Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Here's my Lighthouse Santa wishing you a Merry Christmas!

We're off on our whirlwind tour of kids and grandkids! We're also celebrating our 39th wedding anniversary! My, how time does fly!!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Here's to a "Quilt-y" New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Santa's Sweatshop ... hmm ..workshop is shutting down!

Okay - time to get serious - does everyone realize that Christmas Eve is THIS WEEK! Never mind wondering where the month of December went ... where on earth did 2011 go??

I've been really busy in the sewing room. I made a db4patch for mom. Using the colors that she can still see, yellow, red and blue - well it got nicknamed the gypsy quilt here! Bright! It arrived and she likes it. I told her it was a 'gypsy' quilt and she said she'd always wanted a gypsy wagon!! It's pictured at the KidVille across from the pool in Crescent City. Makes you want to be a kid again!!

Then I finished Mr D's "Jungle Boogie" quilt. It turned out fun! I blanket stitched around the animals, quilting at the same time. It's even labeled! "Jungle Boogie for Mr D from Beach Nana and Mommy 2011"

And I made 3 pair of PJ pants paired with tops found at Walmart. They're ready to wrap. Mr D gets his first pair - I'm afraid they're going to be enormous on him!! But we'll see! I love all the pants, the robot pants are for Mr M ... and I found that robot shirt ... score!!!

I also finished a name banner for Mr D. Miss P and Mr M each have one, they're crumpled in the doll bin!! Maybe, 3rd time is the charm and this one will get hung up!! There is a sleeve on all of them!!

I whipped up a play mat for Mr M. He loves his cars - they used to have an IKEA rug that was a cityscape that they could play cars on. But something happened to it. So I made this panel - it can be put away easily enough. I also tried a drawstring bag to put the new cars and planes in ... not my best work!! But I'm still trying to see if it can work.

The house is decorated ... and the first batch of cookies are given away and eaten!! So the next two days are wrapping presents and baking cookies for the kids. Hope we can avoid them better this time!!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas! Here's to a Quilt-y New Year too!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Few Favorite things at Christmas

There are several traditions we did at Christmas growing up and raising our own children. They are a big part of all the memories that come rushing into the Christmas season. Here are a few of ours. What are your favorites?

Our Christmas tree skirt has a light back so we can trace hands on it each Christmas. It works well to trace it in pencil and then re-trace it with your favorite permanent marker. We only had 'liquid embroidery' but it worked! It's not perfect back there by any means. But you just love looking at it - again and again!

Start with the adults handprints and then add the kid's handprints each year. If you want to add pets ... wet their feet, make their paw print on a piece of paper, draw around it with a pencil before it dries, then approximate it on the skirt! You can cut around the paper and then draw around it on the skirt ... but it's easier than you think to just free-hand it! After a few years, you have a wonderful circle of hands expanding out. I'm now fitting in grandkids' hands around the edges!!

When the kids were small, at Christmas we had 'bedtime' 10 minutes earlier. They ran to get into their pjs, brushed their teeth and then came back down to the tree, turning off all the lights as they came. We sat around the lit tree and each child (I only had 2!) picked a Christmas song for us to sing. It was magical and we parents didn't mind [much] missing the first 15 minutes of our 9 o'clock tv shows!

When I was growing up, my mom and dad would wrap one present without a box and on occasion we would get to sit supervised, 'feel' it and try to guess what it was. I had a hard stuffed poodle one year ... never did figure it out - too many parts sticking out!! Tail, nose, top of head, those weird legs ...But boy, did I rip into it first thing Christmas morning!

There are certain Christmas movies that we watch every year: White Christmas; Miracle on 34th St; and Love Actually. I'd like to find a copy of the "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" cheap. It was a made for TV special and we loved it!!

I still love receiving Christmas cards [nice segue, don't you think??!] I love opening cards from friends and families far away. And I even love Christmas letters!! Short ones with pictures are my favorites, but I'd rather have a really long one that none at all!

Here's our letter this year! Short and sweet as always. And the names have been taken out to protect the 'not so innocent!'

Happy Holidays from the Boyds

Oh, my - another year just sped by! And a new grandchild joined our family! A&J2 had Mr D in April and he is a true camera hound! He sees that little red ‘focus’ light headed his way and he is all smiles!

Miss P started pre-school this year and loves it – she just missed the cut-off date for kindergarten. Mr M is so busy being 3 that you need an appointment for a hug! Although he is always available for ‘crash cars’.

We had snow and sleet on the coast, and saw our first tsunami up close and personal. We went down to Palm Springs for some fun ‘n sun in February. We came back too early and were surprised by twenty inches of rain in the month of March! Webbed feet were all the fashion!

There was lots of golf, lots of quilting, time spent with good friends - it was another wonderful year on the Oregon coast with kids and grandkids close by.

Wishing you and yours the best in 2012

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December has arrived! - and we're off and running ...

I don't do as much Christmas shopping and sewing now that we're retired. First, I live in a really small town and there is NO shopping! If the local Fred Meyers doesn't have it - we apparently don't need it!! So we often give money to the kids to buy what the grandchild needs/wants. Easy-peasy, but I do miss the 'thrill of the chase' sometimes!

Small town post offices also have their own special challenges! I haven't been in the post office for months when there wasn't a l*o*n*g line and more than one clerk at the counter. And don't ask for special stamps - they are available online!!!

