Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Super Sunday

A one-yard piece of a darling copyrighted print that I received from my sister-in-law while she was clearing out her sewing area to move to a new house inspired this generous lap quilt.  The conversation print is adorable children dressed in various NFL team shirts.  (I'm not taking a close-up because of the copyright.)  It had been in her stash for years, and was leftover from something she made her son who is 26 years old now!

I wanted to feature the print, so a snowball block was just the ticket.  Alternate blocks are four-patches, but each one features the team colors of a different NFL team.  Well, almost. There is one more block than there are teams, so my hometown Vikings got two blocks.  Vikings purple for the border, and bright gold for cornerstones, binding and fleece backing finish it off.

Should be a cozy cuddle quilt to use while watching the game on Sundays.  Can you find the block with your favorite team's colors?

This quilt might go down as the last finish for the year for me.  From now until the New Year the schedule looks pretty packed. Have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Allietare 1, 2, 3

I just don't have time to start another of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilts.  No matter how much I love them.
And I cant justify making another bed-size quilt top when I have several tops still in the pile to be quilted.
Hmm.... I might have some of that color in my stash..  that one too...  and here's a great print that has all the colors in it and would make a nice border...
Maybe if I just cut two strips of each of the clues and make a small quilt?  And less scrappy for a change?
And so it begins.....

Allietare steps 1, 2 and 3

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

If you can have Christmas in July...

Last week I was zipping through the local Salvation Army thrift store and, low & behold, they had a new small section of fabric!  This sweet little patriotic stripe that had been in someone's stash since 1995 or so, found a new home at my house.  And about 3/4 yard of navy with tan stars came home too.
I could hardly wait to start making a table runner with a 4th of July patriotic theme, and here it is, December in Minnesota.  Well, if they can have a "Christmas in July" sale at the fabric store, I can have "July at Christmas" can't I?

Finished table runner
41-1/2 x 17 inches
This was so easy to make!  Two seams plus a border.  Seriously!

Here's a quick tutorial if you come across a fabric with wide stripes and want to make your own table runner.

The stripes in this fabric are exactly 1-inch wide, so the math to figure out the proportion for the blue star field was pretty easy:  A rectangle cut 6-1/2 x 10-inches worked out perfectly.

The fabric was 66-inches long and I cut a 7 1/2 inch strip for each runner:  four full red stripes, with a 1/4 inch seam allowance on each side for a total of 7 1/2 inches.

I was able to cut 5 table runners out of this one 66-inch length of fabric, so I'll have a few on hand for hostess gifts and door prize donations.  Sweet!
Next, I measured down 9 1/2 inches from one end of the strip
and folded the fabric back on itself to that line. 
 Cut along the fold.
Trim the most of one red stripe off the shorter piece,
leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.
This gives you 13 stripes total.  Perfect!

Lay out your three pieces as shown.
Sew the blue stars to the shorter stripe piece.
Then, join that piece to the longer stripe piece.

Cut three 2 1/2-inch WOF (width of fabric) strips of a border fabric.  Add to the long sides first, then the short ends.  Cut three 2 1/2-inch WOF (width of fabric) strips of a binding fabric.  Cut one piece of backing fabric 18 inches by WOF.  I used two layers of flannel for the batting (1 yard).  

Quilt a triple zig-zag stitch at longest and widest setting on your machine along each of the stripes.  Quilt the field of stars in a diagonal straight stitch.  Quilt the border with a simple meander or stipple.

When stitching your stripe fabrics together, pay attention that you stitch right on the color line so it looks like seamless fabric when you're done.  If the seam is a hair too deep it's not a problem, but too shallow will give you a teeny extra stripe in there that you don't want.

Use a natural fiber batting in case someone sets a hot casserole or something on the table runner. Polyester batting could melt or get a 'flat spot' from excessive heat.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Sheep and the Doves

File this one under "How did I ever get myself into this?"

The two local Churches where I am involved in music ministry have a joint Theater group.  It started out at choir rehearsal.  The woman purchasing fabric for costumes does not sew, and had some questions about what type of fabrics to buy.  I offered to go shopping with her, and somehow I ended up sewing costumes for the Christmas program! A far cry from all the quilting I had wanted to be doing this month.
Sheep: This looks much cuter on the kids than on the table!

But, it's been an enjoyable and challenging adventure.  My job was drafting patterns and making a dozen sheep and two dove costumes for some of the children in the children's choir.  They will be singing "The Friendly Beasts," and be surrounding the Shepherds during other parts of the performance.

