Garden Charm

Garden Charm

Garden Charm

The Garden Charm quilt is Thimbleberries new block-of-the-month.  The free pattern is a craftsy exclusive.  It is free to join craftsy and they offer several free classes and other “pay for” classes.  Each month they add a new part to the quilt.  The fabrics are from the two new Thimbleberries lines–“Home Again” and “Sand & Stone”.  My friend Zella and I used to make a lot of Thimbleberries quilts together and even though we can’t meet in person like we use to, we still thought it might be fun to have a project to work on together again.  This picture is the center of the quilt and a variety of additional borders will be added including some applique too.   It is a super easy quilt and lends itself well to “scrappy” so you might like to make one too—and I would love to see your pictures if you do make one.

Winter Vacation

While many quilters tend to sew during the cold month of January, I find myself instead not wanting to sew much. I sew a lot during the year and actually start to lose interest. By taking a vacation from it, I get my creativity and sewing desire back and now I am ready to sew again. Even if the ground hog sees his shadow tomorrow and declares six more weeks of winter, I am pretty sure we won’t have that much winter here in North Carolina. For Christmas we had the windows open and the flowers had started blooming again and the grass was getting green. Then the cold dark days of January arrived making January our “month of winter” here. I still wake up very early, but my goodness the house is so very cold and the outside is still quite dark and it seems hard to get out of my warm quilt nest. I find myself snuggling in with books—I read lots and lots of books! Also, for Christmas I received the entire seven seasons of the movies, “The Gilmore Girls”. Since I never ever watch television, I had not heard of this show. I have a screen to watch movies and thus enjoyed watching the set of dvds when I wasn’t caught up in one of the many books. Of course, I still had to do all the normal day-to-day activities making it actually a partial vacation rather than a total vacation. We had a wicked ice storm which was scary with the ice-laden huge trees breaking and some even hanging over the house with the threat of coming down. Despite the storm’s scariness and power-outages, it still was so beautiful. Of course I didn’t get any pictures although I wish I would have on the day it started melting as the sun shining on all those ice trees was really something to behold. My wonderful little vacation came to an end yesterday as the temps reached the high 60’s so time to open the windows and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, which I am doing again today as we reached up into the 70’s. These warm days will only last a few days and then it might get cold enough to have to turn the heat back on a little more before winter is really gone. I am sure many of you will still have plenty of winter all through February but for us, this means the start of spring. Yesterday many people were out working in their yards already—many people other than myself that is. I love being outside however, I don’t actually want to get out there and work. I think that is why my quilting interest comes back so quickly. Life is much better sewing rather than having to do yard work.

This year I am going to be hopping back and forth amongst several projects. My Texas friend Zella and myself are making the new Thimbleberries Block of Month together and my Thimbleberries group is also making this quilt. My sampler group is working on a sampler from Lori Holt’s Quilty Fun book. The sampler had been done as a quilt-along when the book was published and we decided as a group to make ours now. We are discussing a couple other projects to work on later in the year. The gals who come here to sew are just now finishing up the “Slant Six” quilt that was designed by my friend Aby and she and I both had it as a mystery on our blogs during the summer of 2014. This has been a good beginner project. My Colorado friend Emily has been sending me boxes and boxes of projects for many years and then last summer when my sister passed away, she sent me even more boxes and yet more now in December. She says I have to work on some of these projects in order for her to work on hers. We decided on a few to start and even if they do not all get done, it should be fun to at least see if we can keep up. I think there are a couple more projects on this year’s list and there are even some from last year that didn’t get done such as the Allietare mystery. (I am working on it as a leader/ender project.) I have not been thinking much about sewing during my vacation and writing this makes me realize that not only had I better start thinking about it, I definitely better get back to action! Oh, and I forgot to mention that Jacob has been thinking about sewing because he is already planning what he wants us to make during spring break. Yikes!

My friend Wanda came here for quilting lessons and sewing days before she had to move to Alaska. She has been doing quite a bit of practicing and has become a very good quilter. Here is one of her most recent quilts she made using the “quilt-as-you-go” method.  I love seeing her progress.

