Monday, December 29, 2014

Road Trip!

We are on our way to visit our daughter in Texas, and drove from Michigan to St. Louis, MO yesterday.  We are staying for one day with my best friend, who was my neighbor many years ago when I lived here too.  I am so excited to sew today with my best friend Dee Halagera.  

She and I talk almost daily on the phone, and our quilting styles are so different.  I blogged about a day with her before (Here)  Since we are traveling by car, I could bring some of my current unfinished projects to show her, and last night we looked at all of our works in progress.  

Today we are working on a baby quilt we worked on two years ago together. It was one of Dee's projects that we now refer to as "the baby quilt from hell", but are determined to get it done!   Dee picked out the fabrics, and cut the circles, and two years ago we laid them out on the white background and she machine sewed the circles down.  Adorable, right?

Problem #1:  The machine quilter (some nameless person who learned from this quilt too) machine quilted all the background before she worked on the circles, and the results were lovely swirls in the background and lots of puffy little mountains where the circles had previously been laying there flat.  So for a long time this project was wadded into a ball in Dee's closet. Ruined.

Rescue #1:  Judy came to town (picture me on my white horse, galloping along) and said, "Dee, I can fix this!"  I took it home, and picked out all the machine sewing around the circles, took them off, and cut away the white background "mountains" under them.  I hand appliqued the circles back on the top.  Yeah!  Here's a picture of the white fabric bunched up problem - a circle that was just removed.  The back of the quilt was just fine - just the white front fabric bunched up.  

Problem #2:  How would I quilt the circles?  I am not good at free motion quilting, and so I dissected the circles with chalk lines like a knife through a round pie, and machine sewed them flat.  But they looked like little pies to me - not what we wanted.  Dee's original intention was to quilt them with a spiral line radiating out from the center of the circles, so I took this stitching out and left the project in a ball on the floor of my closet.  I know, I know, I should have left the pies.

Rescue #2:  We are together today, and we are at the point where we don't care how the radiating spirals on the circles will look.  We don't care if it doesn't have completely flat circles.  We will forge on ahead (picture both of us on beautiful white horses, charging at this little helpless baby quilt, determined to finish it)  

We will be spiraling on today on these circles, cutting striped binding on the bias to show it off, and getting this baby quilt into a finished stage!

Here's a mock up picture of the binding:

As you read this blog post, say a little prayer for us as we conquer this mountain.....actually many little baby mountains of polka dots.  We will make this work!

And if anyone who happens to get this baby quilt as a gift, and would somehow read this blog post, remember it was made with lots of laughter and love......and lots of perseverance.  It is definitely a learning experience, which is always good.

I'm linking up with Design Wall Mondays at Judy Laquidara's to see what others have on their design walls.  (Here)

Also, I'm up to date with Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion quilt, but it sure is a mystery how this is all going to go together into one quilt. Here's my pieces that are Clue #5:

The mystery will be solved soon, so I am trying to be patient.  Here's the link to Bonnie's blog linkup today.  (Here)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Traditions and Cascadia Doll Quilt

Sophia Grace and Rosie are helping me wrap presents today.  They are very pleased that I finished the Cascadia Doll Quilt that was a quiltalong from Humble Quilts blog recently.  The Show and Tell of all the Cascadia doll quilts is on Lori's blog. (Here)

My finished Cascadia doll quilt, which is 16.5 inches square:

We are all excited about Christmas coming, and wanted to share one tradition I've had for over fifty years.  When I was a young single girl, I lived in Lansing, Michigan and had a roommate who worked at the largest department store in town - J. W. Knapp's.

At Christmas time, she wrapped packages for them all day, and she showed me the proper way to put the paper on the boxes, with neatly tucked in end flaps.  At the time, Knapp's wrapped all their packages in red paper, with plaid ribbons.  I thought they looked lovely, and started doing the same.  Over the years, I've collected some very nice satin ribbons and people usually give the ribbons back to me after all the gifts are opened - because they know I use them over and over again!  "Save the pretty ribbons for Grandma Judy!"

