make a bazillion magnets, so maybe you don't need the jumbo size - LOL!)

* a low temp hot glue gun and scissors

* several pages with cute, tiny images from magazines or catalogues

We just cut small circles of cute images from the catalogues, put a blob of hot glue on the flat bottom of the gem, and pressed the gem back onto the image. I found that applying even, firm pressure caused the glue to spread to the edges, resulting in less image distortion from the front. (But hey, they're magnets, just jump in there and do it!) You may have to trim some of the catalogue paper from the back after gluing - it tended to hang over a bit sometimes because each gem is a little different sized. Then cut off a small square of adhesive magnetic tape, and stick it to the back of the gem. Repeat 99 times for 20 gift sets of 5 magnets each :)

We made a couple of practice ones at the start to see how much glue was needed. Another helpful tip is that some of the gems seemed to have an iridescent coating on the back, making it more difficult to see the image, so we tossed those aside and didn't use them.

Let me know if you make any of these, and send me a photo! And if you come up with other catalogues/magazines with great images, pass that info to me as well :)

A big THANK YOU to Heather at {House} of A La Mode for this great idea!

**catalogues used: Pottery Barn Teen, Vera Bradley, and Hancock's of Paducah

Saturday, December 11, 2010

it can be saved!

A couple of weeks ago I was looking in the trash bin at the cutting scraps from my new wave quilt - a bunch of oddly shaped skinny triangles - and thought "now surely something can be done with those!" So I sewed them all together and decided to make a little sewing supply bag for myself. And then I got busy piecing the actual quilt, and all the previously documented uncertainty surfaced, and so the little bag project just sat :(

Now this morning I realized that this little bag project would be the perfect way to test my hopes that purple quilting would cut down on the "green-ness" of the new wave quilt top. So I did a little doodling (a very little bit of doodling)...
... and came up with a free-motion design for the bag. Normally I would draw this design for about 10-15 minutes before actually quilting it, but hey, it's just a little bag for my threads and scissors, so I jumped in right away.

Not my best quilting effort, but I DO think the purple thread helps! And I have a new little bag, and I can proceed with the new wave quilt with a smile on my face :) Thank you again to all of you who told me not to give up just yet - that the quilting could change everything!

NOTE: I loosely used Terry Atkinson's Zippy Strippy Bag pattern for this project. I made several modifications in overall size and construction, so it finishes at about 11" wide, 6" tall, and 1.5" deep. A perfect size for travel toiletries too!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

thanks for the advice!

A big "thank you" to all who posted advice comments on my New Wave quilt :)

I have decided that the "green-ness" is what is bothering me. Since I am far too lazy to rip out all the seams and change the green (either in color or width), I've decided to quilt the heck out of the entire thing with variegated purple thread in the hopes of mitigating some of that green. More on that next week hopefully.

In the meantime I've been working on a special gift for one of my SewMod buddies. It's killing me that I can't show you, but she might be looking here (you never know!) The good news is that she'll be receiving it on Friday, so I can post a photo after that :)

Enjoy your day!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

not sure about this one

I've been working on Oh, Fransson's New Wave quilt with these fabrics...

While they were laying all together like this I really liked them. But now that they are sewn together into this...

I am definitely NOT loving it. The section in the center with the Kaffe Painted Daisies, the Carla Miller stripe, and the two other purple flowers - well that part looks okay. But the rest - not so much. This is no reflection on the pattern, mind you. The pattern is wonderful :)

Maybe it's the blue. I'm not really a blue person.

Maybe it's the green Moda Grunge sashing - maybe it's too wide? Because there sure seems to be a LOT of green sashing.

Maybe this one is just destined to be one of those quilt tops that never makes it out of the work-in-progress pile.

Advice? Suggestions? Anyone?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

pillow for a friend

Remember that lovely lady that I told you about earlier... the one that brought me all those 100+ Kaffe prints cut into precisely the right size for a quilt pattern?

I finally found the perfect way to thank her (and give her a big surprise as well)...

A modified Bento Box pillow with - you guessed it - more Kaffe fabrics! And a big wavy sunflower quilted all over the top, because who doesn't like sunflowers??

Glad you liked it, Sharon! I hope you've found a spot for it in your home :)

Note: I've used this pattern many times before and credit for the design goes to filminthefridge and Give It a Go.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

holiday memory lane

Well here it is December already, and I am still wondering what happened to October!

