A gifted-to-me dainty wool wreath, and the first flannel mini quilt I made... two of my favorite things this holiday season!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Slow Sunday Stitching...

Inspired by Kathy's Quilts blog here, I hope to spend some time today with a little project, actually four little projects, that I started a few weeks ago.  



I purchased two "Countdown to Christmas" charm packs last year, without any plans on what to make with them.  (Am I the only one who does that???)   It hit me a few weeks ago that Christmas will be here before we know it!   I stared at one of the charm packs long enough that an idea popped into my brain.  Every year I make an ornament for each of my four grandchildren, and to date I haven't stitched, embroidered, or cross stitched a single one!  I try to make each of them the same thing... not that they care, but I do!   I love making hexies, so I'm kind of making these ornaments up as I go along... (again, am I the only one that does that???).


 
 
I am using  3/4 inch paper hexagons purchased from here.  Fortunately I was able to find the number that corresponds with each of their birthdates on the charm featuring the countdown numbers.  (As shown in the picture above).   I needed a 5, 7, 18, and 24!   How nice that I will be able to personalize their own ornament in that way! 

Thank you Kathy at Kathy's Quilts, for inspiring me to keep "filling my well."  Stay tuned!  I'm not even sure what the finished ornaments will be!

(Linked to Kathy's Slow Sunday Stitching here.)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Did I mention I like small projects?


While on retreat earlier this month I made a few mini table mats, mini quilts, candle mats... you can call them what you like, but they are just plain little!  More importantly, they are quick projects... you can see results in no time at all.  Now that... I like!
 
 
 
The octagon mini measures 8.5 inches, finished.  The inspiration for it was this pattern - The Centerpiece Tablemat - you can see it here(You can learn more about this pattern and other patterns from Sweet Treasures here.)  If you follow the exact instructions of the pattern, the center octagon measures 12 inches, and the finished tablemat will measure 21 inches.  The center octagon I started with measures 4 inches.  Add four rows of 1.5 strips circling the octagon, plus backing, batting, and binding, and WELLA!  You have a finished project!  (Not to mention they make great gifts... and if you make one, watch out! They can easily become an addiction!)
 
The square mini Court House Steps paper pieced pattern is Happ Wall Quilt, Pillow, & Bag, from MH Designs.  Find them hereThe individual blocks measure 2.5 inches.  I made nine blocks... the finished mini quilt measures 8 inches with the binding.  Lots of little pieces of paper to tear off after joining the blocks together, but I think the results are worth it!  I kept the machine quilting on both of these projects very simple.

Below is one of my favorite pictures taken at retreat in Northern Minnesota.  It was taken on our last evening there.  It does not need an introduction - it speaks for itself.



Until next time!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Block 2 - Thread Head Quilt Along 2012

Let's hear it for the Churn Dash block, the feature block of week #2 for THQA 2012!  Once again Joanne's tutorial was excellent, and her blocks are really spectacular! 

In addition to the red and gold blocks I decided to make 9 blocks using Christmas fabrics from my stash.  Some of the fabric has been around for a while! 

After a long day at work, I was happy to escape to my sewing room.





I'm much happier with the Variable Star, the block from week one.  (I don't mean the block patterns, I mean my choices of fabrics!)  I spent some time "auditioning" fabrics for the two Churn dash blocks, but once they were completed I was a little disappointed with my results.  I can live with the red and gold block... I'm hoping it will look better once I have more blocks done.  The Christmas block is another story.  There just isn't enough contrast in the red and green HST, and I don't like the four rectangles framing the square block in the center.   The more I stare at it, the more I want to change it!   Chalk it up to a learning experience!  I may add another fabric or two to the mix with the next one.  To learn more about THQA 2012 go here.

If you've read my posts from September 21st & 22nd you were introduced to Poor Lil' Punky!  My goal was to to make a total of four... one for my daughter, my daughter-in-law, a fellow quilter, and ME!  There's no way I can give all of them up!  


Punky is a paper pieced pattern.  I leave the paper on the back of the block until I have the all the pieces assembled.  I mistakenly cut on the sewing line instead of the cutting line on one of the blocks, so I had to compensate for my mistake by trimming the other three sides.  I just refer to that one as the runt of the litter...  For more info on Punky go here.

Winding down for the evening...

Monday, September 24, 2012

Thread Head Quilt Along 2012

Ready or not, I signed on to participate in the Thread Head Quilt Along for 2012.  You can read about it here.

I know my time constraints, so I'm already planning on doing just nine blocks to make a 38" wallhanging/tabletopper.  I have my first block done, and, are you ready?  You won't see any BLUE fabric choices in this project!  (Those who know me well are probably fainting with that announcement!  Blue, and various shades of it, usually show up in every project I make.  There is hope for me after all!)


