Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Do you take your sewing machine on vacation?

It seems a little bit over the top....but since we drove to Hilton Head for vacation this year...taking my sewing machine with me was as easy as packing it for a retreat.   My husband and I love to go to new places and explore historical sites.  With our son in college, we are no longer burdened with finding some place to go that would appeal to teens.    So, we tend to take our vacations off season.   This year we chose the week after Thanksgiving.  We had to wear jackets every day but still managed to enjoy ourselves...riding bikes on the beach, visiting Savannah and Beaufort, and walking in the Pinckney National Wildlife Preserve.    And, with all that I managed to finish 7 service project quilts.
Here they are hanging from our balcony on the last day there.  All of them were donated cheater wholecloth quilts that I sandwiched and pinned before I left on vacation.   I have to say that combining vacation and sewing made it a relaxing week.   Do you take your sewing machine on vacation with you?

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Red Letter Day

Today I did 30 sit ups.  It's a red letter day because today I have finally reached my goal.  Why 30?  My father told me before he died a little over a year ago that he did 30 sit ups a day every day of his life.    So I thought, why not me.   I have to tell you that pitifully I could only do 5 sit ups the very first time and then I lay on the floor huffing and puffing.  So, I started at 5 and after over a year have made it to 30 a day.   And, in addition to the sit ups I have a regimen of exercises now that I do every morning.    Yippee!   It makes me feel better!

Of course, no red letter day would be complete without another milestone ... finding out that I am no longer the web mistress for Friendship Star Quilters.  Someone else has stepped up to the plate and I am delighted to have more time to learn Photoshop and Illustrator and Publisher, all tools that have the potential to take my creativity to a new level.

Finally, I have been encouraging my husband to expand the products he manufactures.  His new website is now up an running and has two of the products we have been working on together.  So if you need a way to keep those bobbin threads from unraveling try our Bobbin Keepers.  If you need to keep your pins and needles from pricking your fingers, try our PinStops.  These products are straight from the 20% quilt show mark up.   Check them out:


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

PNQE and a Wedding

YES!!!   My quilt "Defence of Fort McHenry" made it into the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza.   My local guild hired a bus to take us up to Oaks, PA for the day.   And, of course I had to get a picture of me next to my quilt.  I was thrilled to see my work hung with hundreds of fabulous quilts.

The Dixon Family has been invited to the wedding of my cousin's son.  Austin and Robert will tie the knot on October 6th in Richmond, Virginia.  While we won't be attending their celebration, I took some time to make matching throws for the couple.  Austin's quilt is white on black and Robert's (folded on right hand side) is black on white.  The material I chose closely matches the invitation.  I'll be sending them off later this week as soon as I find a gift bag large enough to hold them.  Hope the couple likes them.   
What's next for my creative endeavors?   I'm working on a quilt for my door that needs to be completed by November 1st.   In the meantime, I need to come up with a design for the Sacred Threads show next year.  

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why oh why do I get myself into these things?

Months and months ago, I decided to check out some of the challenges going on around the web.   I decided to try for two:  the Quiltcon challenge and the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza.  Intentions are wonderful things when you have creative ideas and a lot of time.  But, life sometimes gets in the way and then deadlines sneak up and hit you over the head.  Last weekend, I went the Hallowood retreat center with a fun bunch of quilting buddies.  The Quiltcon challenge was due August 15th and I went to the retreat with challenge fabrics and instructions and invited the quilters there to make a 12" square block.   On the second day, Twila began making a block.  This motivated me to throw together a block.  I mailed hers and mine on August 15th. Yeah!  Goal accomplished.  I did not take a picture of my block before I mailed it.  I'm sure it's going to be included in one of the charity quilts that will be made from left over was a last minute, get it done kind of thing.  Twila's block, however, might have a good chance of being included in the Quiltcon display quilt. 

So, all that was left was the PNQE challenge.  The theme was "Keystone".   Knowing that this year is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, I decided to design a quilt that reflected the event which inspired the Star-Spangled Banner.  I knew that from above, Fort McHenry contains a keystone shape.    What if I took the public domain drawing of the battle, portrayed it within the keystone shape and put the whole thing on a replica of the flag that was flown?   Fabulous idea on paper, challenging on fabric.  I left Hallowood with a half-finished quilt top and an August 18th deadline, at least that's what I thought.