I have no secret pals nor small sewing group to make presents for. Yes, Scrap Happens, I'm missing you - as usual!

End result?? No looming deadlines! And that's a good thing!

I think I mentioned that I hadn't made a Christmas stocking for J2, A's wife. I swore I had - this is where lists DO come in handy!! When I checked back the last few years - on my list of finished projects each year ... nada!! So when I made Mr D's stocking; I also made one for J2.

A sent me a picture of his stocking ... good thing - I'd forgotten that rendition! The theory was put a plain Christmas tree on the front of the stocking to be decorated with appropriate buttons each year. Never did it!! LOL! L&J had the same stockings, they each had 1 button on them. So, my mission, should I decide to accept it, was to sew buttons on finished stockings! ICK! There's really no room to work with them.

So here is how I did them. You will notice, there are no hands pictured in these steps. I was sewing during naps and no one was available to hold the camera. PLUS I looked down at my cuticles ... water aerobics is not kind to hands!! You will not see my hands demonstrating anything any time soon!

Start with 'findings' aka very small buttons! I got these at JoAnn's and they are the same buttons I used on "8 Tiny Reindeer" last January. Cute, nice colors and just big enough for clumsy 59 year old hands to hold on to!

I used quilting thread - figuring it was strong - and 2 needles!

Thread one needle; don't knot it; take a stitch thru the front of the stocking where you want the button placed. Start from the top and end on the top.

Thread the second needle with the other end of the thread. With each needle, in turn, go up thru one hole and down thru the other hole. Do not go into the fabric of the stocking. It helps to use 'opposite' holes for each needle's 'up' stitch. Pull on your threads until the button is tight against the stocking.

Now, unthread one needle - it's easier. Tie a square knot with the thread under the top edge of the button. Then tie another square knot under the bottom edge of the button. That's it! cut the threads as close under the button as you can.

Give the button a tug - it seems secure. Of course, it could unravel later - I just did these. They seem sturdy enough - time will tell.

Mr M and Miss P show you that they do look better 'decorated'!! Notice those really cute glasses Miss P is wearing?? Not real!! Her doctor said she needed glasses. They went to the eye doctor, talked about the great glasses she could get ... but she didn't need them! Very disappointed, she was!! So when Mommy found this 'fake' glasses at the mall - Miss P got them!

They look like such angels, don't they. They had just 'hip-checked' each other up and down the entire length of the cupboard!! Jockey-ing for 'top dog' position? While I was trying to get a picture ... guess I'm lucky they are not just a blur!

A holding Mr D in the same room got a glimpse of his future parenthood!! We both had to act like we weren't giggling!! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Quilts filled with memories

I wanted to join SewCalGal's Christmas Quilt Show but I just couldn't decide which wall quilt to put in!!! Decisions, decisions - since they are all about the same size - I'm showing you all of them!

Thanks SewCalGal for hosting this. Dear Reader, be sure you head here to see all the other quilts. I've already seen some ideas I want to do for next year!!

Let the festivities begin!!

Starting with the newest ... only because blogger reverses the photos when loading :> Eight Tiny Reindeer from "The Night Before Christmas" by Art to Heart. I finished this table runner last January. I love, love, love Art to Heart - especially their stitchery alphabets - they're wonderful, stylish, easy to read fonts. Because of this project, I wanted to do more stitchery this year ... and I did do 'more' - just not as much as I thought I would! When do we ever actually meet our own expectations!! Here's my blog post where I talk about making this quilt.

Isn't this a great 'door hanger'? A favorite pattern that I can't find right now :< I'll update this post if and when it surfaces. [Anyone?? I know it was very popular!!] This was made in my 'seasonal' quilting period. There were 4 centers of the log cabins that kind-of could be used as the seasons changed. Mom and Dad were traveling to Mexico in their trailer and I made door hangers for mom - not much room in a trailer to decorate or store things. Note the yellow star button. I really like those - as you will see! I had my BIL drill button holes in dozens of them. AND I've squirreled some away for the next project needing them! Thanks, G!!!

Mom and I stenciled these trees. And we decorated them with collectable quilting pins. Quilted by hand!! Those were the days!

This button tree is so-o cute! It's in "Make it Quick for Christmas" by Debbie Mumm. It was fun to pick out the buttons. Mom didn't care for the pattern, wanted something more 'traditional' - and that's why we made the stenciled trees shown above!

Ohhh, I lived away from home many years when we didn't have the money to get back for the holidays. I made so many of these wall quilts - it was a favorite gift for family and secret pals galore! It's from the pattern "Home for Christmas #124" by Pieces From My Heart. I did change the proportions a little - made it a little taller. The back stitch alphabet was fun. I, of course, was embroidering on dark fabric [I never take the easy way out!] - so I actually marked it on the back and stitched it backwards, giving me that perfect funky look I wanted! Good thing that's what it called for.

The oldest Christmas project still in the house is Prairie Points!! This has to be from the 80s because I remember working on them in NJ - we moved from there in 85 or 86. You stitched them and then 'framed' them in a 14" hoop. I made dozens of these for friends and families. I mailed them home in the hoop, in a pizza box!! It was the perfect size and depending on the kid at the pizza place - I could get a few free clean boxes everytime we went.

