Thursday, June 7, 2012


Here are the first six blocks of Elegant Garden applique designed by Edyta Sitar.  I had to scramble to get them all done by last night since our embroidery class was today.  Now we have the next 6 to do before July 12th.  The entire disk holds 24 designs in all.

I promised myself if I got all my customer, baby gift and applique blocks done in time, I would reward myself by learning how to use the Quilt Design Creator software from Husqvarna Viking that I ordered a few weeks ago.  You might not hear from me for a few days while I start on those lessons...

Saturday, June 2, 2012


I finally finished the binding for the baby quilt I made last week.  The shower is tomorrow.  Almost new mom and dad have decorated the baby's room in woodsy themes, so, since it is a boy, I kept to plaids and a forest color scheme.

The back of the quilt is very fine corduroy in a black, tan and red hound's tooth pattern.  This is soft and hopefully durable.

And here it is, all wrapped up and ready to go tomorrow.  Woo hoo!

Friday, June 1, 2012


Edyta Sitar has a beautiful collection of 24 Baltimore album-type blocks called Elegant Garden available on a DVD for embroidery in many formats.  The embroidery group offshoot of my quilting guild has taken on the task of learning to make this highly stylized, formal, and beautiful machine appliqued/embroidered in the hoop, guided carefully and expertly by Sherry N, our guru embroidery software teacher.

This is block #2.  After we finished block #1, Sherry said that we had just finished the hardest block in the collection, and we all went around and patted ourselves on the back about how well we had done the first time at bat. 

Sherry lied.  I thought this second block was harder than the first.  It's the cutting.  Even using the spoon billed applique scissors, it is very hard to cut one micron away from the placement thread. And it really does need to be extremely close to those stitches, because otherwise, excess fabric will show beyond the satin stitch.

 Sometimes I have erroneously cut through the placement stitches, but Sherry has a nice little trick to keep our appliques in line:  we line our fabric with Steam-A-Seam.  Once it has been anchored by the placement stitches, we trim the excess away and then iron the fabric to the background.  So now, no matter how many stitches you may have accidentally cut through, that sucker won't come off of there while the zigzag stitch and then the satin stitch is applied.

Here is block #3.  This one was definitely easier.  Not so many inner curves to cut out.

I have three more to do before the 7th.  But I need to bind that baby quilt first.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


I have a quilting friend whom I have never met, Sue B.  We were introduced through the Quilts of Valor program.  I happened to quilt some of her patriotic quilts that were ultimately donated to wounded soldiers.  She chose me to quilt some of her own works of art, too.  Eventually, she told her friends about me, and I am happy to say that several have taken the chance and sent me their work as well.

The latest "friend" quilt is this repro beauty that measures only 30" x 30", but was every bit as labor intensive as if it were queen or king size.  Each block is only about 3.5" square, but I had to cram a 24 feather wreath into the ones with the appliqued circle and star in them and outline the circle as well as digitize a five petaled star in the middle, which made it look sort of like a starfish.  There were 30 of these star blocks and 30 plain.

In the center of the quilt was this amazing star made out of teensy tiny appliqued circles, each measuring only 3/4 of an inch in diameter.  The friend wanted stippling all around this star.  I also did stitch-in-the-ditch along the inner border of this block. 

This picture shows a 20 feather wreath that I put into the plain blocks and added the loopy star in the middle.

The outer border consists of a row of flying geese, which are quilted with stitch-in-the-ditch.

Lastly, the friend wanted to have the individual 3/4" appliqued circles outlined, but I ran into a problem with the outermost ones, which touched.  I found that there was not enough room to outline these circles without having the thread show on top of the adjoining circle, so I only outlined the inner 16 circles, which, as you can see, had adequate space between them to keep the quilting clean.

This was a most difficult quilt to do.  There were 60 3.5" blocks and one central block with innermost and outermost borders.  I had to make every single circle for the inner star individually, since there was no reference point for their centers, and even a millimeter of difference would look sloppy if the threads crossed the fabric.

So I spent as much time on this little quilt as I would have on a much larger one -- and with much smaller tolerances -- and I learned a lesson:  you can't base your fee for quilting something merely on the size of the article.  You have to take into consideration the number of patterns you use and whether or not you had to digitize them yourself, special custom techniques, maneuverability, density, and labor intensity of the designs as well as structure of the quilt (how well it's put together - this one was very well done), number of colors of thread, any ruler work, etc.

