Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a wonderful day! We will have eleven for our Thanksgiving dinner!

Along with cooking and eating and cleaning, I'm going to try to find a few minutes to read some of my favorite quotes from William Bradford. I read a lot of his writings in college before I knew he was my direct ancestor (yes, William Bradford is my tenth great-grandfather)! Thanks to a lot of research by my great-Aunt, members of our family have been able to join the Society of Mayflower Descendants. (And thanks Mom, for doing all the paperwork and giving me my membership for my last birthday)!
Happy Thanksgiving!

One Button

Yesterday I made my first fabric-covered button. I tried to show several members of the family; they were mildly impressed. I, on the other hand, was thrilled--I immediately wanted to keep covering more buttons with fun fabrics! Such a simple little process...but what great results! I'm definitely going to stock up on the parts and pieces to cover buttons of all sizes.
I know I shared this bag before, but now that it has a matching fabric-covered button it is really complete!
Today I thought I'd share my Thimbleberries "Hometown Christmas" quilt. It's a king-sized quilt, so it was a little difficult to photograph. We usually use this quilt from November to January, but it hasn't been cold enough yet to put it on the bed.
The present blocks were my favorites to make!
Of course, I alwo loved the star, the tree, the houses, and the cardinals!

I've also made one flannel Christmas quilt. This is just a cozy throw we keep in our family room during the holidays.

Well, that's all for now...I've got a table to set and lots of food to prepare!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Little Bits of Time

First things first...the giveaway results! For my last giveaway I had my daughter choose a random number; this time I decided to use the "random number generator!" So....congratulations to....Jacquie of Tallgrass Prairie Studio! Jacquie, please e-mail me your snail-mail address, and I'll send the little Christmas goodies on their way, just in time for decorating! With preparation, one can accomplish a lot with little bits of time. My preferred way to sew is to be able to have hours and hours with no phone calls, housework, or interruptions; that's just not the way it usually goes, though! Especially during holidays and other busy times, I've had to learn to work with little bits of time. This weekend I was able to get some things accomplished because I had done much of the preparation work last week.
I machine quilted and bound (with scrappy binding) one of my Fig & Plum table runners. I also made three fabric baskets and two little "This and That" bags from some of my Fig & Plum scraps. Nine potholders are sewn together and ready to be machine quilted. So I accomplished a little.
Here is a runner I can finally share with you...it was for my Mom for her birthday...and since she's such a big fan of black and white fabrics...I knew I couldn't post it until she'd received it! I was on the phone with her when she opened it, so that was fun!

Just a couple of Christmas decorations to share today. The first is a gorgeous Christmas pillow made for me by my Grandmother, probably about 15 years ago. The second is one of my earliest patchwork projects ever! It is a tree skirt I made for Christmas 1985; of course, I didn't use a rotary cutter, cutting everything out with scissors and a cardboard template. I clearly remember using the yarn ties to try to cover up the places where my corners didn't match!
One last accomplishment this weekend...my Secret Santa Swap gifts are finished, wrapped, and will be on their way to Australia today! Oh, and I'm still looking for one more person to make a Pay it Forward gift for (see my sidebar for my little group). I won't be send out those PIF gifts until after the holidays...but I'd really love one more person to sign up! Happy sewing, everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Little Bit of This and That

First, I have to say "Thank You!" I have absolutely loved reading every comment and all of the lovely ideas you have shared with me for preserving my little vintage finds! I also need to send a giant "Thank You" along to Jodi at Simply This That and the Other for featuring me on her blog yesterday. I was honored to be chosen and truthfully feel unworthy of the recognition; however, I've found some great new blogs because of it! (Oh, and you just have to look at her darling Christmas cottages she posted today)! One more "Thank You" goes out to Kathy at The Humble Quilter for giving me the cool butterfly award this week!

I've been busy--and I know I'm just going to get busier...can you believe Thanksgiving is in a week and Christmas is five weeks from today?! I like to have projects ready to work on whenever I get a few minutes, so I do some of the steps assembly-line fashion to speed things up later. I have 10 more potholders ready to be sewn--the fronts and backs are cut, the handles are made, and the batting and Insul-Brite is cut as well. I've also got a couple of little bags and a few more baskets ready to sew--handles made and major pieces sewn together.
Finally, I'll just finish up with a little more Christmas--here are my Christmas placemats. I made a set of eight from a Debbie Mumm pattern. I like this pattern because they are big enough to hold the plates and silverware--and I love flying geese!
Last, but not least, three little Christmas pillows; I love to set these around the house. I've got a long list of additional ones I want to make as well!
Have a great day, and happy sewing!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Little Vintage

Yesterday Stephanie posted about some wonderful wooden spools she was able to buy from an antique mall. I went looking for wooden spools of my own since I have some of my great-grandmother's sewing things and also my husband's grandmother's sewing box. In my husband's grandmother's sewing box (which I believe was her mother's as well) I first found this darling vintage package of needles--what a treasure! Underneath this there were many wooden spools, and all of them still have thread on them!

