Friday, December 28, 2012

Gallery of Quilts

We're winding down the challenge to make 12 small quilts this year. One a month - there's only a few days left to finish up. A couple of my blog posts recently focused on some of those who made all of the quilts this year. I thought you'd also like to see photos of other quilts that were posted on my Flickr group. Pretty cool, huh?
My Signature quilt from Prairie Children

I was going to gather individual photos from you and create a slide show of all of the quilts and show you at the end, when the challenge was over, but that's a lot of work and time and I think it would be easier if you upload your own photos of the quilts and let everyone see them in the Flickr Gallery as we are finishing up.
Flickr is a photo sharing site run by Yahoo. If you are unfamiliar with it, here's some info that will help you navigate the site. If you are in my Yahoo group, you already have a Yahoo account and the rest should be easy. To post photos to the Flickr group - Quilts Designed by Kathleen Tracy - just join the group and follow the directions to upload a photo or two (or perhaps 12?). They have to be made from a pattern designed by me -  either in one of my books or from the individual patterns on my website. They do not have to be quilts from this year-long challenge either, they can be from any of my quilt patterns. Remember, also, that they can be YOUR interpretation of one of those quilts, so they do not have to look exactly like mine. I get a kick out of seeing what some of you come up with.

It looks like some of you in my Yahoo group SmallQuiltTalk want to continue challenging yourselves to make one small quilt a month from patterns in my books AGAIN next year too -  that's 12 MORE quilts if you kept up and finished the ones we did this year. Like chips, you can never have too many small quilts I guess. I will do my best to select one each month for you to work on.

It's been decided that the quilt for January will be one of your own choosing. Pick a quilt from one of my books or patterns that you have not made and just MAKE it, okay? Pretty soon you too will have a lot of small quilts you don't quite know what to do with. Like that little old quilter who lived in a shoe . . . . she had so many quilts she didn't know what to do.

But, before you begin January's quilt, have any of you actually finished Turkey Tracks for December??? I've seen it made in other colorways and it looks wonderful.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas!


I can't help it. I get extremely sentimental at Christmastime.  I love the season. I love the message. I love the snow.

And I love Santa - and all of the magic and mystery that surrounds him. Especially this Santa,  in his blue coat . . .
I've been thinking of all the special Christmases we had when I was young and "Santa" brought me dolls . . . almost every year. I get all sentimental remembering those special dolls wrapped in fancy paper and I continued the tradition with my daughter for years. The Christmas she was 8  my sister bought her an American Girl Doll  - Samantha, with the beautiful long, dark hair just like her own. My big surprise that Christmas was when my husband bought an American Girl Doll for me too! Kirsten, modeled after an 1854 Pioneer girl, because when we were looking at the catalog for accessories for my daughter's doll I told him that she was my absolute favorite and oh how I wished I was young again because that's the doll I would have wished for when I was 8. I think I cried when I unwrapped the box. No, I'm sure I did.
Kirsten doll is now retired
(My REAL pioneer girl . . . when she was 8, dressed up for a school field trip to a Pioneer village, pretending to be a girl who came to America in the 1850s. I told her to look wistful for the picture because she had to leave some of her family, friends and school behind and she really got into it, can you tell?)
My daughter's way too old for dolls now, but I still have those memories and every year I always always hope there's a new doll under the tree for me (I'd even settle for a doll QUILT). Hint, hint, in case anyone responsible for buying dolls at my house is reading this. . . .

Have a wonderful sentimental Christmas!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tree Ornaments

I got the ornaments up on the tree, finally. Every year I forget some and then am so tickled to see them again at the bottom of the box. I only have a few ornaments that are handmade, most of them by friends. Yes, I did put up the new embroidery ones I designed, but still, I wish I had time to make a few more cross-stitch ornaments for myself. I love those. Every year I say that I'll make some just for me but hardly ever do. If I end up taking time to make them I usually give them away. Silly, because they don't really take that long. Maybe this weekend, after cookies, LOL. If only it would snow. I know that that might inspire me . . . .


Have you seen the wonderful quilt ornaments that Julie makes and sells? These little Christmas tree pendants  double as ornaments.  Contact Julie here for more information.

