Friday, August 18, 2017

Saturday Sampler top is done

Another flimsy is done and ready for quilting, although I have no idea exactly how I want to quilt it. I like the colors in this one, especially in that floral print. Florals are generally outside my normal choices, but it feels good to step away from my comfort zone once in awhile.  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Saturday Sampler progress

I had a little sewing time last night finally, and put together the blocks for the center of my Saturday Sampler.  And I cut the first border set but only got the 2 side borders attached.  This one is definitely fun and easy, and a pattern I might do again. 
The wide outer border will be the flowered fabric. I may add a narrow light blue border first however. And I just noticed that my picture makes the peach look a bit more orange than it really is.  It's really navy, red, peach, pale blue, and the flowered print.  This would have looked nice in the master bedroom in our previous house, which was done in a nice 1980s peach and navy blue.
The finished quilt should make a good sized couch quilt.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Squirrel . . .

In my work life I tend to be very task oriented and can stay pretty focused most days. But in my creative life, I've become so easily distracted. That's why I always have lots of projects going at any given moment.  And the smallest thing can swing my brain in a new direction.
So, this morning was one of those wonderful "squirrel" moments when I was distracted by something fun.  I stopped in my favorite local quilt shop, The Pin Cushion, just to pick up my Saturday Sampler pattern from this weekend. Isn't the creative conversation half the fun when you go into a quilt shop? The gals were asking me about the program I did at guild a couple of weeks ago about sewing with selvages. And Cindy gave me this little chunk of very pretty selvage.  Aren't the little butterflies sweet?  Manufacturers are being creative with these more often now.
So of course that got me thinking about selvages again, which is OK.  In my guild program I just shared some ideas of how you can use selvages.  This is a quilt I made a couple of years ago, with the selvages used as one side of the HST blocks.  The blocks are about 7" square here but could be any size you want.
I made 8 blocks with the selvages lined up diagonally that I used for this pillow.  4 of them make up the back and the other 4 are the background for the front.  Then I appliqued an "orphan" Dresden plate over it. 
And the selvages can be used for any section of a block you want.  I have 4 of these basket blocks made, and 1 spider web block. And in the back is a piece that may become a zippered bag.  The possibilities are just endless.  And now I want to make more of these spider web blocks. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Need help choosing a border

Some opinions are needed to help me decide on a possible final border on this quilt. I want to add about 8" all around to make this larger for my queen size bed. The whole quilt is solid so I felt a bold print final border might be perfect.  Now I'm questioning whether a small subtle print would work better.

I bought 2 possible border fabrics but just can't decide which I like better, or if neither of them works. The floral has most of the colors from the blocks except the grey.  It definitely pulls the burgundy and the rose out.  And it has a touch of the green and blue. The darker grey fabric just has the green and the rose and the cream.  

Right now I'm leaning toward the grey, but I'm just not sure. I've been looking for possibilities in every quilt shop I've visited this summer, and I keep looking at my local shops too as they get new fabrics.  I've even looked online.  These are so far, the best options I've found for what I want it to look like.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Design Wall Monday - Retail therapy

What is everyone working on this morning? I've unpacked and sorted my purchases from this past weekend's bus trip shop hop.  It's always good therapy to admire and "pet" my new fabric purchases.
An amazing and inspirational trunk show, great company, tasty food, someone else driving, and retail therapy - all made for a really fun 3-day weekend.  Our guild bus trip to Missouri Star Quilt Company was a huge success according to the comments we heard all weekend.  We also stopped at a shop in Iowa and one in Cameron, MO on the way there, as well as a shop in Omaha on the way home. 
I unpacked my purchases last night after getting home and this morning organized everything so I could remember what I purchased, and for what projects. Most of it has now moved from my kitchen counter down to my sewing room.  Here's a little run down of the goodies I came home with:
  • 2 pattern books & 3 patterns
  • 2 different possible border fabrics for a wide border on a finished quilt top
  • 1 pillow kit & pattern (pink pineapples)
  • 4 Row By Row license plates & 3 of the kits
  • a Thanksgiving themed panel with fat quarters to make a piano key border
  • Christmas strip set for new stocking for daughter #2 family
  • lots of "kid prints" for pillowcases & small zipper bags for the grandkids and others
  • 1 pillowcase kit
  • 1 jelly roll
  • 2 charm packs
Check out the Design Wall Monday post at:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Missouri Star with friends

It has been a wonderful trip so far to the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  It was a gorgeous day today in Hamilton, MO and has been so much fun. Good friend Kelly drove up from Kansas City to join us for the day, which was an added bonus.  We all started the day at a very nice shop in Cameron, MO and then our bus arrive in Hamilton about 10:30. Had most of the day to explore all of the Missouri Star shops, and had some very tasty food in the local restaurants. I'm glad I planned ahead and left my suitcase half empty so I had room to pack away my purchases for the trip home tomorrow. We will have 1 quilt shop stop in Omaha, which is about half way back to Mitchell.  

