Thursday, March 25, 2010

My sewing is packed, but my suitcase is another story...

I am leaving for spring break vacation with my family later today... desperately seeking sunshine on a Gulf of Mexico beach in Florida. After much deliberation and auditioning of hand-sewing projects, I have narrowed it down to two.

Aren't these colors so spring-y?!? This needle-turn applique project will eventually become a pillow for my family room. All Kaffe/Kaffe collective fabrics on a pale blue and yellow batik. As the pieces are needle-turned, the background will appear between each piece resembling grout between tiles. I know - what's with the tile fascination lately? I dunno know, but it's working for me! Check out the cute donut full of colored bobbins that I picked up at QIJ yesterday - 36 colors of 50wt Masterpiece thread PERFECT for traveling with your hand-applique projects! Got myself some new needles, new cheater/readers at Borders (with flowers = super-cute because we that need readers also need to look cute while wearing them), a needle threader, and some kindergarten scissors for the plane.

The pattern for this project came from the new Tile Quilt Revival book by Carol Gilham Jones and Bobbi Finley. This is only one of many tile quilt patterns to be found in the book, and if this project goes well, I see more of these pillows or even a quilt in my future! I enlarged the 10" pattern 160% to make it suitable for a 16" pillow form. So the pieces are relatively large, but there are some sharp points that will make it challenging. This is the finished project photo from the book:

I also have about 100 2.5" fabric squares cut and ready to English paper-piece into hexagons for another pillow... because I'll have so much time, you know :) But this is the project that I will start with. I hope to have all the applique finished when I return, as well as a healthy-glow so I no longer look like a vampire extra from the Twilight Saga!
Happy Spring Break everyone! Now, where is my suitcase??

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Oh, heavenly day!

Today I spent an entire hour outside walking my dog, and it is a glorious day here in Northern Illinois. All of our snow is finally gone, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and LIFE IS GOOD! I have also spent A LOT of time staring out the window today, finally feeling that soon I'll be seeing this view...

This is a small garden area near the gate to my back yard. It is the view I see every time I drive the car into the garage, every time I come home from walking the dog, and every time I go out in the morning to get the paper (during the summer, of course.) It is a lovely little area filled with boxwoods, snapdragons, coneflowers, zinnias, as well as other annuals that spring up from seeds that were just "dropped in." But my favorite part is the sign. I made that several years ago from a pattern found in a Mary Engelbreit craft book. I have to repaint it and the post (a painted stairway spindle and ball-topper from Home Depot) every few years, but it is worth the time - so cheerful! It stays outside all year long, and every year the twine holding up the sign breaks, and sometimes the entire thing is covered with snow. But it is always there, waiting for spring and flowers - just like me!

Speaking of flowers... these Anna Maria Horner Garden Party prints came in the mail last week from I just had to get them out and photograph them on this wonderful day along with these cuties...

Aren't they happy! Alexander Henry Willow line... again from

I did have a few moments of productivity today when I managed to get some more paintbox quilt-along blocks done. Only six more solids to go and I"LL BE READY FOR SASHING!! I am love, love, loving how they have all turned out!
Hope you are having a glorious sunny day at your house, too!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kaffe Love

I am in love with this man's fabric designs. I discovered Kaffe Fassett a few years ago at a quilt show in Northern Illinois... never heard of the guy before that. I love the riot of color in each and every design.

I have been collecting the fabrics ever since that quilt show, but until now I have NEVER cut into a single piece of his fabric from my stash. Oh, sure, I've bought specific yardage to make a few bags and cut into that. But I loved that "the stash" was neatly folded and securely stored in a big plastic see-thru bin. I could take it out and touch and admire it any time I wanted. And I did... a lot!

I mulled over many ideas of what to use it for, but never settled on any one. What if I found a better project later, and had already used it?
Then a few months ago my dear friend Andrea told me about the Oh, Fransson! online Paintbox Quilt-Along project ( Eureka! THE PERFECT PROJECT! All I had to purchase was a roll of Kona brights, and I was good to go! So now we are into week 8 and I have 56 of the 80 blocks finished. I'm really going to have to ramp it up the next couple of weeks to finish on time. I've chosen the sashing and borders - Kona Charcoal - my new favorite. It's going to be spectacular!
AND... I am completely geeked about the class I am taking with Kaffe at the Rosemont, IL quilt show this April. We are designing a snowball quilt with fussy-cut large floral blooms. I am hoping to learn a lot about color choices and combinations from him. And a quilting class also means... collecting more fabric... bummer :)
Hope you are having warmer days filled with more sunshine as we creep toward spring!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My New Yellow Sewing Room

I recently moved my sewing room from the basement to a spare bedroom upstairs. I had a lovely room in the basement, also yellow, but it was so far removed from every other place in the house that I felt like I was quarantined. So I asked my wonderful husband about the switch, and since he always "buys my chairs"... he agreed!

He first had to reduce the size of my cutting/pressing table so that it would fit the new room's smaller dimensions. He made this table for me many years ago, and it is modeled after one that my grandmother used in her basement sewing room. She made lots of draperies, so her table was wide enough to accommodate a 54" bolt of decorator fabric and was 8 feet long! My table was also originally that big, but now it is about 4' x 5'... the perfect size to cut on one side and press on the other. The plywood top is covered with batting and then a layer of canvas "duck" cloth. I sprayed the canvas with water after stretching it over the top, and let it air dry to make sure the top surface was taut. It is so sturdy and practical!

He also made this great design wall (that is currently resting on the floor) for me. The base is some blue insulation boards (3/4" thick) from Lowe's, covered with a layer of polyester batting from who-knows-how-long-ago and then a final layer of Warm and White batting. The blue does not show through, and everything sticks right to it - no pins needed!

And this is my new sewing table from Regal (ordered from Quilt in Joy). I'm not sure how I ever lived without it! The top is big enough to hold a large quilt for quilting, and the rest of the time my daughters can have their machine set up on the opposite side. I'd like to show you my fabric stash, but it is the one part of the room still in need of organization. I have several plastic bins on some great shelving that my dad installed for me, but the stash has exceeded the bin capacity, so things are a little messy in the closet.
Now I just need to get some pretty things on the wall (and a decent pair of window shades!) and it will be a real studio! Needless to say, I am spending FAR more time in this new room than I ever did in the basement! It's so much more accessible, and I can still feel like I know what is going on in the rest of the house while I'm sewing.
Thank goodness for my wonderful husband!


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