Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thankful for Friends

I have made many friends through quilting.  Some of us keep in touch often while others may just be happy to meet in a quilt shop or at retreat.  Last Friday I was invited to participate in Moonlight Madness at American Quilting.  The shop closed for a few hours of prep time during which I was able to hang some quilts and lay out samples.  Promptly at 7 p.m. the doors opened to a rush of visitors who won prizes, took advantage of discounts throughout the shop and browsed amongst the bolts of beautiful fabric.

What fun to see quilting friends again and catch up.  My husband joined me and said he had a fun time meeting my friends.  My new quilt, "The Honey Flow", was hanging and the bright colors were real eye-catchers.  More than a few visitors have a pile of hexie flowers already made and bought the pattern to finish the flowers off with an appliqued border.

My "Crazy For Embellishment" sampler was also quite popular, especially when I explained that it was created for my beginning embroidery class.  There was a lot of interest and we scheduled a class in February (see side-bar).

Enough about me!  I want to share an amazing quilt with you made by my very dear friend, Debra Hale. Debra and I met in a quilt class about 15 years ago and have made quilts together ever since.  She is a true artist and makes every pattern better with her amazing selection of color and workmanship.  She adds "little" touches to each pattern that makes it her own.  I'm not at all embarrassed to admit that when we are making the same quilt I let her get ahead of me so I can copy.

Debra started with the pattern "Merry Christmas" by Heart to Hand and made quite a few changes.  The applique is wool on homespun backgrounds and each block is embellished.  The biggest surprise?  Debra selected black cotton velveteen for the border and let me tell you, it was the perfect choice.  A lot of photos follow and you will love them all.

 Each letter is outlined with red beads.

 Individual red beads that reminded me of pomegranate seeds cover the gift .
 I especially love the tree so there are 2 photos! Wool strips were stitched to look like pine needles and then colorful beads were added for the ornaments.

Debra always creates a special label for each quilt.

Debra and I always like to make changes to patterns that personalize our quilts and I hope this inspires you to let your inner artist blossom!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Flower Block Embellishment

Embellishing all of the flower blocks on "While The Cat's Away" BOM was my plan for last week then I went to the dentist for an easy (according to the dentist) procedure.  One week later I finally picked up needle and thread after days of pain pills, antibiotic reaction and a swollen face.

All of the blocks have the stem appliqued and the small leaf stitched.  Instead of the suggested straight strip of wool for the stem, I chose to use Rousseau Ric Rac, by Painter's Threads.  This is really a fun trim with a tiny sparkle.  The small inner leaf was stitched according to BOM directions with a Herringbone Stitch and I selected Valdani M26 Pearl Cotton #8 which I also used to add Bullion Knots around both the inner and outer leaves.  A back stitch with Sea Grass, color Crush Crush adds a bit of color.

The flower center is a fussy-cut cotton print and my first stitch is Italian Knotted Border Stitch which looks a lot like Fly Stitch with a knot at the bottom of the "V".  I used Thread Gatherer Silken Pearl size 5 (SP5), color Phoenix Rising and then with SP5, color Sprite Grass added a Lazy Daisy Stitch.

Now I'm really excited about the next stitch around the pink wool.  I used Painter's Thread Silk Gimp, color Marianne to stitch Knotted Pearl Stitch.  The Gimp is a silk thread twisted around an inner core that almost resembles a flexible wire.  A size 15 Milleners needle is just what you need for this amazing fiber.

The outline around the orange wool is my go-to, reliable Bullion Knot in Painter's Thread Pearl Cotton #8, color Mary C.

Today was going to be an all-day stitch-a-thon but....... construction guys were in and out all day helping us with remodeling the bathrooms.  I'm holding out hope for this evening.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Colors To Dye For

The phone rings:  Hi, what are you doing?
Me:  I'm dying

Geez, don't panic!  I'm fine!  I'm dying wool, and talking on the phone.

I get a lot of questions about dying wool as it seems many of you are interested in giving it a try.  And, why wouldn't you be?  Frankly, I can't believe the price of high quality, hand-dyed wool.  A quick trip through the internet shows prices upwards of $80.00 a yard.  I don't know about you but that kills my budget.  You can expect to save about 75% by dying your own which means hand dyed wool is not that much more than today's cotton prices.

For any of you that are interested in dying your own, I've written, "Colors to Dye For, A Guide to Hand-Dying Wool" that is now available for $15.00 in my Etsy Shop, just click HERE.

My guide includes sources for purchasing high quality wool and dyes along with a step-by-step description of my quick method and recipes for 20 colors.  

Did I say "quick" method?  Yes I did.  If you follow my set up, which takes about 3 minutes, you can expect to dye about 4 colors an hour.  I'm not telling a fib here - last time I dyed 20 yards it took just a little over 5 hours and there might have been a coffee or bathroom break included.

One of my secrets is felting the wool ahead of time in my washing machine to reduce time in the dye bath.  Another tip is that I use my turkey roaster right next to the sink so there isn't any heavy lifting or spilling.

The recipes include a good range of bright, but not neon, colors ranging through yellow, orange, blue, green, pink and purple.  

