Snug as a Bug Quilt

Quilts for Kids
Last week me and my favorite sewing partner, Sue decided to join the local senior center and sign up for their open sew/quilting session. They meet on Wednesdays or Thursdays and we chose to attend the Wednesday sessions. The thing is, they have two longarm sewing machines available for use. So we stayed a while last week and watched someone from the group use the longarm. The ladies were a happy, friendly group and we looked forward to sewing with them.

This week I prepped a quilt for the longarm machine. As soon as I got to the open sew session, the group leader, Alice asked me if I was ready to test out one of the machines. I said sure and off we went into this new quilting adventure. I learned about loading the backing, quilt top and batting onto the frame and how to use the machine. There were quite a few instructions and my biggest fear was forgetting one of them; I was not afraid of doing the actual quilting. I chose a pantograph from their collection and Alice asked me to choose a simpler one. When using a longarm machine for the first time, it's best to make it as simple as possible.

I chose a simple leaf pattern and 2 hours later, I was done. It wasn't as fast as I thought it would be due to constantly having to roll the quilt, batting and backing down after completing a row of quilting. I certainly enjoyed the process and look forward to trying it again very soon.
Quilts for Kids

This quilt was made using a pattern called Snug as a Bug from the Summer 2016 issue of Easy Quilts Magazine. I used more of my friend Mary's fabrics to make this and even after completing it, I can still make more quilts from her fabrics. I will keep going until I use it all up and Quilts for Kids will get more quilting made from these happy fabrics.
Quilts for Kids


Kindred Quilt - Moda Frivols Kit

I just completed Moda Frivols Kit No. 1. The pattern in the kit is called Kindred and the fabric is from a collection called Hello Darling by Bonnie and Camille. The blocks finish at 8 1/2" x 8 1/2" and the finished size is 40 1/4" x 40 1/4". It's not all that large, but it will make a nice piece to hang over the back of the sofa or cover the kitchen table.
Kindred Hello Darling by Bonnie and CamilleI won this kit at a quilt show last year and I am happy to finally get it completed All I had to do was add the Kona solid (color: bone) and the backing fabric (I used Kona color: ice frappe). The backing fabric I chose was so pretty I decided to use it for the binding as well. I really wanted that color to show up on the front of the quilt as well as the back.

I have always loved the granny square block and was glad to make something using it. There are 24 pieces in each block so it was a little tough to get started since I like to chain piece. But after I got the first two blocks done, I had a strategy for chain-piecing down so the rest went together rather easily.
Kindred Hello Darling by Bonnie and Camille

Kindred Hello Darling by Bonnie and Camille

Kindred Hello Darling by Bonnie and Camille


Fox and Hedgehog Quilt

I got this panel from the Quilts for Kids fabric stash and really needed to figure out what to do with it. Then I came across a pattern called Road Work that used Tonka Truck fabric. That's quite a stretch from the cute fox and hedgehog on this panel but I really liked the square in a square blocks used to frame the panel in the Road Work quilt pattern.

I dug out some fabric from the stuff Mary donated to me and made the frame for the panel. I also found some really cute swirly, whimsical fabric to use for the backing, however I did have to piece the back with another fabric since there just wasn't a big enough piece. Mary's donated stash also had some cute wavy striped fabric in it that I used for the binding. I just love working with these fun colors.


Table Runner Completed

After I perused Pinterest's photos of table runners I decided to draw up a plan to make my own version. It was based on some fat quarters of fabric I got from my friend Mary. She gave away so much fabric that I don't think I will ever use it all up. But I'm sure going to try.

This table runner is about 20" x 44". It was designed to best show off the rich colors in the fabrics within the matching fat quarters. I like how it turned out so I just might have to make another one.
A mutual friend of Mary's and mine is very involved in a charity for PKD (polycystic kidney disease). In fall there's a PKD awareness walk here in town and a silent auction that day. I think Mary will be happy when I donate this table runner to the silent auction for that walk. 


