Friday, November 27, 2009


Not much sewing this weekend. C and D are home from college and I think that we have had a very nice weekend. We went to Detroit on Thanksgiving to watch the parade. We drove around for a bit, through downtown and around Belle Isle. The conservatory was not open of course, but the building itself is very cool. A traditionally built conservatory, built at a time when there was lots of money in Detroit. In fact the whole park seems part of a different city now, with it's big old fancy boat club and pavillions. We went to a Kruse and Muers for dinner in Rochester and we had a great meal with a couple bottles of wine and good food. Rochester had some interesting stores, so after breakfast with H, the kids and I went back yesterday for a few hours and wandered around. It was a good time, but we only bought coffee and fancy pastries at the bakery. Today, we went to the farmer's market this morning and tonight we walked around Frankenmuth with the dogs admiring the Christmas lights. A weekend to be thankful for all the good things we have, for the health and well-being of our children and family, friends, and neighbors. Thank you C and D, it was wonderful to spend the weekend with you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I started the holiday baking today and made banana bread and chocolate chip cookies. This picture is after the first 3 cookies disappeared, and the rest weren't out of the oven yet. Hubby only ate 3 cookies, very disciplined for him, but this evening he asked if he could take the rest to work for the guys to have with their coffee tomorrow. Oh well, hopefully he only eats 3 tomorrow too. Yes, those are raw peanuts in the background for peanut brittle, but I'm waiting until closer to Christmas to make it. It's better if made fresher. The banana bread didn't turn out terribly well, too dry and heavy. But I definitely know someone who will eat it anyway and she will be home in a couple hours. I've made this recipe several times and I'm in the market for a new one, so if someone has a really good banana bread recipe, send it my way. I have a good cake recipe, but I want to eat it toasted with butter, not frost it. I also worked on the applique, went grocery shopping, cleaned out the refrigerator, did laundry, watered the plants, and made sure everything had dinner in their tummies, hubby, dogs, cat, and fish. Productive weekend, if uneventful.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Crazy Quilt

This is the fabric and ribbon that I picked up today at a little needleworks shop in Metamora. The shop is completely dedicated to crazy quilting, R, I wish you were here. She had silks, (only the deep red is silk, they are tooooo expensive), cool fabrics, every silk, poly, and rayon ribbon imaginable, thousands of rayon, silk, cotton and wool fibers, many hand dyed, boxes of charms and beads, hundreds of books on crazy quilting, tatting, embroidery, brazillian embroidery (uses rayon threads), trapunto, and stumpwork, and buttons, lace, fringe, trims, notions, and other stuff. However she is always busy, so even though it was my first time in the shop, I measured and cut my own ribbon, and carried a little sales pad around and wrote down what I bought. She then rang it up on the register and I paid, evidently everyone has to wait on themselves, but she is talking and providing directions and sewing hints all the time that you are there. She had photos of a crazy quilt that just went on the local market for $6000. It will be very interesting to see if it sells. The photos were stunning.
I am still working on my second crazy quilt square. This is a poor photo, the light in the florida room is too yellow at night (and I cut off the bottom), but I am still using the cross stitch pieces. This one also has silk ribbon, cotton, poly and silk fabric, yarn, lace, an old wool embroidery piece, cotton and silk floss, perle cotton, buttons, beads, and charms. The little charm at the top of the sampler is a brass clock. I thought it would be appropriate given the sampler. The blue on the butterfly are beads, each put on by hand, and there are lots of them. The pink butterfly by itself was overwhelming, and I probably should have dyed it, but since I just thought about it and it now has a thousand beads on it, I guess not. I will post a better photo when I am done with the square. This square is much brighter than the first one. I think each reflects your mood as you are working on them (or in my case, a vibrant pink butterfly).

Friday, November 20, 2009


I made this little bag (about 4" x 7") today in quilt guild. The outside (focus fabric is what the instructor called it) is a batik and the lining is a lime green fabric that I purchased as a liner for a different bag several months ago. The bag took two 20" squares of fabric and a bit more for the strap. It's a cute little bag, but it was pretty plain so I brought it home and put some beads along the flap and a glass charm to hold the flap closed. The completed version is pictured below. I think it looks much better now. There are pockets on the front and back and a bigger pouch type pocket in the center fastened with velcro.

I am really looking forward to several of next year's programs for quilt guild. The Gee's Bend quilts are going to be at Flint Institute of Arts in February and we are going as a guild and getting a lecture by one of the curators. And then in April and June, we have nationally known quilt teachers coming and they will each do a lecture and a workshop. I asked today and they still don't know what the workshops will be, but because the June teacher just published a book on applique, I'm hopeful that will be her topic. However, lots of people don't like the "A" word as they call it at guild, because it is rather tedious and time-consuming. But in any case, I will try and take both workshops. I also worked on the crazy quilt sqare tonight, but beading really is tedious, so I quit for the evening. I have my bag of applique now, so I guess that's what I'll do until bed time.

