Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Christmas Quilt

Here is one of the queen sized bed quilts that I completed and gave as a Christmas present this year to my parents. This was started last spring/summer, sat in a box for a bit while I scratched my head over whether I really liked it or not, and then had it finished this fall. The heart blocks came pretty close to becoming two Project Linus quilts in July. Here it is modeled on my 4-posted bed, just for the taking of a few picture.

I sent it here to be hand quilted by the Amish. I just knew I would never get it finished in this decade, let alone before Christmas. There's just something about a hand-quilted quilt. They are far softer than the machine quilted cousin, and it will undoubtedly increase in value, rather than just being like a pretty comforter. Fortunately, the Amish service did a wonderful job, and it was safely returned to me on December 3rd.
This was a great learning experience with quilters, especialy the Amish. To them, quilts are utilitarian, rather than a show piece in a bedroom. They mark with lighter fabrics #2 pencils, which I found immensely hard to get out of the quilt top. When I contacted them about this, they were not so concerned.."Just erase them", they told me. I bought an art gum eraser. It didn't really work. I used a stain stick and against my preference to washing, I washed the quilt. And dried it. Marks came out of all but 3 of the yellow fabrics. I then scrubbed the marks with a toothbrush and a solution of 1C water, 2T alcohol and a couple teaspoons of oxyclean. Talk about a pain in the butt! I then washed it again. Most (not all) of the marks are gone. I really did not want to give a quilt that was already shrunk up and wrinkly; it's just not my preference.
When I came home, I added heart quilting in some of the squares.
The back is actually pale yellow, and shows the quilting off nicely. The sashings have very small feathers. Talk about a real quilting job! The quilt's borders have large feathers too. Much of the rest of the quilt squares are just stitched in the ditch. The Amish just did not want to sew more creatively with the multitude of seams in the heart blocks. ... I really wanted feathered hearts.
After it was sent back, I endeavored to make pillow shams. Yes, in just 3 weeks. I am most definitely nuts. They are simple in design, but are completely hand quilted to mimic the quilt. No, my hand quilting is not as fine as that of the Amish, but then. A week before Christmas, I decided that the shams needed a punch of color (the Kaffe Fassett/Philip Jacobs Grandiose Turquoise) - the heart appliqued on the top of the sham. This was ordered a day before an ice storm hit the northeast (ordered from Portsmouth Fabric Co.). It arrived just a couple days before Christmas. I thought that this choice of accent fabric was just perfect to tie into the small accents of this fabric that are in the heart blocks (see picture above).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

First of Six

These are oddly more tedious than I expected. There's lots of little triangle points to attempt to preserve (and I see one on a churn dash that I need to fix!). See the previous post for the entire layout. My boys are away at Nana's until tomorrow or Thursday, so I will hopefully get most of the blocks together while my sweet girly naps.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Glimpse at Christmas Present

I promised to show a picture of "Apple of My Eye", a quilt my mother made me for this Christmas. It is made from Benartex's Cider Mill Road Apples materials, which I had to look up to find out what it was. The colors are SO totally me - nice greens and burgundys. I have most of my favorite mini's hanging either in my daughter's room or in the staircase/hallway. I didn't want this to get lost there though. My mother is so self-conscious about her triangles and her sewing in general. It is totally ridiculous. She has sewn forever, and made many quilts and tons of clothes for me when I was little. It's so great to have something I can keep forever that she actually made.
It may still get moved to my bedroom (also in these colors), but for the time being it is in my bathroom. Pictures can be very misleading. The green of the wall actually looks great with the quilt. I hung it diagonally too, as I thought that it exemplified the cathedral ceiling. Yes, the ONLY room in my house that has a cathedral ceiling is my bathroom. Where's the logic in that???