There are a lot of the wooden yellow stars through the years. Most of the pictures are taken on our brick-red couch here in the condo. This year ... I want to make new stockings for us. I've embroidered the names - Beach Papa and Beach Nana and the grandkids' names. Just have to decide on the stocking pattern.

Next blog post I'll show you the method I used to add buttons to already made Christmas stockings!! These are decorative only - and I think I got them on fairly securely!! AND the antique Christmas Tree quilt I was lucky enough to get from my Grandmother. See you then.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have you ever done anything and everything to avoid a perfectly good quilt project?? That's how I was treating poor Mr D's Jungle Boogie quilt. I got the free pattern from Fat Cat's patterns. Reduced it, picked all the fabrics from my stash, cut, wonder-undered the applique, added some piano key borders, J2 even helped. Found the perfect 'jungle' backing. Made my quilt sandwich and then just let it linger in the sewing room!!

I promised to work on it this weekend at the Stashbusters At-home Retreat and ignored it all day Saturday!! I did finally machine blanket-stitch 1/2 of it Sunday and Monday - and I was cranky the whole time!!! BUT the most amazing thing happened! DH said he liked it!! Knock me over with a feather!! No 'improvements' just he liked it!!

My DH is great and I love him dearly. But he is not a fan of my scrappy quilting style. He spoils me rotten - but rarely says anything without a caveat about my quilts. I marked it on my calendar!! LOL!

Now that golfing season is over ... I decided to go to UFO Thursday at the local shop - I got 6 pies appliqued down last Thursday. I've been going gang-busters on the Pies and Tarts quilt lately - avoiding other things, probably!

Like my UFO "Over the river and thru the woods." A good friend in Newport and I decided to make 2 of those quilts together, of course, we made them in different colors, less fall, more Christmas? - she did the wonderful embroidery for both quilts and I did all the piecing. But neither one of us got our own 'assignment' done for our own quilt. So we had awesome embroidery, great blocks ready to combine with the embroidery ... but only for a mixed quilt. You'd think that would have spurred us on - to get the rest of our own quilts done. Nope!

I just got a newsy email letter saying she was working on embroidery - I asked if it was the OR&TWs? If not - put it next in line!! [not that being in line has done much for my ORTWs!! It's still in line - the blocks aren't even together yet] ... definitely a case of 'do as I say, not as I do'!! But I still have hope - after all, it IS on the list!

Today I'm furiously working on Christmas stockings for J2 and Mr D. I swore I'd made a stocking for J2 back when they were first together. But they couldn't find it - so I looked back in my 'projects list' for the last few years ... nada!!

As a famous presidential candidate said, "oops!" LOL! Trying to get them done today - we head for Portland tomorrow and would love for them to be up and hanging this year!! In my own defense, despite several pleading emails - I didn't get the picture of A's stocking until noon Sunday!! I've made so many stocking renditions over the years - who knew which one and which way the toe faced!! And good thing I waited ... I'd forgotten about THAT rendition!!

It is a really cute stocking with a blank Christmas tree on the front - the theory was, you'd add a button every year you used it. Guess how many buttons are on the tree - yep, NONE - just the star on top that came with it!! It is a pain to sew buttons on a finished stocking. So now, I'm thinking of couching a bead garland and calling it good!! We'll see - if I wasn't nervous about gluing the stocking closed - I'd try a glue gun!! Needless to say, J2's will be decorated before becoming a stocking! D's is going to be a gingerbread man. Hmm, where are those elves when you need them!!

A week ago Friday, at 8:30 pm our fridge started making a noise!! Isn't that always the way!! Appliances poop out and children get sick on Fridays!! DH asked - "what does that sound like??? It's so familiar." I nailed it - "the old pop machine in the church basement."

Yep, even though we didn't know each other during those CYF/MYF years ... both of our churches had 'that' pop machine. That noise filled our small apartment til Tuesday!! But then, the repair man turned it off! All of a sudden, we were missing the noise!! Our food went to our neighbor's fridge [with their permission - they aren't here!] What a pain!! DH was such a cutie - he was always dressed when I got up [5:45 am], ready to go get my glass of milk and banana for me before I left for water aerobics!!

Yes, I keep my bananas in the fridge - can't stand the consistancy of a room temperature banana! This is how I choke one down every day ... can you tell I take some crap about it!! I also 'dip' it into a ramekin of dry cereal ... deal with it!! LOL! AND my grandkids do the same thing - at least when I'm there!!!

DH, Love that man, [I told you I was spoiled!!], but his 'service above and beyond the call of duty' didn't help!! I was a cranky gal til Friday. It's fixed now and so much quieter than it's ever been. Just to be sure it was really fixed, it was Friday, after all! - we planned to restock the fridge Saturday.

Saturday we woke up to 3 inches of sleet!!! It was crazy - it woke us up around 4:30 hitting against the bedroom windows. It sounded like someone was pouring a bucket of gravel in the courtyard!! And our windows are on the inside of a 3 foot covered walkway, on a protected courtyard. We rarely get any weather against them!

We were out of everything grocery-wise - probably had just enough to get us thru the day, but decided we had all-wheel-drive and we should just head for town! I debated wearing my snow boots - but ended up not - thank goodness!

