Monday, April 30, 2012

Think . . . Even Smaller

Now you know I am nuts . . . .

I was feeling a little blah last Friday after visiting the dentist to fix a cracked tooth, ugh. I needed a distraction from the pain and I felt something "quilty" stirring inside - the desperate need to make something, quick. I remembered my ongoing "Daily Creative" promise to myself - try to be a little creative every day. Or at least every day I'm able. It's good for the soul.

I've never made anything this small and it really didn't take me long at all. I couldn't wait to quilt it and bind it. The blocks finish at 1 1/2"  x 1 1/2".  I cut one-inch squares for the nine-patch blocks and 2" squares for the setting pieces. Yes, instructions, just in case you happen to be eager to join my crazy small quilt club I just formed this very moment.

For some reason those blocks in my other challenge quilt were looking too darned big and a little voice told me I should try making a smaller version. (Voices?? Really? Now for sure you'll think I am nuts . . . )

(Post-it added for scale.)

To some of you it may look and act like a mug mat but, no, it's definitely a quilt.

Ahhh, very relaxing and exciting to have another little one finished. They should all be this quick. Too bad I don't have a teeny tiny little bed for it . . .

Friday, April 27, 2012

Think Small Quilts

We're coming up on the end of April and I know many of you have finished your little nine-patch quilts for our Small Quilt of the Month Challenge. I even made this one. It went very fast. I was able to finish putting the binding on it yesterday.  Just a reminder - there are still a few days left before April is over and we start in on another one. For this free pattern, see here.

(Please tell me it looks like a doll quilt and not a place mat. I left it on the kitchen island overnight, woke up and jumped out of bed before my husband did so he wouldn't set his breakfast plate on it this morning . . . .)

I went to Indiana earlier this week  to give a presentation and teach a workshop.  While I was showing some of  my quilts I mentioned that I was challenging  quilters (you!) to make one small quilt a month from some of the patterns in my books. They looked at me like I was . . .  absolutely NUTS. Every guild has its own personality and from the quizzical looks on their faces I figured out that this was a group that mostly made large bed-sized quilts and did not like to "play" with the small ones.

Quilters who don't make small quilts don't get the "obsessive" part of it--it really is addicting. I think it's because with little quilts you have the freedom to make all of the designs you love and dream about in such a small time frame. Once you begin you know you can finish pretty quickly and then go on to the next, and the next and the next . .  . . I was able to make an Amish quilt and a Crazy quilt, quilts I knew I would probably never make in full size, even though I admired and loved looking at them.

It's a lot of fun to experiment like that with different blocks, styles and fabrics. There are even times when I'm drawn to more modern fabrics (oh no!) and have toyed with making a very bright-colored quilt. Just for fun. I don't think I will ever give up making reproduction quilts from the 19th century though.
I often have a hard time coming up with a quilting design for my small quilts and sometimes just do what's easy because I'm in a rush to finish (and move on to the next one!). I've used some of my favorite stencils over and over. Last weekend I thumbed through this book of small quilting designs by Shirley Thompson (now out of print, unfortunately )  that I've had for awhile to see if I could use one of the designs for the plain blocks. The quilt  I made is so simple I thought it needed something to "spiffy" up those plain blocks.

I didn't have a good light source to trace the designs and did not want to open up my dining room table, take out the leaf, stick a lamp underneath and then run to Home Depot to buy a piece of glass to fit the leaf. Way too much trouble.  I seemed to remember that my daughter had a light-up desk when she was a child and wondered if it would work for this. OR if I even saved it. So I scrounged around in the basement for 15 minutes until I found this Crayola light tracing box from her Barbie Fashion Designing days when she was eight. (Lord only knows why I was saving it, maybe just for this?) I copied the design onto tracing paper with a black marking pen and then put my quilt top on top of the box with the design underneath and traced it onto the fabric with a washable fabric marker. Then I layered the quilt and quilted it.