What's on the design board?

Summer seems to be flying by. I'm surprised that I got this much done, but I did finish the frivols granny square quilt top which is the size of a wall hanging and I also made a table runner out of some fat quarters. I haven't selected any fabrics for the backs of either of these but I hope to do that by the end of the week.

I'm going to start attending open sew sessions at the local senior centers. I use the plural 'centers' on purpose. I signed up at a center that has open sew on Mondays and Tuesdays and at a different center on Wednesdays and Thursdays. They both have long arm quilting machines that are available for members to use and I look forward to trying them all out. I can't wait to see how this little adventure turns out.


Square Pegs Quilt

Square Pegs Quilt
I met a fellow quilter, Mary during a class I took at my local quilt shop, Coins and Quilts. There were only 5 of us in the class so we all got to know each other pretty well. Over the past two years, three of us that attended that class still get together and go to quilt shows together. Mary is starting to feel her age at 76, I would have never guessed. I thought she was in her 60's. She still works at the Polish Community Center part-time. She preps for banquet dinners and even tends bar there. I'm not her age yet and I already know I don't want to work that hard when I'm in my 70's.

Mary is starting to slow down a little bit. She recently decided to clean out her quilt fabric and unfinished projects. She gave me a half-finished bright colored quilt and asked if I would like to complete it then donate it to my Quilts for Kids group. I happily accepted. All the squares for the quilt were placed in a specific order and half of them were sewn into rows so this was pretty easy to complete. I added a flannel backing from my stash and made the binding from other fabric that Mary had given me. The quilt pattern is called Square Pegs and I think I will use it again. I am happy to show off the results here!
Square Pegs Quilt

Square Pegs Quilt

Square Pegs Quilt


Photos, Organization and Retirement

My husband, Jeff is retiring. His employer threw him a retirement luncheon yesterday at TGI Fridays at Miller Park. It was very nice that the company allowed all his coworkers to leave work for an extended lunch. Jeff's boss invited the immediate family so me and two of my three kids attended. It was a wonderful and thoughtful event.

Because of this event, I decided to make a collage called 'Jeff...through the years'. That meant sneaking around gathering photos over the course of the last few weeks. When I realized that this was a tremendous undertaking, I was determined to organize all of our photos no matter what. I had photos everywhere. They were in file cabinets, in photo boxes, stashed in envelopes in cubbies, just everywhere.

I dug up every single photo from every place I could find them. Then I told Jeff it was a good time to get all these paper photos in order. After all, in this digital world, I should only have to do this once. It's not like we print photos anymore. And my digital photos, I am proud to say, have always been very organized. I can find any photo in a moment's notice. That's how good I am at labeling and storing my digital files.

But these paper photos - what a mess! Jeff was oblivious to any plans I had in making something for his retirement lunch. I just started going through all the stacks of photos as I gathered them up around the house. Then I opened all 6 of the photo organization storage boxes I had from the back of the closed. What a mess! As we sat around in the evenings unwinding, I just sorted and sorted and sorted some more. As I sorted, I started a pile for the collage I would eventually make.

After a week went by, I tried to talk myself into quitting this project. I felt like I wasn't making much headway and this was way bigger of a project than I thought. But I still plugged away. I told myself that even if I ran out of time to get a collage completed, it's still not a bad idea to get through all these photos. And memorabilia. There was lots of that all over the place too. Ticket stubs, programs, pamphlets, you name it. I had it stuffed all over the place.

The hard part about organizing photos is deciding how to categorize them. Once I looked through them some sorting was pretty trips to Niagara Falls, motorcycle events, Christmases, family, etc.  Some things were a little more difficult to sort, like photos of friends and events like weddings (were they a friend's wedding or a family member's wedding?). I set the most difficult subjects aside and worked with the easy ones first. Before I knew it, I had the photos filed in 4 of the 6 photo boxes and labeled properly. A 5th box contained all the negatives and the memorabilia so I was feeling confident I was making good progress.

