Friday, December 30, 2011

Design Wall Friday

My design wall today is actually my living room floor. When I'm working on a large quilt then my real design wall becomes too small, and so does the floor space in my sewing room.

I cut the sashing pieces and border pieces for my black/white/bright version of this year's Saturday Sampler. We have 2 months of the sampler left to do, but this version is ready to just add the last blocks to each row and then sew the rows together. There is one full sized block to add, and then each row will get a half-width block added to one end.

This is the really fun stage, because I can see what the finished product is going to look like. I think my last block needs to have a bright pink accent to balance it out a bit. And I've started cutting the borders and sashing for my "official" Saturday Sampler blocks too. Maybe tomorrow I'll have that one in this same stage.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Saturday Sampler

Love, love, love this latest sampler block! It was so simple to make and I really like the way that light background square pops out from behind the center section. And the colors in this block are so nice - that dark rich brown, the rust, and then the little hints of aqua.

I've purchase my sashing fabric which will really bring out the aqua in so many of these blocks. And my border fabric is mostly this rich brown, but with just a touch of the aqua again. I plan to start piecing my rows with the sashing this week.

And since I'm making a second set of blocks using black and white, with the bright accents I need to decide on sashing and border fabrics for that one too. I used lime green in this one. And I really like the little zebra print in the middle.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fat Quarter Stars block #7

Following directions should NOT be this difficult. But lately I've not done a very good job at reading directions before I've begun to cut and sew. You will immediately see a difference in the 2 blocks I'm showing today.

First is my Terrain block, which turned out lovely, but was only 11 inches square instead of 12.5. I love the block which used templates instead of just rotary cuts, but noticed right away that it was smaller than the previous 6 blocks. My mistake - I didn't read closely enough. We were to print the templates for this one WITHOUT scaling it to fit. What a difference that little change made!

I decided to just add a narrow background edge to this block for now. If I have enough fabric left when I finish the other blocks, then I will remake this one completely. If not - the narrow edge won't show that much when the block is in a finished quilt.
My Ellie block turned out just right - because I followed the directions!!! I am completely caught up now with my Fat Quarter Stars. And I can't wait to see what Block 8 is going to look like.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fat Quarter Stars catch-up day

This is Fat Quarter Stars block #6, called Cathedral Star, and it's done in Kate Spain's Terrain fabric. Each block is designed by a guest designer. This one is by Terry Griffin at . It has a small bit of a cathedral windows technique in the middle - done in the light blue on this one. Cathedral Windows is one of my bucket list quilts that I want to make someday. So this was fun. Now I just need to get the block finished in my other colorway (Ellie II). And then work on block #7 in both fabrics.

I fell behind since mid-November on everything connected to sewing. But today I'm starting my catch up sewing projects. Two goals: make my 2 Saturday Sampler blocks and get blocks 6 and 7 done for Fat Quarter Stars in both colorways. That means I need to finish 6 blocks today. I think I can . . . I think I can . . . I think I can!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wildlife panel

I am not usually a fan of fabric panels. I generally prefer to piece my blocks.

But I am making an exception and just couldn't resist buying a fabric panel recently. It has a wildlife theme and the colors are beautiful in it. This picture do NOT do it justice, really. This block is probably my favorite one out of them all because of the little birds and the fawn almost touching. I also bought a fat quarter set of gorgeous batiks to go with the panel.

Not sure yet what it will become, but for now I can just enjoy the fabric, right?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sisterly birthday gifts

I can finally show off the whole "Ruby Slippers" project!!

This summer my older daughter and I saw this cute little quilt at an outdoor quilt show. She later bought the pattern and kit at a quilt shop and asked if I would make it for her to give to her sister. Well that birthday was this weekend. So now that the birthday girl has her gift, I can show the whole finished wallhanging.

I added black crystals to dot all 3 of the letter "I"s. And the red shoes have a sparkly red star button on them. Just loved the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the witches striped legs shriveled up under the house and the Ruby Slippers appeared on Dorothy's feet.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Busy weekend

We had a busy - but fun - weekend and got to spend it with all of the kids.

On Friday night we all went to the University of South Dakota and attended the hooding ceremony for my younger daughter. She got her masters degree in occupational therapy. Following the hooding ceremony was a lovely dinner. We even got a quick family photo taken since we were all there.

