Friday, February 24, 2017

A Lovely Summer Week this Winter

Betty Jane is wrapping up the work on this beautiful quilt. I hope the colors translate on your screen because it is so well done. It will be entered in this years Three Rivers Quilt Guild show. This is a big girl, 100 inches by 100 inches!

Let me set the stage here. It is February 24th in Western Pennsylvania. It is 6:30 pm, it is still light outside and temperature is 76 degrees! How about that? The entire week has been very warm and Spring-like, fine by me.
Quilted on her Viking machine.

Our Tuesday gathering of the Ladies of the Cloth was particularly memorable with some beautiful projects shared among the ladies. While transferring files to this new computer I spent some time viewing the many quilts made by my friends and posted here. Even I was amazed and the number and the diversity of the offerings.

Each inner border reflects one of the primary colors in the blocks.

Another angle.

Beautiful and varied quilting patterns.

Close up.

Close up.
 I just heard a weather report that predicted possible thunderstorms tonight. Good grief, no wonder I get confused :)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday, The Amaryllis Blooms!

This is the first time I have ever managed no get an Amaryllis to bloom. I usually kill them off.

This one has 8 blooms. 8!

This one is called Apple Blossom. As we speak the other plant, the exact same plant is in my Intensive Care Nursery, looks like I will kill one anyway.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Thimble, The Thimble, One of the Great Tragedies of our Time!

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Oh My! What has become of our culture when Hasbro has removed the THIMBLE from our monopoly game? It's old fashioned!!!! Since 1935 the THIMBLE has been an iconic game piece for me and for many of my game playing friends.
This is where she lives.

I understand. There was apparently voting involved, I wish I had known. I am going to make a hat that looks like a thimble, and stick it on my head. You know, wear it around look like an idiot. Or not.
Inside I have a black thread, a white thread, a little pair of scissors, and of course, the thimble in her burgundy organdy drawstring pouch. She is a custom, hand made, sterling silver thimble. She is very special to me.
To be honest, I have about 20 thimbles. Leather to silicone, pewter to hard plastic, all ill-fitting.

We have stitched many bindings together and mended many buttons etc. Today we are going to repair the binding on this quilt. It seems the stitching is coming up here.This is one of those lap-cuddle quilts that gets used and tossed and washed and dried. Over and over. That is their purpose in life. Like the thimble, it has a function even now in modern life. No matter what the twits and Hasbro say!

Long live the Thimble.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The "Ladies" Have a Valentine Party

My contribution for the swap.
Several weeks ago we considered a way to lift the mid-Winter doldrums and came up with a swap party for Valentine's Day. Since we meet on Tuesdays and the holiday fell on Tuesday this year our ducks lined up in a nice little row. Despite some of our members being ill and others being in the "snowbird" category, we had our lovely core group and quite a few giggles.

Normally we work on our own projects during our gathering time and occasionally we work on our service projects. Mary Jane read a letter forwarded to her from a base group for whom we contribute our sewing skills. It seems that some grateful ladies in Kenya received our gifts and they were most appreciated. It is wonderful to hear from these people half way across the world.

Here is one of those under-my-needle shots. I couldn't share it until the gift was gifted :) I programmed the heart from one of the Destiny menu's and used the built in scripts, positioned it as I wished and stitched it out on a cotton/linen blend towel using one sheet of a lightweight tear away stabilizer.
Our Dear Kay was the recipient of the towel.
We drew numbers to set up the sequence to choose the gifts that were stacked in the middle of our table. We took turns around the group. Mug rugs were popular as were genius little microwave bowl holders. Rose carved a sweet little trinket box and Barb made a stunning star ornament made from Valentine theme fabric.
Rose chooses little mug rugs with sweet little beads on the bindings.
Barb has a sweet little mug rug and mug!

Pat choose the star ornament. That's Linda at the far end of the table, she choose a sweet little Spring theme towel for her kitchen.

Pat unwrapping the star ornament so carefully packaged.

That's Terri there in the middle, she chose a sweet little Winter themed bread pan filled with a yummie looking quick bread. At the end of the table is Karen, I think she ended up with the little carved box. I got to pick one of those cute little microwave bowl covers.
 I made little crochet teacup favors and put a few little heart shaped chocolates for each member.

 Of course some treats were required, Kay made sweet little cupcakes and Karen brought us some wonderful peanut butter Hershey kiss cookies.

  • Conclusion for the day.
  • Even a Hallmark Holiday can enrich the Sewist. 
  • You know how strongly I feel about creative groups. No matter what the focus, no matter what this history of the participants, we can all learn from each other. 
  • If there is no such thing in your area, make your own. Advertise in your church or library, talk to ladies at the bus stop with their children. No matter where you come into contact with other enthusiasts (such as a quilt shop) recruit those who may be interested and contribute their talents. I know for a fact.....this is a good thing:)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Re-Run Favorite-Wool Applique

Linda's (From the Ladies of the Cloth Group) applique work reminded me of this one she had been working on. This one is wool appliqued to cotton. This post had some of the highest reader hits than most of my other posts! Not just because it is an Album-type quilt but because the meticulous hand-work is so well presented.   So.....lets look again, shall we? (this was originally posted August 2016.) 
I wanted to share Linda's  (from The Ladies of the Cloth group) project shared recently. I have posted a few in-progress photo's but the layout is now complete and the wool applique is absolutely beautiful.

