Monday, October 15, 2012

I must be a real quilter now!

Currently I'm working on our last 2 Scrap Squad quilts, so I can't post any pictures of those right now.  But as I have been cutting and sewing on both of them, I realize how many projects I have "in progress".  I used to wonder at my peeps as they would begin one quilt only to put it aside and begin another one.  That USED to drive me bonkers!  But some where down the line, I have become a real live quilter.  I have my 2 scrap squad quilts, a Christmas mystery quilt, 2 full size quilts, 2 wall hangings and a queen size quilt all in progress.  Yikes!  How did that happen.  No mind you a couple only need binding  and some are half quilted and well, the rest, are just tops. 

Well I did manage to get my #4 Scrap Squad quilt done, start to finish.  (Guess maybe I really didn't have a choice.)  I must have been in the Christmas mood back in July, August and September because not only is my mystery quilt Christmas, but I decided that I should be my Scrap Squad in Christmas also.  Here is my Country Christmas Morning.....

I really love paper piecing, so this was a really fun quilt to do.  And I got to use my Kaleidoscope Kreator program, which is always fun too.  I managed to do some fun free motions quilting, holly leaves AND feathers.  And last but not least, my first mitered border.  The first corner was a disaster!  But after some ripping and resewing, each corner got just a bit easier.

I guess this one and I will be using on my table for Christmas and my not quite finished mystery quilt in Christmas, I am well on my way to some new decorations for Christmas. 

Well enough procrastinating, time to hit the sewing room and try my best to finish something!! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Yesterday began week 16 of our destruction/construction project began.  Needless to say it's been either a LONG or very short summer.  It pretty much seems to be a blur for me.  But things are beginning to wind down here on the home front.  My new sewing room was ready to move into yesterday.  There are still a couple of odds and ends to finish up, but everything from my "cozy" (small) sewing room is now in it's new home in the basement. 
Now for a few pictures........
Back yard before
Back yard now!

Basement before (the dungeon!)
And now...........Our new (dry) basement with my new quilt cave-
View of sewing room from the doorway
Another view
View from the back

My Hoosier cabinet and display wall
There's still a few odds and ends to finish up, but it's pretty much done.  And there is plenty of room to spare.  I have reserved room for a longarm someday, but that will have to wait a while longer.  The budget for that went out the door about a month ago, so guess Nina and I will be quilting my quilts a while longer.  But that's OK, we make a pretty good team and I don't think she is ready for only doing piecing just yet. 
Well back to my new home.  I have a mitered border that is putting up a real fight and I have vowed to be the victor in this battle!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Remember when you looked forward to your birthday?

Growing up birthdays were always a big deal.  The whole family got together, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles all got together to celebrate.  I would look forward to that for a month before my birthday.  It seems as we get older we no longer have that anticipation for another birthday to come our way. 

My birthday is May 6 and the year is a well guarded secret.  During the time that I owned my flower shop, my birthday always fell the week of Mother's Day.  Have you ever visited a flower shop Mother's Day week?  It's usually pretty crazy.  So I have to admit my birthday became a nonevent.  In fact it would come and go without me really realizing that I turned a year older.  Plus I have to admit that the good genes that I got from my Grandma Grace, I don't look near as old as the calendar says I should be. 

Our Iowa Quilter's group started a birthday group.  This year we exchanged fat quarter's.  You pick out either a color or a theme and everyone in the group sends you a fat quarter for your birthday.  How much fun is it to get 25 envelopes with some of the most delicious fabric in them!!??  This year I picked Asian fabrics for my birthday.  Going to the mail box for the 2 weeks prior to my birthday was such fun.  And then the anticipation for waiting until May 6 was just like when I was a youngster. 

Here are my birthday goodies......

As you can see there are some very tasty fabrics in there.  I think I spent part of my morning mixing and matching my birthday fat quarters.  Even more fun, right??

