Friday, December 28, 2012

Hand Quilting

Yep, hand quilting, slowly.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Working on Easy Street

Bonnie Hunter has started a Mystery Quilt on her blog called Easy Street.  She evidently does one periodically and the last few years, they have been made with LOTS of pieces, but she promised an easier version this time, hence the "Easy Street" title.  She has a link to people doing it on her blog and the numbers are impressive.  There are lots of folks all over the world working on this, so I thought I would join the fun.  However, we are already at several hundred pieces with several weeks to go, so everything is relative.  My colors are similar to what she is doing, though I traded out her gray for black.  I'm using turquoise, purple, and lime, as she suggested and a white background with a little multicolor in it.  I didn't know what I was going to do with all the leftover Susan Branch white from EB's quilt, but now I have a lot less of it.  When I saw Bonnie a few weeks ago in Ann Arbor, one of the things she said was that there weren't any ugly fabric, the pieces just weren't small enough and sure enough, if you cut it up into 2" x 2" squares, you don't see any of the pattern at all.  But after this is done, I'm still building the string lonestar.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Finishing

I am sanding, staining, sanding, staining, sanding, staining, sanding, and burnishing with a brown paper bag until they shine and are as smooth as a baby's butt.  These are the Shaker style cherry boxes and trays that I made a few weeks ago.  In the top photo, you can see the little tiny wooden peg where the top and bottom are put together, no glue... and the copper tacks that hold the bands together.  The trays were put together with birch in the bottom, but next time, if I did it again, I'd pay extra and use the curly maple or cherry as the base.  Those denser woods have a gorgeous shine and luster when finished that I can't get on the more porous birch.   I have also made peanut brittle, lemon bars, sugar cookies and fudge with nuts this weekend, in addition to Harold's scones and cinnamon rolls.  The house smells like a bakery with a hint of sawdust.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hand Quilting Again

I started hand quilting the tropical flowers tonight.  I am outlining the applique and doing diagonal lines in the background.  It's nothing fancy, but it's a lot of stitches.  It will take a few days to get good calluses.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mary Lee's Basket

Isn't this gorgeous?  Every year, the members of my basket guild exchange gifts at the December meeting.  I have received beautiful baskets every year, but I do think this is something special.  I was so pleased to get Mary Lee's Josephine Knot heart basket this year.  It is reed, with a Josephine Knot as the base and a lovely braided rim.  A beautiful basket, thanks Mary Lee!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oval Boxes and the Forest (or Too Many Trees)

These are the shaker oval boxes that I made in John Wilson's workshop last weekend.  There are 6 swing handled cherry boxes and 2 trays.  The swing handled boxes are cherry rims.  There are 4 with cherry tops and 2 with curly maple tops.  The trays are cherry rims with birch bottoms.  With lots of sanding and finishing they should look great.  I wanted to do some more as I had given away the 2 swing handled boxes that I made a couple years ago and they make good gifts.  They took me most of last Saturday, but I think it was worth it.      
 This is the thanksgiving weekend (mom can't mope if she's occupied) quilt.  The kids were busy, 3 of them away from home and 2 others with their mom for dinner, so I knew I was going to be sad if I didn't get myself something pretty complicated to do over the weekend.  So...I decided to practice piecing.  I found a traditional tree pattern, modified it to make it more complex, and then cut out, trimmed, and sewed together 500+  3.5" HSTs to make 5 trees.  My initial thought was to put them together in this fashion, but ugh...  nope.   Too much brown tree trunk, the trees are too big, the sashing is too narrow,  and there is too much of everything.  I decided to try and use one of them as a medallion quilt and appliquéd leaves and some detail on the tree trunk and I think I'm going to like it much better.  Just in case it's starts looking too symmetrical, I'm going to use different colored sashing and a spiky free form border to finish it off.  It won't be bed sized, but it will look great in the summer next to the front door.   Let me know if you have any ideas on what to do with 4, rather large, left over trees.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Guild Swap

I am happy with it.  Just need to quilt and bind it now.  Onto the string star!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Guild Swap

