Monday, December 30, 2013

Sister and Santa Rock the Sewing Gifts

I've got a sister who likes to indulge my pin cushion collection. In fact, I think she's probably the one that started the collection when I first started quilting 5 years ago.

Here's her Christmas additions to my collection this year:

 This one is too cute. It's a felted wool ring. I adore felted wool pincushions, and this is my first one.

Next up:
This sweet heart-shaped pincushion made from a vintage quilt top. It's trimmed out with a tuille bow and some vintage ribbon, a few yo-yos and some buttons, but take a close look at the worn, threadbare fabric.

It's just too cool. I am far from being a prissy, girly girl, but I really love this. It's just so unique.

She also hooked me up with a fat quarter pack of bold floral prints. I need to find something fun to use these for. Right now, they're whispering 'tote bag'.

Thanks Big Sister!

Now, for the funnest, totally unexpected gift of all. It wasn't on my wish list, and it came from a single comment made in passing while explaining a scene in a TV show I had flipped on while the hubs was in the room the week before Christmas.

Thank you Santa (Thank You, Mood).

Bye, Swatch!

(Let's talk about some resolutions tomorrow, eh?)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Some Sharp (literally) Christmas Goodies

Santa made sure I had a quilty little Christmas this year.

In addition to the Amish With a Twist Quilt kit, he slipped some fun goodies in my stocking.

I love pretty scissors, and I've got a couple pair of these pretty Gingher's that come out with a new design each year. Sadly, I took a pair to a local quilt shop a couple years back for sharpening and within a month of  getting them home they no longer stay closed, and I think the guy who sharpened them must have cemented the screw in place because it won't turn to tighten it, so Santa relpaced them with this year's model. Thanks Santa!

And I must have been especially nice because Santa paid attention to the fact that I visited every vendor at every quilt show I attended this year and came up empty handed in my quest for Rabbit embroidery scissors. Happy happy happy.

And because I seem to be obsessed with things sharp....

but do not fail to recognize 'safety first', one of my very favorite stocking stuffers was Karen Kay Buckley's scissor protector connector:

You have no idea how I obsess over losing that tiny little 1-3/4" sheath that slips over those incredibly sharp little blades when I'm sewing on a plane or in a waiting room. Now I don't have to worry. It's not going anywhere.

Of course while Santa was stocking his bag at Karen's store, he also thought to slip in some of her unbelievably thin Perfect Pins.

Now, I'm most definitely on the sewing machine service guy's naughty list (along with quite a few other quilters, I suspect), because I prefer to sew over pins. For this reason, I used the uber fine Clover pins. And while I haven't broken a needle, (and I do wear eye protection when I sew--yes, reading glasses count as eye protection) I do bend my fair share of these pins. Well, look at the Perfect Pin in relation to the super fine Clover. Wow!

 See this little vial? See how 'empty' it is? There are 50 pins inside. That's how thin they are.

Can't wait to try them out. In fact, they are so sharp and so thin, they're going to be perfect for the silk quilt once I get around to starting on that. (If only they made an anti-procrastination pin--sigh).

A few more fun things to show you, but they'll have to wait until Monday. Heading out to a movie and brunch with the hubs, and hope to get a little stitching done later this afternoon.

This is the last Sunday of 2013....a good day to tie up loose ends and pick up those loose threads on the studio floor. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Ever After

Hope everyone had a swell holiday. If you follow me on FaceBook you pretty much have shared in mine and seen some of the decorations I managed to get up this year--serious whittling down from years past...and I have to admit, I'm enjoying not having my house look like it's 'throwing up Christmas' throughout. And I'm enjoying even more the fact that I don't have to spend weeks putting all that crap away, once I finally decide I've had enough.

Now it's time to get back into the studio and start having fun. Which is what I spent a bit of this afternoon working at....

Santa brought me a quilt kit for Amish With a Twist 2. Not for the fainthearted, this project. 29 solid fabrics, which were not accompanied by a color-key. We all know it's pretty much impossible to color match fabric from your computer screen, but thanks to a kind woman at Hancock's of Paducah for digging up the store's cutting instructions and reading me every color name and the measure cut I was able to sort it all out.

Then I wrote out a notebook page for each color and detailed the cuts that needed to be made for each block in the project. There are 14 different block styles, some are log cabins (I'll wait to cut that fabric when I finally get to those blocks), some are 21-patches with stars. An overall total of 73 blocks (it's a weird number, I know), finishing with 3 borders--one made up of 2-1/2" squares, and piping inside the binding. 105x105".

