Thursday, December 18, 2014

You'd Better Watch Out

Twas the week before Christmas, and all through the house....Santa's elves are keeping a very close eye on Tucker.

And while he could climb on the big box or use the ladder, Tucker has made the conscious decision to leave the tree alone.

Santa is quite pleased.

(As we hear from Richard Branson's Necker Island retreat, where the jolly fat man has been resting up for the big night)

Hmm...maybe he promised Tucker he'd take him along when he returns on the 26th if he could make it through the season without destroying a single decoration.......

Saturday, December 13, 2014


The last consecutive date of the century.  Let's hope that it's the last of many more things, chief among them....
  • the sore throat I've had for the past 4 days
  • the 6" needle I had guided by ultrasound into my knee on Thursday

Only 12 days until Christmas. There's still trees to decorate, cookies to bake, shopping to do, cards to send, and I'm not of a mind to do any of those things. There's nothing worse than being under the weather at the busiest time of the year.

At least I managed to do something fun today--it didn't require a lot of movement or exertion, it was a rather sedentary project.

Hopefully tomorrow I can work on Bonnie Hunter's mystery, and maybe even decorate that poor bare tree that's been naked for a couple of weeks now.

What I'd really like to do is sleep through the night and wake up in the morning and be able to swallow without it feeling like I spent the night eating broken glass.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Grand Illusion Begins

A lot has been going on to keep me away from the blog.  A trip to sunny Florida
that included a stop at my favorite quilt shop
The Quilt Place. The shop with thousands of bolts of fabric (even I couldn't put a dent in that inventory). 

An early Family Thanksgiving
followed a couple of weeks later by the regular Thanksgiving. 

Trying to get motivated to begin on the holiday decorating.
Right now there's 4 bare trees up with no plan to get started.  I've got a slight issue with my knee that's putting a damper on multiple trips up and down stairs to gather materials.

Fortunately Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion mystery quilt project kicked off on Black Friday so I looked at it as a means to give my arthritic knee a break and parked my butt in front of my machine and over 3 days and approximately 6 (or was it 7?) sappy Hallmark Christmas movies I was able to knock out Part 1. 
I was even able to furl the intersecting seams on 100 blocks. 
280 HST's. Thank you to whoever it was that invented Thangles!

If you'd like to see how everyone else is doing, check this out:

And if you'd like to join me and start your own Grand Illusion Mystery, click on the link in my sidebar.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Million Little Pieces (Scrappy Kaffe Fassett)

Welcome to the Fall 2014 Bloggers Quilt Festival. I do enjoy spending the wee hours of the morning winding down and blog hopping to see everyone's entries in the Festival--so many beautiful quilts, and so much talent to be wowed by.  Major thanks to Amy Ellis for coordinating this quilt fest. It's a lot of work, and we all appreciate her efforts, as well as the generosity of all that provide the prizes for the winners. (Cheers and applause).

Here's my entry in the Scrappy quilt category. I hope you enjoy it.

I call this quilt 'A Million Little Pieces'.
I could call it worse having cut and pieced all those little scraps, but since I was entering it in the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair, it's name needed to be suitable for General Audiences.

To my surprise, it finished in 5th place. Had I named it 'A Million Little Perfectly Aligned Pieces  Meticulously Quilted on a Regular Size Home Machine with 1200 Yards of Thread With Added Flange' it might have fared better. (Next time.)


This quilt began in a workshop with Joan Ford (of Scrap Therapy fame). The pattern is 'Bloomin' Steps' from her book 'Cut the Scraps'. The quilt measures 75x87 and is made using Kaffe Fassett scraps from my stash (aka 'hoard') of Kaffe that I've been collecting since I began quilting 6 years ago. The contrast is Kona Bleach White, and it's been pieced and quilted with my all-time favorite Aurifil thread....white....50 wt for piecing/60 wt in the bobbin and 40 wt for quilting/50 wt in the bobbin.

Once it was together it hung in the studio for quite a while before I could muster the energy to begin quilting this on my trusty Bernina 440.


This has been the largest quilt I've had to wrangle, and let me tell you that not a quilting session went by where I didn't think  "Note to self: Don't forget to buy a lottery ticket...I really need a longarm".

Aside from all of those nicely aligned, crisp points, I'm most proud that of those 1000 1-1/2" squares in the border, no two alike are side by side. (A testament to my undiagnosed OCD)

It hasn't really been used yet, not sure I want to wash it before hanging it in our Guild quilt show this Spring.It came back from the Fair with a couple of black marks on it (literally) .....hopefully they'll wash out.