My family did most of our Christmas decorating last weekend. Digging out all that treasure once a year brings back such memories. I thought I would share with you some of my favorite handmade decorations...

This is a door hanging banner that I made a couple of years ago from a Patrick Lose pattern appropriately named "Merry". All the pieces are secured with fusible web and then machine blanket top-stitched. I just love this door hanging :) This was early in my "bright and bold colors" phase. I call it a phase because there are just too many colors in the world, and I am too fickle to stay in love with any one color scheme for long. You may recognize the gifts under the tree - I repeated those patterns in this Christmas block I did earlier in the year for one of my Fresh Modern Bee members, Janice.

This is a counted cross-stitch on linen piece that I made in 1995. Clearly this is from a different color/design era of mine, but I still love seeing it every year. My Aunt Karen (Elsie's daughter) was a very crafty lady who actually owned a cross-stitch and framing shop in my hometown. She taught me to cross-stitch before I had children, and I used it as a way to relax on my very long train ride to and from Chicago every work day. I have always thought of cross-stitching as a sort of grown-up version of coloring... and I LOVE coloring.

NOTE: excuse the poor lighting in these photos. It's a very dark and gloomy day here... [sigh]...

These Santa pieces are some of the very first cross-stitching I did. The patterns came from my Aunt's shop, and she framed them for me. I think I still have about six more patterns from this line that I never started... [sigh]...

And finally we have Snoopy and Woodstock. This piece is all 1970's felt and sequins. It's in remarkably great condition considering that I made it almost 35 years ago. I can still vividly remember sitting on my bedroom floor meticulously threading sequins onto my sewing needle. Back then I was much more into the whole completion thing, and didn't have more than one project going at a time, so I finished it in record time.

In retrospect it was most likely the project that began my life-long love of making handmade treasures.

Thanks Mom... for buying the kit for me, for putting up with me locking myself in my room to finish it, for keeping it safe all these many years, and for starting me on this wonderful road I'm riding on :)

What's the first thing you can remember making??

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Elsie's Birthday

Today would be Elsie's 100th birthday. We'd probably be having a party this weekend where she might get her own cake for the occasion... usually she and I would share a birthday cake since my birthday is this month too.

She was a great lady who led a full life. During my childhood, she travelled to Egypt, Israel, Hawaii, and Europe with friends. She made the best lemon meringue pie you've ever tasted. She sewed nearly every day of her adult life, and she could sew ANYTHING. When she made homemade egg noodles for Thanksgiving and Christmas, her entire kitchen and basement were filled with noodles drying on wax paper sheets. She made popcorn balls to pass out to trick-or-treaters. She watched "As the World Turns" every day after lunch, and she kept every letter I ever wrote to her.

There just aren't words to tell you all the things she did for me and how I miss her. So here are a few photos of Elsie and her great-grandchildren that really make me smile...

These are all the great-grandchildren at Christmas 1999. She made matching sweatshirts with Santa and his reindeer for all seven of them with her favorite (and only) toy... her Janome New Home embroidery machine.

My daughters (standing to the left and right of the rocking chair) now use that same machine when they sew. And I think that would make her smile...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wee Woodland Pinwheels

Another baby quilt made using the L'il Twister Tool (previously blogged about here) ...

This time I used a Wee Woodland charm pack from Moda by Keiki, some Quilters Linen for the background, Moda Crackle in brown for the flange and cornerstones, and the green alphabet Lollipop print from Moda by Sandy Gervais for the final border.

Here's my favorite pinwheel block with the little bird and the lone bit of pink in the quilt...

And I do LOVE a flange! They are so easy to add, yet they provide such a great frame for the quilt center...

I think I'll try a corded flange next time. The Wrap 'N Fuse piping seems like just the ticket to make that a simple addition.

Happy Sewing!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Put on your sunglasses!

The kaleidoscope top is complete and my goodness, is it ever bright!

I so did NOT want the border to be purple... I tried my best to make it green, brown, or teal. But purple was the most outstanding choice no matter what else I tried to force. There is a 2" strip from a new Jinny Beyer line (Sophia, I think), a 1" strip of the original fabric (Alexander Henry "Kebede"), and another 3" finished of the same purple. Finished size is 60" x 72".

My kaleidoscope class is getting together this Saturday to show our finished products off to a new crop of OBW students... I have a hunch that mine will be the wildest.

