Monday, December 30, 2013

Perhaps an Intervention?

Seriously -- what is happening here?

1.  All the Christmas gifts are finished -- no wait!  I have one more pillowcase to do out of dino fabric but have until New Years Eve to get that done.  Oh  -- and I forgot -- I haven't finished binding the dino quilt and that has to be done by New Years Eve, too.
2.  I am knee deep in Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt and determined to stay on top of every clue -- otherwise it will end up in a tote and become a chore to finish at some point. You can see how others are progressing at by clicking here.
3.  I have joined a HST swap using Edyta Sitar's piecing papers and that's due the end of January.

4.  And -- here's the kicker and the need for possible outside help -- I have decided to make a baby quilt (or slightly bigger) out of my African fabrics.  That's not too hard, right.  You only have to cut a bazillion logs and then start assembling them.

Like many of you, I don't really have yardage of African fabrics -- I have scraps that have been given to me or a scrap bag that I picked up from a vendor at a quilt show (usually from the garment district in NYC which means it pieces of clothing or leftovers from clothing).  These pieces are highly irregular - they may be a pocket, a shirt sleeve that was miscut, something that was disassembled and the button cut off.  They really are perfect for logs but each piece has to be individually cut.
For the first time ever, I know that I haven't over cut my logs.  I usually get really focused on cutting and I end up with too many of one size or one fabric.  The design wall is a life saver.  While this is a terrible picture -- you get the idea.  They are sorted by size and right beside my machine.  I can grab and go and make sure that no blocks have duplicate logs. I am hopeful the time spent doing this will save time (and order) on the backend when I start assembling.
This quilt will be 49"x 49" (7 x 7 of 7" blocks).  I say "this quilt" because there could be more.  Not because I have more scraps of African fabrics.  Those have been depleted.  But because I just found out that the young couple that I'm making this for may be adopting more than one child.

I knew they were well on their way to adopting a baby up to 18 months old from Ethiopia.  What I found out this weekend is that if the baby has siblings, they will take up to 3-4 children.  I am ashamed to say that "Oh how wonderful" was my second thought.  My selfish first thought was "holy cow, that could be four quilts -- I don't have enough fabric".  I am guessing my Australian fabrics will have to suffice along with a number of other African reproductions (you can see some of those in the logs I have already cut -- I think I have stayed away from the Australian ones thus far).

Obviously, the quilts could be out of anything but my initial thought was to have a bright baby quilt out of fabrics from the same continent (I doubt any of these scraps are purely Ethiopian).  My second thought is to try to make the appropriate number of quilts out of ethnic fabrics and that may change, depending on how this goes! So, I will make the first one and have it ready and see what blessings they are able to adopt.  They will be in Ethiopia for a few weeks and then come back without their baby(children).  That will give me some time to figure this out.

But -- if I agree to any more swaps, mysteries, gift quilts -- I may need an intervention.  I am on sabbatical from my two hospital quilts a month until March.  I need to use that free time wisely I think.

I hope there are people in your life that are full of the generosity and love that exist in this young couple!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Scrap Happy!!

Seriously -- I am so scrap happy!

I do love finishing things. And I really love finishing things when I have fallen out of love with them. That's the case with this little top. These blocks were a "leader/ender" project and have a lot of my quilting history in the fabrics. And I got tired of it….and needed to get it out of a tin and functional. I haven't touched it in over a year.  That's a clue that I'm ready to move on!
It's small -- 40" x 52"-- and needs an inner and outer border to be functional - so, technically, it's not finished. Nevertheless, I can put the "remains" back in my scraps and consider the piecing done. I'm thinking this needs a bright border and then I will probably donate it to Quilts Beyond Borders.  I've posted about this great organization before and love them!  I think if I get the borders on, it will be large enough and can keep some sweet child warm and even entertained with the different fabrics.  That makes me scrap happy!

