Monday, March 29, 2010

a special quilt

I wanted to share a little now and then about quilts I have around here. This one is special, because I am seldom the recipient of a quilt, plus it came from my friends in my quilt group, the Ham Lake Piecemakers, plus it was for a special birthday a few years back. Our group has had the habit of making a group gift for anyone celebrating a decade birthday. Someone in the group takes charge of choosing a theme and coordinating the work. In this case, a pattern book from Country Threads was the inspiration. There are a whole bunch of blocks, this just happens to be the part that was hanging within range of my camera. People made their assigned blocks and I put them together and added the borders. Joyce Grant, one of our group members, did the quilting for me. She did a super job of customization, making it even more cherished. I love this quilt! Here's some of the detail--
Now that we are almost out of March, I am reminded that I commented previously that we would surely have more snow before the month was done. Well, strange things do happen, and we have been snowless ever since! We shall see what April brings, there's still a good chance of a spring storm with heavy wet snow. I always remember that my mom said they had a hard time driving through a blizzard to get to the hospital to give birth to my younger sister, her birthday is April 26!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Simple Saturday

Isn't this one of the prettiest cups of coffee ever? Showing off my new coffee cup from the Liberty of London collection at Target. It doesn't take much to make me happy! This brings back fun memories of our trip to Europe a few years ago, not sure which year, maybe 2003? It ws the last big trip that our family of 4 made together, so very special. Dan was in college and Brita was working at Methodist Hospital, I think. Bob and I went to France (Paris and Avignon) for a week, then met up with the kiddos in London. We spent a week motoring along the English countryside on a longboat, it was absolutely one of the best things we have ever done together! While in London I went to Harrod's department store and drooled over their Liberty fabrics, choosing a couple little pieces for my mementos. I also was given a some of this great fabric for a gift from my sister, Jan, she shares the fabric-lover gene! Funny how that happens, I can trace it back to my mom and Grandma (mom's mom) but I don't know about the generation before that.
Thought I would share a couple more of my favorite things with you from my sewing room---
I try to never be far from my seam ripper, and this Clover brand is the best I have found. It has a perfect tiny point and sharp cutting surface along with a handle that feels nice in my hand. Once I tried this brand I threw out any other seam rippers, it's that good. I use my rippers plenty, and I figure I better make the best of the aspect of sewing that I like the least!
My humble little 1" x 6" acrylic ruler from Omnigrid, I also have multiples of these so they can be in whatever sewing bag or area that comes along.
Yesterday brought plenty o' time at the helm of my big machine, it was glorious! I finished up a customer quilt-Yay!- and then quilted 2 tops that are donations for Quilts For Kids resulting from Debbie's archeological dig in her sewing room. Thank you, Debbie, it is much appreciated! It is so nice to have the ability to mount up those small quilts and quilt them with ease. Just simple quilting designs, but one step closer to bringing some comfort to someone instead of languishing in a closet!
Last night I started working on a new sample of my MN Mixer pattern. First it was made in the 2009 MN fabrics,
then reincarnated in baby fabrics,
and now heading towards florals!
With the first 2 versions hanging side-by-side at Bear Patch, it is fun to get peoples' reactions when they realize it is the same pattern. I hope to get them to go outside the box a little more with this new version. This row is pinned out on my ironing board to benefit from a little re-shaping. It is probably the hardest row in the construction of this quilt to get to exactly the right size, this type of triangle is hard to get just right. This time it turned out to be about 1/2" shorter than I would like it to be and since I had actually done a good job at getting all the points correct with the requisite 1/4" seam allowance to be attached to the next row, I didn't want to use my trusty seam ripper to make any modifications. So I am putting to use the simple action of moisture on fiber to give me a little length. I pinned out the border straight on the ironing board, misted it with my spray bottle and let that soak in a little. Then I gently smoothed out the fabric, repinned, and gained what I needed to make this work. I guess the water helps the fibers relax a bit, easier to shape. Seems too simple, but it works! I think I have mentioned here before that I have learned to use my spray bottle to remove wrinkles in quilt backs instead of ironing, same principle.
Today I have decided is going to be a day of silence. I am spending the day at home alone (Bob is on a golf course somewhere in Missouri) and I realized last night that I had TV, radio, music and podcasts on most of the time throughout the day. Too much noise. Not nearly as bad as a day in TNICU, where the alarms sometimes drove me nuts, but still too much noise. So I will have a day of quiet for a change. It's nice!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

give a little

Two more little quilts are heading for a good home. I will take them to Deb as part of her growing collection of donations to Twin Cities Quilts For Kids. The pink one on top was unearthed when Debbie E. cleaned out her sewing room, it was done except for stitching down the binding so that didn't take long to finish. See what good things can come from a little cleaning out! The other was made by a woman who participated in the QFK sewing day recently at Bear Patch Quilting Co. and she dropped it off at the store after she finished it. She hadn't quilted before but came at the request of her granddaughter so they could spend the day together. Thank you!! If you have a notion that you might like to spread a little love to kids who need it, please check out the QFK website to see how you can participate, or contact me!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

