Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rainbows and Blue Skies

Did you all have a fabulous Sunday? I designed and appliqued an entire block today, started a new hat to replace the chewed one, repaired the chewed one (I hate mending) and have trashed my sewing rooms. Well, let's just say that every flat surface is covered with fabric, paper, more get the idea. Tomorrow (I'm in my Scarlett mode) I'll make an attempt to pick things back up.

Here's a funny (not really) story from my escapades yesterday. I had an idea for a table runner and designed and made the ends--so far so good. The bad news? The ends are not divisible by any whole, half, or quarter number! So back to the drawing board! (That's why I switched to applique today--I have much less trouble making things fit!)

Wishing you nothing but blue skies in February. See you then!

Friday, January 29, 2010

It Started with A Dog...and Ended with a Cat

Remember this hat? I posted a picture of it back in December. It was made for a friend, who was thrilled to receive it.

This is what the hat looked like today...alas, not exactly the same. The recipient's dog decided to literally "take a bite out of it". In just a few seconds, hours of work was destroyed. Bad dog!

And a closer look, just in case you were not horrified enough by the prior picture! I brought the hat home and have decided to try to crochet around the opening to at least keep it from unraveling any more. I thought about inserting a lifeline into the untouched area and then unraveling down to that and knitting toward the edge again. But...the hat is being returned to the same dog-infested house, where it may meet the same fate! (Remember, I love dogs and the dog in question is still only about a year old and the owner feels really, really terrible about the hat.) So, I think a bandaid approach is in order. No, I didn't throw a hissy fit; I didn't even weep a few bitter tears. I gave the hat freely and I know it has been worn every day since its gifting. You can't beat that.

To add insult to injury, after taking the pictures, the hat was on the cutting table and when I looked up from doing something else, there was Callie, rubbing herself all over the hat and then taking a bath. That's how the story ended with a cat! (At least she didn't eat any of it!)

And so it goes, this Friday night. As an aside, my downloads take so long on dial-up that I have now put a sock I am working on at my computer table. I can make some serious inroads on knitting while waiting.

TaTa, my quilting friends!


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Bias Tape Maker Tutorial

Here's something a bit different for your amusement tonight.

I LOVE the Clover 1/4 inch bias tape maker (BTM). (I have tried other, less expensive brands and have found them sadly wanting. Accept only the best--Clover.) The following directions are for cutting and making 1/4 inch bias pieces.

First, lay your fabric out on the cutting mat. Align the 45 degree line on your ruler with either the crosswise or lengthwise straight grain. (Remember there are degree lines for both right and left handers.) Make this first cut and remove the resulting triangle. I keep this for leaves and shorter stems. My first cut is usually for a piece about 10 or more inches long.
After removing the triangle, align the 1/2 inch line on your ruler with the cut edge of the fabric. Yes, it says 1/2 inch. You cut the strip twice as wide as the finished bias, in this case 1/4 inch. Cut as many strips as you need. When the ruler is too short to cut one layer easily, fold the fabric in half, aligning the cut edge. You are now cutting two layers, but will have longer strips more easily.

Here is the Clover 1/4 inch (6mm for those of you on the metric system) bias tape maker and my cut strip. The diagonal end is better for the next step, so don't be tempted to square it off. See the handle? Make note of it for future reference.

Start the strip into the BTM, with the RIGHT side showing in the window. You will only be able to push the strip in so far with your fingers.

Now take a pin and pull the strip forward (toward the narrow end of the maker). See the tiny tip peeking out? Once it is so you can pull it with your fingers, you can stop using the pin.

Pull the strip until you have about 1/2 inch protruding. Now, here is where things diverge from the directions on the packaging. First, if you have not washed your fabric (shame on you!), you will probably want to spray the strip with either water or Best Press to better set the folds. Set your iron to a cotton setting with lots of steam.
Remember the handle? The directions say to put the handle up and to pull the handle while pressing the strip. Awkward at best and apt to leave gaps.
Here's the secret: Put the BTM with the handle DOWN and then DON'T TOUCH IT AGAIN!!!
Position the iron right next to the tip of the bias tape maker and then slowly let the iron move the bias tape maker along the strip. Look, Ma, no hands! If you use both hands, the one with the iron will be moving more slowly and the iron will lose contact with the BTM, leaving a gap. The way to fix the gap? There is no easy fix for this. The best way is to cut another strip and start over! Get it? Do as I say! You won't be sorry! Promise!