Another tough thing about these photos was the memories that the provoked. So many people in them are now long gone. My dad, Jeff's parents, my brother-in-law and so many aunts and uncles. It was easy to cry over them all. So much sadness in the photos of Jeff's best friend who now has dementia and has no idea who anyone is yet so many blessings in those same photos. Happy memories were everywhere. Once in a while I had to remind myself of that.

At this point I stopped because I really needed to concentrate on the collage. I looked at my stack of photos of Jeff that I set aside and that familiar feeling of being overwhelmed came rushing back. I eyed the photos and chose to apply the same concept that I used when filing all the rest of the photos. I sorted them by subject. Just Jeff, hunting & fishing, family, friends, sporting events, etc. It got easier and easier. Then I made cute labels to print out and add to the collage.

Just one day before the luncheon, I still did not have the collage ready. I didn't even have a display board to use. So I ran to the store and picked one up. I hid it just before Jeff came home from work. That evening, I tried to print my labels for the collage. Much to my dismay, the printer drivers weren't working and I had to reinstall them. So here it is, Tuesday night and I still have no collage to take to the lunch the next day.

I got up at 5:30 the morning of the luncheon. I had renewed vigor to tackle the collage. I decided that if I got it done, great and if not, oh well. No stress. I chose some blue card stock and loaded it into the printer. Instead of printing all 6 pages of my labels, I just printed one page. It worked perfectly! So I printed the other 5 pages and I was off and running.

I took the display board out of the package and laid it out flat. I cut all the labels from each page and started plopping the photos on the display board in piles by subject. I threw the labels I printed on top of each photo pile like I was dealing a deck of cards. One and a half glue sticks later, I had all the photos pasted on the board. I was ready. I even had time to go through the newspaper clippings about Jeff and the ticket stubs and other memorabilia, make copies of them and paste them on the board as well.

I got the project done with an hour to spare. At the lunch Jeff was so touched and surprised and his coworkers enjoyed picking up on a little history about Jeff. The display was a great hit and I am so glad I got it finished. It's nice to have a little conversation piece added to any party.
So now I am looking at the unfinished box of photos that is left. I was really sick of going through photos but I knew if I didn't finish the sorting and filing, I would regret it. It would become another unfinished project tucked away on the to-do list in my brain. I had to finish. I would only feel good if I could totally remove this from that list of things to do. So this morning, I sorted everything that was left and filed it away. Yes, it took me another 3 hours but it is done. Completely, without anything left over to file or to review. And I am happy to report that if I had to find something, I could easily.

Those photo boxes are back in the closet and there is more room in my file drawers. What a great feeling and a great week of making new memories.


The Quilter's Apprentice

I finally took the time to read The Quilter's Apprentice. My friend Judy recommended it years ago and I just didn't want to read it. I have a few reasons for not wanting to read it. The first is that Judy is really into genealogy and she is passionate about books that reference history. I, on the other hand, have no real interest in my family's roots. I prefer to look toward the future than review the past. I guess I am just not that curious. And this book links some real history within the quiltmakers' stories.

Another reason for not wanting to read this book is that I knew Jennifer Chiaverini's novels were in a series. If I end up liking the book I didn't want to get hooked on more novels. I have an endless list of books I want to read and more would just stress me out.

I know how silly that all sounds so I took the plunge and read the book. Of course, Judy was right. It was worth reading. More for the historical links than the quiltmakers' stories. That was a little on the cheesey side. I did enjoy some of the quilt making references and it was an easy summer read. 

So I am hooked. I'm already waiting for the second book in the series to be ready for me to pick up at my local library.

One down, nineteen to go!