One highlight of our trip was the trunk show by Jenny Doan yesterday evening. She is so entertaining, and creative.  Two and a half hours went by very quickly as she told stories, shared quilts and techniques. Just fabulous!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Prepping for guild bus trip

My dining room is full of STUFF for the upcoming guild bus trip.  There are boxes and bags full of door prizes for the participants.  And lots of boxes full of pink "swag bags" for everyone.  Those swag bags were all packed by Karen with snacks and quilting goodies. All of this will need to be loaded into my vehicle tonight so I don't have to do it at 5:30 tomorrow morning.

Luckily all of the boxes of pink bags will be emptied as the ladies check in. They'll pick up their name tag, a pink bag, an itinerary, a pen, and breakfast as they get on the bus.  Looking forward to our 7:00 am departure tomorrow!  First stop will be at a quilt shop in Sioux City, and then on to Hamilton, Missouri. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Missouri Star or Bust

Two Missouri Star or Bust blocks are done and ready for the guild bus trip this coming weekend.   Our guild sponsors a shop hop bus trip every 2 years, and this time we are going to Hamilton, MO to visit the Missouri Star Quilt Company.  The bus full of eager quilters will be on the road at 7:00 AM Friday morning.  We chose the Ohio Star block in patriotic colors as our official "trip block" this year, since we knew we wanted to use a star of some kind.
We usually choose or design a block for participants to make and bring. Each block turned in as they get on the bus earns them 1 entry into a drawing to win a set of the blocks.  On our last trip we made pine trees because the trip was to 7 Black Hills quilt shops. I was lucky and won a set and turned them into a fun little quilt that we enjoy by the living room fireplace.  One of my regular readers, Nancy, suggested adding a cabin or house block. So this quilt became Cottage in the Woods.  I love it.  And I hope I'm lucky again this year and win some patriotic blocks!


Monday, August 7, 2017

Weekend fun

Two of our 5 grandkids were here this weekend with their parents. Sophia and Jack only live an hour away but I hadn't seen them for a whole month. Life just gets so busy.
After weeks of hot humid weather this was a much cooler weekend so they even needed a jacket when we visited the local tourist attraction - The Corn Palace. It was Saturday evening and just before closing, so no crowds. Earlier in the day there had been lots of motorcycles parked since this is a popular stop for folks headed west on Interstate 90 to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Friday, August 4, 2017

One more table runner

One final table runner from the UFO/WIP collection. This 60 degree runner is from a border print called Cheers that I bought in Iowa last month. The binding came from a find in the scrap basket I was organizing. And the back and batting are leftovers from other projects.  I even quilted this one myself and like the results.  

Now it's time to put away my sewing notions and finish getting ready for the grandkids who will arrive in an hour or so. 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

August goals

Must be realistic, must be realistic, must be . . .

For me, goals that I don't write down, do not have a snowballs' chance of actually happening.  But when I do write them down, it gives me a plan to follow.  And it's OK to deviate from the plan occasionally.  So it's time to sit down and write some goals for the month of August.  And they must be realistic ones! 
  1. finish my Saturday Sampler quilt top
  2. bind my Canning Jars table runner - DONE on Aug 2
  3. quilt and bind the Cocktails table runner
  4. finish organizing my scraps
  5. quilt and bind the cycling row by row wall hanging
  6. make a signature block for my Sew Vintage group to sign
  7. work on my UFO Challenge #5 project - Temecula Circa 2016 quilt  (hope to finish the blocks)
Optional projects to choose from . . . for when I can't stick to the plan:
  1. "Kit Up" 2 new projects - cut and organize so they are ready to work on when I'm ready
  2. make a set of 24 string blocks
  3. make 3 more blocks for En Provence quilt
  4. make 10 more polka dot pinwheel blocks
Most of these goals are small items that should be easy enough to finish - such as the 2 table runners, the signature block, and the wall hanging.  And the optional projects will bring a UFO closer to being done.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The queen of quilting chaos

Are you well organized or the queen of quilting chaos?  I've decided that I need to gain some control over that quilting chaos before it gets any worse.
This basket of scraps weighed in at a whopping 22 pounds!  And I wish I could say it is my only scrap bin.  It is the biggest one, but there is a smaller scrap bin hiding behind it and a bag on the floor besides.  It's a bit overwhelming to say the least.