A pantograph on this quilt would have been a travesty but would have taken one hour and it would have been off the frame.  I spent 16 hours on this ultra custom quilt -- so you can see how all these things factored into the job.  But oh!  What a great quilt!  This lady did such a great job with the tiniest applique stitches you can imagine!  She created a work of art, and it deserved every bit as much attention to the quilting.

I was honored to have been chosen to do this for her.  Some of her friends are making the same quilt, and Sue B. is passing my name along to them as well.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed!  I have saved all my patterns but will alter one:  the 24 feather wreath is way too small for this size quilt, so I will, with the customer's consent, make the number of blades just a bit smaller, which will allow the feathers to be fuller looking.  You can see the difference in these feathers in the second picture.

Today I'm in my studio working on my embroidery software homework -- woo hoo! 

And I have to bind a baby quilt I made for a shower this Sunday.

Forward, ho!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


DH and I are experimenting in the kitchen.  There is this WONDERFUL website called Closet Cooking that somehow I happened upon, and the recipes are super delicious and fun to try!  DH has been hanging out at the old homestead this week, checking off Honey-Do lists and reworking one of his go carts, and grilling to beat the band, so this dish was right up his alley.

Also coming up this week is souvlaki chicken, sausage meatballs in pineapple sauce and pork burritos. 

Yesterday we made one of our rare trips to Raleigh.  DH, Harbor Freight flyer in hand, meandered through that store happily while I read one of the  8 books I had just purchased at Barnes & Noble.  Then we were off to the Cheesecake Factory for a real treat (especially when it's made by someone else!).

Nonetheless, since there is a veritable dearth of commendable restaurants near our tiny backwoods village, we are becoming quite reasonable cooks, and this is a new addition to our culinary repertoire.  Check out that website.  You're sure to find something that appeals to you!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


When a friend asks a favor of you, saying yes is automatic.  When she selects you for a special favor, the doing of it becomes an honor.  BFF Mary asked me to quilt this quilt that had been made by Starlyn, one of her buddies and co-workers at the now defunct quilt shop where Mary worked part time.  It was to be a surprise for Starlyn, and I was overwhelmed by Mary's confidence in me, particularly since Mary is an excellent quilter herself!  So as soon as it arrived in the mail, I began working on it, having already decided on the patterns while I awaited its arrival.

In the setting blocks you can see a wreath that has the same star in it as the main pattern.

The star itself is done in continuous curve arcs.

 And for the setting triangles, I halved the original full circle wreath, tweaked the feathers a little and voila!  You can also see the loops in the green border.  The outer border is a damask design that is barely visible because the fabric is busy.

All the ladies who used to work at the quilt shop (except the owner -- very bad form for her to skip this get together!) met Tuesday for lunch, and Mary gave Starlyn the quilt then.  Word has it that it was well received, making me very happy!

Sunday, May 20, 2012


They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, and DH lived up to this during our courtin' and a-sparkin' days.  Years have flown by, and his palate is educated and his culinary arts are up to the challenge.  Here's what he decided to cook up for breakfast today.  It's a 2 egg omelet with pastrami, provolone, ham, turkey, onions, green peppers and grated Colby cooked inside.  It's garnished with avocado, goat cheese, and tomatoes, sprinkled with coarsely ground pepper.  And I ate every single bite!

I need a nap now.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Elegant Garden 1

As if I need another project begun, I am starting on Edyta Sitar's Elegant Garden quilt.  It consists of 24 embroidery machine appliqued blocks and is being taught by our local embroidery and software guru, Sherry N.  This is block #1.  Every month we get six patterns, so I have 5 more to do before June 7.  I'm gonna have to scramble!

However, today is a lurkim day.  I must finish my practice quilt on which I have learned the new techniques put out by the amazing IntelliQuilter team in their newest update.  IQ puts these updates out free!  So my system is always becoming more and more sophisticated.  This helps me do better and better custom quilting.

The practice quilt will be donated to the Durham VA Hospital for one of its much appreciated and respected servicemen/women.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Do you remember a few weeks ago when I posted this darling Market Bag that I made in Kate's class?  Well, I had intended to add some accessories to complete the set, and now I have.

These items are quilt in the hoop designs which you can find on Five Star Fonts.  They are a checkbook cover and a key ring that has a pocket on the back that snaps shut.  You can carry calling cards, credit cards, or a little mad money in it.

One FUO done. 

