Tuesday, October 30, 2012

in the works...

I have been a busy girl lately, getting quite a few things accomplished and crossed off the list.  Here is the report:

A road map playmat for Ian, whenever he gets big enough to be entertained by little matchbox cars.  This was a printed panel which I quilted to a layer of craft felt.  I outlined around the roads and railroads, then serged around the outside edge for a quick and easy finish.  I am thinking that it needs a little tote bag to keep it with the appropriate cars.  This makes me remember when my kids were little, and how the car/truck thing seemed to come naturally to my little boy, more so than my daughter.  And little boys seem to be able to make that little buzzing motor noise naturally, too!

I think Ian is already thinking about playing on his mat!
Little boys need little mittens to match their little hats and blankies, so here you go!  We are going to try either mitten clips or the cord through the sleeves, and hopefully they will stay on better than his socks!

Pair #2 for Ian started.
I found the metal clips with the sewing notions at Joann's and sewed the elastic to the clips.  Next time I will look for colored elastic!

This looks kind of messy, but it's a work in progress.  This is a lattice strip quilt that I have started and have about half of the blocks made.  I laid it out to get some perspective, and have concluded that it's just not right.  Debbie suggested that the solid gray squares would be better white.  I am thinking at this point that I might just stop and start fresh with a different group of fabrics.  We have a lot of great solids at the store and I am thinking about using those.  I would like to get this done to teach as a class this winter, it is made with the use of partial seams and that would be a good technique for our quilters to know.

 Time to get some binding on a quilt that was wonderfully hand quilted for me by my mom--

I made the top a few years ago and when she told me that she was looking for something to go on her quilting frame, I was more than happy to provide this!  Her little stitches are so straight and neat!

I just took this Christmas quilt off my machine frame and will deliver it to Leisl later today.  She will put the binding and finishing touches on it and then we will display it at the store.  Not distinguishable from here, but I quilted a poinsettia design on it in red thread, and it turned out great.

There are a couple of other customer quilts that I have recently done that made it out of here without photos.  One of them was another lesson in perseverance for me, due to the fact that I had a lot of problems with skipped stitches. This resulted in hair-pulling, headaches, curses, tears, ripping stitches, tweaking thread, tension, timing and anything else I could think of.  Some advice from my company rep finally got me back on track, and the quilt was finished and delivered to the owner, who loved it!  99.9% of the time my machine works like a precision tool, but every now and then something goes wacky and makes me very cranky!

 Next up on the quilting frame--

Sunday, October 28, 2012

hooray for hayrides

Last weekend we enjoyed an afternoon free of work, worry, phones and pressures.  Instead, we bundled up and hopped on the wagon.  A modification of a hay wagon, making a much safer excursion.  It's always so annoying when you have people fall off the wagon, literally.

My brother-in-law, Larry and his wife, Denise, organize this outing and invite friends and family in the area.  That's Larry facing this way and Denise in the yellow.  And there is hay on the floor, making it legit.

Larry has been a farmer all of his life, and took over his dad's operation.  So he knows this little corner of Jackson County very well.  He always takes us on a different route, over hill and dale, through ditches and down lanes, stopping here and there to point out the local points of interest.  You can see in the picture below that he is winding up on a good tale.

This is the first time that he has hauled us around from the comfort of his pickup instead of the tractor.  I think he must be getting too mature!  He is older than I am, after all, so is nigh on antique.  He stopped to point out the rare black buffalo in the picture below.  And he says that with complete seriousness!

We rode past this pretty little church and the cemetery nearby.  

 And this country schoolhouse, where almost all of the Hansen kids attended classes.  9 kids.  Bob went there for 2 or 3 years, and he is number 6 of the 9.  Then the school closed and the kids all had to ride the bus to town school.  The building was used for other purposes, but now is boarded up and deserted.  It stands alone in the middle of fields, but comes alive when they start talking about ballgames, cooking lunches, the Christmas play and their teacher.  I can tell when Bob talks about country school that it was a wonderful experience.

We finished the ride at a county park with a weiner roast and smores.  We needed the fire to keep warm until we started up the cars to go home for the night, back to the real world.  Thank you, Larry and Denise!  You're the best!

Friday, October 26, 2012

road trip

Last weekend Bob and I enjoyed a little excursion just for a get-away-from-home-for-a-couple-days trip.  Bob is very amenable to chauffeuring and I am good with a map, so we hit the road Friday morning in search of whatever we wanted!  To me, that meant some quilt shops that I had never before visited.  Yes, such a thing does exist even in my own backyard!  Working at Bear Patch gives me very little need to shop for fabric, etc., anywhere else, but sometimes it is fun to see what else is out there.