So yesterday afternoon I bought 5 collapsible fabric trays. These are 12" square but just shy of 6" deep.  Note to self - I should have bought more than 5.  But it's a start, right?
After 45 minutes of sitting on the floor and sorting, my right leg was asleep . . . and I had 5 trays mostly full, a small stack of larger pieces, a little pile of leftover bindings, and a small collection of strip sets or orphan blocks.  And after all that work that basket wasn't even half empty.  I realize that it started out packed down and now it's"fluffed" up, but I swear those scraps are multiplying now that they have seen the light of day.

This mad me want to go downstairs and start sewing some string blocks right away. But instead I'm trying to stay disciplined and keep sorting, at least until I can see the bottom of this basket. Then it will be time to dig into the bag and the other bin downstairs too.  I'm not too optimistic that I'm going to tame these scraps very quickly, but sorting by color might help the situation a little bit.

However, I do see some string blocks happening in my near future.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Help with stippling

I'm giving this quilting template paper a try.  I just can't seem to get the hang of stippling, or any other kind of curved quilting. The curves just don't curve smoothly. So we'll see how this works on a table runner. 
This particular brand has a sticky strip along each side of the paper to hold it onto the quilt, but I also pinned it in places. The paper pattern is 9" across, so it will cover half of the table runner laid the long way. 
So far the stiffness created by the paper and the quilt layers is making it tricky to roll up/fold up to fit in the opening of my machine and allow some room to turn.  I can say already that I would never use this to do a whole big quilt, but it seems to have potential for some small projects. And the other downside will be tearing away the paper once it's done.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Design Wall Monday

Sunday sewing saw me working on a variety of things.  I made 2 bindings, pieced a backing, started a new Kim Diehl project, and quilted half of a table runner.  These cute little X blocks are for County Line, one of the new Simple Whatnots projects by Kim Diehl. The blocks are 5.5" square and I have 2 of the 15 blocks made so far.  I have to work this morning but hope to get back into my sewing room this afternoon again. 
One of the things I do with most projects is cut what I need to make 1 test block, and if that works out then I do the rest of the cutting.  I stack the pieces on my ironing board, often on a portable design board so I can move it easily if needed without disturbing the layout.  And I stack them in the layout I need to keep them organized for sewing. This method has really cut down on the mistakes that I often made, such as in placement of a piece or turning something the wrong way. In this case my first step is sewing those 1.5" neutral squares onto opposite 2 corners of the 4 matching dark squares. They make the arms of the X. 
Design Wall Monday is going on at:  Check out what others are working on this week.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday sewing

I passed on golf this morning even though it's a perfect day for it, but my seasonal allergies are getting wound up. So I chose to stay inside with the air conditioning and fewer allergens - and my sewing machine of course.

I finished the trick or treat bag for grandson Jack and I finished the flimsy of the cycling wall hanging for daughter #1.  The black that I added to the top and bottom of the colored row had lots of "movement" to it, with flecks and changes of tone.  It looks a bit like asphalt.  

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A lost art

Hand embroidery is quickly becoming a lost art. And I've done nothing to preserve that art - yet.  I learned to embroider at the knees of my maternal grandmother. She had me practice on dishtowels and pillowcases. I have wonderful memories of spending time with her doing things like knitting, crocheting, embroidery, and tatting.  OK - I must admit the tatting was a total failure because I never figured it out.

So why didn't I teach my girls how to do any of these things? I don't know but I'm guessing their lack of interest, busy activity-filled lives, and my lack of patience probably had a lot to do with that. Thankfully one of my cousins (who also spent lots of time with Grandma Johnson) taught my daughter Laura how to knit the summer after college when my daughter lived with them for a couple of months during an internship.