Wanda's Quilt

Wanda’s Quilt

In addition to the great vacation from sewing/quilting, I have also had a vacation from computer time. I am excited to get back to sewing but not so much to spend time on the computer. Have to admit that life without computer time is actually quite nice. Of course it is rather difficult to keep up with my friends, my online groups and this blog if I never spend time at the computer. I will post some pictures soon; not today though as you know since it’s 70 degrees outside, I absolutely have to go outside. Oh, and I still have a couple books to finish and the last of the Gilmore Girls movies to watch. Maybe I will sew soon. Too bad winter couldn’t have lasted at least a couple more weeks!

Sparkling Pines Remodeled

Around the end of last year, my friend Aby designed a tree/star table runner that was published in McCall’s Quilts Magazine. In conjunction with that she was giving away a kit on her blog.  It must have been my lucky day as I was surprised to find out I won.  The kit was of the same pretty fabrics she had used.  I made the table runner into top stage and then decided to wait until closer to this Christmas to quilt it. (I love to procrastinate!)

Sparkling Pines tablerunner top

Sparkling Pines tablerunner top

Near the end of November, I decided it was time to get it quilted to be used this Christmas season.  While I was basting it to the batting and backing, I was thinking about making a couple tree wall banners for some friends of mine who like trees as much as I do, and I was wishing I had some fabrics as pretty as those from Aby.  All of a sudden inspiration hit—I could use the two trees from the table runner to make the wall banners.  I unpinned it and started un-sewing.  It only took me about 15 minutes to take the stitches out and there were the two trees I needed.

Then I realized that I wouldn’t have enough of the border fabric to go around both trees. I was tempted to sew it all back together when I suddenly remembered there was some fabric leftover from the cardinal quilt I had made with the sashings from taken-apart Grand Illusion.  Though not the exact same as the fabric from Aby, it still would look good with the trees.

Sparkling Pine Wall Banners

Sparkling Pine Wall Banners

Are you wondering what happened to the little gold star that was in the center of the table runner? It became a cute little mug rug.

Mug Rug

Mug Rug

When I make mug rugs or other very small projects that need binding, I prefer to use the backing as the binding by bringing the backing around to the front. In this case though, I still had some pieces of the pretty binding Aby had supplied in the kit and I wanted to use that same fabric.  I came up with an idea to try.  Without sewing it on, I went around the mug rug with the binding just as though I were sewing it, making the corners as I normally do.  Then I overlapped the ends a quarter inch and sewed the ends together.  I was thinking about making a diagonal seam as I usually do when joining ends, but thought it would be better to use a straight seam in case I needed to make any adjustments.  At this point, I had a loop of the binding and proceeded to sew it on as I normally do.  It actually worked out and I think I will do this again when I want binding on small items.  It is so  much easier than trying to sew the ends on a small item.  (This idea might already be “out there” being used by thousands, however I have never seen it or heard about it being done—have you ever made binding this way?)

One lucky win for me became three presents and a new idea–now that is really lucky!

 

Christmas Quilts and “niting”

You might recall that last year I decided to the make the annual Bonnie Hunter mystery which she called “Grand Illusion”. Because it was such a large quilt, I chose to make mine into two quilts.  After I had the first one completed and the second one in top stage, I then decided to take the second one apart.  From the parts of that quilt, I ended up making two other quilts.  One was very bright and summery which I gave to a little girl at church.  The other one was made into a simple Christmas quilt which you’ve only seen as a top.  I finished it awhile ago but forgot to show so here it is all finished ready to go to someone.

Cardinal Gathering

Cardinal Gathering

The first year I moved here, I found a big container of long-forgotten Christmas fabrics in the garage along with all the other stuff that got detained there. I cut the pieces into nine simple kits to make quick gifts.  It seems as though it would be easy enough to whip them up since they are all cut, but alas once Christmas season approaches, there is not much time for sewing.  I made only one the first year and that was with Jacob handing me all the pieces to sew and we gave it away a few minutes after it came out of the dryer after the finishing and washing.  The following Christmas, we did the same thing—only we waited a couple days after it came out of the dryer.  We made another the third year.  This year I asked Jacob if he would like to do the sewing instead of handing me the pieces.  He reminded me that he likes things to be the same so we had to do it the same way as the past years.  If we keep this up only making one per year, he will be a teenager before all the kits are done.  I wonder if he will still want to hand me the pieces then.