This little quilt is not just sweet, it is beautifully executed. Linda's hand applique skills are superb. The birds and floral designs have that elegant "colonial" look to me. Her sashing and border fabric compliments the blocks so well by providing a neutral background but still anchors the blocks.

  • I haven't done any wool applique for a while, I need to re-visit that!
  • Working on projects that have been languishing in our project boxes can be so heart warming. Like visiting old friends, finishing them is the right thing to do. My theory is that if it has been sitting for more than a year or two, I am not going to finish it and I need to pass it on to someone who will. 
  • It is time to consider Fall decor. I have a bit. My favorite season and Mr.'s favorite holiday (Halloween) are coming up. He has chosen some new quilted projects for me to complete. Even as an adult, his enthusiasm for the day has not waned. As a child it was such a high point. I will need to make him a new Trick or Treat bag, one for fruit, yogurt and water.  

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Applique Skills, A Work in Progress and a Project Complete

Applique, applique, you either like it or you don't. Well, that is my experience. I first started doing some applique work after watching Eleanor Burns on PBS making one of her Baltimore Album a day! Mama Mia, I don't think so but her method is pretty efficient and lends itself well to portability. 
Our Linda has been working on this masterpiece for some time. The applique work is amazing. Very time consuming, she plans to enter it in the Guild show this year....if she completes it!

 So many points, so many circular shapes. Each has their own challenges. But just look at the kaleidoscope of colors and design!
Up close and personal.

Linda is finishing up the fine points and then the binding. I am beyond impressed.
Speaking of impressed, Terri started this sweet table runner last week and has it completed to be gifted. Setting some sort of a land speed record in my terms, she has created one sweet little gift! Also applique, the colors here just bounce right off the fabric. She used the method popularized by Eleanor Burns here. After one traces the shapes onto a piece of fusible interfacing (lightweight) you cut the interfacing and turn it. Push out all those curves and corners then place the shapes where the pattern directs. Fuse them down and stitch them as desired.

 Quilted on her new Baby Lock Coronet quilting machine, the design echo's the open areas in circles. Fun look this one, lots of fun.

 The binding is an extension of the backing. This method was the one used most by the Grandmother who inspired me. Terri used a nice little blanket stitch to secure the binding.

My thoughts:
  • Applique is one of those stitching skills that tends to be a love/hate thing. Of course, the more you do it the more you love it. 
  • Suitable for all skill levels, applique is a great Go project.
  • Did you know that one of the best light tables that I have used is actually the acrylic extension table that I use on my sewing machine. I will show you when I set it up again. Really simple, I just pop a little battery operated puck light or two under the table as it is attached to the machine. I use the presser foot to hold the pattern and fabric down, like a cheater hand! Then trace away.  
  • A go bag or two is a good thing. I seem to spend inordinate amounts of time in waiting rooms. This week one doctor, one car waiting room, one pause between social appointments that is too short to start any house work and too long to waste. What to do? Grab the Go bag and work a little cross-stitch, a little crochet, a little applique. That is how things get done for me, in little bursts of time. Providing I don't fall asleep sitting up.... it has happened.....I am not a good night sleeper and it does eventually catch up :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My Valentine, Redwork

A Valentine Tuesday. Always a fan of Redwork, by hand and by machine, there is something about the color that has charmed me for many years. I inherited this passion from my Mother who carpeted our entire main floor rooms in a deep, sculpted red carpet, I think it may have been imprinted at an early age. Redwork by hand is one of those Zen like behaviors for me. By machine, well, you can go wild, absolutely wild.

The teapot was a Bridal Shower game gift. It is a happy little one-cupper.  The "Market Day" hand worked Redwork tea towel is a gift from a dear friend in the UK. The script sewn "Valentine"  tea towel was sewn on my machine. Simple decorative stitching and programmed script stitched in a red rayon thread decorate the simple linen tea towel on the right.

After being together for 52 Valentine's Days, Mr. Sewtopia knows where my favorite types of gifts can be found. Not diamonds, not candy, not flowers in February.....pottery. I know, did I say pottery? I did. Enter a day trip to the Pittsburgh Strip and Penn Ave. Pottery.

I was fortunate to meet the artist, he was working in the back room at the time. I have misplaced his card but I will update when I find it. A tall and friendly man, he takes great pride in his innovative style. A beautiful piece added to the collection. I saw so many stunning pieces that day, beautiful iridescent colors in teals and purple by a different artist as well as traditional colors that I lean to.  I keep my collection to the traditional blues, browns and mustard colors. I have a small collection of cranberry reds as well from Westerwald in Scenery Hill, Pa.

Since I could not narrow my decision to one piece a couple others came home as well. Now, Easter and Birthday gifts are covered as well. Insert smile here.