I have always had a thing for Asian inspired fabric and have been collecting some over the past 2 years.  They have just been waiting for some companions to go in a quilt.  Well today I finished my top.  It still has to be quilted, but I'm waiting to get in my new sewing room to get it quilted.  But thought you might like to see what I have done with my collection and some of my birthday fat quarters.

I decided not to add a border to the top because it would just be too long for our queen bed and I really want to be able to enjoy each and every square on the quilt when it's on our bed.  I really love all the fabric in here and I have enough fabric left from my fat quarters for at least 2 more quilts.

Well guess that I can look forward to another birthday in a little more than 9 months!  Hurray, another birthday!! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Butterfly Glory

I can hardly believe that we are half way through our 6 quilts for Scrap Squad.  I can honestly say that I have learned "sew" much from not only the 6 other quilters, but I've learned a lot from the patterns we have done so far and a lot about my own quilting abilities.  It's been a great experience.  The greatest thing that I have gotten from doing these is learning to think outside the box.  Take a look at a pattern and decide how you can change it and make it YOU!

Scrap Squad quilt #3 is one that you can real go wild and make it your own.  The original pattern was called Old Glory and would be awesome for a Quilts of Valor donation.  But one of our tasks is to take a pattern and "mix it up" a bit.  Here's the original Old Glory.

The very first thing that I noticed about the original pattern was the great diagonal line that the stars make.  The stars really gave some movement to the design.  So I really wanted to even accentuate that line even more. 

My next step was what to use for more colors and my applique motif.  I really wanted to do something girly and bright. 

I decided on hot pink, lime green, bright yellow and turquoise.  Girly AND bright would certainly describe these colors.  In order to make those colors pop even more, make it even more scrappy AND accentuate the diagonal line through the center of the quilt, I added     
3 1/2 inch black spacers.

See how I can add even more fabrics to the background?  Should be colorful!  Now to decide on my applique motifs.  I LOVE Laurel Burch fabrics.  Her colors are so saturated and bright.  How perfect would one of her fabrics be with these colors.  Searching the trusty internet, I came across some of her fabric with butterflies.  Honestly, the could not have been more perfect if I had planned it that way!! 

A great time to fussy cut butterflies, I watching TV.  Bonnie Stapleton, one of the other Scrap Squad quilters suggested that I do some of my large butterflies 3D.  If you check out our Scrap Squad blog, I have it all explained in there.  Try it!  It's really fun!! 

So here's my Old Glory rendition.....Butterfly Glory.  

The possibilities are endless with this pattern.  So whether it red, white and blue Old Glory or girly bright Butterfly Glory, have fun with this one and think outside the box!!

Monday, May 21, 2012


I can hardly believe that it was 2 weeks ago today that we started construction on our basement and addition.  If you have ever been through a home remodel or lived in a construction zone, you know what I'm saying when I'm talking about the noise and the dust and dirt.  Since there was only a crawl space under part of our house, there was a bunch of excavating that needed to be done.  But let me tell you how worth it the dust and noise here in the house has been!  In 2 weeks time we have come from this.....
To this............

Pretty impressive considering that there is also a full, brand new basement under our 117 year old home. 

Last night was the first time I was in the basement since the floor was poured on Friday and I got a first hand look at where my new quilting home will be.  Too bad someone didn't have a camera to capture the moment.  I JUST COULDN'T BELIEVE HOW GREAT IT WAS!!!  I didn't have my camera with me, but I do have a picture of what it looked like from above on Friday.
Can you believe this is ALL MINE??????  Am I the luckiest person in the world or what?!  So during my visit to my quilt cave last night I found myself laying things out in my head and it was BEAUTIFUL!  Hubby even surprised me a week ago and told me that he was putting a window in there for me.  Now it's below ground, but at least when I'm down there working there will a bit of natural light and I'll know whether it day or night.  You know how it is when you're working on something and next thing you know 3 or 4 hours have passed.

