Saturday, May 30, 2009

T-Shirt Quilt

A friend and former Stitchin' Mission student, asked if I might be able to finish a t-shirt quilt she'd started for her daughter's high school graduation. Kim had already fused interfacing to the t-shirts and cut them out. Sashing was cut out too.

So for the past couple days, machine-quilting was set aside to piece this t-shirt and batiks 62" X 74" quilt top, piece a backing, and prepare binding.
Though the nine t-shirts made a square quilt, a rectangle quilt was desired. With Kim's permission, I played with the layout. I cut up an extra block of an orange tie-dyed t-shirt to make cornerstones. From my own stash I added the lavender sashing and border, and orange border.

Using my sewing machine alphabet, I embroidered this...
Happy graduation day, KayLynn, Valley High School class of 2009!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

More Machine Quilting

It's a machine-quilting extravaganza! As I've mentioned, once I get started machine-quilting, I keep going until I'm caught up. Three quilts have been basted for several months...full of every single size-one safety-pin I own! It's time to get these babies quilted.
Back in February I pieced and basted Bonnie Hunter's "String X" available on her website: I love that the pattern used up so many scraps of bright kid-prints that I collected....discarded by students in Stitchin' Mission classes.

I'm using two rings from my set of 12, 1/2"-wide lucite rings to draw circles - sorta like the Target store bullseye logo - with a washout marker. I'm getting good practice at free-motion quilting a smooth circle! 
And BTW, that set of lucite rings is one of the best quilting purchases I've ever made. I use them often.

Since I generally try to follow the basic quilting "rule" (or strong suggestion) that for geometric piecing, the quilt pattern should be curves, between the circles I'm quilting another wavy design. I first drew this shape onto parchment paper and then cut it from template plastic.
Just stitchin' away...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


This mission quilt is now quilted! The binding is cut, pieced, pressed and ready to be sewn to the quilt and that will happen June 1 as one of the Stitchin' Mission lessons.
The quilt back is made from three prints. The largest piece is this print purchased from Wal-Mart. The child who gets this quilt may learn all the US states and capitols too! 
Yea, Des Moines, Iowa!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Free-Motion Machine Quilting

I love creating quilt tops. Quilting them...not so much. Though I'm a fair enough domestic (Bernina QE153) machine quilter, it always takes some extra self-urging to jump-start doing it. Once I'm over that little hurdle, it's full steam ahead it until it's finished.
Such is the case with this 48" X 60" mission quilt I'm making for the current Stitchin' Mission class. It was easy enough to pick out 80 prints to cut into 6-1/2" X 6-1/2" (unfinished) squares, and then piece them together, but a whole extra effort to begin quilting it. 

I'm quilting with a bright yellow Aurifil #50-weight thread. Though all the quilting is a meandering snail shell design - that's my name for it - on the lone white, tone-on-tone square, I quilted a cross. 
When the quilting is finished, this quilt will be used for the binding lesson at the June 1 class. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Can you smell them?

I wish blogs had the capability of including scent because I'd make sure you got a big whiff of what I'm smelling every day now. A heavenly scent is wafting from the huge, just-blooming, Korean lilac bush alongside our deck. 
We're keeping all the windows open now...on purpose!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Giveaway

Okay all you lurking friends of mine...yes, you know who you are! ...those of you who occasionally read my blog, but don't write a comment ...nary a peep from you positive or otherwise. 

Head over to the blog of my friend, Downunder Di. On her Snippets 'n' Scraps blog she's having a 10,000th visitor giveaway. Di hand made several lovelies and is giving them away! BUT, you have to write a comment in order to have a chance to win. You have until June 7 to enter.

Be nice: comment.
And maybe win something.

How much easier can it be?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Walk in the Woods

Though my title is also the title of a book by one of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson, several mornings a week, I do take a walk in the woods.

A dog in the household helps keep us physically fit, as we trek the 3.2-mile (5.1 K) trail around Raccoon River Park.
 Much of the trail runs between the Des Moines River, and Blue Heron Lake.
It's a place to appreciate God's creation.

In my own backyard I routinely get to see robins, blue jays, and cardinals. Along the trail this morning I saw gold finches (our state bird), Baltimore orioles, red-headed woodpeckers, and a blue heron (the lake's namesake).
My favorite spring migratory bird is the indigo bunting. Happily, I sited several of them this morning which I tried to photograph. They're just too small and flighty. But a bird that color, is really something to see.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Season of Grace Stockings

I've been playing catch-up on the Season of Grace, BOM (block-of-the-month) being offered by author Emilie Richards and quilter Pat Sloan. The BOM began in February, and has two options.

My friend, blogless Mary, and I are each making the Advent stocking quilt that will finish into a 25-block wall quilt. Our stockings are about 5" X 7", faced with muslin, and blanket-stitched to a background fabric (have yet to do that part). They'll be dimensional so treats and little gifts can be stuffed inside.