Oh, you don't know what that means?  Well, we are used to saying UFO for Unfinished Objects that we have lying around the house.  Although these two items weren't unfinished per se, the ensemble was.  But I switched the letters to stand for Follow Up On....  You see, assigning a category to a project, like Unfinished Object, implies that it will stay that way.  I mean, it has to if it wants to stay in your UFO box with all its friends, right?  It's a whole other ball of wax to be a Finished Object.  You don't get to hang out with all the other deadbeats, and you are usually displayed alone on a bed or a shoulder or a wall.  It gets loneseome out there all by yourself, so why would you want to change from being a UFO to anything else? You wouldn't, all because of your poor self image from being forgotten and left behind.

But suppose the fabric has a little more self respect than that.  Consider how it feels being a UFO -- here you've fondled and cut or torn and penciled and sewn on it -- all with the promise in the heat of the moment of good things to come.  But did you even call afterwards?  No!  You dumped it!  Pushed into a box in the closet or tossed into the back of one of your shelves.  You forever altered its pristine yardage, had your way with it and now it means nothing to you.  If this were a guy doing this to YOU, you'd think he was a cad.  And you'd have to make amends in a big way.

How?  Well, enter psychology.  If the project is now classified as FUO, it understands from the gitgo that its unfinished state is intended to be only temporary.  Following up on something implies an ongoing process -- that it will be brought back out into the sunlight and onto your eager sewing machine's table and stitched and tweaked and displayed proudly.  Kinda like when you won the spelling bee at school, and your mother took you all around the neighborhood to show her friends.  You did good.  You basked in the praise.  You felt loved.

So lets give all our UFO's a new life.  Let's live the promise we made to those fabrics and threads when we started out each new project.  Let's rename them FUO's and show them the love.  And most of all, let's let them out of the closet and FINISH them!

Friday, April 27, 2012

My fuzzy little basket

This past Wednesday Vanessa taught several of us in the guild how to do raw-edge cloth covered clothesline baskets.  They are a little fuzzy because the cut edges of the fabric are manipulated while wrapping the clothesline and start fraying.  That can be cute.  I prefer not, so I trimmed the longest threads to make it look a little tailored.

Vanessa showed us a variety of ways of finishing the basket.  I tried the loopies -- kinda fun to do and not as hard as I feared initially.  My bowl had a finished circumference of 24", so I spaced my loopies 4" apart.  You can make them closer together, and it looks like the top of the bowl is pique.

I have alot of fabric left over, so I'm going to make some coasters, too.  All the fabrics from the bowl and the coasters are scraps from my Tree of Life quilt, which I will show you when it's finished being quilted.

Just as follow up to my very flat tire, above is the odd looking piece of metal that DH removed from the tire.  It looks like a staple but is actually a twist from the top of a barb wire fence that I must have picked up on the road somewhere.  I was about three months away from buying new tires anyway, so now my car is almost all fixed up.  It still needs the new muffler put on that's been sitting in the garage for months, though.  I wonder if that will ever happen.  I mean, in my lifetime....

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Kate M. taught the Market Bag class today.  I'm really glad I did alot of the preparation at home, what with ironing on all the fusible fleece and  fussing over which fabrics to use for what sections of the bag.  The outside pockets include one that has a space just for your cell phone.  You can see the line dividing the mauve pocket to create this space.

One of the things I did that was not in the class instructions was to  monogram one of the faces of the bag. 

Usually the handles to the bag are short, about 22" long, and placed on each side of the bag. However, that length doesn't work for me, so I decided to make just one long one that inserted on one side and ended up on the other.

Inside, the multiple pockets are a handy way to organize everything from pens to makeup.

Here are some examples of other people's fabric selections and their work in progress.

Batiks are wonderful for this project.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Remember that old saying "For want of a nail, the shoe was lost..." and how it goes on to have a whole battle and a life lost because of just one nail?

Well, take a look at what greeted me today when I went out to the car to go shopping for new cushions for the outside furniture. 

This is not a dainty, low pressure-almost flat tire.  It is a sitting-on-the-rim flat tire.  Of course, I called DH to tell him, and he carefully walked me through how to turn on the compressor in the garage and find the correct head for the hose so I could inflate the tire.  Alas, having done all that successfully, I could immediately hear a loud hissing sound, and the tire emptied nearly as quickly as it had filled.

Here's the culprit.  This doesn't look like an ordinary nail -- you know, the kind with the flat, round head on it.  This thing looks more like a peg!  I have not been near a construction site for months, so I have no idea where I picked it up.  But it has fulfilled its purpose in my life today. 

I'm curious who is missing a shoe now...?