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A 2009 Project

I joined the Black & White challenge (see sidebar for link) recently. I have been inspired by what the participants have been showing. All I had to show for weeks was my effort of gathering fabrics. I didn't really have a quilt plan, or an idea what my one additional color would be. Now I think I know that I will use shades of deep red to burgundy. I hope to use this quilt (a lap size) on my bed in the winter (when I freeze and my hubby sweats!).
Here's a peek at some of the 4.5" blocks I had cut last week. I actually have several more fabrics too, they just did not make it into the picture.
The arduous task of making 96 HST's... These are done half dark and half light, for the points of the six large blocks (sixteen each).
I played with my new EQ6 program a bit since receiving it on Christmas. I gave up on completing the outer border, but you get the general idea. The quilt is kind of simple, but I hope to let the patterns of the fabrics be the focal. Additionally, where there are tan squares below, will be black and white photographs of my kids, printed on fabric.
Here's a sneek glimpse at a few of the pictures I have chosen for this...They will be about 4" square when printed. Pretty cute. The girl IS a camera magnet.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas Delivery

Though I posted pics of this quilt weeks ago when I started it, I held off showing finished shots as I got a hunch that the recipient may be peeking at my blog.
It was delivered to my sister-in-law in Italy, and opened yesterday. I spoke to her briefly, and she does love it. I pieced the top in 3 large pieces, machine quilted them individually, pieced them together (backs and batts by hand) and then machine pieced over the joint. You cannot even tell that the finished quilt was ever in 3 pieces (much to my surprise!)! It's mostly log cabin blocks, except for the center medallion block.
After quilting, I added a navy blue fleece backing. my sister-in-law wanted to to be snuggly, initially asking for just fleece. I tied the fleece to the quilt, and then did some basic stitching to hold the fleece to the quilt.
I chose the fabrics because I thought they specifically reminded me of her. She lived in France years ago, and loves it still...hence the sun flowers. She also lived in Japan, where she met my brother. There are a couple of Asian fabrics as well.
Yesterday was surprisingly pleasant. I am so typically on edge on Christmas that it is hard to try to enjoy the day. We usually rush our tree in the morning and drive to my mom's house for the day. We also have another Xmas with the inlaws on the 23rd which I often host. It was nice not getting home at 8pm or later with tired kids, a carload of stuff, and a huge mess in our own house that we left. I did have to do a LOT of cooking and prep and cleaning here, but to be able to send my boys upstairs to play with their goodies was definitely worth it. Dinner was very good, despite forgetting my MIL's potatos. The woman does not do dairy on account of some skin condition, so it's a real PIA to cater a menu to her. I didn't even try. I just had a potato out to cook separately for her (and forgot to do it!).
So what did Santa bring??... In some regards, Santa's offerings were interesting and wonderful, and in other regards, the same old mundane crap that I usually get. My mother made a lovely and quite sentimental little quilt for me. I will post it soon. It was very touching as she doesn't usually do that kind of thing. I always say that I am easy to gift for, as I give the kind of things I like to receive. That should rule out boring scarves and stupid baskets. Who doesn't have enough of these??? I often make handsewn things, and I was pleased to get one in return. My SIL got us a great ceramic tile sign for our entryway - tiles from Italy. She also got me a cashmere/silk wrap in greens that is to DIE for. The hubby got a digital picture frame for me, but I secretly think that the geek in him wanted it for himself! The other thing I got that I really wanted was EQ6 - I will be learning to use this for a while. Hope your holiday was a good one :-) neice LOVES the dress I made her (see last post). I can hardly wait to see her in it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Dress for a special neice

Now that it is Christmas Eve, and the recipient of this is tucked away asleep in her bed, I figured I could show it. My neice, Alyssa, lives in Italy, so Santa is already about to deliver the goodies.
She's very much a girly-girl, loving the ballerina and dresses that twirl. I made she and her sister smocked dresses last Christmas too. She definitely appreciated that style more, wearing the smocked jumper into the summer. I wasn't going to go down that road again, but then I saw this ballerina fabric, and I knew what it needed to become.
The dress is made to look like two pieces, but it is actually just one. I had the rose (which is a batik), and it matched nicely. The bodice is not smocked this year - a much simpler version with just vertical pleats and pearly buttons. Since she is in Italy, I also opted for short sleeves, in hopes that she can wear it more of the year.
My pictures do not show the hem-stitching detail around the collar well, but it is very pretty. It coordinates with the edging of the ivory eyelet lace. The back of the dress has ties for a bow. I thought I had more pictures, but got into a rush to get their packages mailed before Thanksgiving so I guess I missed out. Hopefully my sister-in-law will send me a picture of her in it. She is seven, and is very tall for her age. This style of dress will suit her well, I think :-)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Menu

