Monday, January 31, 2011

Slow Process

As I planned, I've spent most of the weekend quilting. And, as usual, it's a much slower process than I first anticipated. It's Sunday night and I would guess that after spending many hours over the course of two days, the quilting is about half done.

If you do your own quilting, perhaps you'll agree that each quilt demands its own unique quilting. Some quilts lend themselves to an overall design while some do not. The one I'm working on does not. You can probably see what I mean in the photo above where the different parts of the quilt are quilted differently--I think this type of quilting really showcases the design of the quilt.

I suspect some of you are probably wondering, so I'll answer a couple questions before you even have a chance to ask. For quilting, I use a Juki sewing machine, which has a bigger throat area than most domestic machines. I also plan, when quilting a large quilt such as this king size one, to use free motion quilting, so I don't have to manipulate and turn the quilt as much as I would if I was using a walking foot. Although the quilt fits well enough in the machine, the size alone makes it heavy, so the less I have to haul it around, the better. I start in the middle of the quilt and work my way to the edges, so it gets a little easier as I go.

Even so, after sewing all weekend, my neck and shoulders are screaming at me. I think it's time to soak for a bit in a nice, hot bath to relax my sore muscles. At least someone got caught up on his rest and relaxation over the weekend.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vintage History

Thank you all for the movie recommendations. Hubby and I went to see the King's Speech and loved it--just as you predicted. The actors did a fantastic job, and what's even more lovely is that I learned a bit about the history of the last century. Isn't it funny how little we seem to be taught about the last few decades before our birth? Maybe it just takes time to put everything into perspective.

In yesterday's post, I briefly mentioned the trunk show and lecture I attended Friday night given by Amy Barickman. I suspect many of you don't know who she is, but her most recent work is a book called Vintage Notions.

Some years ago, Amy began collecting pamphlets and women's magazines from the early 1900s, and through those old publications, she "discovered" Mary Brooks Picken, who was something like the Martha Stewart of her time, and the school she was affiliated with, the Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences, which offered women correspondence courses in sewing, cooking, needlework, and fashion.

In her book, Vintage Notions, Amy has reprinted many of the best articles, patterns, and recipes from the publications of Mary Brooks Picken and the Woman's Institute that were originally published shortly after World War I and into the 1920s.

If you enjoy women's history and would like to see more of what women were doing and thinking 100 years ago, look for Amy's book--it's great fun to read!

And if you have an opportunity to see her speak, don't miss it! You can check out her blog HERE.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Heading Into the Weekend

I know some of my Blogland friends in Australia will be reading this and feeling a little jealous that our weekend is just beginning and theirs is half over, but I can't help but feel jubilant. (Isn't that a good word, "jubilant"? I knew it was what I meant, but I looked it up to make certain. It means "joyful and triumphant; elated; rejoicing." Yep, that's me!)

I had dinner out with my stitching friends and then we went to see--and listen to--Amy Barickman speak about how the Vintage Notions book came about. I took photos, but I haven't downloaded them yet. More about that tomorrow, I think.

I needed to pick up a couple things from the grocery store, so after our gathering split up, I stopped on the way home and picked up everything I need for the weekend--at least I HOPE it's everything! But you know how that goes, right? There will probably be something else I'll need tomorrow and poor Hubby will be sent out to get it.

I don't know what gets into me sometimes, but every now and then--and it's really not all THAT often--I get a second wind on a Friday night, and so I get busy cleaning house. That's what happened tonight. Now that I think about it, maybe it was the piece of double cream blueberry pie I brought home from Marie Callender's that got into me. After all, I gotta work off those calories somehow!

When I first got home and came in the house, it smelled kind of musty/funky to me, so maybe that had something to do with my cleaning spree. One of the things I don't like about winter is not being able to open the windows and doors and let in the fresh air. So I'm sitting here now, writing this, at 12:30 a.m. with almost all of the windows and doors open. Yes, it's a little chilly--41 degrees out. But it's not as cold as it is where most of you live, I suspect!

My shopping's done, my house is clean, and I'm heading in to take a bath next. Tomorrow I plan to put my Bernina away and get out the Juki and start quilting that Back Home Again/Ellery quilt I pinned the other day. I think the only real "chore" I have to do this weekend is cook--yippeee! One of the things I picked up at the grocery store is a whole chicken. Do you have a favorite chicken recipe you can point me toward? I know something in the crockpot would be low-effort, but I think I'd rather bake, broil, barbecue, or sautee it.

And another thing I was wondering: Have you seen any good movies lately? With just about all my chores done, it might be a good weekend to head out to the theater, so recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks for stopping by to visit, and I hope you're feeling jubilant about the weekend too!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bits of This and That

Have you been participating in the Moda Bakeshop Progressive Dinner? I popped over to visit a couple of the blogs tonight--yep, that's me: late for everything, including dinner! It wasn't what I thought it was going to be with projects and/or recipes like some of the recent holiday blog hops, or even like our Be Mine Blog Tour, although a couple of the designers I visited did have recipes and/or projects. Most of the emphasis, though, seemed to be on a new book that's coming out and precut fabric giveaways--NOT that I would ever quibble with THAT, mind you! I certainly left comments on the blogs I visited, although I kind of doubt I'll get to visit all of them to be entered into the grand prize giveaway.