I found a few more wooden spools that belonged to my great-grandmother; she also had lots of buttons she had saved. I carefully rinsed the buttons and separated them into two jars--one for the colored buttons and one for the white and off-white ones. I love the white and off-white ones best!
I'm going to find a great jar to display the wooden spools in, but I'm wondering about how to display the vintage needle package...any ideas? I hate to just put it back in the box where it can't be appreciated!
And, since I'm feeling a little caught up now on my Christmas projects, I've decided to do a little give-away! I would love to send someone a Mary Englebreit "Isn't Christmas Jolly" fabric basket and two matching potholders! Just leave a comment before Saturday evening, and I'll announce the winner next Monday!
Happy sewing!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pomegranates!

Yesterday I had to interrupt my "regularly scheduled quilting"--but for a VERY good reason! A dear friend dropped by with nearly a gallon of pomegranate juice...just for me! Growing up in southern Nevada, I was no stranger to pomegranates (pomegranates, as defined by Websters, are "a thick-skinned several-celled reddish berry that is about the size of an orange and has many seeds with pulpy crimson arils of tart flavor"). We often had friends give them to us, and we either ate them or used them in salads; however, in 1997 when we left Las Vegas and moved to a small town I was introduced to pomegranate jelly! We must have received a dozen jars of it our first Christmas here. One year a friend brought over her juicer and a big bag of pomegranates. She showed me what to do, then left me to juice them myself. It was a lot of work--but it really made me appreciate the jelly even more! So, yesterday I made three batches of jelly which will give us a good supply--and also give me some jars to give away!
This is a Thimbleberries table runner I made a few years ago. It is pretty wide as far as table runners go, and so I usually use it over the back of a couch! Pictured below the runner is a Christmas table topper from last year; I included a close-up of the block, which I love.
I've been looking for this magazine ever since seeing it advertised in the back of Artful Blogger. My older son was able to find a copy and bring it down for me this weekend; I'm savoring it, reading about one artist each day! I read a book by this same title and was absolutely fascinated by the work spaces of the amazingly creative women it profiled. The magazine is just as wonderful as the book...I highly recommend it!

Today I'm definitely going to sew! I hope you get to sew today, too!

Monday, November 17, 2008

"My Heart Leaps Up"

One of my favorite poets is William Wordsworth. The first phrase in his poem "The Rainbow" describes my feeling each day as I enter my little sewing room--"my heart leaps up!" It is the perfect description of how I feel when I'm able to sew, even for a little bit. This weekend was busy, so I only had small windows of time to work on a few things. I finished this little Christmas bag with a stitchery I'd already completed, and I cut out and sewed my latest "Peace on Earth" block from the Fat Quarter Shop.
"Fig and Plum" is one of those lines I love...do you have fabric you love so much that you don't want to cut into it? I was finally able to cut some of this fabric and make this free pattern from Moda. Since the pattern calls for 1 1/2" strip "honey buns" (which aren't available yet to my knowledge), I had to improvise and cut up a few jelly-roll strips. I really like how the little bag turned out--I still need to get some velcro and make a fabric-covered button for the closure. I just couldn't throw away any of this fabric, so I sewed the remaining one inch strips into strip segments to use in another project!

And finally, here is my Christmas quilt for today! It's good to be sharing these quilts now, before I need to start decorating with them! I love the trees, the flying geese, the stars, the mittens...well I really enjoy this quilt. I also used my Christmas stash to make this quilt...it's such a great feeling when you make quilts from scraps!


Just a few close-ups...
Have a wonderful week--and happy sewing!

