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.