Chloe's Ornament

My granddaughter made this ornament in art class and she gave it to me for Christmas. She was very excited to explain the technique she used to get the paint to adhere this way. Her excitement for her art is incredible. It's her favorite thing.

I was admiring the ornaments on the tree today partly because I know it won't be long before the tree comes down. The last day of the year always brings about some melancholy for me and this year is no different.

As I take stock in all of 2018, I am reminded how lucky I am. I went on 5 trips/vacations this year. I bought a longarmer this year. My husband stayed healthy this year. There were many years he wasn't. Two years ago he was discharged from an inpatient stay at 4 pm on new year's eve. This year had its terrible moments as well. My granddaughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and my daughter lost her job. Nothing ever comes easy for her. We try to help as much as possible and I am grateful that they live at the end of my block.

Usually I take some time to make some quilting goals for the new year but I haven't given it any thought. Maybe I will work on that next week...or next year - haha!


Panel Quilt Kits

Last month I took a bunch of kits at our Quilts for Kids meeting. The kits are designed to be a nice jump-start into making a quilt top. They are handed out to new QfK members to help them get started with our group. We've had a few new members over the last year but not enough to ever use up all the kits that are available. There are many of them! 

These quilt kits were cut and assembled a few years ago. Most contain a panel or some border print that coordinates with the rest of the fabrics in the kit. I decided to start taking a few each time I attend just to get them completed. There are so many cute fabrics in them that it's sad to see them just sit there.

In the last week I put together 4 quilt tops from the kits and I quilted and bound 2 of the 4 so far. It felt good to get them totally completed. Both the finished ones have a winter theme so I'll get them turned in next weekend while they are still in "season".

I still have 2 quilt tops to quilt and 2 more kits to put together. It seems like a great winter project.


Bullseye Quilt Along

I've decided to join the 2019 Country Threads bullseye quilt along. It requires 48 9-inch, 8-inch, 6-inch and 4-inch squares to be cut before January 1st. All the pieces should be from a medium to dark fabrics except for the 9-inch squares. Those should all be lights.

I cut all the pieces except for the light fabrics. The instructions state to use all different fabrics and I struggle to find 48 different lights big enough to get a 9-inch square of each. So I will do the best I can once I get into the quilt along. Maybe it will be OK to repeat some fabrics for more than one block. I really won't know until I see the first instruction.
The first blog post for the quilt along can be found here


Merry Christmas

We are totally ready for Christmas and are looking forward to all the excitement the holiday brings.

Everybody is happy, it is a joyful time.


Floral Quilt WIP

I purchased a bag of remnants from a local quilt shop about a year and a half ago. When I opened the bag full of scraps there were cut squares of a variety of fabrics that went together well. I don't know if the shop owner made a sample and these were leftovers but that's sure what it seems like. I liked the pretty colors and I knew that the quilt shop had more of the fabrics in their clearance section so I bought some yardage to go along with the scraps.

I finally decided to see if I could put something simple together with the remnants. So I stitched the blocks together to make a patchwork center and added some borders to the top, bottom and sides. I was amazed that I had just enough fabrics to make a simple top, the backing and the binding.

I decided to use high-loft batting on the quilt and I quilted it using a nice swirl-pattern that was pretty simple. It's a nice change working in these colors with all the Christmas prints I've been using lately. So far I like how the quilting pops with the nice thick batting.


Christmas Cookies

This year I cut back on the cookie baking. It seems that every year after the holiday, my husband ends up eating all the leftover cookies and frankly, he doesn't need them. I do like to try to make one new cookie each year and this year I made a turtle cookie. I won't know until I deliver the cookies if they are a hit or not so it's wait and see right now.

The sugar cookies are my family's very favorite. I make them in advance then the girls come over to frost them. This year neither of my granddaughters were interested in frosting them at all. I wanted to take a photo of us while decorating the cookies and both Avery and Chloe frosted one and declared that they were done. So I never got a chance to take any photos of them. My cat was more interested than the two little girls, ha!

My daughter Bailee loves frosting the cookies so that's a good thing. At least I can count on that tradition continuing for a while. Once all the baking and decorating was done, I packed up the cookies in tins for delivery. I've really been enjoying this holiday season. Things are getting done without much stress so far. I sure hope it lasts.


Flannel Pet Beds

I've been saving up my batting scraps to the point where I had two plastic bags overstuffed with the scraps. If I put any more in the bags would burst. I guess that means it's time to do something with them.

