Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Quilting review

Wow!  Here it is New Year's Eve already, and as the year comes to a close it's a good time to look back and see what's been accomplished.  This year I tried to keep a running list on the computer of Quilting projects and I'm surprised at all the quilting that got done this year.  Apparently I did quilt more than Awhile!

Place mats and small projects:
4 Valentine place mats and a table runner
10 Autumn place mats
Doe and Darts table runner from orphan blocks
2 flag place mats
14 pot holders
6 Christmas Stockings
Nine Patch Hearts table topper from orphan blocks

Three Vicki Welsh monthly color challenge quilts were completed:
Palancar Beach in January,
Ravel's Bolero in March and
Modern Rails in November. 
I started three others, but they didn't get to the finished stage.

This was my first year making small quilts or doll quilts. 
Kathleen Tracy's monthly doll quilt challenge kept me busy and I finished several: 
Alaska Homestead in January (a lap size quilt, but an adaptation of Kathleen's January doll quilt.)
Broken Dishes in February 
Bumblebee Garden a baby quilt inspired by Clarissa's Garden
Nine Patch in April 
Civil War Stars in June. 
Two Indigo Blue & White quilts in July. 
Almost Amish Doll Quilt in November.

Other quilts from internet blogs...
Mountain Trail from Lori at Humble Quilts
Beautiful Leaves (Bellefeuille) - blocks from the Alphabet Quilt from quilts by Cheri
Plain & Simple four-patch doll quilt from quilts by Cheri.

Four other baby quilts were made this year: 
Paddington Bear's Triangle Tricks for JA
Shirley's scraps four patch from orphan blocks,
Penny Lane - original design
Triangle Tricks for DK

Lap and Wall quilts:
In the Library - sandwiched and quilted UFO
All Hallows
Ghostly Gallery
Star of the East Advent Candles - original design
Watercolor Heart from grandma's old draperies
Blue Nine Patch from orphan blocks

Bed sized quilts:
Birds in a Midnight Sky - from orphan blocks (twin)
Finished quilting Double Irish Chain (queen)
Quilters Club of America Mystery Quilt 6 - Bittersweet (queen)

Reproduction patterns and quilts:
Bloomington Historical Society 1905 Haeg checkerboard quilt
Bloomington Historical Society 1905 Haeg doll quilt

I think that's all the finishes for this year.   I'll need to make a list of the carry-overs and works in progress so I can start the new year with a plan.  We'll see how long THAT lasts!

Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

After Christmas Shopping

While everyone else may have been out exchanging Christmas gifts, or using up those Gift Cards, I headed for my favorite little fabric store, 50% off coupon in hand!

My two darling great-nieces are going to get new twin quilts and today I picked up wonderful fabrics in pinks and greens for the project.  I'm not certain of the pattern yet, perhaps hour glass blocks greens in one direction and pinks in the other.  At any rate, they will be scrappy and so 1/2 yard of this and 1 yard of that made up a nice assortment.  And what quilter can pass up 50% off all the fabric when there's a big project to do?

Now, the bad news on the pocketbook is that I bought fabric not only for the girls' two twin quilts, but also bought some wonderful grey-greens and whites for a queen/king wedding quilt that needs to be done before July as well.  So, add 25 yards to the stash for today.  Not to worry, most of that will be all sewn into quilts by spring.  I promise!

Here are the 'greens.'  They do look pink in some cases, but the backgrounds are all a light green.  Not sure about the top left, but I felt I might need a large print here and there to give a pop of interest.  The large print that went with the collection was too large in scale.

Here are the 'pinks.'  The stripe fabric is for the quilt binding.  The camera makes the top row of fabrics look redder than they really are.  Both photos were taken in natural light and so the flash didn't go off.  It is interesting to see how a photo of the fabric looks different from my impression of the fabric color in a few cases.  My brain says the greens are brighter than they look in the photo, and that the cream is too yellow - but it looks like it would work in the photo.

Many of the fabrics are from the Savannah collection from Fabri-Quilt.  I was a little concerned that there were an awful lot of 'medium' values.  So I added fabrics on the very light and dark ends of the spectrum.

I'll be posting my progress, so stay tuned!

Hmong embroidery

Recently there was an article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about Hmong embroidery.  There is a large Hmong community in the Twin Cities and an effort is underway to preserve an intricate and beautiful style of needlework from their culture. 

