Monday, December 22, 2014

Mystery Link Up - Clue #4

Clue 4 is done!  I also went back and finished the rest of Clue 2, so I'm all caught up to date at the moment.  This week's clue was much less labor-intensive than the first and second one.  I'm really wondering how these blocks are all going to wind up together!  This mystery is definitely mysterious so far.

This was a cold, gray weekend spent indoors, so it was a productive one in the sewing room.  I finished up the Primitive Gatherings ornaments:
They are signed, dated and hanging on the tree. I also finished the free pincushion that was included
 in orders from their Christmas Open House.  I filled it with sand, and it turned out pretty cute.  I may make more of these.  I forgot how to do the flystitch Lisa designed, so mine has a feather stitch instead. 

Mix and Match, the quilt I started in a Labor Day Quilt Along, is quilted and bound.  I tried some new free motion motifs on this one - dragonflies and flowers.  My goal for this year, and for 2015, is to improve my free motion quilting skills and finish some of these quilt tops!  I seem to be lots better at piecing than finishing.

So that's my weekend!  This week will include lots of Christmas festivities, so probably not much sewing room time.   That's OK - I am looking forward to the time spent with my family!  Hope you all have a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Christmas decorating was in full swing in this house last weekend!  The big tree is up, decorations are out, and the Cathedral Mouse tree is up.  I added the Packer Fan Mouse to my collection this year.
A cute mouse complete with beer can and teeny cheesehead!  The church ladies do a great job with the mouse details, don't they?  A group at St. Paul's Cathedral makes hundreds of these mice for sale each year.  I've been collecting these for 22 years, so I've got a tree full now.
It's always fun to get these out and put them up each year.

I've been working on my Quiltville mystery, too! 

This picture shows all 100 of the Clue 3, and 70 of Clue 2.  I've got to go back and finish Clue 2, but that's going pretty well and I should be caught up by Friday, when we get the next clue.  I'm wondering how well these colors will all play together in the finished quilt, but we'll see when we get there!  I trust Bonnie to come up with a good plan.  I've been trying all her sewing and pressing techniques, and I have to say that these eight-patches for Clue 3 went together pretty slick using her method.  I guess we can always learn something new even if we've been quilting a long time.

I would have gotten more sewing done, but I got distracted by these:
These are the free Christmas patterns from Primitive Gatherings.  They are cut out and fused down, but no stitchery has occurred yet.  I always love their patterns and have several on my big tree.  You can find the free pattern here if you want to make a set for yourself!

Monday, December 8, 2014

It's a Mystery!

The first mystery is where I've been since my last post on September 30!  I don't know - October came and went in a flash; November came and went in a flash, and here we are a week into December already.  I've been too busy to blog, I guess!

The second mystery is the Grand Illusion mystery on Quiltville.  Are you joining in?  The first clue came out on Black Friday, and we're on our second clue now.  The colors this year were inspired by the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.  I've been to Mackinac Island twice, and would love to go again. I haven't been to the Grand Hotel, but that is definitely on my bucket list for the next time I get there.

Here's my Clue 2 prepped and ready to sew:
I love these mini design boards made of foamcore, batting and leftover binding strips.  They really help me stay organized when putting together these units.  The tutorial for making the design boards is here.

Clue 1 is done, and about 40 of Clue 2 are done.  I have until Friday if I want to stay caught up.

This is 100 Broken Dish units with aqua, pink, black and yellow, along with 80 half-square triangles for use later on, and about 40 of the diamond units.  The diamond units in Clue 2 were very challenging for me, but the instructions are excellent, and my units are getting better as I go along.  After 100, I hope to have mastered this technique!  Bonnie's instructions are really good, and I feel like I'm learning a lot.  These colors are a stretch for me, but I'm enjoying using something different and it's a nice way to brighten up the gray of December.

What else have I done lately?  I made a cute birthday placemat for my mom:
This was a fun free pattern on the Bee in My Bonnet blog.  She always has very cute ideas.  I'd like to make more of this one - it was very fun to put together.  It looks like I'm into bright colors lately!

I got three things back from the framer, too.  Two were cross stitch pieces made this summer.
Both of these were patterns bought at Country Sampler.  The one on the right was from the Grand Old Flag gathering, and was a companion piece to the Civil War sampler we did last year.  I had this one framed the same way, and they look great together.

I'd love to show you a picture of the third piece, but it seems to be upside down and I can't turn it in Blogger, so that will have to wait until next time.  I hope it won't be 2+ months before I blog again!  This mystery quilt is keeping me busy and I hope to post my progress weekly.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Quilt Show!

