Friday, December 31, 2010

Prendy Tote Bag

Now that Christmas has revealed all its gifts, I can share pictures of the reversible tote bag I made for our DIL, Lyn. The pattern is called "Prendy Girl," and it's a design that comes from the shop "Keep Me in Stitches," in Tampa, Florida.
Prendy Bag 15" X 21"
These pictures show a piece of paper tucked into the pockets I added to both sides of the bag. The pockets are cut out and sewn to match the print of the fabric so they're "hidden" if they aren't being used. As you can see, one side of the bag is "I heart my dog" print. The opposite side is Australia fabric.

I purchased the Australia print in Australia, and since Lyn and our son were there in December 2009, this makes a nice remembrance bag. Lyn likes the bag and was happy to model it for this photo.

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope 2011 brings you all the joys God has planned for you.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Four Generations

For the first time since Christmas 2007, my side of our family got together for Christmas. It's pretty incredible to see how our family has grown - to 26 people - and to know how delighted our mother would have been (she passed away in December, 2002) to have joined in. We are blessed to have our Dad with us.

Of us three kids, I'm the oldest, on the left.
These are all our children, from the oldest (left) to the youngest (right). Our daughter Jill and son Brent are on the far left. Since the only girls are the oldest and the youngest, they're referred to as "the bookends."

Here are those children with their own children.

And our Dad with his five great-grandchildren.

For the first time, Dan and I find ourselves in a new family arrangement with four grandchildren! The three boys are 15 months, 7 months, and 7 weeks. I've become quite the efficient diaper-changing expert!

Though I love each of my grandchildren, this is the fella I see least often. Austin, nearly eight months old, lives in Florida, so time spent with him is especially precious.
It's been a week of making memories, and I couldn't be happier about it.

Since Jill's six weeks post-c-section visit to the doctor, she's been given the go-ahead to physically care for (lift) her two little ones. That means my husband and I won't be in Kansas quite as frequently as we've been since September. I'm glad to return to a normal routine in Iowa, but will definitely miss seeing the little ones who always grow too fast. I've learned through all of this traveling and childcare to appreciate whatever moment I'm in. Life goes by too quickly to wish for, or wish away, anything.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

International Gifts

My talented friend, Edith, who lives in Switzerland, surprised me with this beautiful ACT (Artist Trading Card). Her work is always original, and often richly embellished and dimensional. She's especially fond of threads, and uses them to great affect. Gorgeous!
Though these cards are meant to be traded, I have yet to make one. And look how many she has made for me! Thank you, Edith! Happy holidays to you too!

I recently won a pattern giveaway from Helen of Hugs 'n Kisses in Australia. This 56" X 56" quilt, "Larapops" was designed by Helen's daughter. Happily, the pattern includes 20 Floriani Stitch n' Wash circles to help make applique easier. Thank you for this nice gift, Helen!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Special greetings to my friends Down Under who are already celebrating this Holy Day. Di, it was wonderful to receive your thoughtful phone call!

Thank you - every one of you who have visited my blog. I have been unbelievably blessed to have shared quilting, activities, travel, grandchildren, and life with you. It has been a privilege to become acquainted and call you friends. I especially cherish our mutual faith in Jesus, our risen Lord. Happy birthday, Jesus! Merry Christmas to all of you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Schlep Bag

Before the family gathers, we dress for church, pose for pictures, open gifts, and feasting begins, I squeaked out a project.

It was mailed to me by Patty of MomLoves2Quilt. I won her fabric giveaway: four quarter-yard pieces and a 5/8 yard piece. Unexpectedly, the fabric was accompanied by instructions for a "Schlep Bag." I turned this out in about two hours. 
Other than a strip of batting in each handle, the bag doesn't have a filler. It's just the exterior and lining which should make it easy to fold up and take along. I think I'll stash it in my purse so whenever I find myself at a checkout and the clerk reaches for a plastic bag, I can pull this out. It's big! Those on-point squares were cut 8" X 8".
After making the bag, I found instructions here. Take a look at the unusual method of putting it together. Pretty neat, actually.

It seems the free pattern has been around for a while. Leave it to me to be the last to know. Thank you, Patty, for bringing me up to speed.

