Sunday, December 19, 2010

Quilting is a group sport.

I started this post 3 months ago and just got it finished. Pretty sad.
One of my projects over summer was a quilt challenge for the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild. We were to prepare a block and provide fat quarters of what we used in the block and then our blocks would be swapped with others.
I received the wonky house w/the number 5 in it's door, along with a Rural Jardin, white w/red polka dots, red w/white polka dots, some more numbers, and the newspaper Authentic print.

I must admit that I was totally confounded as to how to combine 1700's French reproduction fabric, newspaper print and red polka dots, but then that's the challenge part! Things like this really help you get the creativity flowing.
I started by slapping a Heather Ross gnome and mushrooms on it, but then didn't know where to go from there. I knew I wanted a garden and a tree, but that was it.
I worked on it at my lock in at Tammy Tadd's, and Dee, Michelle and Jennie all helped w/what else to put on it.  The clothes line was totally their idea. I thought the upper part needed something. I had quilted in a sun, but it wasn't very apparent. My friend Dori suggested a yoyo sun. That's my very first non-yoyo maker yoyo, which is why there's a button in the middle of it. If you don't like it, embellish it!
This is another of those Hemingway's cats things. Then the tree was too bare, so I found a piece of fabric I had w/a bird. Then the left was a little bare, so I added a Fairy Frost tire swing. The little quilt is 3d. I even quilted it. Someone asked me what the #5 was about, and I said I didn't really know, but then it occurred to me Harry Potter lived at #5 Privet Drive, so I decided to name it that.  However, I was mistaken, he lived at #4 Privet Drive, so I guess the gnome lives next to Harry Potter. Or would that be across the street?
I'm rather pleased with how it turned out.
I've also finished an Irish Chain quilt with the Anna Griffin Georgette Christmas line. I must say, this fabric challenges me. It's very subtle, and kind of mushy. I started w/the 'Peace' Irish Chain pattern by Late Bloomer Quilts. I got the blocks together and thought is was blah, w/a capital B.
Then I was brainstorming with my friends Ann and Bobbie at the store one day, and came up w/wool ornaments in the solid blocks.

Better, but not quite there yet. I took it to my quilt guild meeting and we decided it need a flange! Seriously, how did I not think of that? A flange makes everything better!
Then I took it to my guild retreat and it was still missing something. Then Carol said it, "How about another flange between the outer and middle border?" Eureka!!! A quilt designed by at least 10 people!

Then I quilted the snot out of it with metallic thread. I did the bows and ribbons on the ornament (Dori's idea) in silver, but you couldn't see them, so I requilted them in blue metallic. I used my no marking technique to quilt the designs in the ornaments. I used silver lame and fusible web for the tops of the ornaments. Tammy suggested 3D organza ribbons. I may do that after the holidays.
One Christmas quilt done! By the way, that teal flange is the Gees Bend fabric. Heed my warning, if you use that fabric, pretreat and prewash it! It runs like the dickens. I have a couple of spots to fix where it bled in my middle border. Boy was I not happy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We've had snow and really cold weather already, so I'm all ready for Christmas! Another sign it's Christmas?
Frostie's Retro Blue Cream Soda!!!
Aren't the pretty?
Cream Soda, and Blue! Life is so good. I was smart this year, I bought extra cases and sent them home with Binding Guru Karen for safe keeping so that we wouldn't drink them before Christmas. Ashley and Ju, there will be some blue soda for you on Christmas this year!
We had our Sew Mod Christmas party last Friday. I love these ladies. They are the best and totally inspiring. Lorrie assembled gingerbread houses for us then had all the accouterments that you could possible want to decorate them. This will come as no surprise to those who know me, but I was covered in frosting by the end of the night. The dogs kept licking my pants when I got home.
This is Kelly's house. She made a dog run on the side.
Let's take a closer look at that dog, shall we?

We were calling him the alien dog. Considering what she had to work with, I think she did a pretty good job. He cracks me up w/those ginormous red eyes. You can see action shots at Lorrie and Paige's Sew Mod blog and at our Sew Mod Flickr group. We had a gift exchange. I got Pattie in the drawing and she loves the Rouenneries line as much as I do, so I had a good idea where to start. I found this table runner/wall hanging on a store's blog, but I can't remember which. I'll update when I find it again. I loved it, and I hope Pattie did too.
Close up:
The middle is the linen/cotton blend and the applique is wool. I used by Sizzix die cutting machine for the leaves and berries and free cut the vines. I quilted around all the motifs in the toile.
I liked it so much, I'm making myself one. That's not wrong, is it?
Shelley (Elsie's Girl) made me a totally fabulous pillow that I have on my couch. I'll take a picture asap, because you don't want to miss this one.
Another sign that Christmas is upon us, the always fabulous Christmas tree that Tammy and cohorts put up at the store:
I love this tree at night too:
It's a little fuzzy since I took it with my camera phone, but isn't it awsome?
I love the Lakehouse flower ornaments that she made. And the ric rac garland is beyond too cute.  Tammy bedazzled and decked out the snowflake at the too. It was just a plain snowflake before she got her hands on it. It makes me want to run out and get a white tree.
Well, that's all for now. I have a couple of more Christmas projects to finish up, then I can take the time to take photographs and blog some more. And have a Hot Toddy. I love that word. Say it with me, "Hot Toddy." There, isn't it fun?