I want to make pet beds. So I took the batting scraps and cut them into small squares. Lots and lots of small squares.

My daughter had some scrap flannel left over from pajama pants she made so I took her scraps and cut them into 22" x 26" pieces. If the scraps weren't big enough, I stitched pieces together to make the right sized pieces.

I sewed the pieces right sides together and left an opening big enough to get my hand through. I flipped the pieces right side out and ironed it flat.

I sewed another row of stitching about an inch away from the edge to make a finished edge making sure I did not stitch the opening shut.

The batting scraps were stuffed into the flannel pillow until the entire thing was full but not so full that they were stiff. The opening was machine stitched shut then edge was finished off.

Once I finished one, I wanted to make more. I ended up with enough flannel to make a total of four. I got them all done and I still had one half of a bag of batting scraps left.

Yesterday I took the pet beds to church and put them under the pets' tree. Everything under the tree will be taken to the local animal shelter closer to Christmas. They look cute under the tree with all the other donated pet foods and toys.

I wish I would have taken a photo of the tree while I was there.


Quilts for Veterans

My church group, Sweet Sundays Quilters made these quilts. This year our group made 101 quilts. Of those quilts these 23 are headed to the VA hospital in Milwaukee.

My husband's Legion Rider motorcycle group are taking them there this evening to celebrate Christmas with some of the veterans. I am so glad to be able to give something back to the service members that end up there.


Keyhole Quilt

Sweetwater Authentic Fabric
Sweetwater Authentic FabricI made this quilt using a jelly roll and some yardage I purchased last year during Missouri Star Quilt Company's black Friday sale. Coincidentally, I used MSQC's pattern called Keyhole from one of their magazines to make the quilt top.

The pattern requires a jelly roll and a little over 1 yard of fabric for the borders so it sure was a perfect match. The fabric is from Sweetwater's Authentic collection and the modern fabric goes well with the modern pattern.

I quilted this using a pantograph called Bauhaus Baby. It adds another modern element to the quilt. I used a slate gray variegated thread to make the stitches show.

My daughter loves the colors in the quilt. Green is her favorite. I think I will have to wrap this up and make it a Christmas gift for her.


Puppy Love Quilt

Quilts for Kids
I completed the Puppy Love quilt using some backing fabric that provides an added surprise.

Quilts for KidsAt the last Quilts for Kids meeting, I rummaged through a bin full of green fabrics that were donated to our group. I came across a large piece of Winnie the Pooh fabric and realized the color values were the same as the fabrics used for the quilt top. The theme many not have been the same, but the colors sure looked good together.

The Winnie the Pooh fabric wasn't quite wide enough to cover the back of the quilt so I added a strip of green Kona solid to complete the backing piece.

I used a pantograph called Soho to quilt this and some bright variegated thread.

Quilts for KidsOnce I finished quilting and binding the quilt, I realized what a nice surprise it would be for a child to find the back just as interesting as the front. It sure has a happy feel all the way around.
Quilts for Kids


Our Place in History

There are things that happen during our lifetime that become significantly part of history. For instance, I remember exactly where I was when the planes hit the twin towers on September 11, 2001 and when the space shuttle crashed after take off in 1986. I remember where I was when President Barack Obama was sworn in during his inauguration. I even remember watching President Kennedy's funeral procession during. I was only 5 then, but the image of the horse-drawn flag bearing casket going down a street is vividly implanted in my mind. And it's not because of any photos I've seen over the years, it's the actual image coming out of our black and white console television in my parents' living room that are also part of the memory.

Today I am watching President Bush's funeral. It's one of those occasions that seem important to watch, to mark where I was when it happened. So here I am in the place where I get the most comfort, at home in my sewing room.


Repurposed Curtain Packaging

When I purchased new curtains they came in these individual vinyl zip-pouches. I set them aside wondering if I could repurpose them since they were so well constructed.

Today it occurred to me that they would make really nice project bags. I've seen tutorials on Pinterest to make them with some fabric, vinyl and a zipper. I figured why make them when I can use these.

I removed the labels and cardboard that held the curtain panel and peeled off the label from the outside of the packaging. It sure is a lot of waste just to sell a curtain panel.

I used the little pocket inside the package to hold the pattern for the project and put the cut pieces inside. Now I have a project ready to take with me to open sew! I have a bunch of these packages so I will prep more projects and use them to carry with me.

