I Spy

My final quilt for 2014 was an “I Spy” quilt for Charlotte’s grand-daughter.  What’s an “I Spy” quilt, you ask?  It is a quilt with lots of pictures to look for, using the quilt as a game board, of sorts.  Here’s a shot of the full length of the quilt.  Can you see what I am talking about?

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How about now with these close-ups?  Can you see some of the things you might “spy” with your “little eye?”

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I doubt you can see much of the quilting, but I added numbers and the letters of the alphabet around the borders.  Inside the borders I just quilted and Edge to Edge (E2E) of assorted drawings of things I saw in the quilt.  I hope Charlotte and her grand-daughter have a lot of fun with this quilt!  I know I did!

Table Toppers

Just in time for the season of giving, this book includes quick and easy projects, perfect for gift-giving.  Projects are from Fons & Porter’s “Love of Quilting” magazine and include patterns from Terry Albers, Debbie Beaves, Jodie Davis, Marianne Fons, Sandy Gervais, Sue Marsh, Kelly Mueller, Debbie Mumm, Wendy Sheppard, Edyta Sitar, Betsy Smith, and Karen Witt.  I found the projects to be colorful and cute with clear written instructions  for foundation piecing, machine appliqué, wool appliqué, etc.  Being a machine quilter, I also really liked that this book has suggestions for quilting after you have stitched the table topper together.

Martingale - Table Toppers (Print version + eBook bundle)

Just in time for Halloween and Thanksgiving…

Martingale - Table Toppers (Print version + eBook bundle)

Cute for Christmas…

Martingale - Table Toppers (Print version + eBook bundle)

Springtime…

Martingale - Table Toppers (Print version + eBook bundle)

Or just because…

Martingale - Table Toppers (Print version + eBook bundle)

There is something for everyone in this book.  Check it out at Martingale’s site here.

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas… aka Karma

How were your holidays in 2013?  I’ve had a lot of time to think, probably too much time.  Forgive me if this post gets too philosophical.  Every year I end up having a melt down around Christmas, either before or after.  I know what it is.  I am waaaaay too tired and way too stressed out to have a level head.  I used to think it was just me, but this year I saw it in so many others.  I vowed to myself that this Christmas was going to be different, that I wasn’t going to over do myself and that I was going to just enjoy the holidays, no matter how much does or does not get done.  If it doesn’t get done, I figure, what’s the worst that can happen?  With this attitude, it was easy for me to see how taxing the holidays can be on each of us – it’s not just me!  😀

I coined a new term… the holiday hag… how easy it is for me to fall into that description, and how easy it is for others as well.  I do have to admit that I did try to get too much done.  I set myself up for this all the time, and even though this year I didn’t try to get as much of the usual holiday stuff done, I still worked on other stuff that just added fuel to my inner hag.  How many of you do most or all of the shopping, wrapping of gifts, decorating, making food, cleaning, etc.?  And we wonder why we get so exhausted when we add that to our “regular routine.”  Beware of the Grinch (short temper) that steals your holiday cheer… the angry customers, the aggressive drivers, and the other rude people who don’t normally behave that way but are just as stressed and tired as the screaming kids waiting for Santa.

So, this year I put most of the gifts in bags, saving time on wrapping.  I only made 1 pie and 1 batch of cookies.  I did all the shopping online.  But… my daughter was coming in for the holidays and I wanted to finish a woodworking project before she got here.  In my last post, I promised I’d share pictures, so here they are.  This is the computer armoire that I built all by myself.  I got the plans from ana-white.com here and adapted them to make an “office” for my quilting business.  I needed a place for my computer, printer, forms, my quilting samples, etc.  And, I wanted to be able to close the doors.

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Here it is open, before I put the doors on.  See the green bag down on the lower right?  That has my quilting samples.  Since I live out from the city, I tend to go TO my customers instead of them coming to me.  The blue “storage clip board” has my forms, prices, etc. in it as well as my mileage page.  You can see that the backing of this is made of pegboard.  I wanted the electronics to have ventilation, and I also thought I might use it for hanging stuff from it in the future.  There are 2 drawers and a slide-out for my keyboard.  I ran out of paint while working on this, so it doesn’t look finished, but it’s as finished as it’s getting for now (until I’ve had a GOOD LONG WINTER’S NAP!!!).

