Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Twelve Days of Christmas

Twelve days of Christmas break, that is.  And it's actually only 11.5 days and they are coming to an end much faster than I would like!  It's been a busy week, but I have been able to squeeze in some sewing and shopping time around all of the Christmas festivities, cooking, and the Trans Siberian Orchestra concert (which was awesome, as always!). 

I finished steps one and five of Easy Street last weekend.  I have part of step four completed but still haven't started steps two and three.  The sixth step is just cutting - I think I can handle that this weekend. Here are my blocks from step five:

I am making good progress on this month's Lemoyne Star assignment.  I finished the first 12" block when I was traveling and finished the 6" block last weekend.  I am well on my way to finishing the second 12" block for this month - I hope to knock that one out tonight.

I always like to start a new quilting project over the holidays.  Perhaps I should focus on finishing some of my current projects instead, but where's the fun in that?!?  I felt particularly ambitious this year and have decided to start not just one but TWO new projects...and that's just this week!  I visited Sweet Annie's quilt shop to purchase fabric for Birds of a Feather by Blackbird Designs.  I fell in love with this quilt when I saw it at The Quilted Moose back in September.  I hadn't really made plans to start it but then one of my Yahoo groups selected it as a group project for 2013.  I am highly motivated by assignments and goals, so I figured I may as well play along.  Most of the fabrics I selected are from Edyta Sitar's last couple of lines:

I will throw in a few more reds and possibly a couple more browns from my stash to complete the palette.  The background is brown, and the large print floral is the border.  It's a little different from the rest of the projects I am working on so I am looking forward to getting started.

My second holiday project is Prairie Peonies by Edyta Sitar (Laundry Basket Quilts).  I pieced little strip sets for my first two blocks yesterday.  Here they are before the diamonds were cut from them:

The colors aren't great in the picture - they look a bit brighter than they actually are.  They go well with the beige/tan background batik I am using.  I'm having a blast with these so far.  I cut the diamonds and all of my background fabric last night and plan to piece the blocks and prep the applique today.  I didn't realize until I started working on these yesterday that the applique is different in each of the 25 blocks.  I think that is awesome!  I love combining piecing with applique, and I really hate the idea of repeating the same block over and over...probably why I am not progressing very quickly on my Rose of Sharon. 

Off to the sewing room - I can't wait to get my first two peony blocks together!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Snowman in New York

My creative time has been limited by business travel the past couple of weeks so I am rapidly falling behind on Easy Street.  I did make some progress, however - while I was at The Quilted Fox last Saturday I found an absolutely awesome piece of fabric that was a medium blue/teal with green and purple in it.  I decided to throw originality and creativity out the window and go with a color scheme more similar to Bonnie's.  I pulled a bunch of different limey greens, bright purples and coordinating blues and plan to go that direction with the rest of the quilt.  I forgot to take a picture before I left home, but the fabrics are gorgeous!

 I did manage to pull off hooking a small rug over the past week.  I am giving it to a coworker here in New York this week.  I had been trying to decide what to bring her and finally landed on making a rug while in New Jersey a couple of weeks ago.  The pattern is by Cactus Needle, available on Nola's website.  Nola drew it for me and helped pull the wool a week ago Saturday.  I dragged it with me to Boston last week thinking I would finish it on the road, but no such luck.  After a marathon hooking session Friday night followed by a marathon binding session Saturday night, it was done.  I think it's the fastest I have ever finished anything!  I love the pattern - I just may have to do another one for me!

It's a foggy, dreary night in New York.  I think the weather is supposed to be clearer but colder the next few days. Here's the view from my apartment tonight:

I plan to venture down to Times Square and Rockefeller Center tomorrow if all goes well.  I have to hit the Disney Store and take a picture of the tree (again)'s become a holiday tradition for me!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey Day Break

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving break - five whole days without work - wonderful!  I was able to spend quite a bit of time in the sewing room and made a little progress on a couple of projects.  I finished my first LeMoyne Star block early last week and am getting close to finishing the second one.  These blocks were a bit obnoxious - trying to organize 16 points in the center is not my idea of fun. I am very happy with how it is turning out, however. I love my colors!