It's taken 42 years, but we finally get to (have to) host Christmas at our house. Here's the menu...
afternoon hor d'oeuvres:
antipasto platter (olives, pickled veggies, susage, cheese)
gerkin pickles
shrimp platter
something else my mother is doing

Stuffed pork loin
gratin potatoes
carrots & asparagus
homemade braided bread
cranberry sauce
figgy pudding

cherry pie
french silk pie
pumpkin cheesecake
red velvet cake
I did the cheesecake for Thanksgiving, and it was unbelievable. Delicious. I also just mixed all ingredients together rather than layering as recipe says. It's fantastic, and that streusel topping is like no other pumpkin pie. The red velvet cake, below, will not be iced until tomorrow. It unbelievably, takes an entire 1oz container of red fod coloring. It worried me having the 2 year old trying to help me make this one for fear of how pink my kitchen may be afterwards.
The younger two also whipped up three dozen more cookies. With 5 of us, they go fast, and we need a plate for Christmas day, as well as to leave for Santa. They are far from lovely, as I did not roll them and cut with cutters this year, but what they lack in grace, they make up for in color. I think I have spent $15 in colored sugar sprinkles this year!! Here we have sugar cookies, gingerbread, peanut butter-hershey kiss blossoms and white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies...enough for an afternoon or two!
Tomorrow's agenda includes having hubby vacuum again, clean bathroom, and make bread. I have to frost the red velvet cake, prepare veggies and pork, find out what time church is, and breathe! Maybe somewhere in there I can dream about a week away sewing in peace :-)


Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Has Arrived

Despite my greatest wishes that this season would bear less snow than last year (which had about 120" for us!), it sure looks like we are in for a repeat. Winter started a month or so earlier than usual, with November's average temperatures being nearly 15-20F cooler than what is typical. When I decided I'd put the outside lights up, I really hoped that the electrical cords to the bushes and little fense at the front of the yard would not be burried there until April, Again. Oh well!
Yesterday and Friday's storms netted us at least 18" of fluffy stuff. The boys are out freezing their butts off, as school was unfortunately canceled. No school means the younger two did not go to their last paid day of morning daycare until January, and sad poor Mama did not get her morning in peace to wrap presents and grocery shop. Boo hoo...Despite not being able to decorate the inside of our house as I normally do (our 9 month old kitten is a bit of a pest!), I did get the dining room cleaned out yesterday in anticipation of hosting our 1st Christmas dinner with both sets of parents. Normally my brother's family are at my mom's and we go there. They moved to Italy a year ago, so we have simplified the needing to have a celebration with both sets of grand-parents. It's lots of work to make my house presentable, but not having to go anywhere on Christmas is worth it. Until Santa comes, I have the stockings hung from the top of the china hutch. There is a lighted garland atop of it. It's quite lovely. I made our stockings as each kiddo was born. They are crush panne, with portions of sequined panne and satin. They have lots of Austrian crystals that shimmer beautifully under the lights. No stocking has a name on it. The kids choose which one they want on Christmas eve. I started doing the bows when I made the first three stockings. There are names "mama", "daddy", and "Hayden" in the Austrian crystals. Yesterday I decided to finish the bows for the other two and discovered I needed to order more.
With Hanukah starting, I wish my best to my Jewish friends-
Have a great week-
and as a last minute sidenote for the partner making my 4SQS5 quilt...some info about me, as I suggested others to do if they see fit. I am orderly, but somehow manage to live in chaos. I sew much the same way! I like unconventional and original designs, but I hate those funky lopsided trees and houses that every body is making. I dislike sloppiness such as nipped off triangle points or mismatchings. I love traditionally pieced quilts and more modern-looking both. I love good needle-turned applique, but pretty much fathom most others (except for the distinctively excellent work of Janice!). Picky? Yea...somewhat, but I appreciate the effort that goes into these works. I dream of receiving something that appears to have the thought and effort that I put into my works. That's where peeking here will lend insight. I am a gal that is not afraid of color and patterns, just preferably not dull, murky or homespuns. Have fun. You know I am a peeker so limit postings to sneek peeks. I am a complete sentimentalist, so those that sneek in the little details that remind me of something personal ate golden. Sew bold, sew joyously, and sew You.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My List