I hope you enjoyed my Festival entry and that you'll check back often and follow along as I try to finish Jingle (pictured below) in time for the holidays--2 years after starting it.  It's just about ready for wrangling (and it's a 'tad' bigger than Pieces). Can't wait. Fun times. (double not)

Note to self:  pick up a Mega Millions ticket next time you're out.

Enjoy the Festival!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Online Fabric Shops (and a review of two)

Since I'm not quite working on any projects yet, but prepping, I thought I'd give shout outs to a couple of fabric shops I just patronized.

When I was looking around for a reasonably priced yellow print that I could purchase to use in the upcoming mystery--in case the fabric I had purchased at my local quilt shop turned out to be too 'directional', I checked out the sale fabrics at Stash Fabrics. Stash is a purveyor of modern fabric, and they've got a great selection of bright, clean and crisp prints.  As expected, I bought a little more than the yellow I was on a quest for, but they're only half yard pieces (she says as a point of justification).

I just love these orange and yellow prints. I've got a stash of like prints that these will fit right in with.


This is the new 'non-directional' yellow (the directional yellow is on the bottom).

I think it will work and play nicely with the other prints I've lined up for the Bonnie Hunter Mystery.

What I liked about my Stash Fabrics shopping experience was that the selection was amazing, the prices were excellent, the shipping reasonable, and the fabric got to me lickety in 2 days, lickety split.. I'll definitely shop with them again...I give them 4 out of 4 stars.  

So.....If you like fabrics like this:

you'll love what you'll find at Check them out, you won't be sorry.

The second store I want to give props to was a totally new discovery for me. I found them through a very persistent web search for an old Hoffman Christmas fabric that my sister and I were on the prowl for. Their store didn't show up until about the 6th page of search results, and I am so glad I had the patience and persistence to find

Order placed Tuesday morning. Order arrives in my mailbox Thursday afternoon. Honest. What I loved is that I opened the package and found my fabric bagged and sealed with a big gold seal. (I just love it when a seller displays a little TLC in their packaging.)

Inside the bag was an envelope that not only contained my packing list with a nice little thank you note inked on it, but it also held a totally unexpected, free fat quarter.

I think we can all agree that free fabric is nice--even nicer when it is an unexpected surprise. And  super fast, inexpensive shipping is also high on our list of things that make an online store stand out above the pack. Oh, and the prices at quiltedchristmas were very good (this particular fabric was $1-$3 less a yard than from the other sites I found it at).

I don't know about you, but I've been known to spend well over an hour perusing fabric on a site and filling out an order form, only to get through the check-out process to find out they want to charge me $12 to ship my $25 purchase to me. When that happens, I mouse up to that little red x at the top of my screen and say 'buh bye'.

I find that most online shops take advantage of the free packing materials that the USPS provides them to use their service. The USPS flat rate priority envelope costs $5.75 to mail and will hold about 6 yards of fabric. I feel taken advantage of when a seller wants to charge me twice to three times that amount for shipping and handling. There's a lot of fishes in that online sea of fabric, so I don't hesitate to cut the line and cast a new one.

I'm pleased to say that Stash charged $5.75 to ship my order (4.5 yards) and quiltedchristmas charged $5.95 (4 yards plus the free fat quarter). Yet another reason I will be making further purchases from both of these shops.

Do you have any favorite online shops that you'd recommend?

Now, before I invoke the wrath of the shop local purists,  I'd like to say that what makes our craft such a desirable one is that there are so many resources available to quilters. We've got our local quilt shops for the camaraderie, classes and instant gratification, and we've got a vast array of online purveyors of fine fabric where we can find anything our hearts desire (and fabrics that are long discontinued :) ).

There is an infinite variety of fabric out there, and no one shop (LQS or cyber) can carry it all. While I do condone supporting your local quilt shop (as well as the brick and mortar shops you may run across when you're traveling for business or pleasure, as I so often do), I am also a proponent of spreading  the wealth to include the online fabric shops--how can we not take advantage of the tens of thousands of fabric choices that are available to us through the variety of shops we have access to?

Imagine how our Guild quilt shows would look like if we all shopped at the same local shop and we all used the same dozen Kaffe Fassett prints,  the same 20 solid colors, the same 10 selections from  the latest Timeless Treasures release.....  Thankfully we don't have to worry about this because we now have an endless supply and constantly updating selection of fabric choices available to us between our local shops and our online shops.

Hang ten, baby!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


On the plus side, I finished daughter's Halloween table runner....all 83 inches of it. Of course it's not labeled, if I had to wait for me to get around to making a label, Halloween would be over. I'll get it back after the holiday. It was a simple project, I just cut out a bunch of random width strips from half yards of fabrics (you could use FQs, as I wound up with a FQ leftover from each, since I cut my WOF in half). I sewed them together narrow in the center out to widest. When finished, I cut three 2"  strips off of the sides of my 72" long strip set. I added the black border and then I sewed the strips I had cut to that, being careful not to match them up to the center. I call this my FAUX BINDING. (Genius move on my part). Once I had the top together I just laid the back down right sides together,  laid the batting on top, sewed it together, leaving an opening for turning, and wah-lah...DONE! (Except for quilting). 'What?! No binding?!' say the quilt police.  It's a table runner, get over it--I did.

