Bird House Village

My wonderful husband built a bunch of bird houses for me last fall. Over the winter, I painted the bird houses and sealed them with some environmentally friendly paint products. I wished we had a better spring so these could have been installed earlier but the last month has been pretty terrible. So it took until yesterday to finally get these little cuties up!


Ben Franklin Crafts spring Fling Quilt Retreat 2018

I had the opportunity to attend a quilt retreat at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this past weekend. The craziest thing happened that had never happened before. An April snowstorm hit the state like never before. There was so much snow that we had to stay until Monday just to get out of town. Ironically, back home in Oak Creek, we had just a few inches of snow fall during this storm. I can't complain, the resort was gorgeous, even covered in all that snow.

So this retreat was the first one I've ever attended. I was invited by a fellow quilter that I worked with over at Coins and Quilts. She never attended a retreat either, so I wasn't going to get much advice. The retreat coordinator email everyone an instruction sheet which helped greatly. I followed the instructions to a tee, including bringing my own chair. That was a tough thing to do since I drive a Mini Cooper. My car was packed so tight I had very little wiggle room.

The retreat was held in a conference room at the resort where more than 60 quilters had their own space to sew all weekend long. The retreat included some fun group activities but the group I shared a table with wasn't interested in participating. I was OK with that since I really wanted to do some selfish sewing of my own. Scrapbookers were also at the retreat and they shared the room with the quilters. It was a buzz of creativity all weekend long. I really loved the event. Here is a collage of some of the projects quilters completed during the weekend stay:

As for me, I completed 3 entire quilt tops.

We all had an opportunity to pick a door prize and I chose a fabric bundle with matching thread.

The theme of the retreat was 'quilt university' so at the end of the weekend we all got our quilting 'diplomas'.

The entire weekend was great fun. I met some wonderful people and I would love to have another opportunity to do a sewing weekend with them again.

The retreat was sponsored by Ben Franklin Crafts in Oconomowoc, WI and I have to admin, I've never been to the store. I now feel compelled to drive out there to check it out.


Getting Ready for a Quilt Retreat

I haven't had much time for sewing lately. I am prepping to attend my first quilt retreat. Over the last few weeks I've struggled with what to bring along. Since I'm new to a retreat, I did some online research as to what to expect. The first thing I took note of was that it is suggested that you cut all your fabrics before you go so you are ready to just sew. That was helpful to know, but I still didn't know what projects I would bring. Then over the weekend, I just had this crazy notion; don't try to complete projects that are already started, just start fresh. So I dug out some of the patterns on my 'want to make' list and matched up fabrics to go with them. It was so fun.

Since I worked in a quilt shop, cutting quilt kits was something I am comfortable doing. I went crazy pulling fabrics, cutting, and prepping everything into individual kits. After a few days of prepping, I had 7 kits ready to go. I am certain that is overkill but I have to say, it was a liberating process knowing some of my favorite fabrics were going to get used up.

Before I cut these kits, I was sort of paralyzed as to what to pack. Now that I know what I will be sewing, the packing part has become much easier. I know what size blocks I will be squaring up so I know what size rulers to bring, what color threads to bring, and everything else is falling into place. So my lesson learned was to pick the projects, then pack the supplies and equipment.

After all that cutting, my garbage bin sure looks pretty - ha!

What's on the design board?

I have a single bin with these pretty, old-fashioned, not-exactly-my-style, quality, cotton floral fabrics. I would love to use them up just because I'm sure I could donate a finished quilt to church and someone would enjoy it.  While wasting time on Pinterest, yes, I admit it, I found some finished High Five quilts. The High Five pattern can be found in Amanda Jean Nyberg's book, Sunday Morning Quilts and I own that book. It felt like a perfect way to use up the pretty pieces of floral fabrics. I started to make the cute little blocks but didn't get as far as I had hoped. I had much prepping to do over the last week to get ready for Easter dinner.

We hosted today's dinner which was hard work and rewarding. Everything turned out great and it was fun to have the family all here. I did most of the food prep in advance to make the day easier and I did cut a few corners, like the Simma's cheesecake. There are none better...unless my sister is baking. Her cheesecakes are the best but I really wanted her to not have to do any of the work for today's dinner.


Easter Bunny Table Runner

This is a table runner I quilted for a client of mine. It is absolutely adorable. I might just have to ask her the name of the pattern. The hard part about quilting this was that the whiskers are made from pieces of scrap denim. It is pretty heavy-duty fabric which made it a little tough to deal with while quilting. I sure hope she likes the result, it was really fun to work on.


ReStore Finds

My husband loves the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It is like a treasure trove of junk and many wonderful finds. Back in February we walked into the store only to find an entire set of Lloyd-Flanders patio furniture. If you know this brand, you know that a brand new set can cost over $7,000. We sent a photo of the set to my son who lives on a lake. It would be perfect for on the patio over his boat house. He instantly said he would forward us the money for it. Even though the set was listed at the ReStore for $990, I paid $750 for a sofa, love seat, chair, two tables and all the cushions and throw pillows. It was an amazing find and I enjoyed the 'let's make a deal' banter with the manager to get an even lower price than listed.