"I," said the sheep, with the curly horn,
"I gave Him my wool for a blanket warm;
He wore my coat on Christmas morn."
"I," said the sheep, with the curly horn.

"I," said the dove from the rafters high,
"Cooed Him to sleep that He should not cry;
We cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I."
"I," said the dove from the rafters high.

The sheep were pretty easy.  We just tore 18-21-inch WOF strips of curly fake fur, and folded them in half.  The selvage edges became the bottom of the vest.  We stitched up side seams leaving 10 inches open top and bottom on each side.  Then, using a sweatshirt pattern to get the right shape/size, we cut a neck hole in the fold.  The children will be wearing purchased black long-sleeve t-shirts and black pants.  They just pop one of these little vests over their heads, put on a white felt hood with ears, and TA-DA!  Sheep, as cute as can be.
Dove front

An old 1970's cape pattern was used to get the shape for the dove wings.  Drafting this pattern idea was a little trickier than the sheep, but I think it will do.  The fabric is some type of chiffon with swirls and rosettes stitched on top from the 'bridal fabrics' department.  I do think it gives a lot of texture to the wings.

Some stitch-and-cut made partial sleeves to help carry the weight of the cape, and, those doves can flap their wings!   A feathered mask and sparkly white t-shirt finish up the costume.  Good thing I took a photo of one for you!  When I put it on a hanger I discovered the weight of the cape was a bit much for the t-shirt, and decided to tack the cape at the shoulder seam as well as the neckline.  
Dove back

I'm excited to see the whole performance come together.  (As the guitarist, I've only seen the songs which I will be playing so far.)  There are over 20 children, and 35 adults taking part.  They will tell the Christmas Story through acting, choral and congregational singing.  There will be a fair amount of humor, if I know this group.  Can't wait to hear what the Wise Men's Wives have to say about their husbands taking off to follow a Star!  (By the way, we bought some lovely brocade fabrics for their gowns!)

I'd better get going....rehearsal at 8 PM tonight!

"Fear Not!  Reflections at the Manger"
an original performance by the Heaven Help Us Players
Friday, December 18, 2015  6 PM
Nativity of Mary Church
9900 Lyndale Ave. S.
Bloomington, MN
Saturday, December 19, 2015   6 PM
St. Bonaventure Church
901 East 90th Street
Bloomington, MN

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Let the Holidays Begin!

New apron!
It's hard to believe that we're celebrating Thanksgiving here and the Holiday season has begun!  I can't wait to pull out the Christmas quilts again and decorate the house, can you?  Maybe you're already ahead of me, but I just can't pull Christmas out until after Thanksgiving.  One holiday at a time, please!  

The sewing machine has been humming away embroidering dish towels for my daughter, and she took 25 back with her today.  Amid all the towels for her museum fundraiser, I took the time to embroider an apron to wear in the kitchen on Thanksgiving.  So cute!  (The embroidery download is from Embroidery Library.)  
It will be pretty busy around here for the rest of the year.  I'm helping with costumes for a Christmas program up at church, as well as playing guitar and singing - so lots of evening rehearsals coming up over the next two weeks.  I'm also on the committee to put on the Women's Advent tea at church, and there are several museum events in December too.  How's a woman to get any quilting done?!  I'll just have to look forward to January, which is always a very productive month for me as far as quilting goes.  Quilting is the best thing to do during a Minnesota winter!  

So, let the Holidays begin: quilt on!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

An afternoon at the Expo

It was a cloudy and blustery November day in Minnesota today, but it was also the first day of the Sewing & Quilt Expo.  So, there was a ray of quilty sunshine!  This year the event is being held right here in Bloomington, so I popped over for a couple of hours this afternoon to check out the vendors and see what was new.

They usually have several quilt displays which are such fun to see.  There were some wonderful art quilts in one area.  In another spot was a series of very artistic small quilts and fabric art pieces called "Breast Pockets" to honor women (and men) who have had mastectomies and have decided against reconstructive surgery.  I should have snapped a photo of some, but you can learn a little about it here.  

My favorite was group of wall-hanging size quilts had Autumn themes.  All were so very creative and a delight to see!  I snapped photos of a couple that inspired me, and actually seemed within my skill set.  Maybe they will inspire you too!
The First Leaf to Turn by Zeeta Magnuson.
I love these brilliant sumac leaves!
Branching Out by Carol Carter.
It's hard to see, but the background is scrappy neutral diamonds.
Lots of layering in the leaves, and some even 3-D.
Wish I could give credit for this one, but as you can see,
I cut off the title and didn't realize it.  But I love the quilt!
The quilter is from Wisconsin, and the title might be Fall Abundance.
The Expo runs through Saturday.  Here's a link for more information if you live in the area.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's pumpkin time!

