Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mail call! I found this wonderful assortment of "vintage" charm squares in the mailbox yesterday. I had entered a random give-a-way on one of the blogs that I follow, Exuberant Color (the blog link is on my sidebar with other blogs that I follow), and won. I don't know what I'll do with them yet, but it was fun to sort through the charms to see if I recognized any of the fabrics. Thanks for your generosity, Wanda!

I will likely be asleep as the new year arrives. For those of you out and about tonight, be smart and stay safe.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry Christmas! I know Christmas has now officially passed, but I wanted to wish you all a belated, beloved Christmas. I hope that we can always keep the spirit of Christmas with us, even in the middle of July! I've been taking a little blog break and I'm planning on catching up a bit in the next few days. The little "gingerbread" house below is made of foam core and was fun, quick, and easy to make.

My Christmas was extra special this year, as my Sister-in-Law, Patti, was able to spend the holiday with me. I haven't had any family members celebrate Christmas with me in more than a decade, so this visit was the best gift of all. (I should note that I'm not having any family feuds, I just don't have many family members anymore.) Note my HUGE Christmas tree. Size doesn't matter, right!?

And here are Oliver and Gracie hogging the only spot of sun in the house. Lucky for them that it shines right on their cat bed, which is on top of my bed. Even on a bitterly cold day, between the sun and sharing body heat, they stay quite snug.

I forgot to tell you that Oliver and Gracie were very happy with their Christmas present.....a newly remodeled bathroom! (AKA....a new cat box and new vinyl runner underneath their box.) I kid you not.....they waited in line for it to be operational, then took their respective turns. ;)

More later........

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My Christmas Exchange quilt arrived last week and I'm just now getting the pictures posted. Kathy L. was my mystery swap partner and she sent a beautiful wall hanging, along with some great goodies.

Here's a shot of the stocking that she made which contained all of the gifts she sent. The chocolate is already gone, I'm ashamed to say. ;) The black fabric next to the stocking is a beautiful Christmas fat quarter.

Kathy made this wonderful ornament too. Lots of crazy patch hand stitching and embellishments.

And last, but far from least, is the wall hanging that Kathy made. It's absolutely gorgeous! This picture does not capture the beauty of this hanging and all of the handwork involved! She has combined hand stitching, hand quilting, and machine quilting, to make a wonderful combination of textures. It measures about 22" x 26 1/2" and makes quite a statement. I have it hanging on the back of my front door so that I can admire it daily. Thanks for all of your hard work, Kathy! Your quilt will be cherished for years to come!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.
Psalm 118:1
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November BOM is finished. It was nice to have a simple, easy block. So far this series has had all 12" blocks. I'm hoping that they will continue to be the same size to make setting them easier at the end of the year.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Merry Christmas!! I've finished my Christmas Exchange project and it will be heading to my swap partner this afternoon! And only one day to spare....that's cutting it a bit close and it was making me nervous!

This wall hanging measures approximately 17" x 19". Our finished hanging was to be a maximum of 20" x 20" and a minimum of 16" x 16".
This is my own design, but I used paper foundations for the trees and stars from EQ5 and Carol Doak. I just re-sized them to fit my design.

OK, it's quilted with my same, signature "swirl" pattern. I think this looks nice and fits the pattern design, indicating the wind and snow fall direction. I used a sparkly thread for the quilting on the top (plain white in the bobbin for the backside). You really can't see the sparkle very well unless the sun is shining on the hanging.

Here's the backside. I've used the same hanging technique that I've shown you before. I took 2-5" squares, folded them on the diagonal and placed them in the upper corners. Then a dowel rod was cut to fit the width of the hanging and slips under the corner triangles. When my partner receives this hanging, all she will have to do is find an available nail and it's ready to hang!

I'm off to the post office to get this en route! This was a fun project to make and I'm looking forward to receiving the hanging that my partner made for me. It should be here soon and I'll post pictures when it arrives!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sidetracked again! Here's a cute, quick, easy to sew gift idea. Fabric coasters. I don't know who to credit with this idea as I learned to make these at church and the pattern just seems to be passed around. Anyway...

You start with 6-5" squares of fabric. These are ideal to make with charm squares and you could certainly make your coasters larger or smaller using 4" squares or 6" squares, etc. I may try 10" layer cake squares to make a great matching trivet. Two of the squares will be the bottom and the other four will be the top part of the coaster. Fold these top four squares in half and press. You could use all of the same fabrics, some of the same fabrics, or none of the same fabrics for a scrappy look....your choice.

