Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Since my last post (the one where I said I would announce the little quilt give away winner) I was slammed at work trying to get ready to be off for two weeks, slammed by the realization that on December 20 I had not begun to get ready for Christmas and slammed by Christmas cooking, wrapping and reveling. Now, I am done...phew!

Without further delay, I congratulate Jen from The Quilty Home blog who the random number generator selected as winner of the little quilt giveaway.

Above is a little of my Christmas decorating. Frankly, the little tree on the table was almost our family tree this year. Since I was so late in starting the preparation the tree lots had closed up shop. Luckily, Whole Foods still had trees on December 24 so we got a big one after all.

This is a close up photo of my Christmas gift to myself. A couple of red and green quilts. I thought I'd take a chance and pull out some of my antiques to use in decorating. Might as well enjoy them.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Son of House Block

House Block

Son of House Block

The house quilt currently in my blog header is one I've long wanted to reproduce but have only gotten as far as the single block at the top of this post. I was playing around with my red and green fabrics this weekend (cannot stop with those colors) and instead of making more blocks for my house quilt I decided to try the same block in a 3" version (oops, flipped the door piece upside down). So, voila, here is son of house block. Took me the entire evening last night so I won't be doing a whole quilt of these little babies. I think I'll check Pottery barn and see if they have a frame to fit it.

I also realized I never announced the day I am picking the winner of the little nine patch giveaway (see last post) so that will be this Wednesday, December 15. I will also be announcing my next giveaway and I think it is exciting so check back mid-week!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Guilty Pleasures mini quilt giveaway

I have a confession...in December my work gets rather hectic and prevents me from truly savoring the holiday spirit. So, sometimes I will stop at Starbucks before I head home from work and buy myself a peppermint mocha or a hot chocolate in their festive holiday cups and sip it as I listen to classical Christmas music on satellite radio in my car. Another little treat I give myself is to listen to the Harry Potter book series while commuting or cooking or sewing. Yup, books 1-7, in order. While they aren't Christmas books, they all have a special Christmas scene and the theme of magic lifts my spirits while I participate in drudgery (i.e., commuting or the dull everyday kind of cooking - of course, the sewing isn't drudgery).

What is your guilty pleasure? Leave a comment and I'll put you in a drawing for the mini quilt pictured above. To give you an idea of the size of the blocks, take a look at the rather blurry photo below.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Please Jo, may we have some more? (and giveaway winner)

My favorite remedy to stress is a session in my sewing cave with a good book on my ipod and lots of different repro scraps to play with. The result of such a therapy session is pictured above; my version of the Stacked Coins quilt from Kathleen Tracy's Remembering Adelia book. Most of the little rectangles are from the latest Judie Rothermel collection Civil War Chronicles. I think this is her best Civil War collection since her very first one. (IMHO) For the borders, I decided to finally cut into my fat quarter stash of Jo Morton's Crimson and Clover line from last year. Jo, if you happen to read this, I love, love, love this line and think it should be reprinted. To make you feel sympathy for my plight, picture me as Oliver Twist saying, "Please sir, I want more." I have three other projects in mind for these fabrics and I don't have enough. If any of you reading this have a local quilt shop that still has these fabrics in stock, please send me the name.

Loved how this one turned out so much that I have to include another shot of it. I also found this cute jar (at the back of the photo) at Pottery Barn and decided to capture a couple of my favorite little mini quilts in it.

And, finally, the winner of my mini quilt giveaway (it is the finished one above on the left) is DOROTHY from Dorothy's Threads of Life blog. Congratulations Dorothy!! Email me your address and I will send it off to you right away. Thanks to all of you for your nice comments and I truly wish I could send a mini quilt to everyone. What I can do is another mini quilt giveaway. Stay tuned tomorrow for photos of the next one.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Wall of Tops is on the Floor

My wall of quilts is still under construction. Here is an assortment of the tops I've finished. Looks like I need to get busy doing some quilting. For the particularly scrappy ones I prefer the all over little stipple. Lazy me would love to have a pro do it but the $50 minimum is steep for such small quilts. Janet did a good job teaching herself to machine quilt so I might have to follow suit. Drat, that means basting, too.