Finally, a little bit of piecing was done last weekend!  Seems like it's been Forever since I did any sewing. I'm really trying to get Dad's stamp collection sorted out before I get into fall quilting and it's completely taken over the dining room.

That being said, we were at the lake last weekend pulling in the pontoon, lift and dock, and buttoning up the place for the winter.  DH went to bed early after all that work, and I had the chance to spend an hour at the sewing machine upstairs and made these little cuties:

They will be in the October row in a months-of-the-year row-by-row quilt that I occasionally pull out and work on.  I've run out of the black fabric I was using for background.  Do you think I could have planned ahead and make sure I had enough???  Been to four fabric stores, with no luck finding a match.  But I'm not too worried.  I'm making it up as I go. Looks like they could use a few applique pumpkin leaves.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

French Cottage Find

There hasn't been much going on in the sewing room for the past month, and I'm in serious withdrawal!  I've had just too many other things going on.  But that doesn't stop me from snapping up a quilting bargain when I see one and I just couldn't wait to share it with you.

On the way to the grocery store yesterday I stopped in at the thrift store next door.  There on the shelf for only $14 was a complete quilt kit for "French Cottage," a block-of-the-month from Jo-Ann.  All twelve blocks and the setting kit, all together and unopened!  At full price it probably ran about $195.  Whoop!!!
French Cottage block-of-the-month

Never having used purchased pre-packaged kits like this, I was surprised to find that all the pieces are already cut!   I thought there would be fat 1/8ths of the different fabrics and you cut your own pieces, so I picked it up thinking I'd just add the fabric to my stash.  I really don't need yet another quilt project - I have so many on the list to do this winter - but it should really fly together if I don't have to cut out the pieces.  Seems like it's half done already!

Have you ever made a block of the month like this from a kit?  Did your quilt look like the original, or did you make changes to make it your own?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Display boards

Pearl buttons, apron patterns and Workbasket magazines.
No quilting again this week, but I've been super busy putting together all I need for my demonstration booth at Heritage Days tomorrow.  Costume done (check!) Trunk packed with quilts (check!)  Two display boards finished (check!)

Still have the large quilting frame to bring up from the basement, and then pack up the van.  If you are in the Twin Cities come on over!  I would love to see you at Bloomington Heritage Days.  The historical society tents will be open from noon to 6pm.

Notions, advertising and 1940's sewing books.
Park and Ride from Kennedy High School on 98th and Nicollet, or from Normandale College on 98th and France.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fabric in the mail!

It was so exciting to get a package of gorgeous fabrics in today's mail!  One of the blogs I follow is Field Trips in Fiber written by Vicki Welsh, . Vicki is a wonderfully creative quilter and artist who hand dyes fabrics.  She has been encouraging her readers to get busy finishing up UFO's so we can get to work on our Dream Quilt project.  I've been commenting just to keep myself on task with my UFO's, and much to my surprise, she had a drawing to win a yard of her hand dyed fabric - and I was the winner!

We sent a couple e-mails back and forth, and she generously sent these luscious light blue pieces. Thank you, Vicki! I'm planning to use them to make my dream project...a Storm at Sea quilt.  (Which I constantly keep calling Ocean Waves for some reason.)  Now I have all the fabrics, and the pattern, so this fall/winter it's 'game on' for Storm at Sea.  No excuses.

Vicki has a great Etsy shop where you can get some of these, and many more, wonderful fabrics for your own special project.  The weight and quality of the fabric is very good, and her colors are so clear.

In addition to her fabrics, and her quilting, Vicki is an amazing artist in a number of other mediums.  She is creating a mosaic wall she in her home, and makes lovely bowls with slumped glass.  She also makes beautiful quilted postcards for her family and friends and shares how to make them on her blog.  Someday I'm going to give that a try!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

More State Fair Quilts

Most of the quilts entered into the Minnesota State Fair can be found in the Creative Activities building.  And what an amazing display!  You will have to take my word that there are stunning applique and intricately pieced quilts all throughout the building.  I tend to photograph quilts that I actually have a fighting chance of making myself some day. So, let's take a look around and see what caught my eye....
Market Basket - traditional block
flannel Floating Friendship Star - traditional block
This just looked so cozy!
Some darling small quilts were also on display.
This grouping in the Ramberg Senior Center included
an award from a LQS: Rosebud's Cottage 