I finished the Mon Ami quilt top--I haven't measured it, but I think it's probably around 50" square, so it's a good tabletopper size or nice for a small lap quilt--maybe for sitting outside watching fireworks on the 4th of July when sunburned skin gets just a bit chilly?

I checked out the second block of the Waiting for Spring block-a-palooza thing and I'm not sure about that one either--at least not with the fabrics the designers are working with. This one is by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson! Click HERE if you want to see it and haven't already. She mentioned in her post that the designers were asked to create a block with a flying geese or 9-patch motif, and that's making me wonder whether I want to keep going with this. I'm leaning toward waiting to see what the next few blocks look like before I decide. I really love the fabric, so I'm sure I could come up with an alternate idea if I decide to go off in a different direction.

Speaking of block things, thank you for your encouragement about doing one of my own here on my blog. Since I now know there are several of you who might be interested, I'll give it some serious thought and probably ask you to answer a few questions in the near future so I can come up with an idea that might be interesting. I'd truly appreciate it if you'd comment with your answers when the time comes.

Tomorrow night I get to attend a trunk show and talk by Amy Barickman of Indygo Junction and Vintage Notions. I'll be meeting my stitchery gals for dinner before the show. I wish you could all come, but I'll try to remember to take my camera and tell you all about it, okay? See you after the show.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Block Head

I decided I wanted to work on something with a low challenge threshhold tonight, so I figured I'd catch up on my . . . well, I'm not sure what to call them. You know where someone--like Moose on the Porch--does a sampler block quilt thing and invites different designers to design blocks? She calls them quilt-alongs, which seems like a good name for them. But then I'm doing this Waiting for Spring "block-a-palooza" thing too, which also seems like a good name. If you're quilting on crack, anyway. But I guess you know what I'm talking about now, right? So that's what I decided to do.

Sometimes I ask myself why I participate in these things, and I don't really have much of an answer. I guess they're just kind of fun. Do you like to play too?

One thing I've found is that not all designers are equal. I guess I knew that before, but I'm reminded of it every so often with these quilt-alongs. You can tell that some designers just throw something out there that's easy for them, and they don't put much thought or work into it. I don't really "get" that because this is their chance to attract new potential customers to their patterns and designs.

For instance, one block we were given in one of these things had been used for another quilt design, and when many of the same block were put together, it made for a cool pattern, but one block by itself--well, it just didn't seem to make sense. Still, there are plenty of good designers who take time to find or design some interesting blocks for us.

This is the first block of the Waiting for Spring thing, which was designed by Quilt Dad.

I like the design, but I'm concerned about the low contrast in fabrics. Maybe I should have just listened to my inner quilter and selected fabrics with more contrast, but since it was the first block, I thought I'd make it according to design and wait and see. By the way, I was amused that my foot ended up in the photo, so I left it there--a friend gave me these crazy socks for Christmas and I feel like I should be in a Dr. Seuss book when I wear them!

Here's the other block I made--this one is from the Layer Cake Quilt-Along--no foot in this one.

I really liked this design--it went together well and I like the way it looks. It was designed by Celine Perkins of Perkins Dry Goods.

One of the things I really appreciate with the designs we're given is a good PDF file of the block pattern that can be printed in one or two pages and taken into the Sweat Shop for cutting and sewing. This second block was perfect--two pages with some nice colored illustrations. The first block? The PDF version was 18 or 19 pages--much, much too long for me to want to print, so I spent time going back and forth from my sewing room to the computer--unfortunately, I don't have a lap top, darn it!

Every so often, I think of doing my own block-a-thon project here on my blog--with me as the designer, of course! What are the things that you like and that are important to you when you participate in something like this? And what are the things that drive you crazy? Any tips you can share would be appreciated!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Closed for attitude adjustment.

I'm not sure why, but I'm feeling kind of cranky and blah tonight. And I don't feel very good either. In fact, if I still had PMS, I'd say that's it, but I don't think so. Ick!

So what do YOU do to snap out of it? I think I'll just go to bed and adopt an attitude of denial. I suspect I'll be back to normal tomorrow. (Okay, so SOME might not agree that "normal" is the best word choice, but you know what I mean.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Channeling My Inner Yankee Doodle

As you can see, Mon Ami has grown and altered a bit with the addition of sashing and cornerstones. What's next? Ah, THAT's still a mystery, even to me--perhaps to me most of all! I like the scrappy triangle border in the original pattern but what to use to transition from what I've done so far to the point of adding an inner border? And I think I need to look in my stash for outer border fabric as well. Stay tuned to see what happens.