And of course, I have a class tomorrow and will be visiting BFF Mary later this week.  So I looked up various discount tire sites on the web -- don't even bother with Costco or Walmart.  They have nothing in stock.  In fact, these days almost no store has tires in stock!  What a shock to find that out!

Hubby to the rescue.  At lunchtime (which we were supposed to share as a side benefit of my shopping plans) he found a store locally that can have the tires by tomorrow AM.  The only down side of this is having to figure out how to get my sewing machine trolley into his Avalon, but where there's a will, there's a way.

So back to the sewing for today.  All the pieces for my Market Bag are cut and primed with fusible fleece.  I have found buttons and have made the handles.  I have enough fabric left over to make matching key chain and checkbook cover, too! 

Pictures tomorrow after all is completed.

Monday, April 16, 2012


A few Thursdays ago the embroidery class got together and started making a Fourth of July wall hanging, designed by our guru, Sherry Newton.  Above is the second of eight flag arrays that go into this wall hanging.  I am notoriously bad about putting things off until the last minute, so hopefully this one will be finished well ahead of the actual DAY!

Here's the other iron in the fire claiming my attention these days.  Kate M from the guild is teaching the Market Bag this Wednesday, and above I am auditioning fabrics to use for it.   The yellow is the bag and the stripe is being used for both the lining and the tall pocket.  The tall pocket is lined with the roses on spotted mauve, which folds down over the stripes for a cuff.  The other pocket is mauve lined with a slightly blue-ish or light spruce green.  There's supposed to be a button where the yellow pin is located.  The green folds over the mauve to create a different slant on the opening to the pocket.

Get it?...a different SLANT...?

Oh, well, I guess you had to be there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


After being on display at the local library for the last five weeks, our quilts were returned to us.  But the mystery of whose quilts won the Viewers' Choice awards remained a closed secret until today.  My Garden Song took home Third Place, I am pleased to report.

And just in case you can't remember which quilt that is, here's a picture of it.  This is all machine pieced and machine appliqued.  I quilted it with straight lines over the blocks and stippling around the applique.

First Place was won by a quilt called "My Trip Around the World".  I wish I had a picture of it to show you.  Maybe the owner will send me one for the blog.

I have three projects going on at this time:  a Fourth of July wall hanging that is embroidered with my HV Designer Diamond, finishing up my Tri Recs Tool quilt that BFF Mary taught the guild, and finishing up the Tree of Life that Debbie Powell taught us.  I like having choices.  As they get finished, they'll appear on this blog, so stay tuned.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


Taxes are finished.  Financial advisor feted and consulted.  Sneaky dogs ran away again and were recovered.  And the sun is shining to beat the band!  Great day!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Aunties Two of Portland, ME have come up with a darling little Biscuit Basket that takes only 15   two and one-half inch strips of fabric, cut the width of the fabric.  From those you make three 32" long strips, three 22" long strips and five 18" long strips, sewn right sides together and then turned right side out.  You have to use a strong interfacing to place inside these strips, which you then weave together, pinning as you go to keep the shape.  The final strip is used for binding along the top. 

The basket ended up measuring 6 x 10 x 6 inches.  A grosgrain or other ribbon can be placed around the top and tied.  I used a delicate, sheer, sparkly pastel purple one for mine.  My strips are one-half of a Bali Pops collection.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Joyce T found this ancient quilt made from the most delicate fabrics -- cotton so thin and silky that you would think it was chiffon -- and she wanted to have it quilted for her sister.  There were some spots on it, most of which disappeared with gentle washing, and even though more than half of the squares were hand pieced, the seams did not come apart with the bath, so all in all it seemed to be worth preserving.  I gather a relative had made it originally.

Here are some of the fabrics in it.  In the middle of this grouping you can see that sometimes even the individual squares were pieced, speaking to an early era, perhaps the 30's or 40's?, when every tiny scrap had to count.  The squares are not square, and the blocks are not all the same size, but perhaps they were made up of someone's dresses or the like.  For whatever reason, Joyce brought the quilt to me to finish by quilting.

Now, ordinarily, if the quilt is hand pieced, I think it should be hand quilted.  However, I convinced myself that that guide need not be followed for this quilt since it was irregular, filled with bits and pieces and still stained in one area, so it didn't seem to warrant the extra time and expense of hand quilting.  In addition, Joyce wanted it more for a summery throw, draped across her sister's sofa, rather than hanging on the wall, entered in a contest, or displayed on a bed.