Is Done!  I picked up the blocks on Friday and finished tonight.  Pictures tomorrow.   The blocks were done in batiks, 15" finished, and I used more 9 patches, sashing, triangles for a border, and a 6" navy batik border to complete the 93" square top.  The batiks in the blocks and triangles really glow with the navy sashing and border.  Now maybe I can get to that string lonestar....  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bonnie Hunter in Ann Arbor

Bonnie Hunter's lecture for the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild yesterday was a blast.  She has gorgeous quilts with thousands of pieces, lots of advice on how to store your scraps, and a very engaging speaking style that was wonderful to hear.  These are only 2 of the many, many quilts that she shared.  The first is string pieced and the other is a lovely hexie.  She said that the hexies were done in spare moments and took a couple years (more than 5000 hexies).  I really love this setting for the hexagon quilt.  Her advice for finishing the complex borders that she puts on her quilts was her best advice for me.  She cuts the border pieces with the center design and pieces them together as enders and leaders with the center design, so when you are done with the center, you have most of the border completed too.  That complex border, that would never have been done if I had started it after the center was done, is done too.  Take her classes, purchase her books, and hear her lecture if you get a chance.  Thanks Bonnie, for a lovely show.  My friend and I enjoyed it immensely.     

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Seasonal and Tropical

I saw this pattern and thought about my sister Chris.  Not that she collects snowmen, but the words are significant.  My mom's favorite singer while we were growing up was Andy Williams.  The Christmas season at our house was Andy on the stereo over and over and over again.  I have probably heard this song 1000 times, so in honor of mom and Andy, I made two little wallhangings.  They were both made of mom's old towels, gram's black buttons, and orange wool noses.  So Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

And I just finished this quilt top tonight.  These are P3Design's free appliqué patterns from last summer.  I loved appliquéing and embellishing them with embroidery.  I wasn't sure how I wanted to finish them into a quilt, but I decided on this rather formal setting with lots of bright batiks.  It is different from the pattern, but I really like it.  I will probably hand quilt this one, echoing the applique and maybe quilting the leaf design into the border.

The houses and words are coming along, but more houses and trees are needed for the neighborhood, so I'm back to collecting scraps...    

Sunday, November 4, 2012

House Swap

I have the houses from the Lib Quilter's swap and spent today trying to get them together.  I also made a bunch of little wonky stars this morning to add to the quilt top, several more houses and a pile of trees. I have to work tomorrow, but Tuesday is a vacation day so I should be able to get more done... and next Saturday is an all day sew retreat for guild.  Hopefully soon...with photos.

In the meantime, I've bound several little wall hangings for a friend and the mola that C brought from Panama.  I'm still embroidering on the tropical flowers and appliqueing on the CWBQ.  I also have woven and unwoven (several times now) a basket that I started at guild.  I guess I'm doing everything except blogging.   

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Wren and the Goose

Ok, so her wren looks better than mine.  The embroidery on the leaves doesn't really show up very well.  The batik has some really strong (to strong for this piece) colors.  Live and learn...  I'll get another pattern in a couple weeks and try again.

These are blocks for a pieced pattern called Goose in the Pond.  We are doing a swap at the GS guild.  I made 13 blocks for a 12 block quilt, I will keep one, get 12 back from my friends, and we make an extra quilt top to raffle off.  Except of course, I made seventeen 15.5" blocks so I can make the quilt larger.  I will do 4 across and 4 down.  The blocks were supposed to be high contrast batik fabrics.   Fortunately, the finished quilt will have sashing and more little 9 patches at the intersections.  It will not be this busy.  I put them together on the design board to take this photo and they made my eyes cross....  the good news is that if I actually try, not everything has to be wonky, I actually can piece more or less accurately.   

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Classes in Des Moines

As I still can't get my photos off my camera due to a battery issue, I can't show photos.  But I can tell you that we had a blast.  I went with two quilting friends from work and we ate, drank a little, quilted a lot, took classes and saw incredible  inspiration.  In fact, we had such a good time, that at dinner the last day, we made hotel reservations for the Grand Rapids AQS show for next year.