Yes, I am certifiably crazy, or if not already, I will be before the end of the year. Once I slog through all the cutting and bag the pieces in Ziploc bags, I'll be playing this one out as a Block-a-Month (and we use the singular term 'block' quite lightly, as there are months where you need to make 36 blocks). Organizing  and cutting and bagging in advance will hopefully prevent this project from becoming all-consuming and I should be able to knock out some finishes of quilts I've started.

I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas and got lots of fun sewing stuff. In tomorrow's post I'll show you some of the small treasures that I found under the tree and in my stocking.

Saturday's date night. If you haven't got one planned with your sweetie, think about showing a little love to your sewing machine which you've likely neglected for the past couple of weeks. That's my plan for tonight.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

One Small Step

toward Christmas decorating was taken the studio.

Top of the bookshelf, some glittery wrapped cardboard cones keeping one of two unflowering poinsettias company.

Love my very vintage pine cone elves displayed on my pin cushion shelves. I'm going to have to prowl eBay for some more of these guys. They are my favorite vintage pieces.

 Winter pincushion at the ready.

Tossed a tree in the back of the little metal truck I picked up at Target last weekend. Love.

 Can't decorate without putting up the little studio tree.

It's decorated with little fat quarter stacks....

 Pincushions,mini floss hanks, tiny thread spools...

 Polly treetop angel...

 An abundance of stork scissors...

Button snowmen....

And a garland of twine sandwiched between buttons.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and I now have an environment conducive to finishing up a couple of holiday projects.

How are your holiday projects coming along? Have you made something for yourself?

Friday, November 22, 2013


It is almost 7 p.m. and I have given up the ghost, thrown in the towel, and cried 'Uncle!' in the quest for the missing Thanksgiving shopping list.

On Wednesday evening the hubs and I sat down with the grocery store circulars and mapped out what we needed to buy for Thanksgiving dinner and who had the best deal...between Safeway and Giant. The plan was to take that list to Wegmans and comparison shop.  At the bottom of the list I added some spices I needed to refresh.

Yesterday I went to Whole Foods. I took my list. I got all excited about the bulk spices (where you can buy what you need for 67 cents instead of $5.89 in the bottles in the spice aisle). I came home, I crossed off the spices, and I tore the sheet off the shopping list pad it was attached to. That's the last I remember.

The pad is in the drawer, the list is nowhere to be found.

I've been through the fact, the last time I even went so far as to open EVERY freakin' page of the newspapers in case my list had slipped between the pages of a section while the paper was on the kitchen counter.

I analyzed what I purchased at Whole Foods yesterday...nope, it wasn't attached to the jicama, nor was it in the onion basket. It didn't stick to the bags of salad in the crisper in the fridge. I didn't accidentally slip it into the spice cabinet with the bags of spices, and it didn't find it's way back into the reusable grocery bags.

I've been through EVERY cabinet and drawer in my kitchen on the off-chance it fluttered into the colander before we put it away...or maybe it drifted into the napkin drawer....stuck to the Teflon potholder? Nope.

I made peppermint bark this morning...not in the parchment paper box, and it's not stuck to any of the baking sheets I used. Not in the oven either. (Nor the dishwasherr, for that matter).. Not in the pantry where it might have found itself stuck to the almond canister.

As disgusting as it was (and my friend Ann reminded me that it's YOUR garbage), I went through a wet, though thankfully only a quarter full trash can in my luck.

I had wrapped stocking gifts last night...It wasn't in any of the bags, it didn't get rolled up in the wrapping paper, doesn't appear to have found itself wrapped with something (I felt all of the little gifts). It's not stuck to the tape dispenser.

It's not in yesterday's mail, or my work paperwork. I didn't carry it upstairs in a stack of magazines. Checked my pockets, my jacket pocket, the hubs' pockets....not there either.

The dogs don't look guilty, and there's no wads of paper in their beds or their toy baskets.

It's not under the coffee maker, or the Cuisinart, it didn't flutter under the refrigerator, and it's not in the car.


Obviously, I can be quite tenacious, but I've been on the quest for the missing shopping list, on and off, for the past 10 hours. It's time to admit defeat and accept the realization that, at this point, the only thing to do is just pick one grocery store and go and buy what we need (after spending another 30 minutes or so thinking about just what it is that I need).

Sometime around Easter, I'm sure we will find this elusive piece of paper stuck in some strange place that it never occurred to me to search today. Sigh!

Onward and upward...we're having a quilting bee at my house tomorrow morning at 9 and we're making Triple Dresden tree skirts. I need to refocus. And I really need to refresh my cocktail.

Happy Friday night!