  1. The Quilter's Apprentice (1999)
  2. Round Robin (2000)
  3. The Cross-Country Quilters (2001)
  4. The Runaway Quilt (2002)
  5. The Quilter's Legacy (2003)
  6. The Master Quilter (2004)
  7. The Sugar Camp Quilt (2005)
  8. The Christmas Quilt (2005)
  9. Circle of Quilters (2006)
  10. The Quilter's Homecoming (2007)
  11. The New Year's Quilt (2007)
  12. The Winding Ways Quilt (2008)
  13. The Quilter's Kitchen (2008)
  14. The Lost Quilter (2009)
  15. A Quilter's Holiday (2009)
  16. The Aloha Quilt (2010)
  17. The Union Quilters (2011)
  18. The Wedding Quilt (2011)
  19. Sonoma Rose (2012)
  20. The Giving Quilt (2012)


Happiness is . . .

kohlrabi. In summer sewing takes a back seat to gardening. Mother Nature waits for no one so I have to bow to her demands. So every morning I spend time weeding, tending and raking in my garden. After that, there's a good amount of time spent watering all the plants around the house. I don't just grow vegetables in my garden, I also have a raspberry patch, pumpkins, cantaloupe and cucumbers (viney things) growing on trellises next to the house. Everything requires much attention so by the time I am finished in the garden, my back is pretty sore and I have to rest. I don't mind the sacrifice but it is really hard on my spine fusions. Here are some of the benefits of the hard work.


Wonky Block Quilt

Quilts for Kids
 I finished the wonky block quilt today and I just love the fabrics in the blocks. The whimsy of the dog and cat print along with the whimsy of the crooked blocks is a perfect combination.

I don't work with blues much - it is not one of my favorite colors so I didn't have much to work with from my stash. So the binding on this quilt is a blue that is just a shade off of the sashing for the blocks.

The backing is made of gray flannel with a blue flannel (left over from another quilt) strip that makes the back just a little more interesting. I hope this quilt is enjoyed by the recipient and that is brings whoever gets it some healing.
Quilts for Kids


Independence Day

It's a family tradition to attend the 4th of July parade. It is followed by games and events at our legion post and we meet up with extended family there.

My granddaughters always enjoy the tradition and I hope we spend many years together following it.

Here they are happy and having fun.


Antique Quilt Delivered

My client came to pick up her quilt today. She brought her family along. They were quite amazed at the result and loved it. I am so very happy with the results of this project and even more happy that they all were thrilled with the quilt.

It is so nice to accomplish something for a nice family. I hope they get many years of enjoyment out of this heirloom.


What's on the design board?

This month my Kindred Frivols kit is in the works. The kit came with the Hello Darling fabric collection that is really pretty. I seriously don't think I would have chosen this fabric because I don't usually work with these kind of floral prints. I love stepping outside of the box and trying new things, so I am not complaining.

The block is made up of quite a few pieces so it took a little bit to get going. In fact, since I'm working with a kit, I was terrified that I would make a cutting mistake. I'm not so sure there will be a lot of fabric left over so I paid very close attention to the instructions. But once I had one block completed, the ones that followed just kept getting easier to make.

I can't wait to complete more blocks since these look so very pretty.


Client Project on the Machine

I quilted this pretty navy blue and white quilt for a client today. The fabrics are beautiful and it actually made me want to work with blues.

I am normally not a fan of blues. This quilt will encourage me to try these colors.


Antique Quilt - Completed

Yesterday I finished Nancy's father-in-law's mother's quilt. Phew! That was a lot to follow. I finished sewing the binding last night and let her know it was ready for a quilt label. She is thinking about what she wants on a label and I told her to take her time. It doesn't take long to sew on, so there's no need for a lot of advanced notice.

I look forward to delivering this challenging quilt. It was a little tough to work with since the old, delicate fabric is pretty aged. I sure hope she likes the final result.


Strawberry Picking Time

Yesterday was the perfect day for strawberry picking. Even though it had rained the night before and we knew it might be a little wet and sloppy, the weather in the morning was perfect. My daughter and I decided to leave her girls home and just the two of us go. That way we would get it done a lot quicker. In less than an hour, she picked 9 pounds and I picked 12 pounds. It sure was quicker but not as much fun.