I had 2 classes, the first a hand applique class with Sandra Leichner.  She was a very good teacher, was very sharing with her techniques and has wonderful patterns with lots of traditional songbirds and flowers in natural settings.  This series of patterns is called the Naturalist's Notebook, so of course, I have to do them.  (She did decline to put a crow in the songbird quilt though, I love crows!)  The class was the wren pattern with some leaves and branches.  It is a lovely applique and her embroidery stitches really bring it to life.  The wren is part of a mystery quilt of sorts, she has laid out the quilt pattern, but the individual blocks are being released as she completes them.  Check it out here...
As you can see, the wren is by far the easiest of the patterns, but I am going to try out the goldfinch next.  I have done quite a bit of applique now, but not difficult appliqué, layering with very small pieces, so we'll see how it goes.  I am very pleased with how the wren has turned out, so I think this will be possible and I do love to hand appliqué...   I'll post a photo of my wren tomorrow.

My second class was a long arm quilting class with Pam Clarke.  She was also a very good instructor.  I learned many things, but the most important thing I learned was that I just need to START!  It turns out that I could do every stitch that we covered in class, several of them I was fairly proficient with, and even pretty good at a couple.  But I still see blank space when I look at a quilt loaded on the longarm, not stitches.  Pam said that I should look at the book of stitches and just start quilting instead of fussing that it wouldn't be good enough...  I am only quilting my quilts anyway at this stage, and since having a crisis of confidence would be out of character for me, I don't think I should start now.  So on to longarm quilting.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Home, Joy, and Refuge

The words are Home, Joy, and Refuge.  There will probably be more words...   Some of the wonky houses will be swapped with a group from the on-line Liberated Quilters.  The trees, words, and stars will be part of the quilt top when I get my swap houses back.  I will connect them together with more stars and maybe some low lying bushes...  I think this quilt has the potential to get huge...

None of these blocks were made with a ruler or rotary cutter.  All of the fabric used is from the scrap bag.   It truly is wonky sewing.  I did square them with scissors before I put them on the wall.  It is kinda addicting.    

Monday, September 17, 2012

Long Term, Short Term

 The Civil War Brides Quilt is in progress, but will take a while yet.  Only the top two left hand blocks are done (and have been done for more than a year).  I have been working on the rest for a few weeks now.  The bottom center needs embroidered stems and the others still have appliquéd pieces to complete.  The ostriches were only started this afternoon.  (Don't their feet look ridiculous?  They will have claws in time.)  Also the light colored flower with the pink print has to go...  I just wanted to see how they looked together.
The short term project is this quilt top.  Though the top has been done a year or more, it has finally been quilted and has the binding on.    These are the left-over fabrics from Don's Apple quilt.  The colors are much more golden than they look in this photo.  The binding still has to be hand sewn on the back, but it will be on the couch before the snow flies this fall.  It should be cozy, I put flannel on the back.  The small coasters were made with the left-overs from the string quilt.  I used the Bernina to write Eat Michigan Apples on each as quilting and I use them on the tables in the family room.  Each of these has to have the binding attached yet, but 6 or 8 of them are already done and on the tables.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

AAQI for Aunt Irene

My AAQI contribution...about 7.5" x 11", pieced HST background with an oak leaf appliquéd on it.  The veins are reverse appliqué and I embroidered a stem stitch on the inside and the outside of the leaf.  Bound and finished with Fast Finish triangles.  It doesn't have a label yet.  I have to look up what they need on the back before I attach a label.  This is my 4th quilt for AAQI.  I am dedicating this one to Aunt Irene.  I think that would make gram proud.

Back to the Civil War Bride's Quilt

Thanks to the folks on the Yahoo Appliqué Addicts group (yes, I really do belong to this group and read it almost every day), I have found the box of CWBQ fabrics and started another block.  I am doing the Australian pattern (thanks EB) and not the book pattern, but no matter, there are some folks thinking about it, choosing colors, appliquéing - actually doing it now and it's always more fun to do these big projects together.  It's still a long term project, but I'm off and running (again).

And I completed my AAQI contribution, so I have at least a small finish for September.  I'll get a photo tomorrow.  