Meanwhile, at ease, soldier!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Back Home Again

Our weather warmed up over the past couple of days, and it was pretty nice out on the patio today--so nice I was able to pin the quilt I mentioned before. It's a king size quilt, though, so it took some time and all the pins in my pin box, AND I have to say it took so long it was starting to get pretty chilly and I was quickly losing the light before I finished. Want to see it? I took this photo when I first laid it out.

There's a little bit of a story behind this quilt. I think it was two years ago that I signed up for Kaye England's Back Home Again block of the month quilt. We were given a bunch of fat quarters up front and we received a new pattern each month for a 12" block and a matching 6" block. To the 6" block, we added triangles to bring it up to 12". We could use whatever fabric we wanted from our fat quarters, so no two quilts looked exactly alike.

I made the blocks for the first two months, and while I liked them well enough, I decided the fabric line just wasn't exciting to me. Meanwhile, I had "collected" bits and pieces of a line called Ellery by Quilt Soup that reminded me of sherbet and had a lot of florals. I didn't know what I was going to do with it until it occurred to me that I probably had enough of the Ellery fabric to make the quilt. So I put aside the four blocks I had already made and started over. I finished the piecing last year and put it away to be quilted later. Now it's later.

When I pulled it back out again and laid it on my bed, I found it wasn't quite large enough for our king size bed, so I decided to add a little more to the borders--probably another 8" or so all around. I think it will look great for spring!

Are you wondering what happened to the original fabric? Well, I put that aside too, thinking I'd make the quilt someday as a gift or use the fabric for something else. I finally decided today that the original quilt and fabric is much too pretty to leave on my shelf forever, so I thought I'd list it in my Etsy shop and give someone else a chance. Normally I don't try to "sell" my blog readers, but I thought I'd mention it because (1) it's a great quilt and (2) the price is pretty good.

Here's a photo of the "kit" showing the fabrics--although they didn't feel like "me," they are lovely.

If you'd like to find out more about it, click HERE.

I've also been working a bit more on the Mon Ami quilt today but I still have a somewhat long way to go before it's done. I had an idea that I'll probably be able to show you tomorrow--I think it's made it look even better! I'd like to get the piecing finished, though, because I'm anxious to start quilting the "Back Home Again Ellery" quilt. There's just never as much time as we'd like, is there?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Seasons of Quilting

One of the interesting things I've noticed because I have a blog is that I seem to turn to the same things each year at the same times. Holiday-themed quilts are sort of expected, but it still surprises me that I tend to start projects for each holiday at pretty much the same week each year. But there's also other stuff--like the fact that I start thinking more about applique projects around this time of the year and into early spring.

Tomorrow I plan to pin the next quilt I'll finish--that will be my "2nd in '11" quilt. Besides that, I'll keep working on the Mon Ami Schnibbles quilt--here's the latest photo--

Twenty of twenty-five blocks are done, so I have five left and then there's the pieced border too. Probably a day's work, I suspect.

But after that? I'm thinking about applique. I have three applique quilts in various stages of completion, and I'd like one of them to become my "3rd in '11." I'm not sure which one yet, but it will be fun trying to decide. Maybe I'll even decide to finish two of them this year!

What are you working on or planning to start (or finish) next? Do you find yourself doing the same things each year at the same times too?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Starry, Starry Night

I've been working tonight on the Mon Ami Schnibbles pattern. Have you seen it? It's the Le Petite project for January. Here's a photo of Carrie Nelson's version using one of the French General lines--

Pretty, yes? But I've been putting off making it this month, and I think it's because I was hoping to come up with a fresh, original color combination, but everything I thought of wasn't as appealing as the very trite red, white, and blue--after all, it IS stars! So I finally pulled out a couple of old charm packs and decided that for mine, I'd use a background of mixed light colored charms instead of the all-one-fabric background in the original. Here are my first five blocks, fully sewn--

I have the other pieces cut and stacked but not sewn yet, and there are a lot of half square triangles to make, so I'm glad I didn't put it off any longer. And I guess I shouldn't be hard on myself about the rather predictable color combination--after all, in the Sweat Shop, I have a whole cubbie of red, white, and blue fabrics, so obviously I like the combination, right? How about you? Have you made this project yet (or WILL you be making it this month)? If so what color combination and fabrics are you playing with? Inquiring minds . . . .

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Do You Know the Deaf Pilots?

Once upon a time . . . before the Wild Child re-enrolled in college and moved back home, she lived in Tahoe and had a job waitressing/bartending. In her free time, she sang in a local band. While in Tahoe, she met Manager Man, who was working as a waiter at the same restaurant and was a member of a different local band. Obviously they had a lot in common, and a relationship developed.

Fast forward a couple months, and the Wild Child was back in college and living at home, and Manager Man was back at HIS college, about a two hour drive away. When they had time, usually on weekends, they'd get together. Neither of them was in a band anymore, but Manager Man had begun managing a local band called the Deaf Pilots.

