Sunday, November 22, 2015

More than the Meaning of Life

I am away from home now, teaching at Bits N Pieces in Pelham, NH.  This is my happiest place in all of New Hampshire!   One of the shop's customers made me this amazing beaded ornament:

I completely remember what we were laughing at when this photo was taken, but I totally can't tell you.  What happens at Bit N Pieces...

The shop owner, Liz, is completely adorable, the students are divine, the classes are going great, and yet I'm looking forward to the end of this event, just a little bit.  You see, this is my last teaching trip of 2015.  I will drive home on Monday and then spend 42 fabulous days at home.  Forty two.  F O R T Y    T W O.  I can't remember the last time I spent 42 consecutive days at home.  It's likely been years.  Years and years and years.

My head is spinning with the possibilities.  Oh, the things I could do.  The things I should do!  I don't want to hit the road in January and say "Hey, I watched tons of Netflix and slept in a lot."  Obviously I will drink a lot of tea and read a lot of books, but after that I want something to show for this time at home.

What are some of the things I could/should do?  What would YOU do if your time at home was as limited as mine?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Jinny Beyer quilt: Foxglove block

I.  Am.  Finished!  I finished the last block for my Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt.

Please be excited for me.  I still have to frame the blocks, make sashings, join the rows, add borders, quilt, and bind, but... I am done with the blocks!

Monday, November 16, 2015

And Then There Were Two

My second Craftsy class launched today!

Watch the trailer to see what this class is all about:


If the video doesn't play, use this link instead.

When Craftsy asked me to show how to approach custom quilting, I was thrilled!  I've quilted over 5,000 quilts for customers and quilted hundreds and hundreds of my own quilts over the last 20+ years.  I've developed some strategies for custom quilting and this class shows all of them.

I also snuck a bonus into this class;  FEATHERS!  I show my trick for quilting feathers in one of the lessons.

Use this $20 discount link to purchase my class, You Can Quilt It!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Jinny Beyer's Harlequin Block

I'm celebrating my next-to-last block in Jinny Beyer's 2015 Block of the Month quilt.


I'm tickled with how this came out.  While I won't run out to say "Paper piecing is my favorite quilting technique" any time soon (machine quilting is my first love), I shocked myself by enjoying making this block.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Jinny Beyer quilt: Daffodil Block

I am racing toward the finish line of Jinny Beyer's block of the month quilt.  I recently finished the Daffodil Block:

Don't you love this?  I might actually be getting the hang of the paper-piecing thing.

Two blocks to go...

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

So long, October!

In the quilt world, October is a strange month.  It is a busy! exciting! month where everything happens.  It is also a busy month where industry professionals survive on too little sleep and too much caffeine and keep saying "I'll sleep in November."

My October started with a teaching trip to Spring Water Designs in Columbia, MD.

The weather was bad, the Ravens beat the Steelers (boo!), but the students were fantastic!

I spent a few days at home preparing for a top-secret trip that I can't wait to tell you about:

I got the Star-treatment while I was there!

I taught a machine quilting retreat at the Quilt Basket in NY.  Read all about it here.

I worked at home for a few more days getting ready for Quilt Market where I was so excited to be involved with some new products.  

Give me a few days to get my online store up and running with these items, ok?

I taught 24 hours of full classes at International Quilt Festival to the most amazing and dedicated quilters:


I was sad to see the month end and the skies above Houston wept for me, dumping 5 inches of rain in a matter of minutes/hours causing flash flooding that I got to see up close and personal.  Way too up close and personal.  The road at my hotel was flooded.  This was a blessing because I wasn't in my car on the road when the waters started to rise. Two souls were lost in the flooding on Saturday morning while I was safely trapped in my hotel.  I cancelled my first flight and started a long day of cancellation, delay, rebooking, repeat but finally made it home.

Dear November, you have a lot to live up to!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

October Bookshelf

October was a busy month involving a lot of quilts and a lot of driving.  This means I went through a lot of audiobooks!

Brian's Return by Gary Paulsen
I'm kind of stuck on this series of outdoor adventures for young boys.  I think I need one more, but someone at the library is hogging it!