Last weekend was the Darting Needles Quilt Show in Appleton.  I've attended this show several times, but never entered anything.  This year I decided to enter two quilts.  I was really excited to win ribbons on both of them!
Hocuspocusville won a blue ribbon.  This is a pattern from Crabapple Hill Studios.  The blocks are hand-embroidered and the whole quilt is machine quilted.  This quilt has fabric from the Ghastlies line on the back, and I think the back is as fun to look at as the front.

And my Bee In My Bonnet Row Quilt won a red ribbon and a ribbon for Best Domestic Machine Workmanship.  It was hanging in the front of the show when I first went in, along with the other ribbon-winners.  This show had separate categories for domestic machine quilting, long-arm quilting and hand quilting, so the winners of all three categories were hanging together.  It was pretty exciting to see my quilt with a big ribbon on it!  The judges comments for both quilts (different judges) were that my corners should be 90 degrees.  I thought they were, but apparently not close enough!  I guess I'll have to start paying a little more attention to that.  And strive for consistent stitch length - sigh.  I've been working on that, but it seems to elude me most of the time.

Joanne Blank won the Viewer's Choice award with this quilt, which was from the book by Yoko Saito and all hand-applique in Japanese fabrics.  This was such a fun quilt to look at, and the quilting was very interesting.  Each section had a different texture in the quilting.  This whole quilt was just absolutely gorgeous.  I think Primitive Gatherings had a club based on this quilt.

I didn't take very many pictures of the show because I was a little rushed for time, but it was a great show and I'm glad I entered.

The only recent finish I have to show is for the Country Threads UFO Challenge.  My UFO #2 is done - it was a fall cross stitch pattern that I made into a pillow.

Finishing this turned out to be more of a challenge than I anticipated.  I quilted the fabric, so then I had to quilt the cross-stitch part to keep it from puffing up and looking weird.  The fabric was left over from a fall quilt called Spice Medley, so the pillow will match it. 

So that's it for the September roundup!  Hopefully October will include a little more time in the sewing room.  The weather here has been beautiful for the last few weeks, so I haven't spent too much time in there.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Labor Day Quilt Along

Last weekend (Labor Day), Denise Russert at Just Quiltin' had a sew-along with a wonderful pattern she designed, called Mix and Match.  I made this quilt last weekend, and got the borders on this weekend.  This was a really quick, fun pattern that I plan to use as a charity quilt.  Denise's instructions call for a pieced border, but I didn't have enough fabric left to do that, so I just put the floral border on and called it done.  The pattern is still available free on her blog if you're interested.  You'll need to page back a couple times - the instructions came out in three installments.  This is one pattern that I will use again, especially for charity quilts. Thanks for sharing this with us, Denise!

What else is going on?  I've been working on my Summer Block of the Week from Primitive Gatherings...
I've had a lot of trouble keeping up on this one.  You'll see that the last three blocks are still missing.  We have the borders now, so I can start putting this together once I catch up the missing blocks.  I've enjoyed this quilt, but it seems like more work than in previous years!  I guess that's because we have to piece a block before we can start the applique process.

The Country Threads August UFO Challenge for me was this Row Quilt I made last year.
It was mostly finished - just needed some finishing touches and the label and sleeve added.  I'm happy to have this done and plan to enter it into the Appleton quilt show in a few weeks.  I really love the way it turned out.  The pattern for this one is in Quilty Fun by A Bee In My Bonnet.  This needs a final going-over before I pack it up for the show.  One of the rules for the show is that quilts must be clean and free of pet hair.  Clearly I'm not the only one who deals with this problem.  I laid my Pig Quilt out on the floor...
It hadn't been on the floor five seconds before the cat started rolling on it.  Apparently quilt tops are animal magnets.  I'm looking forward to quilting this one, if I ever get time to get it started.  The pigs are all polka dots, with 3D ears and tails.  I need to figure out a creative way to quilt this, once I de-hair it, of course!

My silly volunteer hollyhock just keeps blooming.  It's at least nine feet tall - you can see that it's started bending over because the top is too heavy.  It must really love the spot it's in!  I feel like I'm helping Mother Nature this year, because there are always bees buzzing around this flower.  Our weather is going to turn cool this week, so I think the time's up for this flower, but we've really enjoyed it this summer.

So that's what I've been up to the last six weeks or so!  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

UFO #8

Country Threads choice of UFO this month was #8, which for me was a cross-stitch Christmas pillow.  I'm happy to report that it's done!  I totally missed out on getting UFOs finished in May and June, so hopefully I'm back in the saddle and can keep up the rest of the year.
I had the cross-stitch done and just needed to finish the pillow.  This is a pattern from With Thy Needle and Thread.  If you have this pattern, you're probably thinking that the proportions of this pillow are wrong, and you would be right!  Finishing this up was a comedy of errors, and I decided it could be any size I wanted, so that's what happened!  Anyway, it's done now and I'm ready for Christmas, I guess.