There are several nice things about this tradition:

(1) Since I always using solid red paper and plaid bows, everyone knows who the gifts are from by looking at them - "Oh, That's from Aunt Judy!"  

(2) The satin bows tie so nicely, and travel so well - even if they get pressed together with other packages when in the car, they fluff up nicely when I put them under the tree.

(3) Red paper is always available, every year, and one year I bought a very large bolt of it from an art supply store that I used for several years.  

(4) The satin ribbons are very economical in the long run, even though they are more expensive to purchase initially.  After all, I've been using some of them for fifty years!  They are so easy to iron flat and look brand new after running the ribbon under the iron.

(5)  Presents are easy to open:  The ribbons are tied with no hard knots - I just wrap the present with the ribbon and tie a big bow - when it's time to unwrap the gift, the child pulls the end of a ribbon and the bow unties and it all slips off.

(6) Easy to store too - I just jam them into a tin and store them until the next year, and they come out ready to press all fresh and plaid looking for the next year's presents.

These are a few of my favorite things.....brown paper packages tied up with paper packages tied up with red plaid ribbons:

Merry Christmas!  

Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Week at the Cabin

It's been a very peaceful week in the cabin in the woods.  I've caught up on the parts to Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt - Grand Illusion.  Here is a picture of the stacks of Clue #4, forty blocks in each stack:

This is the first quilt I've made, other than a baby quilt, that is going to be gifted as soon as it is finished.  It's going to our son and his wife, pictured here on their wedding day at the Grand Hotel:

The next clue of Grand Illusion comes out on Friday, and the mystery deepens as the clues continue.  I like all the parts so far.  Here is today's link-up at Bonnie's blog, if you want to see what colors are being used by all the other quilters making Grand Illusion.  (Here)  It's fun to be part of a community of quilters working on the same pattern.

Also this week, I put another round on the the quilt I was working on in November.  See my post:  (Here).  It's called Hearts and Apron Strings, and there is only one more border after this one.  Here are some pictures of it on a bed, which is a substitute for a design wall here at the cabin:

I forget what this border block is called, but I just think of it as the "T-shirt" block.  This quilt is a partially completed quilt that I inherited from a friend, and the T-shirt blocks were an issue in the original quilt.  They didn't want to fit together.  But now they are happily attached to the main quilt, and I'm looking forward to the final border on this one.  Here's a picture of what the quilt will look like when completed:

It's designed by Sharon Schamber and the directions came out in Quilter's Newsletter magazine ten years ago.  I'm sure the outer fan border will give me some practice on finishing a quilt with curved edges.  Biased binding will be used, for sure, when it's time for that.

Today is the last Monday before Christmas, and I am so looking forward to being with family this week!  I'm linking up with the Patchwork Times blog post, Design Wall Monday, (Here) to see what other quilters are working on this busy week.

I close with Tiny Tim's Christmas wish, God bless us, every one!

Monday, December 15, 2014

I'm Like A Little Kid At Christmas Time!

Christmas puts me in such a happy mood.  At church yesterday, the sweet little preschool children acted out the Christmas story, and as one little angel skipped back to her parents after they were through, her little tinsel halo fell off and stayed behind.   Ah yes, we can all be angels for a little while, but sometimes the halos fall off.

Yesterday we decorated the tree, and the ornaments here at the cabin are all of the old ones that we had when the children were little - all unbreakable ones.  It was such fun to pull them out and put them on the tree.  The old twinkle lights in all their color too!

I'm working on Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illumination mystery quilt this week.  I'm almost caught up and am half-way through Clue 3.  I will have the rest of the "2 by 4's" finished when the next clue comes out on Friday.

Here is my progress so far:   Clue #1, Broken Dishes

Clue #2, Glad they are finished:

Clue #3, 2 by 4's:

I have been blessed this Christmas with lots of peace and quiet here at the cabin, and am keeping up with the mystery so far.  This next week will be Christmas, and apart from a little more shopping, I am ready for it.

