Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Christmas Lights - Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt

Initially, I thought No New Projects, but....... I didn't want to miss the fun. Working on a mystery quilt is exciting. At our last Silver Thimbles Sewing Day, Brenda, Cindi, Gretchen, Karin, and Kristie had the lastest issue of Quiltmaker magazine ready to commit to making this new mystery quilt. We don't know what the quilt will look like, but do know that Bonnie likes small pieces and that we like her quilt patterns. I dug through my fabric stash and found enough yardage of two colors- green and black- to use fabric I already own. Saturday at Sweet Home, I purchased a gold and red to coordinate with my black and green fabruc. I found a stack of four patches left-over from my Orange Crush project that I can use in this quilt. I have stripes of lights and darks already cut. I plan on using the directions from Orange Crush to make the triangles using 3 1/2 inch strips and the Easy Angle ruler instead of the directions in the magazine. I think 3 1/2 inch strips will do the job. I haven't worked on this step, yet. I plan to look at the Moda Stash Bag that I purchased in the Spring from Sweet Home (see this blog post). Some of those strips will look great in this project.

To get the icon to put on your blog sidebar go to The Quilkmaker Blog -Quilty Pleasures.

Bonnie's Yahoo Group, quiltvillechat, is also a good place to see photos of the mystery quilt in progress, to ask opinions or to get answers to questions. See Bonnie's website, www.quiltville.com to link to the Yahoo Group and join the Yahoo Group.

Enter This Give-away

I've been trying to resist entering Helen's give-away. She has designed a wonderful, Christmas block of the month project. I love red and white. The Night Before Christmas is one of my favorite holiday stories. When I saw the quilt dimensions, I knew I couldn't resist any longer. I have this spot in the kitchen hallway, that needs a quilt :) Please visit Helen's blog and enter her give-away, too!

Monday, June 29, 2009

On My Design Wall Monday

Another project has been freed from it's plastic container prison. This is my version of Orange Crush, one of Bonnie Hunter's Mytery Quilts. This project has only been in a container for about a year. The blocks were all pieced and ready to be arranged. This week I put the blocks on my design wall. I'm loving the combination of the cool colors (light green, bright blue) with the bold warm color, orange. I have begun sewing the rows together. It's a big quilt and doesn't fit on my small design wall. I'm having to use my king-size bed to double check that I have the rows right since they are arranged on point. Saturday, I purchased the border fabric. We choose the blue and black fabrics to help mute the colors in my quilt top. I used orange because I had some great orange fabric left-over from a raffle quilt that I sewed for DS's high school marching band (school colors - orange, blue and white) My boys like blue so I'm hoping that one of them will decide to talk me out of this quilt :) Sewing borders is the part that I will have to motivate myself to do. Maybe by setting a small goal each day I'll get the entire top finished this week. I also need to do some cutting for a couple of additional projects this week. Next week is our all-week Stitch-in. It's easier to have the cutting done ahead of time and just sew during the stitch-in.
Have a great Monday!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Two Tops Done

Finally, not one completed quilt top, but two. I've worked on both of these projects for the last month. One project has been aging in a plastic container for at least a year; the other closer to four years. I feel a big sense of accomplishment getting these tops off the To Sew list. Autumn Ridge has been aging in the plastic container for years. Gretchen, Karin and I traded strips especially for this quilt. I love the rich autumn tones. This is my first log cabin quilt. I learned to pay close attention to the placement of the logs. I probably reversed sewed as many blocks as I completed, but I finally got it right :) I purchased a yellowish, gold autumn leaf fabric for the backing. This backing was purchased when our local shop, Quilting Essentials when out-of-business. Hmm, is that five years ago? Something else out of my fabric stash!!!!!

Firecrackers was begun last July at a Stitch 'N Sisters sewing day. Brenda and I both choose red, white and blue for our color choices. We swapped fabric as we were sewing on our quilt tops. Brenda worked on her quilt top earlier in June when we were at her cabin. Her quilt top can be seen on this blog post. About two weeks ago, I purchased the fabric for the two borders at Sweet Home. I'm happy with this top. My plan is to piece some of the remaining red, white, and blue fabric for the backing.

My goal is to try and complete a quilt top a month. I'm a bit behind this year. I think this makes six quilt tops for 2009. I normally bring my quilt tops to a longarm quilter as soon as I finish one. This year with Michael's college fees putting a strain on the budget, my quilt tops will have to wait in line.