I'm also happy to be using up scraps with the Quiltville Mystery Quilt.  I mentioned last week that I was able to use a green fabric that was 33 years old.  This week I used some yellow fabric that was left over from a dress my mother made for me when I was in my teens or early 20's.  Yep -- I'm guessing that lovely "hip" floral was 40+ years old!  That makes me scrap happy!
If you are interested in getting scrap happy with Bonnie Hunter's mystery, you can link here.  And if you want to see what others are doing, she will have a link-up party on Monday.  I'm hoping we get back to blues soon -- I've about depleted my orange stash and my creams/blues need to be whittled down as well.

I hope you are finding time to create amidst the holiday commitments of gifts, parties, and baking; and if you are a lover of scraps -- I really hope you are scrap happy!


Saturday, December 14, 2013


The top is done, quilted, and the binding is underway.  These great fabrics are from Wilmington Prints and just fit the bill for the type of whimsical dinosaurs I was looking for. Somehow, a 3 year old sleeping under lifelike dinos just didn't "float my boat".
But -- all is not as easy as it might seem.  I was backordered twice on these. There were panels that were awkward if put in a quilt without cutting them apart. I have no pattern. I needed to make the fabric that I had work.  The backgrounds are light and needed spacers to break them up. I went with 10.5" blocks cut which means you only get one from a fat quarter and then have to "make" the rest of the fabric work.
So -- thank goodness for a design wall and the ability work in sections and then try to get them to all work in the end. The quilt is not quite full size but will work for a "big boy bed" and should be done in time to take to Toronto after Christmas. I was lucky to have some help from Mr Iquiltforfun in the quilting. How fun to be able to tell our grandson that his grammie and granddaddy made this for him!  I would have cherished that.
AND -- here is my yearly reminder. I am using my last "faux minkee blanket" for the back. There are going to be after Christmas sales and we need to be looking for blankets on sale.  Not the fleece ones -- altho I'm sure they would work. But there are often minkee-type blankets deeply discounted (often doubled with minkee on both sides and then bound). SNATCH THEM UP. They are seamless and wider than normal width of fabric.
If you score a double sided one, you will want to be deliberate in where you cut them apart. They make a mess! There is no selvage and little pieces of fluff go everywhere. Since weather was not cooperating this week, I put the blankets in one of our bathtubs, perched myself on a  stool, and cut the binding off. Most of the little fluffies were contained and I could wipe them up with a damp paper towel.  The tag said this was 90 x 102 before I cut off the binding. NO seams. And it quilted up beautifully.
To provide a bit of order in my quilting world, I finished Step 2 of Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville Mystery. The details for the mystery are here. While I am not a fan of chevrons because of the waste of fabric, I much prefer her method to making them than trying to piece them with triangles. I have to say, this step  seemed pretty easy compared to some so I wonder what lies in store for a future step! These little jewels went together perfectly (so long as I did my sewing perfectly!). I am so happy to see some of these fabrics go! One of the greens was used in a quilt that a friend made for my son when he was born. He is 33!
Step 3 is live and another chance to use up some of those pesky fabrics that won't go away. And, it's a great step to use 2" strips from the strip bin. I love that for many reasons.  You can see everyone's progress and color choices here.

I hope you have some improvisation in your life - along with some order if that's helpful to you!


Friday, December 6, 2013

A Little of This -- A Little of That

This has been a few weeks of nothing "BIG" -- but enough "littles" to make me feel like I've gotten something done.
I managed to force myself to finally put the mitered borders on my circle quilt.  I have posted about this quilt and these fabrics here and I really like it.  Borders, of course, make it more "real" and I have to start thinking about how to quilt it.  But I don't have to think about that today.
I quilted a very very small lap quilt from a Mary Engelbreit jelly roll that my sister gave me for my birthday 3.5 years ago.  I have had the top done for three years but the fabrics are Christmas and there was always something more pressing that needed attention.
I got the strip quilt put together and quilted.  There is something about an all over pattern that helps a "blah" quilt become something really cute.  I haven't had a chance to take pictures so here's a reminder of what the blocks looked like prior to assembling.
I managed to get the binding on this Kaffe Fassett jelly roll quilt that I put together last year.  I really like it -- and I'm happy it's quilted and ready for binding to be sewn down.  Get in line.  I have not been motivated to bind lately!
Thanksgiving napkins got done -- well in advance.  Isn't this fabric beautiful?  For the second year in a row, I've made napkins for our dinner, washed them, and then every family gets some for their use.
And -- in a matter of a week, this Spiderman quilt got made in time for our grandson to have when he got here and then take home for his big-boy bed.  The back is a lime green flannel.  It's a great fabric and I figured I could get by with it when he was 3 -- but not so sure that will be the case in a few years.