And though I don't think Dear Jane is a quilt that I will attempt, this lovely version was folded on a display shelf. I wish we could have seen the entire quilt to fully appreciate the artistry that goes into making it.
Dear Jane in batiks on black background
Surprisingly, there were not labels with the quilter's names on the quilt displays in this building so I can't give credit where due.  Congratulations to all the quilters whose work is displayed!  You have outdone yourselves again this year, and it was a delight to see your quilts.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Minnesota State Fair time

Minnesota Bedrock Geology Quilt 2011 by Aileen Lively
We're into the "12 best days of summer" here in Minnesota and that means the MN State Fair is in full swing.  This huge event is attended by millions of visitors each year - and it's a hoot!  Where else can a 15 foot tall cow be seen going down the street on a trailer and be absolutely normal?  Kids and adults alike wear crazy paper hats that look like pigs or pickles, and it's as common as a baseball cap.  And the food.... foot long hot-dogs, corn dogs, cheese curds and even meatloaf-on-a-stick.  Strike up a conversation with a complete stranger as you sit and enjoy some musical entertainment, and folks would think you'd known each other for years.  We're all family after all.

The amazing talents of quilters from all over the state can be seen in multiple venues.  Here are a few snapshots from this year.

The first quilt I saw was this 84x108 inch quilt in the Dept. of Natural Resources building.  The quilter appliqued 80 different batik fabrics! Stunning.  This photo does not do it justice.

A version of the Milky Way block called Chinese Coin
traditional block made by Sandra Claessens

There is always a nice collection of quilts in the Ramberg Senior Center, and I was able to look at these while listening to a men's choir sing some great old-time songs.  I'm always drawn to these jewel-tone colors and this one has an alternating light/dark secondary pattern which gives the quilt so much motion. The one below is so wonderfully scrappy.

Old Maid's Puzzle traditional block
made by Mary Jane M.
Cathedral Window traditional coverlet
made by Angie Rogers
Are you fascinated by Cathedral Window quilts?  I have actually tried one once.  Lots of work, but so very pretty.

And look at this Little Red House quilt with alternating background colors.  It reminds me of the suburban neighborhood I grew up in, with the houses close together.  It's a lovely setting for this block that I don't think I've seen before, and I was immediately drawn to it.  Love it!

More to come....
Little Red House traditional block
made by Carol Schwankl

Monday, August 17, 2015

Postage stamp quilting

Guess what I've gotten myself into...Postage Stamps!  At the beginning of August the postage stamps that Dad had collected over the years came to my house.   He supervised the mail room at work for years.  When a commemorative stamp came in, the empty envelope ended up at our house in a box.  Twelve boxes to be exact - and now opened for the first time in 35 years.  Unsorted, some stamps still on envelopes, many just torn off and stuffed in another envelope.  Overwhelming!

I feel I have to go through every box, bag and envelope closely. Already I've found a newspaper clipping with my great-grandmother's obituary, a photograph of Dad at work, envelopes from letters Dad sent home to his folks during WWII, and even a couple of checks from the 1970's.  

In 1978 the US Postal Service issued a set of stamps with Quilt Blocks.  Do any of you remember these?  I was just barely starting to quilt back then.  What a treasure to find quite a few of them.   I think they look so cute in a little frame from the thrift store.  Don't you?

The old stamps are fun to look at.  Sounds like the real collectors want the stamps to be mint condition, or perfect.  These humble little cancelled stamps would never meet their standards. If you would like a set of four basket stamps to put in your own little frame let me know.  There's enough to share!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

July stragglers

July was a really productive month in the sewing room here.  There are two more little quilts that didn't get photographed until August.  Both were made from 'bonus' HST's from other projects.  It's so nice to use those little bonus pieces.  Seems like the quilts go together in half the time!
original design  33 inches square
(traditional Irish Puzzle and Sarah's Choice blocks)
Summer Star  19 1/2 inches square
pattern by Sherri at a quilting life.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

July finishes

Lazy Sunday 84x105 inches
A busy July in the quilt room!

I worked hard all through June, and by mid-July finished quilting Lazy Sunday.  This Bonnie Hunter design was a mystery quilt that I pieced in 2013, so a 2-year finish.  Queen size quilts are a challenge to quilt up on my machine - no long arm here - and I tend to just enjoy piecing them and put off quilting them.  There are three more yet to be done.  Hope I can stay motivated!

There were some small quilts finished up as well.

D4P  13 inches square
 I finished quilting the red border on this little Disappearing 4-Patch.  Don't know why that took so long.  I was just procrastinating on free motion quilting I guess.

