Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Award and Tomato Pincushion Tutorial

On Saturday, I was awarded the Sisterhood Award from Ranette of Ranette's Daily Stitch. It goes without saying that I am moved beyond belief, simply because I've only been blogging for two months.

Having said that, I wasn't too clear on what to do next. Guess I should have thoroughly read the guidelines, huh? Duh! So I proceeded to read them again and here's what I must to do.

1. Put the logo on my blog or post.

2. Nominate 10 or fewer blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!

3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.

4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received your award.

Do you know something? In the short two months that I've been blogging, I haven't "met" one person who doesn't deserve this award. You all know who you are and you've all touched me in your own special way and have made my life even richer than it was before, and for that I'm eternally grateful. A big hug to each and every one of you.

So please, please help yourself to the Sisterhood Award. By doing so you'd be saving me a whole mess of work (wink) and I certainly wouldn't want to leave anyone out. Thank you Ranette for thinking of me. I am truly grateful.

And before I go, I've been asked if I would do a tutorial on the tomato pincushions.

I would love to! So please tune in on Friday because...

You can NEVER have too many pincushions!

Happy stitching!

Monday, March 30, 2009

For the Love of Applique

About a year ago, I took my first applique class. I am fascinated by the Baltimore style of applique and it was my dream then and still is now to make a quilt in this style. I learned a lot in this class. Gabriel was a great teacher who took some extra time with me as I was the only novice in a class of experienced stitchers. She was actually the one who encouraged me to sign up for the class.

We were exposed to many different styles and methods of applique, not only to be made aware of them but to also help us determine the method that best suited our individual needs. My ambition after taking the class was to take one of my painted still life designs and to try to adapt it to applique.

The design I had in mind was featured in the November 2005 issue of the decorative painting magazine, Paint Works...

and I called it "F" is for Fruit because it was painted on a reproduction tin plate that had the raised letters of the alphabet embossed on it's rim.

Because I love working with wool, I decided that was probably the best way to go for this first attempt. I took out my ever-growing stash of wool and decided on the appropriate colors for each element in the design. I cut them out, chose a background fabric and was on my way.

I affixed all the elements to the background fabric using Steam-a-Seam 2.

Here is a closeup of my original painting. Can you notice any similarities? (Humor me here).

And next is the completed stitched rendition. From the outset, I wasn't sure how it would turn out and approached it as a trial run. I was pleased with the results and decided to turn it into a throw pillow.

I thoroughly enjoyed recycling my design and it worked up effortlessly using the wool. My next attempt will be using fabric and the needle turn method of applique.

Happy stitching!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

You can never have too many...

Yesterday my friend Lucie and I got together again to sip tea, stitch and once more solve the problems of the world. The day before, while flipping through old magazines, we came across a project explaining how to make tomato pincushions.

"Tomato pincushions?" I cried. "We've got to make some!"

They looked easy enough to make so we read the directions, made notes on dimensions, cutting instructions and the supplies needed and agreed to meet at Lucie's at 9:30 a.m. the next morning.

I arrived on time with all my paraphernalia in tow. We had cut the fabric ahead of time in order to save time and to be able to get down to business right away. Lucie made a fresh pot of tea and we were set to go. Tomato pincushions...yes!

They were surprisingly easy to make and by 11:30 a.m. we had each completed three of them.

Here are the 'fruits' of my labor...

to compliment a few from my collection of antique ones...

and a few more scattered about.

What better way to spend a morning than with friends, stitching and drinking tea?

The moral of this story? You can NEVER have too many pincushions!

Happy stitching!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Santas for Charity - Part 2

Not too long ago I told the story about Tom's carved santas and the good fortune that befell me when "he the carver" and "me the painter" managed to connect through blogging. In short and to recap, Tom loves to whittle and carves amazing little santas but doesn't really fancy the painting part. That's where I come in.

Tom offered his santas to someone who would put them to good use. I contacted Tom and offered to paint them and sell them with 100% of the proceeds to go to a hospice that is being built near to where I live that is scheduled to open in the Fall of this year. Tom was good enough to send me 5 samples of his santas which I received last week.

Yesterday I decided that it was time to bring them to 'life' so I dusted the fabric lint off the brushes and began to paint.

They average about 2 1/2" tall and are carved in the old world or Belsnickle style. The detail on these little gaffers is amazing. Painting them involves 5 steps...sanding, basecoating, detailing, antiquing and finally sealing with a spray varnish. The next photo illustrates the second step, the basecoating or initial application of color.