Many years ago, probably late 1980's, I was at an art fair where some elderly Hmong women were sewing and selling their artwork.  It was one of the earliest times I recall seeing Hmong embroidery  for sale.  The prices were way undervalued compared to the extrordinary amount of work I knew had been put into them, but still most were out of my humble price range.  Then I found an entirely hand sewn 'reverse embroidery' table runner in blue and white that I could afford!   I was so excited to have this beautiful piece of applique - and even then recognized it as a cultural treasure even though I knew it was made for sale to non-Hmong. 

From the Hmong embroidery website I found out this table runner has a zig-zag border symbolizing the mountains of their homeland.  The heart shapes are formed by pairs of 'dragons tails', and the small square-in-a-square pieces are called 'diamonds'.  The corner pieces in each block are somewhat similar to the design which symbolizes the home, but the motif for the home has steps where these are zig-zag or toothed like the inner edges of the dragons tails.

More information can be found on this style of needlework at

40.5 cm x 98 cm reverse embroidery runner late 1980's Minnesota unknown maker
blue and cream cotton front, cream muslin backing

Monday, December 24, 2012

12 Quilts of Christmas: Christmas Lights Mystery Quilt

Finally, the best for last.  Quiltmaker published a three part Mystery Quilt in 2009 by Bonnie Hunter.  It was my first Mystery Quilt and I love how it turned out!  And for once I followed the directions.

Thanks for stopping in to let me share my Christmas Quilts with you.
Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and Joyous New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Quilts of Christmas: Cardinals

The tiny detailed applique in this wall hanging was from a book I found at our Library.  I'm working on finding the title and author.  I cut out about 8 different designs and have most of them half-appliqued.  I think those should go on my 'to do' list for the new year and finish them up.

Friday, December 21, 2012

12 Quilts of Christmas: Snowman placemats

These placemats were a gift to my mother & father in-law.    The design came from Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting magazine Nov/Dec 2005 issue.  I used white fleece for the snowmen, so they have a fuzzy texture.  My father-in-law had carefully put clear contact paper on both sides to protect the placemats from stains.  They ended up back at our house after mom passed away and dad moved to a smaller apartment.  It took several washings to get the layer of adhesive goo off the fabric.

Redwork Snowman

It's been a busy week just before Christmas, but I did sneak some time to quilt awhile. 

I've been having fun trying out the embroidery option on my new Elna.  Simple redwork seemed to be a good way to start.  No color changes and no heavily embroidered areas to pucker up on me.  I started by putting designs on dish towels to give as hostess gifts for Holiday parties.

Then I branched out a bit and did some redwork on some muslin squares that I had leftover from a time when I had great ambitions to make a cathedral window quilt. (Which eventually became a set of placemats and lots of unused muslin squares.)

Anyway, a quilt pattern in  Country Quilts for Friends by Margaret Peters & Anne Sutton caught my eye, and I was off and sewing.  Can you recognize the red fabric?  That's from my de-constructed first Christmas quilt which I wrote about a few days ago.

The snowman motif is from Dakota Collectibles CD: Quilt Stitching.  A couple other favorites are an angel trumpeter motif and an ornament motif that was free to download from They let you download three free patterns per week - no purchase necessary.  Free is my price point!!!

Stop by and see the beautiful Christmas tree quilts at:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 Quilts of Christmas: Snowflakes

This quilt started out as a tree skirt, but ended up a cozy fleece-backed throw.  I had been looking for a good snowflake quilt pattern for a long time, and finally tried this one from Quilting Around the House with Pam Bono Christmas Vol.1 .  Wow, did those 1 inch squares seem tiny to work with!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12 Quilts of Christmas: Raggy Snowflakes

In the Nov/Dec 2007 Quiltmaker Magazine #118 they published a pattern called 'Fuzzy Bear' in a Raggy Style of quilting.  I'd never tried that before and it looked interesting.  Out came the box of leftover flannel from making pajamas for our kids over the years.

I'm calling these Christmas Quilts, but they sit out all winter in the family room and are so cozy to drape over our legs while watching television.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12 Quilts of Christmas: Christmas for Two

In the summer of 2009 I found an adorable striped Christmas fabric and bought two yards on a whim.  They were a little fussy because the print was directional and all the blocks and border needed to be the same direction.  I used every inch!  It turned into a pair of Holiday lap quilts and for our children. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

This week's design wall

This week there'll be a trip to Mill End Fabrics to see if I can find a nice medium to large print for the border of Mystery Quilt 7 from Quilters Club of America. 

