Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Week

I'll tell you what, this has been a crazy busy week!  Thanksgiving will do that to anyone!  

I thought I was done with the mermaid but I found these adorable fish beads and knew she needed them.  For some reason, my picture won't show... The lighting was so much better than before, go figure.  You'll just have to go with the tail shot for now, I guess.

 Look how great my burning bush is!  We had tried a couple times to grow one over the years.  This one finally took and it's a slow grower but this year it was amazing!
 We had Thanksgiving on Saturday because our schedules were so crazy this year.  Rich had to work
16 hours on Thursday & I worked Friday & Saturday morning.  Thursday was really weird for me because it was so quiet.  Rich did most of the cooking on Saturday.  That was another first for us.  I guess that's going to be my new normal now that the kids are getting older and will soon be off in different directions.
 Most of the week was spent working on Grandpa's quilt.  It took a whole day to piece the alternate blocks and another whole day to set the blocks.  Damned if I didn't have to make 4 more Flying Geese blocks at the very end.  Too many, not enough.  I tell ya, it drives me crazy.

 Last but not least, I made a few needle wallets to sell in my Etsy shop.  They're hand embroidered, using satin or velvet.  They're really elegant & I'm going to have a hard time parting with the hot pink one.  And, the black one with the clover.
 I do love lavender.
 Oh, but the clover on black velvet.  So pretty.  Bethany now wants me to embroider something on a black velvet dress for her.
Well, that wraps up another week.  After work tomorrow, I'll have to concentrate on quilting Grandpa's quilt.  Also, I found those 2 missing hexies... but now I have 2 of the same hexies going in the same flower. I think I've decided to not let it bother me.  That could change.

Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!  Now for some Christmas decorations!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

One Week Down, Five to Go

Well, hello friends!  Week one of Lay-Off is over and it was a busy one.  Nothing like having time off to keep you SUPER busy.  I had hoped to have more finishes to share but I did get a lot of almost finishes ready... If that makes any sense.

All of my CQJP blocks are finished and sewn together.  I've made some decisions about a border.  I'm going to finish it with an ivory border and I bought some beautiful lace to use as an inner border.  I was looking in to jacquard ribbon as the inner border but the one I wanted was $25/yd.  I need 4 yards.  I'm pretty sure Rich would frown upon a $100 investment on just the border.  We won't tell him how much all the bits and pieces have cost so far.  I won't tell if you don't tell.
 Not sure what I did to my camera but it stopped taking clear photos.  Maybe I just need to hold still.  This is my one and only real finish this week.  It's part of a group project with my guild.  Hopefully, many of us will make a small quilt that will fit together with everyone else's like a puzzle.  Clearly, they've gone with an "Under The Sea" theme.  I immediately chose a mermaid.  I didn't start this project this week.  It's been on going for  awhile.
 Her tail was filled in with chain stitches and beaded on top.  The tail fins are beaded a little more heavily.
The seaweed was done with several different fibers.  Then I attached several different do dads along the seaweed.  The little snail shells are real.  They were from a necklace that I got from the Goodwill.  Let me know if you want any.  It was a big necklace.
 The hair was also done with chain stitch.  The threads were from Caron Collection.  I liked them so much that I started carrying the thread in my shop.  The variegation in their thread is really beautiful!
 The other time sucking project I've had going on is my little lace cottage.  It's been really challenging.  I've taken out almost as many stitches as I've put in on this project.
 The pathway is Oyster stitch with a thick version from Caron Collection.  The fence was some of Pat K.'s mom's lace.  I painted the base so I wouldn't have to stitch the whole thing solid.   Those green tufts are supposed to be weeds in the yard.

 I put in rose bushes, irises, daffodils, tulips, and  wisteria.  More gardening than I've ever done in real life.  I love the little red wagon.
 So, I used some artistic license with the tree.  I realize that apple trees aren't usually taller than your house but I wanted some color in the leaves.  So, it's now an apple tree.  Also, when I first stitched the tree, Rich stopped by and asked if we could plant a bacon tree at our house.  Then, all I could see in the truck was a strip of bacon.  Luckily, Caron Collection has a thread, literally called Bark.  The variegation was much more subtle and now looks a bit more like wood and less like bacon.  Rich found the little swing seat for me.
 Found some bird charms and stitched a kite to fill in the big open space that was my sky.  The puppy button was a huge find!  He's so cute.  Also, I had birdhouses stitched in where the flower arch is now.  But, they weren't filling the space properly.  The bush in the center is covering up all my birdhouse holes...