I also got the binding on three hospital quilts -- makes me so happy that both the December and January allotments are done and ready for delivery.  I had some yummy Marcus flannel that allowed me to line them all up on the same piece of fabric and quilt them one after the other.  Hurray -- quilted and bound!

I have started Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville Mystery after sitting out last year.  Thus far -- Step 1 is done and Step 2 (released today) is cut. I have not made a dent in the scraps I have pulled for this.  For the first time, I have a friend who is also participating - although she's a high achiever and is doing the king sized version.  I am doing the 75" x 75" version.  Monkeymama rocks!  She also finished the first clue and is working on #2.  It's not too late if you would like to use some scraps and join in the race to get Christmas done while having each step complete by every Friday morning!  Here's a link if you want to take a peek.  Pictures next week!

Finally, I lined up all the completed tops and cut the batting for them.  I don't like doing that and so I'm pretty happy to have them folded with their appropriate batting in the right direction.  Backs for most are another story -- but at least the batting is done and another roll of Warm and Natural has bitten the dust (almost).

With Thanksgiving and I'm happy-happy-happy to say that our Toronto family was here -- fabric was the least of my concern.  It was all about family!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving -- I am thankful for many things -- and the generosity of quilters would certainly be on my list!


Friday, November 8, 2013

What to do? What to do?

There is no way this picture does these fabrics justice!  I love these.  I have been hoarding these and decided that 2013 was the year to get them out and just "do something" with them.
They are Cherrywoods and are incredibly unique.  They really do look like suede -- they are hand-dyed -- and each piece is unique.  These come from "Grab Bags for Crazies" that I've picked up in Houston and Chicago and they are end pieces.  So -- as you can see, there are various sizes and I want to maximize every little inch of them.  Yardage is not cheap and a grab bag is a great way to get a lot of scraps that are big enough to do something with.

I've sorted them by shade just to see what I had.  Not many greens.  Not many yellows.  Not many red/oranges.  Lots of brown/rust.  Lots of blue.  Lots of purple.  I'm okay with all that.  But -- what to do?  What to do?  With a goal of using almost every scrap from irregular size pieces, it's hard to decide on what pattern.  I knew I didn't want to do a lot of piecing since that puts way too much of this gorgeous fabric in the seam allowance.  That can work with some scraps -- but not with Cherrywoods!

I started with this -- which is okay but a little boring and only allowed one block per piece of fabric with some left over.  Block was about 7.5".
So, to help with the "boring" part, I did this.  At first I liked it -- then I didn't.  So this is not it.
I think I have decided what I'm going to do and have started cutting 5.5" squares for the first step. But, after cutting several squares 5" (instead of 5.5") -- I decided to keep them on the design wall and regroup!  Seriously!  I love these fabrics and then I keep making boo-boos that can't be fixed.  What on earth!  Time to step back and just enjoy them.

So -- while that was frustrating, I did do some string piecing to get a tote of bright strings emptied.  Aren't these fun?
I hope you are inspired. I hope you are doing something fun.  I hope you are cutting your precious fabric accurately!