How lucky I stumbled upon this ornament 2 years ago . . . .
Our designated Santa's Helper

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Cooking

Cooking is a great way to stir up some Christmas memories at our house. I love cooking and baking and pull out old standby recipes I've made over the years but also try a few new ones if I can. Sometimes they become the new traditions. Christmas at our house wouldn't be Christmas without the gingerbread cookies and pretzels dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles my daughter and I make. If you can get the kids to help, it's even more fun. Oh, and don't forget to put the music on while you're baking.

Last Christmas someone in the family brought over some of those flat pretzel thins dipped in white chocolate with peppermint sprinkles from Trader Joes and I haven't forgotten them. Much better than the ones we make ourselves from thicker pretzels. I found that Trader Joes runs out of these fast. A few weeks ago I picked up 2 bags but we've gone through one already. They're just too good to save for Christmas . . . .

If you live near me and happen to be at a Trader Joes, save me a bag, please!

As a back up in case I cannot find them, I bought a bag of pretzel thins and will try to make my own by melting white chocolate and then dipping the pretzels and sprinkling them with crushed peppermint sticks.

I love making anything peppermint at Christmas! If you happen to be a new blog reader of mine, see more peppermint recipes I posted last year (a recipe for delicious peppermint bark and also the pattern for a small peppermint pinwheels quilt. Merry Christmas! )

I know people who are so organized they get their shopping done in July or September and their Christmas cookies made by October and can actually keep them in the freezer until the holidays. (This NEVER works in my house -  we all know they're there and then I still have to make more in December.)

Some of you may imagine that I am so organized but I often start to stress around now because I doubt I'll have time to make all the things I want to make. But here's something that helps me. I try to make a point of setting aside one day or evening - and put it on the calendar  - for baking even just a few batches of cookies. If I don't make that cookie appointment with myself, it may not happen. I like to honor my commitments and will stay up late baking cookies while everyone else has gone to bed.

Well, almost everyone .  . . . "Are those cookies done yet? It's almost midnight!"
~  .  ~  .  ~
I am also trying hard to do my shopping even though it's so depressing that we have not gotten any snow yet here in Illinois (No snow! How can I shop?). Last weekend we went shopping and later I got sick from eating mall fast food (Shrimp - at the mall - what was I thinking??) So, instead of rushing around and eating fast food after or during shopping I vowed to do better this week, and decided to cook dinner beforehand, refrigerate it and then just throw it in the oven or microwave when I get home to save time.

Have you tried vegetable lasagna rollups? Here's a  recipe - I've made this before and recently pulled it out of my recipe box when I was looking for cookies (cookie recipes, I do NOT keep cookies in that same box but wouldn't that be a nice surprise if I did? I'm usually hungry when I go through my recipes.).

My recipe is a little different. I use one egg instead of 3 (and cottage cheese instead of ricotta if I do not have ricotta), mix spinach, zucchini and carrots, no mushrooms, one cup of grated mozzarella instead of 2, and I also use Prego (Prego? The shame! My mother will be rolling over in her grave right about now. What, no homemade sauce??))

Cooking and baking are great ways for me to get into the spirit of the season. If you're not a baker or don't have time, get some store-bought or bakery cookies, serve them on cute Christmas plates and sit down and have yourself a cup of tea or cocoa in a Christmas mug. Works every time to get that Christmas spirit going for me.

I love to put Christmas music on, turn out the lights and sit in front of the tree watching those lights twinkle. Oops, as you can see, the tree is bought, the lights are up but I haven't quite gotten the ornaments on yet. That will happen right after I finish sewing and cooking and baking and shopping, sigh. But you get the idea. I still have 12 days left . . . .


Friday, December 7, 2012

I'm Still Making Things for Christmas

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Thanks for all of your recent orders! I'm so happy so many of you liked the little embroidered ornament pattern I designed and I hope they have arrived by now.
I'm still making things for Christmas. Yes, I got the handmade bug. Bad. Here's what I made yesterday. A Christmas present for YOU.

Click here for the free pattern.

If you have a quilter friend or need a Secret Santa gift for someone in your guild, wouldn't this sweet little Christmas present pincushion make a cute gift?

Almost sweet enough to eat.      

I have a few more things I want to make. And then it'll be time to buckle down and start on the cookies . . . .