After I cleaned and packaged up all the berries, made a strawberry pie. It's my husband's favorite - except for lemon meringue. I think of the lemon pie as a winter thing and the strawberry pie as a summer thing. It just makes sense since the berries are so very fresh right now. They were nice and large and perfectly ripe. We chose the perfect day to go.

The pie was so very easy to make. I baked a pie crust, let it cool, filled the shell with a bunch of fresh berries, then poured some cooked berries over the top. A few hours in the fridge and viola! a beautiful summer pie. What could be easier.


Baby Robins

The robins have been building a nest in the bush on the south side of my house every year for a very long time. This year I got a glimpse of the babies up close as soon as the mother went off to dig up some worms. I couldn't wait to seize the opportunity to get this shot of the babies. I just wish I could have shot the photo from a little higher angle, there's a third baby in the nest hiding behind these two.


Box Bag - Peppa Pig Tote

Peppa Pig Tote
I used this box bag tutorial to make a cute little Peppa Pig bag. The instructions were easy to follow however I did change how the lining is attached.

The instructions state to hand-sew the lining near the zipper but I chose to leave an opening between the contrasting fabrics and hand-stitch that opening.

I will make another bag like this and remember to take photos of how I did the lining for a clearer description.
Peppa Pig Tote


City Sampler 100 Quilt WIP

I'm making progress on my City Sampler quilt top. I still need to add the borders to the sides but all-in-all, there's not much left to do to finish the top.

I had mapped the placement of all the blocks in a notebook just to make sure I had them all. As it turned out there were 101 blocks. As I tried to located the double, I discovered that I had 2 doubles. That meant I missed making one of the blocks so I checked off each one and found the missing block. I had to go back and make that last block. I really needed to accomplish all 100. So now I have 102 blocks in this quilt top. And that's ok, I just added the extra 2 right in.

I placed the blocks in uneven rows in order to get the look of a city skyline. I like the look of the intermingled colors of the blocks better than separating them out by colorway. It took a little while to sew up the rows, ensuring all the blocks line up nicely.

Now I just have to buy some backing fabric and I will be ready to quilt.


What's on the design board?

I won this cute little Frivols kit last year at a quilt show. I've decided to finally start making the quilt top. All I need to add is some background fabric and I will be all set to go!

The fabrics in the kit are very pretty and I look forward to getting started. So this covers my monthly 'What's on the design board?' post. So the answer to that question is nothing.


My sewing room sure looks neat and clean.

That seems weird to me, but it is getting near summer and gardening has taken a priority over sewing. And Mother Nature waits for no one. So the garden is in and the little seeds are popping up all over. The warm weather has sure made things grow quickly and I am thrilled. This year I am adding pickles to my garden because my girlfriend gave me a crock. I look forward to making pickles in the fall and will have to post my results here.


Antique Quilt WIP

I am working on a really interesting client project. This is a quilt that was started by my client's husband's grandmother. Unfortunately, she passed away before finishing it. When I received the package containing the quilt, I was amazed at the work. The basket blocks were nicely done and the setting squared were all cut. The odd thing was that the setting triangles were sewn to the border.

The first thing I had to do was take the setting triangles apart then unsew the border pieces. After that, I laid out all the quilt blocks and determined where each basket block will go. I sewed the entire top together then put the border back together. I was amazed how nicely all the pieces went together. Especially after all that unsewing.

The fabrics for this quilt consist of blocks that look like they were made from men's shirts. The fabrics are both faded, stained and discoloration has occurred. The setting square fabric has worn thin. I was happy that the pieces went together so well because if I had to stretch the setting square fabric even a little, I am sure I would have torn it since it is in such delicate condition.

I would love to know the history of the shirts in this quilt. I imagine that they have some sentimental value. Now I am ready to pick out some backing and binding fabrics to finish this quilt.