Monday, November 22, 2010

'Tis the season for a giveaway and other stuff

'Tis the time to seize the season. I love the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year's because it's family time and it's quilting time. So, let's celebrate with some quilting giveaways. I am kicking off December by giving away the very mini but festive little quilt pictured above. I whipped this little top up this evening and will hand quilt it over the upcoming long weekend and will give it to one lucky blog friend on December 1 to kick off the Christmas season. Leave me a comment on this post between now and midnight on November 30. I'll put everyone's name in the cyber hat (a.k.a. the random number generator) and pick the winner on Wednesday, December 1. I will mail anywhere in the world. To get an idea of the finished mini quilt see the photo below of my first version of this little cutie.

You will call me a slow starter if you've seen Kathie's blog lately. But, I have finally gotten moving on my red and shirting Irish Chain. I found more yardage of the Seneca shirtings fabric pictured on this post and produced these blocks this past Sunday. I am not sure how big to make this quilt so we'll see how things progress. I am totally loving the fabrics in this project.

Finally, I appliqued these butterflies onto a block about 8 years ago and that's as far as I got. While cleaning up some clutter this evening, I happened upon the block and decided to make another mini from it since the "big" quilt just isn't happening. So, I chopped the block into four pieces, added some sashing and will also add a border. Hopefully, the addition of some hand quilting will transform an orphan block into a wall hanging that will be the perfect gift for my butterfly-loving sister-in-law.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone (because we all can be thankful) in case I don't make it back to blog land between now and Thursday. I am looking forward to the things I enjoy this year -- connecting with quilters and actually quilting -- and plan on having some more festive giveaways during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Check back!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quilt Tastykakes

Sometimes if you want cake, you shop for ingredients, read the recipe, measure and mix, and wait for the final product to bake and cool. Other times, you just want cake, quick and easy. So you open the box of yummy Tastykakes (this is where I would put the registered trademark symbol if I knew how to do that) and munch away on the delicious cakey-ness. This little quilt top is the quilting equivalent of Tastykakes.

Temecula Quilt Company has a fun and satisfying monthly mini program where you buy a pattern by Lori Smith that includes 9 different mini quilt patterns. Then, each month you get a little kit for the top and binding, a photo of the finished quilt and cutting notes specific for the pieces in the kit or variations for the Temecula version of the pattern. This is a great way to whip up a very scrappy mini top without dragging out many different fabrics and lopping off a little bit of each. Plus, you don't have to take any risks with the fabric choices. You just go with what you get and if the quilt includes that gastly aqua print then that's the way it was meant to be.

The fabrics in the mini quilt top I just made (from the Civil War Ladies line by Pat Nickols for RJR Fabrics) reminded me of one of the quilts in the book Gone to Texas by Betsy Chutchian. Early last month I had the distinct pleasure of visiting Lone Star House of Quilts in Arlington, Texas, and met Betsy there. I am really looking forward to the line of fabrics she has coming out based on the fabrics in the antique quilt pictured below. She promises there will be three of the wonderful poison greens we can never get enough of.

In the meantime, I am really itching to make my own version of the quilt pictured below. I think I'll do this one the old fashioned way...shop for the ingredients, mix it up and wait for it to bake and cool. See, I've already started assembling the ingredients.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Okay, I am ready to cut the red fabric

Last month I was able to visit many wonderful quilt shops around the U.S. and bought lots of reproduction fabrics. Maybe I should even say I bought LOTS and LOTS of reproduction fabrics. Hey, no time to sew but plenty of time to stock up. Fat Quarters Quilt Shop in Vista, California had a good selection in stock of Judie Rothermel's Quaker Quilts collection. Alas, I don't think I bought enough of the background and I cannot remember where I bought it and which Jo Morton shirtings line it came from. I've had the quilt below in mind for some time and I took advantage of the opportunity to buy enough reproduction reds that I could even finally bear to use some. Oh, and I visited Common Threads Quilting in Waxahachie where I bought the book pictured above. They had several patterns they reproduced from some wonderful antique red and green quilts.

Don't you just love the variety of red prints (plus a sprinkling of different backgrounds) in this old quilt?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Whimsy, Wacky or Whatever?

What do I do when I want to post about all my quilting endeavors but the quilting endeavors are scant? I show you an antique quilt because those are what this blog is really all about anyway. You know the saying, "nothing new under the sun," right? Well that is particularly true when one is a fan of the quilts and quilt art of a prior era.

When I think of nineteenth century quilts I don’t usually think of polka dots but Barbara Brackman certainly has noticed the dots if you read her posts here and here. This is a crib quilt I really treasure because a) it’s a crib quilt (can’t resist small), b) it’s pink and brown (the perennial favorite), and c) it is so darn cute with all those dots. As I often do with scrappy antique quilts, I wonder about how those fabric choices were made. Clearly, in most of the blocks the fabrics look planned, but on others they are mixed. Did the quilter only have enough of that funky aqua fabric for just two triangles in the whole quilt? There’s another block that has two brown dot pieces and two black and white stripe pieces. Was that all that was left? Do you think she laid out the blocks before stitching them together or did she pick them up randomly as she went along with the stitching?

