Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hands of a Family

The quilt for my in-laws got done just in time! I even had time on Christmas morning to make a couple of matching pillowcases to match the quilt! Which really was a good thing because now they have something to match their quilt and it literally used the last of my fabric! I only had threads left! I technically was about an inch shy of what I needed for them, but figured that divided over 2 pillowcases, they were only 1/2 inch short of what they needed to be and no one would notice. They were surprised and liked it. They are a family of strong faith and found a couple of Bible verses and a quote that I thought was appropriate. And a special block in memory of their first child they lost to leukemia. I posted prior photos of the handprint blocks that I did for each person. My goal was to make a nice bed quilt for them with a striking design and when you got closer, there would be a lot more to see...the handprints...their signatures...their names in the quilting. A nice memory for them....Merry Christmas Mom and Dad.

more Christmas fun with Nana

Can't leave a post without adding the littlest ones..and while we were busy making ornaments, this little guy was supposed to be napping. Haha! He found the suckers, broke a huge candy cane on the floor to get a piece and did his own decorating.....with markers....on himself....the chair...the floor...a get the idea. He had to then lie down with Papa, who put the death grip on him so he couldn't move! LOL He did sleep then. And later in the evening, the littlest one did her own wandering into the pantry and found herself her own sucker! I don't think this is the first time she's had a sucker! She sure loves them! And to end the night....a photo of me (Nana) and the kids and do you know how many times it took to get ONE decent picture? LOL I'm sure you can guess!

Holiday fun with the kids

I would like to start a tradition of having the kids over before Christmas to make cookies, ornaments and just have fun. I saw a sign that said, "Nana's and Papa's: a place where cousins hang out and have fun." I should have bought it. I had ALL the kids (including the 1 yr. old and the 2 1/2 yr. old) for some Christmas fun before we went on vacation. The first thing we did was put the little ones down for a nap and then rushed into the studio for a little ornament making. We made gingerbread ornaments (they had to trace the design, cut it out, glue it on fabric and then cut it out again and then decorate), candy canes with chenille sticks and painted pine cones and sprinkled them with glitter. What a fun mess! Then we had dinner, a fun event in itself! They wanted to build a fire with out they went while the kitchen got cleaned. Then I brought out fixin's for s'mores and Papa bathed the little ones. I got out the Silly String for the others and let them have at it. They couldn't believe I'd let them make such a mess! And oops--time flew by quicker than we wanted and we two things left to do and only time for one, make cookies OR get in the jacuzzi..they voted and the jacuzzi won. They figured that the s'mores was enough dessert! So, in the hot tub we went! What a quick day. I am so thankful that I live close enough to be able to spend time with them and enjoy their emerging personalities.
to be continued....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

sewing my fingers to the bone...