A few of the packages have some sticky stuff left on after peeling off the label so I will put some stickers over those spots and make the project bags even cuter.


The Santa Hustle - Milwaukee

I whipped up this little Christmas-themed zipper pouch yesterday. I needed a place to put my cell phone, car key, and drivers' license. I wanted a pouch to hang around my neck because I participated in the Santa Hustle.

The Santa Hustle is a 5K run along Lake Michigan. It's a fun event where they hand out cookies and candy canes along the route. The issue with the run is that it was supposed to rain all morning then it would turn to snow in the afternoon. Another issue was that since it was on the lake, it was bound to be windier and colder than inland.

And it was cold and overcast. I made the pouch with a waterproof vinyl pocket to keep my cell phone dry. The zipper pocket held my inhaler - something I always need when I run in the cold and my drivers' license. The fob held my car key nicely. I wore the pouch around my neck and tucked it into my sweatshirt for extra security. No one could see how cute it was by I knew - ha!

Here we are before the race. You can see how overcast it was and trust me, it was chilly. I ran the race and I was the second one of my group to cross the finish line. Not bad for being the oldest in the group! After the race we headed to the Harley-Davidson Museum's restaurant, Motor and enjoyed some bloody Marys and a nice lunch. I had a great time.


What's on the design board?

For a month with a holiday, I am surprised by how much I've accomplished. Last month I cleaned out my sewing room and found some UFOs. I put them all in one place where I can get a handle on them. I've completed a few things but still have some more to do.

The beige plaid patchwork will become a nice quilt for a man that will be donated to the local VA hospital when it's done. I have some nice deer print that will make a great backing for it once the top's done.

The triangle Christmas piece will be a pillow cover (I think). Or maybe a table topper. I just don't know yet. My plan is to experiment with some ruler work on it when I quilt it.

The granny square blocks were made using a tutorial from Quilty Love's blog. The instructions can be found here. I made all 30 blocks and I am in the process of squaring them up. Then I will have to find room on the design wall to get them all in a nice order. I used a jelly roll of the fabric called Sweet Marion by April Rosenthal. I bought the jelly roll at the Madison Quilt show in September from Missouri Star Quilt Company's booth. I can't believe I remembered all that. I think it's a sign that I am getting more organized. Ha!

I thought I would throw in what's on my longarmer...this is a quilt that will be a Christmas gift for my daughter. I think I have plenty of time to complete it. However tonight I have a Christmas party to attend and a surprise birthday party. I volunteered to make a dish to serve for both parties so I did the smart thing, I made a quadruple batch of funeral potatoes and separated them into two crock pots. I am ready! If this is a sign of things to come, I might not have much time to quilt this. Ha ha!


Christmas Holiday Pillow Covers

Christmas Pillow CoverI made a few Christmas holiday-themed pillow covers this week.

For the Christmas tree pillow cover I used a tutorial from A Quilting Life's blog. The link to the tutorial is here. The thing you need to know about the tutorial is that the instructions are incorrect. For the background it says this: Cut (2) rectangles 2 1/2″ x 4 2/4″.
I should have recognized the sign that something was up when it read four and two-fourths. The correct cut is 4 3/4" not 4 2/4". The image she has on her blog is correct but the instructions are where is issue can be found. And of course I cut the wrong size first, luckily I had enough fabric to cut another piece correctly.

I free-motion quilted the pillow tops and used a cute red and white striped fabric for the binding on one and a red print with snowflakes for the other. The backing fabrics are cute Christmas prints from Joanns.

The 4-patch pillow cover was made using charm squares cut into 4 2 and a half-inch squares with 1 and a half-inch strips between the 4-patch blocks. They went together quickly and I like the results.

They sure brighten up my dark brown sofa.


Cat Quilt

I completed the last of the 4 quilts for Mary this afternoon. It was the largest of the 4 so it took me the longest to quilt. I used a medium blue thread to quilt this and it blended in well on the front of the top. The backing was a darker blue and I like how the medium blue shows. You can really see the quilting.

With the Thanksgiving holiday smack in the middle of working on these, I was concerned that I would struggle to get them finished but it turned out to be less stressful than I anticipated. This quilt is a Christmas gift for Mary's sister so I wanted to make sure she had enough time to sew the binding on and finish it. I hope she is happy with the results.