Wonky Sashing Quilt WIP

I used up some Quilts for Kids donated fabric to make the sashing around these cute animal print blocks. I love the wonkiness of the blocks, it really makes the cute animal print even cuter. I found the tutorial for this quilt here. All I have to do is pick out some backing fabric and I will be ready to quilt this little gem.


Quilting Project on the Machine

Free-Motion Quilting
I finished another client project today. I started quilting it yesterday while my granddaughters were here. I was worried that they would need lots of attention because they usually do right after school. I fed them their supper and that seemed to settle them down so it turned out to be pretty easy to do.

Avery hung out with her grandpa and Chloe sat at my computer desk next to my sewing table and played one of her online games. We chatted while I did some free-motion quilting. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

This morning I thought I would finish it to both get it off my machine and my to-do list. I am happy I can give it back to its owner this week!


Client Project - An Antique Quilt

Today I worked on an interesting project. It's a very, very old quilt. I received it in a box that has definitely aged. Inside the box, there were finished basket blocks made from men's shirts. The setting squares were made from a pink calico floral fabric. They were stacked nicely in the box. The box also included a pink calico floral border with half-squares attached to the borders. Yes, the borders were finished before the blocks were sewn together.

The first thing I did was get out my seam ripper and take the border/half-square triangles apart and stacked them up. Then, I rearranged the blocks with the help of a quilting friend. Sue and I arranged and re-arranged the basket blocks until we had a reasonable layout. I quickly snapped a photo of the arrangement before I started sewing the blocks together.

I ironed each block out carefully. After all the fabrics were pretty delicate due to their aging. I mean the yellowing, aged fabrics and the thinner spots in the floral print were signs of how old this quilt is. I then squared up the blocks before sewing them together. Some had to be stretched a little because the piecing was a little off. I got the whole thing sewn together the worked on adding the borders. Much to my dismay, they were too short to complete the quilt top. That was disappointing. It also explained why the pieces were in the box; I bet the sewist knew there was an issue.

So now I have to think a little about how to resolve this issue. The client really wants this heirloom completed. It has so much sentimental value. Now that the top is sewn together, I will have to give them a quote on the backing, batting, quilting and binding.


Happy Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day and I had a wonderful day filled with family and love. I really felt like a queen. Spending time with my mother, sister, daughter, granddaughters, husband and son made the day perfect.

My husband made me a wonderful breakfast. My son brought be the beautiful flowers. And my daughter and granddaughters spent the afternoon with me while visiting my mother and sister.

My sister made this amazing cheesecake and I added some fresh strawberries and whipped cream to it. There are none better than her cheesecakes.


Quilting Project on the Machine

This is my second client project this month. I'll finish the quilting on this today and then I have a little project to complete for a client in Illinois. After that I have another quilting project to complete by next week.

I have a very large quilt project coming up where I'll take antique quilt blocks and piece them together with setting squares and add a border. Then I'll have to quilt it and add the binding. After that, I have another quilt to complete.

My client projects are keeping me pretty busy and I am really enjoying the variety in them. I love sewing!


Quilting Project on the Machine

I have a quilting project on the machine today. I promised that I would get two baby quilts quilted by Saturday.

I purchased the batting today and did my best to get them pinned and ready. I've got half of the quilting completed on one of them already and I am happy with my progress so far.


City Sampler 100 Layout Plans

The Tula Pink's City Sampler 100 quilt blocks need to be sorted. I have to decide how to lay out each of the blocks. I am certain I don't want to just go from block #1 to #100. I am not certain exactly what to do. I'm thinking about an arrangement where like colors are all together. Maybe with 10 rows of 10 blocks...or maybe not.

I will try an arrangement where all the colors are intermingled to see how that looks but I have to say, moving around 100 blocks can be pretty exhausting! I think I will get some opinions from the family to see what they think.

I also might try to stack them up with more blocks in some rows and less in others so it looks like a city. Once I decide on a layout, it should be pretty easy to sew everything together, I just need to make that final decision. It sure was fun to make these blocks and some of them I will definitely make again.