I made some progress on Dear Jane over the past couple of weeks, too.  I prepped several blocks while I was on vacation - I will be traveling a lot over the next three weeks so I figure I can polish off a few during flights.

They look a little wonky in the above photo since I haven't trimmed the over-sized ones down yet.  I need to re-make the little LeMoyne Star.  I tried to do it by machine and I am not happy with how the center turned out.  I tried to let it go - to live by the Brenda Papadakis Dear Jane motto "finished is better than perfect" - but I'm pretty sure I will obsess over it until it looks better.  That may be a project for next weekend.

Another project I made progress on over the break was my Antique Rose.  I finished my second block.  I'm toying with the idea that I might actually be able to finish this one in time for the quilt show if I put my mind to it.  I need seven more blocks.  It's not THAT much work if I focus, right?

As usual, any time I have more than a few hours of spare time I come up with new projects to start.  I received my pattern for The Caswell Quilt in the mail and it is even more beautiful "in person" than it looked on the website. I couldn't wait to get started! It doesn't look like much now...not at all like it took several hours to do.  The only down side to this pattern is that the block placement diagrams are photos of the actual blocks.  I tried a light box for placement but that wasn't great, so I opted instead for making an overlay, but I find that an overlay doesn't really work for me when it comes to stem placement and embroidery lines.  I think I will need to wing it a little with this pattern.  I'll have to keep in mind that no one will be holding up the overlay to see where I've strayed once it's finished...

And last, but not least, the mystery quilt.  I've followed Bonnie Hunter for years and have always wanted to do one of her mysteries. I decided that this would be my year. I am not too sure of my overall fabric choices just yet - my daughter was helping me pull from my stash over the weekend and I'm not too sure I'm happy with where we landed (burgundy, hunter green and navy...flashback to the 90s!), but I am happy with the two fabrics I selected for step one.  The light fabric is a background I bought four yards of over the summer.  It's too busy for applique, so it's just right for something like this. The other fabric is one I had a couple of yards of (not sure probably had a purpose at one time). 

I'm not finished with the first step, but I made a good start.  I know I'm going to fall behind quickly with all of my upcoming travel, but I just couldn't resist.  I'm certainly never at a loss for something to work on!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


As usual I am behind on posting, and for some reason this morning find that the photos I am pretty sure I took aren't on the camera....very odd.  I will have to try again later this week.

Our guild held a "Sleep in Your Own Bed" retreat the weekend before last.  It's amazing how much you can accomplish with uninterrupted sewing time!  I was so focused on my project that I forgot to take pictures most of the time. I did get a picture of our TAS quilt - it really turned out great!  I can't wait to see it quilted.

I also remembered to grab the camera when Dorothy O. shared her beautiful Wildflowers quilt. I purchased the pattern at the same time she did but haven't even opened it...and she's nearly finished with the quilt!  It is absolutely stunning.

I didn't even think to pull out the camera when I finished my quilt top.  All I have is this somewhat blurry photo that I took with my phone.  I started this quilt at Kinderhook in August and completed five of the blocks there.  I managed to finish the rest at the guild retreat.  The pattern, "Carnival", is from Gudrun Erla's latest book. The blocks are 24" square.  The quilt is huge!

All that's left is to press the top and find a quilter.  It's actually looking like I will have a quilt for the show!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Shop Hopping & Trying to Keep Up

I had an opportunity to head down to the lake to participate in the Country Shop Hop at the end of last week.  I really enjoyed the trip.  The trees are beautiful and I really appreciate that the shops run tons of specials and sales to make the drive worthwhile.  Some shops had 20% off everything in the store.  I was disappointed in the free patterns - I think everyone just goes for the quick and easy things these days - but everything else was great.  I found lots of size 5 pearl cotton and since I have visions of doing a bunch of twilling, I had to pick up one of every color:

Note that this picture doesn't really convey the size of the pile - it's a couple (a few?) inches deep - I think I bought 70 skeins or so.  (They were on sale - how could I pass them up?)