Lots of people are doing these. I resisted all week, but without further adu, here's my meme:
1. Started my own blog (duh)
2. Slept under the stars (did a lot of camping over the yrs)
3. Played in a band (band, orchestra in high school, college & beyond)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world (both)
8. Climbed a mountain (Mt.Katahdin & many in California)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (lobster)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train (Paris to Madrid 1984)
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill (many)
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (God NO!)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language (bits n pieces of Italian 10 yrs ago)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (eaten plenty though!)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (on my last day, but at 18 does that matter?)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper (just last month in fact)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a lawsuit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Ridden an elephant

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My itch has been scratched

I had a bit of an itch to try my hand at a feathered star - or a simpler variation of the star. I can't really explain why, but then. Guess it's just boredom as I await the delivery of a half yard of some Kaffe Fassett Grandiose so that I can finish my last Christmas present. I had gotten a pile of great fabrics to contemplate my Black & White challenge (see sidebar) quilt that I will make next year. For some really stupid reason I thought I might like to make snowflakes from this fabric. In a smarter moment, I decided maybe feathered stars were wiser. So, I pulled some other scraps and went to work. The one above is about 13" square, and took me about 4 hours to do. Being the annoying perfectionist that I am, I'm not sure I will use this for much. You see, I nipped off a ton of points (and that just drives me nutsy). There's also a few places that the triangle points look asymmetrical. Guess that's not so bad considering it has about 120 pieces and is barely a square foot in size. Oh well....

On the bright side, I have fallen in love with another new fabric...fairy frosts. They are simply devine, especially in stars, with their shimmery and etherial quality (not to mention the fact that they come in a zillion colors).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Couple of Birthday Blocks

Something to show! These have been sitting around my dining room for 2 months, and I finally mailed them yesterday. They were made for my Birthday block swap that Kate coordinates. These are my group 4 blocks. The recipient wanted only blue and yellow, on her yellow background that was provided. She's setting them on point.
(needle-turned applique)
I have also done two other blocks for the group 3 recipients, but they are a tad boring this month. No pictures this time :-) Now, if only I can actually receive the rest of the NYB blocks I was due in November!...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wipe this Happy Grin from my Face!!

Even as the hostess of a swap, I never expect to get such an absolutely incredible quilt!! This arrived today, and I am speachless...happy with glee! I need no Christmas presents, my holiday is complete. Thanks to the very most talented quilters that worked on it...Rose Marie, Carol, Liliane and Anne. Your work is amazing.
I just love how Lil's applique Iimpeccably done and needle-turned too) flows from the center block through the two borders. She's technically the 2nd border quilter, but she has tied the entire quilt together so beautifully. It's hard to tell where one quilter's work ends and the next one begins.
This piece is destined to hang in my daughter's bedroom, which is decorated in shades of pink, butter yellow, soft turquoise, and bright apple green. Think that it will look awesome???! most definitely.
Anne has outdone herself on the quilting too. The flower stamen and butterfly antennae are so neatly done, and the addition of the colors in the quilting is really very nice. I always love to see work done by truly talented quilters; it gives me such inspiration to work towards.
I personally would have never have had the guts to use this red dot as the background behind her flowers, but it works SO well. It's bold, and busy and just looks like there are more flowers in this garden paradise.
Many thanks again to all of you. I truly hope that you love your quilt as much as I do. Have a wonderful Christmas.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Copy Cat

Here's a snippet of the back of a quilt in progress, quilted by a talented long-armer.
And here's my attempt to mimic this for a pillow sham. It's actually not too shabby!! You'll have to wait a few weeks to see the fronts of the sham and quilt.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lazy Blogger