After a spendy little jaunt to the local quilt shop,  I was able to cut out everything I need to make a Dresden tree skirt for my daughter. Not that she asked for one, mind you, but there's a few ladies that would like to make one this year, so I'm having them over for a little quilt-in, Since someone needs to lead by example, I needed to make another skirt.

Here's the one I made last year, in a photo from the County Fair. (yes, that would be a Grand Champion ribbon, I'm flaunting....thanks for asking. )

And because one can never make enough trips to the local quilt shop, I'll probably be back there later today to fill in the fabrics I need for the upcoming Bonnie Hunter Grand Illusion Mystery that starts the Friday after Thanksgiving that a couple of my Facebook friends sucked me into.

I'm not a big fan of mystery quilts, but I researched the ones that Bonnie has done over the years and they are simply stunning, and appear to require major work (and obviously a lot of fabric....if you add up her numbers, for the 88" square quilt top alone she's asking you to gather 12-3/4 yards of various fabrics). Because this is a mystery, and I still have trouble committing to something sight unseen, for purposes of cost control, I'm using mostly fabric from my stash, I need to replace the yellow (the one in the photo is for the Jingle flange) and I may replace one of the green and turquoise prints, and add in a black or two.

I changed out Bonnie's suggested pink for a couple of oranges and a salmon-y color. I'm not a fan of bright pink, have none in my stash, and preferred the orange with the green and the turquoise (that top orange fabric will probably be eliminated, but for now it kind of works)

Then, last night,  I took a break from the quilt studio to move into the art studio...not my workroom, but someone else's real art studio--trading fabric for paper. The idea was to create 'pop art' (remember that?)

At the hubs' request, Tucker became the subject matter for this endeavor.  Let's just say that while not quite an epic fail, the results are definitely not 'frame-worthy'.

But, on the bright side, I learned a new technique that I could recreate in my own workroom without having to buy a single supply for. (Thanks to the acetate transparency sheets discarded by the hubs' office--which is what I traced onto, using a Sharpie, from the photograph--that I held on to a few of when I gave boxes of them to my quilt guild to use as templates). I might try this at home with some 'people' photographs. A trip to Ikea for some frames, and I could have some pretty cool one of a kind Christmas gifts.  Sure, let me add that to my to-do list.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Little of This, A Little of That

On Saturday morning I took a Cathedral Window workshop at Jinny Beyer's Studio in Great Falls, VA. For some strange reason, I was totally in the dark on cathedral windows until this past Spring, so when Jinny's newsletter mentioned a hand sewing class for 3 hours, I thought 'what have I got to lose? sign me up'.

 Let me tell you what I liked about the class....we all made this one block in class. Everyone finished it. And that was it.....Brilliant!  If I have the urge to continue on to a wall hanging, or a pillow, or a queen size quilt, I can add on to this.  If I just want a mug rug, I'm golden. I learned something, I finished something, and I don't feel obligated to continue. Best of all, I don't have another UFO to add to the growing pile of unfinished class projects.  All classes should be like this...a mini-project that you can finish before the end of the class.

And because I was all the way out at Jinny Beyer's (seriously, it takes me like 35 minutes to drive there), I HAD to purchase fabric. That orange print really grabbed me, so I picked up it's brother from another mother to go with it. And all through class I was staring at this fabulous tote bag made from a Bali Pop, so I had to have the pattern to make one for myself.

Okay, so with that out of my system, I came home and sewed a bunch of varied-width strips together for Jenifer's 72" Halloween table runner. I was thinking maybe cutting off  a couple of strips, sewing on a border and then reattaching the strips. I'll figure something out tomorrow.

Instead of returning to that project today, I gave some thought to the jelly roll quilt I'm going to make with my sister and her quilting friend. We were going to do the Jelly Roll Race quilt but that is just so gosh darn boring, so now I've decided to do the 3 Dudes jelly roll quilt. Of course, there's no explicit instructions for this one regarding yardage and finished size and cutting borders, so I think I'm going to have to pretty much make the pieced top in advance so I can tell them what they need to purchase for borders and binding.
My sister and I had Jinny Beyer pixie strip rolls tor this, so of course I had to obsess over which strips to sew together, so I probably spent an hour laying strips next to each other to come up with little 4-packs to work with. Once I had those sorted, they went back in the basket and I switched gears.