I wish everyone safe travel, wherever you may be going, and a blessed time with family. Thank you God for the gift of your little boy, Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Jingle Bells

I have two grandsons who are easily entertained when I sing to them. They're the only audience I ever have who truly appreciate my talent!

And I do enjoy singing to them. I frequently work my way through a repertoire that includes nursery rhymes such as Do You know the Muffin Man? and Sing a Song of Sixpence, to show and movie tunes like Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - or Dociousaliexpiousdicfragicalifupus - backward, of course!

But I digress.

Christmas is a season that allows me to offer them new musical delights: Up on the Housetop, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Silent Night, Deck the Halls, White Christmas and of course, Jingle Bells

To make the music interactive, I made a ring of bells that can be worn on the wrist, or just shaken. I raided my craft bin for several sizes of bells, and carefully hand-sewed them to a small circle made of 1/4"-wide knit elastic. 
The bells have been a hit. Small children have even be known to break out in spontaneous dancing!

Sometimes us Nanas can be pretty talented.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More Rollin', Pressin' and Sewin'

The "Roll, Roll Cotton Boll" mystery quilt project hasn't gotten the best of me yet!
I've completed the first four steps. 
Step 5 is making 600, 2" X 2" (unfinished) half-square triangles. My engine is quickly losing steam. 

I haven't even come close to cutting out half of them, and they all need sewing, pressing, and trimming. 
How does a designer find the time to design a quilt, make the quilt, and write a tutorial? I'm in awe.

I must assume that:

  • she isn't married
  • doesn't have children or pets
  • doesn't do housework
  • and, doesn't cook.
Step 7 will be released Christmas eve. I must also assume she has elves to decorate her house, bake cookies, and select and wrap gifts.

Being a quilt designer sounds like
the life.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Rollin' and Pressin'

I'm back at home, and after a long day of sewing, all 60 of the 8-1/2" square, string-pieced blocks for Part 3 of the mystery project "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" are done.

Mind you, I don't have Part 1 finished yet, but I'll happily tick this one off.

As I began stringing, I realized it would be very handy to have an iron near me at the sewing machine. I pulled out this little table, and little iron - a cute thing purchased at Walgreens several years ago.

Note: If you're pressing strings sewn to a foundation of telephone book paper, turn off the steam setting! Soggy telephone book paper isn't pleasant to work with.

The 15" X 19" wooden TV tray was a bargain purchase through Craigslist. Though it was sold in a set of four, friends and I pooled money and each have one. Then, I set about making an ironing cover for it. I've found this tray comes in handy not only for ironing small pieces, but for sitting in front of the TV to trim small blocks.

Some directions for making a TV tray into an ironing table instruct you to drill holes through the wood surface to allow seam to vent through. I decided that for as little as this TV tray cost, if the wood warps or becomes un-cleanable, I'll simply throw it away.

Here are my instructions for covering a TV tray of your own. 

15" X 19" Ironing Board TV Tray
Supplies and Cutting
  ⅓ yard binding fabric
  1 yard ¼”-wide elastic
For cover, cut:
18” X 22” rectangle
For double-fold binding, cut:
2 strips 5” wide
1. Use a plate as a guide to round-off and cut away all four corners of the rectangle.
2. Sew binding strips to join.
3. Use a ½” seam to straight-stitch sew binding to the edge of the rounded rectangle.
4. Turn the binding fold to the back to cover the stitching line. From the back, zig-zag stitch to secure. Note: Binding will extend beyond the cut edge of the cover. Do not sew closed the opening where the binding ends meet.
4. Use a small safety pin to thread ¼”-wide elastic through the binding. Adjust to fit TV tray.

If you make one, I'd love to see pictures.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pink-Pieced and String Things

As you know, when I was at home last week I burned up my rotary cutter and mat, stripping fabrics for the mystery quilt "Roll, Roll Cotton Boll." Now, spending a week in Kansas at Jill's house - with lots of time spent taking care of small children - I'm working on RRCB as I can.

RRCB Part 1 is to cut 2" strips and sew to make these 2"-wide subcut units. I have made only 75 of the needed 172 units.