Here's how it looks so far.  It ended up looking rather masculine with all the browns, navys and greens.  Don't you love how the french horn ended up centered?  There is enough of the dark navy with the small floral print for binding, but not enough for a 5 or 6 inch border.

Not sure if it will sit for a while before being quilted up, or if I'll just do it right away after the Holidays. 

12 Quilts of Christmas: Kalidoscope

The notes about this quilt are a little sketchy.  Actually, I can't find them at all.  But in about 2007 I made two of these quilts.  The method is Bethany Reynolds 'Stack-n-Whack', but I'm not sure if I worked from her book Magic Stack-n-Whack Quilts or found the idea in a magazine.  At any rate, each Christmas they can be found on top of a cedar chest, trunk or coffee table.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2 Quilts of Christmas: Merry Merry

This lovely quilt pattern came from a 2005 Block & Pattern a Day Calendar.  The design is by Debbie Kratovil.  The gold fabric has a shiny texture.  It's a scrap from a holiday blouse I made for my sister-in-law.  This wall hanging is one of my favorite Christmas quilts! 
This is where I really figured out the tricks to machine applique using a zig zag stitch.  It's not as hard as I had imagined.  Leave the needle down when you turn to adjust your direction:  on an Outside curve the needle needs to be Outside, on an Inside curve the needle needs to be Inside.  Wow, did that make applique look so much more professional!  

Friday, December 14, 2012

12 Quilts of Christmas: Tall Pine Tree

Apparently 1995 was Christmas Quilt year at our house.  Here's another quilt made that year which I've used at Christmas on our bed.

Tall Pine Tree reminds me of snowy days and the pine woods of Minnesota at Christmastime.

I started Tall Pine Tree back in 1986 or so and planned it as our wedding quilt.  But, I after getting some of the pieces cut out, I ran out of time.  So, my dear friend offered to work on it for me as a wedding gift.  She did get quite a bit done, but it sat in her UFO pile for a long time.  Four children kept her busy, and I had other quilts so I didn't really miss it.  Finally, she was moving and it was re-discovered.  The blocks came back to me and I finished the quilt in 1995! 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Quilts of Christmas: Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays is my third Christmas Quilt.   Also made in 1995, this traditional Irish Star pattern was for our son's bed.  The center of each star was fussy-cut and is a little house decorated for Christmas.  I used that same fabric for the first (red) border.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12 Quilts of Christmas: Sister's Choice

The second Christmas Quilt features poinsettia and holly prints. The pattern is a traditional Sister's Choice and I made it in 1995 for our daughter.  Every little girl with a pink bedroom needs a pink Christmas quilt, don't you think?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I have mail!

Today there was a package in the mailbox for me.  I don't usually squeal with delight, but you should have heard me today!  It feels like Santa came early to our house!

The package was from none other than Vicki Welsh at Field Trips in Fiber.  She and Judy Laquidara at Patchwork Times have been having fun selecting a color palette each month this past year and challenging quilters to make something using those colors.  It's been a lot of fun, and I was able to play along a couple of months this year. 

In November I made a small quilt that used the colors from their challenge.  I wrote about it and there's a link to the free pattern here.  Here's how it turned out:

I linked up a photo at the end of the month just because I was so excited that I was able to finish the challenge on time - plus I love how the colors turned out.  I wasn't even thinking about entering a contest or winning a prize. Was I ever surprised to find out that they drew my name to win a pack of Vicki's hand dyed fabric!  It's my first 'prize winning' quilt!  (snicker) 

Looking through all the beautiful fabric choices at was a delight, and it was nearly impossible to choose.  But with some help from my daughter I finally chose Makassar.

The package came today.  Three beautiful rich blues!

Now I have to decide what to make.   I've never used hand dyed fabric before.  But, I know this needs to go into something special. On my 'quilty bucket list' is an Ocean Waves quilt.  So many possibilities......

Thank you, Thank you to Vicki and to Judy.  What a wonderful Christmas surprise!