Keep the strip centered as it moves through the maker. Here you can see how this looks.
And, voila!!!! A perfect 1/4 inch bias strip--great for stems or Celtic applique work. You can see how the BTM folds the raw edges to the center, making a folded edge ready to applique. Before you begin placing the stems on your background, cut the weird end off straight so you are sure of exact placement.
Here you can see both sides of the finished strip. And the really strange part? The folds hold better when the BTM is used as I described--I've tried it both ways and this is the best. Also remember to let the steam and weight of the iron do the work--move the iron slowly to get the best folds.

Well, there you have it--the first tutorial. Let me know what you think. Enough pictures? Too many pictures?
P.S. Hey, Barb MacA, Nancy, Sandy and MKMouse--where are you? Haven't seen or heard from you in a long time. Everything okay? Missing you!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home

Are you being inundated with ladybugs? I swear they multiply as you look at them! (I really don't mind them, but being hit in the head by a flying ladybug is a bit weird!)

I think this pic is too funny! It's a small tea light holder--and the ladybugs took up residence!

Seen a ladybug up close and personal? You have now!

Lynnie is still fine, Callie is still trying to rule the roost, and I have been busy--thus the lack of posts. I did get quilting thread for a quilt I basted a few weeks ago, and hand-dyed pearl cotton to do some embroidery on an applique piece (Okay, Anita, don't faint!).

Happy Sunday!


P.S. Hooray, Jay! Keep up the great work! And, Sheila, sorry I missed your call. Thanks for your offer of help and I'll catch up with you soon. Marion, when I first started quilting I bought as much of a fabric I liked as I could afford. Now I tend to buy in fat quarters, halves and yards, unless I think I may want to use it as a border--then we are back to yardage! There is no right or wrong amount. And check the December 31, 2009 post (Reflections); the wallhanging shown is entirely batiks. There may be other batik pieces scattered in the blog posts, but that one I know for sure. And thanks to all who continue to comment!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Catching Up Again

First, many thanks to all of you who asked about Lynnie. She seems to be fine--apparently (and hopefully) it was a one-time event. She has never had this before, nor had the other two dogs. She is getting a bit better about being out of my sight, but she is still a bit nervous--I think I would be too. Here's a picture of her I took tonight. What a cutie!

After giving my dad a haircut this morning, I got right down to work. In an attempt to empty tote bags and cases from classes that have now ended, I came across a group of blocks I had partially pieced and then left. So I finished these five, plus two more not pictured. These five are 8 inches finished and the others are 6 inches finished.

I also put a sleeve and binding on the 5 pointed star. Love those binder clips!

Also prepped for two classes tomorrow. And am plotting two new projects--okay, probably more than two--one appliqued and one pieced. It'll be fun to see how they pan out. Next step is fabric selection. Here's something I ponder quite frequently: I have an extensive stash and yet I go out and buy fabric for new projects! Except for my extensive collection of batiks--I never get tired of them. But I do love those novelty prints--I just can't help myself! Do you think there is a 12 step program for novelaholics?

Callie was feeling a bit left out, so she asked to be included tonight. She was actually giving me the evil eye just in case I didn't quite get the message!

Be safe and be well. And thanks again for all the kind words and thoughts about Lynnie. It meant a lot.

Hugs to all!

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Bump in the Road

Last night, after I published my blog post, I was surfing the web when Lynnie staggered into the sewing room, hit a bunch of stuff and stumbled back out. She hit stuff on both sides of the hallway and then proceeded to demolish most of the smaller freestanding stuff in the parlor. She was having a seizure. I finally got hold of her and held her while frantically dialing the vet. I rushed her to his office and he confirmed what I had suspected. Nothing really to be done except keep her in a darkened room and comfort her. Back home we came and went directly to bed, where she cuddled next to me most of the night. Today she has been like glue--not leaving my side for very long. So I have spent a good part of the day comforting her and giving her lots of TLC. Right now she is lying next to my computer table asleep.

It was very scary. Today when I checked in with the vet, he said two other dogs had had seizures yesterday! That seems really odd, doesn't it? I just hope it never happens again.

Lynnie wants to remind all of us to take time to smell the flowers--you just never know what will happen next.

Stay safe everyone!


P.S. If any of you are interested in learning to hand piece at a leisurely pace, and you live in driving distance of Ithaca, you might be interested in my Monthly Bliss - Hexagons class. Once a month, 3 hours each class for eight months, starting January 19. If you are interested, please visit for more details or call the shop at 607-266-0850 to register. Thanks for reading this far!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Pictures are Back

This picture looks funny--the white "triangles" at the ends are my design wall. My photo editing software does not allow me to crop those out. Picture this, instead, with a medium to dark green binding as an edge finish. Ahhhh, much better.

