Monday, January 13, 2020

The New Year Refocus

Bethany asked me to make a sun for her.  She sent me a picture of something a friend of hers saw in an art show/ museum and said "I want this, but your version."  So, Ta Da!  Thanks to my Crazy Quilt Group!  They pulled together & donated yellow fabrics from their stash.  My original thought was to use several fabrics but it turned out terrible.  This solid yellow with lots of stitching and beads is much better.  There are VERY few bright yellow fancy fabrics in the world...

I started this embroidery to put in a pillow but decided that I liked it all on it's own.  I've had this pattern saved for YEARS!
Since I've only been working 3 days a week since December, I've had lots of time to get my UFO's sorted.  This is my version of Beloved Baltimore, all quilted up.  These are 8" blocks.  I gave up at 20.  There are 5 more in the pattern but when I'm done, I'm done.
I was able to finish the final t-shirt quilt for my DIL, Carmen.  Her grandfather had one of the largest tractor collections in N. America, or something like that.  It was lots, and lots of tractors.  The family divied up his t-shirt collection one Christmas.  Carmen asked me to make quilts for her mom, brother and self.  It took a year, but I did it!  Now, to remember to never do t-shirt quilts again.  ALWAYS give them Kim K's #... Domestic machines don't do well with the rubber printing.
Another finish was this Rita Verroca's pattern, Stevie's Quilt.  I'm calling it Daughters Three because I embroidered a butterfly for each of my daughters.  They got to choose what color butterfly they wanted to be.  It's all quilted and hanging in my loft library.
Last but not least, I finished my half of the Splendid Sampler.  I did it in reds and pinks so I thought I could use it as a Valentine quilt.  The quilting is really minimal, possibly too minimal.  After the 2 wall hangings and t-shirt quilt, I couldn't get my machine to free motion quilt without skipping stitches or breaking thread.  I guess if it had to happen, at least I got the applique ones done first.
Truman wanted to know why we weren't under the quilt having a cuddle.
I've been rethinking how I spend my time, lately.  After so many years of going, going, going with the kids, I just want to slow down.  I started last year by closing my shop.  I've stopped teaching.  I'll probably thin out my schedule more by not attending as many meetings.  If you don't see me around as much, know that I'm still around, just refocusing.

Rich and I are headed to Vegas this weekend to celebrate his 50th birthday!  Not sure if I'm going to enjoy it that much since I don't drink or gamble but, I'll give it a good try!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Dude, That's A Lot Of Butter

Hello, and happy early holidays!  I've only been working part time lately but working harder than usual.  We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas a week apart.  Then I jumped head first in to Christmas cookies and gifts.  Bethany asked for these stockings a few years ago.  I'm pretty sure she's forgotten all about them by now but they're finally finished.  She's not on FB and doesn't read my blog, so no squealing, please.
My pillow mania continues.  The Santa Belly was finished last year.  I did the candy cane and "snowflake" this year.  Sierra does not think it looks much like a snowflake.  It took 2 weeks to sew all those damn buttons on.  So, I'm still calling it a snowflake, and I'm determined to love it regardless.
Last but not least, I finished block 8 of Hospital Sketches.  I also finished 9 but didn't get a picture yet.  She's adding to the quilt and I think changing the name but I haven't decided if I'm done or not.  I'm running out of purples and background so there will be shopping involved.  Did I mention I'm only working part time?
In other news, I've done 14 batches of cookies, 2 birthday cakes, birthday cupcakes and cupcakes for a cooking contest that Rich entered on my behalf.  So, 14 pounds of butter later... I only have 5 more batches left.  Just this morning, my oven's clock randomly reset itself.  I hope that doesn't mean I broke it again.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Zero to Sixty in 27

I don't have lay off this year but I did go down to part time for a few months.  Not as good of a set up for me but I'll take it.  That basically means more time for sewing and baking.  Lots and lots has happened lately so, I'll try to get you caught up.  I got the borders put on my Beloved Baltimore.  I thought I might add an inner border but when all was said and done, I didn't think it added anything to it.