sewing, sewing, I've been sewing...I keep thinking of that tune from 'Finding Nemo' where Dora keeps singing, "swimming, swimming...." I've been up to my eyeballs in sewing and all the Christmas activities that go on this time of the year. I've been mostly calm about it...enjoying the journey along the way of sewing for others. If I start focusing on deadlines and all I had to do, I'd get frustrated (with me, I totally bring this on myself! LOL). I've made tons of sling totes, placemat tote bags, fabric baskets, tons of class samples and the biggest thing of all, my In-laws memory quilt for their queen sized bed.
I got this brilliant idea a few weeks before Thanksgiving to make them a quilt for Christmas. Now, clear back in Sept. I decided I was NOT going to make any quilts for Christmas. Nope, not this year. Then I saw a cute quilt that was just basic strips horizontally and then a wide strip vertically about 2/3 the way across the quilt with handprints going up the strip. I thought, that is really cute, and it wouldn't take long. I think I'll do that! I had hubby pick out a bundle of FQ's (he got me several last year for my birthday) that he thought matched his parent's style the best. Well, the more I thought about it, I thought she really has hinted over the past few years for a quilt for their bed. Hmm, the fabric really didn't lend itself to a 'kindergarden style' quilt. So, I came up with a better quilt that would still show everyone's hands, but in a more subtle way. I made Courthouse Steps blocks, really scrappy style, (shown in the prior post) and just a plain bordered block for the handprints. Then I thought that the handprints would still be too juvenile for a bed quilt, so thought I'd hand embroider the hands.
CURVE BALL: hubby decided to surprise me and take me to Cancun (leaving tomorrow and returning on the 22nd!) Wow--things have to be really sped up now! I get back and it will be Christmas. So had to think of another way to get those hands embroidered quicker than doing it by hand. I ended up using a triple stitch on my machine with a rayon thread that's a bit on the gold side. You definitely can see it up close, but it kind of blends in from a distance, which is what I wanted. I wanted the quilt design to stand out first, and then as you get closer, realize there is more to the quilt. I had some extra blocks to fill and originally thought about leaving them for future children and thought it could be a while..and then, how to add them. So I embroidered my FIL's name and birthdate, same for my MIL, their nicknames and wedding date, a block in memory of their oldest child who died when he was 10, a couple of appropriate bible verses regarding family and a family quote. I quilted around the hands and then in the pieced blocks, I quilted everyone's name in the family, along with some places they've lived. I use So Fine in the top, so it's a very subtle look. I'm working on the binding now--I may have to finish when I return, but it's only 3 hours away from being done now, and I can handle that! I'll show the finished picture as soon as it's done.
Here are some class samples that I've also been doing....
Patriotic Stars and Stripes...the final borders are not on it yet, but you get the drift....this one will go to Alycia for the Quilts of Valor once the class is over..I'm offering a free class to those that take the class and then donate their quilt to QOV as well.
Another Apron, this one called the Church Ladies Apron
Watercolor Floral Basket...done with leftovers from a Garden Twist class I taught last year..
Crazy Hearts...another Stack and Slash pattern from Buggy Barn..only 3 out of 25 blocks are done, but again., you get the drift...

That's it...I was hoping to post a few more posts, but my time has run out. I must go to bed to get a little bit of sleep before leaving on a jet plane.....adios, Amigas!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Ai yi yi

I used to hate it when older people said how fast time went...I always thought that was a bunch of hooey (is that a word?). But man, is it ever true! It's just a zippin' by at a breakneck speed. Or I feel like I'm trying to stay caught up with a speeding train. Having my own Studio where I teach classes only (I don't sell fabric--other than some of my excess--*GRIN* and only sell patterns to go with the classes) means I have to come up with a LOT of classes each session. I have two sessions a year, Jan-May and Sept. -Dec. So, it's always a busy time getting new class samples ready, let alone doing anything on my own. And I try not to show too much too early--because I KNOW some of them read my blog. Hi Penny! and Chele, and Sheri to name a few. Toss in a few Holidays, a few trips and time wants to get away from me. I have an Open House at the start of each session that allows them to see what's coming up and sign up for a nice discount on classes. Dec. 27 is the next one, so I've been really busy! It's close enough now I can show some sneak peaks..I finally finished the Bali Pineapple..little piano key border took a while! And it didn't even come close to making a dent in the stash! I think I might make up some kits--good for me to reduce the stash--good for them to get a nice variety of batiks, right?