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I love this book just because it uses the word "cannot" in the title.  I love "cannot" as much as I love the Oxford comma and two spaces after a period.  There, I said it out loud; let the hate-mail pour in!  I pulled this book off the NY Times Bestseller list.  I don't believe that the books on this list are necessarily better than other; I simply believe that they are books folks are talking about so I read them to join in the conversation.  I'm on an odd "accidentally read tons of stuff about WWII" kick right now, and this was yet another book set during WWII.  I enjoyed the viewpoint of the German child and the French child and how they were impacted by the war.  This was beautifully written and I highly recommend it.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
I requested this from the library when I knew I'd see the latest movie in the theater, and many months later the audio book finally became available. I worked in a bookstore as an evening "Get Mom out of the house" job when Jurassic Park was first published.  Reading all of the new releases was a huge perk of the job.  I enjoyed this book then, but 25 years of watching the movie made me forget the book.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J. K. Rowling
When the quilting gets tough, the tough listen to a Harry Potter marathon while working to keep them on task. I've read this series through several times, and I was due for another go-through.  One book down...

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo
I read this book when it first came out and used it to get rid of all the books and fabric that didn't "Spark Joy."  My sewing room is still a creative mess, but it is a creative mess that doesn't nag or cause me guilt.  I love that.  I listened to the audiobook while prepping kits for Houston and I liked the book even better the second time.  I will put this on my "read at least once a year" list.

A Single Thread by Marie Bostwick
I have been reading segments of this on my Kindle for several flights.  I finally finished it when flying home from Denver.  I expected it to be a light and fluffy novel, perfect for airplanes, but I didn't expect to enjoy it so darn much.  I'll have to put Marie Bostwick's books on my to-read list.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
After a 2:45 am wakeup and three flight delays, I had to start working as soon as I got into my house after a trip to Denver.  I have other books I should be listening to, but I wanted to listen to something fun to get started.  Harry Potter is fun.  Very fun.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
At this point in the month, I was incredibly brain-dead.  I was tickled pink when I popped the first CD of this set into my laptop and heard Kathleen Wilhoite's reading of a fun book.  I wanted to quilt longer just to hear more of her energetic narration.  This book wasn't the great American novel, but it was fun and kept me quilting 'til the wee hours of the morning so I could make a UPS deadline.  That's a two-thumbs-up review from me!  I am so disappointed that there are no more Maria Semple or Kathleen Wilhoite audiobooks in my library system.  This was a one-hit wonder for me, but it came at just the right time.

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
This was a basic murder intrigue book, but then... POW!  I won't reveal spoilers, but it was fun to watch this thing unfold.  I love when I can't predict where a book will go.  This audiobook had several narrators, the last one being Keith Szarabajka.  I love his gravelly voice, but never knew how to say his name.  I just hear his voice and think, "Oh, it's the guy with the eye-test for a last name!" (says Debby Ritenbaugh Brown).  I listened to the end credits on the book and they pronounced his name "sarah-bike-ah," so now we know.

I took a few breaks from books while quilting and periodically binged on some Netflix whilst quilting this month:

Person of Interest, seasons 1-3.  Jim Cavaziel has the same acting range as Kristin Stewart, but the stories were easy to follow while quilting.

iZombie, season 1.  I typically don't watch comedies.  At first I groaned, then I laughed, then I got interested, and then I watched all 13 seasons in 24 hours.  I do like zombies.  Braaaiiiinnnnnsssss..........

Legends, season 1.  Ali Larter is not a favorite of mine, but I do love me some Sean Bean.  The show was meh, but good enough to watch while napping in my hotel room while on a super-secret quilting adventure in Denver this month.

Back to the Future, I-III
Because, October 21, 2015 was the future date in the movies.  And we still don't have hovercraft.  I feel robbed.

I get a lot of my audio books on CD from my local library, but I also have an Audible account.  It is worth every penny to me!  Amazon is offering a special promotion if you want to check out Audible and see if you love it, too.  Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Jinny Beyer's Dahlia block

I recently finished my first paper-pieced block from Jinny Beyer's Block of the Month quilt.  I have a lot to say, but I can sum it up with "I learned a lot!"


I learned that it's important to use ALL of the pieces of fabric (yes, little purple petal, I'm talking to you!).  I learned that it's not a great idea to "just move this piece over a little bit to fix that last piece."  I learned how many times one can take out stitching before a foundation falls to pieces. I learned that persistence pays off!

I'm pleased with my block and not so frightened of the next one!

Thursday, October 22, 2015


I flew to Houston today for School House, Quilt Market, and International Quilt Festival.  I think I'll be here for 10 days.  Maybe 14 years.  I'm not really sure at this point.