How about you?  Are you ready for this jolly old fellow?

Merry Christmas!!  Monday's are link-up days, so I'm linking with Judy Laquidara's blog for Design Wall Mondays (Here) and also Bonnie Hunter's blog for mystery quilt progress (Here).

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

This week, I completed the quilt top for Lori's little quilt-a-long, called "Cascadia".  Here's my little doll quilt top before basting and quilting:

It's made up of 1" squares, and they were so much fun to work with. The quilt top measures about 17" square.   I have lots of thirties squares left over from this quilt, and will have enough to make another one with 1" squares, as I like the cheerful look of the old fabrics.  I think I will bind this one with red cherries fabric:

Binding will be from Moda, "30's Playtime by Chloe' Closet.  I love cherries, and it goes with the 30's fabrics in the little quilt.  I hope to have it quilted and bound before Lori (Humble Quilts) does her little quilt link-up soon.  If you'd like to make the quilt, her instructions are on her blog  (Here) (search the blog for the quilt name, Cascadia).

My last post was about little doll quilts with the letters "H" and "O" on them, spelling out HO, HO, HO (Here) .....and I haven't found where the idea for this quilt originated.  I like to give credit where credit is due....I saw the idea on Kathie's blog, and she said she got it from Barb....I saw this picture and words on Barb's blog:

"I received the top and backing for this fun little quilt from my friend, Diane, of Persnickety, a couple of years ago. I know she had some help from mutual friends, thanks friends! I decided this was the year to quilt it up. Isn't it a great graphic little quilt?"

Well, I then searched Diane's blog (Persnickety) (Here) but didn't find any mention of it.  So I am giving up on trying to find the source of this pattern.  I hope whoever made it up won't mind other people copying the design.  I like my two little doll HO HO HO quilts. 

I had a talk with Santa a week ago and told him how good I've been this year.  

I hope he visits our house!  He's already given us one early Christmas present.  Our favorite college football team, Michigan State, is going to play in the Cotton Bowl on New Year' Day, and since we will be in Texas in early January to see our daughter and her family, we will be going to the game.  Baylor fans will probably be in abundance, because they are from Texas, but we will be at the game, cheering for our Spartans.

Design Wall Mondays linkup at Judy Laquidara's blog (Here)

Friday, December 5, 2014

Merry Christmas to the little girls!

December is here, and Sophia Grace and Rosie are happy with two little doll quilts to help them celebrate.

Both quilts are made of candy cane striped fabric, and are "H" and "O" alternate blocks, spelling out HO....HO....HO.  Here is the larger one with Sophia Grace and Rosie, who like it very much.  It's 21" square and the letter blocks are 3" square.

  After making this quilt, I made a smaller version.  Here it is, on the kitchen table, ready for the little girls to have tea:

I put a ruler next to it, so you can see the scale.  It measures 11" square.   My daughter gave me the cute little tea set this summer, and this is the first time Sophia Grace and Rosie have used it for tea.  It is so tiny and I love it. 

Also, I"m making progress on this little quilt "Cascadia" from internet instructions and have some parts finished.  The squares finish at 1".  Here is the quilt in progress:

Sorry for the bad lighting; I took this picture last night.  Hopefully the next picture will be better.   It's made from old fabrics of my Mom's and some of my thirty's fabrics.  If you want to make the quilt, Lori (Humble Quilts) has instructions on her blog.  Just search for "Cascadia" at her blog search box.

Sophia Grace and Rosie hope you will take time out of your busy schedule this Christmas season to have a cup of tea.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Starting New Quilts This Week

Thanksgiving weekend is not a good time to start new quilts, but that's what I am doing. In fact, I'm starting two!

(1). Grand Illusion  Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt is inspired by Michigan's lovely Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.  Our son and wife were married in the beautiful gardens of the hotel just two years ago, June 30, 2012.

