Friday, October 29, 2010

It's as Easy as A, B, and C...

Thank yous to those of you who left several creative ideas for making my hollow core door/tabletop smooth for free-motion machine quilting. (See the previous blog post.) I haven't done anything to fix that problem yet, but when I do, I will be sure to let you know. 

This past week I've been embroidering. I'm slowly working my way through the Snowmen A to Zzzz alphabet embroidery. After beginning the project by randomly stitching whatever alphabet letter I thought was the cutest, I decided to be more methodical.

I'm stitching with DMC floss, and the stem stitch.

Finishing the letter "C" is all I've managed to do while I've been here in Kansas helping our daughter who's pregnant and has a separated pelvis. While here, my sewing has been limited to making curtains for new French doors into our SIL's home office, and hemming fabric for a tablecloth. For at least several weeks, I expect handwork will be the extent of my personal sewing. Our grandson is still expected to arrive by a scheduled c-section on Monday, November 8, but today the doc says he has a 50/50 chance of arriving early.

For those of you who like Halloween - and I am admittedly one who does not - here's an appropriate knock-knock joke from Kady L. at "Take a Mom's Word for It." 
Knock, knock. 
Who's there?
Phillip.
Phillip who?
Phillip my bag with candy! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's a wrap!

A recent Stitchin' Mission series of five beginner quiltmaking lessons ended Tuesday night. This is the quilt I finished. It will either be sent to LaMesa, Mexico, or stay locally at Ruth Harbor, a group home for unwed mothers.
36" X 48" Stairs to Heaven quilt
When Stitchin' Mission lessons are attended predominately by women, sometimes it's quilts for boys that are in short supply. With two grandsons, and another on the way, I'm really good at making boy quilts.

Yes, I'm really that happy! It's always fun to attend the last Stitchin' Mission lesson and celebrate the completion of another successful series. You can see more pictures here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Handy Hollow Core Doors

More than 30 years ago, when we bought our first house, we did a little remodeling that included turning a closet into a built-in sewing area with shelves. To create the space, we removed a pair of sliding hollow core doors that we have since kept through several moves. At occasional garage sales they worked as tables, mounted on sawhorses, displaying our treasures. Most recently, they've been used as handy basting tables with two of them pushed together to measure a generous 72" X 79".

This past week I used the doors as a basting table to sandwich several small quilts. Here is a pieced quilt back for the quilt belonging to our newest grandson who's due in the next couple weeks.

 
Pieced backing taped to hollow core doors mounted on sawhorses.
I wanted to use Hobbs Heirloom batting for the baby's quilt and found I didn't have a piece that measured 46" X 46". I did have two smaller pieces. To join them, I first overlapped the pieces by about 3". Then, I used my rotary cutter to slice a wavy line through the overlapped layers. I removed the small, trimmed waves. Butting together the larger, remaining wavy-edged pieces, I used a walking foot and the widest zig-zag on my sewing machine to splice them together.
 
Pieced Hobbs 80/20 Heirloom batting.


Though I've pieced battings together before, previously I spliced straight edges. I'd like to believe the wavy joining will hold up better. Also, I've previously joined two pieces with hand stitches. Again, I think the machine-joined pieces will hold up better.


After pin-basting the quilt, I began free-motion quilting. For me, that always starts with hand lotion. I know many quilters wear gloves - the garden variety, or some expensive brand designed for machine quilting - but Neutrogena hand cream works best.
Free-motion quilt by wearing hand lotion, not gloves!
I have Diane Gaudynski, machine quilter extraordinaire, to thank for that great suggestion. Of course the added benefit is that my hands stay smooth!

But let me return to those hollow core doors... Since purchasing a used Pfaff Grand Quilter in July, I've tried to figure out how to set up my quilting area with the maximum amount of table space, to support a quilt during quilting. I considered buying one of several recommended sewing machine tables, but in the end I managed to work out this set-up. It involves two sawhorses, an adjustable height table (beneath the Pfaff Grand Quilter), and an old, aqua and chrome kitchen table (beneath the left-hand hollow core door). Oh, and a piece of lumber beneath the left table legs. Yes, I've cobbled together something that gives me the large level surface I'm looking for. But here's my issue...

New quilting set-up.

Those hollow core doors are unfinished and have a rough texture. I noticed that my quilt didn't slide, except for when it came into contact with the Pfaff's plastic table extension. If you were me, what might you do to smooth the surface of the doors? Keep in mind, I'd like the opposite sides of the doors to remain as they are so I can flip them over for basting and not be concerned that I'm damaging the surface by poking safety pins into it.