Let's talk about my stuff.

  • I packed six huge cartons of quilt kits for my students at Festival and they are arriving at my hotel.  I will transport them to the convention center for classes next week.
  • I packed one small suitcase with 39 pounds of notions and supplies for my classes.  It is heavy and I could have carried it on the plane if necessary.  It wasn't necessary.  Thank you free first-class upgrade.  Phew.
  • I packed one large suitcase with 41 pounds of quilts and supplies for School House, Market, and my classes at Festival.  
  • I packed one large suitcase with 51 pounds of clothes and a dolly (for the above-mentioned cartons).  
  • I packed one extremely heavy backpack with a laptop and projector for my presentations.

I feel like a pack mule.  It was difficult getting these bags into the airport and checked in, but I was able to move freely through the airport with just my heavy backpack.  Not bad at all.


I tried to reclaim my luggage in Houston.  My little suitcase came out just fine.  My big suitcase of quilts was just fine.  Phew!  Then my clothing suitcase arrived and, um.... not fine.  I picked it up off the carousel and the baggage handlers had ripped the suitcase open.  My clothes flew EVERYWHERE.  I was running along the carousel, shoving my clothes back into my suitcase (still on the carousel) hoping to pick it up in mostly one piece.  Alas, several strangers handed me pieces of clothing.  Underclothing, naturally.  Fortunately, I'm old enough not to embarrass easily.

I knew one of the quilter/passengers on the plane and she packed cellophane tape in her luggage.  She let me use a few pieces so I could at least get my luggage to the luggage office.  Linda, you are my hero!

I met the man in the luggage office.  That poor man.  I tried to be gentle with him, but strangers had just fondled my drawers causing me to lose my cherub-like demeanor.  He didn't call security on me, so I must have reined it in, just a bit.

Me:  "Hi.  The baggage handlers ripped my bag open and threw it on the belt.  My clothes flew everywhere and strangers were handing me my undies."  (Yes, I said undies to a man I've never met.)  He just stared at me, gearing up for the battle to come so I continued.  "I can't get my luggage to the rental car let alone home.  And I have no idea what is missing."

He hustled behind the counter and pulled out a carry-on size suitcase.  "Well, I can replace your suitcase with this."

Me again:  "Sir, if you can figure out how to get all of the contents from my bag into that one, it will be a miracle."

Him:  "I can give you two bags"

Me:  "That would work, but how am I going to check four bags going home?  I get three with a first class upgrade, but that hasn't been confirmed yet.  I don't want to pay hundreds of dollars in baggage fees because the baggage handlers ripped my luggage."

Him:  "I'll see if I can get a voucher for the baggage fees, but I'll have to upstairs.  Only management can approve this."

He ran upstairs and the other passengers in the office were staring at me.  "Did he just give you a suitcase?"

Me:  "Yes, and he'll give me another one before I leave."

Them:  "They can do that?"

Me:  "Yes.  They have a room full of brand new suitcases to hand out in situations just like this one."

Them:  "Are they really going to give you two new suitcases and pay your baggage fees?"

Me:  "Yep."

Them:  (mouthing) "wow"

Me:  "Watch and learn."

The outcome of today is that I own two new small suitcases.  One doesn't have 360* wheels (grrr -- Princess Problems) and the other does.  Shuttling 4 suitcases with mismatched wheels through the airport to the rental car shuttle and then to the counter and then to the car was a bit of a nightmare, but it worked.  I will  check all of these bags going home and it won't cost me a penny.

I am doing a careful inventory of my clothing.  I don't think anything is missing, but I order most of my clothes from Lands End.  Receipts will be super-easy to get if necessary.

Postives:  This happened on the way here so all of those clothes were clean.  Imagine if they were all dirty and smelly?  Also, I have 4 suitcases which equal 200 pounds of checked luggage.  I can actually shop while I am here.  Mmmmmmmmmm.......... fabric. Mmmmmmmmmmmm.... thread.

Negative:  I need to buy another large suitcase when I get home.

I could demand they replace my large suitcase, but I'm letting this matter drop.  The baggage handlers were wrong.  The agent did what he could to make it right.  The end.

So, how was your trip to Houston?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jinny Beyer Quilt -- Basket of Lilies

This just in:  I finished block #9 of my Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt!

This block dealt with fussy cutting, hand piecing, inset seams, and paper piecing.  I am starting to fall in love with this quilt!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Jinny Beyer's Beech Basket

This block is the one that will make or break my Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt.