A couple of weeks before Christmas, the boys in the band filmed their first music video, and they stopped at our house for a little break on the drive home from San Francisco to Chico. It was sort of cute seeing these young "kids" who were kind of overwhelmed and kind of pumped up by the whole experience.

Now they've just finished what I think was their first tour, playing different small venues (i.e., bars) all over the state, and Manager Man showed up at our house tonight to be reunited with the Wild Child. While we were chatting, I learned he and the band had been on tour for two whole weeks and each of them started out with $140 for gas, food, and lodging. Amazing! I can't go to a quilt shop for an hour and spend much less than that.

A couple of months ago, Manager Man was reading my blog and noted my traffic stats. He was certain that the band's exposure to the number of readers who stopped in could quite possibly launch their careers. Like a bunch of middle aged quilters are likely to launch the careers of some rock and roll college kids, right? Yeah, whatever!

Anyway, if you happen to see that the Deaf Pilots are playing at an amphitheater near you someday, or if you're watching music videos and see them in one, remember this post. Because, you know--YOU probably helped to make them famous. I wonder if this is anything like the way the Beatles and the Rolling Stones got their start? And I wonder if I can collect any kind of royalties for promoting the band?

Valentine's Day Minis

I thought I'd show you a few Valentine's Day mini quilts I've made over the past couple of years. Valentine's Day is a favorite theme for me--you may have figured that out already!

In the last couple of days, when I've had time, I've been working on another smallish Valentine's Day quilt that I finally finished tonight--I needed something for the wall in my bathroom. This one measures 16" x 17", so it fits the space perfectly.

I used the same method I've used for some of my other machine appliqued wool pieces, like the Bette Bunny pattern tutorial in my sidebar, so I was able to make it pretty quickly. (By the way, if you're interested in this pattern, I've put together a few kits and listed them in my Etsy shop, along with some collections of wool squares.)

In past years, I've made other Valentine's Day minis. Originally I had this one up on the wall in my bathroom, but I decided to hang it at work instead:

That's why I needed to make another one this year. As you can see, it was made using one of the woven heart blocks with wool appliqued hearts in the corners. And I think a couple of you still remember this one too--

I'm not sure where the photo is after it was quilted and bound, but I came across this one, so I thought I'd share--I had forgotten about it! I think I gave this one away too, either on my blog or in my quilt class that year. Of course, this is another quilt that uses four of the woven heart blocks and Mary Engelbreit fabric--isn't it fun to find a fabric that can give a quilt as much personality as that heart/home border print does? A couple of you commented the other day that you remembered the one I'd made using Mary Engelbreit fabric, and I wonder now which of the last two you were thinking of? I'd guess it might be this last one. And you know what? I think I saved enough of that border fabric to make one for myself. I guess I'd better go search my stash.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quick as a Wink!

That's how quickly I'm going to try to write tonight's post, because I had to work until nearly 11 p.m. tonight and I have to go back in early tomorrow and I'd sure like to get just a little bit of sleep in between. ARGH!

Anyway, what do I have for you? Well, I took a half hour break for lunch and between decadent bites of Lean Cuisine (NOT!), I managed to finish the template/pattern for the Valentine's Day tree skirt. I've uploaded the PDF file to Scribd--hopefully those of you who wanted it are not the same those of you who wish to remain anonymous as far as Scribd is concerned, but if you have issues (and who among us doesn't in one way or another) please email me and I'll see what I can do. Click HERE to get to it. And here's a reminder of what the finished skirt looks like--

I also managed to get the tablerunner kit in the mail to my winner, Sandra, and mailed out a couple Etsy orders that came in over the weekend, so if you're looking for something from me, it should arrive before too long.

The other thing that I've been wanting to tell you about is the embroidery relief effort my good friend Gran is heading up. She's collecting embroidery supplies to send off to her contacts in Queensland, Australia, to help replace supplies lost in the flooding. And, well, you know that quite a lot of our best embroidery designs come from Australia, so let's make sure the supply doesn't dry up! (No pun intended!) Check out Gran's post HERE and see if there's anything you might be able to help with.

I'll be back tomorrow night. And if my hands fall off in the meantime, I'm sure I'll manage anyway. Time now to head to bed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Woven Hearts

The woven heart blocks so many of you said you liked in this runner--

Have long been a favorite block of mine too. The first quilting class I taught two years ago was of this pattern--

I tilted the hearts in that project by adding additional background fabric that was cut in long triangular strips (from Sharyn Craig's Twist and Turn book), although the same effect can be achieved by adding strips of background fabric all the way around the heart block, tilting the block at an angle, and trimming away the excess fabric.

There were even a couple of you on the blog tour who mentioned you'd purchased the pattern from me back then--and I guess you're STILL reading about my daily quilting adventures! Thanks for sticking with me.