sweet aroma

We're cooking today, Saturday's are great for that if we are both home. With just the 2 of us living under this roof we don't do near as much cooking as we used to, for the simple reason that we don't eat as much! But last Sunday I had lunch at my friend, Jeanette's, and she had prepared this recipe for us. She also made the apple coleslaw referenced in the FamlyFun post, it was great on the sandwich with the spicy meat. I wish you could get a whiff of the smell coming out of my crockpot! I highly recommend it! I had to purchase 3 things that were new ingredients for us: hoisin sauce, 5 spice powder and sesame oil.
I think these are staples for many people in this world, but had not before been in demand in this household. I think I might have used sesame oil before in something. Now I probably have a lifetime supply of 5 spice powder on hand, so I should be looking for more ways to use it.
It's a lovely morning here, no alarms to wake us, sun shining. Bob is on his way to the grocery store to replenish our larder, I am cleaning a bit (a very little bit) and then planning to finish a quilt on the frame for Leisl. She has made 2 matching quilts that will be going to her sister's new condo on the east coast, so I am happy to have a little piece of me going to the beach!
My feet are 10 times better today, even after spending all day Friday walking while working at the store, and this morning I used a new arch support in my tennis shoes and was able to walk on the treadmill with very little discomfort. It's a miracle!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Who remembers the Spirograph!? This was always a favorite of mine, I really loved making up designs of arcs and circles within circles. So I really enjoyed quilting this quilt from Debbie made of Spirograph fabrics. I even tried to mimic a little spiro action with rings of circles stitched into the blocks. I think this is the Take 5 pattern by The Teacher's Pet. The fabric is called Anything Goes and is made by Exclusively Quilters and is available at Bear Patch Quilting Co.
I have developed some heel and foot pain recently, and it has been getting worse rather than better, so today I admitted I had a problem and sought advice from some shoe experts. Ended up with these new Haflingers.
Already adorned with threads, which will probably be a constant presence since they are made of wool felt and I am always into threads. But they do feel good on my feet, so there is hope. The shoe guy said I had nice feet and liked my socks, so it was a win-win situation. He got my money and I got to feel good about my lowly feet!
Found out about an interesting situation involving a possible copyright infringement on this website. Read it and tell me what you think.
The plastic is coming off the windows! We cover most of our windows with plastic during the winter, and this week has been the second spell of warm weather, so it's time to get those windows open! There's hardly any snow left, but since there's still plenty of March left I suppose there will still be some snowfall. I have been finding myself giving more thought to what life would be like living in a place without snow, and liking the idea! Kind of the opposite of #1 son Dan, living at Mammoth Lakes, CA, where they have had well over 400" of snow this winter! And he thinks it's just about the best place on earth!
Stopped in Target last night to look at their new Liberty of London products. I have always lusted after those Liberty fabrics, they are so fine and lovely. So I was very interested when I saw the Target commercials about new Liberty items, I never would have equated Target with Liberty of London! I saw some tableware, clothing, and paper products. I was very good and resisted temptation to buy, but as I have been thinking about it I really think I will go back and get one of the coffee cups to add to my collection of mugs. For a long time, I have collected coffee mugs and cups whenever I see colors or designs that I like, plus souvenirs from vacations. Makes for a nice cupboard, it is a delight to open the door each morning and choose the mug that fits my mood or brings me a memory of places visited.
Time to get caught up on a couple episodes of Project Runway--what will the next challenge be?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

another job done

I love how this quilt turned out without a lot of fussiness. It is 64" square and the quilt maker plans to use it as a sort of tablecloth. I want some of that blue floral in the border! I don't know what the pattern is. The beige center square is unpieced and then has the triangle border and 4 more borders. I kind of wish that I had taken a "before" picture to show you an example of how quilting can shrink the overall size, in this case used to our advantage because the center beige square was too big for the borders. When I laid it out on the table before quilting, there was about 2" of excess fabric in the center. With small meandering I was able to get all of that "fluffiness" worked into the correct measurement and the borders lay flat with a larger meandering pattern. It's so good when the planets are aligned! Plus the sun is shining, the patio is finally free of snow, and I had lunch with Sue and Jeanette so life is good!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Let your fabric do the talking

One of the steps in the process of quilting is deciding what to stitch on the quilt. This step can sometimes be a stumbling block for me, especially if the customer doesn't have any specific wishes. Some customers might tell me that they want a particular type of quilting, or motif to work into the design, or price point to achieve. Others will simply say "Do whatever you like". So then I have more decision-making to do, which has a good side and a bad, depending on the day and my mood! The quilt I am working on right now is destined for a baby on the way in Debbie's family. The mother-to-be had a hand in picking out the fabrics and colors. It has lots of dots. As I was looking at the quilt, I knew I was going to put my little clamshell-like-thingies in the center portion, but thought it would be fun to give the borders a little different treatment. I doodled around a little in my head and then realized that the graphic layout of the dots was a perfect setup. I guess you could call it connect the dots! And when I started laying on the stitching lines curving in and out between the circles, it created a really fun design.
The little narrow border has little stripes which became my guide for stitching at intervals along those lines. Didn't have to measure or mark a thing! I think this quilt will look good in baby drool!