Here's the first block and just some of the fabrics I'm planning on using.  I'm considering making a second set of nine blocks using Christmas fabrics.  I could use a few more Christmas holiday decorations!

Joanne's tutorial for this block is excellent... and she has lots of pictures to make it even easier.  I'm looking forward to the debut of the second block this Tuesday, September 25th... guess that means I have a date with my sewing room that evening!

Keep sewing!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

FNSI - Can't bear to poke pins in Poor Lil' Punky...

... he's just too cute!   Punky was my FNSI project. 

Here he is in the works... this is a good time to mention that the directions were awesome!



Now who could poke pins in this cute little guy?


I stuffed my Punky with walnut chips, my favorite stuffing material.
(Edit: When all said and done, Punky is 4-1/2" square!)


Visit here and go shopping!  Julie is the creative talent behind Punky.  You simply must check out her jewelry, scissor fobs, and more!   And don't forget to visit Julie's blog while your there.

Hope the weekend finds you spending some time with needle and thread!


Friday, September 21, 2012

FNSI is here!

Home from work... something special in my mailbox... just in time for Friday Night Sew In!!!  Poor Lil' Punky pin cushion kit!



Lil' Punky made his blog land debut on Tuesday, September 18th.  Check him out here.  I think he'll be the perfect companion in my sewing room tonight! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Decorating for Autumn...

The very tops of some trees are just beginning to show signs of the cooler nights and sunny days, with leaves that are hinting of changing colors.  And nothing is better than a night time drive on the roads that circle Saylorville Lake campsites, seeing the glow of campfires ,and catching a whiff of the burning logs and roasting marshmallows.  I swear I can smell the marshmallows!  These are true signs of Autumn... allowing us to change the colors inside our homes as well, to reflect this awesome season!


Let's start with the scattering of fall leaves...



Add a glorious sunflower...





Little Quilt Company - Harvest Collection #147
 

Bring in a few acorns and pinecones...
 
 
Gathering Acorns - With Thy Needle & Thread Cross Stitch Designs

 
 

Create a pumpkin patch...
 
 
Dressed to the Nines #526 - Bloomin'Minds
 
 

Bring in a black cat and his silly faced pumpkin friends...
 
 
Black Cat...Orange Pumpkins - Wooden Spool Designs
 
 

Add a cross-stitched pillow with a itty-bitty crow, and a smilin' jack-o-lantern...
 
My own cross stitch design...
 
Toss in a woolly sunflower and a whimsical pumpkin...
 
 
Autumn Harvest #155 - Wooden Spool Designs
 
 
And to watch over all of them, a not-so-scary cat in a crescent moon, with his earthly friend, the mummy, close by!

 
 Cat Hallow - Buttermilk Basin
 
 And autumn has arrived indoors!
 
 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Some are better than none!

I'm talking about my TQS Summer Blocks... I didn't start any of the blocks until the first week of September.   And after finishing just four of them I started wondering if I really had to do all of them, since Summer 2012 is a thing of the past in my neck of the woods... and I have soooooooooo many other projects to get started...

Well, yes, I'm just trying to justify the fact that I only did four of the eight!  But I'm pleased with the results!

Temecula Quilt Shop Summer Blocks... four of them anyway...

Am I the only one who does things this way?   I'd like to hear from you, to ease my own guilt...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

More beauty's from retreat... (projects, not attendees)

Diana's purses
On day three of retreat we exchanged our paper pieced blocks.  Back in February of this year, each of us participating in the group project picked out a paper piece pattern to distribute to the others to make for us.  Some of us gave fabric to use, some gave fabric instructions, and some said "anything goes!"  Here are a few examples of the some of the blocks.

Nor's basket of flowers... more to be added


Carole's sailboats


Jane's tulips
Queen Dee's Sunburst
 
Dee came to retreat prepared to add to the completed blocks. By Saturday afternoon, this is what she had.
 
 

 
 
And she's not done yet.  There will be a wide border all the way around.  The border will include an applique design, primarily in red.  Once the quilt is completed I will post a picture, along with the pattern that inspired this gorgeous creation!  This is definitely a favorite of mine!
 
 
My off centered log cabin blocks-I will add to them
and make a table topper for the month of January



Perhaps the most stunning of paper pieced quilts belongs to Stacy.  A year ago, at our 2011 retreat, Stacy was very busy sewing Courthouse Steps paper piece blocks for another group project she was involved in.  I can't remember how many blocks she had to make for the exchange, but there were 14 women involved, and the size of the pieced quilt she brought to this years retreat, will give you an idea. 
 
Ambitious and beautiful!


 
Remember, September is National Sewing Month!  Keep sewing!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Quilt Shop Shopping... Minnesota style...