Monday, December 13, 2010

Catching up

I've been as busy as Santa's elves this time of year! So busy that I forgot to post about the most fabulous pie ever created. I'm in charge of pie making for Thanksgiving, and I typically make pumpkin and apple pies and ice cream to go along with them.  This year things got changed up a bit.
I had been looking for a good caramel apple pie recipe for quite some time, and now I've finally found it! (Que the 'At Last' song in the background) The caramel apple recipe from Williams Sonoma was fantastic. Look at all that oooey, gooey caramel, you could totally eat it with a spoon! And how do I love those WS pie crust cutters? Let me count the ways. I used to use mini cookie cutters for the leaves and pumpkins and a skewer to make the veins and such. Now, you do it all at once! It's pure genius, I tell you.
I always use the Martha Stewart pumpkin pie recipe (with homemade pumpkin puree, naturally) and make an individual one for my Great Aunt Dolores.

My sister requested a pecan pie this year, which I don't usually even consider making, because I'm not a fan, but she begged me to make the Pioneer Woman 'Pie that will make you cry' pecan pie. And let me tell you, when she said that this pie "changed her life for the better", she totally wasn't kidding! It's to die for! The hubby had a piece before breakfast, he claimed that he had been dreaming about this pie. Of course, as the knife was heading toward the pie and I was shrieking that I don't serve pie that's already been cut into, he claimed that Voldemort was making him do it, so I'm not so sure he was telling the whole truth about the pie dream thing. Regardless, this pie was To. Die. For! It was almost a toffee pecan pie. And it tastes fantastic for breakfast!
I didn't make ice cream this year for 2 reasons: 1)time, 2) Julie Ann's frozen custard reopened in Crystal Lake!!! Yeah, I'm beyond happy!!! If you live in the area, please frequent them, so we can have frozen custard for ever and ever!
Well, that's about all for today. I'll have Christmas quilts and gingerbread houses for you all soon!

Monday, November 15, 2010


I had my bi-annual girlfriends quilting retreat the first weekend of November up at Evergreen Retreat in Janesville, Wisconsin. We all had such a good time, we probably each gained about 5 lbs in 3 days!  Evergreen is really a fantastic retreat location. It's reasonable priced, not that far from where we live, they provide all the 'stuff' for quilting (irons/big boards, tall cutting tables, rulers, ott lights, design walls, comfy chairs.....) and they have 3 nearby quilt shops to explore! I felt that I got quite a bit done, so that was a bonus.
I made pillowcases out of Riley Blake's "Colorful Christmas" line  for DiscoJen's kids for Christmas.
Riley Blake pillowcases
I finished sewing on the binding on the 'Plaid About You' quilt out of Lakehouse's 'Fun Flowers' black colorway. And since Binding Guru Karen was at the retreat, I even got it hand tacked down in record time. I tell you, the woman is a binding genius!
Plaid About You Lakehouse quilt
I used my water-soluble interfacing technique to mark my quilting.
Plaid About You Lakehouse quilt
I quilted the big flowers free-hand. Just to be clear, this is a panel. I did not applique these fabulous flowers.
Plaid About You Lakehouse quilt
And since this is for a baby, I used bright, lime green minky on the back. This photo doesn't portray the color accurately, it's really a lime green, like the gingham in the flower above. I love how the quilting shows up on minky.
Plaid About You Lakehouse quilt
I designed and tried to figure out how to make a commissioned tree skirt from my extremely crudely drawn design. I specifically save this to do at the retreat since I would have others to help me figure out how the heck to put this thing together. My friend Carol is especially helpful with these types of things because she's an engineer.
I started with this pile of batiks and fairy frost:
Batik Christmas skirt
I made a circle out of the beyond fantastic red diamond Hoffman Batik. I found a ton of tutorials online on how to do this. I then used my beloved 1/4" fusible web tape and ironed under the edge.
Batik Christmas skirt
Then I pieced together the greens into large strip sets and interspersed some thin. white fairy frost strips here and there and used one of those 9degree rulers to make wedges. I had the idea that if I could get the angles right on a quarter of the circle, then I could just do 4 of those and connect them, but unfortunately it isn't that easy. I had to make some wider angled strips, some smaller wedged strips and so on. I'm not done with it yet, but I have a good start at least. I'm really pleased with how it's turning out too.
batik tree skirt
And last, but certainly not least, I FINALLY finished the last of my Hydrangea commissioned "You Go Girl" bags!!!! It feels soooooo good to get this thing done. It wouldn't be that bad, but I quilted the crap out of the material. It took me 10-12 hours just to quilt the material, and this is the 3rd bag I've made like this! I'm really over quilting the hydrangea material!
You Go Girl Lakehouse bag