Then on Saturday my husband and I went back to USD to attend graduation itself. And since Saturday was also Laura's 28th birthday, we celebrated both with lunch.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friends in Stitches

A small group of friends came over for brunch (and a goodie exchange) a week ago to celebrate the season. We are all educators, as well as quilters. We've worked together in schools, we've traveled together to plays, concerts, and quilt shows, and we've quilted together.

Merry Christmas ladies!! And happy birthday to the two of you celebrating December birthdays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fat Quarter Stars - Terrain block #5

The Fat Quarter Stars Quilt Along is providing some really beautiful star block patterns every 2 weeks. It is being hosted by Moose on the Porch Quilts.

I've fallen slightly behind. This is block #5 made from Kate Spain's Terrain line. And I still have my "warmer" colorway block to do (Ellie II).

Block #6 is already out too. My goal is to get all caught up on Sunday afternoon. It's good to have goals, right? I haven't done any sewing in about 3 weeks so it is definitely time!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Odds 'n Ends

This block should have arrived in New Zealand by now for the block swap I've been doing. My partner for November said she likes roses and this piece of floral fabric seemed just perfect. I hope she likes it. I also received a very cute block from her but have not remembered to take a picture yet.

I believe this is post #396 - so I'm getting very close to another blogging milestone. 400 posts! I hope to have some things to share in the next week so that I can reach that 400th post before the New Year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas at the Capitol

That would be the South Dakota state capitol. Every year the beautiful state capitol building in Pierre has a display of Christmas trees decorated by various groups around the state. When our girls were younger we took them a couple of times. But I haven't been here for this display in over a dozen years. So I couldn't pass up the opportunity this week to go walk through and enjoy the lights and trees. This isn't the best photo, but I took this from the second floor balconey looking down into the rotunda. It was really beautiful.

Check out the official website to view the trees.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A quilting drought

I have nothing accomplished in terms of quilting from the past 2 weeks. Nothing new started, no progress to show on a WIP, no UFO dug out of a drawer. Between long hours at work and more importantly, a couple of very significant people who have passed away - my sewing has not been very high on the priority list lately.

I did press this pillowcase that I had made as a Christmas gift. The fabric is a pretty close match to the recipient's bedroom decor which has stripes and animals. It even has the colors pretty accurate. One Christmas gift finished.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A family treasure

My mother-in-law (who just passed away at the age of 90) made one last quilt almost 20 years ago. A couple of years ago she gave it to me for safe-keeping with specific instructions. Her wishes were that when she died all of the grandchildren's names were to be put into a hat and draw to see who got her quilt.

So, when she died last week, we draped her quilt over the casket. And later that evening at our house with most of the family gathered, we drew a name.

The state fair blue ribbon she won on this quilt even went with it to my niece's house. A real family heirloom!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gone but not forgotten

My mother-in-law passed away peacefully yesterday at the age of 90. She was a farm girl from a large family, an elementary teacher, a mother of four, grandmother of 18, and great-grandmother of 24 (plus one on the way). She was fiesty and energetic up until the past year, when the energy failed.

We'll miss you Natalie!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Look what came in the mail

Yesterday my mailbox had a soft squishy little package - and it contained this beautiful charm pack of Fairy Frost fabrics. The label on the back says "50 new colors"!!! Can't wait to take it apart to see all of the colors.

Thank you to Moose on the Porch for selecting me to win this lovely charm pack. Her Fat Quarter Stars Quiltalong has been such fun so far. Every other Tuesday a new block is posted. In between, she draws some winners from those participants who have posted a picture of their completed block in the quiltalong's Flickr group.

And thank you to MamaSpark for designing Block 3 and for providing this beautiful prize. I love it. Here is my finished block from that week.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Humility block is fixed

As I indicated in yesterday's post, I didn't follow my own rules about laying out my block pieces before stitching and trimming. So I had to purchase a little bit of extra fabric to fix my mistake. But I'm glad to say that the final result was very good.

We received the layout instructions for this Saturday Sampler this month. Granted, this is just the designer's layout and we can certainly create our own layout. My plan is to follow her basic layout with just a little change in the borders and sashing. And I bought the fabric I want to use for those borders and sashing so maybe over Thanksgiving weekend I can start to put the rows together. That way all I will need to do is add the last couple of blocks.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My humility block

I love this block! It is this month's Saturday Sampler block, so it is going into a sampler quilt. But I think it would make a striking quilt using just this block.