Jingle Bells

Jingle Bells

He does like to learn things though and has asked if I will teach him how to knit just so he can have the experience. I like to encourage him to try things, however since he is a lefty, I have no idea how to make the knitting work.  I’ve heard that you should face each other so it is opposite.  It still would be hard for me to figure it out.  I think he has decided to figure it out himself as he was standing over me watching me knit and not saying anything at all but I could see his eyes following the steps.  Later I found this little note he had written.  It says, “Niting: under, around, hold, under, off” and then he added to the ‘under’ parts, “front-back” and “back-front”.  He actually has the steps correct.  Now I have to make sure that one day I do the casting on in front of him so he can secretly write notes on how to do that.  Oh and maybe I should leave some random knitting needles and yarn laying around too.

Jacob's note

Jacob’s note

The Cattle are Lowing

Yesterday, Jacob and I were singing Away in a Manger while we were in the car. When we got to the line, “the cattle are lowing”, Jacob stopped singing to ask me what “lowing” means.  I told him it’s an old word that we don’t use much but that it means like a soft moo-ing sound.  Jacob tried it out by using the word “moo-ing” in place of “lowing” and then he started laughing so hard.  I thought he was just laughing at himself for his word replacement but decided to ask him anyway.  He told me he had just had a visual of the entire congregation using the word  “MOOOO-ing” in the song and he thought it would sound like a herd of cattle.  He was sure that was the reason we use the word “lowing”.  Oh how fun it is to spend time with him.

holly wreaths

holly wreaths

Have several projects to share with you, but oh so little time. Will start off today by showing you a couple fun simple wall banners.  Mandy who has recently started coming here to sew decided she liked the little dresdens that I had made on the mug rugs.  She had a layer cake of some French General Christmas fabrics and thought it might be fun to use those to make a wall banner with the dresdens.  I found some Christmas fabrics and decided to make one also.  Mandy’s layer cake pieces were 10” wide and my fabric was a fourth-yard cut so only 9” wide, which I cut to 8-1/2”.  The small dresdens would work on both.  We both had a stripe fabric in our selections and decided to use those for the bottom rather than try to figure out something we could piece.

We started by cutting 2-1/2” strips for cutting our dresden wedges. She used a variety of fabrics and I used one multi-print.  Once we had our 20 wedges cut, there was leftover 2-1/2” strip pieces and we both had the same thought of making two banners each instead of just one.  I had enough stripe but she only had the one piece.  We found another print from her layer cake that worked well so we were good to go making two banners.

These fun little projects are good for learning simple piecing, easy applique, quilting on a small project, and learning binding. We sewed the dresdens onto the layered quilt sandwich, quilted the lines of the stripes and then did the applique on top the quilting.  On Mandy’s project without the stripe, she drew lines with the frixion pen and did cross-hatching.  Mandy added trees to her banners since she had a nice print that looked like a decorated tree.  I decided to leave off the trees as my narrower (and shorter) banners seemed a bit crowded with the tree.

Mandy finished the binding on her banners at home and emailed me pictures of her completed projects. For a new quilter she is doing a wonderful job.

Mandy's first banner

Mandy’s first banner

Mandy's second banner

Mandy’s second banner

 

In January, she is going to move from the small projects into making a quilt. I can only hope she will find that as much fun as these small projects have been.

Blessings

This year one of the friends I am so blessed to have as a friend was herself blessed with a new grandbaby just in time for Thanksgiving. How cool is that!

I made this little quilt with the fabrics leftover after making the most recent Quiltmaker sampler. There was just barely enough fabric and I was surprised to find I had equal amounts of warm and cool colors so I was able to alternate.  I made 12″ blocks rather than sewing it in rows.

Love Lifted Me

Love Lifted Me

When I was making the baby quilt, I was in rectangle mode as I had just finished a quilt for baby’s big brother using rectangles. I knew I was going to be making the baby quilt, but figured brother and sister were also ready for toddler-sized quilts. (And maybe for making tents and having picnics too!)

What's Bugging You

What’s Bugging You

I had made the sister quilt earlier this year but I’ll show it to you again.

Fun In The Sun

Fun In The Sun

And with that, I’m off to enjoy another of my blessings and that is to go sing (or in my case, to make a joyful noise!). Today we start singing the Christmas songs and continue through the month. I love singing all the Christmas songs, both old and new. I hope each of you are finding many blessings in your life too.