But what about the free-motion quilting side? What would you suggest that would give me the "glide-ability" I'm looking for?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sewin'

This week finds me, unexpectedly, with time for sewing, so there's been no grass growing under my feet! I've been in my basement sewing space during every free moment, and have a couple things to share. 

First, I made another Marie-Madeline Studio Route 66 skirt. I think this is the sixth one I've made. It's so satisfying to visit a quilt shop and have a reason to select some pretty cottons for a skirt. And yes, I've really gotten into wearing a skirt! That's also entailed shopping for tights and shoes - boots are next. Personally, I'm finding it very challenging to select the "right" combination of tights color and shoe style. After all, I'm far from being a teenager who can carry off an anything-goes look! 
Self-image, in the full-length bathroom mirror.
After considerable sketching and stewing, I cut out more bright fabric pieces and arranged the sawtooth star blocks into this 42" X 42" quilt top. It will be for our newest grandson who's due to arrive in less than three weeks.
Toothy Jungle Stars
I'm pleased with the bright colors and arrangement. Did you notice the tone-on-tone white print with the dots in it? It's a fabric I found at Sue's Fabric World, a vendor from New York who was at the recent AQS show here in Des Moines. Since I found the jungle print at the AQS show too, I'm pleased that my purchases have been put to quick use.
Today I'll be layering, basting and, hopefully, starting to quilt this one. There's still no time for watching that grass grow under my feet!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Books and Projects

In Saturday's mail I received this book from Linda. She had a blog giveaway, and I was a lucky winner! Thank you, Linda!

I've enjoyed looking through this book, though it's put me in a bit of a pickle. This is a book of patterns that use a jelly roll and a layer cake to make a quilt, and I've never bought any fabric "baked goods!" Guess I'll have to see what I can do about winning a jelly roll and layer cake giveaway. Yes, I could buy a jelly roll and layer cake, but I have a stash that wants using up.

That's why I recently bought this book: "String Quilts." It's a little out of the ordinary for me to buy any quilting book since I haven't for several years.
But after seeing Maylene's beautiful rendition of the "Picket Fence" quilt, I had to have it to make one for myself.
It's made with light, medium and dark 1" to 2-1/2" strips. I can't think of a better way to use up my strips that have been accumulating in a bin. Some of my older, I-don't-like-them-anymore fabrics will probably join the stripping bin too.

While at daughter Jill's house last week, the sum of my accomplishments was to piece sixteen 8" sawtooth star blocks for grandson #3's quilt.  

I referred to one of my favorite books to select the block that best-suited the bright jungle print, fussy cut for the center of each sawtooth star. I've had this book for many years. So long that I even had it spiral bound back in the days when you could have that done for about $3.
I pieced the sawtooth sections using my favorite no-waste method. Not only are there no bits of leftover fabrics, but I find that my triangles are much more accurate. If you haven't tried this method, I highly recommend it. My tutorial for it is here. Or, go here to print the instructional PDF that I use.

Below is one of two quilt tops I've recently pieced for Stitchin' Mission. I'm not fond of the colors, but I was limited in my choices to what Jo-Ann Fabrics had available for a boy's quilt. All the fabrics for this quilt came from there so I could enter Jo-Ann's Craft for a Cause.
I'm making and entering a quilt on behalf of Stitchin' Mission, my favorite charity, though I know it's impossible for Stitchin' Mission to win the $50,000 prize Jo-Ann's is giving away. The winner is determined by the number of items made and donated to that charity, and as far as I know, I'm the only one entering for Stitchin' Mission.  
The quilt top looks a little better up close.

The next few days will find me keeping busy at the machines. I hope you will get to do the same.

Today I'll leave you with this cute comment, made by the four year-old son of Kelly, the "Happy Homemaker and Momma" in Pennsylvania.
"Mommy, can I watch some TV? It is just some, not too much, because I don't want my brain to rot and my teeth to fall out."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Next Generation

Please indulge my grandmotherly pride and allow me to share the latest photos of our three grandchildren.
Austin, age 5 months, in Florida
Tay, 12 months, in Kansas
Celina, age 11/sixth grade, with Tay.
You might notice the baby chain above Celina's head. She made it to represent the number of weeks remaining until her new little brother's arrival. You can see only a few weeks remain. The baby is expected by c-section on Monday, November 8. Everyone is doubtful that he'll wait that long to make his appearance. Jill, who is still coping with a separated pelvis, feels he has "dropped," and she's having occasional contractions. My husband and I continue to take turns spending four to six days with them each week, helping with Tay. Last week Tay made his first sick-baby visit to a doctor where we learned he had a virus as well as a double ear infection.
Tay and Jill
Jill's cautioned me to have my "go" bag ready for a "quick" three-and-a-half hour drive to their house, should the baby decide to make an early appearance. Because Jill's a high risk delivery, if contractions are seven minutes apart, she's to get to the hospital ASAP. All this has been much cause for prayers. My sincere thanks to those of you who have been praying for this family.