Mary and I are each making two identical - or very similar - stockings for every month, then swapping one. Though we agreed on a background fabric, and basic colors, I'm sure we'll end up with 25 very different stockings.

Here are February (Nine-Patch) and March (Crazy Quilt) stockings.
And these are April (applique...ha, we agreed to embroider instead)
and May (Candy Cane Stripe) stockings.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

We've been home for three weeks now, I've fully adjusted to Central Daylight Time, but I'm greatly missing Australia! Memories and images are all that remain of the whole five week experience. 
Here are pictures of a wonderful part of Victoria, Australia, the south coastline. The Great Ocean Road follows craggy cliffs and is nothing but beautiful vista after beautiful vista of gorgeous (impossible!) sandstone rock formations. The formations above are known as "The Twelve Apostles," though the crashing surf has reduced that number to eight.

 This one is "The Arch."

And how would you have felt to have been one of the two tourists who was stranded at the end of this formation - "The London Arch" (formerly known as "The London Bridge") - when it collapsed in 1990!? They had to be rescued by helicopter. In person, you can still see the walkway by which visitors reached the point.

Much like the US, numerous pull-off, parking areas invite tourists to stop and take in the scenery. When returning to the Great Ocean Road, drivers always saw this sign. 
Being the driver during our travels, I fully appreciated the reminder, and the gravity of the importance of following this traffic law...but it's not an easy thing for an American to do.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


A couple quilt-y things are attracting my attention these days:
  • Stitchin' Mission #17 classes are underway, so weekly lessons need thoughtful preparation and prayer. 
  • Hand-applique continues to call me, like a siren-song, and I'm steadily making progress on pieces for the Snowflake Medallion quilt. But those 1 cm circles are driving me crazy! I'm needleturn appliqueing them, and have only 72 of them to do! (There must be a better way...)
But what makes those ga-jillion 1 cm circles bearable is that I fondly recall Australia because I'm using the sweet hexagon pin cushion made for me by my Aussie blogger friend, Di.
Thank you, Di.  I miss you. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I've been spending most of my quilt-y time listening to audiobooks on my MP3 player while hand-appliqueing. In between, other projects have taken priority.

Because neighbors came for dinner Friday evening, I thought it was time to have a nice tablecloth...well, one that actually fits the table.  I started with a tone-on-tone beige Robert Kaufman fabric, designed by Patrick Lose, called Mixmasters Satinesque. The fabric design is one I love because it looks like shimmering water. At 42", the fabric wasn't wide enough for my table, so I inserted a multi-colored, variable stripe. With burgundy and cream-colored dishes, this sets a nice-looking table.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Bloomin' Spring

This past week, spring definitely sprung. Trees, shrubs and flowers are impressing us with some beautiful colors, as well as lovely fragrances. The Snow Crab tree in front of our house has been magnificent, and when the wind picked up for a couple days, we had a veritable "blossom blizzard!"

In his teen years our son dubbed the Snow Crab, our "popcorn tree" and the name stuck. I guess you can see why.

In the backyard we've enjoyed this Prairie Fire Crab tree.

And my all-time spring favorite is lilacs. We have several bushes in our yard. But, I can't get enough of smelling them! When walking the dog, any lilacs near sidewalks are targets for my sniffer. Heavenly!

And speaking of the dog, Hogan looks fairly relaxed here, laying in our living room picture window. And I thought the saying was about the "dog days of summer."
Looks like spring is good for lazing about too.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Patchwork Inspiration

Now that I'm back in the groove at home, but very much missing Australia, it's a great comfort to in-my-mind revisit the sites and sounds (the birds!) that are so different when compared to Iowa. In Australia every day I saw and heard yellow-crested cockatoos - the most beautiful, but also the most screechingly loud, squawking birds! 

Yet a common denominator is patchwork! Doesn't a quilter see it in many things, at home and away?

On the left is a picture of the floor outside a tourist "I" center, in a Bendigo, Victoria historic building.

On the right is an example of the lovely sidewalk tile patterns Sydneysiders have from their front porches to the street.

How handy to simply look down and be inspired!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

A Hand Work Tip

One reason I don't often do hand applique is because it's always a little off-putting to figure out what I need to set up my work area - good lighting is essential - and how to arrange all the tools, threads and pieces needed to do it. If you don't have a handy table beside or in front of you, it's easy to lose track of things.

After thoughtfully considering what I already have in my house that might work...inspiration! I found the perfect item for my handwork tools and supplies. It's a 13" X 20" white plastic serving tray with handle cut-outs.

I purchased it a few years ago at a Container Store in Texas, and we've been using it to carry food to the outdoor deck for summertime meals. But after giving it a go with my hand work, this will probably become a permanent part of my hand-applique paraphernalia. I like how it fits handily on my lap, and with its 1" deep sides, contains anything that might slide or roll away. I don't know how I previously managed without it.

I hope this is an idea that will help you organize your handwork too.


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