Sunday, July 31, 2011

Playing Hookie Today!

Ok, I confess.  I was not quilting today.  I needed exercise.  I needed sunlight & Vitamin D.  I needed laughter with the family.  So, when my brother & sister-in-law called, I had my shoes on.  

My day consisted of a wheelman, a lookout, a partner in not-really-a-crime, world's largest stove, rattlesnake habitat, caches, Bonobo the monkey, a bunny, a Sandhill crane, a fen, a sundial plaza, a tunnel under a pond, a forgotten Eagle Scout footbridge, 1 wild goose chase, 2 wild turkeys, 3 hot air balloons, 150+ year old hotel/restaurant, and lots & lots of laughter.  So, what did you do today?

My family went geocaching and waymarking today at Indian Springs and Kensington Metroparks.  It was simply amazing and exhausting!  I thought I'd share some random photos from today:

World's Largest Stove - Michigan State Fairgrounds

FTF!  Forgotten Eagle Scout Bridge at Kensington Metropark

SO many paths - thankfully SO many benches too!

Is this a cool sun dial or what?  Indian Springs Metropark

Tunnel leads under the pond at the Discovery Center - Indian Springs  Metropark

Rockin' Robyn, Mr. Energy and Little Brother at The Fen - Indian Spring Metropark

Mr. Energy doesn't look amused

Thank you Rockin' Robyn, Little Brother and Mr. Energy for an awesome day out!  Now, off to bed - I may be gettin' too old for this!


Ask me about Geocaching and Waymarking!  My stats are on the sidebar - woot!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We Love French Knots

Have you visited this blog yet? It's a new blog that teaches the basics of contemporary embroidery.

Why stop by? To kick off this blog, they are having 10 (yes, TEN!) giveaways! They've also posted several fabulous stitch videos. And (in my mind, the most awesome part), an interview with Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches!

To kick off the site, Natalie is sharing this free pattern:

I have a weakness for Aussie embroidery especially free patterns!

If you need inspiration, there's also dozens of contemporary embroidery examples on the We Love French Knots Flickr page!

No affiliation - just an excited follower.


P.s. Another awesome embroidery basics site is Hugs From Helen Stitched Sundays. She demos a stitch and then shares a fabulous stitchy so you can try it out!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Signature Quilts

Have you ever been lucky enough to wrap yourself in a signature quilt made especially for you? Several years ago, my very dear friend, Lisa, made me this quilt when I moved from Maine to Michigan. There are signatures from 3 local guilds and the state guild. It's my favorite - it helped me through my move, divorce, family trials, health issues. Wrapped in love!

This is my favorite block. It's made by my dear friend, Ann Reed, the Appliqué Queen! Love the ruched flowers!

I'm thinking of signature blocks today because I finished my block for Kaaren (see sidebar). I kept practicing my signature over and over again, but I'm never thrilled with it on the final block. Oh, well. I think Kaaren will still like it.

Have you made one for Kaaren yet? Even if you don't know her, she's a generous quilt blogger who could use being wrapped in love right now.

Happy Stitchin'

Friday, July 22, 2011

On The Flip Side

Yep, I can only laugh at myself :)

~ When Borders started cutting hours, I panicked and bought about 4 yds of Kona Cotton White
~ When we went into bankruptcy, bought 5 yds of Kona Cotton White
~ When they closed the first set of stores, bought 3 yds of Kona Cotton White
~ When they lost their only bidder, bought 4 yds of Kona Cotton White

Because.. You know.. I need yardage for those... er.. 6" squares I embroider.

I asked myself, what was I thinking?!? It hit me this morning. If I'm ever homeless, I can always build myself....

a tent city!

Keeping my humor in hot & humid, Ferndale, Michigan!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Frugal Quilting Tips, Anyone?

Good morning, my friends!

As some of you may've heard, my part-time job is closing it's doors. Besides the loss of daily interactions with friends & favorite customers, a social community hot spot, enforced exercise up & down the stairs in 4-hour shifts, I'm out some bucks (cash, moolah, greenbacks). My friend Allie has been cheering me up with helpful suggestions to economize my quilting addiction.

Unlike this picture below, I am ready to listen! I thought I'd stop a moment and share a list collected from Allie and other friends; figured in this economy others might have a need, too.

Ugh! Such an awful picture of me! My cohorts in crime are my sister Wikid Kriket and sister-in-law Rockin' Robyn
1. Pretty obvious but worth repeating: use the stash. Plus, make your own jelly rolls - you have the fabric.
2. (My favorite from Allie) Go to the thrift shops to buy flannel sheets for batting and vintage sheets for backing.
3. (From Lisa - who makes every scrap count!) If you are running out of certain fabrics, start making smaller projects (there's only 1 bed in this house - how many queen quilts do I need?)
4. If you need a certain style or color, swap with friends.
5. (Another from Allie) Enter as many giveaways as possible. There's some great stuff out there and it doesn't even cost you a lottery ticket!
6. Look for alternative tool sources (like amazing rotary blades a Harbor Freight Tools).
7. Sometime it's cheaper to buy in quantity. Buying that bolt of interfacing with my 40% off coupon is cheaper than individual trips for each project (also multiple shopping trips = multiple chances at temptation).
8. Don't have to take multiple trips to the library for books with patterns - seems like almost every pattern is free in the blog-o-sphere. Have you been to
9. Wash your fabrics in batches - not when you need it. That water bill will add up!
10. If you do have to go to a fabric store, check their website for coupons (our local shop posts a new coupon monthly). Make sure you are armed with a photo of the fabric/color swatch and exact size to prevent unnecessary spending.