The bottom two squares will be placed wrong sides together. Yes, wrong sides together.

On top of the two bottom squares, you will place your four folded squares in a pinwheel, layered arrangement. Hard to explain, but kind of a basket weave. It will make sense when you have the fabric in front of you and you are matching it to this picture.

Pin all of the stacked layers together and sew around the edge. After sewing all the way around the squares, trim off the corners and excess seam allowances. This will reduce the bulk when you turn your coasters to the right side.

Turn the coasters right side out. Use a pointer to push out the corners. Slip the pointer into each of the sections to push the corners out.

Here's the finished coaster, which has been ironed after turning. I think these would be fun to make in a round shape too by just sewing in a circle instead of around the edges. I like this project because there is no hand sewing at all. Once you turn the coasters, the raw edges are hidden inside. The coasters are 6 fabrics thick, so they have a fair amount of insulation. I had thought about putting some sort of waterproofing layer sandwiched between the bottom two squares, but thought that it would add too much bulk. I may still try this on my next set.

Betcha can't make just one!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

While house/kid sitting the past week, I brought along some hand sewing to occupy some of the down time. Although I made this quilt quite a while ago, maybe even a couple of years, I had not finished the binding. It was a year long, mystery, row by row quilt class. You received the block pattern and instructions on making the block each month, then you went home and made however many blocks that were required to make a row. The number of blocks needed to make a row depended on the size of the block.

As a bonus to taking the row by row class, at the end of the year long class, your quilt was long arm quilted at no extra cost. And this is where the trouble began.....

I won't mention the name of the shop that offered the class and quilting, but they are no longer in business for other reasons. Anyway, I finished the top and turned it in for quilting. The quilting was so sparse that I took it back and they added more quilting by quilting between the rows already quilted. There were areas of 10" to 12" with absolutely no quilting! You know how a quilt feels "quilty" after it's been quilted? It just has a wonderful feel and drape. This quilt felt like simple layers of fabric, nothing else, because of the sparse quilting. OK, so it gets more quilting which helped things immensely. It is far from being even moderately quilted, but I felt like I could put it in a washing machine without it completely bunching up and falling apart. Now.....when your long arm quilter isn't paying attention to the backside, it can turn out like this next picture. There were evenly spaced borders around the green center and now, on one side, the black border is completely gone! You can't see the scale here, but this is a long, skinny, twin sized quilt and those extra borders were about 8" wide. That means that when this quilt was placed on the long arm frame for quilting, it was 8" off center. An inch or so off center happens often, but 8" is negligence.

Well, at least this beast is finished! It's been sitting around in my craft room for ages, just leering at me and reminding me of the poor quilting. I lost my enthusiasm for completing the binding and put it away. It was a lot of work to piece this quilt and to see it finished with very poor quilting was hard to swallow. Oh well, life certainly goes on. At least this is a quilt that will get some use, as I won't feel like I need to save it for special occasions. I think it will make a great picnic quilt!
(Thanks for listening to my ranting!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's that time of the year.....another birthday for me! Kathy baked this wonderful homemade carrot cake for my birthday and was kind enough to only make me extinguish three candles. We've been "clapping" them out lately to keep from spraying germs on the cake and I'm thinking that this is a great idea all of the time.

Here's the cover of one of my cards. It's funny but certainly not far from the truth at my age!

Thanks to everyone for making my day special!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

If you go all the way back to my April 21, 2009 post, you will find details about Kiva, a loan program that helps entrepreneurs in impoverished areas build their businesses.

The loan that I told you about in that post and made on that day, was paid back today. I have re-loaned the same money to another business woman, a 46 year old woman with a grocery store in Mongolia.

If you have an interest in Kiva, please check out my sidebar for a link. You will find information on each of the entrepreneurs, all waiting for your help!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hmmmm....this doesn't look like the Christmas exchange project that is supposed to be my top happened and I'm still behind on that project.......

Meanwhile, I was piecing the quilt below at my church this past Saturday. Everyone liked the quilt and suggested that I donate it to an auction that will take place on Saturday, October 17th to benefit the Woodburn Christian Children's Home. Yikes! Only one week (less than) and many other obligations to take care of during this time. I got it done.....the proof is in the pictures! Just goes to show you what you can accomplish when you set your mind to something AND there is a deadline...not to mention that any money that it raises will go to a great cause.