First stop, Fourth and Main Fabrics in Cannon Falls, MN.

I had been to a different quilt shop in Cannon Falls a few years back, but that one had closed.  This new one is definitely a keeper!  I found some fabric and patterns that needed to come home with me, all in the name of research and development!
From there we took the scenic route over through Red Wing, and reminisced about our bicycling trips there.  I may have never mentioned this here before, but at one time in our lives we did a fair amount of bicycling, and there is a really good trail that runs between Red Wing and Cannon Falls.  But even more fun to remember is our journeys to Chicago for the AIDS Ride, which involved a stop in Red Wing and following the highway along the Mississippi River south of there.  But I digress!

Next stop, Olive Juice Quilts in Onalaska, WI.  This is just over the border by La Crosse.   Pretty easy to get to, and well worth the effort.  This shop shares a common bond with Bear Patch.  Better Homes and Gardens publishes the Quilt Sampler, special issues featuring 10 top quilt shops in the country.  In 2001 Bear Patch was featured.  In the Fall 2012 issue Olive Juice Quilts is featured.  This is an inspiring shop and, again, some bits and pieces had to come home with me!  They have a huge open classroom area that I would love to have at Bear Patch for special events and classes.

Pretty autumn arrangement outside the door.

The following day we visited Pine Needles Sewing Center in Rochester, MN and The Calico Hutch in Hayward, MN.  We were running a little low on time by the time we got to the Calico Hutch, so I had to make it quick there.  Both these shops look like great resources for many creative women.  So many ideas, so little time!
Checkout counter and rows of fabric at Pine Needles.

This modest looking entrance might be a little deceiving.  There is a boatload of inspiration inside!
As a collector of fabrics, I seek out the things that I don't find elsewhere and appeal to me.  These fabrics were destined for my sewing room...
Great bikes and coordinates.

I kind of have a thing lately for letters, numbers, text, etc.

I didn't have any chair fabric so this one was a must-have!

cute quilting theme

I don't find Echino fabric very often, and I got these because they coordinate with the ones below that were already in the collection.  
These came from California on previous hunt and gather trips.
So that wraps up the quilt shop portion of the getaway.  More fun followed but that will have to be the next post!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

working on...

I started putting together a new small quilt sample for display at Bear Patch.  We have had a couple of samples of similar quilts that use a raw-edge applique technique that have been well-loved by our customers.  This is another version, called the Vintage Circle Quilt from Yoyomama.  I picked these 10 fabrics for the baby quilt--

This design requires cutting pieces from a template shape.  I wished for a nice acrylic template that I could have used for rotary cutting, but alas, there is none.  So I traced the shape onto some regular template plastic (shown in the bottom right of the picture below) and did it the old-fashioned way.  I laid the template on the wrong side of my fabric and drew around it with a pen.  I used a Frixion pen, so in case there was any ink left after cutting, it would disappear with ironing.  With a good sharp scissor, I was able to cut 4 at a time.  I needed 100, and it really didn't take so long.  I caught up on a recorded Young and Restless episode--I started watching that show back in 1973 in the dorm, and have stayed in touch ever since!  I can get through the 1 hour episode in about 40 minutes with my finger on the fast forward button.

Those little triangle-ish shapes get arranged something like this on a solid background--

 I'll be working on this at a November retreat, so will show you results then.
I have also been making some progress on a bunch of blocks started last winter, shown below on my design wall in their current state.

They are going to look something like this--

Even though I am using all batik fabrics, and the pattern picture is all civil war reproduction fabrics, they share a strong resemblance.  I still have a bunch of little 4" blocks and filler strips left to do.  Some of them are all cut and bagged.

I find it helps to do a cutting session and then a sewing session, rather than mix the process.  These blocks have a lot of little pieces, and I am labeling them according to block number and placement.  I am up to #22!

Speaking of batiks, I posted a nice video about the making of batiks over on the Bear Patch Blog.  Hop over there and take a look!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

happy scrappy

 Here's a really fun quilt for inspiration--

Made by Joyce, multi-talented quilty buddy, from lots and lots of little bits.  Using 1 1/2" x 3 1/2" rectangles sewn in long columns, she ended up with a good-sized (78x94) quilt from a whole lot of what usually gets thrown away!  This didn't happen overnight, but has been a work in progress for awhile.  I'm not sure if she had a pattern of some sort to start with, or just let it develop along the way.  The black strips are cut 4 1/2" wide, and do the work of stabilizing all of those little pieces.  If you want to make something like this, put out a message to your friends and let them help you with collecting the thousands of little bits that you can use.  It was fun to quilt and note all of the interesting little designs.  This could even be assembled as an "I Spy" quilt for a child.  Use little cutouts of kid-friendly designs, and use it as a story-telling or learning tool.  Help the child learn the alphabet by finding pictures that start with a chosen letter, or learn numbers by counting puppies or flowers, etc.  So many possibilities, so little time!