And below are the finished santas. The second and fifth ones from the left are ornaments, complete with hangers and the first, third and fourth ones are pins with the pin backs already attached.

I am offering these for sale at $10 each including shipping and handling for shipments to the US and Canada. International orders will be $15 including S & H. My best guess is that close to half of the sale price will go towards postage and shipping materials. All proceeds after costs will be donated to the hospice.

These first 5 which are signed and dated, will be sold on a first come, first served basis. Just let me know which one you would like when you leave your comments. I prefer payments be made through Paypal and you can pay with a credit card using Paypal, even if you don't have a Paypal account.

This first group I painted traditional red but if you'd like to have your santa in another color, I'd be happy to comply. More santas are on the way, so "reservations" will be accepted and you'll be contacted when they're done. Should you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Trip to the Bakery

Late yesterday morning, I decided to go to the bakery. I had never been to this particular bakery before and thought that this was as good a time as any because I had a craving for something sweet. And something sweet I found!

To clarify, this was not your typical storefront bakery, but Moda's Bake Shop as in Moda, the fabric people. I can't tell you too much about the site because I never made it past the first page because this 'to die for' baby quilt was smiling back at me.

My nephew and his wife are expecting their first child in May and I knew I wanted to make a baby quilt as soon as they told me. I bought the fabric about 3 months ago and I've been searching for the perfect pattern ever since...but to no avail. Until yesterday, that is.

I printed off the pattern, read the instructions and breathed a sigh of relief...I had more than enough fabric! From the outset, the fabric I had in mind for this quilt was a collection of 1930's reproduction prints in a variety of pastels and with a kiddie theme. This design was just what the doctor ordered...no pun intended.

It was about 2:00 p.m. and without further ado, I got busy. I got all the pieces cut out before dinner and started piecing right after.

The sewing machine was just a humming...and me too!

Everything was moving right along and I had to use my best friend Mistress Seam Ripper only once.

By 9:00 p.m. all 12 blocks were pieced. Rather than tempt fate, I decided to call it a night and continue in the morning.

I finished assembling all the blocks by 9:30 a.m. and then attached the first border.

Next came the fun part...the Prairie Points. I love doing Prairie Points. They are a little labor-intensive but they add so much character and interest to a quilt.

After the Prairie Points came the outside border and...voila...the completed top!

And here's the backing fabric.

I am absolutely thrilled with my trip to the bakery and I have to thank Jodi from Simply This That and the Other for designing Pinwheels and Prairie Points. Jodi, that's one more thing I can strike off my "to do" list and for this I am eternally grateful.
And do you know what's best about the bake shop?
Everything is ZERO calories!
Happy stitching!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Rainbow Swap Blocks Done!

Another project can be crossed off my "to do" list. Yippee!

My Rainbow Swap blocks are done...all 9 of them!

I started cutting the fabric yesterday morning and decided to start sewing a few pieces together just to see how it looked. The block I selected is called Antique Tile and to my delight, they all went together without major incident. Now I'm not saying that me and my best friend, Mistress Seam Ripper and I did not meet up a few times, but not often enough to end the relationship.

Now I just have to package them and get them in the mail to our famous...or is it infamous... swap leader Jane, from Janes Fabrics and Quilts .

I love when that happens because it encourages me to move on to the next project straight away. Now which one on the list will it be...eeny, meeny, miney, moe...hmmmmm.

Happy stitching!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

BIG City Shopping Trip...Again!

Sam and I just came back from the BIG city and I know you're all going to think that all I do is shop, but I have an explanation...REALLY!

When I signed up for Jane's Rainbow Swap, one of the colors that was available for me to select from was dark blue. Briefly, the fabric guidelines are such that we could use as many different types of fabrics to complete the block of our choosing, but the foreground had to read monochromatic with the background white or tone-on-tone white. The fabric in my stash that I thought I could use just didn't fit the bill, nor did the yardage that I bought in Vermont earlier this week. My interpretation of monochromatic is what I know from my painting which evidently does not have exactly the same meaning in quilting.

That being said, we just HAD to make a trip to the quilt shop in the BIG city today because 'time's a wastin' and I MUST get started on my blocks!

This time, I selected two different prints from Bonnie Blue Basics by Paula Barnes of Bonnie Blue Quilts. They are different prints but are definitely monochromatic in that the value of the blue is the same in each fabric. The background fabric is a soft, 100% cotton white muslin.