Does this quilt look familiar? It's the same pattern as the last charity quilt, just different fabrics. Same pattern, same quilting design. I needed a fool-proof and fast quilt and this one worked out nicely. The color of this quilt is actually a soft mint green....much prettier than this picture shows.

Fold over of the back side. I attached a label on one of the corners with Matthew 19:14 on it. "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

The quilt was delivered to the home today and was in time to be included in the auction and in the accompanying auction brochure.
FYI.... Here's a link to one of the auction information pages. Maybe you are looking for a good charitable cause. :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

The October BOM, all finished. Now I've got to get busy on my Christmas exchange in order to get it mailed out this month......that's the next project to finish!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's finished! My Quilts for Kids quilt is finished! I posted the information about this organization in an earlier post and I'm just now finishing the quilt. They supplied the fabric, I supplied the elbow grease. The quilt measures 38" x 45".

I finish lots of quilt tops, runners, tablecloths, etc., then panic when it comes to quilting the project. Thus.....I have tons of unfinished quilts stored away. The instructions with this organization specifically asked for heavy quilting in order for the quilts to stand up to daily washings. I knew that a simple stitch in the ditch would not be adequate, but what to do? After a long period of procrastination and several prayers, I jumped in with a simple wavy line, sewn diagonally across the quilt from top to bottom. It looked OK...didn't pucker.....looked fine on the back...... Then another line approximately an inch from the first line....and so on.

I'm very pleased with the end result. It looks nice and will hold up for a long time. Here's the back with my label attached. Under the label is a scripture for comfort and healing. May God bless the child that receives this quilt and may they enjoy it in good health!

(And now.....when I get time.....I may actually finish some of those waiting projects!)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Here's another quick and easy project for you. I used a purchased pattern and followed the simple instructions. This pattern is designed specifically for striped material and you can make some beautiful patterns by matching the stripes at the ends of the runner.

Before you decide that you don't want to match the stripes....keep reading. I used to make garments and always stayed away from matching stripes and plaids.....too much work and too many seams to rip out if they didn't match. This pattern, with clear instructions and a 60 degree triangle ruler, makes it super easy to cut exact pieces that will fit together perfectly.

My runner pieces, all cut out and ready to sew together. The 60 degree triangle ruler allows you to cut your fabric pieces without hesitation.

This is a picture of my almost finished table runner. After you sew it together and turn it right side out, you will need to close the opening that you used to pull the fabric to the right side. The pattern recommends closing the opening with a slip stitch but I wanted to get this done a little more quickly. I used a double faced fusible web to iron the opening closed. You can buy this in rolls like tape and they are great for many uses like a quick fix for a loose hem. Of course, I top stitched the opening and all around the runner, knowing this would secure the sides together, especially at the fused area.

The finished runner.

The backside of the runner with my coordinating fabric. You could certainly reverse this runner to get more use out of it. Different seasons, different colors, whatever.

Friday, September 11, 2009

“Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America,there will be no forgetting September the 11th.We will remember every rescuer who died in honor.We will remember every family that lives in grief.We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls,the funerals of the children.”–George W. Bush (1946- ), 43rd President of the United States.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And then there were three..........

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I took a fun and simple class today at my local fabric shop. We made cute little, cosmetic sized, bags that have unlimited uses. I made mine out of some sweet tractor fabric.

This is the bag in a snapped, open position.

The pattern is called Snap Happy! and has directions for three sizes, as well as instructions for making about any custom size that you would like. The fun part is the "snap" part. What do you think makes the purse snap open?

A metal tape measure, cut to fit! You cut your desired length from the tape measure and insert it into the bag casing. You pull on the prairie points on the sides of the bag snaps open and closed!

This was a fast project to make and I plan on making several of these for gifts. The possibilities are endless!

Monday, September 7, 2009

"Do you mind.....I'm trying to take a nap."

September's BOM and the first of the new series. There were two colorways to choose from, a bright colorway and a more pastel colorway. By the time I signed up, the bright colorway was already gone so I had no choice but the pastel colors. After seeing the bright colorway finished block for September, I'm really pleased that I'll be working with the the softer colors.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's Christmas in September! I started working on a Christmas exchange that needs to be finished by the middle of October. It will be a small winter wall hanging and I'm using paper foundations for the focal blocks. I think it will be about 16"x 20" when finished, but that may change as I work on the project.