The quilt above uses 13 heart blocks, but the smaller version below needs only five--

I think I made it from sample blocks I demonstrated in class. In fact, I did several things with leftover blocks; I made a mini with a woven heart block in the center and wool appliqued hearts around the corners; and I made a small quilt to give away here on my blog--I went back and found a photo of that quilt to share:

I hope that having seen all of these possibilities, if you liked the woven heart block but didn't want to make a tablerunner (including all of you who don't have tables!), you might be inspired to try something else.

I think that most of us who participated in the tour have now announced our winners, so if you haven't checked the other blogs yet, you might want to do so. The grand prize winner was Prim2Pink--congrats! And thank you all for participating. I hope to have more projects to share and inspire you and a few twists you might not have thought of, so stop back by in the coming days.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Escape From Santa Town . . . And Winners!

Sunday was spent FINALLY packing Santa off to the North Pole--he had certainly worn out his welcome this year, although I put off doing it because I knew it would be an arduous and tedious job. I would MUCH, much rather have hidden out in the Sweat Shop, creating the next project I've been thinking about. My feet hurt, my back hurts, and I want to go soak in a hot tub, but it sure is nice to look around and see a clean house, Valentine's Day decorations, and just a touch of spring here and there--even if it IS just wishful thinking for now.

And even though I didn't get into the Sweat Shop (except to clean it), I DO have something quilty for show and tell.

This is quilt number 1 of my 11 in '11 challenge--10 to go to meet my goal! I had pieced this one a long time ago--in fact, it was the first one I made; later I published the pattern for a smaller Halloween version called Eye of the Beast--I think you can probably see the "eye" part, right? It sure feels good to get it quilted and bound.

I bet you're trying to be patient with me, but inside you're screaming, "Well who won already! Get ON with it!" Okay, okay, I get it.

The winner of the Fat Quarter Shop's $50 gift certificate is Mrs. Philadelphia. Congratulations, Nancy! Vickie will get in touch with you by email to give you the details. Can we have a round of applause for Kimberly and all the other Fat Quarter Shop people? I'm totally impressed that they offered to make this such a fun blog tour by donating many of the prizes!

The winner of the second prize--a kit with the fabric necessary to make the runner I designed--is Sandra Coleman Clarke! Woooo-hooo Sandra! (Or is it Sandy?) Please email me directly with your mailing address and I'll get it in the mail to you on Tuesday.

Thank you all for participating--I had a blast and I hope you found a fun project or two. And don't forget to join the Flickr group and post photos of your projects--we'd really love to see them!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

No! It Can't End Yet!

I've had such a fun time participating in this blog tour that I just can't stand to see it end, so I'll share with you some directions to make the project I worked on today--a Valentine's Day tree skirt. Yes, I know the idea of a Valentine's Day tree is a little different, but just look at Vickie's really darling heart ornaments, and you'll surely see the possibilities! I've had a Valentine's Day tree for several years now and I've always wanted to make a tree skirt but never have; in fact, I mentioned making one earlier this month. Finally I had the time! Here's how it turned out--

Cute, yes? Would you like to make one? First, do you have one of these 60 degree rulers? They're very handy for this project:

If you don't, that's okay--but you DO need something like this with 30 degrees and/or 60 degrees marked on it--

(60 degrees would be from the yellow line at the upper edge of the ruler around the 1/2" mark to the upper edge of the ruler; 30 degrees would be from the yellow line that starts around the 1-1/2" mark to the lower edge of the ruler.) I like to work with freezer paper because I can iron it onto the fabric for cutting but if you don't have freezer paper, regular paper will work to make a pattern too. First you need to find your long center line--either fold the paper or draw a line. Using that line as your reference, draw a line 30 degrees to one side and 30 degrees to the other. Alternatively, you could just draw two lines that form two sides of a triangle that is 60 degrees. Take a look at my template below for a visual of what I'm talking about:

My template above already has the bottom cut off where the lines meet at the bottom point, but yours won't to start. On your pattern, measure from the bottom point up along one of the sides to 9-1/2" and make a mark; do the same along your center line. Now figure out the measurement between those two marks--I think mine was 5" wide, so I used 2-1/2" as the mid point and put a dot there. I lined that dot up with the bottom point of the pattern and measured up 11" (see the drawn line on the pattern)--that's the top of the arc of my heart.

After that, I just drew what looked like a good curve from the outside dots to the center dot at the top of the heart arc. I folded my paper in half and cut along that arc to get my heart shape and make sure the curve was the same on both sides. After that, I cut off the bottom tip of the triangle 1-1/2" up from the point. (To make sure you're cutting straight, line the center of your pattern up with a vertical line on your cutting mat; line your ruler up with a horizontal line.)

Making the pattern is probably the hardest part. I may scan that to PDF and make it available to everyone but I won't be able to do that until I go back to work on Tuesday. But the rest is pretty simple. Let's get started!

First of all, you'll need six different fabrics--I picked two whites, two pinks, and two reds. I then layered three at a time and ironed my pattern onto the top layer and cut around the edges. I repeated the steps with the remaining three fabrics.