I'm doing a simple block with embroidery and as I gathered things this morning a few memories of Grandma began to flit through my brain. So I've been thinking that I need to spend a little time with my granddaughters as they grow to teach them to sew and to embroider. Auntie Laura can teach them to knit.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Design Wall Monday

This is the Row By Row project that I posted about yesterday.  It's 36" wide, with 3 pinwheels on the left and just 1 on the right.  My plan today is to go buy a solid black to match the bicycle applique, and add a wide strip to both the top and the bottom. Right now it's only about 10" in depth and I want this to be a wall hanging. So I think the black will help make it look less "long and skinny".  Wish I had more of the colors to add a little something, but I don't.
This row is from the cute shop in Adel, Iowa which is just on the west side of Des Moines.
Check out the other Design Walls at:

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Sewing

I love it when points match up!  This morning I worked on the Row By Row from Adel, Iowa, which has a cool bicycle applique.  The row is done but I plan to put a wide solid black strip across the top and bottom to make this closer to square. It will make a good wall hanging for someone I know who is into long distance cycling.  

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Reindeer 60 degree runner

I'm on a roll and another UFO is done.  This 60 degree runner top has been waiting to be quilted since November 2015. That's the good - or bad - thing about blogging. It's my journal and I can always go back and see when I worked on something.
I sandwiched this runner and began to hand quilt it, but then I got distracted and it's just been folded up and waiting, with the needle still in place. Yesterday I sat down and pulled the hand stitching out while visiting with my sister-in-law who had stopped in.  After supper I went into my sewing room and machine quilted this in a very simple manner, and then dug into the stash for a dark red for binding.  I woke up really early this morning so I sewed on that binding and now even the binding is hand stitched down.  This was #9 on my 2017 UFO Challenge list and now I can check it off as done.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Candy Dish is complete

Candy Dish is completely done and another UFO can be checked off the list.  I used a black thread and a decorative stitch on my machine to do some simple outline quilting around all of the solid black pieces.  Nothing fancy, but I like the impact. 

This isn't exactly a summer themed table topper, so it will probably go into the drawer until winter. Or it may go into my "gifting" stash after I've enjoyed it awhile. But for right now it looks pretty good on my little kitchen table.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Unique projects

If you have the opportunity to stop in West Branch, Iowa - make the time to do so.  You can visit the very interesting Herbert Hoover Historical Site, and you can visit the Cotton Creek Mill quilt shop on Main St.  This quilt shop has one of the most unique Row By Row projects that I've seen so far.

One of the ladies there actually hand drew the Cotton Country Express picture and then it was printed onto fabric. This year's picture is actually 3rd in the series and the designs use the same color palette and layout, and they had all 3 hanging together in the shop.  If you look closely you'll see that the blocks on each end of the row appear in the picture too.  See that "barn quilt" on the side of the depot?
The block itself is a classic one and looks wonderful in the navy, red, and yellow.  Those colors are also very prominent in the picture.   
My row is all done and ready to quilt.  It think it will look nice on the wall of my sewing room above my cutting table.  I'm thinking about adding another border - maybe red or blue - and trimming that white one to be narrow.  We'll see. Sometimes you just have to live with a project for awhile to figure out just how to finish it.   

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Random sewing

If you want some quick and easy, mindless sewing - make a 60 degree table runner.  I'm addicted to these and can't resist a cute border fabric when I see it.  This summer cocktail fabric found me on my recent road trip.  It waved and called my name, until I pulled that fabric bolt from the shelf.  I think this one will be cute out on the deck table.
You can make these as long or short as you like.  And you can make them as wide as you want, as long as the cuts you make are 60 degrees.  Right now I have 2 of these runners made and they need quilting.  And there is plenty of the fabric left so I may make more kitchen towels with this added as trim.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Design Wall Monday - Candy Dish

This little 18" square UFO is a kit I bought 4 years ago on a guild bus trip to Minnesota shops.  It's done in just 3 fabrics with a black and cream colorway rather than the scrappy look on the pattern photo.  Candy Dish was the name on the pattern and I have to say that the instructions were a bit frustrating to follow.  The pattern was all single spaced and too "wordy".  The shop had also included a "copy" of the original instructions with things crossed out and hand written notes added to address this layout. I understand wanting to make it all fit on 1 sheet of paper, but it was too cluttered to make sense.  And they had crossed out pieces that I did end up cutting and using. 
But it's done and sandwiched, ready to quilt. I'm going to do it myself with black thread.  We'll see how that goes.  I really like the way it looks.
Check out Design Wall Monday to see what other quilters are working on at