Monday, September 3, 2012


The guild is having a challenge to make a small arty quilt for AAQI by the 3rd week of September.  Yes, I've known for a couple months, but I'm having a dry spell in the inspiration department (or maybe I've just been to busy), but anyway, they are started.  I'm using backgrounds of red, pieced HSTs and appliqued leaves....  I have to start somewhere.  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Panamanian Treasures

 C has returned from her two weeks in Panama.  She brought me the mola with the wonderful angels.  I'm going to frame it in black fabric and hang them in our room.  The other molas are gifts for family.  The basket was made by the women in the Wounaan indigenous community of Maje Chiman.  Their community hosted her group.  The women harvest the palm, dry and split it, and then use natural dyes from the rainforest for the colors, which are very vibrant.    They weave the baskets using a coiling technique.  This one has orchids, a hummingbird, and a red flower on the base.  It was very finely woven by someone with real skill.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Applique at the AQS

 I love appliquéd quilts!  These are a few examples of appliqued quilts from the AQS Show in Grand Rapids.  This first one is machine appliquéd and quilted and was made by Lauren DeVantier of NY.  It is a replica of a wonderful quilt made in the 1860s by Susan McCord.  I love the dark pinks and greens, with just a spot of orange to set everything off.  I have the pattern for this quilt and may have to make one for myself.
 I also have the pattern for this one and have been gathering scraps for the circles for a few months now.  The colors and quilting are wonderful and really add to the pattern.  I believe this one is called Circle Jubilee and was needle turn appliquéd by Maggie Carey in Michigan.
I liked this one too.  It was a project undertaken by several people in the DeKalb County Quilter's Guild in Illinois.
 I love this quilt!  Teresa Rawson of Michigan started this version of the Civil War Bride's Quilt about the same time that I did, and she has hers finished!  Not just finished, but she drafted many of the patterns herself, and did lovely needle turn appliqué and hand quilting to finish it.  I love her colors and her handwork is really beautiful.  I have followed the progress of this and her other wonderful quilts on her blog.  And although I didn't get a picture, (too many people admiring it) Teresa's quilt called All Around the Town won an award.  Congratulations to Teresa!
I love this quilt too.  The pineapples are handquilted in an echo design.  Tim Latimer is from Michigan and created a beautiful quilt using an old design.  I love the simplicity of the design and the quilting (certainly by my standards) was perfect.
This is quite a masterpiece.  It is Barbara Burnham's MEC Remembered.  I own the book, with the patterns, but this is much more complex (not hard, just closer together) applique than I have done before, so I need more practice first.  Someday....

There were more applique of course, and probably hundreds of pieced quilts.  It was the first bigger show that I have attended, and consequently, it was a bit overwhelming to see so many really beautiful quilts all in one place.   But I went for the inspiration and I certainly found it.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

My favorites of the Japanese and Egyptian Work at the AQS Show

The first three photos are from the Japanese exhibit; a spectacular log cabin, stunning applique, and wonderful sashiko embroidery.

The last five photos are appliqued pieces from the Tentmakers of Egypt exhibit.  There were many more, and most, even by Thursday morning, were sold.

The Japanese and the Egyptians were both well represented with gorgeous work.

The Orange and Blue at the AQS Show

 I love these quilts.  The first 4 were part of the Gwen Marston exhibit at the AQS Show in Grand Rapids this week.  The really cool log cabin is by Jennifer Emry in Va.  Aren't they wonderful?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Grand Rapids AAQI

 I have a new camera and spent the day in Grand Rapids at the AQS show.  The show has fabulous quilts and it also has a wonderful display for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.  There were thousands of names on the purple and lavender and eggplant panels.  Thousands.  They were interspersed with small, lovely AAQI quilts.  The two that I photographed below were made by Michelle, a friend from the Liberated Quilters on-line group.  She has lost many relatives to Alzheimers and has been making these little quilts to raise money for research.  I have made a few and have two more in the works,

but there is still lots to be done.  Please check out to see how you can help too.  You should be able to click on the photos to enlarge them.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Couple Things Going On

Still no camera, so no pictures :(, but I finished machine quilting a T shirt quilt tonight for a friend.  The long arm still has issues with threads breaking but I persevered until it was done.  I am going to have to figure this out because it is SO damned frustrating.