In spite of being sick, Tay's happy-go-lucky attitude comes through in this short video of baby babble. 
video

I still have quite a few jokes received as comments during my June giveaway. This cute one-liner comes from my dear friend, Di, in Darling Point (Sydney) Australia.

A peanut walks into a police station to make a complaint claiming he was a salted.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Show's Over Folks

The American Quilters Society annual Des Moines, Iowa, quilt show is over for another year. It was marvelous, and I'm sure I didn't miss a thing after spending nearly three whole days there! I looked at all the quilts at least three times, and don't I wish I could share pictures with you!


Deb, of CrazyforFabrics, is another friend I had the chance to spend time with at the show. We became acquainted through the Internet when quilting chat groups (Kaffee Klatch), and email were in their infancy (about 1995). Deb lives in Western Iowa, about two hours away, and we met face-to-face for the first time in 1996 at the Des Moines Area Quilters Guild quilt show.
Deb and me


It's always a pleasure to spend time with a friend with whom you can just pick up conversation where you left off the last time you were together. Deb and I are such friends.
Since only eight people entered my little quilt giveaway, the odds were definitely good for everyone. For the first time, the random number generator picked the number one! Congratulations to Jodi of ComeTarryWithMe who will find this little quilt in her mailbox in Rhode Island. 

On the sewing front, I'm taking advantage of all free time at home this week to work on baby quilts. Two are for the two Stitchin' Mission series I'm currently leading, and a third is for another grandson who's due in just four weeks! When I found this fabric at the show, it was just the inspiration needed to start sewing. These 4-1/2" X 4-1/2" squares will be the centers of Sawtooth Star blocks.

I'll leave you again with a smile on your face. This joke comes from Cinzia in Australia. It makes me giggle every time I read it. Thanks Cinzia!

A new Woolworths Supermarket opened in Adelaide, South Australia. It has an automatic water mister to keep the produce fresh. Just before it goes on, you hear the distant sound of thunder and the smell of fresh rain.

When you pass the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and you experience the scent of fresh cut hay.

In the meat department there is the aroma of charcoal grilled steaks and chops.

In the liquor department, the fresh, clean, crisp smell of a Carlton Draught.

When you approach the egg case, you hear hens cluck and cackle and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.

The bread department features the tantalizing smell of fresh baked bread & cookies.

I don't buy toilet paper there anymore. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Quilt-y Friends at a Quilt-y Show

Wednesday was the first day of the AQS and DMAQG (Des Moines Area Quilters Guild) quilt show.

I was at the show shortly before 9:00 a.m. to catch the AQS awards presentations - about half of the winners were actually present. Then I met for the first time, another blogger, Patty of MomLoves2Quilt. As Patty and I perused the quilts together, we ran into another blogger, Doris of ThreadsofConversation. I already knew Doris, and Patty knew of Doris through the blogosphere. What a relief... none of us are "ax murderers!"
(L-R) Linda, Patty, Doris
The quilts backdropping our photo are in the DMAQG portion of the show. The quilt directly behind Patty is an original design called "Travels With Sunbonnet Sue" by Deb Kimball. While Sunbonnet Sue has never been a favorite of mine, Deb has done a very clever job of clothing Sue in garments depicting 49 countries. Deb's little Aussie Sue sported bush wear and carried a boomerang. Quite adorable, really. Signage on the quilt indicates that Deb's Sue quilt will be in a new AQS book.

As always, the show is fabulous, and I wish you could see the quilts! The winning longarm quilted quilt, "Parrot's Island," is thread-y, sparkly, and beaded. Designs include a very large palm tree (Hmm, now why would I like that so much?!) water, and fish. "Parrot's Island" was made by Claudia Pfeil of Krefeld, Germany. If you ever have the opportunity to see it, you'll need a few minutes to soak it in.

This overview of part of the convention hall gives you a taste of what you're missing.
Hy-Vee Hall Convention Center, October 6-9, 2010
I truly believe the show is much larger than the 2008 show I attended.