I am feeling confident enough in my quilt making to make quilts for others now, and I want to make them this quilt, as the Grand Hotel is such a special place for them.

While we were at their house for Thanksgiving dinner, they looked at Bonnie Hunters color selections, and made slight changes to reflect their memories of the hotel.  I am using red to represent the color of the geraniums, instead of Bonnie's pink, because the geraniums that summer were red when they were married.

Since I was away from my sewing machine for most of the Thanksgiving weekend, I have just started yesterday on Clue One.  But I do have all my fabrics ready, and I do love making half-square triangles.  Clue One instructs us to make 280 of them!  Good thing I like making them, right?  

Here's a picture of my progress so far:

Here are my fabrics:

If you'd like to join in the fun, it's not too late.  Go to Bonnie Hunter's blog and she has a special tab at the top for the mystery intructions:  (Here)  Her instructions are up while we are making the quilt, and then taken down when she puts them into a new book.

(2) Cascadia  Lori of Humble Quilts blog has a new tutorial for a doll quilt, and I didn't start this one yet, but I want to make it.  Her instructions started with getting out your bag of 1.5 inch squares to sew some of them together.  I didn't have any bag of squares cut that size, so decided to take a big bag of all sorts of scraps with me in the car on our Thanksgiving travels, so I could sort through them, and cut some 1.5 inch squares.  It was a fun diversion while traveling, and I really enjoyed looking at some of the older scraps.  These pictured are from my Mom's fabrics.  I don't know what time period they are from, but they are old:

After 3 hours on the road Thursday, 1 hour Saturday, and 3 hours Sunday, I'm happy to say I now have lots of squares and am ready to start this little quilt.  Here's a picture of my new bag of little squares and strips, ready for the doll quilt instructions.

 Picture of the original quilt that Lori used as her inspiration:

I love it!  If you'd like to make this little quilt, Lori gives excellent instructions and you can find her instructions here:  Search her blog for the word "Cascadia" to see all the instructions

Here's a few pieces I laid out on a mat while I was away for Thanksgiving:

I will close this post with a picture of the turkey at our son's Thanksgiving dinner.  Prepped for the oven:

And the results:  Yummy, and who's counting fats on one day of the year?  Hope you had a good time with your family at Thanksgiving too.

It's Monday, so I'm linking with a couple of blogs.  Design Wall Mondays at  (Here) and Bonnie Hunter's blog (Here)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

HO, HO, HO, and now ho, ho, ho

Yesterday morning when I posted about the little Christmas quilt that spells out "HO HO HO", I said it could be made a little smaller, so last night I tried it, and here's the results:

You will notice by the ruler that it is about 11 inches wide.  I cut the strips 1 inch, and therefore, the pieces should finish at 1/2 inch, and the whole quilt should measure 9 inches (18 pieces by 1/2)..........this demonstrates how important a 1/4 inch seam is when making quilts.  In this case, it's a doll quilt, and if it turns out 11 inches wide as a finished piece - it doesn't matter.  As I don't make quilts to be judged in shows, I don't care.  But I will be checking my 1/4 inch seam allowance again, because it is being sewn a little skimpy.  Most of the time it matters greatly.  

Here's the little doll quilt next to the bigger one, for scale:

I like the striped fabric in the larger quilt better, as it is striped on an angle.  But I wasn't about to cut the little quilt fabric on the bias to get a similar look.  I like to work with small pieces, but I'm not crazy.

Kay commented on my last post about where I saw this idea.  Kay said:
Love your fabric choice!  So cute! I've made a few Ho Ho Ho! quilts.  I saw the idea at on 11/16/12.  Unfortunately it appears as though that blog has been taken down.
Thanks Kay, you are right.  I am sorry the blog is no longer available, she makes wonderful quilts, and her blog inspired lots of quilters.

As soon as the sun comes up this morning, I am heading to Shipshewana, Indiana, for the Dear Jane Retreat.  I am sure there will be lots of laughter and "ho ho ho's" in the conference room there as I finish these two little doll quilts.  

