Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Six years in Provence

I started this quilt, '6 years in Provence' as a gift for DiscoJen back in 2004. It's a Yellow Brick Road' by Terry Atkinson quilt that I've made a gazillion of over the years.  The fabric is 'Marseille' by Deb Strain for Moda.

I had the top done forever, but wanted to miter the borders, but didn't know how back then. My friend Alice showed me how one year at a retreat, and I did the two inner borders, but not the outer border. I have no clue why. You are supposed to sew all of the boarders to be mitered together first, then attach them to quilt and miter away.
I'm glad I didn't put the last border on back then though, because now I'm much better at it and boy am I proud of how I matched those border lines!

I was motivated to get it done because Paige is teaching me how to quilt pantograph patterns on her long arm machine and I needed something to practice on. Not to mention that I didn't relish the thought of pinning the quilt. A pantograph is an all over pattern that you quilt on the entire quilt, borders and all. You have to use a laser pointer to follow the pattern. It's much harder then it looks. Paige happened to have the perfect pattern for the quilt too, it's called "Fleur de Lis Flourish".

DiscoJen actually bought her couch based on this quilt something like 3 or 4 years ago. The back fabric is hard to see in this photo, but it's really beautiful. Of course I didn't have enough of it, so I had to make do with other fabric that I had on hand.

Why did I call it '6 Years in Provence'? I made a play on the title of the Peter Mayle book 'A Year in Provence' that both DiscoJen and I really enjoyed. She immediately realized the reference when she read the label and thought it was hysterical. I gave it to her at L'Eiffel Bistrot and Creperie in South Barrington where we went to celebrate her birthday lunch. It was an all French kind of day! We were really at the L'Eiffel for the Deja Vu dessert crepe that has nothing but butter and sugar on it. Pure heaven on a plate! We split an absolutely fabulous cream of mushroom soup and tenderloin on arugula salad before the crepes. It was our way of justifying our own crepe each for dessert. We ended up order a third one when DiscoJen's son realized he really liked them too.  It was a lovely day.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

More running

I wish I could say that I am training for a marathon with all of this running, but the reality is that the only time I would feel motivated to run is if I were being chased by a scary guy with a knife!
I've been a table runner making fiend, kind of like DiscoJen. It's funny, we'll both look at a gorgeous piece of fabric and I'll think "how can I use this in a king sized quilt?" and DiscoJen thinks "table runner!" It's kind of a running joke in our little quilting friends circle.
I made all three of these from the Deb Strain 'Sent with Love' line for Moda. The patterns are all in the Anka's Treasures 'On the Run' table runner and centerpiece book. The nice thing is that Heather Mulder Peterson has a really nice tutorial on binding inside corners that really helped out when binding the table square.
I used the candy heart template from the McCall's quilting  magazine last spring and made them out of wool and embroidered the sayings on them instead of the flower pattern shown in the book. It made more sense with the fabric to do hearts instead of flowers.

I fussy cut out the hearts from the panel that comes with the fabric line and machine appliqued them down on the table square then quilted hearts in the pink and white squares.

Look at how fabulous they look on my black island. I especially love how my cake dome with German glass white chocolate covered strawberry and petit fours looks in the middle of the square.
I just love red, pink and white together at this time of the year. I think that it has something to do with how bright and cheery the combo is when the days are so ucky and gray.

Speaking of ucky gray days, we woke up to a beautifully frosted world last week. The weathermen called it 'freezing fog' which I thought they had totally made up. I've never heard that term before. I mean, if fog froze, you couldn't walk through it right? Apparently what it does is crystalize onto things, outlining them in fuzzy white frost. I was smitten.