And in case anybody thinks I'm not doing anything but sewing, I came home and made fried chicken, mashed potatoes and milk gravy for dinner tonight. I made acorn squash too, but hubby passed on the stuff that was good for him. The squash was great and since I'm the only one eating it, there's enough for tomorrow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ribbon Embroidery

This little (4" across) basket of ribbon flowers is what I did in 3 hours of crazy quilting class today. I have not really done ribbon embroidery before so I had to learn how to thread the needle (#24 chenille), do the knot, and make the stitches. Actually none of it was hard, at least not these stitches, but it was a bit time consuming. I'm not giving up the day job. The instructor gave us each a packet of silk ribbon, a needle, hoop, and this pattern that she had traced on a piece of muslin. She took the pattern from a Dover book for ribbon embroidery. She had some neat tricks, and it was a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Thanks to everyone for the kind comments about the blog. I started the blog because I wanted a record of the "stuff" that I make. I needed to record technical details, (which I haven't really done yet), and maybe more importantly, I realized that I should take photos, and this was a reason to take them and a place where I could find them. A couple times I have realized that I was making the same mistake again because I couldn't remember how I corrected it the first time. And when I start feeling like a slug because I haven't done anything in a few days, I can go back and remember what has been accomplished. Also it turns out that Google has made it extremely easy to start a blog. The hard part will be writing something every few days. But a warning, I'm not writing every day, nor is there a picture of a finished project every other day, so check once in a while if you are interested and again, thanks for all the really nice comments.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Urns applique quilt

This is a photo of the quilt that I hand appliqued and hand quilted and finished last month. The design is loosely based on a pattern included in a Blackbird Designs book. I added birds and more berries and changed some flower designs. I started out with a more traditional dark red and green applique, but added gold to the flowers and then blue and red birds. The urns are all different patterns of brown. I was surprised how different it was to applique these squares. I had thought doing fewer sqares would take less time, but it was awkward to applique the bigger squares. The quilt measures 86" x 86". Though it just fits the top of my king-sized bed, I'm not going to use it, rather I am thinking of hanging it in my bedroom. I was pleased with the way it turned out.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Baskets and a crazy quilt square

These are the baskets that I finished at basket guild yesterday. All are cane and made on the same mold, but the one with a handle is a nantucket style basket with a nailed rim and free swinging handle and the other two are made of dyed cane with waxed linen lashing. The black one is a twill weave and the other two are tabby weave. The nailed rim was harder to do than a traditional rim, but I'm sure I could get much better with a little practice. I like using waxed linen for lashing because I think it gives a more contemporary look to the baskets which I like. Though it probably isn't obvious here, even though they were all made on the same mold, they are really 3 different sizes. It's funny how that happens.

I also decided to start another crazy quilt square today. Class is next week and I haven't done anything since before the last class, so I need to get started. I really like using the crosstitch pieces that I have done. They provide a focal point for the square and I like the words on the squares. This one was pretty dull colored so I added the bright pink border and put it together using a blanket stitch. The butterflies, both crocheted and embroidered, were purchased from garage sales. I have started ribbon flowers on the bottom left and feather stitch with a rayon floss on the bottom right. I machine stitched the background together before I started the hand work, so it's not all hand done, but it's going to be close enough for me.
It was also my birthday on Friday. My hub and I went out for breakfast and then he drove me all over the county to 3 quilt shops looking for just the right fabrics for the CWBQ. He and the dogs took walks and slept in the truck while I fingered all the fabric. It took all day, but I found enough to get started. Then we went to dinner at one of my favorite mexican restaurants and came home and drank a glass of wine. Nice day. Yesterday, we had dinner with C and D, and then had breakfast with P and T this morning. I also had calls from E and K, my friend R, and my brother and sisters. I have the best family ever. And to top it off, we have had fabulous weather this weekend, in the 60s and sunny. Unusual for my birthday, since early November is usually rainy and cold. It has been a really nice weekend.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Springtime Triple Irish Chain

This is a photo of the Triple Irish Chain quilt that I completed this summer. I call it Springtime, because the yellow and blue look very spring-y. I learned a lot of lessons with this quilt. I found that if I knew what I was doing in advance, I could leave the quilt/fabric shop with enough fabric for an entire quilt without going to 6 stores to find what I needed (and buying way too much fabric). I need to work on the 1/4" seam allowance. As you can see, the diamonds in the border do not line up properly. I did not measure the quilt top accurately before I took it to the machine quilter and I had to take her a second piece of batting and backing because the ones I had given to her were not large enough. I did find once again, that Eleanor Burns patterns are very easy to follow. I did 2 log cabin quilts last year when I started quilting, and found that book very user friendly also. This quilt measures about 95" X 105". I'm not sure what I am doing with it yet, but it was fun to make and for now, is very pretty on the spare bed.

I started appliqueing the rick-rack handles on my baskets last night and have decided that many of them are too plain. I am considering using the bright flowered printed fabrics for yo-yo flowers on a few of the single color baskets. It will make it busier, but it's already pretty busy and if it gets too bad, I will use a single color sash or border to unify things a bit. We will see.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dyed tablerunner

This is the weft for my table runner. It is several hundred yards of muslin and cut up denim jeans that I dyed with navy Rit dye in the washing machine. I then pressed every yard with my iron yesterday. It took about a hour and a half to finish pressing. I have it coiled here and will wind it on the shuttle just before I weave it so that it doesn't wrinkle too badly. The loom has been warped with cotton rug warp which I also dyed with the navy dye. However since I wanted variation in the warp and weft, I tied the coils of muslin and yarn before dying so that there are places in the yardage that are much lighter than others. Tie dyeing! I'll show a photo when done, but since I worked late last night and didn't actually get to weaving, it might be a bit yet. I have been weaving with the same group of women for several years in a community enrichment program set up by Flint Public Schools. I always sign up and pay my money, but some semesters I don't get there very often due to work and other commitments, but I love it. It gave me a creative outlet before I was basket weaving or quilting, and the women are great. I don't do complicated stuff much, but I have woven rugs, towels, shawls, and scarves. I am doing a monk's belt for this table runner and we'll see what happens. I usually just do a tabby weave, over/under, though I have done a couple patterns before and several twills. Last year, I really enjoyed doing rag rugs using old jeans from my family and friends. They were perfect for my bedroom and are so knobby under your bare feet.