The upstairs will have to be finished before I get to move into my space, but that will give me even more time to decide exactly how I want Nina's new home to be.  I want her to have the nicest room she could possibly have.  She deserves it. 

I'll keep you updated on progress.  Keep your ideas coming!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Construction Update-Day 4

4 days into construction and we have 2 walls up!  I actually got to stand in my new quilt room last night after work.  What a feeling!!  I found my mind going every which way planning where things were going to go in there.  Here's a view of my new room.  May not look like much to you, but looks like heaven to me!!
Now everything has not gone as planned.  If you have ever lived through any construction on your home, I know you can relate.  Day 3 we had a "little" mishap and part of our old basement wall collapsed.  It was going to come down eventually, but not quite yet.  Thankfully no one was hurt, including our house.  The workers got everything shored up before they left and assured us that the house was still sound.  But talk about sleeping with one eye open that night!!  WOW!!
Here's a picture of the mess!!

Yikes, right???

Can't wait to come home tonight and see what progress has been made!  I'll keep you all updated!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Have you ever daydreamed about creating a perfect quilt room or craft space?  For the longest time I have thought about what I would do if I had a large space instead of my tiny little room.  Now I know that I'm lucky to even this tiny space for nothing but sewing and quilting.  I start out as a quilting nomad in my home.  Moving from room to room and having to leave my mess where ever I happened to be sewing cutting at the time.  Or worse yet, having to clean up and put stuff away so we could sit at the table and have dinner.  Currently we have a very small bedroom that I can at least leave everything sitting out and just close the door until I'm ready to go back at it.
Rather than small, let's say it's cozy!  The room is small enough, there isn't even a closet in there.

Well, hubby and I have been talking about putting an addition on the back of our house, redoing our basement and digging out the crawl space that is under part of the house.  Well, the time has come.  They started on our project this past Monday and we are in day 3. 
This picture was taken on the 2nd day of construction.  This was all dirt the day before.  Nina and my new home will be in the basement here.  We will have more room to play in than we will ever no what to do!  It'll be about 24ft x 14ft!  I know, holy cow!!!  You are one lucky girl!  And I know just how lucky I am!!!!

So now I'm facing the dilemma on what do I really, really want in my new play area.  I have spent a lot of time just gathering ideas.  One of our Scrap Squad gals has an area that she uses to spray baste her quilts.  What an awesome idea.  So I'm thinking that I really would like that also and it could double as my design wall too.  But I would like to use cork, so that I could pin right to the wall without putting holes in the drywall.  So that will be a must have!

A huge cutting table would be great too.  I have found a couple of ideas on line that I really like.  I love the idea of being able to have book shelves under there.  Here are a couple of picture that I would like to use a combination of the two.

Also, I should be thinking about what long arm I would like.  The AQS show will be in Des Moines this fall and I suppose that I should wait and test drive them all again. 

I really like this idea for my storage of fabric etc.  Will my room every be this neat????  Too funny to even think about!

I know that I will have a million decisions to make in the next few months.  There will be paint colors, tile and/or carpeting, light fixtures etc.  I'm hoping that Nina and I will be in our new home by Christmas.  So I guess that I have a little time yet to keep dreaming and tweaking.  So if anyone has any ideas, share please!!  We only get an opportunity like this once in a lifetime, so might as well get it right the first time!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Kitties and Quilts/Like Peas and Carrots

I am an animal lover.  If it were up to me, I would have a zoo, but my hubby has some say in things around here, so I have learned that we must limit our 4 legged friends around the house.  I grew up with several cats and dogs, much to my father's dismay.  But he couldn't say no to me as I brought several strays home.  As an adult, I have limited our home to the feline variety.  (Even though the neighbors dog thinks she lives here at least part time)  Right now, we ONLY have 3 cats.  My kids have dubbed me the crazy cat lady.