You Go Girl Lakehouse bag
Seriously, what was I thinking when I started to quilt it this way?!?!?!
You Go Girl Lakehouse bag
I have photos of what everyone else made, but I can't locate the SD card with them on it, so that will have to be another post!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Where did October go?

Anyone? I'm not sure where the whole month went to! I've been so crazy busy that I forgot to post anything. Here's a snapshot of what I did in October:
halloween cupcakes

halloween gift bags

halloween cupcakes

Plaid About You Lakehouse quilt

I actually did this mini as a challange swap over the summer. I was given the house w/the number 5 door and fat quarters of the polka dotted fabric, some Rural Jardin (French reproduction fabric) and the numbers and newsprint/dictionary print from the Authentic line by Moda. This is what I came up with. The newsprint is on the back.
#5 Privet Drive mini quilt for swap

#5 Privet Drive mini quilt for swap
I added the Heather Ross gnome and mushrooms first and then it grew from there. Michelle suggested the clothes line, and then I felt the tree needed balance, so I made the tire swing. Then the tree was bare, so it needed a bird...... It's kind of like that book 'If you give a mouse a cookie'.
#5 Privet Drive mini quilt for swap
I named it 'No. 5 Privet Drive' at the time I was thinking that was the address given to Harry Potter, but then I double checked and he lived at #4 Privet Drive, so the gnome lives across the street from Harry.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


We had a group meeting at work over the summer where our people form around the world came to Chicago for meetings. I work on a floor that's known for it's mass quantities of food available on any given day, so I don't bring things to work too often,  but when I do, I pull out all the stops! I get all Martha Stewart in my set up, and people really appreciate it. People that I didn't even know resided on our floor show up.
To have a proper display for my treats, I used one to the vintage table cloths that I got at the sale at the beginning of the summer. The fruit salad blue Tupperware bowl doesn't really go, but everything was already so heavy I just couldn't do a ceramic bowl for that too.
I was only going to make one coffee cake, but you know, once you pull out all the stuff to make one, you might as well make 3! (This is kind of my theory of quilting and bag making as well. Although part of that is because I can't do math and usually end up accidentally cutting out enough pieces for 2 quilts.) All of the recipes are from Williams Sonoma. I've said it hundreds of times before, and will say it hundreds more, I have NEVER had a WS recipe not turn out or taste anything less than fabulous.
The recipe was for raspberries, but I used fresh blackberries from my vine.
I toasted the macadamias first for a nuttier flavor.

And this was exciting! Did anyone get the latest Restoration Hardware catalog? They have repros of the vintage lights I bought at the garage sale last month! Only mine are white and cost at a minimum $252 less, each!!!
Yeah garage sale find!!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bag central

It's been a productive couple of weeks, mostly thanks to my quilt guild retreat last weekend in Rockford.
I made yet another Late Bloomer Sweet Simple Tote for Ashley's birthday (which I gave to her that night, so I don't have a photo. I'll have to have her send one to me).
I love that pattern so much that I've been cranking them out. I love how beautifully it show cases larger print fabrics. I made two chocolate themed, a fantastic black/white/hot pink from the Michael Miller Dress Forms fabric and am in process of a purple glittery bag made from MM's Antiquity collection.

The inside pockets:

The inside w/pockets


I also finished 2 king size and one regular pillow case from some of the Moda Chocolat wovens, which are amazing. If you have never had the chance to pet the Moda wovens, I recommend doing so immediately! They are sooooo soft and silky. I just love them. I have a really poofy pillow, and the cases I made fit them so very much better. I can actually get them on and off with out a major wrestling match with my pillows!

I also finished a Terry Atkinson Happy Holidays table centerpiece which seriously only took me a total of two evenings, start to finish! I used a combo of Anna Griffin's Georgette Christmas, MM Fairy frost and a random paisley that we had at Tammy Tadds.  I quilted it with holly leaves and berries in metallic thread. Since I can't draw, I just blow up the fabric motif on the copier then use my handy dandy non-marking technique to quilt it. It's a sample for the shop as well as a Christmas present for Mom!

I've also spent some time working on the look of the blog, what does everyone think?