For those of you who make scrappy quilts, do you spend time trying to lay out your blocks to make them look like they weren’t planned? I do and don’t think I miss the irony in that exercise. If you are a fan of that scrappy look I encourage you to study the full quilt picture above. It is a great exercise in crafting authentic reproductions of 19th century scrap quilts.
See below for the latest shameless plug about my progress on my Lemoyne Star quilt. Nine more blocks stitched and all while I was one the road. Three cheers for my little hand piecing kit (see here for more on that). I am well on my way to my next 9 star blocks.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Star of LeMoyne, LeMoyne Star, Lemon Star

Whatever you call the traditional eight-pointed star, it's delicious. I am still working on hand piecing my own "Lemon Stars" (I love that version of the name) but progress has slowed - more on that below.

Thanks to Kathie and Victoria, I found out about the quilt exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum when I was in New York city earlier this week. Luckily, I had a break between my scheduled events and was able to squeeze in a quick visit to the AFAM. The "Year of the Quilt" is an exhibit being done in two parts. So, if you are able to get to NY, you can catch part 1 until mid-April and part 2 opens in early May. There are supplemental exhibits at AFAM branch locations. "Super Stars" opens in November 2010 and there is an exhibit of red and white quilts scheduled for one short week in March 2011.

There were many excellent examples of old (mostly traditonal but not all) quilts. One highlight was seeing the quilt top that inspired the "Civil War Bride" pattern and quilt. The photos I've seen definitely did't do that one justice. My particular favorite was this quilt that has something like 405 (math in my head so pleased don't hold me to the exact number) "lemon stars." My best guess is that these little cuties are about 2.5" each. Oh my!

As mentioned, I am still plugging away at hand piecing my own 3.25" stars. Let's see, the goal was 1 per day but it's taken 42 days to make the nine pictured below. More math in my head and I think that means I am only making 1 every 4-5 days. Oh well, you do what you can.

Moda has new "Collection for a Cause-Hope" fabrics out that are based on an antique quilt. Frankly, I am not crazy about the way the reproduction fabrics on this one turned out but they have a kit that comes packed in this adorable tin lunchbox that carries an image of the original quilt. Too bad you have to buy the kit to get the tin--I'd love to own that. It would be perfect for storing my completed Lemon Stars.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baltimore Album redux

I must be channeling Kathie. Like her, the red and green quilts have been whispering in my ear lately. I've been pouring over my books on red, green and applique quilts and they are so inspiring.

I used to scorn applique both because I had failed in several attempts to master it and the examples I'd seen were not impressive. Beginner applique patterns tend to be rather simple and crude. That all changed when I went to a quilt show presented by the Baltimore Applique Society in 1996 called "Quilts and Cuisine." I have to admit, at the time it was the cuisine part that drew me to the show. But once I got there and saw both vintage Baltimore Album quilts and new creations from BAS members I forgot all about the food (although the lemon bars were quite tasty). I left determined to learn to applique (well!) and to make one of those quilts. In 2000, I signed up for Mimi Dietrich's year long Baltimore Album class at Seminole Sampler in Catonsville, MD.

Mimi was a great teacher and we learned all different methods of applique. Those of you who have tried it know that it is not a one-method-fits-all art form. Once I found the method that works for me (it's a toss-up between back basting and freezer paper underneath) I knew I could tackle any block.

But, once I gained applique confidence, I developed doubts about my colors and block choices. Paper cuts were easy, but I have a roving eye and the one fabric blocks got boring. I did not finish my BAQ for the class and just have blocks that don't thrill me anymore.

I found I really was liking the two color red/green blocks so I thought I would go with that combination. Unfortunately, I only got as far as this one crossed laurel leaves block. One day I'd like to make a whole quilt of these (as pictured in one of the books above). I have plenty of background but these two red and green fabrics are long gone.

Then the class moved onto the fancier blocks and I decided that THAT was what I really wanted for my quilt. More pieces, more fabrics, more colors. But, my white roses kind of disappeared into the background.

That whole BAQ attempt has been scrapped. I found a new background; something that looks "old" but will really show off all different fabrics and colors.