There is a recurring them in some of my quilts........cats!  If it's not cat quilts, it's cat fabric.  There's the quilt that I made for the Dubuque Humane Society Auction.
There's the quilt that I made just because I liked the kitty theme and actually quilted the names of my 4 cats in it.  (Our cat, Mihouse, is now in kitty heaven)

My shadow kitty wall hanging that ended up going to the Dubuque Humane Society also
My paper pieced kitty that you have already seen that I made for myself and the Dubuque Humane Society.
Not to mention the numerous quilts with kitty fabric included in them.  (One reason why I LOVE Laurel Burch fabric.  Bright colors AND cats!)

My cats, Bart, Krusty and Patches, love to curl up in my quilts, finished and in progress.  I have gotten to the point where I must keep my sewing room door shut when I'm not in there working.  Otherwise, they will make a nest in my quilt that I'm working on or dig through the batting and nest in there. 

A few years ago, hubby asked if I would make a quilt that he could use to nap with in command central.  (That would be his recliner!)  I was ever so happy to accommodate a request, I obliged.  So I made him a quilt from the variable star pattern.
Not only only has hubby claimed this quilt for himself, but one of my 4 legged boys, Patches, has also claimed this quilt.  Patch, somehow last summer tore his Achilles tendon and was in a little kitty cast for about a month.  So every night hubby would carry him downstairs and sit in the chair with him and the quilt.  (For a guy who really didn't like cats when we got married, I have converted him!!! )  They would sit for hours while Patches got his rubs for the evening.  I guess that Patch must have enjoyed his nightly rubs, and he has now come to expect it.  But the funny thing is, Patch now looks to see if hubby has the quilt when he is in the chair.  If he doesn't, Patch gives him a look of disdain and goes to the couch.  When hubby gets the quilt, I'll tell Patch that daddy has your blankie, go get your rubs and he immediately runs and jumps in hubby's lap.  Whoever said that animals are dumb and don't know what we say to them, never actually had a cat.  Here is a picture of hubby and Patches for their nightly rub with the quilt.
There's nothing better than a quilt and a tummy rub in Patches opinion!

As I said before, I would have a zoo if hubby would let me.  I wonder what Patch and hubby would say about sharing their quilt with a goat?  Well, may not.  

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ladder of Success/Scrap Squad Quilt #2

Well Scrap Squad quilt #2 is now in the history books!  This again is one of those quilts that looks complicated, but is really very easy.  If you can cut squares and match seams, you can do this quilt.  This is a great quilt for the beginner and again you will amaze your non-quilter friends with this one.  It's called the Ladder of Success.  Here's the original picture........

 The original is a quilt by Judy Martin and is in the April/May edition of Quiltmaker.  The things that I really love about her design are the white inner border makes the inside of the quilt float and I really love the secondary design that you get around the blocks.  Really makes for a fun and happy quilt. 

But I'm never willing to leave things as they are.  So, since I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, on point design, this quilt really lends itself well to that.  But before I could even think that far ahead, I had to decide on what colors to make my Ladder of Success.

Again looking for color inspiration, I figure I would look to my buddies at HGTV.  When I'm not listening to my iPod or now that baseball season is here and my Cubbies are playing, I am addicted to HGTV.  So looking at their color trends on the HGTV website, I found two different color inspirations.  Here were my choices....

Color Choice #1

Color Choice #2

Looking at my stash, here were my choices and decided that I really should make a couple of test blocks to decide which I really loved best.

Both were really neat color combinations, but I had such a vast array of the teal, aqua and orange fabrics, that one was the winner.  And remember my snow dyed fabric that I did over the winter?  It was an awesome fit for these colors.  How cool is it to use some of your experiments in a quilt?