 What I should have been working on was Grandpa's quilt.  I did get all of the Flying Geese finished. There are 80 of these blocks.  Naturally, I miss counted and have enough fabric cut to make another 80...
 And, last but not least, all of the hexies for my Mosaics quilt are done.  I either have 5 extra or I'm 2 short.  Not sure which yet.  I'll let you know wen I figure it out.

In between the stitching, I mangaged to watch all of the Harry Potter and Star Wars movies.  Sierra and I went on a little adventure that included Goodwill, Joann's and the zoo.  Then, Ethan, Bethany and I went to IKEA, the London Tea Room and a gem show.  Like I said, nothing like some free time to make sure you're WAY to busy!

If I don't see you, I hope you have a fantastic Thanksgiving and I'll check in with you again next week.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

One Stitch At A Time

Well, this has been a crazy week.  I don't have much to say about it other than I love my fellow Americans.  For that matter, I love my fellow humans.  And, the president of our country, no matter who that is will not change that.  Not that they are trying to.  So, I will continue to make the world a more beautiful place to be, one stitch at a time.

And, here's my latest contribution to world beauty...  this is the Art Nouveau quilt so far.  I LOVE it!!  I can't wait to finish it!  I wonder if it'll be ready in time for the next quilt show!?  So, what do you think?  Should I do a border?  I'm thinking solid black.  I'm also toying with the idea of a very thin green beading around it.  I was hoping to do my own quilting on it.  Yikes, I know.  But, after the giant I just gave Jane Hair to do, I can't really afford to quilt by checkbook any time soon.  Unless, of course, everyone wants to visit my Etsy shop and do some shopping...  Feel free.

This is the most recent addition.  Like I said last time, I've got the final blocks ready to go & the 
project is definitely going on my short list for lay-off.

I'm also doing some designing of my own.  I've had this Cowgirl fabric for a couple of years and I'm finally going to make my Father-In-Law a  pinup girl quilt.  I've made them for Great Grandpa Mantz, Rich and Hunter but I could never find something for Horsey Grandpa.  Then, when I found the fabric, I didn't really know what to do with it.  This will be on my short list and hopefully his Christmas present.  Then, hopefully, I will have another pattern to publish.  Lots of flying geese.  Lots and lots of flying geese.

 My Crazy Quilt Journal Project, so far.  I'm happier looking at it as a whole than I am when I can pick apart each block.  This is on my short list.  I'd like to have it done by the quilt show since we're adding a new crazy quilt category.  I think we are, anyways.  I'm seeing a cream/ peach satin border on this with some lace trim.  Olderose has a wonderful tutorial on borders for projects.  I love what she did with some tapestry style ribbon and satin.   A few of the blocks have her hand painted buttons on them.  If you're considering buying me something for Christmas, I'd like more of her buttons, please.

 This is October's block.  I don't love it.  I may have already whined about it to you before.  Sorry.  I used waste canvas for the first time on the daffodil cross stitch patch.  That was wild.  Effective but a little hard to line up just so.  Now that I'm looking at the picture above I'm realizing I hadn't shared November's block.  It's directly above in the center bottom row.  I'll have to dig it out again and take a photo.
 So, silly me.  I just realized I can watch Netflix in my studio, using Bethany's smart tv!  I was so
excited.  It sure made squaring up those flying geese easier to take!  Since it's such a light weight tv, I moved it over by the sewing machine when I was done!  Love it!  Next, mini fridge.
 Here's what I've got so far for my Mosics project.  This is the project from Irene Blanck's class.  I really struggled with gluing everything in place and then sewing down all at once.  It was too loosey goose, if you want the technical term, for me.  So, I'm saying it's okay because it's supposed to be primitive anyways.  I just noticed that I forgot the berries... Please note that my vines meet up in a "v" like the pattern.  That's some skill, right there...
 And, like I said, I learned how to do English Paper piecing.  This I loved and will continue to do.  I ran out of glue and all I could think was Pat A asking if I'd like to buy the re-fill while we were at the store buying the glue stick.  Dang it, I should have done it Pat, I should have done it!  And, in case you were wondering, I did find the missing papers. They were, indeed, put away safely in the project's own box...

So, I work tomorrow, and then I start my lay-off.  I am SO looking forward to it!  I'm so fortunate to work where I do and to have a completely indulgent husband that doesn't freak out when I make less money for awhile every winter.  At least, he won't be cold.  God knows we've got plenty of quilts laying around...