The sleet cover ended by the end of the view point!! 1/2 mile?? I don't think town [5 miles away] had anything at all - the road wasn't even wet!! And I thought the midwest had micro-climates!! Groceries were bought amid giggles of how dumb we would have looked in our snow gear!!

Last night the wind started H*O*W*L*I*N*G! It's supposed to be 'heavy winds' thru tonight. If by 'heavy winds' they mean people shouting "Auntie Em, Auntie Em!!" [remember Wizard of Oz???] they got it right. I put an extra fluffy quilt on our bed last night - it whistled thru all the doors and windows and it not only sounded cold - it was!!

Happy Thanksgiving! Wishing you all the best!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What to get the elderly relative that has everything?

My dear mom is 93 and lives in the Independent Living section in one of Lincoln's Legacy Retirement communities. It's hard to find anything - from afar - that is good for Christmas. Trust me, clothing has to be tried on to be sure the size fits. And the best presents usually need to be explained - how you came up with it!! But I think I found a great gift for her!!!

I started this last year and it worked out so well, she ran out and I had to mail more ... during the Christmas season!!! Ho, Ho, Ho indeed!! So this year I doubled the 'order' and mailed it off today.

Mom loves Dark chocolate and Orange. Well, who doesn't!! And it can be a little hard to find. Something to do with commodities trading, I'm sure!!! Trader Joes carries a 'bite-size' candy that's yummy. But last year they weren't carrying it ... so I had to look further.

What's the present you ask??? Boxes of her favorite candy wrapped for Christmas - for her to give away! We need 11 boxes - okay - that is including some relatives!! And one of the medium flat rate boxes at the Post Office holds - tightly- 14!! Three unwrapped, hoping she won't give them away [again] and will have some for herself!! With room for a baggie or two of more candy on the side.

She has so much fun with this. It's prewrapped, ready for delivery. The hairdresser, the cleaning lady, the couples that sit with her at dinner, the favorite nurse and favorite HS gal at the front desk. She feels great doing it. And honestly, that feeling lasts longer than her opening a present - no matter how great - from me!!!

I'm just saying ... think about it!!

I made another DoubleSlice quilt - this one lapsized. A good friend from Newport is battling cancer. As soon as I found out, my thought was - she needs a 'recovery quilt' NOW!!

First we had a poll with mutual friends - what IS her favorite color??? Well, she's pretty colorful in fashion and home decorating!! and our consensus was green-blue-teal-yellow!! Well, favorites or not - here it comes!

I found this perfect backing - yellow with blue, green, teal dots! So fun and sunny ... just meant to be!!

I put some funky fabrics in it - things to look for: some words, houses, rabbits, spools, and anchors, of course. Then I quilted around the blocks with my DSM, tacked it with some stitched hearts. What my machine was up to, I don't know - but some of the hearts turned out kind-of funky!! Oh, well, it's sturdy for washing and that might be a conversation starter!!! (just what is that supposed to be????)

The quilt JUST FIT into another Medium Flat Rate box from the PO. Caution, it may explode when they open it!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I DID IT!!!!

Yep, I'm yelling!! I finished a double bed sized quilt, start to finish, within a week! The quilt pattern is Double Slice as seen on You-Tube. I love this pattern. It's going to be my favorite 'quick quilt' pattern for sure!!

Read the previous post to learn more about my db slice adventure!! Here is my stack of Homespuns; one pile flipped over - ready to sew.

Here's the beauty of chain piecing!! Zoom, zoom!!

The top does not have a border. I went to an unnamed chain store that carrys fabric for a cheaper price - alright it was Walmart!!! Don't think badly of me, I'm TWO AND A HALF HOURS away from a JoAnn's!! Our local store has a very good selection of expensive fabrics and I still can't spend $10 a yard on backings!!

At any rate, I bought a solid navy to make the border as planned. Got home and after washing it ... there was a join smack dab in the middle of it!!! The male cutter didn't tell me and I didn't notice it. So-o no border!! I actually like it like this - I'll have to consider if I'll put a border on the next rendition!

Don't you love it in Homespuns - the same but different. I don't think I'll ever do the pattern with high contrast fabrics. I like the feel of blending together. Also, I won't had too many really light fabrics.

And the back!! Manly, don't you think?? LOL! I was going with a "Navajo Blanket" look with homespuns. I loaded the quilt on the LongArm with the side up. So I was able to keep it centered. I love it.

The quilting is my 'signature' quilting. Loop-de-loop, 5 pointed star, loop-de-loop, etc! I love the way it softens the retangles in the pattern.

Anyway - first time in 35 years of quilting [YIKES, I'm getting old!!!] of starting a double bed size quilt and finishing it the same week!! Hip, hip hooray!!

PS I'm spent!! LOL!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Caution - your stash may be bigger than it looks!

Have you seen the You-Tube Double Slice Quilt by Missouri Star Quilt Co. It's such an interesting pattern and technique. I have a great-nephew graduating from college next May. His sisters all got quilts for their graduation ... and when I saw the Double Slice quilt I thought it would look really cute [in a manly way, of course] in homespuns.

My stash resides in four Expedit bookcases from IKEA. Each cubby has a drawer that just fits it and each drawer is filled with stash - sorted by color or type. Yes, that is 32 drawers filled with stash - all I can say is "I'm working on it!!" I had 2 drawers of plaids and stripes. Not counting the beige-ing plaids and stripes - they are with the background fabrics. [4 cubbies!!!]