This quilt also serves as an illustration of really good construction that makes a really good quilt top for me to quilt and ends up as a really good finished quilt.  Some key points:
  1. Joyce pressed all the seams of the little rectangles open and FLAT.  The seams between columns were pressed toward the black and FLAT.
  2. No long threads were left hanging!  Trim as you go to keep it neat.
  3. Make all of the pieced columns from the same number of strips, and when they are all done take an average measurement of the length.  Cut all of the black strips that same length.  Cut them on the lengthwise grain of the fabric if possible to eliminate the need for seams and take advantage of the less stretchy direction (on the warp) of the weave.  Pin and ease the rectangle strips to fit the black strips, and your quilt top will be just as square and flat as Joyce's!
Now I just need to get this back to Joyce so she can put on the binding.  I wonder what that will be?  Lucky girl is on a Stitchin' Trips retreat at Beaver Lake Landing right now, probably collecting more little bits!

Looking for a good idea for a delicious and easy meal for the cooler weather we are having?  We made a crockpot meal of Chicken Taco Chili last Sunday and really liked it.  Well, Bob put it all together while I was at work, and I made the cornbread from the recipe that accompanies it when I got home.  Bob is a fan of the little Jiffy mixes for his cornbread muffins, and he bakes them often.  But this cornbread from scratch really rises above the box mix, and since I now have some buttermilk to use up I think I will be making more.  We chose not to put any jalapeno pepper in the cornbread and liked it just fine.

I have enjoyed listening to another Jodi Picoult novel during my drive-time.  Click on the link to get a little synopsis of this story.  

As usual, she has put together a very thought-provoking storyline.  This one really took me back to situations I experienced when I was a nurse in trauma/neuro ICU.  I suggest you give it a try.  And make sure you are an organ donor and that your family understands your wishes.   I could get on my organ donation soap box for awhile, but I can sum it up with one thought-- if you or any of your family or any of your friends ever want to receive an organ to save a life, then you had better be an organ donor.  I would like to make it a law, but I think that won't be happening!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

a little fall

A couple of weeks ago I was spending some time with Brita and Ian, actually, it was about a month ago because it was soon after she broke her arm and I wanted to try to help her manage some things since I had 2 good arms plus her 1.  Holding a 19 pound wiggler with one arm is challenging, even if you have nothing else to do!  We made a little trip to Michael's to see if we could come up with something for a new wreath on her front door, and this is what we did---

 Not bad for starters!  A few garland rope-y things, flower pick things, glue gun, and voila!  It does announce that the fall season is upon us.  This morning the temps are in the 30's!

Also on that trip to Michael's we bought the makings for a funny bachelorette party wedding veil, I will have to see if I can get a picture to share with you because it turned out to be quite the attention-getter around the pools in Las Vegas!

Also part of that fall-like decor, I sewed this tabletopper using Halloween fabrics and a pattern from Runnermania by Gathering Friends.  It is going to be displayed at the store along with a group of other tabletop decor.

I have had some feedback about the change in the look of my blog page, and will probably be making another change, soon.  A couple people have said that they are missing the things that were on the right-hand side of the page, like the index, bloglist, recipes, etc.  Those things are still there, just layered beneath some little tabs that pop out when you move the cursor over that side of the page.  Another person mentioned that they don't see the comments, but I think those are still there at the bottom of each post when you open the full page for that post.  Just click on any of the pictures to get the full page.  Only the first paragraph of text shows up on the front page.  I do really like the clean look of the page, but also miss some of the other things (like the spinning quilts).

In my last post, I told you a little bit about the black and white and red quilt that I was working on.  Well, that quilt has been finished and a good lesson was learned.  I ran into a problem that nearly caused me to have a stroke, but turned out OK in the end.  I had the chance to use a product that was sitting on my shelf unopened, just waiting for the right moment--

I needed to apply a little spray of water to the quilt backing in a small area to shrink it a bit and eliminate wrinkles.  Which worked, but when I went back to the front of the quilt, there was pink bleeding through on the white.  HELP!!!  After picking myself up off the floor, I went to work to find a solution.  That's when the Carbona product saved the day!  It is intended to be added to the wash, but I mixed the powder with some water in a cup, then dabbed it onto a sample, and the color bleed vanished!  Hallelujah!  So the problem spots were treated, and looked like new, and I was able to clue in the quiltmaker about a potentially big problem if that quilt is ever washed.  How lucky was I to have purchased that product?  Must be fate.

"I have not failed.  I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."  Thomas Edison