I finished hand quilting the Folk Art Fantasy last week with the 1/2" diamonds and really do like it much better than before.  The additional quilting added a lot of interest to the piece.  It has been re-hung above the mantle.

I also finished appliqueing the nine P3 Design blocks of tropical flowers and leaves and have them hanging on the design board with lots of green, purple and deep rose colored batiks for sashing and border.  It won't be huge, but it will look great in the summer on the wall next to the front door.  I tried to take Winter Moonlight down, but didn't have anything to replace it with (my quilts are way too big for that space) and had to put Winter Moonlight back up.  I'm trying to decide how to quilt it.  I could use the machine, I could hand-quilt, or I could do a sashiko style with embroidery floss.  I'll finish the piecing and think about it.

I'm on the last redwork bird of the Crabapple Hill series and bought a lovely brown fabric with little red birds last week to use in the quilt.  I have to decide if I'm going to do my own thing or if I just follow the pattern.  Again, I have time to decide.

I'm going on vacation and need to take some hand work so I'm thinking about starting some really fussy applique baltimore style baskets, so I'm off to look at the inspiration books...

Friday, August 3, 2012


I can't find my camera.  It's like talking without my hands.  I can't seem to blog without photos :(
Still looking.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

June 18, A Finish, Revisited...

Take a quick look back to the June 18 post.  Yesterday I took the Folk Fantasy to my quilt guild for show and tell...  The program yesterday was quilt judging by a certified quilt judge....  and Folk Fantasy was judged.  She said the colors were very good, the binding didn't have enough batting in it (oh well), my stitch length and consistency were good, but...there wasn't enough quilting.  It's interesting how everyone has an opinion.  I have asked at least 3 people if they thought the diagonals were quilted close enough (the quilt was marked using my 1.5" ruler so that's how far apart they were) because I wasn't sure either and all 3 said they liked it that way.  Anyway, there will be another finish because I came home and marked another set of diagonals 1/2" away from the first set and started hand quilting today.   Everyone can weigh in soon...I'll post another photo and you can tell me which one you like too.      

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What I'm Doing...

 A Gift for Kate...I made this for a long overdue Birthday.  It was in May, but I couldn't decide what to do and found this pattern at a local quilt shop.  Kate loves lily of the valley.  It was a redwork or embroidery pattern, but I wanted more color, so I appliquéd the tea cup and leaves and then did the stems and lily of the valley flowers in embroidery.  I added the words and hand quilted it.  I think she likes it.  I photographed it outdoors in the herb garden with the thyme flowers.  It seemed appropriate.
 This quilt is just for fun.  I started the needle turn appliqué as a class at a local quilt shop last year.  The pattern had a pieced border, but I had seen this border done on an appliqué quilt at a quilt show and wanted to try it out.  The quilt turned out an odd size, so I'm probably going to add another green border to the outside and then machine quilt it.  The pastels aren't my usual color palette, but somehow seemed to suit this appliqué.  
I finished a trio of baby sized scrap quilt tops tonight.  Please excuse the terrible photo, they are really primary colors with white Kona.  These are scraps of a bunch of fabrics that I purchased last year to make 2 baby quilts for great-nieces.  I clearly overbuy fabric, since I have done those two, another one, and now 3 more from the same fabric and still have enough to bind these with...  after machine quilting them.  They are 35" x 50".
I am doing basket weaving with friends on Thursday nights.  This week, I made this basket from a kit that a friend had had for 20 years or more.  The basket is 11" across and I stained it.  I'll give it to her this week at quilt guild.

I'm behind on the baskets.  I said earlier in the year that I needed to make at least 12 baskets this year to call myself a basket maker because only a couple got done last year and I have a whole cabinet of stuff...  I think I may be up to 5 this year... better get moving.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Focus today, gone tomorrow

It will come as no surprise to my family and friends, but I appear to be addicted to collecting how-to books.  I love reading them, using them as inspiration, following other's suggestions, and just enjoy watching my shelf fill up.  These are the  latest additions to the quilting library over the last month.  (I didn't photograph the basket weaving, cloth dyeing, or gardening stuff!)  Some are older editions, usually collected from goodwill stores through amazon, others are newer.  All are incredibly inspirational and would make me such a better quilter, appliquer, embroiderer... whatever, if I just followed the instructions.  Unfortunately, I can't seem to do that.  As I look these over, I realize that I can't seem to focus my efforts into any one or two or even six directions.