Most months I cut all of the pieces from the pattern, then lay them out on my ironing board or sewing table to make sure I have them all right. But not this month. I just started sewing . . . and guess what? I had made a major error with my pieces from the traditional colorway! Big enough that I had to run to the shop and buy a little more fabric to fix it. So my black, white, bright variation block is done first. I'll finish my traditional one later today. It has a new name and will now be called my humility block.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Christmas table topper

Finished the hand quilting and binding on this little table topper on Sunday. My daughter asked if I could make something for her to give as an exchange gift for a Christmas party. This is a simple pattern - huge flying geese and made from 3 fat quarters. And I did some simple hand quilting inside the goose triangles.

Check another small project off my TO DO list.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Upgrading the toys/tools

Say hello to my new investment. I've been thinking about a new sewing machine for quite awhile and even had money saved up toward the purchase. And this week I made the leap. I traded in my old Pfaff 2036 model for this gently used Pfaff Creative Vision.

This machine is a "two-fer". It is like having 2 separate machines - a regular sewing machine and an embroidery machine. I'm going to learn the basics first, and then will snap on the embroidery unit and learn some more. Can't wait for the weekend and some time to play!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Another donation project

My regular readers may recognize this quilt because I blogged about when I finished the top. Now it is quilted beautifully - thank you Carly - bound in blue, and ready to deliver this evening.
I am donating this one to a silent auction being held this coming weekend for an old friend who is battling cancer. There are no words to express my sorrow to hear that his cancer has returned. But this is my way of helping right now.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fat Quarter Stars block #4

Block number 4 is finished, in both of my fabric choices. This one is using a couple of fabrics from Kate Spain's Terrain line. The fussy cut center is one of them, and the flowers in the stars is the other. I really love the purple in this line, but didn't have a solid purple that looked good and I wanted the star tips purple. So I bought a fat quarter of the purple dot to add into the mix. It is not part of the Terrain line, but really fits in to showcase the purples in several of the pieces.

Since I'm making 2 of these at once, my other fabric choice was the Ellie II line. It has lots of red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, green, black - right out of a primary crayon box. I played with this block a bit before making a decision. Red tips or blue tips? Blue won out and I really love the results. I fussy cut the center of this one too.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Clever ideas from friends

Inspiration comes from many different directions, and I must say that I'm often inspired by what I see on blogs or by comparing notes with friends. Friends are the source of much inspiration!! Well I must share a very clever idea that a friend (Tina) shared with me just this morning. She is a very talented quilter, and our little quilting group usually relies on her mathematical logic when we are working on a group project. I hope she doesn't mind my sharing her idea here.

Tina found several Christmas panels in her fabric stash recently and decided to get them quilted and bound for holiday gifts. The panels were all different. But she has come up with a fabulous way to quilt them faster and more efficiently. She is going to zigzag them together into one big panel - adding a small piece of muslin to fill a corner - and then quilt all of the panels together like a big quilt top. Much faster than loading several small projects onto the frame. Then she can cut them apart again and bind each one separately. How clever is that?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Missing in action

I have been missing from blogland for the past week. Too much going on and no time for sewing lately. I did spend a little time yesterday finishing the hand work on a couple of small projects. Nothing worth photographing however.

My husband received a 25 year award at his company's employee recognition party on Saturday. It was a year late because with the merger last year they didn't do any awards at all. Now he just needs to slow down and not work 80 hours a week! No awards are given for that! We had a few people in for a "pre-party" gathering before the actual party.

I was in Chicago for some training last week and picked up this book in the airport. But I didn't really get a chance to start reading it until yesterday. I love the Elm Creek series so I'm always glad to see a new book come out.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Too young for trick or treating

Just because he's too young to go trick or treating, and too young to eat candy - doesn't mean he completely missed Halloween. My grandson Mason will be 5 months old next week. His outfit was a big hit at day care.

My cousin knitted the darling punkin' hat for him!! I guess the other kids would pull it off by the stem. I'm surprised he actually leaves it on.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fat Quarter Stars - Block #3 in Ellie II

Here is my quiltalong block #3 done in the Ellie II fabric line. I'm doing the Fat Quarter Stars quiltalong in 2 fabric lines. One is very cool spa-like colors, and the other is hot, spicy colors. Love them both!

Click the button on the right side for more info on this great quiltalong project.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fat Quarter Stars - Terrain block #3

Yum - I really love Kate Spain's Terrain line! Here is my third star block for the Fat Quarter Stars quiltalong. I used more green this time. The first 2 blocks had more blue in them. The fat quarter pack I bought also had a couple of Bella solids in it - and I used 2 of those in very small amounts this time.