The berries, pine and chickenwire photos were taken at Karen's house. It was so pretty, I made a trip over there to take pictures. Did you know chickenwire could look so gorgeous?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I was working at Tammy Tadd Designs last weekend when I had a lightbulb creativity moment. We have 'Taddles' that are specific to our store. Taddles are 11" squares of fabric. They are great for all sorts of things when you only need a smidgeon of fabric. They are great for applique parts and backgrounds, you can cut (4) 5" charm squares out of them, you can cut 10" squares out of them for layer cake recipes. We box 13 of them together for a baker's dozen and call them Taddle Boxes.
They put some gorgeous pink, brown and reds together in a Taddle Box and I was smitten! I was talking with a friend/customer a couple of weekends ago about them and I came up with an idea for a table runner using an entire Taddle box. I got to work cutting them up into 52 charm squares, drew them up in PowerPoint, and wha-la! A nice long table runner. I would have used my Electric Quilt software, but the computer that it's installed in blew up and I haven't gotten it fixed yet.
I originlly got the Timeless Treasures Chocolate Covered Strawberries fabric to go with it, but I wasn't sure about the pink with the strawberries, then I happened upon a Kaufman cupcake fabric by Amy Schmiler that was perfect. Add a little of the giant ric rac and bam, GORGEOUS!
Then I wanted to use the strawberry fabric, so I put together all reds, whites and brown taddles. Throw in some white ric rac and a small red with white polka dot inner border and it's ridiculously cute! It's all very "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" isn't it?

Now, just like DiscoJen, I'm on a table runner kick. I have the new Deb Strain 'Sent with Love' line by Moda cut up and ready to go, complete with wool appliqued candy hearts, Andover's 'Garden Fresh' by Gail Kessler, amoung others. I figure I should get these 4 done first, then work on another set.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A lovely place to quilt

Jennie and I took a road trip yesterday out to Janesville, Wisconsin to check out the Evergreen Quilting Retreat that I had picked up a flyer for at Life's a Stitch Quilt Shoppe in Janesville during last fall's infamous bus trip from Tammy Tadd Design's quilt shop.
Both Jennie and I were totally and completely smitten upon walking through the front door!

The place is gorgeous and completely well thought out for quilters. We usually go to local church camp for our retreats, but we have to haul literally everything there when we go. And I mean everything: iron, ironing boards, chair, table leg risers to make an the cutting table taller, cd player, lights for night time sewing, extension cords, pots and pans, towels, soap, and the list goes on.
The Evergreen supplies all of that and more! They even have a washer and dryer in the kitchen so that you can prewash your fabrics that you A) forgot to wash prior to coming or B) just bought at one of the two lovely local quilt shops and you just absolutely have to make it now, instead of working on the ten projects you brought with. They even have a little 'honor' basket of quilting supplies that you may have forgotten or run out of late at night that you can leave money for.  And they don't have the power issue that we usually run into which requires that we only have 1 or 2 irons. Kathy really thought of everything to make this a quilter's heaven.

Can I just tell you how absolutely darling this place is? I mean it is adorable!!! And reasonably priced too.
Describing this place can't do it justice, so how about some pictures!
The Downstairs 1930's decor bedroom:

 The Rubber Ducky powder room:

 The Dick and Jane themed bedroom:

The Reproductions bedroom:

The ridiculously fabulous kitchen:

The Full bathroom (done in my favorite brown and blue):

The Cutting/Ironing room:

The Sewing Room:

The Storage room (this is a marvelous idea since we quilters travel with quite a bit of stuff):

Well, was I wrong?
I didn't think so.
Jennie and I also stopped at a couple of nice quilt stores in the area and had lunch in Walworth (at least I think that's where we were) at a cafe in the town square. I just love exploring small towns and local shops and such.
On the way through Harvard, practically across the street from where Robbie tried his darndest to be the dog version of Braveheart, we came across this:

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, this is indeed a photo of a castle in the cornfields of Harvard, IL. I did say Harvard, ILLINOIS. Jennie tells me it's a bed and breakfast hotel. I have no clue why you would build a B&B CASTLE in Harvard, ILLINOIS, but there you have it.

This is my totally favorite shot, I personally think the grain silo and the RV next to the castle make the photo, don't you?

Well, I'm off to quilt now. I have the day off today and am enjoying the lovely snow that is coming down in droves from the comfort of my home.

One last parting photo of the Beaner watching the show White Hawk, White Wolf on Nature the other night. She was totally into it. I'm telling you, this dog cracks me up.