Sunday, December 30, 2012

Post Holiday Blues

I'm home, safe and sound. Miss Molly was well looked after while I was away and Miss Annie was so glad to see me last night. So much to waking up to blue skies and an endless day of "whatever". It's back to the grey NW, frosty rooftops and scraping the car windows!
Christmas Eve was my moms birthday and we always had a little party. We continue the tradition with friends and here is my Dad and his past neighbor Christine. We had an evening full of laughter, stories, good food and a few cocktails. She's in her early 70's and Dad is 78! I was the D.D. for the seniors!
Now onto quilty things. I started this redwork last Christmas at Dads and finished it this year at Dads. It called for red buttons, but when I went to JoAnn, I saw these crystal buttons and liked how they looked. The crocheted snowflakes are ones my mom made years ago. Dad had nothing up for Christmas, so I dug out a few things and brightened up his place.
I took my Joy of Life applique and made great headway.  Here are the blocks I've finished, with the exception of a few circles on some of the pieces.

The dragonfly seems a bit weak but once it's all together I hope it works. 

I did this block on the plane home, but didn't realize I had to put stems into the V's of the little outside hearts.  At least I only got 3 of them stitched down before realizing this. :-0 Total count, 5 1/2 blocks completed and 2 1/2 left to go.

Here was my first attempt at this butterfly.  I thought I could live with it like this.

but knew that the few minutes it would take to un sew and re sew the right top wing would be worth it.  So here is the final version.  Now I see it's tail is a bit off, but I can live with that!
Dad and I had a great visit. We spent an afternoon at the horse races in Phoenix. Dad has his horse in AZ, but it's still being trained at a farm, it will be shipped over to the track next week and will hopefully race by late Feb. We cooked pizza one night, entertained on the 24th, drove around town looking at all the lights one evening, and we prepared a meal for 10, (it was just us two) on Christmas day. We went out for Mexican the last night, as we were on turkey overload. My sisters and I surprised Dad with housekeeping services while he winters in AZ, he seemed quite receptive to the idea. Whew!, as he is set in his ways at this stage of life!
We also saw Les Mis and although I had not seen the Broadway show or read the book, I totally loved it. Dad had read the book so he knew the story. Aside from having a crappy cold, the trip was fabulous.

Here's Dad on Saturday morning, making a turkey sandwich for my carry on. I told him Dads are never to old to pack their daughters lunch. With a big hug and a few words, I was off to the airport line ups.

I hope you all came away from this season with great memories and stories that will be shared for years to come.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Wish For You

It's the time of year when we reflect back on the year and we look all around us and make decisions about how to do things better  in our lives and with what is on the news every minute right now, it seems even more important to really think about how we live our lives.  We got a card at work, the front said Seasons Greetings, OK, that annoys me a little but I look inside.  It has one line of text.  "Be Excellent to One Another" .  My boss got a banner printed up to hang along his fence.  He wanted to be politically correct, as everyone seems to be these days, so his sign, which is 3 ft x 18 ft reads "Happy Birthday Jesus"  No one can complain about that message.

I wish for my fellow quilters, bloggers and friends.........full bobbins all the time, sharp needles and rotary blades, a stash that has abundance, a LQS that is as fabulous as Fabric Etc, may you see the joy in someones eyes when you gift them a quilt, and as someone else has said, "may all your ups and downs be with needle and thread."

They say that whatever you do on New Years Day you will do for the rest of the year.  I plan on doing some hand quilting that day, I can't imagine life without a needle and thread handy. There will be lists, as this is the time of year we feel an extra push to get organized and I could certainly use some of that. The lists will be all my projects under different headings, then I can cross them off as I work through them, move them along and get them to the "needs to be quilted" list.  If I can do that with 3 tops in 2013, and take 3 of my "need to be quilted" tops off the current list, I'll be very satisfied with my achievement.

I'll be spending a week with my 78 yr young father in AZ, I couldn't ask for a better way to celebrate Christmas. Wishing each and every one of you a blessed Christmas full of family, good cheer and laughter. I look forward to another year of motivation, inspiration, and sharing with my blogging buddies.