These blocks are turning out just beautifully. Click on the button on the right to find the designer of this month's block, Mary Lou at Moose on the Porch is hosting the quiltalong and designed block #1. Then every 2 weeks she has a guest designer add another star block. This is a perfect block for me since I love stars and pinwheels.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Welcome to my house

My Amish House quilt is now hanging in my dining room where I can see it and enjoy it every day. This wall has needed a focal point since we moved here, and now it has one.

The dining room gets only north light, so no direct sunlight will touch this wall. And this quilt will be one of the first things a visitor will see once they step into my front entry.

So - welcome into my home!

Friday, October 28, 2011

An unusual project

My younger daughter is in her final weeks of clinicals for her master's program in occupational therapy. She will graduate in December - and has already had one job offer - YAY!!!

She asked me if I could help her make some vests for a project. I don't do any garment sewing these days, but I said yes because they look fairly simple to make. And because she is my baby - how could I say no?

She borrowed 3 vests (buttons, snaps, zippers) to show me what was needed, and these are sized for elementary school children to use to practice buttoning, snapping, zipping their own clothes.

But she wants me to make similar ones in a larger size for older students. I have the fabric and binding, so this weekend I will cut the patterns out of brown paper or newspaper, and get started on these vests. Only 2 shoulder seams and then binding. The button holes, zipper, and snaps will take me longer probably than the basic construction. I'm out of practice with those.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October block swap

This blue and white block is headed to Texas for my swap partner for October. My inspiration was the Fons & Porter episode on Saturday morning on PBS. They were making the Old Maid's Puzzle block, but renamed it Bachelorette and used contemporary fabrics. I love this block, although now I notice it needed better pressing before I took this picture. Hope that my partner likes it too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Coming soon - November

It's all fused down, and ready to add the blanket stitching. I love fall colors! Check back tomorrow and I'll show you REAL fall colors.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A sneak peek

I am working on a project for someone else for a change. That "someone" doesn't sew, so I'm helping her out. Here is stage one - with more fun layers to come on this applique project.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday finish

My heartstrings blocks have finally become a complete quilt top! The color is much brighter than this photo looks - with bright lime green strips running diagonally throughout the blocks.

This top is being donated to the Heartstrings project where someone else will tie or quilt it, and bind it. Then it will go to a deserving project.

This was a great way to use up some of my scraps and make something for a good cause. Check out the heartstrings project at this link.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Odds 'n Ends

First of all I must thank the readers who gave me some great ideas for what to do with my blue/white star blocks. Now I have to make a decision and actually get these put together.

This whole week was spent in Spearfish for a meeting and a conference. The Black Hills and especially Spearfish Canyon are looking beautiful this time of year. There really wasn't time for shopping during the week, but yesterday afternoon when the conference ended I took a couple of detours to visit some quilt shops on my way home. Spearfish, Sturgis, and Rapid City all have shops very worth visiting if you are in the area.

This cute Thanksgiving fabric was my find in one shop. It is a border print, so I think I see a couple more 60 degree table runners in my future. This is a Henry Glass fabric called Hearth & Home.

Now that I'm home again I can finally get a little sewing time in, which is just the relaxing activity that I need.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I need some advice

I have been struggling with a plan for these blocks since winning them at Saturday Sampler last winter. I've played with several different layouts, with different sashing ideas, with solid blocks to add to the mix, etc. I think I need some advice.

I keep coming back to just putting them together without sashing so that I have a solid white background. There are 15 of these star blocks, so now I'm leaning toward an assymetrical layout with just a few solid white blocks thrown into the layout. Or maybe I need to make some white star blocks to add into the layout. What do you think?

Monday, October 17, 2011

This took some thought . . .

Thank you to Sandie at for honoring me with the Versatile Blogger Award last week. I had to give this a LOT of thought over the past few days before I could blog my response. This was hard work!

There are 4 rules for this award, and I'm afraid I'm going to break one of them a little. So I will apologize in advance.

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself on the post.

3. Pass the award on to 15 bloggers that you think deserve it.

4. Lastly, contact all of those bloggers you've picked for the award.

So here are the 7 things about me . . .

1. I grew up as an only child in a small town in Minnesota. No other kids to distract me parents, so they had plenty of time to keep an eye on me. I hated being an only child!!!

2. This is my 28th year in education. I've been a high school teacher, district technology coordinator, and now work with staff development for a regional agency.