I also got Stevie's Quilt borders on.  I'm calling it "Daughters, Three".  I embroidered a butterfly for each of my girls.  This did get an inner border.  I mitered the corners and cut those mother truckers too short.  Not once, but twice...  Good thing I had 5 yards of the fabric!  Also, you can't really tell, but the tips are pieced.  Yeah.  My computer really needs a face to palm emoji.  The good news is, Rich walked past this one and I got a "Wow, that's really pretty."  He never does that.  Fist pump.
I think I mentioned my attempts to improve my holiday decor.  Well, I went gang busters on pillows.  I've never done throw pillows before because with 4 kids and lots of dogs over the years, they would be trashed in no time.  Well, I'm making up for it now!  I went from zero to sixty throw pillows in 27 years.

I FINALLY finished the patriotic pillow from Julie Craig's class over the summer.  I thought it was fun but I don't think I'm going to glue things on like she does in the future.  I can't really explain why I didn't care for it but I didn't.  The fringe isn't how she does it.  I improvised with what I had.
I recently cleaned out some drawers in my studio when I came across this embroidery from years ago.  I did it in a class with Catherine Redford.  I didn't learn much from the class except that I don't like mustard yellow as a background.  What was I thinking with that color palette?!  However, I did think it had a fall look and decided to put it with some fun fabric.  That way it's not ugly, it's funky...
Also, I wanted to use up this really old pumpkin fabric.  Bethany helped my choose the vintage leather buttons.
In other news, Hunter installed a new kitchen island for me.  I will share picks when the drawer handles arrive and get installed.  Then, I purchased paint to redo one of the bathrooms.  My in-laws are coming for Christmas this Friday.  I've got a Birthday cake and cupcakes due this Saturday.  Bethany wants a crazy quilt sun wall art piece.  And, and, and, and it never ends.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Fabulous From A Distance

We've been meeting at my friend, Carol P's house for our Crazy Quilt meetings.  She always decorates her home beautifully for the holidays and it's inspired me to up my game a bit.  I've had the same decorations for years and most of it was cheap and childish.  So, this year, I've decided to rethink my fall decor.  First on my agenda was a new pillow.  This is from Kathy Schmitz.  Love her!  The acorn sash is supposed to say something sappy like "in all things be Thankful" but that's not my style, so I made an adjustment.  I like monogramming things and Mantzing things.  I call it Mantzgiving, Mantzmas, Mantzter... you get the idea. 

I was able to finish all of the Beloved Baltimore blocks (for my particular project) and put them together.  My final block was the bottom right.  I used French silk ribbon to make rushed flowers.  I'm waiting on a possible second border in the mail but I have the final border already.
The last time I saw my mother-in-law, she asked me to fix a baby quilt that was made by Rich's Grandma Betty.  How could I say no?  Rich thought she hung the moon...  I'm sure Betty had no clue that her Great Grand Daughter-In-law would someday try to restore this quilt.  She used the absolute smallest stitch setting I've ever seen in my life.  Those seams were going to outlive us all.  I had to cut out the embroidery and then used some modern cotton gingham to replace the original poly.  The embroidery blocks were poly as well but she used a cotton thread.  So, the thread and the fabric shrunk at different rates.  This was a MUCH loved and washed quilt.  After some very nervous trimming, pressing and sizing, I ended up with a smaller version of the original.  It's a really sweet little quilt.  Now I want to do one like it for my future grand babies. 
I found this swirl in my pile of unfinished projects.  I'd taken the class last year some time thinking it was divine intervention for me to find a new artistic style.  It was not.  However, I did finish the class project.  I did a terrible job, but I finished it.  Believe me when I tell you that this photographed much better than it's  reality.  This is now quilted and bound and hanging in my studio, looking fabulous from a distance...