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Anyhow, I am happy enough with how it turned out, especially since this was my first furniture project from scratch.  And, no, I can’t just ask my husband to make it for me, because he hates (and fears, I think) any kind of “handyman” work.  The reason I HAD to finish this before Christmas (by the way, “HAD” is a figment of my imagination) was because I was rearranging rooms to accommodate the Christmas tree in its new place.  I’ve been wanting to move the stereo into the dining room, which is where the tree has been in the past, and put my new “office” where the stereo was in the living room.  This would also leave a nice space for the Christmas tree, where it “should” have been all along… in the living room.  Ah… perfect!

Needless to say this armoire is very heavy, too heavy for me to be lifting and moving by myself.  But, I did.  And, I also moved the furniture around in the dining room, all by myself except for a couple of last moves that I just could not do.  My husband asked me how I was able to move stuff since he couldn’t (he’s had a herniated disk and has lost a lot of strength).  I used those furniture sliders and a lot of determination – this word will come back later in my philosophical “ramblings”…

So, here we are at Christmas Eve when both my daughters and one’s husband can be here for Christmas dinner and our gift exchange.  You may remember that my mother-in-law passed away in October.  We are still sorting through her stuff and trying to get her house sold.  I brought out some quilts for the girls to look at and my oldest says she gets dibs on anything purple.  I made the mistake of pointing out that the younger daughter likes purple as well.  That’s when the oldest said in what sounded to this mother like a 2-year-old’s voice, “She got first choice of the rings and took the one I wanted, so I get first choice now.”  Well, we didn’t know that at the time.  The younger one said that she could have the ring if she wanted, that she could have it all.  At this point, I just dropped what was in my hands and walked out of the room.  The Grinch was in the room with us and I left before the Grinch took hold of me, too.  My poor son-in-law just sat there, caught in the middle.  I think I felt worse for him than anyone.  All I wanted was for my family to get along and to enjoy the holidays together for once without the Grinch stealing our Christmas.

Is this how family holiday gatherings are everywhere?  My husband was crabby and being a jerk, my kids were jealous of each other and being crabby, and I was on the ragged edge of being sucked right into the “poison” with them.  We all ended up having a good time and a nice (enough) Christmas, but later in bed I thought about my own mother.  She had 5 kids.  How did she do it?  Wow!  Deja vu.  Karma jumped up and bit me in the butt!  I think all 5 of us kids were jealous of each other, each of us wanting to be Mom’s favorite.  My mom rarely ever got on to me, but I will never forget the time she chastised me for being snotty about my siblings.  I am sure I was painting a negative picture of them so that I would look like a shining light in her eyes.  I was stunned when she got on to me about it.  Good grief, here I was on the other end of this with my own kids.  Mom’s been gone for almost 5 years now, and I know she wanted all of us to get along and to be close.  Funny how we’ve all worked on that since she’s passed and how we all now see ourselves as having more similarities than we do differences.  We’ve all gone our separate ways, with 8 years between the oldest and the youngest of us, but our “roots” are the same.  And, we find so many quirky things that are unique to the 5 of us that we don’t see in any one else.  I know now that Mom loved each of us.. the same and, yet, differently, and with all her heart.  I feel the same way about my kids.

The point of this message?  My hope is that each of us will realize that life is short, too short.  My wish is that future Christmases for all of us will be magical, full of Christmas spirit, and that we remember that Christmas is not about things but about the moments of this holiday that we will take with us in memories.  Let’s aim for good and happy memories.  Don’t work too hard but DO play hard.  Don’t worry about perfection because we all have our own individual definitions of perfect, so when you’re trying to make it perfect for everyone, it won’t be, no matter what, and that’s okay!  And, above all, try to laugh.  It’s a great stress reliever.  Happy Belated Christmas to you!  I hope you have lots of fun memories of 2013!

Applique Basket

Here is my latest customer quilt, finished.   She did all this by hand; needle-turn applique.  Isn’t it beautiful?

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And, here is a picture of just the basket of flowers.

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I love her selection of batik fabrics and how she coordinated it all.    She chose this color thread.  What is strange is how it showed up on the background fabric.  I swear it gives off a pinkish color in some places.  It’s funny how you can see a thread in one light and it looks different in another or next to other colors, such as the colors in the batiks.