Although not part of the shop hop, I visited Homestead Hearth on Saturday.  It's definitely my favorite shop of all time!  I found several fantastic Japanese taupes to add to my collection for my LeMoyne Star and also picked up Dawn Heese's new book.  I am planning to pick up wool to put together class samples before our next guild meeting, so I was happy to find the book without having to order it online.

I have been keeping up with Dear Jane the last couple of weeks (the blocks, anyway, not the triangle assinments).  I was at our guild's Quilt Club last night and was amazed by the renewed interest in Dear Jane.  We just may have to resurrect our group - it would certainly help keep me motivated!

I'm also doing okay at keeping up with my hand piecing homework.  I have one of this month's 12" blocks done and the second well underway.  I am really enjoying the process and loving my colors.

Switching gears to my other obsession....I'm starting to get excited about the Cardinals' game today.  We have tickets to the game tomorrow - I am so hoping that the weather cooperates and we get a couple of wins at home.  Go Cards!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012


I had planned to post about my class with Nancy Kerns, but I haven't touched that project since I've been home so that will need to wait for another day.  I had a very busy weekend with my oldest home from college but did manage to squeeze in some sewing time.

I'm making progress on my September hand-piecing class assignment - I may even get all three blocks completed before Saturday's class!  Here are the two 12" blocks for this month:

I also finished this month's "buck-a-block" from my guild.  I really like this pattern - it's a Kansas City Star pattern that was published in the 1950s.  I would love to win the blocks this month!

I also experimented with a cool technique for an old block that a friend told me about.  The pattern, "Arrowhead", was originally published in the Kansas City Star.  Anita Grossman Solomon came up with an innovative way to piece the block.  I tried the technique using some of the red and white fabrics I've been collecting:

I love the technique and think this would make a fantastic two-color quilt, however I'm not sure I would use two prints.  This might be a good place to use that 6.5 yds of white-on-white I bought at Sweet Annie's a while back.

Last, but certainly not least, I made a new start on my rainbow Dear Jane.  I decided that I just couldn't stand the Moda Bella solid or the Kona Snow - they aren't nice to work with and they are very boring.  I found a nice leaf print white-on-white this weekend that isn't too "painty".  (I hate the paint - it always looks yellowish to me!).  I was able to snag 11 or so yards at a really good price this weekend so I am starting over (I only had five blocks in the Moda white, so not to much to re-do.

I'm a couple of weeks behind on the 2012 Dear Jane BOW assignments...and haven't made any triangles yet, but it's a start.  Yay!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Baltimore on the Prairie

How did it get to be Friday already?  This week flew by!  Last week I had the extreme pleasure of heading to Nebraska for the fourth Baltimore on the Prairie applique conference.  It was wonderful (as always)!  The show and tell was absolutely incredible - although my pictures not so much.  I didn't want to drag a big camera along so I apologize for the quality of the pictures that follow. 

I wish I would have written down some of the details on this version of the Civil War Bride quilt.  This version has been modified to include a special story and a couple of grooms - both of which met an untimely demise at the hand of the bride. Their story is captured on a block in the bottom row.  It was hilarious and quite creative!

This is one of Nadine's patterns - from the first year, I think.  Beautiful colors!

And yet another gorgeous collection of Baltimore blocks...

Nadine shared a quilt in progress, created from a number of class samples she's done over the past few years.

And then there was the Auntie Green challenge. I am in love with this quilt!  Two years ago one of the Australians challenged several BOTP participants to create their own interpretation of the Auntie Green quilt based on a pattern of the center medallion published in Australian Patchwork and Quilting.  Nancy Kerns made hers smaller than the original:

The quilts varied in size - several were bed-sized while others were large wall hangings (or bed quilts in progress, perhaps?).

Here's one of the big ones - I think they said this was completed in less than a year.  Wow!

It's so inspiring to see all of the incredible work! More to come on BOTP - I'll share a bit about my class with Nancy Kerns in my next post.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hate it When That Happens!