 I pulled out the basket with Gyleen Fitzgerald's Summer Camp quilt that I started back in June or July.

  And I sewed together all those little squares that I hadn't done before I left for Portland
And then, because I was feeling a little claustrophobic last week and took the design wall down, I tried to lay it all on the floor to figure out how I was going to put it all together (and yes, Gyleen had a plan for assembly, but I'm not enamored with the layout or the finished size, so I'm trying to apply some alterations.)
And that's my quilting life for the past couple days...scattered, as usual. How's your project progress? Are you on the straight and narrow?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

I Get More Sewing Done at Work Than I Do At Home

I had to go in to my office today to attend a meeting his afternoon. Since I wouldn't have time to run out at lunch, I brought a salad and some sewing to amuse myself.

The Jingle quilt has been up on the design wall for a few weeks now, and I've had a lot of time to scrutinize every little stitch and applique piece.

This is the center medallion.  See the little leaves on the pomegranates? Notice how they kiss each other?

 Well, I must have been sucking down frozen drinks on the cruise ship....or maybe it was the martinis in my hotel room in Portland....or it could have possibly been the vodka rocks on the plane ride home where those fool asphalt salesmen were throwing a party in the row behind me and up and down the any rate, look at how far apart the leaves are on this area.

It was quite obvious that half the leaves had been sewn on properly, the other half...well, not so much.

So during my lunch break on Monday I picked out stitches and managed to resew those leaves to make everything close together and uniform.

Yay me! Another accomplishment. I also managed to get my mailbox all straightened out now, really was a productive day at work. I should go in to the office on Monday more often (Not!).

Moving right along...I wonder what will be a good Tuesday project? Maybe you've got a handwork project that you could chip away at during your lunchbreak too.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hubs-less Weekend

The hubs was away at a softball tournament this weekend. You would think that I would have managed to finish 7 or 8 quilts while he was gone, but noooooooooo.

I'm not a fan being by myself, I need someone to talk at (which is what I do mostly to the hubs, at least that's his claim for why he can't remember what I've told him). For the most part, the dogs serve this purpose, but unless there's a deer or a bunny out back, or a kid on a bike out front, they tend to be about as participatory in a conversation as the hubs so I usually invite someone over who can carry on a conversation.

On Friday I decided to have the Happy Hour ladies over for dinner again (I had a few of them over last weekend when 3 of us were softball widows for the night).  On Friday, I cleaned the house and got everything ready for dinner--pumpkin soup, kale salad, hot crusty bread and plenty of wine. After opening the wine bottles,, fanning out the 'Eat, Drink and Be Witchy' cocktail napkins, and setting the table for dinner, I ran upstairs for a quick shower. On the way past the studio, I popped in to take one last look at my work emails.

And then, in a fraction of a second with some weird Mojo touch on the work laptop's keypad, I somehow managed to delete my ENTIRE work Outlook inbox. Something in the neighborhood of 1400 or so messages I'd been too lazy to slip into file folders for the past year were now co-mingled with the 2400 or so messages that were already in my deleted items. Great!

What to do? It's 6:00 p.m. and my guests will start arriving at 7:00. The first thing that came to mind  was to quickly transfer, before I could permanently delete,  those 3800 messages from deleted items into my inbox and sort through them later....MUCH LATER!

And then I took a shower and made myself a martini and switched into 'Ladies Night-Let's All Drink Copious Amounts of Red Wine and Forget About The Horror Awaiting in Our Outlook Inbox' mode.

The last of my guests left just past midnight, so after cleaning the kitchen (for the second time in 12 hours), I went to bed...avoiding the studio where the dreaded Inbox full of Deleted Items was waiting.
In fact, to further refuse to face reality,  the dogs and I stayed in bed until very late Saturday morning (10 am), which was quite miraculous because those yappy little monsters are usually pawing at my head, demanding their breakfast by 7 am at the latest.

When I did drag myself (kicking and screaming) back upstairs to the studio later that afternoon, I spent a couple of hours sorting through emails, and then made myself pin the fabric choices for Jingle that had arrived Friday afternoon on the design wall--just so I could say I did something quilty.

I pretty much ruled out the gold holly print right off the bat. I didn't even bother to photograph it. It was that wrong.

And while I thought I was going to go with the red holly print with a green flange for a more subdued Christmas quilt...
the longer I looked at the obvious Christmas-in-your-face green holly print with the gold flange, the more it grew on me (it was also the favored choice of my Facebook friends).

And that's my actual sewing happened, but I did make a decision related to quilting, so I'm going to count that as progress made and feel good about it. (Though I'm not going to feel good about that Inbox for another couple of days--sigh.)

Enjoy your week (and remember to clean up your deleted files regularly).