When Donna and I went to Primitive Gatherings a few weeks ago, we both ended up buying the kit for a wool bag, and we've both already gotten it finished.  It was a quick, fun bag to put together.
Wooly sheep faces on the front...
wooly sheep tails on the back!  I'm using this bag for my Summer Block of the Week blocks, on which I'm still very behind.  Hopefully I'll have some pictures to show of that in a couple weeks.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hollyhock Season!

 This summer my garden has a beautiful volunteer hollyhock.  I tried for years to grow these, and they were always puny and bug-eaten, so I gave up and chopped them all down and planted tomatoes there.  Apparently they reseeded and grew where they wanted to grow, because they are about 10 feet from where I planted them and doing great. 
They are huge - several inches taller than me.  We are enjoying them, and it will be interesting to see if they want to move themselves again next year!

I haven't blogged in awhile - I've been too busy doing things to write about them, I guess!  A few weeks ago, I got to attend the Grand Old Flag event at Country Sampler. It was a lot of fun, as usual.  I really enjoyed sewing with the same table full of eager stitchers I met last year at this event.  We started a number of projects, but I didn't finish anything there at camp except for this pincushion.

Paula Barnes taught us how to English paper piece, and we made this one afternoon.  It's cute, but it seems like I should have gotten more done in a full week of sewing!  We started several projects, and I've made some progress on them since I've been back.
Carol Hopkins taught us this project, which I believe was called Patriotic Logs.  It's not as big as it looks - only about 32" square.  I've gotten the top done and pin-basted, and hope it get it finished this week.  I had high hopes to have it done for the 4th of July, but I guess it will be ready for next year instead.

Carol also taught us this table runner, which is also put together and pin basted.  I really like the fabrics in this one, too.

Paula Barnes taught us her Civil War Crossroads wall hanging, which is on my design wall.  The blocks are finished, but nothing is sewn together yet, and the cornerstones and borders are still missing.  Jeanne said this was a "fussy little block", but each 7" block has 53 pieces, so I don't think "fussy" even begins to describe it!  We used the Star Singles again for the half-square triangles, so the blocks did go together very well, but they are sure tiny.  The half-square triangles finish at 1".  Did you notice that this is basically the same block as the Carol Hopkins table runner?  They didn't know what each other was planning, and ended up with the same block!

Linda Lautenschlager of Chessie and Me taught the cross-stitch portion of the camp, and we started this Civil War sampler, as well as a padded box with needlework accessories in it.  I've been working on the sampler, and enjoying it very much.  The box is not finished yet, but I'll get to it once this sampler is done.  I've really gotten back into cross-stitch, although I need a lot of magnification these days.

I enjoyed all the teachers again, and we even had time to go antique shopping and shoe shopping, so it was a great week altogether!

Yesterday was a fun day - Donna and I made our annual quilt shopping trek.  We managed to hit Primitive Gatherings, Piece by Piece, Going to Pieces and Keep Me In Stitches, as well as a gardening store, the bread store (for a peace offering to distract our husbands while we brought in our purchases LOL), and a place for lunch.  We know how to power shop, but it's probably a good thing we only do it once a year.  I ended up with a whole bunch of new projects, as did Donna.  We'll see how many of them we have done when we do this again next year!  You might want to follow her blog - she has some pretty neat stuff lined up to make, and I can't wait to see some of it finished.

It was a very fun day, and I'm ready to tackle some of my projects.  The weather has been too nice to get a lot of stitching time - I usually do that when it gets too hot outside and I want to stay in with the air conditioning.  This summer, there has been a lot of time outside instead, but I'm not complaining about that!  I've been working on my Summer Block of the Week - I'll show progress on that next time.  We got to see the finished SBOW yesterday at Primitive Gatherings, so I'm newly inspired to get to work on it - it was beautiful finished!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hands 2 Help Quilts

It's time to post the quilts we sent off to Hands 2 Help.  I chose Quilts of Compassion as the charity for my quilts.  They provide quilts to people who've lost their homes to natural disasters.  We've had a lot of tornadoes in the Midwest this past year, so I thought this would be a good use for my quilts.  All the charities were great, so it's hard to choose just one. 

One silver lining of this frigid, endless winter was that I had time to stockpile quite a few quilts in my charity closet!  I sent four off to Quilts of Compassion on Friday.