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Cabins and More Christmas

I had a lot of fun working on the log cabin quilt I shared in my last post; while making that quilt, I discovered that the log cabin really is one of my favorite blocks. Of course I love the intricate designs of some of the more difficult quilt blocks, but I find that I really do have a fondness for simplicity in design. I decided to make some more log cabins and rounded up my Mary Englebreit "Isn't Christmas Jolly" fabric to play--I cut lots of two-inch strips and started building my cabins. In the end I had enough strips to make nine log cabin potholders; I used this great tutorial from Stephanie to make them. You might notice the one rogue potholder made out of pieced triangles...there are enough triangle scraps from every tablerunner I made to make a potholder--so I'll be making quite a few more of the triangle-pieced ones as well!
Today I'll share two of my Christmas quilts made from the same pattern, the "Yellow Brick Road" pattern by Atkinson Designs. The first one I decided to make into a tree skirt. I made the quilt, had it quilted, and then (and boy was it ever hard to do this) CUT up the middle of one side, cuttting a circle in the center of the quilt. I bound the quilt like normal, leaving plenty of binding to make the ties.
This other "Yellow Brick Road" Christmas quilt is just a throw. I wish the colors showed better!

This will be a busy weekend...I hope to get lots of projects accomplished (including finishing my Secret Santa swap gift). First, though, I need to clean a little and cook fish tacos for my oldest son and 15 of his college friends who are coming to town for a weekend visit!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cabins, Cottages, and Christmas

Last week I showed you some strips ready to be sewn. This was a project that wasn't on my list, but when a great opportunity comes--you don't pass it up! A friend arranged for a fantastic teacher to come to our little town and teach a class on super fast log cabin piecing--of course I signed up. I "shopped" in my stash and was happy not to have to purchase any fabric. We spent three hours sewing in class during which time I nearly completed all 16 log cabin blocks.
I spent about 3 more hours at home, and here is my completed top! I love it...it ended up with just the ratio of blue and green fabrics that I envisioned. I am contemplating doing some applique' in the light areas of the quilt--but for now I must set it aside and keep going on Christmas projects!
I received my cottages yesterday--it was so fun opening them! I love them all, but I had to share just a few with you. Carrie added an applique snowman, curtains to the windows, and a window in the door--it is absolutely beautiful. Nanette's cottage has a Santa on the roof, and children peaking out the windows! And Amanda's cottage also has children that can be seen through the windows stacking presents and decorating the tree. Nanette and Terri went all out to make this a most enjoyable swap--and they even included a delightful reminder for all of us!
I had better post a couple more Christmas quilts so that I don't get behind...this one is a sampler I made during 2007. It is a fun lap-sized quilt that we keep in our family room during the holidays. I used all scraps for this quilt as well!
And here is my Christmas House quilt (made from a Thimbleberries pattern). I made this quilt while we were building our home a few years ago; this was a very stressful time, and quilting helped me keep my sanity...I was dreaming all the time that we could move in before Christmas...and we did move in on December 23rd! So this little wall hanging holds a special place in my heart!
And finally, a binding I have been...my table runner tally is up to 14, and so I've been spending some time machine-sewing and then hand-sewing the bindings. I was worried about mitering the corners, but it's actually going quite well!
Actually, I have been working on something else lately...I'll share it with you soon!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wonderful Blessings Come in Small Packages!

Friday I arrived at the post office just before closing--and just in time to receive a package. I knew my Stitcher's Angel package would be arriving soon, and so I had been checking the mail every day! A lovely parcel arrived from Maya in The Netherlands. Little did I know what was tucked inside!
There were Clover pins and needle threaders along with a cute cross-stitch kit and lovely pins from Maya's quilt guild!
Maya stitched the May Britt bag with the loveliest of stitcheries! She also included a matching pin cushion, thread catcher, and needle case. I love the colors and the threads she chose; she used a beautiful variegated thread to quilt the bag...I just love it!
Tucked inside the bag were so many treasures...there was an absolutely stunning piece of hand-painted Dutch costume fabric. Maya explained that very few people still wear this kind of costume, and she sent a postcard of the beautiful clothing made from this fabric. Tucked inside the needle case was a seam ripper (I definitely needed that) and the most precious porcelain Dutch shoes. I couldn't get a good photo, but they are absolutely beautiful!
Maya also included some wonderful post cards of beautiful quilts and three postcards from the Anne Frank house. Two of the Anne Frank house postcards show the bookcase and how it opens up to the room where Anne lived; another postcard shows the outside of the house. It was amazing how looking at these postcards took me back immediately to my childhood when I read Anne's diary!
I am truly blessed by these wonderful gifts. Maya could never have known that I cherish family history and that many of my ancestors came from The Netherlands; many of them came over and settled in New Amsterdam (New York) in the very early days of our country. One of my most famous ancestors, William Bradford, also lived in The Netherlands! I had no idea that the Stitcher's Angel swap would be such an amazing experience! Thank you Helen and Maya!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Shop Hop!