I've shared a few blocks from my favorite Christmas quilt.  It's the first one I made for myself and I hang it up every year. 
Jingle Bells,

Saturday, December 22, 2012

7 am Departure

Leaving, on a jet plane.........As this is posting, I'm on my way to the airport. I have one post scheduled and I am unplugging until I return. My dad doesn't even have a cell phone! (I'll be taking mine, it's a work issue). Thanks for all your kind comments throughout the year, we (bloggers) never know who is reading or if anyone even is reading, so thanks so much for the comments, it makes it all worth while.

Jingle Bells

Friday, December 21, 2012

Basted days and Basted nights...

Are you singing along in your mind?  I hope Wasted days and wasted nights doesn't stick in your brain for the next few hours. :-)
It's a big job making a back for a big quilt. Good grief, 3 yards of fabric X 3 makes for a big piece to press and square up!
Once I got the back loaded, I thought, well, I can get the batting basted down. When that was done I thought, well.....I could pin the top one........then baste the top edge down. Maybe I'll baste this first section.....and it turned into 3 sections.

I'm basting with YLI 50 wt machine quilting cotton in a pale yellow, because it was what was on my machine from the last quilt that I did. As for bobbins, this is the opportunity to use up all those partial bobbins left over from customer quilts. It's quite a mixed bag of threads on the back. I'm basting rows across the quilt then I go back and do the vertical lines. This is giving me a grid of approx 2". Once I start quilting I snip and pull out the basting as I go along.

**3:30 pm update, basting complete! Let the quilting begin!**

Jingle bells

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Two Whole Days!

Yes, my friends, I have 2 whole days off work before I fly out to AZ.  That's 2 days of doing whatever I want, 'cus I have all my shopping, decorating, baking, visiting, gift delivering and housekeeping D.O.N.E.  I know, it's hard to imagine this, but I put in extra hours quite a few days over the past 2 weeks  to get all the paperwork on my desk caught up and finished. Mission accomplished!

Jingle Bells,

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's Back!

I arrived home from work on Monday to find this little box tucked up in the corner of my front porch. It was my Beyond the Cherry Tree top, back from the marker.

I asked for 3/4" cross hatching and single lines in the border. 

If you click on the picture below you can see the transition on the borders in the corner.
Here are the details.  It was sent to Bellwether Dry Goods and I was charged $14/hour.  The top is 100 x 100 and it took 9 3/4 hours so $136.50  Since I live on the other side of the country, there was also my shipping charges in and out which totaled $42.82.   I could not have even considered marking this top, let alone have it done in under 10 hours. I'd be 10 days working on something like this and it would have been a mess.  Merry Christmas to myself, money well spent for a craft that I enjoy so much.  It's certainly cheaper than therapy and there's nothing more relaxing that rocking a needle, up and down, up and down.

Jingle Bells,

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Applique Prep

I think I've said to before, but The Applique Society group that I belong to in Bellingham is my all time favorite group that I've belonged to.  The members are so engaged in the craft of applique, they read up on techniques, share books around the table, take workshops, organize retreats and are so SHARING!  I learn something new every single time we get together.  Even though it was my last weekend at home to get all my Christmas visiting and shopping finished, I still took the time to go to our Sat meeting.

Here is Joy of Life that I've been prepping.  It's a 9 block piece and each block background has patchwork, almost like making the quilt two times!
I've got all the bias vines glue basted down and am ready to stitch.
Since it's only got a few colors in the applique, the traveling kit will be nice and small.
I've put no expections on how much I will get done over Christmas, but I am taking 8 blocks.  One has already been stitched and do I ever have my work cut out to have my applique look at good as the first block made by Merrie.  I passed it around the table Sat a.m. and bragged about how beautiful her stitching was.  Everyone agreed!

Do you have a project that you will keep handy over the holidays?


Sunday, December 16, 2012

This and That

It's a busy time of year for everyone, but it's a good kind of busy.  I've got a few things finished.
Tonight I took the final stitches on the binding. Regardless of a charity quilt, kids quilt or one I make as a gift, I just have to finish the binding by hand. It's the last time to hold the quilt and stitch good wishes into it.
 I wanted to get this and two other quilts in the mail tomorrow, as I hope they can reach NJ before Christmas, so I took the short cut on labels.
  Today I delivered this quilt to M, she is gifting it out to her sister.  Lucky girl! We also took some time to visit over a late lunch.  I wanted to be on the road and heading home before dark.  That was a good call, as it started to snow here at dinner time.
 M makes big quilts, but she also knows how to work with the tiny pieces.  Look at what I got for Christmas!  A Dammitt Doll, you know, the little doll who lets you grab her by the legs and smack her on your desk and get your frustrations out!  But she is a little naked and needed a blankie.