Celebrating Birthdays

My quilting buddy Karin from Life in the Slow Lane also celebrated her birthday this week. Her birthday was Saturday. (Happy Birthday, Karin! ) My MIL likes to send money for birthday gifts. I like to get "a little check" for my birthday. My birthday check was burning a hole in my pocket. A trip to Sweet Home Quilt Shop seemed a perfect match to purchase my own birthday gift. I e-mailed several other quilting friends suggesting a little shopping at Sweet Home on Saturday followed by lunch. Luckily for me, this idea also appealed to Karin and Kristie, M.S. Doolittle Quilter.

All three of us are planning to join in the fun of Bonnie Hunter's lastest mystery quilt, Christmas Lights in Quiltmaker magazine. With the help of shop owner Melisa and her staff, we searched for the perfect red, gold, green and black fabrics for each of our projects. I purchased a gold fabric and a red tone-on-tone to coordinate with a green and a black already in my stash.

This week I worked on my version of last year's mystery quilt Orange Crush (more on another post) I needed border fabric. Melisa and Kristie helped me select this wonderful blue dot fabric for the outer border. The black will be the inner border and the black and white stripe will work for bias binding.

Melisa showed us a sample she had finished using a Christmas charm pack. Kristie worked on her table-runner last Thimbles get together. I have several charm packs from an old Christmas line that I would love for a holiday table runner, so this lovely little pattern followed me home, too.

We went into the historic area of Conyers for lunch. We had great sandwiches and wonderful talking time. We were hungry. I didn't remember to take pictures of our sandwiches.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Quilt Guild Picnic

Tuesday was my birthday. It was also the monthly meeting day for the Gwinnett Quilt Guild. I'm a member of this guild even though they meet during the daytime and I have a daytime job during the school year. I attend during the Summer months. Attending the annual guild picnic was a fabulous way to celebrate my birthday. The theme of the indoor picnic was Teddy Bear Picnic.
I was fortunate to sit at the table hosted by Suzanne. Her table was decorated with patriotic items and just stunning. She used her version of the Firecrackers quilt for a tablecloth. Here is Ginny, Ann (who will soon be in Australia visiting a new grandbaby) and our hostess, Suzanne. We had to select a table name. Our table was Teddy's Teddies, but we didn't remember to wear our teddies.

The guild provided teddy bear cupcakes for dessert. The plastic teddy bear can actually be used again to bake cupcakes (Wilton cake product) or to make a pincushion. I have the supplies to make the pincushion. Now to find the time.
Several other teacher/media specialist friends also belong to the Guild. Susan from the blog Susan's Stitches was in Tennessee helping care for her mother. Brenda, who blogs as the Quilting Cowgirl and I had a great time. I'm on the left in this picture. Brenda is on the right wearing her favorite color, red.

Debbie's mother collects teddy bears. We snatched this photo for Deb to send to her mother.

The games were fun. Our table was highly competive. We tied for the grand prize with another table. We each chose Fat Quarters to take home. This nice little stash is at home with my collection of FQ's.
Our table was also lucky in the brown bag raffle. Raffle tickets were sold for various items that folks donate during their birthday month. (Yes, I donated 16 Fat Quarters of Moda Maypole fabric and the Sassy Sixteen pattern to make a quilt top.) I'm thrilled with this project bag that I won in the raffle. It's perfect for taking individual projects to our all day sewing sessions. I actually won two of the brown bag raffles. Brenda also won a pattern with some FQ's.
The guild picnic was filled with laughter, good friends, great food and a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday.

Tigers Win!!!!!

I'm a bit late with this post, but yes DH's beloved LSU Tigers did win the College World Series. Three great games of baseball were played by both teams - LSU and Texas. Of course, we weren't in Omaha for the game. This photo is from the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate website.

Geaux Tigers!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reading Maeve Binchy Books

Several weeks ago, I read the latest book by Maeve Binchy. Mrs. Binchy is an Irish author who writes contemporary stories set in Ireland especially the capital city of Dublin. She creates unique characters. Her stories are rich in detail, many plot lines and subtle humor. She is a masterful storyteller. When reading Heart and Soul, I realized that some of the characters in the story were characters from other Binchy books that I had read years ago. I recognized the characters, but couldn't remember the storyline or the book titles. That was all it took to interest me in rereading some of her titles. I did a bit of research and the best that I can tell, this series of books begins with the title, Evening Class.
(If I missed an earlier title that is connected with these titles, please let me know. I'll be happy to search for that one to read, too.) This title is set in Dublin and Italy. We are introduced to wonderful characters especially Aidan and Nora.
Tara Road is next. This was an early title in Oprah's Book Club. The story is entwined around couples and family life.