Beech Basket:

I am really happy with how the piecing turned out.  I like this basket as it is, but since I've turned down Jinny's kind suggestion of applique so many times, I decided that on this block, and only on this would, I would add the recommended applique:


I feel like I'm finally getting in the swing of things with this quilt and might actually finish in 2015!

Thursday, October 08, 2015


Marie Kondo invaded my closet and this happened:

If you haven't heard of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, then please let me enlighten you.  This tiny little book was written by a Japanese organizing expert and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for about a year.  Some of her ideas (thanking your clothes as you fold them) are probably not going to work for me, but her idea of asking "Does it spark joy?" when you are deciding whether to keep or get rid of something really worked for me.

Earlier this year, I decluttered my books and only kept those that made me happy.  I don't look at my shelves and groan "Oh, I really should read that someday."  I know why each book is there and I can find each one easily.

I have also weeded through my fabric collection and only own fabric that makes me happy.  I no longer have the "Why did I buy this?" and "What was I thinking?" fabrics and I've found new homes for the fabrics that well-intentioned friends have gifted me.  I've put a lot of those fabrics on the backs of my quilts and I've donated the rest.

Recently I went through my linen closet.  I found six perfectly-folded sets of sheets for twin beds  (folding fitted sheets is my super-power), but I don't own any twin beds.  I mentioned this problem to a young momma friend of mine (mother of five) and she jumped at extra sheets for those middle-of-the-night accidents!  In my closet, I also found six sets of sheets for double beds.  Again, I don't own any double beds.  I am passing these along to a recent college grad who is just setting up housekeeping and on a very tight budget.

Proof of my fitted-sheet-folding super-powers:

Marie Kondo suggested tackling your entire house at once.  I have a ridiculously full travel and teaching schedule with a lot of super-secret sewing projects thrown in just for fun, so I'm taking work breaks to clear small areas at a time. I have so much more in my house that needs to be sorted and donated, but I feel I've made a great start.  The parts of my house that are no longer stuffed full and bursting at the seams make me so incredibly happy!

To sum up, if you've heard about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing and wondered if it was any good, I'll say that it was some good.  Some parts of the book I am choosing to pass by, but if this short little book can inspire me to get my house organized, it's a good book!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Progress can be noisy

Remember when I replaced the ugliest bathroom in the world?



This bathroom makes me happier than chocolate cake!

Well, I also own the second ugliest bathroom in the world and it's time has come.

Anyone want an avocado toilet or sink? 

How about disco ball lighting? 

C'mon.  You know you want an avocado fiberglass shower unit:

(warning:  it leaks and has destroyed the kitchen ceiling)

Doesn't everyone need a real wood clothes hamper with a fake marble top?

I've never been a fan of the wallpaper, but it is much better than the original wallpaper we found during demolition.  Can you see the metallic paint around the orange flowers?

I am starting a "Museum of ugly wallpaper" and these two papers are exhibits A and B.

Does anyone have ugly wallpaper to donate to my new museum?

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

This will be funny later

I am up to my eyeballs in top-secret sewing projects and might, just maybe, be losing my sense of humor due to lack of sleep.

I was rather-excited to have the LP gas truck deliver fuel for me this morning so I could maybe bring the temperature in my sewing room to over 58*F.  Sadly, I couldn't re-light the pilot.  I called the fireplace company three times for advice and they left me with "we don't know what to tell you."  I spent well over an hour throughout the day trying in vain to create fire.  No luck.  A fireplace repair dude is scheduled to arrive at 9am tomorrow.

Super-hubby received flurries of texts from me throughout the day detailing my plight.  As he entered the house, he told me that the gas delivery guy turned off the valve on my tank.  30 seconds later, I clicked the little "auto-start" button and I now have heat.

Super-hubby has yet again earned his title.

The temperature is 61*F and rising.  I might not have to wear a parka indoors anymore.  And yes, that is the largest Hello Kitty PEZ dispenser in the world.  It dispenses entire packs of PEZ.  The folks at Bits 'n Pieces thought I needed this ... and they were correct!

This will all be hilarious... in November.

Jinny Beyer quilt: Birch Basket

Another week, another finished basket block from Jinny Beyer's block of the month quilt.

Birch Basket:

Isn't it pretty?  I really, really like this one.

Are you working on this quilt?  Am I the only one behind?