I made this Boxy Stars lap quilt with Hands 2 Help in mind.  I just love the Boxy Stars pattern and have made this quilt twice.  I think I'll make another one, too.  It is just a nice, relaxing quilt to make.  Bonnie Hunter really has a nice website at with a ton of free patterns if you've never checked it out; Boxy Stars came from her free pattern section. 

I also sent this Popcorn the Bear crib-size quilt.  This is made from a cute panel (no piecing required!), and I did a lot of free-motion quilting on it.  It should brighten a child's day.

I also did a lot of free-motion quilting on this Sudoku lap-size quilt.  I wonder if the recipient will realize it's a Sudoku quilt.  I don't think it's terribly obvious unless you know that's what you're looking at.  The two colors that look similar look a little more different in person than in this picture.  All nine fabrics were a different color and texture.  This was a free kit from a retreat I attended.  I added the black sashings and borders.

While digging around in my charity closet I found this lap-size quilt that I made and finished awhile back, so I sent it along, too.  The printed part is bears, so this will make a nice quilt for a child.  There is a nice alphabet print backing on this one.  I think this was line of fabric from KP Kids from awhile back.  The rest of the quilt is pieced, and the whole quilt is meandered.

So they are off to their destination!  I see from the tracking that they've left the Oak Creek facility, so they should be in Toledo by tomorrow.  I hope they will brighten the day of a few people who are having a rough time.

The rest of my quilting is mostly on hold.  I didn't get my UFO #12 done for May for the Country Threads challenge.  I got the quilt out, got the borders on and started quilting it, but just ran out of time.  This weekend was so nice that I decided to sit on the deck and stitch instead of being inside.  It will be hot soon enough and I'll be back inside.  The new free Quilt Along block from Primitive Gatherings also distracted me - it's almost stitched after my deck time this weekend.  I also needed to sew some new screens for our gazebo.  It's not fun sewing, but I will be really happy to have them up in  a few weeks when the mosquitoes are out.  I'm really glad I don't have to sew with fiberglass screening all the time, though.  Cotton is so much more fun and rewarding!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

We Interrupt This Quilt Blog...

In a moment of insanity last winter, I signed up to run in the Cell-Com Green Bay Half-Marathon (and signed my son up, too).  I thought it would force me to keep working out last winter, which it did. The race was last Sunday, and I'm happy to announce that we both finished!  This was our first half-marathon. The time limit was four hours to run/walk 13.1 miles, but we finished under that. He finished a lot sooner than I did! The start and finish of the race was at Lambeau Field (home of the Green Bay Packers, for all you non-football fans!)  The last half-mile of the race included running the track around the inside of the stadium, so I can say I've been on the field at Lambeau now.  That was the most fun part of the race!  My family came to cheer us on, so that was fun, too.  I'm amazed at how many people came out to cheer - people were standing in their lawns all along the route, cheering and holding signs.

It was a beautiful day for a race, unlike the last race I was in a couple weeks ago.  Can you see the nifty medal around my neck?  I'm very proud of it.  I've never been in any kind of athletic competition before, so this is something really out of my comfort zone.  Having done this, though, I think I'll go back to quilting and hang up my running shoes.  Running is a lot of work, and only marginally fun.  Several of my friends from work were also in the race, so we've been training together since February 20.   They all finished the race, too, so we've had a good time this week taking pictures and talking about our glory days.  I'm ready to go do something else now, like plant flowers and quilt.

Our weather since Saturday has been great - spring has finally come to Wisconsin.  The grass is green and all the flowering trees are blooming.  I wish you could smell this snow crab tree - it's like standing in a perfume bottle under it.  The tulips and daffodils are finally blooming, too.  I thought spring would never get here this year.

I'll be back to quilting in my next post!  I need to get going on the Country Threads UFO, which is #12 this month.  It's a fall quilt that needs quilting, so I'd better get to work on it.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

It's Not All Quilting Around Here!

About a year ago, I decided to get more serious about nutrition and fitness.  My workplace offered a six-month program starting last May, so I enrolled in that.  Although it was a lot of work and required a minimum of five hours of exercise a week, I had good success with it, and when it was over in October, I thought I'd better do some things to keep myself exercising.  Some "friends" at work convinced me to sign up for a half-marathon with them.  As part of the training, I signed up for the Colorburst 5K, a local race that was held yesterday.  I'm thrilled to announce that I finished it!  I even ran almost all of it.  (I should mention that this sort of thing is totally foreign to me.  I've never really been all that athletic.) The Colorburst is more of a "fun run" in that it's not timed and you can walk or run.  You are given a white t-shirt, and as you pass each kilometer mark, they throw color at you, so when you're done, the white t-shirt looks more tie-dyed. 