I think that Double Slice [DS] is like 'Stack and Slash' and 'Disappearing 9 patch' patterns - you cut as many squares of fabrics as you need blocks. For us 'math-impaired' quilters - that's a lifesaver!! But I really don't know if that is the case - as you will see!

The video used Layer Cakes - 10" squares of fabrics. They are making a lap quilt. I'm making a double bed size so I thought cutting 12.5" squares could result in 10" finished after trimming and that would be a great block size for a double bed quilt. Easy math too!

Hmmm, only 2 cubbies - I usually buy 1/3 yards and after washing; homespuns really shrink. Will I have 63 plaids and/or stripes that I can get 12.5" squares out of? No easy way to find out, just start cutting! And I don't have enough, I can always cut pieces the same size of the first cut in the instructions.

Not to worry!! I cut 157 squares!!! And I had that many more fabrics that weren't big enough to cut the 12.5" from. And that's from a small portion of my stash!! Good grief!! Note to self - DO NOT try to figure out how many blues I have!! LOL!

The technique calls for cutting at the 1/3 mark. On my squares I cut 4.5" After the first cut, turn one pile up side down. Start sewing large piece to a small piece back together. In the demo, she turned the pile up-side-down but I think next time I do this I'll mix it up and divide one pile in half and put the bottom 1/2 on top then sew. The reason is the first pieces and the last pieces will be the same mix if you just turn it upside down. And of course, if you have an odd number of fabrics - that middle one will match itself!! Type A personalities think about things like this!!

Press seam open and then cut in half across the seam. [This is the 'double' slice part!!] Half for me was 6.25". This is the point where I trimmed, and trimmed and ... well, you know - it always takes longer than you think!!

Line up your stacks of 1/2 blocks [lets call them match-sticks] so the small rectangles are at opposite ends. NOW this seems to be a symetrical block, but it isn't. Be sure to put the same 1/2 'up' when sewing. [I'm waiting while you decide if this is important to you!.] I sewed the blocks MAINLY with the match-stick up, so I could watch that seam's direction. But only 'mainly'!! All blocks will go together, but not every intersection will have that little 'water wheel-type' pinwheel. Believe it or not - I decided that I would be the only person that would notice this irregularity - so I didn't worry about it!! Yes, me!!!

Have you noticed there are no matching seams on this block. Yea!! Nothing you have to match up until you start putting your blocks together. It's a fast quilt!!

After all your blocks are sewn, press open. To lay out the quilt, alternate the squares. Block 1 - match-sticks up and down; block 2 - match-sticks sideways, etc!! I highly recommend a design space area for this layout - it's tricky to get them up or sideways at the right spot.

I like to use the old "twosies-foursies" method of piecing a top together. Grab a pair of blocks, sew them together. Sew all the 'twosies' together; then start making 'foursies'. You only have to match a few seams on each unit. Compared to sewing 9 rows of 7 where you match each intersection on each row. It's just easier to handle and faster. If you're afraid you'll forget which side is up - pin something in the top left corner before you move it!

Additional tip!!! When you do end up sewing the last row ... start pinning from the right end of the fabric. When you are done pinning, the side that goes under your sewing machine needle is in your hand, ready to place!! Not my idea - but wow, did I celebrate when I read it!! It works great not to handle that prickly edge to get it in place!!

I started cutting on Thursday. I had all my blocks sewed, trimmed, pressed and ready to go this am. My top is now together. This is a double bed size quilt!!

I have an appointment for the LongArm machine at my LQS on Wednesday. I've been quilting for 36 years - this may be the very first time I start a db-size quilt and finish it within a week!!! I'm going for it!!

The video shows an interesting border for the quilt but never really mentions it!! Two long strips of a solid fabric with a patchwork strip between them. Cute, but I can only make my quilt 82" across to not have to piece my batting. So I'm going to add a 6" solid border on each side and then use a plaid 'hit and miss' binding from my same plaids. Same difference, in theory anyway!!

I love this quilt. I think it's a great pattern for charity quilts, for 'manly' quilts, for Veterans ... it's quick, it's geometric and there's a bizillion possible looks depending on the type of fabrics you choose!

Next week - I'll show you the quilt - finished!!! In the meantime - I want you to watch the video and try not to think about just how big your stash really is!!! [evil laugh echoing here!!]

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Witches, ghosties and ghouls, oh my!

We had such fun last weekend! We went to Portland to my DD's Halloween extravaganza!! Miss P is born in September and Mr M in November - my DD thought a Halloween party was just the thing to celebrate both for a really fun time! And it was. My DD started decorating for the party last month!! And it was so fun - some little detail everywhere you looked. Like glow in the dark skeletons hanging on light fixtures. For more pictures, check out her blog - Ladybirdandfellow

Add food galore - chili; beer cheese soup, snackies, mummy-dogs, sprinkle in 50 friends and neighbors, for the most part dressed in costumes ... a good time was had by all!

The kiddos,what's more fun that watching your GKs race around the house with friends all dressed up in costumes!! Miss P was a cat - she has fallen in love with CATS - the Broadway production which they found on VHS at the Goodwill! Mr M was "Arry Potter" and he thought Halloween was the neatest thing this year.