Jinny Beyer Birch Basket

I'm moving right along on my Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt from Craftsy.

This month's Birch Basket has another beautiful handle, but this one is paper-pieced instead of appliqued.

Who knew that my world could be rocked by tall and narrow basket handles?  I learned something new about myself with this quilt.

This basket also had optional appliqued flower which I am opting not to do.  I could never cover up such a beautiful basket handle!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September's Book Shelf

Fall is always a crazy quilt time.  I'm either quilting, teaching, or traveling.  While teaching, I am not actively reading, but I read while flying and listen to audiobooks while quilting or driving.  I run through a lot of books each Autumn.  Here is September's book shelf:

The Martian by Andy Weir
I.  Love.  This.  Book!  I am a sucker for any post-apocalyptic book.  I am a sucker for any book that gets mired into teeny, tiny details.  I am a sucker for smart and witty books.  I am a sucker for a good story.  After only 10 minutes of listening, I felt he wrote this book just for me!  I was tickled to find out it was going to be a movie.  I thought that Mark Wahlberg was starring in it, which was good, but later learned it was Matt Damon, which is even better!  The movie opens in October and I will carve some precious time from my schedule to get to the theatre!  The books are always better than the movies, but I'm always hopeful.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas 
I gave a full review here but the short version is "Amazing book!  Why haven't I read this before?"

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
I was raving about my love of The Martian and all things post-apocalyptic to another industry professional and she responded with her love of The Martian and all things post-apocalyptic.  We are now book buddies!  She recommended this Young Adult book which sparked her love of survival tales.  It was short and succinct and I have already requested the next in the series.

Bear is Broken by Lachlan Smith
Since I listen to books while I'm quilting, the book doesn't have to be great; it just has to be interesting.  This was one of those books.  It wasn't great, but it had a lot of twists and turns and kept me guessing until the end.

Stuffology by Brenda Avadian and Eric M. Riddle
This was a Deal of the Day book and I am always interested in finding a better way to deal with the "stuff" I have accumulated.  This book didn't do that.  It was a general overview of what clutter is and a few stories about people dealing with their piles, but I can't recommend this book.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Although I have watched James Bond movies my whole life, never have I ever read one of the novels.  I decided to start at the beginning with Casino Royale.  I am very well acquainted with the plot of the movie and was surprised at how closely the movie followed the book.  Since the book was over 50 years old when the movie was made, they had to make some changes to make it seem current.  As soon as I finished the book, I watched the movie because because Daniel Craig.  Sigh.

The River by Gary Paulsen
This is the sequel to Hatchet.  These are outdoor survival novels for tweens.  Fast paced and easy to read, it was a quick listen and short enough that I finished the book while quilting after dinner!

When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning
My husband and I have been watching/listening/discussing a lot about WWII lately so this a timely read for me.  Sparked by Hilter's mass book burnings, the US put books millions of books into the hands of our soldiers during the war.  This was a really interesting account of how the book program started, how it got bogged down in politics, the impact those books had on individual soldiers, and the lasting impact of a well-read military.

Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen
I just keep requesting the next book in the Hatchet series and the library keeps getting them for me quickly!  John Boy narrated this one (the other ones were narrated by Peter Coyote).  The author indulged himself and wrote his own alternate universe:  What would have happened if....?  Basically, if the ending of the first book had been different, this would have been the second book.  Another quick-moving adventure book for young boys.  It's a fun listen even though I am neither young nor a boy.

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
This was a random selection from my library.  Viktor Frankl was imprisoned in concentration camps by the Germans during WWII.  As a psychiatrist, he discusses survival and the search for hope and meaning in life.  I was disappointed that the CDs in this set were damaged and I missed a bit of text
here and there, but it was a fascinating read/listen.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
If I I only knew humans by the characters in this book, I would think that all men are rubbish (they aren't), that infidelity is a bad idea (it is), and that there are no good people on earth (there are).  I disliked every single character and still read the book to completion.  To say that I liked this book would be incorrect, but it was engaging.  It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion (pun intended) and I couldn't look away.  I think I need to read Pollyanna or The Little Princess or some other feel-good book soon else I'll give up hope for humanity.

Descent by Tim Johnston
Imperfect people dealing with difficult subject matter, this was a well-written book that kept me riveted.  Even though I couldn't connect with the mother, I cared about what happened to these people and needed to know how their story ended.  Sadly, this book ended too soon.  I want to know more.  I'm always desperate for the story after the story, y'know?