Remember when I couldn't find my camera and got a new one only to find the other one the next day? Well, I bought little gifts for my quilting buddies Christmas exchange in July in Holland and couldn't find them anywhere! I gave myself a deadline of 1 week prior to our party and then I had to do something else. Well, couldn't find them, so made them these little fabric baskets (great tutorial from the Pink Penguin). And you guessed it--I found the gifts 2 days later. IN my husbands car--they had been there for almost 6 months! I told him he should be ashamed of himself for not cleaning out his car for that long. Nope, not my fault at all that I left them in there that long! LOL So, I guess I'll have next years already done. That is, IF I can find them next year--and that's 12 months away! And then a friend and I have been making these Placemat Totes to sell..They are just too 3 placemats..all the same size...add webbing for handles to two of them. Then add the 3rd placemat in between the two, sew into one long piece. Fold in half, sew up the side seams, box the corners and you are done! NO raw edges anywhere (although I do zigzag the boxed corners). They make great sturdy totes in less than half hour! And then made a few of these placemat purses for gifts...I just took one placemat that had all that pretty ribbon trim, added tabs for handles and velcro to hold it closed, sewed up the sides, boxed the corners and Voila! ....a purse! and the last thing I've been working on is a quilt for my in laws for Christmas. She's been asking for one for their bed now and then. I'm making these blocks scrappy, using 1/8 yard (FROM STASH) of 20 different fabrics that was in the line. What you aren't seeing is the block next to it that is a plain block with a small border around it. I had everyone in the family trace their handprints onto freezer paper at Thanksgiving. I originally intended to fuse their handprints onto the blank blocks and set them alternately with the pieced blocks, but I decided that it would look too much like a little kids quilt rather than a nice quilt for a bed. So, I'm going to hand embroider the outline of their hands in a soft color and their names for a more subtle look to it. You'll be able to see them, but up close. I wish I knew of a way to do it on machine and I might practice this weekend. Time is running short and hubby and I are running away to some warm sun from Dec. 15 to 22, so I basically have next week to finish it! And I need to make 12 more pieced blocks and ALL the embroidered blocks, teach one more class, attend two meetings, two children's Christmas programs and watch all 5 grandkids Sat/Sun next week. I see some 3 AM sewing sessions in my near future!

I also hosted a Christmas Brunch today which means the house had to be decorated totally! What a great incentive to stick to it. I am sharing my recipes over at my recipe blog.

Although this is such a busy time, I try to enjoy each moment--I really do love the scurrying around making gifts, preparing food, decorating the house. When I'm feeling stressed I remind myself to enjoy the moments of the journey...hope you are doing the same during this hectic season.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sling Purse ready for Christmas

I love this little purse and have been using it for several years. 25+ years ago I came up with this system for my Christmas shopping. I found it very hard to keep the money 'even' among the kids. I'd go shopping and then come home and add up all the different items for the kids (checking several receipts) and realizing the I had spent $20 more on one child than the others. So, I'd go out to find MORE things to balance it out. And so it goes... It's kind of like trimming bangs, first you straighten the left side, then take a little more off the right side until you end up with 2" bangs! LOL So, I decided from then on, I was only paying cash for my Christmas gifts and had to find a way to keep it in check. I joined the Christmas Club (I know, not the highest paid interest account) and when I got the check in November, I would make envelopes for everyone on my list
and put the corresponding money, according to my budget, in each envelope with their name on it. When I would go shopping, I would put all the envelopes in this little purse, along with my checkbook and a credit card, just in case. When I checked out, I separated each person's items and paid for them out of 'their' envelopes. I then put the change and receipt in their envelope. When the money was gone, I was done with them! And after Christmas, I gave them 'their' envelope with any extra change left over and all the receipts for their gifts in case they had to return anything.
Well, finances are a little less strained from what they used to be, but I love this system and probably will continue to use it until I die. :) This little sling purse is PERFECT for my system and all I have to do is grab that during the Christmas shopping season. No bulky purses to manage and it goes over the shoulder, so it doesn't slip off. I've made several over the years and love them all. I used tapestry for several of mine, but it seems to be a bit more difficult to find. So, now I am quilting a Christmas fabric, batting and backing, then cutting out my purses. 1/2 yard will yield 6 purses, 7 if you are lucky and the fabric is wide enough.