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Road trip rewards

My bribe for spending 5 days (and 1400 miles) in the car with my husband on a business road trip was the promise to stop in some quilt shops and to play some golf.  We went across northern Iowa and all the way to Madison, Wisconsin on Monday with 1 client stop in north central Iowa.  We spent 12 hours on the road that day!  A nearly full day in Madison was followed by driving all the way to Iowa City just in time to be in a tornado warning. 
Before leaving I explored the Row By Row Experience website to see what shops we would be close to and chose a few that looked interesting. I love the fact that they organize them by state and give you a map, plus a printable list of addresses with pictures of their rows and license plates.  
I think my favorite license plate from the 5 shops I visited is Wine & Bind from Cotton Creek Mill in West Branch, Iowa.  Their row might be my favorite too - something I'll share another day.  And the Herbert Hoover Historical Site is a block away, so we spent a whole morning in that lovely little town.
Our first stop on this road trip was the Old Alley quilt shop in Sherburn, MN - right along I-90.  It's a shop I love to stop in whenever I travel that way.  It's in an old bowling alley and they have lots of wonderful samples displayed.  From there we zig zagged south into Iowa for a client visit.
The Quiltmaker's Shoppe in Manchester, Iowa (just west of Dubuque) was a fun stop late Tuesday afternoon.  The Main Street in that little town was full of beautiful old architecture.  Wednesday was our day to do whatever so we played some golf and went to the Amana Colonies.  Heritage Designs at the Amana Colonies used German on their license plate, which translates as Going & Sewing. 
Thursday morning was the West Branch morning, plus my husband spent 3 hours on a conference call while we traveled and I stopped in 2 shops (West Branch and Adel). The tiny little shop in Adel, Iowa was well worth the stop. It's in a small Victorian house on a side street just off Main. She had a lovely pattern named after the very unique local courthouse, and of course I had to buy it.  Then we had to go see that courthouse which was built to resemble a French castle.

When I visit quilt shops away from home I try to buy things that I haven't seen locally.  This bag of darling clothes pins from Moda was an item that I hadn't seen before.  It contains about a dozen and they will be perfect for clipping together sets of block pieces.  I picked up 1 set for myself, and 2 more sets as prizes for our guild bus trip.

I bought a little yardage on sale, 3 fat quarters, the courthouse pattern, a "quilt-y" magnet, a laser cut applique, and actually bought 4 of the 5 Row By Row kits that I saw.  The Old Alley shop also had a pattern for a small wall hanging using their license plate. I couldn't resist.

Now the worst part of coming home after a trip - unpacking, putting things away, and doing laundry.  I started with the stinky golf clothes in the laundry bag.  Both times we played were miserable hot and humid days.  And since this whole weekend is supposed to be around 100 degrees I may not leave the house other than to buy some groceries - while my crazy husband plays in a 2-day golf tournament. My sewing room beckons.   

Thursday, July 13, 2017

President Hoover Historical Site

I'm on a LONG road trip with my husband this week. He had a couple of meetings for work - one in Iowa and one in Wisconsin.  We've now crossed Iowa completely twice, and are spending the night in Omaha before heading north to South Dakota and home.

This morning we visited West Branch, Iowa. I stopped in a very cute quilt shop and then we both enjoyed the Herbert Hoover historical site.  You can park and take a walking tour of his birthplace (house is pictured here), his father's blacksmith shop, the Quaker Meetinghouse - and the presidential library and museum.  Well worth the time spent here. 

We've also visited the Amanda Colonies on this trip, played one round of golf in steamy hot conditions, been in the middle of a tornado warning, eaten in a couple of really good restaurants, and I've been in 5 different quilt shops along the way.  He was humorist me since I rode along this week. It's been a pretty good week but I'll be glad to be home and sleep in my own bed tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Halloween bag

Our youngest grandson Jack needs a bag for trick or treating.  I've made them for the other kids and his mom asked me to make one for him too.  I think this is the fabric that will end up being used.
I had plenty of this gold left over from another project so I've cut enough for the handles and the lining. It plays nicely with the black cats and the spider webs. The pieces are cut, but I didn't have enough interfacing so this will be set aside until I can buy some. Without the interfacing, this bag pattern is too soft and flimsy.  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Saturday Sampler mystery quilt

I'm all caught up with the sections for the current mystery quilt we're doing for Saturday Sampler.  We've been making small units such as half square triangles, and the rectangular diamonds. This month we sewed those into 2 different sections.
Of course I had to start playing with the layout possibilities.  This is the option that seemed to work out the best so far.  But I have no idea whether or not this is even close the real outcome.  Guess we'll find out in August - can't wait.