Perhaps, my favorite title is Scarlet Feather.
Twins Maud and Simon are so entertaining. Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather are wonderful, unique characters. Lots of food preparation, ridicule of the rich useless upper class and plain good escapist reading.

Quentins is a bit more serious. It's the book I'm currently reading.

Nights of Rain and Stars,

Whitethorn Woods and Heart & Soul. I have a stack of Binchy books on my night-stand. I'm looking forward to good Summer Reading.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Geaux Tigers!

My husband is an LSU sports fanatic. Living away from Louisiana, we depend on wonderful sports coverage on television. The past week we've watched awesome LSU baseball. We've been watching the College World Series from Omaha. Last night was the first game in the finals. What a game! LSU vs Texas! The game went into overtime. Our Tigers pulled it out in the end. Game 2 is tonight. Guess where we will be?

Early Birthday Gift

My birthday is this week. Yes!!!! About two weeks ago, I informed my husband that I had already taken care of my gift for this year. In July, I'm planning on attending the six day Summer Stitch-In offered by Pat Wys and our Silver Thimble Club. (More about that later) I've already paid for the stitch-in. This is usually ok with him. We usually "hint" or make a list for gift-giving. Imagine my surprise when he handed me a big gift-wrapped box yesterday afternoon. We're now the proud owners of a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker. Well, folks, we love ice cream at our house. We made a batch yesterday. The inner bowl probably wasn't in the freezer long enough. There was room for improvement. Today, I mixed up the recipe in the booklet for plain "wonderful" Vanilla Ice Cream. Much better! Oh course, I used whole milk and heavy cream. I'd love to experiment to find a lower fat recipe or sherbet. If you have a good homemade ice cream recipe especially one that has a lower fat content or low sugar, please let me know! With the heat this Summer, we're gonna wear this little baby out :)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Satellite Sewing

Like a branch library or a Summer home, I've begun moving my sewing down "South" to the dining room. Several summers go when I was exiled from my Sewing room because of the heat, I used my mechanical Bernina. It was mid-July so there wasn't much extended sewing time left since school starts for us the first week of August. Yesterday, I moved my computerized (Heavy) Bernina out of the sewing cabinet to the dining room table. There's still five weeks of glorious Summer vacation remaining. Today, I'll probably bring the computer chair and the floor Ott light, too. It's kinda fun sewing in the dining room. Like being on vacation:)

Schizophrenia or Multi-Tasking?

I've heard about quilters who begin a project and don't even purchase fabric for the next project until the project is complete. I've admired and longed for that single-minded focus. It's just not me. Not only do I have many works in progress, I seem to make the best progress by working on several projects at the same time. Case in point, this week I sewed the rows on my red, white, and blue Firecrackers top, pinned the rows to the Autumn Ridge top and pinned parts of the 16 patches on my blue and white Strawberry Pie. Sometimes, all three projects were under the sewing machine needle as I chained sewed.

I seem to buy items in multiples, too. When shopping if I find a shirt or pants that fit, I almost always buy two of the item. If I really like it, I go back and buy two more in other colors or prints.

It struck me that I have the same pattern in my reading. This week I was following three different story lines. First, there was the book that I read in the evenings before going to sleep, Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber. I started bringing a book to son's swim meets. I don't want to bring a book from the library in case it gets wet. I grabbed a paperback copy of Quentins by Maeve Binchy to read just at the swim meets. I like to listen to music, podcasts or aubio books while sewing. I like to listen to something that I've already read so I don't have to follow the plot too closely. My choice this week is At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon. The Mitford series is one of my favorite "comfort" books. About once a year, I read or listen to the entire series again.