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Irene Blanck and Her New Best Friends

So, yes, the world CAN handle this much fabulousness in one room.  This is a picture of my TAS group.  Well, most of us anyways.  We were fortunate enough to have Irene Blanck come and teach us for a few days in October.  Irene is from Melbourne, AUS and she was traveling the US, giving classes, before landing in Houston for the big quilt market.  Luckily, Dana D. knew it and we were able to put Mascoutah on her itinerary!  Such a wonderful experience.  Irene is a real gem.  Yeah, that's me, the bright pink shirt with my arm draped over Irene like she's my new best friend... No invasion of personal space happening there... Awkward...  the photo is courtesy of Irene's blog.
An upside down picture of everyone's center piece.  It's fantastic to see everyone's interpretation.  The dark backgrounds are so interesting!  I hope they finish the project so I can see them when they're done. 
 These are pics of Irene's quilt.  Mostly for my benefit.  I wanted to have something to refer to as I do mine.  The primitive style is totally different than anything I've done before.  Her technique is to glue everything in place and then sew it all down at once.  Thant was weird for me.  I'm real used to back basting.   It was also strange for me to work with such a large piece of fabric at once.  The center is 42" square.
 The English paper piecing was new as well.  I finally cleaned my studio up last night from the class, put the paper pieces aside to work on later, and damned if I can't find them now!  I'm sure they're put away nicely somewhere!

 The lovely Irene with her quilt "Mosaics".
 I managed to finish a block for my Art Nouveau quilt.  I've finished another as well but haven't gotten a picture yet.  Only 3 more blocks to go!  Morning Glory Designs had the blocks on sale 1/2 price this weekend, so I bought the 2 I needed to finish.  Then, I have to figure out how to finish it.  Borders?  I feel like the only color should be the blocks.
 My October CQJP block.  Not my favorite.  I feel like I'm losing inspiration on the crazy quilting front.  I do recall someone telling me in the beginning that his particular block would be difficult to do.  Guess she was right.   A break might be in order but this project is all but done so, you I can''t stop now.

 I participated in a Halloween postcard swap.  This was my entry.

Lay off starts after this next week!  You know how I love this time of year!  While I was cleaning my studio, I also started my list of UFOs to accomplish while I've got the time off.  More on that later.  For now, I hope you enjoy your day!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hey There, Mrs. Big Shot

Hello dear friends,

I've been trying to catch up with all the blog stuff that I have been so remiss with.  I meant to do this and I meant to do that.  Before I knew it, I was trying to refer to something on the blog but it wasn't there...  Apparently, thinking about doing something doesn't ACTUALLY get it done...  Who knew?

First, I want to tell you how excited I was to be selected as December in the Crazy Quilters' Quarterly 2017 Calendar!  Many months ago Pam Kellogg, creator of the online magazine, issued a contest for the calendar.  She requested blocks with a secret garden theme.  The blocks had to evoke a feeling of something special happening in the garden.  My little snowman made the cut!  Super excited!  Lots of other really talented artists were selected so, I felt really honored.  If you'd like to purchase a copy go to MAGCLOUD.  You can get a paper version or a digital copy.  They'd make great gifts for your quilty friends!  If the link doesn't work, try Pam's blog link.

So, as many of you know, I started hand dying silk ribbon to sell in my online shop.  Well, I was toting it all around in my storage bins and it was a mess.  Carol P. would tell me how much I needed a new solution.  EVERY TIME I SAW HER...  So, it took me awhile to figure out what direction to go in.  I knew I didn't want it to bo be too bulky.  Here's what I came up with:
Aren't the ribbons so pretty all layed out in a rainbow!?  It all rolls up nicely into a cute little carrier.  I should have gotten a better shot of the quilting on it.  Pretty cute if I do say so myself.  I also made an aqua one for the cool colors.    Apparently, I didn't take a pic of that one.  I tell you, if my head  wasn't attached, I'd forget to take it with me... 
 I finished a block for my Vintage Valentine quilt.  This block is not my favorite.  I am thankful for choosing to do the quilt because it has inspired me to design my own stuff.  That being said, I'm not sure that I love how I altered this block.  The ribbon section gives me fits.  Also, I have fixed that straight sided heart. 
I had another retreat in Mascoutah recently.  It's always a good time.  Except I always seems to be going through some crazy emotional upheaval during that weekend.  Last time, Sierra had just moved out.  This time, I found out my brother had died while I was there.  Luckily, the people there are all so supportive.  I did manage to get a few things accomplished in between breakdowns...  This super cute Ditty Bag!  Don't you just love that lace zipper?
 I also made a new iPad cover.  By the way, all of these fabrics can be found at !  There is a new tab at the top of my blog now, just click on SHOP and it has links to Etsy and Craftsy.