RRCB Part 2 is to make 120 of these 3-1/2" X 3-1/2" triangle blocks. Working on them has been like eye-candy - specifically, chocolate covered cherries! Never having previously paired pink and brown for a quilt, I love this combo. Though many of the fabrics are old and tired-looking, the blocks look yummy.

This print combo below was the biggest surprise. That brown with orange fabric is old, ugly, and orange! I didn't think it could possibly work with pink. But look! Pink makes the orange resemble pink, doesn't it? Isn't it interesting how colors work together?

I also brought along some of Part 3 which is neutral, string-pieced blocks that measure 8-1/2" X 8-1/2". 
These 30 blocks are just half of what's needed, but they're trimmed and telephone book paper foundations have been torn off. Gosh. Who knew that a 15 month-old is invaluable help when tearing paper from the back of a quilt block?!

Believe it or not, I've completed all that I brought along to do. Do I have too much time on my hands? Or did I underestimate what was do-able? When I return home, I'll finish up Part 1 and Part 2. I haven't begun Part 4. Part 5 will be released Friday. 

But hey! Where's the fire?! And anyway, whenever I'm in Kansas I can depend on the excellent help of a 15 month-old.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our Grandies

Celina turned 12 two weeks ago.
And in the span of less than 14 months, I became a Nana to three grandsons.
Tay, 15 months
Austin, 7 months
Aesa, 5 weeks
Who would have guessed that I'd ever have such a clan as this! Not me, for sure!

Celina, Tay and Aesa belong to our daughter Jill; Austin belongs to our son Brent.
These cousins have never met. Won't our Christmas week together be full of fun and surprises?

Tay with his baby brother, Aesa.

I hope your Christmas is as merry as ours will be.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pattern Winners helped me select three winners in the Purse Strings Designs pattern giveaway.

The first winner is Doris of Threads of Conversation. She's a local blogger I've met in the flesh, though we didn't know one another until we found each other's blogs!

Doris selected the "Vanity Fair" pattern.

Pokey, of Pokeydotquilting in California, chose "Miss Benson."

Jan of Molly's Meanderings in New South Wales, Australia, picked "Annabelle."

Congratulations to all three winners. And very special thanks to Renay at Purse Strings Patterns, for her giveaway.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Move that bus!"

Based on my previous blog post, and comments made by a couple of you - I particularly liked Carla's remark: "move that bus" - I took a few pictures of my basement sewing room. I've shown similar pictures in the past, but it's been a while, so perhaps you won't mind seeing it again. I have done a little rearranging. 

These pictures were taken post-chaos, but the space still isn't as tidy as I strive to keep it. I had only four days at home in which to do a lot of cutting and sewing, and then had to leave it behind as I've returned to Kansas for another week of helping our post-c-section daughter. She's is improving, and should physically be able to handle her family by January.

So without further ado, here's my sewing area.

This photo was taken while standing on the basement staircase. In the foreground you can see three nearly-empty bins into which I am putting light, medium and dark value strips.
The cardboard box to the left contains all the selvages I've been collecting.
In the center is my covered-up Pfaff Grand Quilter which I use exclusively for free-motion quilting. The hollow-core doors surrounding it are what I still hope to finish, to make a smooth surface for easily sliding a quilting around. I know you're too polite to ask, so I'll admit that under the doors are more than several UFOs. On the right is my cutting table.  

On the far wall is an ironing table (built by my husband) with space for storage bins beneath.
The photo below shows the Bernina 830 I sew on. My design wall is on the right.
At the moment, these bins are looking pretty tamed, but such was not the case last week.
Below, fabrics heaped on the left need to be pressed and strip-cut into various widths, and then sorted. That bin is why I need to find a bunch of volunteer quilt-strippers!
Neutral strips in the right-hand bin are currently being used to make Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll.
Now that I've revealed all, it's turnabout! Let's see pictures of your sewing space. 
 FYI: Pattern giveaway winners announced tomorrow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Stash Chaos

It's utter chaos in my basement sewing area.

It occurred to me to take pictures but then I'd be embarrassed to have you see it right now.

Due to the influence of Kerry, (it's so easy to blame someone on the other side of the world) I made a rash decision to join Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery project called "Roll, Roll, Cotton Boll" (RRCB). I'm justifying participation as an attempt to reduce and organize my stash. Naturally.