The thing is that this ability to work on many projects at one time is a big strength in my job. We definitely multi-task.There are times when our school media center library is a real three- ring circus. I thought I had adapted for the job, but maybe I've structured the job to my personality. Strength or weakness?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Crumbs and Scraps - A Solution

I've always had a difficult time throwing away little crumbs or scraps of fabric from quilting projects. Last year, I was fortunate enough  to take a class with Bonnie Hunter on Using Crumbs. Even as I was sewing crumbs (small pieces of fabric) in the class, it just didn't make sense for me to spend the time on crumbs when I had many WIP (works in progress) or even yards of fabric ready to be cut into quilt projects. It's a time issue for me. Saturday at our Silver Thimbles sewing day, someone was collecting fabric trimmings to use in stuffing beds for a pet rescue foundation. Bingo! That's what I could do with my tiny pieces of fabric and the fabric selvages that are stuffed in a drawer. Our Rusty does need a new bed. I even had a pillow sham from my SIL that I could use to begin. I put  the sham (even an old pillowcase would work) near my cutting table.

All the little slivers and pieces too small for my strip box will go into Rusty's new bed. Even some batting scraps that are too small for rag quilts will go in his bed. He will love it! It will have a human smell and be oh so soft. 

In one of the scrap quilt books that I recently read, the author suggested getting a small three drawer plastic box to organize strips. I would give the author credit except I can't find which book had the recommendation. It may be one I already returned to the public library. I purchased one of these organizers at the "J" store. I'm cutting 3 1/2 inch, 2 1/2 and 2 inch strips to put in each drawer. It sits on a counter near my cutting table.

I'm trying to cut strips after I finish a project. The remaining fabric and the unused strips from my Autumn Ridge project are sitting on the cutting table waiting to be put in one of the drawers. 

I did get Autumn Ridge off the design wall. I "stacked" the quilt like Pat taught us to do in our Pinheads/Sisters/Thimbles sessions. I had to stop sewing yesterday because of the heat in the sewing room. My sewing room is upstairs. Summer has arrived in Atlanta and it's just plain hot on our second floor. The air conditioner  never really cools it off. I may have to move some of my sewing stuff into the dining room. The first floor is lots cooler. This seems to make more sense to sew downstairs than trying to cool the upstairs during the day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Autumn Ridge - On My Design Wall

Judy Laquidara of the blog Patchwork Times  has challenged her readers to post what's on their design wall each Monday. That did motivate me to put my Firecrackers top on the design wall and to begin sewing it into a quilt top. I have all the vertical rows sewn. I'm working on the horizontal rows. Today, I put my Autumn Ridge blocks on the design wall. Gretchen, Karin and I cut strips and swapped them several years back. Both Grethen and Karin have their tops completed. My competive nature insists that I complete my top, too. I've learned alot making this top. It's my very first log cabin quilt. You may notice the missing row on my design wall. I discovered yet again that I have constructed the blocks incorrectly for that row. I cut new strips and will make new blocks. The "incorrect blocks" will go on the back of the quilt. I don't think the strips can stand the pressure of any more "reverse sewing." They'll add a nice element to the back of the quilt. I'm loving this top. I'm hoping to find some sewing time tomorrow. This week is crammed with dental appointments, eye check-ups, two swim meets. Even Rusty needs to visit his not so favorite person, the "vet" for his annual shots. Thanks, Judy for having us post "What's on our Design Wall."

Breakfast Club Sewing

I'm a public school librarian with free time this Summer. YES! I'm trying to do some of those "quilty" activities that my work schedule doesn't allow during the school year. One of our local quilt shops has a Breakfast Club. It's from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm several times during the month. My friend Debbie mentioned that she attends one of the sessions each month. It's always a challenge to find time to get-together and visit with Deb. At first I had a major conflict and wasn't planning to attend the June session, but that issue disappeared and I remembered Breakfast Club. On Tuesday, I sorted through my plastic container of '30's fabrics. I love the novelty of the '30's prints, but have yet to finish a project with them. The pattern for June is called Mexican Fiesta Eggs. It's alot like the Honeyberries quilt in the book 40 Fabulous Quick Cut Quilts book by Evelyn Sloppy. I made great progress on my table quilt. All 9 blocks are in some stage of readiness.

I decided to make a smaller size project, but this is what the class sample looks like. It's in bright batiks. I think Pam C. did the piecing.

Part of the Breakfast Club class fee covers coffee and breakfast items. Sandy S, our innovative teacher had baked homemade cinnamon rolls, pound cake and chocolate cookies. It was a bad morning for watching what I ate, but it sure was good:)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Won!