Monday, December 3, 2012

Making Red and Green Stuff in December

In December, I often get the urge to make gifts and other things for Christmas, how about you? December is always so busy for me (and for everyone else too, duh). But I hardly ever think about doing it in July and if I do it usually passes. Fall is always typically busy too, until after Thanksgiving, so the only time I really like to focus on Christmas gifts is in December. That probably sounds like I'm cutting it short and I usually am. I've never been an early shopper. I start my Christmas shopping whenever it snows. But then I go shopping and can't decide what to get and so I think "Hmmm, maybe I should just MAKE something," LOL.
If you feel like making things in December too, have I got some ideas for you.  This is the LAST month for our  Small Quilt challenge that we started in January.  I chose  the Turkey Tracks quilt from my book Remembering Adelia (on page 69). To make this month's challenge, follow the pattern in the  book. Of course you may make it in colors other than red and green. (But the red and green is too cute, isn't it? That's why I picked it for this holiday month.)

This quilt would make a really cute gift for a friend. If you don't have the time, why not just buy her the book so she can make it herself, LOL?

Last week, before December actually arrived, I played around with making some quilty ornaments and came up with a few small "redwork" ones. They turned out so cute I decided to create a pattern and I just finished having them printed up this weekend.
How sweet and scrappy are these?? The pattern booklet to make them is now available for sale on my website and is similar to the Schoolgirl Club pattern booklets (4 pages plus a design insert). The pattern also includes antique graphics and some historical info on redwork traditions. 
I timed myself when I was making these and the actual stitching took about 20 minutes and then another 30 minutes or less to put it all together. There's still time! So, if you have a hankering for making some cute red and green stuff, you're in good company. I'll be doing some stitching in the evenings and making a few more of these to give away.
I'm notorious for making useless handmade gifts for people. Cute things, sure, but what exactly are they for?? Watch, someone in my family will get one of these ornaments and then look at me and say . . . "Uh, what is it? Oh, like, to put on the tree??" Well, I think they're sweet. And like it or not, some of them will be getting one of these.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Small Quilts from a Land Down Under

Someone special from Australia has made quite a few small quilts this year.

Marian lives on 2 acres in Tanjil South, Victoria, Australia with her partner Andy and 2 small furry boys - Elmo and Oscar. (Cats - she has four adult children as well).

Her mother was a seamstress and Marian was taught at a young age to hold a needle and thread and stitch a needlework tapestry. Her "mum" also let her sew on her Singer Featherweight and by the age of nine Marian had already made clothes for her dolls. In her teens, she also made most of her own clothes on the Singer. Lucky Marian, she still has that sewing machine.



Marian has an associate diplioma in Art and Textiles and, in addition to quilting, weaves scarves which she sells through a few local art galleries. I am lucky enough to have been the recipient of one of them!

She made her first quilt, a queen-size log cabin, in 1999 which was hand quilted and finished just in time for the Millenium.

Love your color combinations here!
By 2008 Marian had discovered civil war reproduction fabrics and Jane Stickle’s "Dear Jane" quilt and says she was definitely "smitten." To date, she has made 22 DJ blocks, each sewn by hand, just as Jane’s was.
(This is from one of my "Schoolgirl Club" patterns )
(Schoolhouse quilt from Prairie Children & Their Quilts)

Here's what Marian says about making small quilts :
"On a sleepless night back in 2010, I stumbled upon your [Kathy's] blog, quite by accident . . . imagine my surprise!! As it happened,  I already owned a copy of ‘American Doll Quilts’ and ‘Prairie Children and Their Quilts’ and here was the author’s blog, what a thrill!! It was while reading your blog that I discovered you had a Yahoo quilt group, so I signed up immediately because although I had never made a doll quilt before, I was keen to get started . . . and I’ve been happily making doll quilts ever since. 

"I love the whole process of making a small quilt, but above all I love to hand quilt . . . it’s such a lovely, relaxing thing to do. I must admit that I’ve enjoyed the Small Quilt monthly challenges immensely. One of the things I’ve discovered while doing the challenges is that I’m really having fun with personalizing the designs, adding my own twist, if you like. I’ve also discovered that I love the challenge of making smaller versions . . . I’ve become addicted to minis LOL!!"
Inside Marian's studio
Thanks, Marian. I've so enjoyed seeing your beautiful work.

Visit Marian's blog at  You're in for a treat!