Yesterday morning, I decided if I spent the whole day on the quilt, I could finish it, photograph it, and send off my application today.    I got out the application and was horrified to note that the entry must be postmarked by August 17th.  It was iffy that I would be able to get the entry to the post office by 5 p.m. but I did my best.  In truth, I had to pin the binding to take the picture...but the entry is on it's way.   Here's the original design:


And here's my attempt:
Now I just have to wait to see if it will be accepted.   If it's not.....well, I've learned a few lessons.   Twila taught me how to apply paint to fabric to lighten the color.   While I didn't have time to do that yesterday, her lesson is a tool I can use in the future.  I calligraphied the Star-Spangled banner on fabric that resembled parchment paper.  I satin stitched with metallic thread.  And, finally, I used a few of the quilting stitches I learned in Leah Day's book: 365 Free Motion Quilting Designs.  All in all, it feels good to achieve some goals and learn something along the way.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Enjoying My Projects

My house is one of those houses that doesn't have curb appeal.  We moved into it 19 years ago when it was a new home and quickly became best friends with the local nursery.   A blue spruce, a cherry tree, and a river birch block a view of our house from the street.  Some say this denies our house curb appeal.  I'm thankful for the shade.   Our front door is recessed into a little alcove.  When I first moved here, like many new home owners, I wanted to decorate the front I purchased a wreath and hung it.  It looked grand until some birds decided it was a wonderful place to build a nest. 

Back in 2006, I purchased 365 Foundation Quilt Blocks by Linda Causee.  I was really into paper piecing at the time and made my first quilt in October.  I tried adding magnets to the quilt so I could display it on our metal door....but strong winds just blew it all over the yard.  So, I purchased a magnetic curtain hanger.  This worked much better but sometimes it would remain on the door without a quilt because I couldn't bring myself to make the other 11 months.  My neighbor said to my husband that only Linda was have a curtain hanger on the front door.   That motivated me to make the rest of the month quilts.    Some are whole cloth quilts I purchased, others are applique patterns.  Here's the one's I've completed to date:
I  just finished the July quilt.
They're not perfect and mostly they're made from scraps but they make my ugly brown door come alive.  Every morning I take my dog out for her morning constitutional.  While she's nosing around under the shade trees for the perfect spot, I am just enjoying my "door quilt."  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Powerful Worldly Connections

Okay, so the title should have been WOOOHOOO! But there's a story behind this one.  I received a package in the mail two days ago:
Seven lucious fat quarters from SpringWater Designs.   It turns out that I won her Memorial Day giveaway and until the fabrics arrived I had forgotten all about it.  

For the past three days, I've been sick.....temperature over 100....body aches and pains....headache that wouldn't go away.  I was so sick, my quilting cave sent me a reminder that I haven't visited it since Sunday.  My doctor fit me in his schedule yesterday...and he believes that I might have chronic lyme's disease.   So, I took my first of 42 pills last night....and this morning my temperature is below 100 and the headache is gone.  I still have to go do the lyme's disease test to confirm the diagnosis...and no, I don't remember any tick on me and no, I didn't get the bull's eye rash. 

So, Dawn of Spring Water Designs....those fat quarters sat on the coffee table and were the only connection I had to quilting....the only ray of hope that I'd get beyond what I thought was the flu...and get back to my quilting cave.  In a more lucid moment yesterday, I took a look at the envelope.  It turns out that Dawn lives on the street I lived on a little over twenty years ago.  Now if you're like me, the theme to the twilight zone is playing in your head now.  But, isn't this proof that we are all connected in some cosmic way?  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Joy Jam!