Today I fell in love with four wrought-iron chairs. They were incredibly solid. As I waited for my husband to get the manager to come over, a few people realized what I was sitting on, and had to come and check the chairs out. I tried to discourage them from looking at them while I tried to cut a deal. The chairs each had a price tag of $39. I thought if I could get them for under $100, it would be a credit to my wheeler-dealer skills. When the manager finally came over I asked if there was 'wiggle room' on the price. The day before we were there the store had 20% everything for the day. I was a day late for that but was hoping to still make a deal. The manager agreed to give me more than 20% off - yay! When I went to pay for the chairs they rung up around $30. I corrected the sales clerk that she needed to charge me that times 4. The manager came over and said the price was for all 4 chairs. I couldn't believe it. What luck!

The day we visited it was 50% off all housewares day so I picked up a candy dish and a condiment dish. Together, I paid a dollar for them. They are so very pretty. I love the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.


60-Degree Ruler Class

I took a 60-degree ruler class at the local senior center earlier this week. We were given patterns to make both table toppers and table runners during the class. The requirements for the class were to bring a 60-degree ruler and 1 1/2 yards of border fabric. I chose an Easter fabric from my stash.

After the class, I cut my fabric based on the instructions which stated to always line the bottom of the ruler up in the same place horizontally. I did that but did not like the results. I think I should have lined the ruler up based on the middle stripe. That might have made for a more connected look with the reversed pieces.


New Coffee Station

A year ago I drew up a simple plan for a tall cabinet that wouldn't be terribly deep with two shelves in the middle. I really wanted to make it out of pallet boards and I want to call it a coffee station. Well, my husband took the plan and made his version from it. His idea was much nicer than mine. He made it out of oak and then proceeded to make a maple butcher block top for it.

I wanted it to hold all my kitchen appliances. My pressure cooker, slow cooker, stand mixer, and rice cooker all needed a home that was not my pantry. I have a nice pantry that would be a great place to hold the larger quantities of groceries that I purchase from Costco and Sam's Club however, it's hard to store things in there when it's full of kitchen goods.

So now I have this beautiful counter-height cabinet. And all those appliances fit behind those two doors nicely.
Now all I need is a new fancy coffee maker for the top and I can clear off my counter top too!


Ladders Quilt

I finished the binding on the ladders quilt today so I added the quilt label and washed it right away. Quilts for Kids quilts must be washed before turning them in so this one's ready to go. It may seem like a bad idea to place the freshly washed quilt on the frozen grass, but there's a piece of muslin fabric between the quilt and the ground so it's protected from getting dirty.

These little quilts are nice ways to use up those cute scraps and  I love working in these cheery colors.


What's on the design board?

Today there's nothing on the design board.

We took our granddaughters to Disney World for a week towards the end of February so quilting has taken a back seat. It was a wonderful yet exhausting and I am glad we had the opportunity to do something so magical for them. But now we're back to Wisconsin winter and everyday life.

I am starting off March by completing another Quilts for Kids quilt. Once I have this one completed I need to start thinking about prepping for a quilt retreat I am attending in early April. I am excited about going - it will be my first one.


Square in a Square Quilt

I have so much donated children's fabrics that I think I will never run out!

Whenever I run out of ideas for projects or if I'm between projects, I like to whip these up. They are easy to make and help me use up my very large stash of whimsical fabrics.

I love creating these when I'm in a creative slump. It makes me feel productive.

This will go to Quilts for Kids.


Little Girl Quilt

I made this quilt from a panel and some scrap fabrics left over from some of my other quilts. I didn't use a pattern or any instructions, I just winged it.

I really like the scrappy strips on the sides of this quilt.

This quilt will go to Quilts for Kids.


Postage Stamp Quilt

I made another postage stamp quilt from my leftover scraps. I keep a ziploc bag filled with 2" x 7" strips of scrap fabrics and when the bag gets pretty full, I stitch them together. I'm always amazed that they turn out so cute even though many of the fabrics don't really go together.

This one will go to Quilts for Kids.


Five Nights at Freddie's Travel Bag

After completing a small travel tote for one of my granddaughters, I had to make another for her sister. My oldest granddaughter has much different taste compared to her younger sister. One of her favorite things is the five nights at freddie's characters.

These horror-genre characters are not something that's available like Disney characters. So I had to improvise. I went online and downloaded photos of the fnaf characters and made a grouping of the photos.

I printed the grouping onto a piece of muslin using my little photo printer. I took the muslin fabric pieces and incorporated them into the travel bag. It turned out almost cute - I say almost because they are horror characters - ha ha!


Free-Motion Quilted Baby Quilt

I quilted this adorable baby quilt for a client today. The fabric is absolutely adorable. It's fabric I've never seen before and the client stated that she purchased it while she was up north on vacation. So I guess I won't be able to go looking for it around here.