I get a lot of my audio books on CD from my local library, but I also have and Audible account.  It is worth every penny to me!  Amazon is offering a special promotion if you want to check out Audible and see if you love it, too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Jinny Beyer White Oak Basket

I recently finished another block in my Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt.

This White Oak Basket makes me happy and sad.  I'm happy because of the appliqued handle. I really, REALLY like that deep handle.  I'm sad because of the basket brim.  I didn't get it cut just right.  I'm going to leave it but I'm not going to be thrilled with that part of this quilt ever.

Even though the optional applique might cover up the basket brim that makes me unhappy, I am choosing to not applique flowers onto this block.  I'm working with the "done is better than perfect" philosophy.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Such a Sweet Tooth

I can't help it; I have a Sweet Tooth!  I made another quilt from my Cutie Pattern:

I used a bunch of soft blues/greens/aquas from my Cutie stash.  This quilt is so soothing!

It was also super-fun to quilt, since I quilted (my favorite!) ribbon candy all over it:

Sometimes, it's hard to choose a quilting design.  This border fabric, however, definitely had an opinion about how it should be quilted:

Sometimes,I just let the quilt tell me what it wants.  This quilt wanted some swirls!

In case you've lost track, this is my third Sweet Tooth quilt.  When will I stop?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Jinny Beyer Pine Needle Basket

The April block for Craftsy's Jinny Beyer block of the month was called Pine Needle Basket.

New for this month's block was Paper-Piecing.  Have you ever taken a paper-piecing class from me?  No?  Well, there's a good reason for that.  I don't DO paper-piecing!  I guess I do now!

I am piecing this entire quilt with DecoBob from WonderFil.  It's an 80 weight poly thread and pieces like a secret!  I worried that the thread wouldn't withstand the "rip out the paper" part of this process, but I didn't pop a single stitch!

I am piecing on my Janome 6600 and never have I ever used the scissor button before.  I just discovered that the scissor button was designed for paper-piecing.  It is ah-ma-zing!

So, here's my block:

Once again, Jinny gave me the option to add applique flowers to this block and, once again, I am declining her thoughtful invitation.  This shall remain a basket empty of flowers.

What new skill might I learn with the next block?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Jinny Beyer Quilt: Basket of Fruit

I'm home for a few days this week between teaching trips and working on my Jinny Beyer block of the month quilt.

I'm happy to share my Basket of Fruit block:

It was such a beautiful day that I had to pin up my block on the laundry line!  Are you working on this quilt?  Do you have plans to finish it before the end of the year?

Thursday, September 17, 2015

There's Always Room for One More

 I love the busy autumn months when the weather becomes cooler, the leaves change color, and I'm ridiculously busy running from quilt show to store event to quilt guild.  I look forward to this season every year, but I never remember the hecticness of it until it starts again.  Well, it started again.

When I am not traveling to teach, I am home working furiously to support all of the upcoming events.  Every minute counts and I don't have a second to waste.

Which makes this the perfect time to start a new quilt!

Pat Sloan issued a Quilt Challenge to her quilting friends:  use your scraps to make her Little Wishes quilt.  It's a FREE PATTERN.  Pat has even added a give-away for those who post a photo of a block or quilt on her website.

I love scraps.  

I love free.  

This was a no-brainer.

I made one block with bright colors:

I dug through my orphan block collection and found eleven other blocks in this black/white/bright color palette.  I will eventually stitch them into a baby quilt.

I made one block in blacks and browns:

I will eventually make 15 more of these and set them with green fabric for a manly throw quilt.

Are you ridiculously busy at this time of the year?  Consider starting this new quilt challenge.  Quilting helps balance out our lives.

There are 67 days until I finish my last teaching commitment for 2015.  My challenge to myself:  try to start less than 67 more projects!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Books and Movies and Food: The Collision

I am in a "Read the Classics" book club.  The books so far have been:

House of Seven Gables
The Brothers Karamazov
The Scarlet Letter
The Maltese Falcon
Cyrano De Begerac
The Count of Monte Cristo

I read the first two and then slacked off on the rest.  Since I am deep in the throes of the annual Autumn Quilting Frenzy, I need some good books to listen to as I quilt and travel nearly non-stop.  I decided to catch up with my reading, starting with the latest.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a big book.  Huge.  I listen to my books while I quilt and this book came in at nearly 53 hours long.  I love big books but was worried how I would get through 53 hours of a musty old book.  I listened as I quilted, as I packed, and as I drove.  The book was so great that I couldn't stop listening to it.  I kept an earbud plugged in while I was in stores and restaurants and in the library (picking up a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo movie!).  I drove home from last weekend's event with 58 minutes left.  I waved hello to my husband and then kept listening while I unpacked, started a load of laundry, and sorted my mail.  I knew after the first several hours of listening that I would love this book unless it totally derailed.  It didn't.  This is now in my top ten favorite books ever.