I had only a fat quarter of background fabric, decided to do three blocks and did the math based on that, then changed my mind to do four blocks and only did part of the math. So...when I got ready to put the blocks together I found that I didn't have any 3.5 inch squares for the center--and my background fabric was gone--literally only shreds left. So I punted and used the design fabric in each block's center. I really like it better.

But...that left me with one block's worth of triangles and squares all cut out--with no background. So I chose another background and decided to do the block as it was supposed to be. Here's the result. (And, yes, Virginia, these are all machine pieced--9 inches finished.)

As promised, I did finish the quilting on the 5 pointed star. I really like the looks of it.

And here's a picture of the back after I ironed away the marker. It's like magic!

I'm torn now between designing a new machine pieced sampler and working on a new applique design. Now, let's see...if I stay up all night every night for, oh say, the next several years (or the rest of my life, whichever comes first), I might make a small dent in the ideas I have for new quilts and the desire to finish some of the old ones still languishing on the unfinished pile. Did I tell you I basted a top last week? At least it's a bit more protected than as a top.

Okay, that's probably all the fun you can take at this late (or early) hour. So I am off to do a bit more work and then who knows.

Hugs to all,

P.S. I am reading (hard copy) Flying Changes by Sara Gruen. I absolutely love it. It was cosmic intervention that I had just finished listening to Riding Lessons when this came in at the library--the same day! You don't have to love horses to love the books.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Productive Day 2

Miracle of all miracles, I actually managed to sew most of the day. I finished quilting the 5 pointed star wallhanging and I pieced (machine) 3 nine-inch Christmas Star blocks and am setting them into a tablerunner. Not too bad for a Saturday.

Pictures again tomorrow.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


P.S. Please visit the Piece O'Cake blog. Becky has two posts on washing fabric that you don't want to miss. You can link from the blog roll on the right.

Friday, January 15, 2010


You may have noticed that I like to fussy-cut--some might even say it is an obsession. I only had a fat quarter of the chicken fabric and did not have enough repeats to make all the roosters the same, but I still like it.

Here's a close-up of the center. The "lone hen" seems to be surrounded by roosters! And the expression on her face is where the title of "Uh-Oh" comes from!

This piece is only about 6 inches from flat side to flat side and is hand pieced and hand quilted. It's just the right size for a candle mat or doily. And, per our previous discussion, no, it is not a potholder!

See you on the flip side!


P.S. No, Jay, I don't know what the umbrella like things are for. Sort of look tree-like in an otherwise barren landscape. As an aside, did you know that giraffes have terrible bad breath? PeeYewwwwww! And their tongues are slimy. Just so you know! Someone might be on a quiz show and need to know this trivia!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Still Monkeying Around

I say, has anyone seen my umbrella?

Anything you can do, I can do better!

Birds of a feather flock together.

I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!

Peanut, what peanut? I never saw a peanut.

Okay, tomorrow I'll quit monkeying around. I've had classes the last few nights until late and didn't want to not post.

Happy Thursday!


P.S. Jay, that's a world's record! Good for you! Thanks to everyone who's commented!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Monkeying Around

Fellow Quilters, we are gathered here today for a bit of monkey business. I will be the moderator.

Now listen here, sonny, I've told you and told you and I don't want to tell you again! Hear me?

Who, me? I didn't do it! Why don't you believe me?

Happy Wednesday, everyone!



Saturday, January 9, 2010


Attention, Physical Plant Personnel: Please turn down the air conditioning in the parking lot! Thank you, (shivering) Management

The trees look frosted, don't they?

Stay warm--luckily, we are quilters! (On an unrelated note, if you make smaller quilts or minis, do you ever have non-quilting people ask if you are going to join them all together to make one bigger quilt? I always want to say "Yes, I just love binding all of these small pieces and am looking forward to trying to invisibly sew them together to make them look like a big quilt." Luckily, my censor comes on first and I just say "No". Then you get the look--Okay, let's step away from the crazy lady.") For those of you not laughing....


Friday, January 8, 2010

The Truth Can Finally Be Told

In a prior post I had shown a small section of a wallhanging to illustrate the background quilting. At long last the piece is finished and has been delivered to its intended recipient so I can share the whole thing!

This was for a friend who loves flamingos. When I found the border fabric, the work began. The lettering is from Anita Shackelford's A Quilter's Alphabet book. The padding and quilting are hand done. I used Sulky Blendables 12 wt for the outlining of the letters and Mettler 40 wt for the background quilting and the border.
Here's a detail of the back. This was the quilt I was searching for the backing fabric to make the sleeve--I never did find it. So the binding and sleeve match. Normally I place the label in the lower right hand corner, but that would have covered up some of the flamingos. So I put it on the middle left side. You can just see the edge of it in the picture.