And I've found some exciting new fabrics. The BAS just published a brand new pattern called Lady of Victory that is taken directly from a BAQ owned by Mary Koval. Mary's latest line of fabrics by Windham is also taken directly from that antique quilt. Having seen it in "real life" I can attest that the colors in the antique quilt really are that vibrant. There are even more fabrics than those I picture below so this single line is a great start to creating a colorfully satisfying BAQ. I plan on combining favorite blocks from many different album quilts.

The spice of life is planning new quilt projects but it's fun to make progress on other WIP's. My Ohio Stars are together and I am deciding between adding a border or leaving it off. Here is the top on an old quilt just to get a little idea of what it would look like with a wide, plain quilted border.

And here it is up against the edge of a quilt bound in indigo (right side and bottom) to get an idea of what it looks like without the border. I think I like it this way best. The result I am trying to achieve is something that looks like an old utilitarian cradle quilt.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A sewing weekend - process report

Well, Mother Nature had plans for me this weekend that did not include a trip to the Sully quilt show. You might say, she sullied my plans by sending us rain. (It's a terrible pun, I know) So nice of her to bookend a dreary rainy Sunday with two perfectly beautiful days.

Okay, it was disappointing but my wallet is probably better for it. Insead, I did the only thing a quilter can do on a rainy day. I planned a new project. I have long coveted the old 9-patch doll quilt pictured in the Celebrate With Little Quilts book. I even bought some new fabrics to reproduce it. But, I knew they could not reproduce the patina of the antique. Soooo, now I have these old blocks and I am going to pick them apart and make 9-patches out of the pieces. Take note of this photo...there's a giveaway that will be coming out of it soon.

I also figured that if I am starting yet another quilt I should make progress toward finishing something. I finally basted my Cheddar Cheese and Crackers quilt top from Humble Quilts' January quilt-a-long. I tried the Hera marker tool for marking the straight lines in the cheddar squares and it works like a dream.

And there's more! I finished all 20 indigo Ohio Stars blocks AND pieced them all into a top. I am deciding whether to add borders or not so look for a photo and query for your opinions on that one. Yes, I know, there are not 20 Ohio star blocks in this photo but I promise, I did make that many.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Oh, nuts.

It has been a goal/dream/fantasy of mine to create a wall of little quilts (several blogs have featured photos of these but I can't find them right now-sorry!). So I've worked my way to that goal by making quite a few little quilts. The problem is, most have been scrappy with dark colors being dominant and, while pleasing to me individually, all kind of "read" the same on the wall. In other words, they look boring. I am getting impatient and just want to get something I finished displayed on the wall. So, I followed the suggestion Lori Smith gives in her patterns and bought an inexpensive, ready-made frame from a craft store. I made this little quilt, took the time to hand quilt it, and was excited to pop it in the frame and call it "art."

But it didn't fit.

It didn't dawn on me to check the size of the little quilt pattern I chose and compare it to the size of the frame I have. The former is 11"x14" and the latter is 10"x13".

So now it is living on the edge...of this basket. I think I'll roll up the other "wall of quilts" wannabes and stick them into the basket, too.

And, since I did take so much time to hand quilt the thing, I have to show off the back so you can see I really, really made an effort on this one. By the way, this quilt is from one of Lori Smith's "fit to frame" patterns. I recommend trying them, but make sure to compare sizes so when you're finished it will actually fit the frame.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Red, Light and Boo Hoo Hoo

On Memorial Day weekend (ceremonial official start of summer in U.S.) I decided I wanted to make a new red, white and blue quilt for summer. On the July 4 weekend (ceremonial peak of summer in U.S.) I decided to name it "Red Light and Blue." Now, it is the Labor Day weekend (ceremonial close of summer in U.S.) and I am looking at my pile of fabrics wondering "Where did summer go?"

We had a brutal winter and I was looking forward to reveling in warm weather. But, that warm weather turned to HOT weather and my motivation was shut out when I turned on the air conditioning and shut out summer. Mother Nature is smiling on us this weekend (thanks M.N., better late than never) and as my windows opened, so did my mind. At least I did some hand piecing so I have a little something to show for my summer.

I'll have to thank my lucky stars! Terrible pun. I couldnt' help myself. 29 down, 270 to go. Yikes, that's intimidating.

Anyway, this weekend I figured if I couldn't embrace summer anymore, I could at least still eat it. No pictures, but I had a delicious breakfast of summer zucchini, chives and onions scrambled with eggs and topped with a chopped tomato. Yum! Now, to those fabrics...
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