Friday, October 25, 2013

1 in 8

I love these fabrics?  Aren't they the greatest?  I love them for so many reasons....
My niece-the-quilter gave them to me.
I love pink.
I love that salmon can be pink and that the "white" one is pink when compared to white.
I love the hot pink.  It is really HOT!
I love they are Konas and feel like a dream.
I love that I have leftovers.
Here's what I don't love.
I don't love that we still have to have a month devoted to breast cancer.
I don't love that 1 in 8 of the females reading this blog will get breast cancer (at least in the US).
I don't love that we do not have a cure.
I don't love that too many women I do love have had breast cancer.

If you're a reader of my blog periodically, you may have read this post entitled a Quilter's Fairy Tale last year.  This is a tribute to a special friend who successfully fought IBC (Inflammatory Breast Cancer).  But it was a terrible battle.
This year I happen to be reading the book "The Emperor of All Maladies" by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Subtitled "The Biography of Cancer" -- it is fascinating and horrifying at the same time.  I am particularly interested in the references to breast cancer early in the book.
Would you believe the first documented case of cancer was breast cancer and was noted in an Egyptian papyrus believed to be from the teachings of Imhotep who lived around 2625 BC.  It's a very clinical description.  The next documented case of cancer appears to be IBC and Atossa, the queen of Persia, around 440 BC. What's the irony in that?  The first two cases of documented cancer are still being battled today!
Since it's October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month -- and this is a pink pink pink quilt -- I'm linking to Amy's Creative Side's Blogger's Quilt Festival.  If you have a chance, check it out.  She does a wonderful job of providing an opportunity for all quilting blogs to post and for us to wander through a quilt show of blogs.  There are prizes and voting and, most of all, inspiration.  I'm going to link under the "Throw" category (I did think about 2 color but I thought that was stretching it!) -- not because I'm soliciting votes but because I hope a bunch of women will read this post and make sure they are doing breast exams and getting mammograms -- and pestering other women they love to do the same.

Details on the quilt:

  • Modified from Cozy Modern Quilts by Kim Schaeffer
  • 65" x 65"
  • 21 shades of pink from Robert Kaufman's Kona line
  • Phillip Jacobs fabric for lattice
  • Quilted with Lava by Superior (no rush to do that again although I love the color changes)
  • Bobbin was So Fine by Superior
  • New overall pattern I wanted to try -- learned a lot and will use again

For a giggle -- here's how I started my month!  It's given me some opportunities to talk about breast cancer to people I might not have -- servers in restaurants particularly!  I'm happy to stay they are still intact. I wasn't sure if we would get through the month together.  I now think we will.
I hope you are

Playing with fabric you love
Finding inspiration at the Bloggers Quilt Festival
Doing breast exams and getting mammograms!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

A week of extremes

I'm so so happy to say that this quilt top is done.  All these beautiful "reproductions" from Caryl Bryer Fallert's hand dyes are together in one quilt top (no culling out of warms or browns, as I had planned).  I adore it.  The colors together make me very very happy -- as does getting it off the design wall, off the floor, off my cutting table, off my sewing table..... It had taken over my little sewing room.  Now it is neatly folded and waiting for quilting inspiration (and time).  I had failed to mention in my original post that this is a free pattern from Marcus Fabrics using their Ombre strips (pattern is called Ombre Hand Dyes by Nancy Rink).  I think we sometimes forget about all the great FREE patterns that fabric manufacturers have available to us through their websites.  Anyway -- it's done and the floor is now visible in my sewing room.
And -- to keep that feeling of "accomplishment" going -- I have continued to plug along with my little bitty 4 patches that were part of a swap from earlier this year.  Briefly, we were to make 800 of these little darlings and package them in groups of 100 (I think) where they would be assembled and redistributed -- with each of us getting 1 of our bags back and 4p from 7 other quilters. Not!  Long story but I got at least two of my bags back and maybe more (one quilter decided she'd keep all hers!).  Plus I had made 100+ more for my quilt.
I absolutely have NO idea how many 4p I have -- but I know that the 7 finished blocks I've made have over 100 in them and I've just started.  The blocks (each with 16 4p) finish at 8" so this may or may not be a twin size quilt -- I literally don't know.  I'll keep sewing in steps until the squares are used up and then decide whether I need to make a few more (using 1.25" strips) or chuck the extras.
My milestone for the week is getting the first step done.  Every little square now has sashing on one side -- setting it up for the next step(s) with half being sewn together and half getting a 2.5" "topper" strip.  Since this is a leader/ender project, I just grab and sew as I finish a row and need something in my machine to be ready to sew the next piece on the quilt I'm "really" working on.