Summary:  Book = Excellent.

The morning after I finished the book, I ran the Jim Caviezel version of The Count Of Monte Cristo movie on my laptop in my office and quilted while watching/listening.  Oh, the disappointment.  I've ranted before about my love of The Little Princess BOOK and my disgust at The  Little Princess MOVIE.  In both cases, the movies are probably just fine but would probably be better served if they had completely different titles.  Shirley Temple's The Little Princess could be titled "Cute Little Girl Sings and Dances and Makes Everyone Happy."  The Jim Caviezel The Count of Monte Cristo could be known as "No.  Just no."  It's a fine tale of adventure that was marred by the casting of Luis Guzman. He's a fine actor and I really like him, but he's not quite cut out for a period piece.

Summary:  Book > Movie.

The book had one flaw, though.  I waited 53 hours for Edmond to make a Monte Cristo sandwich.  SPOILER ALERT:  he didn't.  So I did.

Look closely at the homemade currant sauce made from berries grown a mile from my house.  Be impressed.

Confession:  I did shop for the ingredients with an earbud in my ear, listening to the second to last hour of the book.

Summary:  Sandwich = Yum

I'm going to tackle either Walden or The Maltese Falcon next.  I've been warned about Walden.  Any advice on getting through that one?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Jinny Beyer Cherry Basket

I really liked this block from the Jinny Beyer Craftsy block of the month.

Jinny gave the option to add applique flowers to this block.  I was proud of myself for appliqueing the handle and while I appreciate her thoughtfulness, I will opt to not add applique flowers to this block.  I actually enjoy needle-turn applique and am rather good at it, but I know that this quilt would get stuck in the "add applique later pile" and never get finished.  My block will forever look like this:

On to the next block!

Friday, September 11, 2015

National Sewing Month

The Sewing Loft is celebrating National Sewing Month with a series about scrap quilting.  She featured one of my tips today.

Happy Scrappy Quilting!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

More or Less: Fruit Salad

I finished another More or Less Quilt, this time using WonderFil FabuLux Fruit Salad thread.  I designed this thread line for WonderFil and it will be available for purchase later in 2015.

My latest More or Less Quilt:

It started with a new pair of quilting glasses.  Did you know that needles have holes in them?  I can see the eye of the needle now!

I stitched ribbon candy in the pink stripe (of course!) and then worked on a feather in the white fabric:

I used a Handi Quilter Wave F template for the spine, added some swirls for feathers, echoed the swirls 1/4" away.  Instead of putting swirls on the other side of the spine, I grabbed my Handi Quilter Mini Circles template and added a line of half-inch pearls.

I filled in the background behind the swirls with pebbles but filled the background behind the pearls with parallel lines using my Handi Quilter Right Angle Ruler (my fave!).

I added some dissolving diamonds in the black fabric using my Handi Quilter Mini Scallop template and then filled the diamonds with asterisks.

In my last quilt, I wasn't happy with the way I outlined the Dissolving Diamonds, so this time I stitched 1/8" and 1/4" outside of each uneven diamond:

I filled in the channels with ribbon candy, just 'cuz I like it

And here's the finished Fruit Salad quilt again:

The difference between my last two More or Less quilts:

First Love (left) had very little contrast between the thread and the black fabric.  Fruit Salad has more contrast and is easier to see.

I explain this process and more in my video:

Fruit Salad has less pebbles and more parallel lines.

Fruit Salad has less swirls and more pearls.

Fruit Salad has more outlines and less jumpy transitions outside of the diamonds.

Fruit Salad has less fabric.  I made this quilt much smaller than First Love.

I have butterflies and dragonflies on the back of this quilts.  Sadly, they are all flying upside down.  Let's keep this our secret, ok?

I'm hard at work on my next More or Less quilt using Cabana thread.  Here's a sneak peek:

Those hippos are facing all directions so I can't get this backing upside down!