Still no clever name... any suggestions?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

applique project of the decade

My standard mode of operation is to have several projects going at once. But lately it feels like there are too many irons in the fire, even for me! Christmas gifts, pillows, new winter quilting classes... yikes! And then there is this big monster lurking in my sewing room:

I started this project earlier in the year knowing full well that it would take me YEARS to complete. The overall size is something like 50" x 60" made up of the center panel and four borders ALL needle-turn applique. But I do love those Piece o'Cake girls and their applique patterns :) This Tree of Life pattern is from their book Applique Outside the Lines.

I decided to go with a loopy floral white on white for the background - the idea of gathering fabric and piecing that background completely overwhelmed me (while hours and hours and hours of hand-sewing did not... go figure!) The most difficult part so far was enlarging the patterns. My only complaint about their patterns is that they don't print them already full size... are you listening, Piece o'Cake girls?

Here's a peek at my progress so far... red tulips, green leaves, and blue branches (see the little worm-to-be in there too?)...

Orange daisies and more blue branches...

It's a tortoise sort of project... slow and steady. But it makes me smile everytime I sit and pull it out of the bag because the bright colors and patterned fabrics are so cheerful :) So while I hope to pull off some project finishes here in the next few weeks, I know that this will not be one of them. And that's okay since it's sort of like reading a book you really enjoy - you want to keep going and find out how everything turns out, but at the same time you don't want it to end.

So Cathy, this is what I meant when I told you earlier that I was already up to my elbows in an applique project!

If you all would like to see some truly spectacular applique work, head over to the Glorious Applique website... now that's some dedication and amazing work :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's looking like a kaleidoscope!

We've been having the best fall weather in Northern Illinois! Sunny skies, warm temps, beautiful color... I don't remember ever having a better fall. Consequently, time has been whooshing past and not a lot of sewing has been happening.

The layout for my One Block Wonder kaleidoscope quilt was finalized at our last class session late in September. It took quite a bit of fidgeting and fussing, placing blocks on the design wall, tossing them on the floor, and repositioning them to arrive at a final decision. I haven't yet thought of a name, but I love all the movement and color!

Once all the blocks were pinned and the rows labeled, I transported it home and tacked it to the design wall. Just this week I finally got all the columns sewn together. These are a few shots of my favorite sections. That peacock color is so vibrant!

Love these "bubble" flowers...

And this shot makes me think of the tropical storm radar maps on the weather channel. The one purple/white/green block is just churning out all kinds of activity :)

Next week is supposed to be cooler, so I suspect more sewing will be happening... in between leaf-raking :)

Have a wonderful weekend! I know I will - my parents are coming for a visit!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A garden of pinwheels

My L'il Twister pinwheels quilt is now finished!

I did lots of straight line quilting in the center, some free-motion loop-de-loops on the inner border, and lots of free-motion spinning daisies on the outer border. The quilting is still my least favorite part of the entire process, but I am becoming more comfortable with it. I guess it's like anything else in life - the more you do it, the easier it gets :)

This is the first time I have done the binding entirely by machine for a quilt. I've done some small potholders, but never an entire quilt! I have to say that it was easy-peasy. I cut the binding at 2 1/2" (I usually cut 2 1/4") and stitched it to the front as usual. Then on the back I used some 1/4" Steam a Seam to fuse the binding down before stitching it. Binding time from start to finish = 1.5 hours. I'll take that! I don't think I would use the machine method for something fancy-schmancy, but for a baby quilt that will hopefully get lots of use and see lots of washing time, I think it works.

Here is a better view of all the different quilting (you can really see the cute daisies better on the backing) and the binding back...

I forgot to take a photo of the whole thing after completion, so here's a previously posted photo of the top...

We are having a most spectacular weather week here in Northern Illinois! I'm trying to just enjoy it and not think about what will be following it in the not-so-distant future :)

Happy Columbus Day weekend!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Christmas Blocks and Caramel Bars

I finally buckled down and finished my Fresh Modern Bee blocks for September. Janice of sewgirly asked for Christmas themed pictoral blocks, so here's what I came up with...

a tree with a mini-dresden skirt and...

a bundle of Christmas gifts. Hope you like these, Janice! Most of the credit for these blocks needs to be directed to Patrick Lose - I took the pattern for the tree from a 1994 magazine of his titled "Folk Art Christmas", and the gift and bow templates came from his "Merry" wall-hanging pattern. The dresden skirt, however, was my idea. And thanks to Lorrie who provided me with all those lovely Sherry Berry fabric scraps for the skirt :)

And now for the dessert portion of this posting. If the first word of the recipe title is "Oatmeal", then it's got to be healthy, right? Even if it contains an entire stick of butter, a mess of chocolate chips, and 35 caramels in an 8" x 8" pan?