The start of the race
There were about 600 people in the race, including lots of kids, strollers and wagons.  As you can see, it was a lousy day for a race.  What you can't see is that it was 42 degrees, with a stiff wind coming off the lake in the background.  I had a sweatshirt under my t-shirt, but I wasn't dressed nearly warmly enough for this race.  Lots of people had gloves and earmuffs, so I'll do that next time!  Anyway, I'm just glad I was able to finish it, and as cold as it was, I don't think I even broke a sweat.  If you live in Wisconsin, you gotta be tough, I guess.  The half-marathon is in about a month, so we'll see if I survive that.  I just hope it's warmer that day!

The Country Threads UFO Challenge for April was my Star Spangled Banner Cross-Stitch pillow, so I finished that yesterday while I was thawing out from the race.  The cross-stitch was already done, so I just had to assemble it into a pillow and stuff it.  It's a big pillow - I think it finished at 21" long.  This was a kit I picked up at Country Sampler last summer.

While I was in the pillow-finishing mood, I finished a couple other cross-stitch pillows.

This is Butternut Tavern from Stacy Nash Primitives, another kit from Country Sampler. 

And last but not least...
This is My Country from La-D-Da, also a kit from Country Sampler.  This was a pretty quick one to stitch.  I really like the grungy pom-pom trim that came with the kit, but it was a real bear for me to put on.  I had to redo it three times.  I think I'm dyslexic when it comes to sewing trim on a pillow - it always ends up sticking into the seam allowance between the top and backing, instead of on the outside.  Anyway, I finally got it right, but when I tried to iron the cross-stitch piece, some of the pom-poms melted a little.  I'm guessing these are polyester.  So some of the trim is a little more "primitive" than initially planned, but I'm not changing it!  I like the pillow now that it's done, and if I had to do it over, I could put the trim on in ten minutes tops.  It was just a steep learning curve (like so much of quilting!)

It appears that I'm ready for the 4th of July, doesn't it? 

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Fun Week!

Last week we were on vacation - a staycation.  Those are the most fun!  I had several things I wanted to do, and accomplished some of them, although the weather could have been better.  I don't think spring is ever going to get here this year.

One of my fun plans was to take a Working with Wool class at Primitive Gatherings in Menasha.  I live really close, and just never seem to get around to that.  When I walked into the class, I was so surprised to see my friend Jodi!  So Wednesday was a fun day sewing with Jodi and her friend Maggie, as well as about 20 other quilters.  The class was great - even though I've worked with wool a lot, I learned several ways to make it better.  We started a wool penny mat, and mine is still in about the same status as when I left the class.
If you ever have a chance to take a class with Lisa Bongean, do it - you will be very happy with what you learn. The centers of my pennies look a lot better now, and I learned how to join them together.

Because of the nasty weather, I was able to spend a lot of time in my sewing room, so I wasn't really too sad about not being outside!  One of my goals was to get this monster put together:
This is Words to Live By, last summer's Block of the Week from Primitive Gatherings.  My goal was to get the blocks trimmed and set together.  I debated a long time about whether I wanted to make all the half-square triangles for the outside borders, but I had the finishing kit, so decided to make it as it was designed.  There are 672 half-square triangles, if you're counting!  I used the Star Singles paper, which I like a lot.  This quilt is huge, so I had trouble getting it all into a picture. 

Anyway, it's all put together and ready to go into the to-be-quilted someday stack, along with its many friends. I didn't put the words on it - I tried writing them on a scrap and they looked terrible, so I think mine will be named Too Many Triangles or something.

Another goal was to finish a second Boxy Stars for donation.  This quilt was already pieced, so I just had to finish it.
I've been trying to teach myself some new free-motion motifs to use on my Juki, so this quilt got flowers, leaves and swirls.  Deciding what to quilt is the hardest part for me.
It turned out pretty well, so I think it will be a Hands2Help donation quilt.  I really like making this Boxy Stars pattern, and may make another one or two.  You can find the free pattern on Bonnie Hunter's website

My other finish was Chessies' Needlebook, a cross-stitch pattern I've had done for a long time.  I learned how to do the finishing last summer, but just hadn't gotten around to doing it.
You can see that I did the cross-stitch part two years ago!  The inside has wool for pins and needles.
I'm happy to have this done so that I can use it.  I put some of my Grandma's old buttons on the back and inside. 

So, vacation is over...I didn't get everything I wanted done!  It was fun while it lasted.

My UFO for the Country Threads challenge is a star cross-stitch that I need to make into a pillow, so I should be back with a finish before the end of the month.