 Look at what my wonderful gal pal made for me.  Yes, that's a dime at the bottom to show how tiny these 1/2 sq's really are. This is so precious!
It was a busy weekend, I had my Applique group meeting on Saturday morning at my LQS, a hair appointment, a visit with a friend and then was off to a party.  Today I did some running around in the a.m. then did visiting all afternoon.

I hope your weekend was as fun and friendship filled as mine was. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sharing the BTCT Sale

Sentimental Stitches is having a one day sale on the Beyond the Cherry Tree patterns.  It's a great deal if you missed any months, or if you can't resist the whole thing now that you've seen a few of them finished in blogland.  That's my P.S.A. for the day.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


So it's Friday night, well, really it's Saturday morning since the clock has passed midnight. This should give you a clue as to the status of my love life, or lack of one. :-) I'm getting ready for a cocktail party tomorrow evening. I've polished the silver, hung my quilts so I guess I'm ready!  What it really  means is that I have to clean........and put things away. Good grief, I'll never find anything on Sunday! But I've got my quilt hung up, the veggies cut and the dip made and a fridge full of food.  So I guess I'm close to ready for company.
The good news is that company forces me to clean my place up. Living by myself and being a quilter, well, you can imagine how things can pile up.
I'm shamefully posting a 'before' picture, and as you can see, I have some picking up to do.  That's my pile of Sandy quilts, but I got my favorite piece hung up.  It's about 40 x 40 and all done by hand.
This quilt below  is a "hang it high" kind of piece.  I was learning the long arm quilting on this and as much as it's one of my favorite pieces, it still has quilting that needs to be removed.  It's got "Holidays in Paris" in it, and that has got to be one of my favorite collections.  It was by In the Beginning, and I bought it early on in my quilting career. 2003? I sure wish I had more of it. Of any collection, this is my all time favorite.
A rerun of last year, I still love my snowmen by Kim Diehl.  This subs as my Christmas tree, and I love my Jim Shore ornaments.  Yes, that's a sewing bag in the corner with the flying geese. It too, will be put away.
I have about 30 people coming over Sat evening for cocktails and snacks, so I've got my list and I've checked it twice.  It still says I need to drive to Costco Saturday morning. Seriously, that is crazy.
Wishing everyone a parking spot at the mall this weekend!
Have fun,

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bindings X3

The top quilt is going east to support someone affected by Sandy. The other 2 are customer quilts that are packed up to go back to CT.  Don't you love the multi colored binding?  She sent me two different colorways of this wide striped fabric. It was perfect for these bright cheerful quilts.  Now she just needs to label them and gift them out.
A big pan of beef enchilada's, a perfect dinner for a cold rainy day. These freeze nicely, so one pan equals 8 meals for me!
I've got a turkey in the oven, three loads of laundry on the go, another Sandy quilt loaded on my machine, and a pan of lunch to deliver to friends, so I must get at it.
Have a great week!

Customer Appliques

This is the cutest "Girl's PJ Party" quilt that I've ever seen.  I think that being a longarm quilter for other people gives me a peek inside so many sewing rooms.  M sent this and said, "I want it girlie!"
The pattern is from LizzieB Cre8ive and this company has a very large selection of cute patterns.  This must be a well kept secret as I've never heard of this company or seen anyone blog/post things from here.
Or I'm living in a cave!  Trust me, some weeks feel like that. This quilt has it all going on.  Applique with different fabrics, love the housecoat and the bunny slippers.  Embroidery and patchwork and also an inside border flange.
I did some cross hatching, outlined all the applique, feathered the inside border with a single sided feather, background filled the embroidery blocks and put a swag of feathers along the top and bottom row of blocks.
This was too cute to keep to myself. Check out their selection of patterns, I really love Chick Chatter and Womens Gotta Have It patterns.  This designer has a real sense of humor and whimsy and I hope to see more of her (his?) designs.


Friday, November 30, 2012

A Great Swap

I'm sure many of you can relate, someone wants a quilt and wants to make a trade.
 They have no idea of the hours or money that goes into a quilt. I've swapped out piecing for longarm quilting when I needed a stack of tops for quilting samples.  I'm very hesitant to enter into a trade with quilting but my co worker/neighbor has been making some amazing bird houses and I really wanted one.  And then their first Great Grandson came along and I thought I'd offer a trade.