I will have pictures to share of the group's show and tell the next time I post.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ho Ho Ho! Shipshewana Time!

It's time to pack up and go to Shipshewana, Indiana for the annual fall retreat with the Dear Jane quilting group.  I can't wait!  What to pack?

First, let me tell you I just got back home.  Yesterday we arrived at the cabin from a week long trip to see Michigan State's basketball team play Navy, and their football team play Maryland on the east coast.  The highlight of the trip for me, was seeing the Naval Academy and all of the midshipmen there.  What a beautiful place, and it's filled with our nation's finest young men and women.

An unplanned serendipity on the trip was that one night's hotel stay was in College Park, Maryland in a hotel located practically in the parking lot of an Ikea store!!! Since our football game wasn't until night, hubby was watching other football games at the nearby Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant.  Guess where I was? I was in the Ikea store, shopping!  I bought a storage unit for my fat quarters and a chair for my new home quilt room in Grand Rapids, MI, and several smaller items.  I love that store!

Anyway, back to packing for Shipshewana - last night by the cozy fire, while it snowed outside - I took out some Christmas fabric to pack for the retreat to make a doll quilt with HO, HO, HO spelled out on it.  While I had the fabric out, I just cut it up a little bit and see what it would look like.....and then I put one row out to see....and then another......

It went together so fast, and was so much fun that I have it about half finished.  
The pieces are all from strips cut at 1.5 inches and was really easy to assemble. One assembly strip is of 3 fabrics (candy cane with white on each side) and another assembly strip is of two fabrics (white and candy cane).  Then I cut the 3 fabric strip into 1.5 inch wide pieces and cut the 2 fabric strip into 3.5 inch pieces.  The row is made up of alternating these two strip pieces.  The very end of each row has a single piece of fabric that is 1.5 by 3.5, and is either candy cane fabric or white fabric, white for even rows, candy cane fabric for odd rows. The 2 fabric strip is flipped upside down every other time it is used.

Here's a picture of the start of the first row (It is blurry - I need a tripod).

The quilt will be seven rows when finished.  While starting it last night, I thought you could even make this smaller - it is so easy to assemble!  Maybe starting with 1 inch strips?  Hmmmmm.

I saw this small quilt on the internet somewhere - I don't remember where, so I can't give credit for it.  I wish I could remember where I saw it.  It will make a nice table topper for this December.  If you know - please let me know and I will give credit.

I'm linking up with "Design Wall Monday" over at Judy Liquidara's blog, even though it is Tuesday morning.  Hop on over there and see what other projects are in the works.  Link is (Here)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Hearts and Apron Strings, A Re-Do

Ten years ago, a pattern ran in a series in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine, called "Hearts and Apron Strings".  The quilt is designed by Sharon Schamber.

My neighbor, Bonnie, and a few of her friends in the local quilt guild, made the quilt at the same time.  I have always loved Bonnie's quilt, and have wanted to make one like it.  Another lady in the group that made the quilt never quite finished hers, and when she heard that I liked it, she gave me her UFO.  

Here's the quilt:

I have been working on it this fall, and have removed the applique, which was machine buttonholed on,  and I re-appliqued by hand all of the tulips, birds, hearts, and the center Dresden plate, using my stash of 30s fabrics.  I think when the class was taken, there wasn't the softer applique backing available, and a cardboard stiff backing was used on the applique pieces.  But now there's no backing, and it's as soft as butter.

The second thing I changed was the pattern for the tulip leaves.  The original pattern has little tiny leaves, and I don't think of tulip leaves as being that little, so I drew my own leaves.  Since I was reworking all the applique, I thought - why not!  Here's the original pattern with the little leaves:

Here's one of the four corner applique sets before I put them on the quilt.  In the final version, I switched out the center bit of the purple tulip, as this piece was a little bright for the pastel look of the quilt.