Leaving Iowa early is always the plan when travelling north to our retreat.  Carole, Queen Dee, and I planned it perfectly this year so as to avoid the rush hour traffic of Minneapolis.  (Although I didn't do a very good job of sign watching and we missed our turn onto I-94...).  Our first stop was at Crafts Direct in Waite Park, MN.  It's impossible to spend less than an hour or two in this place.  They have everything for  quilters, knitters, scrapbookers, seasonal decorating, etc... every craft is covered!  We split up and communicate via our cell phones... it's the easiest way!


Something for everyone in here!



Travelling just a few miles we arrived at Gruber's Quilt Shop. 

The words above the door say it all!

Friendly and very helpful is the best way to describe the staff at Gruber's.  The store is neatly arranged making it easy to find what you might be looking for.  It was fun to get back in the car and have a little show and tell of each others purchases, before driving on to our final destination of the day... Northwoods.


Just one of many beautiful views that greeted us...



As much as we wanted to visit every quilt shop while on retreat in Minnesota, the Threads quilt club had other events to tend to, like cutting fabric, piecing fabric, pressing fabric, and sewing fabric.  Setting aside a morning for shop hopping, we took a quick twenty-two mile drive north of our home base, travelling to Walker, MN, to visit Front Porch Quilts. 


We tend to take over the place when we walk in, but I'm sure that can be said of most quilters that travel in packs!  The shop owner was working and she was so patient with us as we asked questions and waited for fabric to be cut. 


This cute pin cushion pattern caught the eye of several of us.  One can never have enough pin cushions!



On the way back to our "home" we stopped in at Piecemakers Quilt Shop in Hackensack, MN.  Owner Pam was in the shop and tended to our needs with sweet hospitality.  Pam has her own pattern company and you can see for yourself how talented she is by visiting www.cottontales.net

Piecemakers Quilt Shop - nestled in Hackensack, MN.

On our return trip to Iowa, Queen Dee, Carole, and I couldn't resist the temptation of veering off our route to visit Eagle Creek Quilt Shop in Shakopee, MN.  We last stopped there 4 years ago on our way to retreat.  We weren't disappointed then, and we definitely were not disappointed this time.  Housed in an old train depot, we were treated to a train that past outside while enjoying the treats inside the shop!  




Fabric covered, modge podged letters...

Quilt Shop Extraordinaire!!!


My show and tell...


As if I don't have enough!  But isn't that the way of quilters everywhere?






Still more to come in the days ahead... keep sewing!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

This is not a Wordless Wednesday...

... it's more like, "where should I begin?"  Retreat may be over, but the desire to cut, piece, and sew is not!  That's a good thing because I have projects that I didn't finish, a few I didn't get started, and several new patterns purchased along the way that are beckoning me to begin! 


I tend to do small projects so I can actually complete them and feel a sense of accomplishment.  I'll share some with you, and then show you a few more ambitious projects taken on by my fellow retreaters!


 


A good way to use up scraps of black and orange prints...

 
A jolly mini jack-o-lantern!
 
My TQS Summer blocks... just three done so far...
 

 
Queen Dee was in a festive Christmas mood and made this beauty...
 
 
The question is... will she keep it?  Or will a lucky daughter, or sister, or cousin be able to claim it as theirs???
 
 
 
Nor started with these...
 
 
 
... and ended with this beauty...  from Jo Morton's book, Coming Home.  The pattern is "Cut the Mustard."
 
 
 
 
Reminder... my birthday is in June.  Just sayin'...
 
More to come!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Prairie Pocket for Nor...

We have a gift exchange among the attendees at retreat.  This year we drew names in April, and I drew Nor's name.  How appropriate!  Nor is the lady who sent me down the path to quilting.  I wouldn't be writing this blog today if she hadn't encouraged me to put needle, thread, and fabric together.  

Don't you love patterns with exceptional directions and illustrations?  Especially if what you are making is a gift? 



This is the case with Pam Buda's Lucy's Prairie Pockets pattern.  I chose to make the small pocket using 2" x 1" paper tumblers from www.PaperPieces.com.  Nor's favorite color is green... I had no problem pulling scraps from my green stash! 


I kept the quilting simple... just straight lines spaced evenly apart.


I made one change to the pattern.  Instead of making a waist tie, I made a shorter handle so the pocket could be displayed hanging from a peg. 



I added some sewing charms... a scissors, a thimble, and a small charm of an antique sewing machine.  Inside the pocket I added of few other goodies from sewing days past. 

Pam's pattern is available in quilt shops or at www.HeartspunQuilts.com.  Thanks for the great pattern Pam, and to Nor, enjoy!

Only 2 full days of retreat left... leaving for Iowa Tuesday morning... it's gone by way to fast... always does.