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...


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