I'm co-President for a ladies group I'm in and the Executive Board decided for Christmas we would make these for each of them (25!). It took 3 of us about 4 hours to make 25 purses. And we have enough money in our small budget to fill them with some goodies. They make great gifts for the women on your list.
I have posted the tutorial on my website....
And you know who donated the fabric so she could bust some more stash!! 4 yards worth! Plus I donated more fabric and 4 quilts to: 'My Very Own Blanket'
And so here's my Stash busting report THIS WEEK:
Stash IN: 0 yards
Stash OUT: 8 yards
Stash IN YTD: 39.5 yards
Stash OUT YTD: 380 yards
I'm less than 15 yards away from busting 350 YARDS from my stash this year--think I can do it? Yep I do...I have to finish my in-laws quilt and the backing on that one will be 9 yards alone! I sure hope I can find some nice enough stuff out of my stash...she doesn't quite get the 'pieced from different fabrics look.' :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stash busting--LATE

I can't seem to get a handle on doing my report on Sunday OR Monday OR Tuesday! Then I think, oh well, I'll wait until next week and do them together. Well, here I am and I haven't reported since...Oct. 25 or something like that! Yikes! But I do keep a tally of what I use and what I bring in and then cross it off when I report it, so the YTD totals are's just what I'm reporting is not just week, just so ya know...

Stash IN: (since last post) 1/4 yard (yes I did buy one on a Shop Hop)
Stash OUT: (since last post) 34 1/2 yards
Stash IN YTD: 39.50 yards
Stash OUT YTD: 372 YARDS!!!
Net Total OUT: 332.50

I finished one quilt (added two more rows and cut backing), started two more from stash! I did have to buy a border and background fabric to go with the one report--but it's for a gift, so I didn't count that buy in OR out. I also cut another backing for a quilt--those backings sure add up!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Las Vegas Shop Hop

Isn't that a neat license plate?? Spotted on a car at you guessed it, a quilt shop!

I did it....I did it!! I went on the Shop Hop of the Las Vegas quilt shops and bought only two FQ's!! One for a block exchange that I'm doing...totally legal..and the other to go into another quilt that I'm working on and truly do not have many aquas to go in it. So, it could be questionable as to how 'legal' it was for this gal that signed onto a NoBuy Challenge for a year. But it's okay--I SO wanted to buy two kits within 2 minutes of walking into my first store! I love this store!! Quiltique is in Henderson, east of Vegas by about 15 minutes tops. So bright and roomy, lots of great samples and goodies to stop the eye and wonderful contemporary fabrics that made my heart flutter! I thought maybe I might have made a mistake by doing this Shop Hop--but then, how often am I in Las Vegas during their Shop Hop--once every 8 years! I bought a cute oversized Pincushion Pattern and another scrappy pattern and that's it! I really hated to leave those yummy kits, but after wandering around the store and reminding myself that I have lots of pretty fabrics at home, I remembered that I had actually BOTH of the patterns. I just needed to rethink the fabric I originally thought I was going to use. Onto my next store... Fiddlesticks in the historic Boulder City, just another 15 minutes on the way to Hoover Dam.

Another friendly store, very homey and welcoming. Their flavor is a bit more folk arty/country but a delight to check out their displays. The fabric wasn't really enticing to me (don't get me wrong, it was all nice..just not the flavor of the month for me), but I did have to buy several wooden spools with pink and green threads. They had beautiful displays of color related items in each color fabric section. Hmmm, they had some neat ideas. I stopped and enjoyed lunch across the street and then headed back out, this time to the far west end of Las Vegas to The Christmas Goose, (oops--forgot to take their picture) that had moved since the last time I had been here.

Wow-their new store is awesome! Lots of variety here and again, lots of great samples. By this time, I'm on a roll of knowing to not even bothering to look at fabric, but rather looking at the samples and getting ideas of what to do with MY fabric at home! I bought a book here on Advent Calendars. I would like to make one for my girls..maybe next year! LOL Quick potty break and then onto Nancy's Quilt Shop, who was featured this Spring in Quilt Sampler. Congratulations! Again, loaded with samples and enticing displays. They had a lot of wool and yarns for those who love to knit and crochet. Saw another pattern I had at home made out of brights instead of traditional fabrics and knew it would go on my to do list as soon as I got home! Bought another book and this is where I found my FQ and one for my friend's block. By this time I've been clear east of the city, south, west and north and it was late afternoon and thought I'd better head back to the hotel. I saved the closet quilt shop to the Strip for last. Our flight didn't leave until late afternoon, so I knew I had time in the morning.