Monday night, he patiently waited for the big kids to get their candy and get out of his way at every doorstep. Then he stepped in with his angel face and said, "Appy Alloween" and "thank you" for the largest share of the candy!! Almost 3 and he already knows how to work the crowd!!

DH and I went as "Dr Beach Papa" and "Beach Nana, RN" - Registered Nana that is!!

L&J were Medusa and a cowboy. There's 24 braids and 2 packs of snakes in DD's hair!! I counted them as I helped her take them out!! J had a moustache at the beginning of the night, but it kept falling off! He decided it was better to go without than find it in the punch!!

At the other end of the state Mr D was certainly smiley about his first Halloween!

He was dressed as a little monkey - art imitating life, I believe!!

What goes with a monkey these days? Why, a banana and a man in a yellow hat, of course!!

Hope Halloween found you with lots of treats and some really entertaining tricks too!

I've been slacking off on the quilting now-a-days. Reading a lot on the couch and enjoying our beautiful fall days.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two sleeves; curtain rod and 2 mugs

What is the question, the Great Carnac??

What helps a quilt to hang straight at doni's house???

I don't know about your quilts; but my quilts often need a little help to get straight with the world! When we lived in Newport we had this HUGE kitchen counter that was ceramic tile. I hate ceramic tile! It's so unforgiving; I clank, I chip and I break so many glasses and dishes because I don't pay attention!! Really, you only have to misjudge how close to the counter you are by a smidgen for a disaster!!

BUT it was a wonderful space to block wall quilts on!!! Just between you and me - I miss that portion of the counter now!!

But now we're in Brookings - a tiny little bowling alley kitchen. No room to block anything but a miniature!! I had to come up with a new plan.

I started help quilts hang straight on my quilt rack in NJ. I always sew a bottom sleeve on wall quilts. A tiny little dowel and a small tug on it when you pass by does W*O*N*D*E*R*S - believe you me! When my mom made the Red Wagon crows quilt it was a friendly quilt - it waved all over the place!! I said, that's okay mom, we'll add a bottom sleeve. She said, "Okay, but I think we're going to need a closet pole!" We didn't!

Trust me - the selvedge quilt was a nightmare and I was on a deadline [when am I not] so it had to be presentable FAST! Wash the quilt with Dye Magnets! Then dry for a short time in the dryer. Take out while still damp. Hang it on the wall quilt hanger and insert the expandable curtain rod in the bottom sleeve. Smooth it down the sides and give a little tug on both ends of the curtain rod at the same time. If it needs a little more encouragement (:>) thread matching mugs on each end. I've been known to put soup cans in the mugs for those really recalcitrant quilts!!

It seems to help, if still not happy with the results - rinse and repeat!!

This week I also finished a charity baby quilt. I live in a small town on the Oregon coast and every spring we hold a community baby shower. The quilt guild gives a baby quilt for every baby there. We had a workshop last month to make Bento Box quilts. This quilt is all from stash - including the Princess Pillow Panel+ back! All girly.

Although interesting backs lead to interesting problems. When I made A's kindergarten quilt, I backed it with a Kilban's Cat sheet. He really wanted the cats UP! I had to convince him that the cats were our little secret. People would look at the log-cabin-ish top [Crayon Box] and never know there were cats on it until he showed them!! It worked, but my DH got the biggest kick out of all that work on the top and to really impress A; all I needed was a sheet!!

The 'boy quilt' is cut and waiting for inspiration or time for me to work on it. It may be a lasagna quilt with some 'beachy' panels spaced in. The panels are just too cute not to be on the front!! I'll let you know how it turns out.

Another thing our guild is doing this year is a "Stay Robin". This is a "Round Robin" type mystery but it 'stays' with you' you do all the work and you keep it at the end. If you don't like it, well, no one to blame but yourself!!

For those who would like to 'play along'. We start with a center square. Any size; any style. I started with a paperless-paper-piecing Mariner's Compass. The first 'instruction' pulled from the basket was 'applique'. ICK! Oh well, at least it's close to the center so it's small!!

Now - I want you to do as I say, not as I do!!! My first border is due Monday - as in tomorrow!! Needless to say, I'm finishing it today!! And I'm vowing to never procrastinate on this project again ... HA! But we are skipping the month of December so you don't have to do the first two steps quickly if you want to join in!

I'll show you the applique step next week and tell you the new instructions then. Let me know if you want to play along. I'd love to see your pictures too!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Finish!! It's circa 2001!!

We've had some pretty amazing sunsets this month! Taken from our deck on a day so mild that we ate BOTH lunch and dinner on the deck.

We also went to see the amazing Mr D!! He's the happiest 6 month old I've ever seen - during the day! The nighttime Mr D is not happy because he is apparently not sleepy. Poor sleep deprived parents!

Last weekend I was feeling left out - all my quilting friends in Nebraska were at the Fall Retreat having fun without me!! Yes, they did pass around the phone and I got to talk to them ... but really!! It's not the same! So I drug out my UFO from 2001 - most of their hand prints were traced on this quilt, so fitting that I was working on it! [Didn't help - still missed them!]But I did basically finish this very old UFO.

My friend ML wrote 4 mysteries that we participated in at a LQS. The first one was "Fowl Event" - ML loves chickens!! I finished that one right away and since my mother loved it - she got it.