Beth Wheeler from the blog "Confessions of a Thread Junkie" is having a Joy Jam!   She challenged her readers to make some hearts with the word Joy on them and give them to people you think might need some joy in their life.   It's nearing the 1 year anniversary of my father's death (Father's Day 2011), so I thought a little joy in my life would be just the ticket.  Here are my hearts:
Basically, I took out my ribbon basket, made a quilt sandwich out of muslin and started sewing all types sizes of ribbons across the sandwich.  I cut that ribbon quilt up into 3" x 3.5" pieces and then cut out hearts.  I didn't want to run ribbon through my printer, so I experimented with a bunch of pens and found a gold metallic gel pen that would write on satin ribbon without bleeding too much.  Here's a close up of one of the hearts above.
Now I can't wait to pass them out.   My father's sisters are coming to visit on Monday, June 4th...what would have been my father's 81st birthday.  They might need a little joy to take home with them.       Where the other hearts go is a mystery right now....but I'm sure I'll be able to spread a little joy for a while.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Recreating a lost miniature

Recently I've been getting some of my creative mojo back....challenging myself to try new things.   Almost 2 years ago, I made a quilt for the 100th anniversary of Naval Aviation.  It's still in the "Lost Quilt Come Home" database.   So, two weeks ago, I decided to recreate that design in a 12 inch block for the EAA AirVenture Quilt Block Contest.   It's not an exact replica, but pretty close.   Here's what I sent off to Oshkosh, Wisconsin yesterday.
Instead of meandering the sky, I decided to echo the aircraft.  To simulate the tiny little sparkles on the top of the aircraft carrier, I randomly took little stitches with that silver metallic thread I haven't been able to use with my sewing machine because it breaks all the time. It took over three months to make the original.   This one only took a couple of weeks.  Remaking it was healing.   Here's to hoping the Post Office doesn't lose this one too. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Doing the Wasilowski

Recently my guild offered a two-day class from Laura Wasilowski.   Yes!  I'm now a member of the Chicago School of Fusing.   I still sometimes murder my glue, but I enjoyed the class and lecture immensely.

First, we were given two pieces of hand-dyed material and asked to create a garden using nothing but our scissors, wonder under, and an iron.   Here's my attempt:

I'm not pleased with the huge pansies in the right hand corner but love the hand-dyed fabric and the four-leaf clover I added to the clover patch at the bottom.  We were given variegated threads with which to embellish the piece.   I relearned how to do some french knots and started outlining the bleeding heart branch.

The next day, we were instructed to take the left over pieces of the garden projects and make collages by cutting and layering fabric.  Eventually, the pieces I was playing with began to look like my dog.  So, I cut her out of the collages, and glued her to another piece of fabric.   Here's Misty:

Ok, so I haven't really touched these pieces since the fact, they've been relegated to my UFO (for the non-quilters UFO = UnFinished Object) file for a while....that is until I figure out what I want to do next.  Any ideas?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Zentangle Fun!

I had the opportunity to take a Zentangle and Zen Quilting class recently.   What a lot of fun!   Of course, anyone who knows me knows that I am a doodler.   So, it's no surprise that this class spoke to me.  Pat Ferguson taught the two-day workshop.   The first day was learning how to doodle, Zentangle style.   Here's what I ended up with:

It's not exactly my style of doodle, but it was fun and satisfying.  Now on to quilting Zentangle style:
Does it look at least a little like a four-leaf clover? first one of the season!   Here's where the price of the class was worth every penny.   I've been trying to do this on my own with my sewing machine and colored thread... always running into difficulty representing heavy colored lines or designs with lots of stops and starts.  I began doodling only doodles that I thought I could quilt. That hampered my doodling creativity.  In this piece, I quilted the basic sections, then used archival ink pens to doodle on the fabric.  When I was finished doodling, I took a dry iron and heat-set the color, washed the quilt, and used a pencil to add shading.  The final result?   A whole new realm of quilting possibilities!   Woohoo!

Monday, May 14, 2012

A New Day, A New Way...

My life has been consumed co-chairing a quilt show for a local quilt guild.   Now that I'm on the other side looking's time to work on some creative stuff for me.   But before I start posting some new creative stuff, I just want to record here the quilts that went into the show:
This little gem is a thread painting of a pattern from Debra Gabel's book: "Quilt Blocks Around the World".   Only the size of a piece of printer paper, I used canvas as the foundation and to provide some stability for all of the thread.
I call this one:  Mildly Magnificent Tree.   The pattern is from the Sally Collins book: "Mastering Precision Piecing."  
The Ultimate Guild Challenge this year was to depict a Beatles song or lyric in a quilt.  This is my original design titled "Back to the USSR". 
This original design titled "Orange You Glad You Like Jazz" was my entry for the guild's bloomin challenge.   I'll be auctioning it off at another guild's Silent Auction later this year.  Hopefully, I'll get enough from the auction to pay for the beads and fabric. 