Today I went with Dawn and Gail (no blog) to the annual Las Vegas Shop Hop (Gail was our driver for the day...Thanks Gail)! We had a great time. First stop was at Fiddlesticks in Boulder City, Nevada. Fiddlesticks is located in Old Town Boulder City where there are many quaint and wonderful shops; Boulder City is a small town on the way to Lake Mead where the many people who built Hoover Dam lived and worked back in the 1930's.
I didn't get any pictures inside, but Fiddlesticks has a little bit of everything: wool, stitchery, and a wide range of fabrics and gifts (there are some good inside pictures on their web-page). Next stop was Quiltique, located in Henderson, Nevada (Henderson is adjacent to Las Vegas).

Quiltique recently expanded, doubling in size. They have a cute shop with a wide selection of fabrics--if it's bright and modern and fun, they have it! After Quiltique, we were hungry, so Dawn treated us to lunch--thanks Dawn! Then we were off to Fabric Boutique and Nancy's. I forgot to pull out the camera at those two stops...I've got to remember that I need pictures for my blog! At each store we received a free patern and a little gift with each purchase. Of course, we saved our favorite shop for last!
The Christmas Goose always goes all out for the shop hop. This year's theme was The Wizard of Oz. Here is shop co-owner Andrea in all her Dorothy finery standing on the yellow brick road! The yellow brick road led to a back room where there was a wonderful display of quilts by Camille of Thimble Blossoms (her quilts are absolutely stunning)! Of course Christmas Goose has a great selection of...EVERYTHING! I did most of my shopping there (although I was really good and came in under budget)!
Here are just a few things I got--loved the Alexander Henry bird print with the Lakehouse black polka dot. I also picked up some Katie Jump Rope prints, the In the Beginning teapots and coordinating fabrics, and some Moda Recess (love the ruler fabric)! I bought some white waffle material to make some dish towels like I saw over on Nanette's blog!
What a great day...now I want to sew!

Just a Few More...

Here are a few more Christmas quilts and "quilty" things. I love the patchwork stocking--it's just the perfect size for decorating. My little "Joy" hanging always hangs from the knob of a curio cabinet. And here is a Christmas table runner from a couple of years ago.
This log cabin Christmas table topper is one of my favorites. The colors are much brighter than they appear in this picture. I made it about 10 years ago--it is the first log cabin quilt I attempted.
And here are some strips and fabrics ready to be sewn...
I'll be back soon to show you how they ended up! I've got a Shop Hop coming up...and I'm taking my camera! Happy Sewing!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Here They Come!

Wow, thank you for the positive response on Christmas quilts...I was really hoping it wasn't too early. And I have to confess that I have a slight problem with Christmas quilts...I can't resist making them. I think I'll be able to post 6-10 a week from now until Christmas! At least I'll be able to get them counted this way! This is one of my early quilts, and it's still one of my favorites. It is a Little Quilts pattern.
In this grouping are some of my earliest Christmas projects. The quilt on the left is a wallhanging given to me by my Grandmother. This is probably the quilt that caused my addiction to Christmas quilts! On the right is one of my first ever. You can see that I was just learning to make 9-patches! On the bottom is my first table runner (yes, I have a little problem with those, too)!
The quilt below is actually my first Christmas quilt. My grandmother did a block exchange with her quilt circle and gave me some of her extra blocks. I made the four 9-patches in the corners, added the borders, and hand-quilted little Christmas trees in the plain white filler blocks.

Another one almost done...this one is from "Portugal" by Moda. This is going to go great in a friend's kitchen!
I have to apologize for the next picture (I think you can click on it to get a better view). The lighting wasn't good, but I wanted a picture. My stitchery group (we're the Pink Ladies) made these blocks (mine is the one on the top left). Then our wonderful teacher put them together and did the quilting and binding. The Christmas Goose will raffle this quilt with the proceeds to go to the Susan G. Komen foundation.
And finally...Pay it Forward! It took me quite a while in blogging to figure out what PIF meant. Once I figured it out I toyed around with the idea of doing it and almost signed up for a couple before convincing myself that I was too busy. Then I saw that Stina was doing one, and I couldn't resist! So here's how it goes...I will make a handmade gift within 6 months for the first three people to comment on this post who are interested--they agree to also do a Pay it Forward for three people! It should be a lot of fun!
Well, happy sewing! I've got a quilt class and a shop hop coming up, so I'll have lots to share!