I change every pattern.  Many times I don't use a pattern at all.  I change fabrics and styles.  I don't quilt with a hoop.  I don't use betweens.  I don't usually use templates or overlays.  I do use a hoop for most embroidery.  I have hand quilted using 200 count muslin and/or batiks as backgrounds and/or backings, though I might not again.  I do take classes from great craftspeople and artists.

My WIP list...
-hand quilting the oak reels quilt, my design from a picture of an antique quilt
-the Civil War Bride's quilt with 4 blocks done in Jo Morton and Judie Rothermel fabrics (and a few more stuffed in the box)
-my designs on paper for a lovely appliquéd Baltimore style quilt
-the redwork birds from the Crabapple Hill pattern are almost finished and I have started collecting fabrics for the quilt top
- Blackbird Designs baskets (last count there were 78 done in Michael Miller and Kaffe Fawcett fabrics and many, many more cut out to appliqué)
-the appliquéd portion of the bird quilt is done in gorgeous green and rose pastels and 177 nine-patches have been cut out for the border
-the P3 Design's tropical flowers are finished in bright batiks and I am drafting more flowers to make a quilt top
-the dresden plates top needs to have the (already done) appliquéd borders attached
-the guild's BOM is done in high contrast batiks
-three string quilts have been cut out using scraps
-My Exuberant Garden is almost done using piecing, appliqué, hand and machine embroidery, and beading, my design made up as I think about it...
-a paper pieced BOM in batiks is showing up at the door every month, an impulse buy
-and I am supposed to be practicing on the Gammill in the other room since I have 3 pieced tops done that can be machine quilted anytime that I have nothing else to do.

I seem to be all over the place, all the time.  I love that there is always something to work on, no matter what you feel like doing, but it does take a long time to get anything done when you are working on everything at once.  

But I am not complaining.  As I write this, I realize that I really like to do it this way.  I have always had 16 projects going at any one time so I guess I wasn't supposed to focus anyway.  And Blackbird Designs has a new book out and I have a wonderful wonky houses/trees/words quilt in my head... I need to get started.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In Progress

 I'm thinking that all of my posts should be called In Progress.  I certainly don't seem to have many finishes!

The first photo is of the appliquéd oak reel quilt.  Most of the first oak leaf/acorn wreath has been hand quilted.  There are 3 more wreaths to quilt after this one and then I'm doing 1" diagonals in the background.  A long term project has been made even longer because I had one entire wreath quilted and then decided that I didn't like it and ripped it out.  I'm not sure that I like this one either, but I would like to get this quilt done so that I can actually start another one, so it gets left in and we'll see how it looks when it's done.

This photo is of the first 4 months of a really fun free appliqué BOM from Pearl Pereira's website.  I have the 5th block prepped and have started leaves...   I have really enjoyed making these tropical flowers in batiks.  Since these are more complex patterns than I've done before, I've been making some changes to make the blocks a bit easier to appliqué, but overall it's been a good project and I'm learning a lot.  I will use a bit of embroidery and maybe some beads on these blocks and put them together with some bright sashing.  They will be lovely when finished.   

Monday, June 18, 2012

Folk Art Fantasy finish

A finish!  It is about 24 x 36 and was started in a class with Karen Kay Buckley.  It is her pattern.  I finished the appliqué last week and hand quilted around the applique and the diamond pattern in the background.  I even labeled it and put a sleeve on the back.  It also reminded me how much I liked to hand quilt, so even though I did another appliquéd tropical flower yesterday, I have re-started hand quilting the full-size green/white appliqué quilt that I started last year.  Hopefully it will be done in time for the guild quilt show next April.  This was a fun project and easily do-able by anyone, so it was a great class project.