Backside of the stars. Not many pieces and pretty simple to make. The block is 3" x 3" (finished).

Star front.
Tree backside. This block is 5" x 6" (finished). More complicated than the star and harder to guesstimate the right size of fabric pieces because of all of the angles. Best tip is to just cut much larger pieces than you think you will need and save yourself lots of time and do-overs. Even though you waste more fabric, it keeps you from pulling your hair out.

Front side of tree. I'm trying to achieve the looks of a snowy, winter night.

I made one of each of these blocks to audition the fabrics to see if I would like the way they turned out. It just saves time to take this extra step to make sure everything will turn out as you envisioned. Fortunately, I'll be able to use these blocks in the final hanging.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Since my BOM blocks were sitting on top of my "to do" pile, I went ahead and set them into what I think will become a tablecloth. The picture isn't great....I had to stand on a chair and kind of guess about the placement. The background is my carpet and it confuses your eye. I sashed the blocks and used cornerstones to make sure that the whole thing was square and accurate. If you don't want your cornerstones to stand out, you can make them out of the same fabric as your sashing. By setting the blocks this way, I could accurately cut my sashing at 12 1/2" x 1 1/2", my cornerstones at 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" and this would ensure that the whole thing was nice and square. If you cut long strips of sashing and simply cut off the excess at the ends, you can have some stretching and distortion, (plus, many of my blocks had bias, stretchy edges). After setting the blocks this way, I felt pretty confident that my border would also be accurate, even though it would be done with long strips with the excess trimmed off. Hmmm......clear as mud?

As I said, this may become a tablecloth. It may also be a lap quilt, I may pipe the edges, I may just add flannel as a batting.....and so forth. It just needs some thought at this point and I will come back to it sometime in the future. Overall, I'm pleased with the results.

Sandy........ I'm thinking about you and sending prayers for your recovery, hoping that you are doing well today. Be tough!

My friend, Sandy, sent this to me several years ago and I just love it. It represents the four of us, high school friends then roommates in college. Two blondes, two brunettes. No, we aren't' goddesses, we're just plain ol' girlfriends that have known each other for many decades.

I hope you can read this poem that is on the back of the card. (Click on the picture for a bigger view) It really sums up the value of friendships. God directs people into our lives and we receive so many blessings from these contacts.

Whether you've been friends for 40 days or 40 years, please take the time to send a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the priceless gift of friendships.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

This is the final block (#12) in the Block of the Month series. Yippee! This one was pretty tedious, with 72 triangles in this 12" block. As usual, I changed some of the fabrics and did a little rearranging of the supplied fabrics. The new series begins the first week of September and I've signed up for this new BOM series too.

I made a 13th block to add to this series. The BOM series ended up having 8-12" blocks and 4-6" blocks. Unless you set them in kind of a medallion or even put all 4-6" blocks together to make a 12" block, the setting just didn't make sense to me. This extra block now gives me 9-12" blocks, enough to make a 3 x 3 block square tablecloth or lap quilt. I think my leftover 6" blocks will become pot holders. My kitchen is blue and they'll fit right in.
I have extra fabric to sash the blocks and add a border (maybe two). I'll post an update when I get the blocks set. Right now, I'm still thinking Christmas projects need to come first. Ho, Ho, Ho!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The second batch of monochromatic blocks arrived yesterday. I had sent two batches of 20- 6 1/2" blocks and received the same in return, in two mailings. A central hostess sorted and mailed out these blocks to the 50 participants. She certainly had a lot of work to get these blocks back to us.

I did end up with a duplicate block, but out of 40 blocks, this isn't bad. I had 5 blocks from the new batch that I took apart and resewed. They weren't that misshapen, but when you are working with a somewhat small block, there isn't much room for error. The tiny blocks don't have much stretching possibilities, so it was just easier to redo them. I feel that they will all go together easier by just resewing them. This extra work will save me time in the long run.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet and will put them on the back burner for the time being. I imagine that I will make a tablecloth out of them, maybe 6 blocks x 6 blocks. My kitchen table is a small round table and a square tablecloth looks nice with the corners draping down. We'll see.
Right now, I need to get into the Christmas gift making mode and get moving. I have several projects planned that I'm hoping won't be as time consuming as last year's gifts. I've also signed up for some classes for various projects that I believe will make good gifts. Although you certainly don't need classes to make gifts, it gives me a jump start. The classes are free at my fabric shop and the motivation is priceless!