The second one was - of course - Fowl Event Two!! And it had a different setting - it was supposed to be a center medallion. But I used up ALL my 'follow someone else's pattern' during the first Fowl Event. So I did a strippie of sorts. I still made the same blocks they were using - but put them in rows. I even named it "Fowl Event Two; kind-of; sort-of" back then. Then 9-11 happened.

My first thought was to contact all my friends and family to be sure everyone was okay. No matter that we lived in NE on that day; no matter that some of our friends were in other parts of the US. I needed to touch base. So I sent out a quick letter asking for their handprint on a piece of paper. I said they could include a note but I was on a deadline - send the handprint and we could catch up later! Deadline - HA!! This quilt was then renamed "Gather ye friends and family"

We had lived in NJ for 8 years; my DH worked in the Woolworth bldg - 2 blocks from the WTC. His train came into the city under the WTC. People were waiting anxiously at the Princeton Jct train station to see who would come home. Not all of them did.

10 years later ... I took this top to the LQS to long-arm it. And it continued to give me a really hard time!! Every problem a newbie has - it's in there!!

A rip caught the LA foot while I kept quilting in place!! Well, honestly, I was looking at the pantogram, not the quilt!! Yikes - she's not going to be happy about the LA coming home with the quilt!! Some bad words and both of us ripping like maniacs we got out that rat's nest; we steam-a-seam-ed the rip and acted like nothing happened!!

One groovy-board didn't have a repeat so we had to keep moving the board forward while the needle was down and we got the design off-kilter.

Another time the bobbin ran out - how embarrassing, I AM the bobbin reminder person on Stashbusters!! I'm supposed to know better!! When we started back up, I went backwards. We had to rip out 6 L*O*N*G inches of double quilting.

I thought I was finally on a roll. That's when I discovered the back wasn't long enough! Really?? I usually have to cut a foot of backing and batting off!! [I later discovered that I pinned the back on sideways!! And it was just 2 inches short of fitting the length!!] Note to self: put a pin in the TOP of backing and batting from now on!!

Took it home; put it in timeout for a week (!) [That will teach it!!] Last weekend I finished machine quilting it with my home DSM. I free motion quilted in each hand print with matching thread; added backing and finished that last row - stitch in the ditch freehand. Good practice!!

So presenting: Gather Ye Friends and Family. All done, except for the label. I need 5 hand prints of family members who have joined us since 2001 - SIL, DIL and the precious GKs hand prints will frame the label.

I see SIL next weekend - I'll get his hand print then. He already thinks I'm crazy, what the heck!! It's a bonus when you make them think!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Home again!

Sure seems quiet around here!! LOL! The grandkids were great - and we had lots of fun. But the noise level and energy level is definitely for the young!!

I tried to cook food that their mommy liked when she was little. Didn't work! Sunday night we had the beef barley soup that Miss P likes. I made it at home and left some there for the parents. Mr M was not a fan! Oh, we got him to eat it but his face was hilarious!! Find a carrot, find celery, find tomatoes, find beans - please Nana - do not serve me this swill again!!

Monday night I made my famous [infamous??] stuffed hot dogs. Boil hot dogs; slice in half long-ways. Pile on mashed potatoes; cover with cheese slices and pop in the oven to melt the cheese. It was pretty much a staple when A&L were growing up. My friend GJ loves it - even talked a small cafe in Lincoln into making it for her!!

Well, Miss P didn't like the hot dog. Mr M didn't like the potatoes!! It must have been the cheese - cuz he's a potato fiend usually! We bribed them into eating most of it with cake and ice cream before bedtime!! Grandparents are tricky that way.

Tuesday was the absolute favorite! We went to MacDonald's, got our food - chocolate shake to share as the drink and let them play in the play-park!! A good time had by all.

The best meal seemed to be the 1/2 sandwich with crusts cut off; grapes on the side!

Miss P is in preschool this year and that helped our sanity a lot! She went M&W at 9 and was picked up at 1! During her school, I went to the Sherwood YMCA and took water aerobics classes and then did mini-grocery shopping for what we needed each day. It was wonderful and my knees really felt a whole lot better for the water exercise! Definitely doing that again. DH liked the fact that it didn't leave me time to go shopping!! He had quality time with Mr M while we were gone and it worked out great for them too. The old divide and conquer - an oldie but goodie!

We started trying to potty-train Mr M. He'll be 3 in November - not so interested. But we brought out the M&Ms and got Miss P into the act. Every time she went potty - he went in and sat on his "Cars" potty chair. We caught him at the right time once - and EVERYONE got a couple of M&Ms. If you want to see a determined 5-yr-old; offer M&Ms. I really believe she'll have him trained by the end of next week!!

I was supposed to work on a UFO this weekend. It's Stashbusters At Home Retreat. But the "Sliced Bread" WIP was calling me. I started it last March at the 'March Madness' event at our Brookings Guild. I'm surprised to say, there were some actually finished in the May show! How do they do that?? Mine is still in blocks, and a box full of strips.

Yesterday I made 15 blocks to fill in the numbers. I needed the quarter-block variations even for the pattern. There are 2 different 'points' and 4 colors. Hmmm - a picture might help!! Here it is on the design wall. Thanks to the photo - I discovered the bottom row is all twisting the wrong way!! Stay tuned for the corrected picture - next time. Hopefully with, the additional 31 quarter-blocks I'm making today to make it a row longer and a column wider. [by mistake, 5 quarter-blocks are already made, so I don't drive those math whizzes out there crazy!!]