Roman Stripe blocks found in a box of quilt scraps gifted from my friend's late mother inspired two quilts.  I'd say those were UFO's from the 1980's.  I thought the black version would look much darker than it does.  The borders brightened it up considerably.  I quilted these much more densely than I typically do, and my machine quilting and free motion quilting are horrible, but improving.  (Don't look too close.)

Red Roman Stripe 32 inches square

And three versions of this little flag quilt: one as door prize for our Lake Association Picnic next month, one for my sister, and one for ME!  It's especially meaningful because I used pieces of our dad's clothing in some of the flags.
America 18x29 inches
Finally finished this mystery table topper from Sheri K. Falls.  Free pattern here.  It just needed a bit more quilting, and binding.  The free motion quilted pine needles can be found as a free tutorial here at The Inbox Jaunt.
Mystery #5 table topper:  25 inches square
This month our DS and DIL celebrated their second wedding anniversary.  Their 'cotton anniversary' according to tradition - so I gave them a table runner made from the 2015 Row by Row Experience.
Lappin' at the Shore - Country Fabrics and Quilts, Brainerd MN

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Not one, but two!

Audition time...
Looking around on the internet the other day I saw someone had posted a photo of a cute little quilt she was making with half square triangles.  The quilter showed the original, which was made with lovely yellows and pastels.  Then she showed her quilt in progress with brighter colors.  Inspiration!

There was a small bag of yellow and red HST's left over from another project and the little quilt would be the perfect way to use them up.

After piecing the center there were still some HST's leftover, and one pinwheel.  Soon all the leftovers were made into pinwheels.   There were only 12, but enough for the top and bottom borders with 2 extra.   I auditioned them for a day or two on the design wall.  
Summer Sunshine

Until....  another quilter posted her quilt in progress.  It is Cabin in the Woods, a design by Ellen Murphy in American Homestead Quilts.  It uses 12 pinwheels for the centers of the blocks. More inspiration!

Those pinwheels were snatched off the design wall and I started searching through the stash.  Now there are two quilt tops pieced up and those leftover HST's are all gone!

I wish I could give you a link to the quilt that inspired Summer Sunshine, but I can't find it at all now.  (sigh) Apparently inspiration is fleeting.
Cabin in the Woods

Monday, July 20, 2015

Row by Row

Vertically it's a waterfall
One of the patterns I picked up as part of the Row by Row Experience used bargello technique, which I have never tried.  A quick trip to Hancock to pick up a few extra quarter-yard cuts of batik, and I gave it a try.

The pattern is Lappin' at the Shore by Country Fabrics and Quilts in Brainerd, MN.

I had trouble with the directions.  My eye kept going to the chart of how to cross-cut the joined strips, and I started off cutting the original strips those sizes.  Oops!  But I caught it fairly early, and only had to re-cut two pieces.  (One was too narrow and I re-cut it completely, the other I just trimmed down to the right size.)

The quilting was so easy. I just used the walking foot and made a series of wavy lines that crossed over each other.  I used several different color threads - white, lime green, lt. and dark blues.  That really gave motion to the quilt!  And used a piece of my Marimekko fabric from Finland for the back.

DS and DIL are celebrating their second wedding anniversary today.  This table runner is for them as a reminder of their honeymoon trip to Canada where they saw some lovely lakes and waterfalls.
Horizontally it's a lake
The happy couple at Honeymoon Lake

Monday, July 13, 2015

If you give a mouse a quilt....

He will chew a hole in it!
I was looking for something on the linen shelf at the lake cabin this past weekend and was dismayed to find that a little mouse had been visiting.  This little quilt was a gift from a neighbor.  She didn't know who made it.  Occasionally I hang it up at the lake cabin in the fall.

A fix was in order.   I didn't take photos of all the steps, but here they are...
1. Slip a small square of muslin between the muslin backing and the batting.  Pin in place from the back.
2. Flip over.  Re-position batting in the hole.  Pin a larger piece of black bridal netting to the front to keep the loose batting from being caught in the feed dogs.  Flip again so backing is facing up.
3.  Using darning or free motion quilting setting, machine stitch around the hole.  Mend the hole (from the back) with vertical and horizontal rows of straight stitching.
4. Flip over to the front side.  Trim away excess netting.
5. Cut a heart applique to cover the hole and repair stitching from the front.  I used a bit of Heat N Bond to hold it in place.
6.  Zig-zag applique the heart to the front of the quilt.  I used 2.5 width and .5 length.
Ta Da!
When I was trimming threads I thought they made the heart look like a balloon.  I just might add a string or ribbon and that heart will become a heart-shaped balloon floating UP above the neighborhood.