Sam offered me an hour in the quilt shop while he went to the book store. It took about 15 minutes for me to select the fabric and have them cut it, which left me with 45 minutes to kill til he came back to collect me. Darn! However was I going to kill 45 minutes in a quilt shop? (Insert sly grin here).

My next purchase is all Nanette's fault! If you've never visited Freda's Hive before, give yourself a treat. Nanette has the most wonderful, colorful, extraordinary, eclectic and off-the-wall collection of fabrics you'll ever see. And what she makes with them will knock your socks off. I thought my tastes tended to lean toward the antique-y, Civil War type of fabric but somehow...just somehow...with each visit to Nanette's blog, I've started to take bigger steps outta my proverbial box. Have a look at these fabrics...and of course I had to have 3 more of the Mettler embroidery threads to make that collection almost complete.

Aren't they so kewl?

And last...but not least, I had to purchase this book simply because there are some really neat pincushion patterns in it. After all, one can never have too many pincushions. Right?

Isn't retirement grand?

Happy stitching!

Friday, March 20, 2009

And The Winner Is...

I don't know where my head was at when I calculated that I would reach my 5oth post on or around the 17th of March. I know math was always my worst subject, but I didn't think it was THAT bad!

Sam asked me last night if I had done the drawing for my first giveaway. When I checked and reported back to him that I was only on my 39th post, he said 50 at the earliest would be eleven days away and to just get on with it.

So 'on with it' I went. I printed off all the comments that were left on the give away post, cut them apart and added the extra entries for referrals. They were then placed into a basket.

Sam agreed to do the drawing while I took the photos. Nothing scientific here. Into the basket went his hand...

He swished around a couple of times and picked out an entry.

I'm trying my darndest to learn how to enable my photos to enlarge by clicking on them but to no avail so you can't even have a sneak peek. Maybe if you squint hard enough, you'll see that the winner of my lamp is...

Candace, of Squash House Quilts.
Oh, oh...one more thing to pack! If you read Candace's blog, you'll see that she and her husband just recently listed their house for sale. Sorry Candace...but you'll see when you receive it that it's not very big and won't take up too much room in the moving van! If you email me with your snail mail address, I'll have it out to you lickety-split!
Thanks to everyone who participated by leaving a comment on my blog. Please drop by again because one never knows when the moment will strike for my next give away.
Happy stitching!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Shopping Trip to Vermont

It was 6:00 a.m. and we were having our morning cup of coffee while watching the local news. The forecast for the day called for mild temperatures but with rain in the morning changing to periods of sun in the afternoon. It sounded like a typical dull day to stay indoors and stitch. The next thing I hear is my husband suggesting that we take a leisurely drive to the Green Mountain state of Vermont to do a little shopping and "maybe" visit a quilt shop or two.

In a heartbeat I was in and out of the shower, dressed and raring to go. We loaded Mac and Lola...our Westie and Golden Retriever...into the van and we were off. Two and a half hours later...including two doggie walk and pit stops...I was standing inside Yankee Pride in Essex Junction, VT one of my favorite quilt shops. There I purchased several yards of Civil War reproduction fabrics, my favorite.

I noticed that they carried Mettler thread but I didn't see any of the embroidery thread that I've been "collecting" for my applique work. When I asked one of the shop clerks if they carried it, she told me that they didn't but a shop about 3 miles from them had a vast array of different threads and that I might find some there. She gave me a map of the area and even marked the directions to the shop on the map. After paying for my purchases and thanking her, we headed out.

Strawberry & Rhubarb is located in Williston, VT and is waaaaay different from Yankee Pride. I guess being in such close proximity, each shop would need to have it's own unique identity in order to survive. Yankee Pride tends to offer the more traditional fabrics whereas Strawberry & Rhubarb offers very contemporary fabrics.

Sam, my husband, told me to take my time because he was going to take the dogs for a walk in a nearby park. Yes!!! (Insert arm pumping motion here).

When I first walked into the shop, I was blown away by color. Color radiated from everywhere, from the walls to the finished samples to the numerous displays of thread and of course, the fabric! Being a Civil War type of gal, there was a lot of color going on in there. As I was walking around, Gail the owner of the shop came over and we started talking. She explained to me that her shop tended to stay away from the "traditional" and leaned toward the Amy Butler sort of fabrics. I didn't know what this meant before but I certainly do now. Bold, beautiful and very untraditional!