The mom wanted brights, race cars or motorcycles, she mentioned blue, orange, purple as colors.
 This fabric was perfect for the quilt.  I love Churn Dash blocks, especially for baby quilts.  I make 12 blocks with bright solids and then found this great stripe for the binding.  I used up all the print fabric for the back and added a strip of the orange in the center of the back.
And this was my trade!  Annie's Ale House.  The bird house has two levels for nests, holes in the front and the sides, and a big back door to clean out the birdhouse at the end of the season. It's about 2 feet high and is fabulous.  My friend has made many of these with a western theme.  They have Maxwell's  Dry Goods and The Franklin Inn. 

Yes, they have two dogs, Franklin and Maxwell, and my dog is Annie. I'd say this was a very fair trade.
Annie's Ale House

I've got it stored in my garage until February and then they are going to help me build a perch for this in my back yard.


Pattern for Header Photo

The piece that is in my header is from 'Tis The Season and it's probably available at your LQS.  If not, there is always Amazon, the store that never closes. I'm going into my memory bank and I think I made this banner from a section of a quilt in the book.  I used the fusible, machine appliqued method and hand quilted the grid lines.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fingers Crossed

Today was the big day.  I put my Beyond the Cherry Tree into a box and handed it over to the USPS.  Now that's living on the edge, right?  I've sent it to Bellwether Dry Goods to do the marking.  This baby is way too big for me to tackle that job.  After pondering many ideas, I've gone with 3/4" x hatching through the blocks and then angle lines in the borders.  I stuck with very traditional quilting for this one.

I've made headway with customer quilts, I'm on the last one that needs to be returned before Christmas. The quilting has been started, the binding is made and I'm confident I'll have these last two in the mail Dec. 3.

My Sandy quilts are still "in progress". One has been returned from my friend who did the quilting on it, I've got it trimmed and have started pinning the binding. This one needs quilting and I will have these in the mail before Christmas.

My blog has been a bit dull lately, doing quilts for others, prepping for hand applique, and doing hand quilting makes for a boring blog. Once I start doing the applique, I'll have some pretty blocks to post.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Tutorial on Odd Sized Star Blocks

This post is long overdue.  I was away in August and was asked to explain how I make these Liberated Stars.  I know there are lots of online tutorials and of course, all of Gwen Marston's books, but my friend wanted more about the measurements vs the method.  I hope this helps and if you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask in the comment section.
This block needs to be finished at 5 1/2" so unfinished at 6".  This is a lousy size for a 9 patch block as the numbers are not easily divisible by 3. SO......I start with 2 1/2 " strips, cut them down into 2 1/2 " squares and then make my star.
I used 8 background squares and one star colored square for the center.  Scraps made up the star points and now my block measures approx 6 1/2" and as you can see, I've not been super careful and it's a bit wonky around the edges.

No worries, as we are going to trim up this block to 6" unfinished.  Notice how I have the ruler lined up to the center block and there is overhang on both sides of the block.  I've got the horizontal and vertical lines on my ruler lined up to make this block straight and square.  See how the center blue square lines up as a 2" square.

I trim one side.
And here both sides have now been trimmed.  Rotate the block .........
and line up the ruler in the same manner.  Now you can trim the other 2 sides and have a perfect 6" unfinished block.
See, it measures up to the exact size I want.  Because the tips of the stars don't extend to the outside, I've still got all my star points.  The beauty of this block is that some star points are fat, some are skinny, some are tall and some are short. If you have to cut off a point when you trim down, so what, it just adds to the liberated look of the block.  If you don't like that look, just make your star points a bit smaller and you should be fine.

This block finishes at 12" so for the big star, the 9 patches I start with need to be 4 1/2".  To make the center star, this is a weird size for the 9 patch. Finished, the center block 9 patch would be 1.33".  Not the easiest measurements to make.  For this block I started with squares that were 2" so my center block was 5" unfinished and I trimmed it down to 4 1/2", using the same steps as above.
The best way to work with these blocks is to play.  You will see how your star points turn out by how you sew your seams. The best part of this block is that when you have a bunch of them, they all look good and it's very forgiving.  It's not for every quilter, or for every quilt, but be careful, they can be addicting!

Have fun