I made these Oatmeal Caramel Bars for my sewing group get-together tonight. The recipe is right on the back of this Betty Crocker bag of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie mix (or you can find it here.) Pretty easy, the hardest thing about it was unwrapping the 35 caramels :)

Well, "Betty's Tip" from the bag back states that you should line your pan with foil to make cleanup and cutting easier. So I did that, but the result was that the entire block was stuck to the foil... really stuck... better than stuck to the pan, but still...

After they cooled completely, I lifted the whole brick out of the pan and decided to cut all the edges off with a big giant chopping knife to make it nice and pretty. Here's a little known (but pertinent to this story) fact about me - I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE CRUST OF ANY BAKED GOOD. So since this is the first time I've made this recipe, I decided I'd better "poison-check" the crusts I had cut away... well they're definitely not poison, but I did almost make myself sick eating the parts that I could peel away from the foil.

It's a very good thing that these bars are going to a meeting with me tonight.

I don't think it's safe for them to be alone in the house with me...

Friday, September 24, 2010

Amy Butler Pillow LOVE

Finished another new pillow this week for my upcoming October pillow class. The focus for this session is adding cording/piping to the pillow edge. Originally I was just going to add the cording to a non-quilted piece of fabric, and so I did that with this beautiful Amy Butler print from her "Love" line and some Happy Dots from Midwest Modern. But when I looked at it I thought: "wicked boring."

So I decided the solution would be to quilt the heck out of the top. I removed the cording and free-motion quilted around all the flowers and swirly shapes, re-attached the cording, and then I LOVED it :)

To make the cording I used an amazing new product called Nancy Zieman Wrap 'N Fuse Piping (it comes in different sizes - I used 3/16")... basically it is cording wrapped with fusible web, so all you have to do is wrap your bias strip around the cording, iron, and TA-DA! you are ready to go. I will never make cording with a zipper foot again!

I added a fun wide-striped backing and placed the zipper off-center between two of the stripes. I used an invisible zipper this time - primarily due to the fact that I bought the wrong kind and was in too much of a hurry to go back and get the right one. For traditional installations I'm going to stick with all purpose zippers and save the invisible ones for pillow edge seam insertion. But hey, it's functional and "Love"ly, and what more can you ask for?

Enjoy this first weekend of fall! I'm planning to indulge in some apple cider donuts :)

P.S. Hop on over to this site to show off your Amy Butler creation and enter to win some great prizes!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

baby pinwheels finish and Kaffe quilt

Earlier this week I finished the baby pinwheels quilt top that I wrote about last time. The L'il Twister tool delivered what it promised, which was easy pinwheels. I even got over the amount of fabric waste caused by it's use :)

I was very unsure of this border before I sewed it on. My original plan was to use this fabric lengthwise (instead of crosswise as shown here) in order to show a unique complete flower stripe on each side of the quilt without cornerstones. But one look at that on the design board, and I knew that would be waayyy too overwhelming... the borders would completely overpower the pinwheels. There is still a LOT of pattern, and it's still growing on me, but I'm leaning towards being happy with it. The cornerstones were a definite necessity with all that busy-ness.

Not sure where this quilt will end up, but in the near term, it will be hanging at my LQS where I have a class planned for the October/November time frame.

On another note, my Kaffe Crayon Box is completely complete! I got it back from my genius long-arm quilter and friend, Paige, and got the binding on just in time for a local quilt show last weekend. The show was held at a nearby garden center, where the staff hangs all the quilts inside the greenhouses with lots of lovely flowers. It isn't a judged show, just a gathering of quilts made by local people. Every year it gets a little bigger, and a little better attended, but the main point is just to view all the pretties made by others in the area.

Now that it is back in my house, I've got to decide where to put it. I put some hanging tabs on the back, just in case... and we do have plans to re-paint and re-decorate a room... hmmm...


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