I recently (in August) started a year long advanced hand-piecing class at The Quilted Fox in St. Louis. I am finding that hand piecing is absolutely addictive! I hadn't done it in quite a while, so it took a bit of time to get back into that mode, but I'm on a roll now. Of course I am already behind on my assignments...I finished part of the August homework:

I'm using my stash of Japanese taupes for this one - it will be very scrappy.  I was supposed to have two of these blocks along with another 6" star but didn't get that far.  We received our second assignment last Saturday.  I haven't had much time to sew this week, but have been trying to squeeze in a few minutes here and there to sew a quick seam or two. Of course, rushing these things can be problematic.  I had time for one quick seam before bedtime last night.

Hmmmm... Something just isn't quite right here! Don't you hate it when that happens?!?

I did manage to finish another basket before I was sucked into the hand-piecing vortex:

I've lost count of where I am at on these.  I know I have a lot of work still to do before I can assemble it to send off to a quilter.  And the show is now only nine months away. No pressure!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sauder Village

I finally made it to Sauder Village to experience a little taste of Rug Hooking Week!  It was a very quick but very fun adventure (if you don't count the part where all of the roads leading to the place were closed for construction and I spent over an hour driving an additional 40 miles in circles trying to get there!).   The rugs looked great - it's a very nice set-up.  Someone said there were over 400 rugs in the show.  It doesn't seem possible, but I suppose rugs take up a lot less space than quilts.

Here are a few of the rugs I found particularly impressive (the first one doesn't seem to want to display vertically, but you get the idea):

And then there was this one - so cool to this pattern done in completely different colors!

I fell completely in love with this one - I'm going to have to get this pattern:

I spent some time enjoying the historic village while I was there.  The quilt shop is really nice - they had a beautiful quilt on the wall and another awesome one in a frame being quilted:

My primary "mission" while exploring the village was to find all of the items in my Sauder rug.  I'm happy to report that all were accounted for, from the chicken to the chair.  Even the little church:

It was a great trip that offered lots of inspiration.  I've added at least three projects to my rug hooking list, not including the cute little one I picked up to hook for the guild auction.  If I'm not careful my rug hooking UFOs are going to start catching up to my quilt UFOs... Yikes!

Monday, August 6, 2012

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Somehow it's always the same old story - I head off to a retreat with plans to make great progress on projects (I always pack several) yet somehow when I return home I am farther behind than when I left!  It's crazy how inspiring it is to spend time sewing with friends and see what they are working on. It's also quite dangerous to go shopping at a really great quilt shop with them and see what they are purchasing! I seem to always end up with pattern and fabric for a whole new quilt (or two) when I go. 

This is the project I was working on.  It's the "Carnival" pattern from Gudrun Erla's latest book.  The blocks are HUGE!  I was able to finish six of them at Kinderhook.  There are nine total plus sashing so I still have a way to go.

One of my firends finished several quilts over the weekend.  This one only needed borders so it was almost instant gratification once she found the perfect fabrics at Hickory Stick:

I love the pattern!  It's called "Bento Box".  I'm not sure who the designer is.  It's a great pattern for Bali pops - and I seem to have a few of those around.

One of the other projects she started and finished over the weekend used neutral jelly rolls we had created from an exchange we did at a guild retreat several years ago.  I've been saving mine for a neutral log cabin.  She used a keyhole pattern and it turned out beautiful!  (Sorry, I failed to get a picture...)  Seeing how wonderfully they went together inspired me to get back to mine - and to pick up a few extra fabrics to throw in:

Speaking of new project, I also picked up a bunch of fabric (including four Bali pops - imagine that!) and a pattern for a new Judy Niemeyer quilt in blues and browns.  Not sure when I will get to that one...I seem to have a serious backlog of her patterns even though I really don't like paper piecing. 

I also managed to finish binding the Sauder Village rug on the trip.  I still need to sew down the binding tape, but it is almost ready to make the trek to Ohio:

 I'm still plugging away at my baskets, too.  Here's the last one I finished:

I want to keep sewing!  Too bad we can't retreat every weekend - it's scary to think how much fabric and how many new projects I would end up with!