(Oh, and yes, I even took the shopping list pad and tried to shade it in with the side of a pencil lead, in the hopes that the impression from writing the original list would show up---not happening.)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Let the Vacation Prepping Begin

I've managed to stitch together the blocks of 6 horizontal rows. Once the last 4 rows are together I need to press the seams on each row and then sew the 10 rows together. Then it's on to assembling the 160 3-1/2" blocks that make up the diamond units. Not likely to happen before I leave next week, but I would like to have this center finished and off the design wall and out of the light.

In the interest of over-achieving, I did kit up the 4 remaining pieced blocks for the Jingle BOM quilt. It's just so much easier to cut out what is needed to make the necessary HSTs and QSTs and have everything ready to sew when I get to it.

Likewise, I've kitted the 4 remaining applique blocks. All the little berries are made, everything cut out and fused to freezer paper to make the hand applique go quicker. The designs are inked on the backgrounds with Frixion pens (inside the actual finished shape to be certain you never see the ink--I'm not sold yet on the total disappearing never will come back thing....when you least expect it....).

Everything I need to take this show on the road is inside one sturdy zipper bag (this is an Eleanor Burns large project bag) that I can grab and go. I toss this in my carry-on tote and I slip it out and put it in the seat pocket before I slide the tote under the seat. Once we have survived take-off, I disengage my nails from the armrest, and start to stitch. My scissors attach to me (pull cord on a magnet), and other than the actual block I'm stitching, everything else stays zipped in the bag. This way, nothing goes flying every which way on a bumpy ride, and I don't accidentally drop some crucial flower petal or bird wing between the seats.

Having it all in the one bag also makes it easy to pull it out in the airport, take it with me to the games (I'm a bleacher stitcher), and I toss it in the car for the 4 hour drives through Alligator Alley (though mostly I'm not sewing... I'm looking for actual alligators on the side of the road (I have yet to see one) and wild boar (seen a lot of dead ones) and updating my Facebook status through the strangely named (Okeechobee) towns).

Now, if I can finish those 4 small blocks and the large center medallion on this trip,  I will actually be able to finish this quilt for Christmas. Imagine that....I optimistically ordered the fabric for the setting triangles and the border yesterday so that it will be waiting for me when I get home.

Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

We Interrupt this Blog for a Commercial (or three)

I mentioned in my last post that I picked up some nifty gadgets at the last workshop I attended. I'd like to share them with you because these aren't all things I've seen at my local quilt shop, or that I've seen other quilters I hang out with use. I'm not being compensated (this basically amounts to free advertising for these three companies) but I love these products now that I've discovered them, so maybe they're something that can make your quilting life a little easier as well.

 First up is this wild and crazy Bloc Loc ruler for trimming up HSTs and QSTs. See that shaded diagonal line in the middle? It's actually a carved out groove that butts up against your seam and is held in place by the seam allowance. No worries about your ruler slipping when you're trimming your block, or trying to align a single printed line on your ruler with a possibly crooked seam.

My seam on this block is pressed to the black, so this ruler has just locked itself onto that seam and will not slip while I trim that block to whatever size I need. Love, love this item...a little spendy though. This 6" HST Bloc Loc retails for  $26.00. There are many other sizes available, so check their website to see if there isn't something there to make your cutting a little easier.

I don't know about you, but I love 'gadgets', and these neat little On The Dot reusable plastic position markers are really useful. You know how they say 'measure twice, cut once'? So every time you position your ruler on a piece of fabric you've got to make sure you've got the right measurement before you whip out that rotary cutter. I find myself not exactly trusting the line on the ruler, I've got to actually count off each inch (especially if I'm not starting from zero). Well, count no more...position this diamond on the line you want to align the edge of your fabric with and cut away.
Strip after strip, and no chance that one of those strips will be a half inch or inch larger than the rest.

But wait, there's more.....if you like to cut multiple layers of fabric at a time and you're never sure you're lining up the line on your ruler, or the pressure on the stack may fan the edges out slightly, try using Cutting Edge. These 4" repositionable vinyl strips adhere to the bottom of your ruler and create an edge to butt your fabric up against.

Just stick it along the line you are using for your measure, slide the ruler up against the edge of your fabric, and cut. Nothing slips, plus, you don't have to visually find your measuring line each time you cut..foolproof accuracy.

These products are made by the same company that brought you Sewing Edge, which is the repositionable  vinyl you stick to your machine bed to mark your seam allowance. All part of the 'Qtools' line, you can find them, as well as videos on how to use them at They retail for $7.95 a package. Buy them once, and that's it. If the vinyl seems to not 'stick', just wet it and you're back in business.