3. I used to do a lot of drawing as a creative outlet. I really liked working with inks. But quilting has taken over completely and I haven't done any drawing in at least 15 years.

4. I have 2 married daughters that I'm very proud of. They have brought into our family: terrific sons-in-law, one grandson, and another baby on the way in the spring.

5. I love to travel, but don't get to do it often enough. Maybe in about 7-8 years when I retire. I hope!

6. Reading is my other way to relax and escape stress. Currently I'm on a mystery kick, but love lots of different kinds of fiction. Not a big fan of non-fiction - I think I read too many professional books in my job.

7. My paternal grandmother quilted, but I only have a doll quilt from her. My mother, her mother, her sisters, my daughters, and several of my female cousins all enjoy fiber arts in some way: knitting, crocheting, sewing garments or home dec, quilting, scrapbooking, tatting, cross stitch, etc. I think my maternal grandmother started that love for fiber.

And - finally the bloggers I wish to nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award. This is the rule I'm going to break (SORRY), but I just can't decide on that many who have not already been nominated. The other thing is that I follow quite a few blogs that are really built around a business they run or charitable program and I just don't feel right asking them to do this. You can always check the blog listing on the right side to see more "award-worthy" blogs.

So - here are just 5 of my faves!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fat Quarter Star #2 reconstructed

OK - I am really glad I took the time last night to take the original all-white corners out of this block and put in more color. The fabric line Terrain was my choice because it had such rich colors. What was I thinking to put in too much white?

BIG improvement, don't you think? And it didn't take very long. I've even put the 4 white triangles that I took out into a bag with the other small scraps from this project, just in case I can use them in another block later on.

I am really excited about this particular quiltalong. I've probably said many times that I love stars and pinwheels. And I really love sampler quilts as well. Since I decided to do a second set of blocks, I'm even more pleased with the results. The Ellie II fabric line has more primary colors in it. Terrain has a more oceanic or spa-like feel to the colors. YUM - both are gorgeous and both will make beautiful quilts.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fat Quarter Stars - Terrain block #2

I made block 2 last night for my Fat Quarter Stars quiltalong using my Terrain (Kate Spain) fabrics. Now I wish I had used the background and another color in the 4 corners. Instead I decided to just use a solid with that background. Boring!!! It needs more color!

I may "unsew" this block tonight and replace those corners to make this blocke more interesting. And I still need to make this block using my Ellie II fabrics. Wish I had time to tackle that now, but my lunch break is not going to allow that. Bummer - work always gets in the way of play.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Boxed squares

Just had to show you one of the other projects I've been adding to during my recent random sewing. This is a set of 6" Boxed Squares blocks that I'm building from an old jelly roll that I had. Each pair of jelly roll strips will make 4 blocks. 2 of the 4 blocks are just reversing the colors of the others. The strips are all in cream, dark red, purple, green, and black.

I made 12 blocks on Sunday to add to the growing pile. They are very quick to cut and make.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Saturday Sampler

One more block for Saturday Samper is done - in both the "official" traditional fabrics and also in the secondardy black, white, bright colorway I'm doing. We also could choose to participate is a batik or a bright contemporary colorway. I chose the traditional because I really felt I needed to step outside of my normal gravitation to brighter colors. This is very spa-like colors: soft pink, soft aqua, soft browns and creams. I think it will be a very pretty quilt.

My extra set of blocks in black, white, and bright is also taking shape. I have not fallen behind this year at all which has to be the first time in all of the years I've done the Saturday Samplers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

More non-focused sewing

Since making a dent in the UFO population in my sewing room, my brain seems to be back in a "attention deficit sewing" mode. All I seem to be doing right now is making individual blocks for a variety of projects. I'm doing a monthly block swap online, I have my Saturday Sampler going in 2 colorways, I'm working on block from a charm pack swap, I have blocks going from a jelly roll, and I just recently signed up for a Fat Quarter Stars Quiltalong.

But since most of my sewing opportunities lately have been short, maybe this is not all bad. The first block for the Fat Quarter Stars quiltalong turned out so pretty, so I just had to start a second set. This FQS set is going to use the Ellie II line from Studio e. This line came in 2 sets of fat quarters with 8 fabrics each. There is a light set and a dark set. Only 2 of the fabrics are repeated, so I decided this would work really well for this project.

Now - can't wait for FQS Block 2, which should be posted this week. Check out the button on my sidebar for more information on this quiltalong from Moose on the Porch.