Saturday, November 28, 2015

Primitive Craft Sale

One of my favorite places to visit every year on Black Friday is my friend Karen's primitive craft sale at her home in Elgin, Illinois.  Today also happens to be Small Business Saturday. A perfect day to support your local quilter and crafter.

Tons of great gift items. They make everything they sell.

I know I'm a little late with this info but there's still time to get over there if you live in the Chicago area. The sale is on today (Saturday) from 10 - 4:00.

Bill & Karen Schultz' Primitive and Holiday Sale
November 28
1024 Duncan Ave. 
Elgin IL

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There's also a link on my website for info on buying Bill and Karen's doll beds and cradles.   

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Sentimental Quilter LOVES Thanksgiving. It's a great opportunity to show my sentimental side and reflect on all of the things I have to be grateful for this past year. (Not to say I don't do that every day anyway . . . . )  Instead of focusing on those negative things that have disrupted life and made it a little more difficult, I really try to remind myself of all of the abundance surrounding me.

I'll be making the pumpkin pie today and getting a head start on some other dishes for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. 

Last night I watched a wonderful documentary on PBS - The Pilgrims. Produced by Ric Burns (the brother of Ken Burns of "The Civil War" fame), the film focuses on some of the dark truths surrounding the first Thanksgiving and the pilgrims' Mayflower voyage. It's not exactly your Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special but worth watching.

"From childhood on Americans are taught to think of the voyage of the Mayflower and the coming of the Pilgrims as the true founding moment of America,” said Burns, “and we honor them as such every year on Thanksgiving – even though they came thirteen years after the founding of Jamestown in 1607. The real story of the Pilgrims — who they were, what drove them on, what happened to them in the new world, how they succeeded and how they failed and why we remember them as we do – is far more gripping, poignant, harrowing and strange – and far more revealing – than the Thanksgiving myth we think we know.”

Not a happy story but one that should be told. I think it's being repeated tonight and/or tomorrow but check your local station for times. Read more here or watch the trailer if this interests you at all.

This year, like most, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are cooking the turkey and bringing it over. All I have to do is make all the sides. It's a feast. And yeah, sometimes I go a little nuts with those sides because I love having so many Thanksgiving leftovers for the following weekend so I don't have to cook much. And there's always a lot to give away. We'll have Turkey, stuffing (2 kinds), green beans, roasted cauliflower & carrots, corn pudding, creamed spinach, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry/cream cheese/walnut "trifle salad"* (but also jellied cranberry sauce for those who need the canned version), pumpkin pie. Did I leave anything out? Oh yeah, in honor of my mom -  her sweet & sour cabbage, which I never ate while she was alive LOL but now love, go figure. And, my sister's bringing a chocolate chip cheesecake. So many carbs and calories. Too decadent. I'd better get started . . . . 

I am feeling so blessed in so many ways that I could go on and on . . .

I hope all of you in the U.S. have a wonderful holiday surrounded by family and loved ones. Don't forget to count your blessings.  Is there anything you're especially grateful for this Thanksgiving? Take a minute to reflect on those things. If nothing else, I'll bet most of you should probably be grateful for having more fabric than you will ever EVER need, haha.  

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* Here's the recipe for the cranberry cream cheese "trifle". I use walnuts instead of pecans and don't mix them into the cream cheese mixture as in the recipe - I just layer them on top so those who don't like nuts in my family can easily pick them off  : )  It's like having dessert with the meal. 

Layered Cranberry Sauce

Have a happy Turkey day!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Finishing a Small Quilt: Make a Plan

Wouldn't it be nice to have a collection of small quilts hanging on your wall or stacked in a cupboard? You know I love making my small quilts and, if you're following my blog, you probably do too. Playing around with fabric and making something quick like a small quilt can be a lot of fun and an instant stress buster. Having a wall or cupboard of quilts is not a difficult goal if you have a plan. The quilters who accomplish the most always have a plan. Those quilts don't magically appear on a wall or in a cupboard, haha.

My wall.

My friend Julia's wall and cupboard.

For the past few years my Yahoo Small Quilt Group (and, more recently, my Facebook Small Quilt Lovers Group) have attempted to make one small quilt a month from various patterns in my books. Some members make all of these challenges and some just make a few. Quite a few do nothing at all. And I frequently get e-mails from some of them telling me they feel bad about this. Every year I give my group suggestions to help the members organize and plan in order to accomplish some of these goals. Don't waste time feeling bad about not accomplishing your goals. Instead, do something concrete to fix it. I think my plan is especially worth repeating here if you're participating in our current red & white small quilt challenge in the online groups and are beginning to feel overwhelmed. If you're sewing along with us, the deadline for finishing and showing your quilts is December 15.   

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Along with the red & white challenge, we're also coming up on a new year -  the time some of you mentally pledge to make a whole bunch of small quilts during the course of that year. I know many of you get very busy with other things at times. So much can get in the way of our quilting. We get overwhelmed by life, stressed out and tired. I know the feeling.