My lucky stars were aligned for two give-aways lately. Brenda, the Quilting Cowgirl, had a give-away to celebrate her 100th post. I was lusting after the Aviary charm pack. I just love any and all fabric by the Moda designers, 3 Sisters. The bag and quilt pattern have real potential. My brain is searching for fabric to use with them. Ironically, the book The Best of Black Mountain Quilts is the one that I'm using for my current project, Autumn Ridge. I worked (and reversed stitched) on it for most of the time we spent sewing at Brenda's cabin. Since I had the book, I left it with Brenda. She might get the fever to make an Autumn Ridge quilt for her cabin. I have extra strips if you need them, Brenda!

Pam at Mama Spark's World made a stunning quilt out of brown and teal. She gathered her scraps and had a give-away. I was the lucky winner. The colors are different for those I normally use in my quilts, but I love the combination. I'm thinking a bag would be wonderful with these fabric scraps.

Thank you Brenda and Pam! I love the generous, sharing nature of quilters.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Too Long on the Design Wall

This is what happened when I asked my teenage son to vaccum the upstairs. It was not "his agenda for the day." Luckily, I had decided to change the layout anyway. Guess I need to make the change, stack the quilt and begin pinning the first rows   this evening while watching TV with DH. Have a good day friends! I'm off to a day of sewing with Debbie, a non-blogging quilter. More later....

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sewn Give-away

I hate to see the Sewn give-away end. I've so enjoyed reading the comments, e-mails and visiting the blogs of the quilters/crafters who entered my blog give-away. I entered the numbers in the random generator at www.random.org.    The winning number was number 79. Combining the comments, followers, and folks who blogged about my give-away,  number 79   is  ......


           Victoria M. who blogs at  "So Many WIPs, So Little Time."

 Congrats to Victoria! Please send me your postal address so I can get these books to you.

Again, thanks to everyone who entered the give-away! I loved your comments. Loved visiting your blogs to discover more about you.

Looking forward to the actual Sewn website which will be launched tomorrow!

Peace in the Mountains

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 Robert Frost's wonderful poem kept going through my head on our sewing retreat in the North Georgia Mountains near Blue Ridge, Georgia. Peace. Quiet. Humming sewing machines.
Brenda, Pat and I spent three fun, productive days with no distractions at Brenda's mountain home. 

On the way to Brenda's house, Pat asked me "Do you think it has air conditioning?" Hmmm. I think Brenda would have told us if it was that rustic. Well, Brenda and Joe's "cabin" was a wonderful mountain retreat with air-conditioning and a dishwasher. We traveled several miles off the main road, through the woods, to their "subdivision." Once we were at the cabin,

the only other living creature we saw was the deer that came each evening at dusk to eat the corn that Brenda set in the clearing. Not one car, voice, animal - other than the three of us and our sewing "babies" - our little machines. We brought cooked food, but that was just because we needed to eat. There was coffee, wine, diet cokes, blueberry muffins, spaghetti pie, salad, chicken and more. On the second day, we never got out of our p.j.'s. Bra's were discarded almost immediately once we arrived :) 

Ironically, all three of us - Brenda, Pat and I - had major surgery in the last 12 months. We had "parts" taken out and parts replaced.This "me" time was need by each for us. The peace and quiet was so healing.

I worked mainly on my Autumn Ridge project from the book, The Best of Black Mountain Quilts. I probably did more reverse sewing (Pat helped me in that department, too) than actual block construction. I did finally settle into sewing one colorway log cabin block at a time instead of trying to chain-piece several at a time. The project is well on its way. I have it organized to resume sewing this week. I must have miscut one of the gold/tan/yellow logs. I couldn't find it once  at the cabin. Of course, I didn't bring extra strips so I had to move on to my other project. I'm making Pat's Strawberry Pie in blue and white fabric - left-overs from my Blueberry Pie Project. I'm renaming this one Blueberry Ridge. It's in great shape. I'm ready to pin the 16 patch blocks. I'll do that in the evening while watching TV with DH. 

Brenda has unique moose and bear items in the cabin. I kept noticing one-of-a kind items that I hadn't noticed before. This towel rack in the bathroom was one of my favorites.

Click over to Brenda and Pat's blog to read their accounts of our wonderful, peaceful, blissful retreat! I "borrowed" some of their photos for my blog. Thanks, ladies for an unforgetable three days!