This will be years in the making --

But, all in all, a good week.  One quilt top made with 2.5" strips and only 15 pieces in the entire block. And, one step completed in teeny tiny pieces of all kinds -- darks, lights, batiks, vintage, low quality, homespuns, Kaffe, hand-dyes, florals, novelties, you name it.  So much fun to come across someone else's fabrics -- and keep the line moving!

I hope you are having a productive week -- whether it's with little bitty pieces or larger, dramatic pieces,  or quilting, or cutting, or designing, or just dreaming of your next project!


Saturday, October 5, 2013


Aren't quilters the most generous people?  You know what I mean ....

They'll give you their last scrap of their favorite fabric if you need it.
They'll bind your quilt if you break your arm or are running behind.
They'll take the time to explain whatever you need to understand.
They'll encourage you -- no matter where you are in the learning process.

I've been getting batting and backs ready for some charity quilts and I realized that so much of these quilts were actually donated by someone else.

This is a 12" x 12" mini-quilt from a practice block I made YEARS ago in a machine applique class.  The local homemakers club is doing a silent auction with all donations going to ovarian cancer research. I echo quilted (tuck included for free) and decided I don't really like trying to do echo quilting 1/4" apart on my Bernina.  Lesson learned.
This little quilt is to be donated to the local hospital and I am hoping the right quilting in pink thread can rescue it from itself.  I bought a lot (all) of the neutrals at an auction from our local guild with proceeds going to Salvation Army angel tree.
These quilts are also going to the local hospital when I get them quilted.  The strips were cut using a friend's Studio cutter -- generously loaned to me for a long long weekend while she was out of town.  Having pre-cut strips when I'm under the gun to complete a quilt is an incredible advantage!

This quilt is made from blocks donated to me by monkeymamaquilts.  She made them early in her quilting career and this little top is the perfect size for the hospital.  More generosity.  Interestingly, the backing is a darling lavender polka dotted flannel given to me by mom22smartchix for use in a hospital quilt.
This is another hospital quilt -- with the owl fabric donated by mom22smartchix and the quilting done on monkeymamaquilts HQ16.  Thank goodness it's bound and ready to go!
Finally -- and even easier -- monkeymama quilts decided she didn't really have a use for this ABC quilt.   Isn't it darling?  It's a bit big for the hospital so we agreed that I would quilt it (on her HQ16) and bind it and we'll donate it to Quilts Beyond Borders.  If you aren't familiar with this incredible non-profit organization, you can read about it here.  It's wonderful because you can donate tops if you don't have access to a longarmer.
I rest my case -- quilters are the best!  I suspect you have had the same experience and been the recipient of another quilter's generosity -- giving us all good reason to pay it forward.  I hope you are finding time to quilt -- and give!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Good Week

Last week was a good week from a quilty point of view!  How often do you get to deliver two different quilts to their owners?
One has taken a year from selection of fabric to placing in the hands of the rightful owner. The other was a surprise.  I'm not sure which I like better. Someone who has helped pick the fabric - chose the pattern - laid out the blocks - picked the quilting design - and then patiently waited. Are they less excited or more excited?
On the other side of the coin, handing a bag to someone who has been special in your life and telling them you made a quilt for their child.  Out of the clear blue.  To someone who really doesn't know a thing about quilting.  Will probably refer to it as a "blanket".  Thought the back side was the quilt until turning it over.  I mean a total surprise!
Opposite ends of the spectrum and each equally fun.  One to someone I love dearly.  The other to someone I've never met but value her parent.
What's your pleasure?  Take someone by surprise?  Involve them along the way?  A different approach?  In the end, it's one of the best parts of making quilts, isn't it?