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Bird Blocks

At the beginning of this year, our local Crazy Quilt group decided on a theme for the year.  We agreed to do one bird per month.  There was a lot of discussion on which birds would make the list but most of us lost interest as the year progressed.  I think there's only 2 out of about a dozen left actively working on them.
I didn't really do a block a month.  I just did stuff when the inspiration hit.  I had a few of Gerry Kruger's buttons from her Etsy shop Olderrose.  I also bought some hand dyed laces from RavioleeDreams on Etsy.  Many of them were too large and are now a part of my stash.
I got a few beads from Michaels, 75% off, like these stars and the crow feather.
I tried to use brocade ribbon on each block.  A lot of my seams are more simple than my usual but that's how I've been feeling this year.
Lots of little purchases from the Bead Place in Fairview.  The pictures of the birds were all duty free downloads from the internet.  I just printed them on fabric.
Lots of Pinterest inspiration.
I got a little desperate for inspiration on the turkey block.  I had a beautiful lace that I wanted to use but decided on the felt turkey because the subject was turkeys.  The lace was classier, though.
One month during our meeting, we made several different kinds of nests.  My initial idea was to do a book.  I finished them each individually but then realized that would be a giant book.  So, now they're just stand alone, things.
This one was finished and refinished, a couple of times.  I like this final version.  I've got 2 more that I'm still working on.  I ordered some charms that have been on the slow boat from China for a month now.  Hopefully, they will arrive soon.  I want to finish this by the end of the year.
At our last Applique Society meeting, Katie M showed us how to make these cute mug rugs.  Love it!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Pretend Deadlines

I just found out that our local Applique Society chapter is hosting the TAS Annual Meeting on my birthday this year.  I think it will be fabulous celebrating one of my passions on my B-day!  So, I decided to use it as a "deadline" to get some of my projects done before then.  You know, I'll have to represent during Show and Tell. 

First on my list was Beloved Baltimore. These 8" blocks almost made me lose my mind, so I put it in time out for awhile.  I thought I only had one left to do, but I was wrong.  Again.  I finished the flag and eagle block, which was a killer.  Those split leaves, please!  Went to work on the lay out only to realize, I miscounted again.  So, I looked to see what was the easiest block that I hadn't done yet and chose that for my final block.  It's done but I forgot to take a picture.  I've purchased a green fabric for the sashing and I've got a great border picked out for it also.  Fingers crossed that I can get it put together and quilted by May.

On a totally different patriotic note, I managed to put the base of Rich's Marine Corps quilt together.  It's a miracle that this thing went together.  I am NOT an expert piecer.  Now, I have to decide on borders and how big to make it.

This block was horrible.  I had to make a freezer paper template.  Horrible.  All my points got cut off.  Luckily, Rich couldn't care less.

I've had Marine Corps fabrics saved for this project for 10-15 years that I fussy cut.

That's that.  I'll have an update on my bird crazy quilt project next.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Balancing Act

I know it's been awhile, but I've been SO busy!  First, I went to Ireland with my son & his wife.  It was amazing!  But, it took weeks to recover from all that.  Then, Rich was jealous of my trip so he wanted to get away for the weekend and we decided to go to Memphis for the first time.  As you'd expect, that wasn't quite as amazing... but at least we can say we did it.  Next month we're going to Louisville and then in January to Vegas.  I know, crazy!  We don't travel for 27 years, and now look at us.
I have done SOME stitching but not as much as my usual.  I made this table runner with left over wool, courtesy of  Dana D.  My daughter Bethany liked it so much, I made a second one for her.  The colors were a little different and I gave it to her before I got a picture.  Basically the same, add some purple.
A few weeks ago, I also went to our Mascoutah retreat.  It's always so nice to catch up with the ladies.  I did hand work.  I went in thinking that I had 2 blocks to do for Hospital Sketches.  Got this one done, started talking to Sue H. and realized I still had 2 more to do.  Dang it.  But, now Barbara Brachman has annouced next year's BOM will work well with these blocks in case we want a bigger quilt.  So, technically, I still have a year to be done, done.
Months ago, I started this new project.  I have a book of illuminated manuscript letters.  It reminded me a lot of the Book of Kells, and a few months ago, I was all about anything Irish. I decided to do our last name.  Here is my M.  In the end, I'll probably be adding tons of beading and embellishing but I thought I'd get the applique done first.  It's pretty fiddly, since the vines are so slim.  I don't imagine I'm going to plow through this one.
There you have it.  It's more that I thought I'd been doing, but not as much as my usual.  It's good to have a more balanced life, right?  Hope all is well with you!