My stash consists of 12 14 large bins of quilting cottons. To come up with Bonnie's suggested color scheme of neutrals, grass green, bubblegum pink and chocolate brown - it's easy to identify colors properly with examples, particularly of food items - I pretty much upended three fabric bins. At the bottom of every bin were old fabrics. They remember our children... who once lived here and were in school... elementary school.

Bonnie sets a good example. As she works with her fabrics, she cuts leftover pieces into useable sizes - lots of strips - sorted into containers. Me? I cut what I need, fold it back up and return it to a bin... even if it's a small piece. Gosh, that little bit might be needed for an appliqued leave, or a nose, or a bellybutton. In hindsight, I wish I'd done it differently. 

So, for the past couple days I've gone underground, to my basement sewing area, where I've been weeding. Small pieces - pretty much anything that's 1/4 yard or less - are now in one bin, a heaped bin that's labeled "for stripping." These are I-don't-like-them-anymore pieces that will reappear in string-pieced quilts. I have quilts in mind to make from them.

First, "Picket Fence," as I first admired it on Mayleen's "Q is for Quilt!" blog. PF is from Elsie Campbell's book "String Quilts." To make it, assorted width strips need to be separated into three piles: light value, medium value, and dark value.

Second, "Architectural Gem," as seen in the current issue of McCall's Quilting magazine. This project uses 2-1/2"-wide strips.

With these reasons to strip-cut old fabrics, I think I must find a volunteer contingent of quilting strippers. (Doesn't that sound naughty?!)

I have a pretty ugly mess to work through.
But I did achieve my objective.
I chose RRCB fabrics - grass greenbubblegum pink and chocolate brown.
Isn't it interesting that when you go shopping in your stash, looking for specific ingredients, it's a surprise to learn you're lacking in a particular color? I thought I wouldn't have 15 pinks, and instead found I am really short on browns!
 Part 1 and Part 2 pieces are cut.

RRCB Part 3 is to string neutrals onto 8-1/2" X 8-1/2" telephone book pages. So far, I've strip-cut these neutrals. Then, Bonnie instructs us to make 60 - only 60!?  (HA!) blocks!
Well... it's a piece of cake. A walk in the park...a day at the beach.

Don't I wish.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Under the Sea" in the Finished Column

With only a little more than three weeks left in 2010, I'm going to admit defeat. I'm feeling somewhat ashamed about not reaching my "Ten in '10" goal. That being to make and finish ten projects I named on my to-do list. To justify my defeat, I'm allowing that I did finish ten items - actually many more, particularly if you count my skirt-making craze - but these things weren't listed back in January. Sigh. I can only strive to do better in 2011.

One of my unanticipated finishes is this "Under the Sea" embroidery project. It's a Willowberry Designs BOM that began in January. This week I selected fabrics and joined the blocks.
Some of the cornerstone squares I made into stars.
 I quilted in the ditch around the embroidered blocks.
 The borders are quilted with designs that mimic the embroidery.
 Quilted bubbles and a whale spout.

 This little quilt finished at 23-1/2" X 29-1/2". And how about those binding corners?!
 A binding cutting "oops" caused me to improvise. I joined blue fabric to the yellow binding fabric. Now I like the binding better! This reinforces my belief that when you make a mistake, you can make it work to your advantage when you think creatively about your options.
 When I came across this backing fabric, I immediately identified it as perfect for this project.
One last time, thank you Cheryl for your free embroidery designs! As pleased as I am with the result, and happy about having a finish - even to sewing a sleeve at the top for hanging - for now the piece will simply be folded up and put away. Someday I'll come across a sweet little girl that this will perfectly suit.

I like reading the comments you've made about the pattern giveaway. But I'm feeling sorry for those of you who have commented, and must certainly be unaware that you're a "no reply" blogger. I've counted at least eight of you! On Friday, if your name is selected, I'll have no way to let you know you've won. So, another name will be chosen to receive your prize. Just thought you might like to know.

Here's a chuckle courtesy of MaryEllen@TheDealScoop in North Carolina.
I always wondered why a frisbee gets bigger the closer it gets to you.
Then it hit me.


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