Don't forget to comment on my previous blog post to enter for a chance to win my giveaway quilt. You have until the Des Moines AQS/DMAQG quilt shows end, on Saturday, to comment.

The joke below comes from Linda of Cudahy, California, whose blog is LifeWithaBigFamily.

A country doctor went way out to the boondocks to deliver a baby.

It was so far out, there was no electricity. When the doctor arrived, no one was home except for the laboring mother and her 5-year-old child. The doctor instructed the child to hold a lantern high so he could see, while he helped the woman deliver the baby.

The child did so, the mother pushed and after a little while, the doctor lifted the newborn baby by the feet and spanked him on the bottom to get him to take his first breath.

The doctor then asked the 5-year-old what he thought of the baby.


"Hit him again," the 5-year-old said. "He shouldn't have crawled up there in the first place!" 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Coming to Town

This week - Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday - the American Quilters Society (Paducah, Kentucky) will host a quilt show in Des Moines, Iowa, at the Iowa Events Center.

While it's permissible to take pictures of quilts on display, they can be for personal use only. AQS rules specifically state that photos may not be posted to the Internet (blog). So the best I can do is show you this 2008 picture I took from above the convention hall. Pretty impressive, huh? And that's just half of the show!
2008 American Quilters Society National Quilt Show, Des Moines, Iowa
I missed the show last year because I was in Sydney, Australia, (poor me, ha!) with these lovely ladies: Di B. on the left and Di J. on the right, leading Stitchin' Mission beginner quiltmaking lessons at St. Mark's Anglican Church in Darling Point.
This year I'm at home and looking forward to seeing quilts from all over the world. Though I don't have any quilts entered, I will attend the awards ceremony, and also a "book publishing 101 author's roundtable." Even thought one of my dreams is on the way to becoming a reality - making Stitchin' Mission beginner quiltmaking lessons into a DVD series - another dream is to publish a book to accompany Stitchin' Mission DVD lessons. I wrote the book several years ago and haven't been able to find a publisher. Prayers are appreciated for my Friday appointment with the AQS book editor. God has taught me to let Him lead this dream; not me.

Since I can't show you quilt show photos this week, let me show you these pictures of a pretty little quilt. It's a very simple design I named "Bricks and Mortar." Previously, I've made this little 19" X 21" table-topper in several different fabric themes.

The colors of Aunt Grace, 1930s reproduction prints are very pretty, but they don't suit my home at all. And not everyone's tastes favor these prints.

 But if yours do, and you'd like to win this quilt, you're invited to enter my giveaway.
Detail of free motion-quilted feathers and cross-hatch
Giveaway
  • Just make a comment, letting me know you'd like to own this quilt.
  • Be sure you're not a "no reply" commenter. Many of you are and may not know it, so check your blogger profile.
  • Giveaway comments will be accepted until the AQS quilt show in Des Moines ends Saturday, October 9.
If you don't want to win the quilt, please leave a comment anyway. I love hearing from you, and won't enter you in the giveaway.

Now let's have a good chuckle courtesy of PeachRainbow:
Two little boys, ages 8 and 10, are excessively mischievous. They are always getting into trouble and their parents know all about it. If any mischief occurs in their town, the two boys are probably involved. The boys' mother heard that a preacher in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys.

The preacher agreed, but he asked to see them individually. So the mother sent the 8 year old first, in the morning, with the older boy to see the preacher in the afternoon.

The preacher, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, "Do you know where God is, son?"

The boy's mouth dropped open, but he made no response, sitting there wide-eyed with his mouth hanging open. So the preacher repeated the question in an even sterner tone, "Where is God?!"

Again, the boy made no attempt to answer.

The preacher raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy's face and bellowed, "Where is God?!"

The boy screamed & bolted from the room, ran directly home & dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him. When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, "what happened?"

The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, "We are in BIG trouble this time."

"GOD is missing, and they think we did it!"

Friday, October 1, 2010

Autumn is in the Air

On a recent morning I took Hogan (the dog) for a walk at Raccoon River Park. You've walked along this trail with me before HERE in the spring, and HERE in the dead of a snowy winter.

This particular morning, thick fog hung across the trail.

 After about 20 minutes of walking, the fog began to burn off.
But my, didn't it look pretty over this pond?
And by the time we completed our hour-plus long walk, there wasn't a trace of fog. 
Just a beautiful blue, clear-skied day.
It was one of those days... one of the places that makes you certain that God's the master creator. 

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