Dad's t-shirt quilt.   I made 5 of these last year when he passed away and gave them to relatives.  This one is my favorite though for chilly nights.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Who wouldn't love three days of sewing with fellow quilters at this setting?   The place was beautiful, the weather was ideal for a stroll or two around the lake, the food was fabulous, and the company was just what I needed.   This is Hallowood, a Lutheran Conference Center near Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland. 

The geese who make this lake their home were nesting.   The daffodils were blooming.  But the thing that fascinated me most was the millions of tadpoles that had just been bom.   The edges of the lake were crammed with them.  

I made eleven friends, learned some new quilting techniques, made myself a new purse, completed a challenge for our upcoming quilt show, and enjoyed every minute.   

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sew Nice Mini-group Challenge

My mini-group is doing a Japanese challenge for a local quilting show in October.  And, I'm going to a retreat this weekend....a great opportunity to make some progress on this challenge.  I have a quilting book that shows man-hole covers in Japan.  Evidently, each town has designed their own.  So, I've taken Shannon Town cover design and modified it a bit.   Here's the design from the book:

After playing around with it for a while, I came up with this:
Of course it needed to be I greyed it out to conserve ink and printed it out 32" square.   This will be the first quilt I've done in reverse applique.  I taped the 32" pages together and also taped some wonder under together to cover it.  Last night I traced all the lines.   Today, I will apply the wonder under to the back of my black cloth and cut out all of the white areas above.   I'm going to stick with greens for the pine trees and may vary the colors for the Chrysanthemum and the purple background....but I'm envisioning satin stitching all in black.   Since I've never done this, I might have to do some creative cutting of the background colors.    Hopefully, when I'm finished placing the background colors, I'll be able to iron the black cloth to the colors without leaving an area of wonder under uncovered.  Gosh I hope all of that makes sense.   If not, this'll be another learning experience.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Getting ready for our guild's show...

Alas, I still don't know how it happened....but I somehow volunteered to co-chair the Friendship Star Quilters show this year.   If any of you have done know it's no fun....lots of details....lots of politics....learning lots of things I didn't know about my guild.  Somehow it'll never look the same to me.  Still, I'm not a quitter so I'll keep going forward.  

Here's the first quilt I'm putting in the show.   You'll notice that it matches the picture at the top of my blog.   I took a Betsy True class where we were encouraged to take a photograph and reproduce it on a quilt.    Here's my completed quilt:
It's only an 8x10 inch quilt.   I am very pleased with the results.  It's only been 9 months since my Dad passed away, so this quilt means a lot to me.   The picture was taken in the early 1960s at a racetrack in Maryland.   Miss you, Dad.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Quilting Digs

It's taken a month to move my stuff from an unfinished part of our basement to a finished area.  What a difference it is just having some sliding glass doors to view the outside world.   After the last rain, there must have been 20 robins hopping around looking for worms and the daffodils are now blooming.  Here's a peak at my new digs.
Call me crazy...but I just love having all the tools I use most often hanging over my sewing machines.   Those Octopus laundry hangers from Ikea hold quilting gloves, containers to put pins, a 2.5 inch rular to measure binding overlap, seam rippers, brushes to clean the bobbin area, magnets that hold the needles I use for burying threads and labels.

This is my ironing board.   Since I've moved, I've had to put sticky notes on all the drawers so I don't have to open them all up to find what I'm looking for.  This cabinet is a stand-alone kitchen cabinet from Ikea.  I covered the wooden top with batting and ironing board material.  Notice the shelf at the end of the cabinet.   Ikea came up with shelf brackets that attach to your counter top (actually used for desks) I didn't have to screw the brackets into the wall. 
Finally, here's my view out the sliding glass door.  Our Dachshund, Misty, keeps her favorite toys on her bed by the door.  She has already tuned into the sound of the blinds opening so she can come down and take a nice sun nap by the door while I'm quilting.