Once I had my six "hearts," I laid out the pieces to see how I wanted them arranged. [By the way, the reason this works out so nicely is that each heart is 60 degrees, and there are 6 hearts, so that totals 360 degrees, which is a circle, right?]

The next step is to sew all of the hearts together along the side seams. Leave one seam unsewn--this will be the open edge of the tree skirt.

At this point, you'll need to layer your backing, batting, and the pieced top. Don't layer as you would a quilt with the backing on the bottom. For this project, layer the batting on the bottom, backing with the "right" side up, and pieced top with the "right" side down. See the batting where I've turned back the upper corner of the backing?

Pin the layers together and roughly trim away the excess fabric. (You can use straight pins if you prefer.)

Where the two hearts meet at the open edge, turn the fabric back and pin so it's not in the way when you start sewing as I did in the photo above. You might also want to use your walking foot for the rest of the sewing.

Sew 1/4" inside the edges of the pieced top. Leave an opening for turning right side out--see below:

Now you can more carefully trim away the excess fabric. Cut along open edge to separate, being careful to leave enough fabric at open seam to tuck in and sew closed after turning. (I cut mine fairly close to the stitching on the red heart so I had enough fabric to turn inward on the side of the pink heart.) Snip around the outside and the inside stitched edges every 1/4" or so for a smooth curve and fewer puckers.

Now, turn right side out pulling fabric through open seam, press, and hand sew opening closed. Top stitch 1/4" from outside edge of each heart and along seams joining the hearts together. (See first photo for stitching/quilting detail.) Add additional quilting at this point if you wish (I didn't).

Finally, I cut and prepared bias binding and attached it to the inside circle of the tree skirt as I would the binding on a regular quilt, but I left the edges free until after I had turned and hand stitched the binding to the back. Then I folded and pressed the edges and stitched them closed--I think you can see what I mean in the photo above. I then tied knots in either end. Alternatively, you could stitch ribbons to the edges of the skirt to tie the sides together.

Done! And it only took maybe three or four hours. Isn't it cute? I'm smitten.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Winding Down and Revving Up

It's Friday night, which means it's time to wind down from a busy, busy week. What do you like to do to unwind?

Up until this evening, I thought that what I most wanted to do was hurry home from work and lock myself in the Sweat Shop for a little creative play time, but as the hour got later and later, and I still wasn't home yet, I decided I'd rather just relax and maybe have a bit of a soak in the tub with some bubblebath and indulge in a little beauty treatment or two.

Do you want to know about my secret beauty product?

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, perhaps you know what's coming? Yep, I figured it was time for my semi-annual leg shaving and bi-monthly chin-hair plucking. Nothing's more relaxing than having skin that's as smooth as a baby's bottom! Even if it does seem more like a very wrinkly and old baby's bottom. And Drano Max dissolves the hair in the drain ev-e-ry time!

I thought after that, bed with a cup of hot chocolate, a good book, and a Tylenol PM would be a real treat, so that's where I'm headed next.

Tomorrow, though . . . tomorrow's dedicated to some serious play time. There are SO MANY, many things I want to make that I just don't know where to start. The creative juices are flowing like tree sap, any one of our blog tour projects would make a great start to the weekend sewing, and the Le Petite monthly project (the Mon Ami Schnibbles pattern) is calling to me!

Sadly, the Be Mine Blog Tour is nearly done, with Natalia as our final designer. I haven't seen Natalia's project so far and she hasn't posted yet, but it's sure to be something special, so remember to visit her blog and check it out!

Finally, don't forget to post a comment on each designer's "day" so you'll be entered in all of the drawings. To make it easy for you, I've updated the list of links in my sidebar where I've listed all of us so that clicking on them will take you directly to the correct posts. Oh, and something else I forgot to mention about the giveaways I host--you'll need to check back here on Monday or Tuesday to see who won; normally, if a winner doesn't come back and claim his/her prize, I just pick a runner up after waiting for a few days. Yeah, I know--tough love, huh?! I'm just mean that way, I guess.

So, I'm off to make some hot chocolate and rub my smooth legs against the sheets. Please grab one of those Valentine's Day Oreos before you leave, okay? As a matter of fact, I DID get them especially for you!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Oh My!

I promised you beefcake, right? I always keep my word. Most of the time.

I've been overwhelmed by the number of you who visited me on MY day AND who actually came back again yesterday! Incredible! I should warn you though--I'm not ALWAYS funny. Sometimes I'm serious. Sometimes I'm bored. Sometimes I'm creative. And sometimes I'm just very tired--like tonight.

When I'm not busy being a comedy blogger and a quilt designer, I'm a legal secretary. Right now, we're getting ready to go to trial on a fairly complex case, and it's meant some pretty intensive work during the past week and a bit of overtime here and there. Except that tonight it was more than a "bit of overtime"--tonight it was around three hours of overtime.

I haven't seen the inside of the Sweat Shop for more than a few minutes all week--except maybe to sit down and draw my pattern illustrations, and that doesn't really count, does it? ARGH!