12 Quilts of Christmas: My first Christmas Quilt

It's that time of year to pull out and display all the wonderful Christmas Quilts we quilters have made.  If I have enough, I'd love to share Twelve Quilts of Christmas with you.  And I'd love to see your Christmas quilts too!

Now, those linky things just aren't in my blogging repertoire yet.  So you'll just have to leave a comment with a link to your post, or the name of your blog.  We'll see if that works.

My first Christmas Quilt was pretty awful.   From later posts you will be able to see just how far I've come as a quilter - so perhaps that's the one positive thing I can say for it.

This Christmas quilt was made way back in 1984!  I had some Christmas themed pre-printed blocks and thought this would be a great way to use them.  No pattern, no quilting experience, no quilters in the family and all self-taught.  Clearly, I had no idea what I was doing!

At the time, a cozy fabric called velux, or something like that, was popular.  It was like a velour but used for blankets and bath robes and such things.  I had a 'brilliant' idea.  Use it for the back of the quilt!  It would be soft and cozy.

 I used satin blanket binding on three sides and ran out so I just folded over the top.  The blocks were quilted 1/4 inch around on both sides of the seams, but that was all the quilting in it.  See those huge areas with no quilting?!  This was the first quilt I tried to machine quilt.  I'd never heard of a walking foot - perhaps they didn't even have them at that time.  But quilting this monster was so difficult that I did the bare minimum and stopped.  I only used it a few Christmas seasons.

I didn't even use batting - which in the long run was a good thing.  Because, over time that backing fabric completely disintigrated!  Eventually I pulled off the backing - (it just came off in my hands!) - took off the blanket binding and started taking it all apart.

I'll use the printed blocks in some other crafty projects.  (Yes, there are two of them hiding in the back row made into pot holders.)  The red and green pin-dot will go into future quilts - finally ones they can be proud to be a part of.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Advent Candles

In all the hustle-bustle of retail Christmas whatever happened to Advent?  That time of year we wait in joyful hope.  That time of year we prepare our hearts as well as our homes.  That time of year we light one candle, then another, and the light of faith in our darkness grows brighter each week.

Star of the East Advent Candles - original design by Jean at QuiltAwhile
Saturday night I couldn't get to sleep - too much chocolate before bed I think.(wink)   I was dreaming about making a quilt and this is what it looked like.  I sketched it up yesterday and headed for the scrap basket.  The result is this 17 inch square wall hanging.  (The dark greens under the candles don't show up too well in this photo.)  The star in the corner is a traditional block called Star of the East. Appropriate, don't you think?  I just had to put it into the open spot in the corner and it balanced the candles nicely. 

Wishing you the peace and joy of Advent this year.

Friday update:  Linking up with other quilters this week at  and .  You should take a look at all the other wonderful holiday quilts that follks have completed this week!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Easy Street and Bison Football

Spending the afternoon working on Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt and listening to the NDSU/SDSU playoff football game on my computer.  Several family members are at NDSU or have graduated from there in the past few years, so I've become a Bison fan.

I'm finally getting started on Easy Street.  Thank you, Bonnie, for not using the full two yards of grey called for in your original instructions!  My black-on-white substitute is navy-on-white and I wanted to use a shade of blue in place of the original grey. But, I just was not coming up with a satisfactory 2 yard piece to use.  So I stalled, and stalled...

Then in the second installment, Bonnie wrote that not all the grey was used.  So I did some math, and broke into some fabrics I had set aside for a different quilt.  Found a great piece of dark blue and had just enough.  Only a 4 inch strip left over!

Modern Rails

This quick little quilt was just the thing to use up some one-inch strips that had accumulated in my scrap bags.  Now, I have no idea why I started saving strips so small.  I'm not typically one to use them in anything.  Too small and fussy - and the likelyhood of things not matching when they go together is HUGE.

This quilt called 'Modern Rails' from Lyn Brown is perfect!  There are no seams to match with the little blocks and it went together quickly.    You can find the pattern by clicking here.

I've just got the main field of the top finished.  It probably needs another border, but I'm not sure what color.  Any suggestions?  The grey is all used up, and the rest were just tiny bits of scraps.  I might have to (gasp!) go to the fabric store and buy some fabric to finish it up.

I'm going to use it as my November color project so I'm linking up with Patchwork Times to show it off.  If you've come from there, thanks for stopping in!  If not, hop over and see what some of the other quilters have made.  It's well worth a visit!