The last quilt shop on the Shop Hop (by the way--last time I went on their official Shop Hop, there were 10 stores--some were kind of far away--like Death Valley and then Utah!. when I asked where they were, the farthest ones away dropped out and all the other shops in Vegas closed. But I could understand, they got dropped from my list after the last time.) anyway, I went to Fabric Boutique the last morning. Their store was cut in half, but I didn't feel like it was missing anything or was cramped. I'm sure the economy had them looking at their space more efficiently. I was dismayed at first when I walked in, but after perusing the store, found it to be just as charming and inspiring as before. I think their sewing machine display area was the most affected. I was inspired by a few samples to keep in mind and bought a pattern for one quilt.

So, I did it. I managed to go to 5 stores and support them but yet stayed on my No Buy Challenge. Okay, one FQ--but what an improvement for me! LOL Those who know me know what I'm saying. Shop Hops are a great way to see a city or area's quilt shops at their best. And as busy as they all were, they were very friendly. I guess there's a reason why these quilt shops are still around. And I found I can walk by the buffet and still be in control.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Las Vegas

I'm in Las Vegas with my hubby who's on business and I get the days for me! Being from Denver originally, I'm so navigational challenged here! When I was growing up, all you had to do was look for the mountains and you knew exactly which way was north, etc. Here in Vegas, there are mountains no matter where you look! Although these mountains look so much more desolate and barren compared to the Rockies in Colorado or even the Appalachians on my side of the country. On my second day here, I had to go to a Walmart or Target for so many things I forgot or ran out of already. I got in the car, thought I'd head away from the Strip and try to find something out of the main hubbub. The mountains were looking quite inviting and I thought I'd just go up into the foothills to see what they were like up close. Ran into a deadend at the start of the foothills on my first try and then the next road I took, I found myself in Red Rock Canyon! I took the first turn off I found, and look where I was! I thought it was apropos for me as a quilter to end up in Calico Basin! I took the short 1/2 mile trek to get up close and personal with the unusual type rock formations, petrogliphs? and flora. It was a beautiful day to be outside. The sky is SO blue here. I hate to admit it, but Ohio has some pretty gray skies. A lot. It sure makes me appreciate blue skies and lots of sun when I get it. :) What a different site than the nights on the strip--manmade beauty (and yes, it's quite striking with all the glitz and glam. Not the best picture to show off all the lights, but I have a new camera and am not quite adept at taking great pictures yet! LOL ) vs. God's natural beauty. If I had to choose one, I'd go for the natural beauty.

I'm sure I'll have more to report later this week. I happen to be here during the Las Vegas Quilt Shop Hop! Fun, but a dilemma for those who are Stashbusting and joined the No Buy rule, for fabric that is. Join me as you follow my quest to be good, but yet want to see all the new stuff!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Using stash

no stash report this week--I did use a lot, but forgot to add it up and now I'm out of town, (thanks to blogger, I can post in the future!), so will do that next week.