The back of the quilt is pastel blue dotted Swiss on the sides and a thin lawn or batiste sort of fabric down the middle.  Although they had been stored for decades in a trunk in Joyce's attic, these two fabrics were healthy and whole and utterly charming.  I used my whitest and lightest poly blend for the batting and chose a Baptist Fan pattern to offset the angularity of the blocks.  You can see the pattern much better on the back, above.

Joyce was delighted with the results.  Now she is contemplating her options for the binding.  Wouldn't it be lovely if she could use a pastel purple velvet ribbon or perhaps satin in a narrow binding?  It's very difficult to work with velvet.  Velvet doesn't like to stay where it's put and wants to slide out from under your sewing machine needle.  So I vote for the satin.  Or it might be that she has enough  blue dotted Swiss from the sides of the quilt backing to make binding, too.  We'll see.

Either way, this summery quilt is light and delicate and has a heavenly feel to it.  Her sister is very lucky to be receiving it.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Yesterday the ladies of my development got together to descend, en masse, on unsuspecting Wake Forest, the Old Town section.  We intended to go to tea there, just for the fun of it, but first a little browsing in a curiosity shop on White Street.  And you should have seen the sales ladies' eyes get big when our group of nine bounced into a really nice consignment shop.  We scattered everywhere, trying on this or that and posing in front of mirrors.

Once noon rolled around, we settled into the Old English Tea Room for a wonderful repast, complete with teas of our choice, homemade salads and muffins and scones and Devonshire cream!

The tea room has an antique store downstairs from the restaurant.  Lots of china, some furniture, crystal, hats of all sorts, pictures and the inevitable knick knacks.  Upstairs there are many different varieties of tea, both loose and bagged, tea cups and saucers, steepers, candles, plates and the like.  There are two rooms with tables that will hold four or more, a Christmas tree always dressed in tea cup finery, and a genteel elegance that makes you wish you had worn a hat and gloves. 

As the afternoon wore on, we became merrier with our "girly" day out.  Smiles blossomed into laughter, and some even hugged in glee.

We talked our patient and very attendant waiter into taking a group picture of us as a memento of a beautiful spring day and some wonderful cameraderie.

We ended the afternoon at the Cotton Company, which is a cluster of artisan shops in an old cotton mill.  I bought some interesting door or cabinet knobs, which I am thinking of making into a towel or jacket rack for my laundry room.  If I actually achieve that goal, you can be sure it will show up on this blog!

Friday, March 23, 2012


Debbie Powell of Miss Lou's quilt shop came to our guild Wednesday to teach us Nancy Johnson Srebro's version of how to make the Tree of Life without diamonds or Y seams.  What a patient teacher!  This was definitely new territory for us, and we plunged into the exercise with both feet, confident that Debbie could handle anything that we screwed up along the way.

Although the TOL block in the middle is done a la Nancy Srebro, the rest of this quilt was completed as a round robin by Debbie's quilting group, and it is lovely!  I have to say I like the variety of the borders more than I like the quilt finish in Nancy's book.  I took this picture so I could remember how those round robin participants worked their layers.

I had done a mock up of how I wanted my colors to be distributed in my TOL, but I found matching the strips to be a little nerve wracking.  I had to really pay attention to how they went, following Debbie's pattern board carefully.

Eventually I completed the first half of the left half of the top of the tree (whew!  does that make it a quarter?  No, because then there was the lower half on both sides, half of which was background -- I think each of these initial blocks turned out to be 1/16 of the quilt as a result.)

Once you have the first two sections done, you fold them in half corner to corner to see if they followed your mock up or if you need to make changes.  Then you place one on top of the other, right sides together, and sew from the outer corner in.  Supposedly, if you have perfect 1/4" seams and your strips were cut accurately, the diamond intersections will meet perfectly.  Well, mine weren't, but the end result wasn't half bad!

By the way, you have to cut away half of the block after sewing the two sections together. Very wasteful of fabric EXCEPT if you're a a scraps lover like many of us.  Then you can just sew those discarded sections together and start a whole nuther quilt!!!

This is the TOL block, ready to have the several borders done.  This will be a joyful project to work on in the coming week(s).  It took me all day to get this thing together!  So it's definitely going to get finished!

Here are some examples of other class members' work.  Instead of folding them diagonally, we just placed the sections side by side so you could see how pretty their colors were and how nicely the diamonds magically appear!

Very springy! 

Bolder colors make this an intriguing and eye catching pattern!

I have to put this aside this week to do a customer quilt and clean my house before the ladies of my development descend upon it when we gather here prior to going to tea in Wake Forest Friday, but I'll keep you up to date on my progress.