Here are just a few:

Spend a little, save a lot, and impress all your friends!

p.s.  If you ever have turkey dinner at my house don't worry.  I'll cook it in a different pot.

Monday, November 10, 2014


Life seems to come in bunches and it appears that classes do too.  I haven't taught since the Small Town Quilt Retreat last June but suddenly I had 3 groups call and want to schedule my Crazy For Embellishment class.  Crazy For Embellishment is what I call my "Beginner" class and everyone is amazed, and sometimes a little nervous when I announce that we are going to learn a dozen stitches before noon.

Each student is given a kit containing wool, a variety of threads including pearl cotton, silken pearl and sea grass plus the needles needed.  I love seeing everyone so excited when they finish their first perfect Bullion Knot, whip the Back Stitch, laugh at a Drizzle and realize that yes, they can do it!

I began my trio of classes with the Midway Heritage Quilt Guild.  I have taught for this group before and always have a good time.  This photo is my Crazy For Embellishment sampler stitched by Susan Turpin, a member of the Midway Guild.  Susan does lovely work, finishing several of my patterns.

The very next week a group of friends invited me to teach at a private home and because there were only 4 students it was a very relaxed time with the most amazing lunch.  They were so nice that I immediately felt like I was just spending the day with friends.  And you know, within a short time, I was.

This past weekend found me teaching just a few blocks from home.  Hazel Rimmasch arranged everything for the class and even prepared a fantastic lunch.  Hazel and I met at the Small Town Quilt Retreat when we had vendor booths next to each other.  She loved the threads and stitching and was determined to learn.  The class was comprised of Hazel's friends, several of my friends from my quilt group, and women we met at the Retreat.

A day filled with friends and stitching.  Now that's hard to beat.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Circles Made Easy

The Sunburst Block I showed yesterday has a large center circle and 8 smaller circles cut from cotton.  I've tried many techniques for making my appliqued circles perfect and found a new one while browsing my Pinterest feed.  

Yes, that is aluminum foil on my ironing board and this new (to me) technique is explained by Sarah Fielke in a YouTube video that you can watch by clicking HERE  (sorry if there is an annoying ad, just skip it and get to the good part).

For the large center circle I pressed 4 layers of freezer paper together to make my circle template and used Perfect Circles for the smaller flower centers.  The foil paper method worked great for both sizes.  They kind of look like Hershey's Kisses making it easier to hide chocolate in the sewing room.  An unexpected bonus! 

If you would like to follow me on Pinterest just click HERE or on the icon on top of the right-hand column of this blog. 

Go forth and make circles.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Progress Notes

There are so many wonderful patterns, colors, threads, fabrics... oh my..... that I've been a bit distracted.  Since I couldn't decide what to work on next that little demon inside of me that wants to knit sneaked out and I spent a few days knitting on a kit that I purchased a year ago.  Surprisingly, it was going quite well until the addition of a color that just isn't working for me.  Perfect excuse to put it aside and get back to quilting.

Here is another Enchantment bird with a Woven Picot beak and Double Cast-on head feathers.
Chain Stitch defines the inner wing using Silken Pearl #5, Hollyhocks and Hummingbirds.  The lower edge of the wing is bordered by Cast-On stitch using Silken Pearl #5, Midsummer Vineyard which is held in place with a Fly Stitch in Pearl Cotton (some color of yellow) and Lazy Daisy in the Midsummer Vineyard.  

Feather Stitch seamed appropriate for the tail feathers using Silken Pearl #5 in Grape Soda.  Between the tail feathers is a very long drizzle stitch using Silken Pearl #5, Hollyhocks and Hummingbirds with a bead at the end.  The eye is from a hand-made bead (made by my sister, Lynda) that looks just like an eye.  A light lavender Sea Grass outlines the top of the bird using Back Stitch and Fly Stitch along the bird's belly.  Sorry, I don't have all the colors but some of the threads in my bag have lost their name-tags.

Yesterday I spent the entire day in my sewing room and loved it.  I didn't even cook - our Sunday dinner was scrambled eggs and waffles that my husband cooked.  He makes the best pancakes and waffles from scratch.  I don't know the recipe and don't want to learn it.

These blocks are Month 1 of the "When The Cat's Away" block of the month that I'm enrolled in.  I think these are really clever flowers made with half-square triangles.  Since the felt circles were already cut and stitched together I'm going to use them.  The leaves are felted wool from my stash and the stems are probably going to change to something more exciting.

Month 2 is a Sunburst block that is the first of 4 and I've been warned that this is the easy one.  It's a large 24"x24" block and is absolutely beautiful.  I used felted wool from my stash in place of the felt that was included in the kit.  

The 8 flower blocks and the Sunburst now need to be appliqued and embroidered.  Month 3 is already here and is 8 pieced blocks.

I'm really excited about this quilt and the BOM program.  The instructions have been very clear and there is plenty of fabric included.

With such a good start it will be difficult to put everything away to design and stitch a project for an upcoming retreat.  Saturday will find me teaching embellishment in an art studio near my home.

I think there are some more waffle dinners in my near future.

Check back tomorrow so I can tell you about a new trick I learned for making circles.

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