I am working on some new classes and always thinking how I can use my stash to get it done and make something that's been on my list and kill two birds with one stone type of thing. I have a rather large collection of batiks and have made a few quilts with them, so when I came across this pattern in Hawaii, I thought it would be great to use UP my batiks! HA! Didn't even put a DENT in them. I'm still working on it and it has a zig zag border, using HST's and then a plain border and then a piano key border. I'm almost done cutting and am so disappointed I didn't see that pile go down much. I did a blanket stitch around the pineapple with a variagated thread, but I decided not to do the leaves.

close up of the leaves. I decided not to blanket stitch them--it just seemed odd, so I free motioned on them on the block to nail down the appliques. This will probably never be washed, so I really don't have to worry about the edges fraying. Happy Quilting!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy 27th Birthday She-She

I cannot believe She-She (as she is affectionally known by her nieces/nephews) is 27 years old! She corrects us and reminds us that she is YOUNG--that her older sister, T, is OLD! "I'm 27 years YOUNG" she keeps telling us. Okay, whatever you say. And just for your information, she NO longer has Down's Syndrome... here's our recent conversation after I said something about Down's:
S: I'm over it Mom. I don't have it anymore.
me: you don't? well, then what are you now?
S: Mom, I'm French now
me: oh.. what makes you think that?

S: because....bon jour, sil vous plais (okay, my French spelling isn't so good...but she pronounces it pretty well), bon nuit (good night), see I speak French
me: so, no more Down's Syndrome
S: Mom, don't say that anymore..I'm French OR I'm Indian (and does the woowoo sound with her hand/mouth)
me: I give up
She-She with K and K at her party
Onery Mr. L
Divine Miss M
and the most precious of all......Awesome A with her GG --I didn't take the picture and feel bad that GG's face is partly chopped off, but you sure get the essence of it.
And speaking of taking photos, I sure love the fact you can correct the red eye, but how do you clean the kids faces (including the 27 year young French girl?) LOL I'm terrible about that when taking photos, including not thinking about what's in the background--like dirty counters, open cupboards, etc. Do you think of those things when you are taking pictures? Sure glad we can crop most of it out of there.
PS..did you check out my new recipe blog? I posted another new one today...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New recipe blog

Check out my new recipe blog--I thought it might be easier to just set up a new blog for that. I've also added a new link on my sidebar for it. If anyone has any recipes to share, let me know. I will personally try ALL recipes before I post them and hopefully remember to take a picture as well. :)

I've added a Hot Chocolate Mix recipe, Apple Pineapple Salad, Cabbage Soup, Sloppy Joes...hmm, something smells good. :)

Progress here and there

I've been working on lots of projects, I can never decide what's most important, especially with some deadlines 2 months away yet. It's so easy to get distracted and to start thinking about other projects. But Christmas is approaching and my Friday night quilt group has it's annual Block exchange and I thought I would be smart and start working on them now! We have our Annual Christmas dinner and afterwards we go to someone's house and play some silly FQ games and exchange our blocks. We have 8 in our group and every year 2 different people choose what the Exchange Block will be for that year. This year is an Sister's Album block? We all get the same pattern and then we each pass out cards of what type/color fabrics we'd like. We are such a varied group with definite likes/dislikes and we have found that way to be the best way to ensure everyone likes their blocks.

Mary passed out the star point batik fabric and asked us to add more to it to match. Lisa passed out little snippets of the red/gold that she liked and asked us to choose fabrics that looked good with her samples.

Cheryl passed out various pieces of the Holly Jolly line from last year and asked us to coordinate to those colors. She did give us enough of one color to use.

Candy passed out all the 'colored' fabrics and we just were to add our own backgrounds.

Before we swap blocks, we are to put a 'quote' in the middle area and sign it. I'm trying to decide if I'm going to use the same quote for all or choose one for each person.

As I was working on these blocks, it reminded me that I have been getting further and further behind on assembling my blocks of past. So, I dug up the oldest one that wasn't finished from 2004 (we've been doing this since 1997). This is the block that I made for everyone--in their colors of course. This is my block.

We chose a pattern to work from, then made all sorts of revisions, etc. It hardly looks like the same quilt. I'm almost done with the top..I'll share when it's done. 1 almost down, 4 more tops to finish. It's challenging at times to come up with a unique setting for our blocks. We've shown our quilts twice now in a Special exhibit at a local Art's Castle and I'm afraid it will come up again and I'll be woefully behind. So, now is a good time to catch up. :)