Old-Fashioned Pieced Basket Quilt

Someone from my church gave our quilt group a quilt top they had purchased at a rummage sale. So our quilt group leader, Judy bought some matching fabric for the backing and she also picked up some batting. I took the quilt to the senior center where they have two longarm quilting machines that are available for use at no charge. I loaded the quilt on one of the longarms and quilted it. This quilt is king size so it took me quite a while to complete the quilting. Judy will get some fabric for the binding and finish up the quilt so we can use it at the church's craft fair that is coming up in March. Hopefully we can raffle it off and make a nice amount of money for the church in the process. I never quilted anything this large, it was quite a challenge for me. So glad to have it done with plenty of time to spare.


Barbie Travel Tote Bag

I modified a pattern I have for a travel bag in order to make it smaller. My granddaughters need travel bags to take on a plane. I wanted them to have bags that are small enough for them to carry themselves without them dragging on the ground.

My goal was also to limit them from taking too many items with them; maybe just their tablets and headphones, some gum and a snack, a stuffed animal and a light jacket. This little beauty turned out to be just the right size. Even filled, it is still light enough for a 5-year old to handle.


What's on the design board?

I've been working on my Easy Addition quilt and I've completed about half of the blocks needed. It sure is fun making these blocks. I love putting the colors together to make each block.

I'm using my new 6600 to do all my piecing. I set up my Elna for free motion quilting and it's been nice not having to switch the feet back and forth. I just leave the quarter-inch foot on the Memory Craft all the time. It so convenient. I feel so lucky to have more than one machine ready to sew on.

I don't think I will get much more sewing done this month. We are taking the family to Disney World in a few weeks and I'm certain prepping for the trip will leave me with little time to do anything else.


Easy Addition Quilt WIP

I need a new quilt project and I've found one I'm really excited about. I'm working on the fabric selection and this is my start. I like taking photos of the fabrics to see how the colors blend. They always look different in photos. So far I like how the prints compliment each other and the floral theme that is coming through.


Space Quilt

I finished a cute outer space quilt using a fabric panel. I'm not that fond of panels as I never know what to do with them. I decided to frame this one in patchwork and then add a border.

Once it was done I liked the patchwork but not the border. The fabric I chose for the border looked like outer space and coordinated well but the result was a pretty dark quilt top. So I used bright solid flannels on the back to add some pop.

The quilt will go to Quilts for Kids. I do have another space panel and I will try something different other than patchwork. Maybe I will applique some stars on the next one.


Memory Craft 6600

I did the craziest thing. I purchased a new sewing machine. I didn't need a new machine but I really wanted a Memory Craft 6600. I've been using one at the local senior center and fell in love with its sturdiness. It's great having a second machine. I have the 6600 set up for sewing patchwork and my Elna set up for free-motion quilting. I feel very spoiled.

Line Dance Baby Quilt

All that was needed to make this cute quilt is a charm pack and some yardage in just one color. I used a dinosaur-themed charm pack and some royal blue solid fabric to complete this baby quilt. I had purchased a dinosaur print at a quilt show a few years back and it worked perfectly as the backing to finish it off. The pattern is from the Moda Bake Shop and is called Line Dance. The instructions to make this can be found here.


What's on the design board?

I'm currently working on a quilt top that incorporates this planet-themed panel. I like my fabric choices so now it's just a matter of a layout. I am binge-watching Stranger Things while I sew these days. During 2017 I've finished up all 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls and all 5 seasons of Switched at Birth. That's a lot of binge-watching while sewing!

I am also working on a quilt for a contest. I signed up for this back in November but I seriously doubt that I will be able to meet the deadline for completing it. It was a tough year for sewing during the holidays. I will try to get this project done in time but I am not going to lose any sleep over it if I don't. After all, this is my year to do what I want - ha!

Happy 2018!

I woke up this morning to a chilly day - the temperature on our weather station reads -12. I wonder what it is with the wind chill. Since it's new year's day, there's nothing to do except watch college football. And boy is my husband ready!

I've been slowly putting the Christmas decorations away so things are looking a lot neater around here. The tree will come down at the end of the week so I will get to enjoy it for a little while longer. 

I did get a new piece of furniture for the dining room and that gave me the incentive to clean out the entire room. I now have a box of housewares ready to go to Purple Heart. It sure feels good. Which reminds me, I plan to do the 30-day de-clutter challenge as one of my new year's resolutions. I'm going to start this morning. There's a 2-drawer night stand in my bedroom that needs to be cleaned out first.
When I look back at my resolution from last year, there were 6 things I wanted to make. Of those 6, I completed 3, started but did not complete 1 and the other two never even got on the radar. Oh well.

As for this year I am reminded of a Seinfeld episode called "The Summer of George".  I want my own "it's all about me" time. Even though it didn't go so well for George, I am hopeful. I want to do some quality family things and enjoy time with my granddaughters while they still want to spend time with me. So I will be scaling back on some of my volunteer duties for a little while and take the time to create memories with them. I am in the process of booking a Disney trip right now.