My first try - and I have to say I think it turned out okay. I need to tweak my method a little for next time - the quilt shifted slightly on the box while I was tracing - but all in all not bad. Yes, I know, it is very sparsely quilted. I usually do more but this time I was anxious to get it done so I could show you before the month was up. Depending upon how much more time I want to spend on it, I think I will just quilt around the blocks a bit more and then call it finished. Still cute.

The next quilt (for May) will be taken from my book, The Civil War Sewing Circle. If you are keeping up, we're a third of the way toward making 12 quilts this year. Yippee! I'm having fun, how about you?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Make Your Quilt and Eat It Too

You may remember that I recently taught a group in Michigan how to make the Peony Star quilt from my book Remembering Adelia. It's one of my favorite quilts.

Apparently, it's a very popular quilt and I laughed out loud when I saw this -

If you go to Cake Central and read the caption, you will see that Annez made this cake for her mom and that it was inspired by my Peony Star quilt.  Yes, LOL, I can see it! How cool is that?

So I challenged  my daughter, the baker in the family, to make a quilt cake for me. Hmmmm, Mother's Day is coming up. I think I would like  . . . a little Hexagon cake! How hard could that be??  (Maybe by tricking her into making quilt cakes she'll take up quilting, ya think?)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Flirting with a Featherweight

I flirted with a Featherweight at my recent workshop in Michigan.

I often think about buying one. They're so darn cute. My one big hesitation is that many of the ones I have seen have that "Featherweight smell" that really bothers my allergies. I will not buy and cannot work at a machine that has a moldy, musty smell to it. I wouldn't be able to stop sneezing. Some say the smell is from the glue used in the case, others tell me it is the fact that many of these machines were stored in damp basements for years.

I just love this little white/pale green machine. I was told by the owner that she did not think it sewed as well as the black ones though. Also, anyone who owns a white one -  what do you know about this? Does this one have that smell too? Did yours smell really bad and yet you were able to remove the smell COMPLETELY?

I'm only gathering information now, not buying, so don't offer to sell me yours. Perhaps when both of my kids are through with college I can flirt a little more seriously and think about making a commitment.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Michigan Road Trip

I love road trips, especially when the weather is nice. I'm back from giving a presentation and teaching a workshop in Michigan. Workshops are so much fun and I know some of  you wish you could join me. Well, I'm showing you some photos instead. This time, we made the Peony Star quilt from Remembering Adelia. I had so much fun.

This is one of my favorite quilts and is actually very simple to make. A great project for springtime. If it were a small quilt, I'd choose it for the challenge next month.

Perfect for playing with your scraps!

I loved this large, spacious workshop room. Everyone had plenty of space and got some good exercise running across the room to press.

I  love seeing the different prints everyone uses to make their quilts.

Each quilt will be unique . . .

Several quilters made purple blocks for theirs . . .

I'm always learning something  new. Elaine brought some Steam-A-Seam fusible strips to use for the stems before appliquing them onto the blocks. Great idea.

On the way home, we stopped at a nice restaurant in the town of Marshall for lunch and then did a little browsing around town.

Always room for a few more pieces of fabric I don't have . . .


"Become a Possibilitarian!" - Anything is possible . . .

My first dog many years ago was an Old English Sheepdog. I rarely see sheepdogs anymore and I sure do miss her . . .  

Cute sign in pet store window to keep parents on their toes and remind them to look after their kids . . .

We needed to stop and stretch our legs for a bit, so made another detour to a small resort town on Lake Michigan that we used to visit when the kids were little. 

Deserted now before the summer season begins. Even if our "kids" are all grown up now, we decided that we need to go back here sometime soon.

~ Sweet Home Chicago ~

As fun as the trip was, after a long day and an even longer drive, there's nothing like coming home . . .

Monday, April 9, 2012


Congrats to Marilyn Robertson of IN for posting the winning comment on the Sew We Quilt blog last week. She won a copy of The Civil War Sewing Circle. Thanks also to all who entered the giveaway. Honestly, I wish I could send a book to each and every one of you . . . I promise I will try to do another giveaway later this month.

Keep working on your little nine-patch quilts for April's quilt of the month. This is week 2 and you should have your 2" squares cut at least.