Gail further explained that they were clearing out the more traditional fabric which could be found in the classroom area and was discounted at 50% off. Naturally, I had to see if there was any calling my name. Loud and clear I heard it, so I just had to buy 5 yards of this sampler-type fabric from Moda's At Water's Edge collection by Blackbird Designs. I am going to use this as the background for a quilt called No Place Like Home from the Home Sweet Home book by Barb Adams and Alma Allen. Sold at $25!

Along with Civil War fabrics, I also love the "retro" look. I have two retro table cloths that I bought at an auction a while back but decided to start a fabric stash as well. Gail told me that this fat quarter bundle was from the Moda collection, Sweet. Kewl, huh?

I managed to add to my Mettler embroidery and Valdani perle cotton thread collections and found some long doll making needles which will be great for making pincushions. I also had to buy some citrus scented Best Press spray.

And last, but certainly not least...see the sac below?

Guess what else Strawberry & Rhubarb sells? Yep! You guessed it... Bernina sewing machines!

To make a long story short and without boring you with all the details, I'm going to be a proud owner of a new Bernina Aurora 440QE sewing machine in a couple of weeks!!! Why in a couple of weeks and not right now? Because there were only the two shop demo models in stock so they have to order a brand new one for me and the soonest we can return to pick it up is in two weeks. We also have to coordinate the pick up of the machine with a two hour training session which I'm definitely going to need. For sentimental reasons, I think I'm going to keep my Bernina 1080QE, simply because it was the last machine with a steel casing that Bernina manufactured.

After my shopping spree, we went and had a nice lunch. Sam went to a couple of man-type shops after which we started to make our way home. By this time the sun was out, the temperature was in the high 50's and everything was right in our little world.

Happy stitching!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Penny Rugs

I love everything about working with wool...the texture, the fact that it's easy to manipulate and finally...it's so forgiving.

When I retired from the decorative painting industry a couple of years ago, I needed something other than my art to keep my hands busy. I always loved penny rugs and managed to pick up three in my travel teaching around the US. One was handmade and given to me by one of my students and the other two were made offshore. During that time, I started to buy and managed to accumulate a stash of wool...for future endeavors.
About two years ago, I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. I sketched the tulips and rabbit and as a result, came up with this, my first attempt at a penny rug.
Last year, my friend Lucie bought an Easter-themed penny rug pattern. Since she had never made one before, she decided that I should share my "expertise" and we would each make one while sharing afternoon tea at each other's houses. In this way we would be more productive...sip tea, stitch and solve all the problems in the world...all at the same time. We both got our penny rugs done in time for Easter and without spilling a drop of tea on them!
This next one is from a kit that I picked up at the Vermont Quilt Festival last June. I started it a couple of months ago but somehow got side-tracked with other projects. (wink) It's very near to completion and is on my "to do" list, so hopefully it'll get done soon.
Enjoy the day and as always...
Happy stitching!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Decorating for Easter

The sun is shining, the snow is melting s-l-o-w-l-y but surely and the temperature is supposed to be above freezing for the next five days. Can Spring be far away?

My husband left for the BIG city at around 7:00 this morning which allowed me uninterrupted time to do "stuff". What better day than to put out my Easter and Spring decorations? No sooner had Sam pulled out of the driveway, I found myself downstairs in our utility room locating the large bin labeled "Easter".

I love decorating for the seasons. I usually leave the "treasures" out for about a month so by the time the next year rolls around, everything seems like new and a surprise all over again. First, I decided to empty the entire bin on my kitchen table and counters, just to take stock of what was there. Yikes! Every year the inventory seems to multiply...maybe because there are bunnies in there? (wink)

I started with the kitchen. Even Mac got into the act, basking in the warm sunshine. Lots of rabbits and chenille carrots to whet his appetite.

And a closer look...

And more Easter stuff scattered about the kitchen, perhaps too small to see.

Next comes the entryway by the front door.

Then down the hall...chicks, or chooks as they say in Oz...and rabbits galore.

And further down the hall, the Easter tree and chocolate rabbit.

Next comes the den.

And another angle of the den with the penny rug that I made last year.

I didn't realize I had so much stuff. Then there's the great room with hand made woolen eggs in the trencher and Easter pillows on the sofa.

And there's even Easter stuff in the bathroom!

Mr. Hopkins is having a little siesta on an Easter-y colored Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.

There's more if you can believe it but before you think I've completely lost it, I'd better stop here.
Just to make this quilt-erly, the table topper in the first two photos is a quilt that I made from 1930's reproduction fabrics a couple of months ago and just picked up yesterday from the gal who does my machine quilting. It's a William Morris design that I found as a free pattern on the internet.
Happy stitching!