Make a choice to take time for yourself to create some of  the small quilts you love and drool over that are saved on your Pinterest page. Trust me, you'll feel much better about actually making them instead of just looking at them. It does not take as long as you think. If you really want a wall of quilts, then make a plan to make one small quilt a month. If this month and next are too busy with the upcoming holidays, start in January. If you keep up, by the end of the year you'll have made 12 small quilts. Or, perhaps five or six, or maybe only two or three, but still better than none. Nothing wrong with having small goals. They help you achieve bigger goals.

Every year I post my suggestions on how to get these quilts finished so bear with me if I sound like a broken record. Here's the hard part - If you're determined to make a quilt a month you have to discipline yourself and really really want to make them. Like anything else worthwhile, you have to WANT to do it. That's the only way it's going to happen. Make that commitment to yourself.

My cupboard overfloweth at times. Right now it's under control.

Some quilters have time to sit down and sew for hours every day and can make a lot of progress in one sitting. But that's not always easy or practical for most of us. We have jobs and families and full lives as well as other hobbies and interests or maybe disabilities that keep us from sitting or stitching for too long. Don't beat yourself up over this. Break up your small quilting into regular chunks of time and don't pressure yourself to make a whole quilt all at once. If you do it this way, I think you can easily finish one little quilt every month or so. Then, Voila! -  a wall of quilts. 

So, here's a plan for you. First -  clean up your sewing table a little bit to make sure you have room to work. Then, go get yourself a "Small Quilt" notebook so you can keep track of your progress. (Goody - another reason to run to Target! But don't get too distracted. You have a plan, remember?)  A piece of paper, note cards or even your phone or ipad will do, but I find that a pretty notebook used specifically for quilting works so much better, at least it does for me. Holding it in your hands helps you hold yourself accountable by writing down your small quilt goals every month and doing your best to accomplish some of them. Start at the beginning of a month if possible (clean slate) and take it week by week.

1. First Week - After you've picked out your project, spend an hour or two to choose your fabrics and cut the pieces. Don't pressure yourself to finish the whole quilt that day unless you want to and have the time. Put this somewhere in a zip-lock bag (or that nifty plastic project box you bought after you left Target and stopped at that other store) and leave it out where you can easily see it and return to it.

2. Second Week - Pick a day and time, mark it on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone the day before if you have to. Then, sit down and make your blocks. This also only takes a few hours (sometimes less, because remember, the quilts are small).

3. Third Week - Again, pick a day to put the blocks together. Probably takes an hour or two. Maybe add the border if you have time or at least cut the fabric for it. Cut the binding strips and get those ready.

4. Fourth Week - Finish your borders, layer your quilt with the batting and backing. Spend some time during the rest of the week finishing and quilting. This often takes the most time and can take several evenings for me if I do it by hand, but if you like handwork it can go fast. Binding never takes long and can be very relaxing. Give me some music and I can get lost in the rhythm of quilting or sewing on a binding. This means you're almost finished!

All it takes is a little discipline. Let me REPEAT myself: Write down your goals, break them into smaller parts (goals) and make note of what you have accomplished. Check off those goals! I find I work best with a schedule and some of you may find that helpful too. You just have to keep at it. WISHING and hoping you could make a few quilts or using the "flying by the seat of your pants" method to create them is NOT going to get you there. You need a plan. Spend a few minutes organizing yourself. 

Whenever I have a few projects I need to finish, I write them down in my notebook in an outline fashion. I make a point of breaking each quilt into parts and then checking off the parts as I finish them (Example: 1. cut pieces 2. make blocks 3. sew together 4. add borders 5. quilt it 6. add binding). I make a note to remind myself which quilts need quilting or bindings. This gives me something concrete to look at so I can remember exactly what was accomplished on a certain project and what still needs to get done. Even a little bit of progress makes me feel good about the goal. Sometimes, I'll spend time cutting pieces for several quilts all at once, then work on the steps individually at other times -  perhaps finish a couple of bindings in one session (Small quilts, remember? These bindings aren't that daunting.).

Bottom line - You can do this! The great thing about taking that initial leap is  -  sometimes it gets your creative energy going and you actually accomplish a goal or two or three in one sitting.

I hope you all have a productive weekend.


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Join some of us this month as we make little red & white quilts (see previous posts for details).

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fall in a Garden

Here are the rest of the pictures I said I'd post after visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden fiber arts show last week.  This popular garden is one of my favorite places to walk. Walking around the neighborhood with the dog is fine once in awhile but I get so tired of it. It makes such a difference to drive somewhere and then walk in more pleasant surroundings. It takes a little longer but I find I'm more likely to do it more often. 

Which way should I go? I chose Evening Island.

Ornamental cabbage

Near the waterfall

Outside the English walled garden

The leaves will be gone before you know it and soon I'll have to bundle up a little more. But I'm ready. Have a great week. Take a nice walk outside before the weather gets too cold.