I hope you are making something that you know will be loved!


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Too early?

Is it too early to be thinking about a Christmas quilt?  Particularly one that is a bit non-traditional?
Isn't this a cute design.  It's by Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts.  If you haven't checked out her blog, it would certainly be worth your time. Her version of this quilt is in great bright/pastel colors and so striking. I bought the pattern (called "trees") when she issued it much earlier this year. I knew I wanted to make it -- I just didn't know which fabrics I was going to use -- or when.
I finished this quilt top earlier this year and I love it.  It needs quilting and it will be so fun....but I have a lot of scraps leftover from the original FQ pack that I got as a gift from my-niece-the-quilter a year ago in the spring.  Somehow I couldn't bring myself to mainstream them with my other solids and wanted to do something else with them.  Since I don't have the palette that Amanda Jean used and I didn't want to do usual Christmas fabrics, I was curious to see if the chocolate brown Kona in my stash might work.  I had five yards from a previously planned project that didn't work.  At all!
I made a sample block last weekend. I don't know about you, but making a sample block is time well spent for me. I may hate the process. I may really dislike the block. I may find a boo-boo in the pattern before I do a lot of cutting. There are all kinds of reason to spend a bit of time deciding if my time and fabric are going to be worth the effort. I used a shade I don't "love" in this block; it's sort of a salmon rather than some of the great pinks that I have.  So - it may go in the quilt or if it doesn't, no harm - no foul.

My thought right now is to make all the backgrounds in chocolate and let the trees float.  Time will tell on that.  I won't cut all the strips just yet.

I hope you have something fun on your design wall or floating around in your head!


Friday, August 30, 2013

Where in the world.... I Quilt for Fun?

Good question.  And an even better question when I look at the last two weeks, is what have I been doing? At first, I thought -- nothing.  Then I decided it was more than nothing but two weeks of retirement is a lot of "free time" -- even with a part-time volunteer job.

1.  I have finally quilted this behemoth.  Hurray -- and the binding is sewn on -- just not sewn down.  So good to see Sadie Gammill again.
2.  I have been to Chicago to see dear friends.  Don't you love how quilting acquaintances morph over time into lifelong friends?  I'll be heading back at the end of the month to celebrate the naturalization of one of those chickies -- but will have a trip to Toronto to get in before that.

3.  I have started to learn to needle felt.  Thus far -- I have managed to make this cute "itsy bitsy" pincushion that has a center of incredible alpaca -- donated by my friend at Talotam Hollow.
4. I have quilted this darling quilt on Ethel Handiquilter.  It's a small twin and I have at least started sewing down the binding on it.  Love "ama's" generosity!
 5. I have started (and am halfway done with) a reading plan to read the New Testament in 30 days.

6. I have quilted one donation quilt for the hospital and made two other donation baby quilts that need quilting.

7. Somehow, I have managed to make a complete and total mess of my quilting room -- I mean a mess! I decided to adopt two rather large bags of scraps that were being auctioned at our local guild in order to raise money for Salvation Army Angel tree.  I am not sure why I think I have to save all the scraps in the world.  Some of these will go to Goodwill -- but you have to go through all of them and salvage what you can!

8. I've managed to watch a little of the US Open -- not nearly enough to suit me.  I'm hoping next week will bring more time to enjoy the last major of the season.  The downside is that this requires listening to John McEnroe and Brad Gilbert commentate (pontificate).  Sometimes I am sure my ears are going to bleed if they keep talking!

9. Last - and certainly not least, I spent one HOT HOT HOT day in the garage in order to make some tough decisions, organize a bunch of stuff, move a few things in the house that need further attention -- all because it was time to get Mr Iquiltforfun's car in the garage -- it has been almost two years since we moved and it seemed like time!  We did it!

I hope you have all kinds of fun things planned for this long US holiday and next week -- can't wait to see where the winds of creativity blow.  How about you?