 A few years ago, Donna D. gave me a wool applique book as a gift and I made this super cute daisy block.  I had it laying out the other day while I was looking for something else and I realized how perfectly my gold fabric (available in my shop) matched the handle of the garden clips.  So, I made it into a wall hanging and hung it in my studio!  I just love it!  Thanks again, Donna D.!
 Last but certainly not least, I took an embroidery class from Catherine Redford through my quilt guild.  What a great way to spend a day!  She was a lot of fun.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I'll admit that I'm pretty experienced and dare I say GOOD with a needle.  The class was on folk embroidery and was completely out of my element design wise.  It's good to realize that the stitches are all the same, it's just how you use them that makes the difference.  My kids think my class sample looks very "cell like".  Everytime they look at it, I hear how the mitochondria is the power house of the cell.  So, you know, it was also a great science lesson.
In other news, I added pages to the blog.  I've got a tab for the shops and a tab for tutorials.  I'm considering a tab for my award winning quilts.  Too pretentious?  I might do it anyway.  Makes me feel like a big shot.  Dress for the job you want, not the job you have, right?

Talk to you soon!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Assembling a Basic Crazy Quilt Block

Basic Crazy Quilt Block


Muslin 4" larger than block's finished size
Freezer paper
square ruler
pencil & marker
paper & fabric scissors
iron & pressing surface
WOVEN interfacing
8-12 scraps of fabric

Step 1-Drafting:

On the matte side of your freezer paper, draw the size block you want.  My favorite is my 8.5" ruler, traced on all sides.  Then use your ruler to divide block into sections.  I start in 1 corner and work my way around in a spiral until I have roughly 7 spaces in my 8.5" square.  The number of sections you end up with is your design choice.  Avoid drawing parallel lines, it will give your block more interest.

Step 2-Numbering:

Starting with the inner most center piece, mark it 1.  Then "trace your steps" backwards, numbering as you go.  All spots should be numbered, ending in the first section that was created.

I then like to trace my pattern in marker.  Lay your muslin over the bold pattern and sketch in piece #1.  At this point, some people like to make a copy of the pattern for visual reference on a separate piece of paper or take a picture with your cellphone. 

Step 3-Cutting:

Using your paper scissors, cut the pattern along the lines you made.  Be careful to lay the patterns down in the order they were cut, if you are skipping the extra copy step.

Step 4-Fabric:

I like to prep ALL my fabric with woven interfacing, including my base muslin.  I find it keeps things in shape and I don't need to hoop it later.  An especially important step if you're using a stretchy material.  20 seconds with a hot iron on to the wrong side of your fabric will set the interfacing.  

Decide which fabric you want to highlight and make that piece #1.  Using your iron again, lightly press the freezer paper template onto the right side of the fabric.

Using your fabric scissors, cut out the piece using a generous seam allowance, 5 - .75".  This is crazy quilting, don't worry about a big seam allowance.  Put piece 1 in place.  Prep piece 2.  Using your visual reference, lay the right sides together.  Take special note which side the seam is supposed to be on.  This is where you would add lace trim, in between the 2 pieces.  This will hide your lace ends in the seams of the other pieces.  Sew the pieces together, again with a generous seam allowance.  Feel free to trim your seam allowances after you've sewn the pieces together.  Finger press open.

Repeat until all pieces are added.  Sometimes your block ends up a little bigger than expected, not to worry... If you have gaps in some spots, don't worry too much, you can always add some treatments in that spot to cover it up!

Step 5- Finish:

When all pieces are added, baste around the perimeter of your block.  This keeps the ends from flying around and helps you regain the size you were looking for in the beginning.  When embellishing, don't bead within .5" of your edges.  You don't want to sew over a bead when you're finishing your project.

Have fun!!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Pucker Up Buttercup!

I'm so excited to announce that I've just launched the next phase of On The Brighter Side Fabrics!  It's long been a dream of mine to design and sell my own designs.  It was slow going but I think I finally figured out all the ins and outs of my software.  We have an old Mac that has a retro fitted version of Word that doesn't LOVE working with EQ7... any who, I've lost a little hair over the whole deal but I'm over it now.  On to the next!

If you're interested in being a pattern tester, please contact me.  I'd like to get 3 or 4 people's honest opinion of my pattern writing skills.  Gently point out what works and what can be improved on.  Yeah, I said gently.  I can't pay anything because I do want unbiased opinions but I can send you the pattern for free.  Then, I can include your name in the pattern as a tester.  No need to be an expert, I need beginners and advanced quilters to tell me if I'm making any sense.
It hasn't escaped my notice that it makes more sense to test the pattern before publishing but I was SOOO excited!  Isn't it so cute?  The piecing is very simple and the appliques are large and easy to handle, I promise.  Instructions are for fusible, so no needle turn necessary.  I'd need you to commit to getting it done in a month.  Completely doable!  I designed and made one in a 3 day weekend....

Let me know, Heather