2 More Quilts

I finished longarm quilting 2 more quilts for my friend Mary. There's a snow advisory in effect which is a good reason to stay home and get these done. Not that I need and excuse, my sewing room is my favorite place.

I quilted stars on this children's outer space quilt and quilted flowers on the purple and green quilt. The client dropped off 4 quilts and it made sense to do these two quilts back to back because I could use the same thread selection for both. I used a variegated purple on the top and a nice violet on the backs.


Turkey Brine

I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year and the best part about that is making some things my way. First of all, I love to brine the turkey overnight for the best results. I really think it makes a big difference.

Here's a photo of my brine cooking on the stove. I make it today so it can cool all day then tomorrow morning it will go over the turkey. That way the turkey can soak for 24 hours before roasting. The scent of the brine while simmering is amazing.

Here's the recipe I use (it's from Pioneer Woman):
  • 3 cups apple juice or apple cider
  • 2 gallons cold water
  • 4 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 5 whole bay leaves
  • peel of 3 large oranges
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover.

Allow to cool completely, then pour into a large brining bag or pot. Place uncooked turkey in brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.

When ready to roast turkey, remove from brine. Submerge turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.

Discard brine. Remove turkey from clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.


Dinosaur Quilt

I quilted my friend, Mary's dinosaur baby quilt today. I used a pantograph called La Fleur. It seemed like a sort of modern leafy pattern that would go well with the dinosaurs.

Mary asked for high-loft batting in this quilt so I wanted to quilt a pattern that was less dense in order to make the quilt puffier. I mean why use high-loft batting if it wasn't going to show? This pantograph was nice for that and it was 6.5 inches wide so I could get more rows of quilting done on this smaller quilt.

I used a variegated green thread on the front and a 50-weight green thread for the back. It quilted like a dream.

Once I got the first row done, I realized that this pantograph produced a pattern on the quilt that sort of looked like the spikes on the spine of a dinosaur's back. How funny.

It turned out nice and puffy like expected. I hope Mary thinks so too.


Quilted Christmas Tree Skirt

Over the last few days I whipped up this Christmas tree skirt. I decided I needed a new one when I looked back on Christmas photos over the past few years. When I see the same tree skirt, I started to wonder which year the photos were from. A new tree skirt would solve that concern for this year.

Free-Motion Quilting
I purchased some holiday fabric right before Christmas last year at 75% off. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it when I bought it but I sure was glad I had it when I got the bug to make this.

I googled tree skirt tutorials and found free instructions here. They were easy to use instructions although I changed a few things; I free-motion quilted the entire thing instead of stitch-in-the-ditch, I used leftover fabric on the back instead of muslin and I made bias binding from cotton fabric instead of using ribbon.

A funny thing happened while making this. I went to Home Goods to purchase a new tablecloth for my dining room table and the one I chose was wrapped in a piece of nice twill. I carefully untied the tablecloth package and cut the twill into ties for the tree skirt. The color of the twill was absolutely perfect. And I really liked how wide the twill is.

This project didn't take long to complete and I am happy that I didn't have to invest much to get it completed.
Christmas Tree Skirt
Christmas Tree Skirt Backing


Pins and Paws Quilt

I finished my Pins and Paws quilt today. I made
the quilt top this summer during my Wednesdays spent at the senior center.

I thought  I would finish this quicker but I struggled to decide what to use for the backing. I really wanted to use a print but I couldn't find anything that coordinated with the fabrics in the blocks. I ended up using the same Kona baby pink as in the border.

The pattern is from Missouri Star Quilt Company and I made it with some reproduction print fabrics in pastels.

I used a pantograph called Lather, Rinse, Repeat for the quilting with pink thread.

It's a cute quilt that measures 68" x 77". It's a pretty decent size.


Posy Pocket Tote - The Holiday Version

When I cleaned out my sewing room I came across a few unfinished projects. This was one of them.

I started this holiday tote last year thinking that once complete I would use it throughout the month of December.

The next thing I knew, it was packed away until I found it while cleaning. I had the outside put together but the inside needed to be completed.

Then I had to make the handles and just put it all together. It didn't take much time once I got going on it.

Now that it's done, I like it so much I want to make another. I love the size, the way it stands up - so sturdy, and the fun zipper pockets. It's going to be perfect for Christmas shopping.

The pattern I used is called the Posy Pocket Tote and the free tutorial can be found here.