C & I discovered this layout while she was here this summer - I needed some consulting and I love the results! Kind of Bento Box meets Log Cabin-ish with Broken Dishes thrown in??

Next challenge is to sew the blocks together - without screwing the placement all up again - hope I'm up to it!!

Of course, it goes without saying, this isn't what "Sliced Bread" is supposed to look like! The sample had the thin black strips between the blocks to calm them down. So, of course, the first thing I did was put the black into the centers ... I've been winging it ever since!! Below is one of the quilts started back at the March Madness gathering. B finished hers - it's beautiful.

We got home at sunset on Thursday night. And after laundry and grocery shopping along with other small errands ... life seems back to normal - if quiet!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Selvedge Yard quilt Done-done!

So, as an out-of-my-box experience goes - let me tell you - that quilt grew like a summer weed. Here begins the saga: years ago I started making string blocks incorporating selvedges. 6 inch blocks and they were fun. Something else came along ... distractions, many quilts, you know how it goes.

The blocks were buried - but I still cut selvedges when I could. Those little gems are deceiving - a 'muffin-top' filled shoebox goes a very long way!! I have to admit, most of those selvedges are my very own. I did collect some from friends; at workshops and actually bought a fat quarter just for the selvedge at the end!!! I was convinced I absolutely needed, had to have, a selvedge that said 2011!! I have selvedges that have many, many dates - at least a 20+ year span. And I organized a list of all I could actually find on the quilt. If only I could find that darn list now!! There will be a later update on that!!! Much later!!!

There are 600ish selvedges in the quilt - yes, there are repeats! And the most colorful ones came from the quilts made for grandkids and the many pair of pj pants I've made them. But there are many reproduction fabrics represented!!

I always wanted to do LazyGal's free-style 'wonky' alphabet and this was the project to do it. Those letters are fun - use a whole lot of thread and are bigger than you think they are. I made the choice early on that I was going to use 'many' muslins in the words. Knowing me, it was going to happen anyway!!

I figured out my saying - hmmm - too long, shortened it and started creating. Let me tell you there were threads everywhere!! But words appeared. After I had the quote 'written' out, it was bigger than planned. [Of course, it IS that quilt!]

Revision - gonna need more blocks!! I had 25 ready to go - optimist!! Like twice as many! Oh Dear! Sew machine - sew! Most of the parts were together - altogether 49 6inch string blocks - I fit the pithy quote around the outside. Using some fudge factors - it fit pretty well!

There was blank space at the end of the words - before the corners. Hmmm, I could lengthen the quote with quilted words - fill in, so to speak, but now I'm stuck with an "AN".

Think of adjectives that start with an vowel, make lists in the middle of the night! Consult with mom over the phone. Using my own 'best' [HA! - my handwriting isn't known for it's clarity!!] handwriting I added these 'secret messages' to the quote and free-motion quilted the words. I'm pretty proud of how they came out. I even added interface to that area because the back was shadowing through. But, seriously, you could even read them!! Who knew!!

Darn - you know what would look really good finishing it off - a selvedge border!! So four 3" borders 58 inches long - I'm back in sweat shop mode! I'm loving that new ironing board that works. Sewed all four at the same time, chain stitching 60" long strips, well, better planning might have avoided that tangle!! Onwards and upwards.

Why the 'sweat shop mode'? Well, at the beginning of the summer, our local guild issued a challenge - use something in a quilt you usually don't use. Bring it to the September meeting. Of course, you mull it over, you gather the blocks, you check the selvedge supply, you have company come, you go to an awesome retreat in Sisters with Sue Spargo and Tonye Belinda Phillips, you revise ... CRAP! It's now September - hello-o-o, it has to be a finished project!!! I'm sure this sounds familiar to others as well! I do 'sweat shop mode' really, really well - lots of practice, etc!!

The back: Well, I was certified (I know you believe that now!!!) on a longarm this year and that practice piece was driving me bonkers! Too big to throw away; to big to store in my itty-bitty sewing closet - what to do! Of course, it was too small for this brute now. Pull out a way-to-dark-for-me blue backing I bought on sale eons ago - add it on. Need more batting - so I whip stitched some pieces together - yes I did!! Another first in a very long list of challenges incorporated into SY.

I considered using Tonya's alphabet to make my label - but I'd have to figure out how to make it tiny. So-o I sewed 3 blank selvedges together - and wrote my own selvedge label.

I sewed the binding down by machine, added the label and sleeves by hand. Threw that puppy in the wash with a dye magnet and ended up with the first quilt that ever obviously bled for me in a 36 year quilting career. Oh yeah - it WAS that quilt!! Poop - I washed it again with Oxy-clean and Tide stain-remover. Still bleeding. Of course, being me - I dried it in the dryer so I may be doomed. I'll go into town this week and see if they have that magic dye product and try again.

Ta Da - without further delay - presenting Selvedge Yard:

The original too long saying was: Quilting: not so much a hobby, more like an obsession. I love me some (quilting)

The revised saying with the quilted words is: Quilting: not so much a hobby [you know] more like an [infectious] obsession [and we love it sew]

Thank you, thank you very much. Elvis has left the building!!