If you don't like the pattern I gave you, make it your way. Do your own nine-patch doll quilt. Be creative. If you like borders, add borders. If you like applique, add some applique. Simple can still be good though. You know how I love my simple little nine patch blocks -

So, if you haven't started yet, get out your scrap basket and start cutting already!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Happy Easter

Look at my little Easter baskets quilt! It's actually cut down from a larger quilt but I thought it was so cute I had to have it.

How could I resist? Those baskets are so quirky and primitive looking! I'm going to make my own and turn it into a pattern . . .

Easter brings the spirit of  hope . . .

 . . . and is a time of reflection and joy for me.

A time to celebrate new life . . .

 . . . and rebirth.

Wishing you a joyful and blessed Easter.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

One More Cup of Coffee

My favorite crafty blog Sew We Quilt  asked me to be a guest blogger again. Madame Samm told me that the topic of the month for April would be What's Cooking?  - sewing things for the kitchen. I tried my best to come up with something cute that would not be duplicated all month. My brain wasn't working to come up with anything good. Many of you probably use my quilts for place mats and table mats already and did I really need another apron?

Originally, I was going to do a tutorial on some pet dish place mats using that cute puppy fabric. Many of us keep our pet food dishes in the kitchen, right? That sort of counts as a kitchen idea, I thought. Ingrid said it would bother me to see my cute little quilt slobbered on, though, and that made me think some more. Then, when my daughter was home for Spring Break, we stopped at a Starbucks and she suggested - a fabric Coffee Cozy and I really liked that idea better.

So, if you go to Sew We Quilt tomorrow, on Thursday, April 5, that's what you'll find there - a tutorial for a cute coffee cozy, plus one of my favorite coffee recipes. AND a giveaway of my book The Civil War Sewing Circle!  How good can it get?

Have you seen all the wonderful and creative tutorials on this blog?? Please go check it out. There's almost always a good giveaway too.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~ 

For the past several months, I've been trying really hard to walk and work out and get myself back into some kind of shape and finally get rid of some of that "baby weight gain." Okay, okay, who am I kidding? Those of you who follow me regularly may remember that my baby is 18 and just went off to college last fall. LOL. So it's taken me awhile, so what. It's going very slowly and I have good days and bad days - days I don't want to but I do it anyway. I don't love it, I have to say, but so far I am sticking to it even if it's difficult. It has to get easier soon, right? Now that the weather is getting nicer it's a little easier. And any effort I make can only be good for me.

One of the things I've learned is that having a cup of coffee (and a few carbs too) before I work out really helps. And it's not just my imagination - studies show that drinking coffee before a workout increases your metabolism and boosts fat loss. That's what we all want to hear, right? Don't take it to the extreme, just a cup will do. And remember that coffee acts as a diuretic so you will need to drink water too.  I love coffee anyway so what have I got to lose? Except all this darn FAT . . .

You know I always have to tie the things I think about and write about into my quilting - hence the coffee cozy. You will love this - yes, they also drank coffee during the Civil War. More than one blogger suggests that coffee may have had a real impact on the outcome of the Civil War and that consumption of the drink during the war helped make it a national pastime after the war. According to CNN, "throughout the Civil War, coffee was as prevalent on the battlefields as it is in offices today. In fact, the Union army was fueled by the stuff to the point that, if there was no time to boil water, the Boys in Blue would chew on whole beans as they marched. And at night, Union campsites were dotted with tiny fires, each boiling a pot of coffee like a million miniature Starbucks. Beyond caffeine cravings, Union troops loved their coffee because it was, literally, the best thing on the menu."  I wonder if drinking coffee can help me win MY battle . . . 

Looks like she sure could have used a cup . . .

(Photo courtesy of The Library of Congress)

Stop by Madame Samm's blog on Thursday and leave me a comment for a chance to win a free copy of The Civil War Sewing Circle. The quilt we'll be working on for next month will be taken from that book. Don't drink too much coffee before you begin your quilting though - I don't want to hear about rotary cutters flying and everyone hurting themselves.