Okay, I just slapped myself out of it. Are you having fun on the blog tour, finding all kinds of fun projects? I'm amazed at the cute stuff my fellow bloggers have come up with. And today is STEFANIE's day! Stefanie is Little Lady Patchwork and I think you'll find her project is just as excellent as the others have been. Want to see it?

Stefanie used the Giddy line for her project just like I did--well, actually several of us used it. I really need to get some of that cherry fabric in the first couple hearts on the left--it's very, very yummy, isn't it?

Oh, and before you go, speaking of yummy . . .

Thursday, January 13, 2011


My part in this Be Mine relay for romance is more or less done, and I've passed the baton on to my long-time blog buddy Carol of Carol's Crafty Creations. I've "known" Carol for years--in a sort of virtual way--since we both joined a Yahoo Thimbleberries group before there even WERE blogs. I think Carol and I have similar tastes--at least I know I always LOVE everything she does! Click on over and see what Carol's designed for you--I can tell you it's a great project! I'm writing this somewhat early, so I don't want to give away the surprise before she gets to show you herself.

So, did anyone come back today? Four or five of you did? Excellent! I kind of feel like a party hostess after the guests have gone home. Time to clean up and think about the evening. Maybe sip a last glass of wine. Or two. As a matter of fact, I've thought of a few things I want to say about my project and--I can hardly believe it myself--I've read though all 462 comments you've left so far--Wow!--and I wanted to answer some questions more than a few of you had.

First, the project. Here's a little tip I neglected to mention. When you sew the blocks/pieces into rows press the seam allowances all in same direction for the first row. Then press the seam allowances all in the opposite direction for the next row. And so on, and so on. That way, when you sew the rows together, they'll fit nicely and the intersecting seams will line up.

Some of you said you'd like to make the runner but didn't think you could get it done in time for THIS Valentine's Day. Seriously, it's pretty fast. I don't know how much time you have in your lives, but I don't think it's a huge time commitment as quilty things go. Of course, you know what time you have available better than I do; I'm just sayin' it may not take as long as you anticipate.

Some of you complimented me on my color choices (or, if you're Canadian, colour choices). I wish I could take credit, but all I did was pick out a charm pack of Sandy Gervais' wonderful collection, Giddy. Tell Sandy you love her. I think she has a blog too. Or, better yet, buy some of her fabric at the Fat Quarter Shop--that's where I got mine! Nothing says "I love your color (colour) choices" louder than money.

Seriously, I love Canada. I only tease my favorite people. And old people, young children, and men.

Some of you said you'd love to make the runner but you don't have a table. Seriously? How do you not have a table? What about a dresser? Or the back of a toilet tank? If nothing else, hang it on the wall, use it as a bell pull, or drape it over your sewing machine as a dust cover. Or maybe your mother-in-law has a table? You'd probably earn big points and a mention in her will if you made her a table runner.

Some of you had issues with Scribd. Or Facebook. Or PDF files. Some of you commented about it to me and had email addresses, and for you, I emailed you a PDF file directly. If you're Son of Unabomber and want the pattern without giving up your identify or GPS location, email me--just click on that thing in my sidebar that shows you my whole profile, and then click on the email link. I'll send you a PDF file. But let me suggest this alternative--

Yahoo, among other sites, will give you a free email box. They're pretty easy to set up. I have another Yahoo address that I use for signing up for things, ordering on line, joining groups, etc. That's the email address I used to set up my Scribed account. And while I actually DO have a Facebook account, I don't think I needed it to sign up or log in. (Then again, I joined Facebook around Labor Day weekend and have only been back once when I wanted to find out if Soccer Son had been snowed in at Tahoe. Unfortunately, he doesn't want to be my friend, so I couldn't see anything. Kids!)

Anyway, if you're concerned about giving out personal information, there are ways to get around it. Scribed and other similar PDF hosting sites offer their services for free, and you KNOW nothing is ever free, right?! But don't pretend to be someone else. It's not legal anymore online. There goes all my fun.

A few of you said you were now following me (which is helpful in case I get lost), and one or two of you wanted to follow me but didn't know where or how. I love having followers but I hide you down at the bottom of my blog. I don't want it to go to my head and be all self-conscious or anything. But if you're looking for the followers, they're down there. Waiting.

Were you wondering about the puppy photo? I found it when I did an image search for "cutest puppy ever." You know how some bloggers have links in their sidebars that include photos from the listed blogs? I wanted something cute that would show up next to mine that might bring you back. I understand puppies work pretty well for guys in parks so I thought I'd give it a try. If this doesn't work, I'll try searching for "beefcake" tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Welcome to my big quilting adventure! I'm SOOOOOOO glad you could be a part of it! It's finally MY day! Woo-hoo! This is the first time I've been invited to participate in a blog tour/hop as a DESIGNER, so this feels like a bit of history. And golly gee, but aren't I just terribly impressed with myself?!