With my color scheme figured out, it was time to decide the on point part of my quilt.  Deciding that it was time to really make the leap into the 21st century, I decided after Christmas, I would treat myself and purchase the EQ7 quilt design program.  I figured that it would come in very handy doing Scrap Squad.  I could audition my color and design ideas BEFORE committing to all the work that goes into a quilt to see if I really loved it.  (If you could audition all your relationships that easily!!)  Now this is a handy computer program to have, BUT, I have said it before, and I'll say it again, that you really have to be under the age of 25 to be able to say that this program is easy.  I work with Word and Excel on a daily basis and I know enough to be dangerous!  I figured that EQ7 should have a short learning curve for me, but I think I may have over estimated my computer abilities.  Fortunately, the book that come with the program is very well written and as long as I have that by my side, I really haven't had a lot of problems.  Heaven help me if I ever misplace the book!!  So here is my EQ7 design on my computer.  (It's fun to scan the fabrics you are going to use and actually use them in the design.  Neat stuff!!!)

EQ7 rendition of my on point Ladder of Success

Now did my actual quilt turn out anything like my computer generated quilt?  I'll get to that it just a bit.  First I'll share a few tips in the sewing of Ladder of Success.

Matching seams.....This quilt has tons and tons of seams to match.  When I was beginning my adventure as a quilter, I was always baffled by getting my seams to match.  Being somewhat of a perfectionist, I would spend as much time sewing and resewing my patches to get my seams to match.  Here's what I learned and have had great success.  When the directions say to press your seams in opposite directions, that's because you want those two the nest together.  Also pinning the seams is a MUST!  Once your seams are nested together, stick a straight pin through your sewing line on your seam.

Making sure that the pin goes through your seam line on the bottom blocks as well. 

(Excuse the manicure!!!)  After you're sure that the pin placement matches on the top and bottom seams.  Pin on either side of the center in.

Remove your center pic and your are ready to sew!  I have had great success with this method and am accurate probably 95% of the time.  When I'm not, it's because I didn't have the center pin in correctly.  And it's usually just off a smidge.  Whether you tear it out or not is up to you and whether you can live with it being off just a hair or whether it'll make you crazy.

If I had a dollar for everyone of my friends that say they hate binding a quilt, I could probably retire!  I have always liked binding.  Maybe it's because I knew that I was almost finished with a quilt and ready to start a new one.  While soaking up all things quilts on the computer one afternoon, I ran into a podcast by Bonnie McCaffery on machine binding.  I love Bonnie's work and happened to be learning her method on painting faces on fabric at the time.  So I figured that I would take a look at her podcast and check it out.  I tried it out and it is "sew" easy AND fast.  Now if I were going to enter one of my quilts in a show, I would probably still do the traditional binding, but for everyday quilts, this method is the cat's jammies!  You really have to try it at least once.  Now Bonnie can do a much better job at explaining how to do this than I EVER could.  Plus it's a video, so for those visual learners out there, it's great!  Check out it out, the video on machine binding.

Remember my test blocks to decide on my color scheme.  They really came in handy when auditioning how to quilt my Ladder of Success.  Here's some of the auditioning that I did.

As you can see from the second one, I tried several different things and none really tripped my trigger, but I really liked the orange peel design on the first one.  You get a really fun secondary design with this one.  Here's what my back looks like quilted.

My little Nina the Bernina really got a workout on this one.  But I really like the results.

Well I suppose it's time for the unveiling on my Ladder of Success.  I think it looks pretty darned close to my EQ7 vision.
My finished Ladder of Success.  Compared to EQ7...

Pretty amazing how close it turned out!  Well hope that you enjoyed the Ladder of Success and maybe got a couple of useful tips to make your quilt life a little easier.  I'm heading to the sewing room now and working on a new cushion for my porch swing.  It's getting to be that time of the year again.

One more thing before I head upstairs.  Big news in our house.  We are starting destruction/construction on a new basement under our 125+ year old home and an addition on the back of the house too.  That means that I will have a new room for Nina in our basement with tons of room and some extra room on the first floor, so that my Dad can come and visit.  I think that Nina may need a new friend to share her room, so who knows, maybe Larry the Longarm may find some place to share with Nina!!!  Fingers are crossed!!