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So, this is what I did with it.  I was a bit stumped on what to quilt into the basket.  There are lots of things you could quilt into it… berries and vines, flowers, etc.  But, I opted for curved cross hatching, because I thought it would be better understated than too much.  I didn’t want to over power the applique.

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You know how I love to sneak stuff into my quilting.  Well, I couldn’t resist adding a few surprises to add to the garden feeling of this quilt… one more reason why I didn’t want to add too much frilly stuff to the basket and opted for simple curved cross-hatching.  See the overweight hummingbird drinking nectar from the wrong color bloom?  That’s what happens when I freehand quilt a bird that is color-blind.  😉

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And, then there’s the confused bumblebee that looks like it has stingers on both ends…

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Or the butterfly that barely looks like a butterfly…

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But, I am fairly happy with the quilted vine that looks kind of like the vines the customer appliqued onto her quilt… if I could just get those outlines more even and not fat in one place and skinny in another.   I don’t know what happened there.

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Okay, the one at the top of her quilt looks better.  The good thing about being a quilter is that quilting isn’t usually the thing that pops out on a quilt; it’s the colors, the piecing and/or the applique.  So, even though I am not as good as I would like to be (and I never will be – there’s ALWAYS room for improvement), it will still look good if the piecer/appliquer is good.  And, she is!

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When I first saw this lovely quilt, I was concerned about the prairie points sticking up after quilt.  You know how quilting will draw up your fabric?  Well, the prairie points were not quilted, so I was worried I would ruin her quilt.  But, they actually lay fairly flat and look really nice as an frame for her bouquet.  This quilt gets returned to her tomorrow.  I hope she is happy with it and that she likes it!  I was honored to get to be the quilter for this quilt and for her.  She is a special lady who does so much for so many others.  I hope when she looks at this quilt on her wall that is makes her smile.

Marking a Quilt

I know most quilters mark designs onto quilts, and I mark my own quilts all the time.  But, I am always afraid to mark on customers’ quilts.  So, I have been trying to find alternate methods of getting a design onto a quilt.   Remember the Press ‘n Seal method?  You have probably already tried the following strategies.  I have, too, but it’s been awhile since I’ve tried them, so they are new to me yet again.  One strategy I tried on Mickey’s quilt last week was to bring my laser light to the front of my machine instead of using it in the back for pantographs.  You can see how I drew her dog onto the quilt.  On the left is the picture of her dog in black and white.  I took a green highlighter and marked on the paper what I wanted to draw onto the quilt.  Can you see the little red dot under the dog’s paw?  That’s the laser light that is attached to the front of the machine.  When I move the laser light along where I highlighted, I will be drawing with thread onto the quilt.  You can see the finished product on the right.

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It’s not perfect, but it is one way for me to avoid marking on a quilt.

With the quilt I am working on right now, I am trying onion skin paper.  I’ve tried tracing paper and vellum.  Today I used the onion skin paper.  I bought a roll of this from Du-All Art & Drafting Supplies.  It’s 50 yards long, so hopefully it will last awhile.  The cost, with shipping, was about $32.

The artist for this quilt wanted her applique to shine.  She had twisted vines along 2 corners, leaving the opposite 2 corners blank.  I could have quilted anything in there.  A lot of people would have put feathers in there.  Personally, I think feathers are sometimes over done.  I love them, but I also love to see variety in quilting.  So, I decided to use this quilter’s applique as the basis for the quilting motif along the blank corners.  I figured that would better show off her applique.  First I traced her design onto the onion skin paper.

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Then, I adapted her design to fit into the empty corners, by folding the paper and creating new curls in the vines.

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You can see here that the design is too long, so I will just take the vine from that curved corner and stretch it around to meet her appliqued vine (the area between my fingers).

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Now I have the 2 corner vines drawn onto new paper and ready for quilting.

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I’ve got it pinned onto the quilt and am ready to stitch-in-the-ditch (SID) around her appliqued vines and will stitch through the onion skin paper onto the quilt.

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After I quilted through the paper and quilt sandwich, I ripped the paper off.  It snapped off cleaner than both tracing paper and vellum.  I like it!  So, I think my preference between tracing paper, vellum, and onion skin paper would have to be the onion skin paper.  Good thing I’ve got a 50 yard roll, because I’m sure I’ll be using it for future projects.

Stay tuned for pictures of the finished product in the near future!  I’ll be filling in the area around the applique with stippling so it will pop!