And finally....the scrap quilt I'm working on requires 40 4-patch diamond blocks to make the inner border of the quilt. Each unit is made with the leftover scrap that came into being when I cut the HST pieces from random Kaffe Fassett print squares for the quilt center (yesterday's post).  These triangles are laid on top of squares and stitched, resulting in a kind of wonky (though not technically) 3-1/2" HST.

You fold your white square in half diagonally, you fold your triangle in half and pinch the edge, then line up the point of the triangle and the little 'pinch at the back' on the fold line and scoot the edge of the triangle in 1-3/4" from the edge of the white background fabric. (Did you get that?). Okay....Do this 160 times. And when you're done stitching these together, cut off 320 dog ears.

Enter the Marti Michell corner trimmer. Okay, so I looked at this and thought...what do I need this for, really, it's a tiny little thing, I'm going to lose it. Not to mention you've got to make 2 cuts on every corner...and for what purpose? I can whack off those dog ears when I trim up my blocks. But then I saw the teacher demonstrate.....

You don't actually have to just place the template on your fabric and slide it down until the bottom and the side align with the fabric edges.Then you make the two cuts (preferably with your smallest rotary cutter....the 60mm Olfa would be a bit overkill for this :) ). Trim the other point.

Now when I lay that triangle point on the fold line of my background square, I simply slide my block over to where the two trimmed points of my triangle meet the edge of my background. I'm not looking to align a fold in the triangle, I don't have the ruler out to position my piece 1-3/4" from the background point....the printed triangle is simply positioned correctly because the points are cut to align with the edge of the square. Genius!

Let's check....yep, it's exactly where it's supposed to be. I'm guessing that this is going to cut in half the time it takes to make these 160 units.

But wait....that's not all. This nifty little item will not only trim corners, it will trim squares, allowing you to make perfect square in a square units. It will piece binding strips (forget buying the binding tool). You can even cut both triangles for flying geese units with it. The packaging says "It will change your quilting life!". Probably not mine, I don't do a lot of geese, or square in a squares, but for me it was $5.00 well spent to knock out these diamond unit borders. To see demos on this and view the other tools from this line visit

Hopefully you've enjoyed this commercial interruption, and maybe you've even found something you didn't know existed that will make your next project go just a tad smoother.

The weekend's almost gone, and tomorrow is our Harry Potter themed Octoberfest at work (mostly catered by The Cheesecake Factory....yum!). I'm bring phyllo-wrapped, parmesan-crusted asparagus spears for an much to do, so little time!

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Vintage Rouge

Welcome to the Fall 2013 Blogger's Quilt Festival. I've entered my labor of love for this year, Vintage Rouge.

Vintage Rouge was a BOM project offered by one of my local quilt shops. It's a Bloom Creek pattern made with Marcus Brothers Fabrics. I fell in love with this quilt the minute I saw a photo of it in the shop's class listing.

I love hand applique, and I love Dresden Plates, so this project and I were a match made in Heaven.

 I like to make things my own, so in place of hand embroidery of the words 'love', 'joy', 'hope', and 'peace' in the 4 pieced star blocks, I made up a little applique flower, close to the style of the other appliques on the quilt. I liked this much better as it made the quilt appear a little less 'Christmasy', which would allow for year-round use.

Another way to 'make it my own' was to add a semi-scalloped border, only one diagonal top and bottom corner have scallops...the rest of the quilt edge is straight.

It was quite a challenge to quilt on my domestic sewing machine...the largest quilt I have quilted so far (84x84 inches), but I carefully marked out grid lines and I taught myself how to make tuille stencils for some of the quilting (corner blocks) and I echo-quilted around the applique. I was very pleased with the finished quilting and it gave me a lot of confidence in my ability to handle machine quilting on my home sewing machine. Not to mention, I learned quite a bit about what kind of markers to use on fabric (water soluble is not always water soluble :) ).

Vintage Rouge won 2nd place in our Viewer's Choice large quilt category at my Guild's Spring quilt show. It won First Place in the applique quilt category at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair in Maryland this past August. This is the first time I've ever had a quilt I made judged, and I was pleased with the judge's comments (though they think my binding could use a little improvement :) ).

Of all of the quilts I've made, I'm most proud of the work I did on this one, and I'm looking forward to taking it out as soon as I put away the Halloween quilts this year.

If you'd like to read more about the process, or see my tutorial on how to make tuille stencils, just enter 'Vintage Rouge' in the search box at the top of this blog post. All posts related to this project will be displayed.

Thanks for visiting, and I hope you love Vintage Rouge as much as I do. Be sure to use the link in the sidebar at the left to jump back to the Blogger's Quilt Festival site to visit the rest of the beautiful quilts on display this Fall.