Lazy bloggers get no respect or readers! Things have been so busy for me lately. I have one more class before finals next week. Then, no class prep for 4 straight weeks. Yea! I have been out straight sewing to complete a couple of Christmas presents.
In lieu of pictures of real sewing progress, here's a couple shots of Linus flimsies that I did about 3-4 weeks ago. The top one is all greens from a scrap bag that needed pruning. The border fabric, though it does not show well, has cute little red lady bugs. I may also applique a ladybug to the quilt before it is finished. These are all from my vast collection of florals- mostly scraps or pieces donated or acquired at Linus events. This top is 40"x50" and may get a border too. Once Christmas is past, I will get them quilted and finished.
Right now, that takes precedence over everything. I had 2 quilts off being quilted. They have both returned home to me safely, about 7-10 days ago. Thanks Ginger, your tips for quilters were both first rate. Except for a couple snaffus with each quilt, they are done, bound, washed and awaiting the freakin' wrapping fairy (AKA me) to get them ready for the tree. Since their arrival, however, I decided it'd be nice to make pillow shams. It really sucks to be SO ambitious, I tell you. Of course I had to order more of the Moda Simplicity charm squares to do this. Yes, OF COURSE. And the other shams just needed this fabric, which is scattered throughout the quilt. I think I initially had 6 6" squares of the stuff, and didn't even know it's name (that made the search process a bit more tricky!!). It's colorful stuff, and I knew it was Kaffe Fassett (or Philip Jacobs), and now know it is called Turquoise Grandiose. I found a shop in Portsmouth, NH with it in stock. Figured that is only an hour away, it oughtta arrive in a day or two. It's for accents.

So, rather than sewing this afternoon, since three of my fingers have needle wounds from hand quilting to an excessive amount, I opted to start wrapping presents. Kids love to unwrap lots of little things. But I sure HATE wrapping so many little goodies. I have only gotten through their stocking stuffers. Phew...
Our tree is partially up. OK, it is up, and decorated partially on the upper 2/3. The kitten we have is not so trustworthy yet so there's no fun baubbles within her reach. The poor clawless rat can't get too far up it trunk either! I may just have to chop off those branches anyhow to get the ton of presents we have underneath the tree :-)
Have a great weekend, and be patient. Only 2 more weeks and I have a least a week's worth of goods to show, one new project each day-


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Alien Food??

One might think that this is alien food at first blush. Actually, this is my feeble attempt at bringing a little holiday cheer into our thus far, undecorated-for-Christmas home(unless you count the fact that the stocking holders are ontop of the china hutch, and have been since last year ...ooohhh the gasps!!). I have all but decided not to put out the outside lights this year. It's been wicked cold for nearly a month now, and this is a definite outdoor, freeze your butt off job that will fall at my feet. Also, we got so much freakin snow last year, the lights were up (not lit mind you) until late April since the cords were burried into 2-3 feet of snow and ice for 4 (yes FOUR) months. This year is simpler. I usually have a mini tree in our balcony nook (visible from outside and from our upstairs, but not accessible by anyone but our precocious kitten. It will not go up this year, Gee...wonder why?? Hopefully this weekend we will attempt getting a tree from the tree farm.
Anywho...I decided on a wild hair it'd be fun for my younger two to make a few Christmas cookies today. They like to mix this and that, but when it gets right to it, they really like to pour on the colored sprinkles and eat them. So I went with store bought sugar cookie and gingerbread doughs. It was a hit.
These are a little scarry, but heck, they loved making them, as usual.
And here's 30 seconds after they went in the oven. "Are they done yet??"

Happy shots making the alien creations. A couple of aliens will undoubtedly decend on the cookie jar tonight after the kids retire, if you get my drift.
And as for quilty progress...there's a ton of it going on, but it's all for holiday gifts and I cannot share it right now. I have a couple of jobs nearly completed, and a couple more that need about 10 of the next 21 days to complete. I promise, on Dec 24 I will start to post some good shots. And I will have about a week of these :-)
Oh, took my 4 year old shopping for him to select a present for his 6 yr old brother. The first words out of his mouth later were to tell his brother! Coulda strangled the little bugger!!
Now if you havent already. go consider the swap I am hosting after the holidays. I need another 12 people still! www.four

Monday, December 01, 2008

Never Again

...will I think that a scalloped binding will be pretty. It is just a pain in the arse!!! ...all 400 inches of it :-) Cannot say any more as this is someone's Christmas present.