The entire piece measures 17.5 x 9.5 inches, and was a resounding success. Although small, it proves that good things come to those who wait. I started this in 2006 and finished it in 2009. The label was added in 2010.

To leave you tonight, a picture of the empty bluebird house. I hope the birds do not come home early! Or at least not before we have a good thaw!

And please remember, on this 8th day of January 2010, that you are special. I have so decreed it--your job is to believe it.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How Many Days til Spring?

I think this is our eleventh or twelfth winter weather day in a row. How many is too many? I'm not sure, but I know we've exceeded it.

So, in an effort to lighten everyone's spirits and give a ray of hope that spring will eventually arrive, here are butterflies for your enjoyment.

Did a bit of horsing around today--cleaned a stall, broke ice out of water buckets and refilled them, cleaned hooves, dumped feed into the big bin.
Also taught a class tonight with seven wonderful women--an on-going group.

And I am reading Miss Julia Delivers the Goods by Ann B. Ross. The entire Miss Julia series is an absolute hoot.

Chant with me: Spring is coming, spring is coming....


Monday, January 4, 2010


This is the view from the porch this morning as I ventured out to do snow removal. See the trees way in the back? They are just before you get to the road--about 150 feet away.
Here's how the process went. I floundered to the shed through knee deep snow. Once at the Coffin Microbrewery, I discovered that the door opening mechanism was frozen shut. We are talking four things that have to release on a span of at least six feet. Back through the snow to get a hammer. Bang, bang (repeated several times). Finally broke the handle free and then needed both hands to try to swing it out. Bigger bang as the door broke free (luckily not at the hinges!). Now I needed to move my big lawn tractor to the side to get to the snowblower. Not an easy feat at the best of times, but now made a bit trickier by there being a flat rear tire on the mower. I mean realllllllly flaaaaaat. And cold. No rolling of tires now. Being ever resourceful, I found a shovel with a flat edge and used it as a pry bar to move the mower inches at a time to the right and toward the back of the shed. Fiiiiiinalllly got it out of the way--sometimes by lifting the rear end and moving it to the right. Jimmied the snowblower to the front--did I mention there are metal shelves on both sides of the shed, there is a cap on my snowblower and I have an extra 4 x 8 foot piece of drywall to help things along? Ran the extension cord from the house to the shed for the electric starter. It whirred just fine--just did not catch the flywheel. Pulled the starter rope to see if that would help engage things. No joy. Tried and tried. Finally gave up. Called my brother for help. (I hate being the weakest link--but....) He came down and tried to start it--no luck either. (Okay, I felt better knowing it wasn't just me!) So back to his house he went to get his snowblower. He snowblowed, I shoveled and we finally got the drive cleared out. He took my snowblower and his back to his house on the back of his pickup. I told him mine knew it was not going to Disney and liked riding on his truck as the consolation prize!

We had some good east wind and my wreath is filled with snow. When I went to let Lynnie out that morning, the drift against the door was over two feet tall.

And all this was before 2:30 pm! With more of the same weather and winds predicted for the rest of the week, with a Nor'easter for the weekend, I stocked up on groceries, dog and cat food and gassed up the Jeep. It's not like I can't keep busy--let me see, which of the over 120 unfinished quilts should I pull out first?

Hugging myself to stay warm,

Cross Stitch and Callie

Here's a picture of what I did Saturday and Sunday.

I had started stitching with the lighter green accent and decided it blended too much with the background. So I had to rip (just like in quilting!) and start the dark green over and re-do the accent. I think it was well worth it. Now all three samplers are done and I can get them framed. I had forgotten how relaxing it is to do counted cross stitch--I kept picking it up about every five minutes and finally decided to just finish it!

I have also quilted on the 5-pointed star and done my ironing and started prepping for classes this week (weather permitting).

There was an empty envelope box on my cutting table and Callie kept sitting in it. So finally I put her fleece in it and she is just beside herself with satisfaction. She is in it most of the day and looks out to supervise whatever I am doing. If it looks too interesting, she hops out, plays with my floss or thread, or tries to help while I'm rotary cutting. In the last instance, I put the cutter down (closed, of course) and play with her until she goes back into the box for a snooze. Lynnie keeps eyeing the top of the table as if to say "Why can't I be up there too?"

Time for the big dig-out in a few hours. It's been so bitterly cold that I haven't been able to force myself to do it. Now it HAS to be done.

Stay warm and toasty.