I think the reason the quilt was not completed was the "T" squares - the next to the last border, didn't fit.  The blocks were various sizes, and when they were sewed together, the border was not the right length.   So, I took all of them apart, and sewed them back together again, making sure I was using an exact 1/4" seam, and now the "T" blocks are all the same size.   Next, I'm ready to sew them into borders, and attach them to the quilt.  

Here's the quilt as it is tonight:

And the final two borders, ready to move on to complete this quilt top:

It was not too bad taking the "T" blocks apart, and now it should be smooth sailing until I get to binding the scalloped edges.  This is just one of the projects I have in the works, as I like to work on several things at a time.

Monday, November 10, 2014

AQS Quilt Exhibit in Grand Rapids 2014

This is my third and final post about the beautiful special exhibit of the quilts of Elaine O'Toole Stannis.  The first two posts are (Here) and (Here).  

I will finish showing you her quilts with two more, one of her first and probably one of her last quilts:

Here's the info tag on it.  When I read the taq, I thought "first quilt?"  Wow!!

The main featured quilt of her exhibit:

And the info on it:

I hope the AQS does more exhibits like this one.  There are several of my friends who make exquisite quilts and it is so nice to see a quilter's body of work featured all in one place.

One of my friends had two quilts in the AQS show.  Joan Brink had her Liberty quilt in the show.  Instead of a picture of her just standing by it, I asked her to do a Vanna White thing, and really "show" it to me!  Here's Joan and her quilt:
She does beautiful applique work.

Another one she had in the show was of a fawn.  The inspiration for this quilt was a photo taken in her yard:

Sorry it's a little blurry.  I'm old.  I love the appliqued spots and the leaves.  I am seeing Joan soon in Shipshewanna, IN at the Dear Jane Retreat.  I love to sew with friends, in a room filled with laughter.

Happy Monday everyone.  Next post will be about what I'm working on now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Special Exhibit at the Grand Rapids AQS Show in August-Part 2

Here are more of the quilts of Aileen O'Toole Stannis, from the special exhibit in the AQS Show in Grand Rapids this summer.  If you missed my last post with the first pictures, it's (Here)

Aileen O'Toole Stannis was remembered and honored with a special tribute exhibit of 26 of her quilts.  This display of 35 years of beautiful master quilting was a real treat for me.  It included her quilt "Baltimore Remembered", which received the 1996 Gingher Hand Workmanship Award in 1996. But I enjoyed all of her work just as much as her award winning quilt.

I love log cabin quilts, and Aileen's is beautiful:

The additional info tag on this one says:

Not a fan of rotary cutting, Aileen used templates and scissors to cut the strips for this log cabin quilt.  She wrote, "Stretched quilt Friday, April 28, 1989, and pinned it to my NEW quilting frame bought at AQS Show in Paducah for $250."  Aileen made several log cabin quilts.  It was the only pattern she felt she could accurately sew on the sewing machine.

Here's a close-up: 
How often do you see a log cabin that is hand quilted?

Next is "Wagon Wheel", which is 38" x 42" and was inspired by an antique crib quilt ca. 1890.
Beautiful hand quilting that accents the design so well.
Next is Pomegranate, a copy of an old quilt, and her hand quilting again, is unbelievable:

She "had me at hello" with this one, as I love blue and white quilts:

Savanna Star

Here's the label, which also shows the hand quilting up close:

Next up is Aileen's Amish Star quilt.  I would not think to put these colors together, but it was striking.  My camera doesn't do the colors justice - it's a beautiful warm brown.

Closeup pic:

Next up is her Seven Sisters, another quilt pattern that I want to make someday:

When I make one of these, I will show this picture to the machine quilter, and tell her to do something like this.  Aileen's hand quilting was so beautiful to see, and it fit the piecing so well on each quilt.

Well, that's enough pictures for today.  My next post should finish up the pictures I took of Aileen O'Toole Stannis quilts, and then I'll show you what I've been working on this fall.