Seriously, though, as much as I'd just love to think you're only here because you want to visit with ME, I know you're here for: (1) the prizes, (2) the fun, (3) the prizes, (4) the project pattern, (5) the prizes and, maybe somewhere after I list "prizes" a couple more times, . . . (16) me. So let's get on with it, shall we?

There are probably three of you who visit me regularly and have been waiting to see what I've come up with, so I'll end the suspense and show you. Ready?

At this point, if you're not all that impressed with the project, this is where you skip ahead to the comments part and leave one so I can enter you in the drawings for (1) a kit to make the runner, (2) a $50 FAT QUARTER SHOP gift certificate, and (3) a chance to get into the BIG drawing for a $100 FAT QUARTER SHOP gift certificate. Names will be drawn on January 16th and posted shortly thereafter.

Still here? I think I see two of you out there. Ah,you there on the right. You're just waiting for me to turn my back so you can grab the candy on the table, right? Okay, then, take a piece and move along.

Finally! Someone who's interested in making the runner! First of all, click RIGHT HERE to pop over to the PDF of the pattern and print it out. I'm going to give you the Reader's Digest condensed version in photos and a few words below, but you'll need the pattern too. I'll wait right here while you go do that.  [NOTE:  IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ACCESS THE PATTERN THROUGH SCRIBD, PLEASE EMAIL ME A REQUEST, AND I WILL EMAIL BACK A PDF OF THE PATTERN.  YOU CAN GET MY EMAIL ADDRESS THROUGH MY PROFILE.]

Back and ready? Well, of course, the main focus of the runner is the hearts. So let's concentrate first on making the heart blocks. After you cut your fabric according to the pattern directions, separate out the pieces needed for the hearts--the pink and red strips, the 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" red and pink rectangles, and the twelve 1-1/2" and three 2-1/2" background squares.

Next, using the strips cut from the charm squares, sew pink strips to red strips.

Subcut each pair of strips into 1-1/2" wide pieces--you'll get three from each pair. Each heart block will use eight of those subcut pieces.

Arrange the pieces like a checkerboard, alternating pink and red squares, and sew them into a 16-patch (four squares across by four squares down). For the runner, you'll need to make three of these.

Now let's do something else. Position a 1-1/2" square of background fabric on two corners of each of the pink and red 2-1/2" by 4-1/2" rectangles. Sew the little squares on the diagonal. I took a photo of it to show you what I'm talking about--those pencil lines are where you'd sew. It's always hard to explain, but you can see what I mean, right?

Trim away the underneath excess layers, and press the squares back (see next photo if what I'm saying isn't clear). You'll need to make a total of three red pieces and three pink pieces. Now lay out the pattern pieces like this . . .

. . . with all the top red rectangles on the left and all of the top pink rectangles on the right. You will also (probably) want to have the 16-patch squares all oriented the same way, with either a pink square or a red square at the top and bottom tips. Sew the pieces together. Now you have three heart blocks, right?

Okay, let's skip ahead. In the printed pattern, I talk about how to make half log cabin blocks and some other stuff that's necessary, but photos would probably just make you yawn. And for some reason, I didn't take any. So here we are, on page 3 of the pattern, with all the block parts made. (The half log cabin blocks are the ones at the upper and lower edges of the runner--there's a bunch of blue in them. See?) Now we can put everything where it goes, and it will start looking like a runner. In the pattern, I did not specify the direction of the heart blocks because I thought it might depend on your own taste and where you planned to use the runner. YOU might want all three blocks side by side. I liked mine with tips of the outside heart blocks pointing to each end of the runner. There is no WRONG WAY, okay?

In the printed pattern, I also don't really mention the background pieces at both pointed ends of the runner. When I made mine, I attached those pieces to the two heart blocks along the bottom sides right away, but in hindsight, I thought it would be best to leave them loose at this stage to be sewn into rows. Take a look at the drawn illustration on page three, and I think you can see what I mean with that arrow near the right margin indicating what constitutes a "row." Can you see the rows? There are five of them. Sew the pieces together in rows and then sew the five rows together. Clear as mud? Let's move on then.

This, below, is what your runner should look like before adding the outside border.

See the blue sections at the pointed ends of the inner border on each side? I wanted to point those out so that when you get to them in the pattern, you'll know what part I'm talking about.

After getting this far, you just need to add the scrappy outside border and maybe--but only if you want--the appliqued arrow for the center heart (refer to photo for placement). After that, just quilt and bind the runner. Easy, right? Mais oui!

If you haven't stopped by to visit with me before, I hope you'll come back again and visit. We have some fun here--at least I think so!

Now, two more things: Remember to join the Flickr pool and post your Be Mine projects there (you can click into the pool from my sidebar) and leave a comment on this post in order to be entered into the prize drawing. Thanks for stopping by!

[JANUARY 16, NOON-ISH--UPDATE: Comments closed; winners being drawn and will be posted. Good Luck!]