Ok, ladies... What else? I'm trying to stay positive and motivated!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Ok, picking myself up and brushing myself off. I've had some great emails over the closing of my Borders bookstore. Thank you, everyone. So, trying to look on the bright side, let's see if I can get something done. What do you think?

Tis the Season SAL

Tis the Season SAL?

Repro 9-patch table runner?

Schnibbles quilt?

Or finally cut into my black and whites?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Such an Unhappy Day

It's official. My home-away-from-home is closing its doors.

I haven't blogged (or quilted) lately dealing with the upheaval at my part-time job. Borders Books & Music announced today they will liquidate after all. After 10 years and many amazing friends & memories, that part of my life has ended.

Very, very sad. Very, very painful.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Forever in Stitches (Bluffton, OH)

Forever in Stitches

What a fabulous day! Returning from a business trip in Cincinnati, we passed a highway sign shouting QUILT SHOP along I-75. Bluffton, OH (located between Lima and Toledo) has a picturesque downtown with well-kept houses, historic buildings, flowers & benches, a mural, and a quilt shop.

Located in a 125-year old brick building, this was my second stop at Forever in Stitches. Although the shop is not overly large, it has thousands of bolts of fabrics, hundreds of fat quarters and the home of Raggedy Ruth patterns. This is a country quilter's quilt shop. They have a color wall, fabrics grouped by collection, samples, kits, and a good-sized notion wall. As you travel to the back of the shop, you will see several long-arm machines for custom quilting.

Under the watchful eye of the friendly shop dog, I bought a small table topper kit and some fat quarters to finish some projects. Inflation hasn't reached this shop yet - I was able to buy several yards for less than $9/yard. My travel companion also bought her first quilt - a shop sample in oranges & pinks - for just $75!

As we were leaving, we were given raffle tickets for their summer drawing. I don't remember 2nd and 3rd prize, but 1st is machine quilting for 12 quilts (totaling $1200!!!!) My tickets are hung on the fridge and I will be checking back on Sept 1st to see if I won! Wish me luck!

If you find yourself passing Bluffton, stop in! You'll never meet nicer people!


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Don't Look Now! It's Here!

Ok, how's this for Divine Providence? I'm sitting here for a moment on the loveseat contemplating the world. Well, maybe not the world, but my "gotta do" list. I've checked many items off of it, but there's so many more to go. I don't want to do laundry or clean the carpet. I want to quilt.

As I'm trying to psych myself into doing something, I hear a thunk! outside. It's the mailman, and he has delivered a package. Hmmmm.... I didn't order anything. I opened the door, and there at my feet is a package from Australia! (insert wild screams of joy and excitement here!)

Can you believe it? Several months ago I submitted my name for a giveaway at Don't Look Now AND WON! Very, very talented designer Kellie Wulfsohn (a huge hit at Quilt Market this year) drew my name.

Look at these gorgeous fabrics and the pattern peeking out!

Even the backing fabric is beautiful!

I'm feeling awfully lucky today, and I'll tell you what..... the carpets can wait!

Off to the quilt room!
Hope you're feeling as lucky today,

p.s. Check out Kellie's other patterns - My next purchase is Animal Alphabet!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gadget Time - Tape It Up!

Making my block for Kaaren. I hope she likes an embroidered "health angel"! As I was transferring the pattern, I realized I have a tip to share.

I love my light box, but I don't like the tape sticking to the top. You have to keep it clean because bumps effect smooth transfer lines. However, the longer the tape is attached to the hot top, the more it adheres. Granted, there is Goo-Gone, but I'm always concerned that the oily cleaner may transfer to my fabric. So....

For a few extra dollars, you can buy Scotch-brand drafting tape. It's sticky enough to hold your pattern in place, but peels off very easily! You can see it in this pic, and it's available at any office supply store.

If you are unwilling or unable to spend those extra $$, here's a thrifty tip. Use regular masking tape, but, prior to using it (you know... as you are setting up your work area), adhere it to your jeans or top. Even with the extra fuzz, the tape is still sticky but not too sticky!

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Nothing more satisfying than 30 perfectly-pieced 9-patches in your favorite fabrics!

Happy Stitching!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Patriotic Quilt Junky

Happy Independence Day!

I'm a big fan of the Red, White, and Blue!  Baseball, apple pie, my Mother, barbecuing, parades, stars, fireworks galore! Love love love it!  I think I have a special appreciation as a former Marine Corps wife (10 years) with a big brother in the Army.  I know and appreciate the sacrifices made and the families that support them.

So, in honor of this holiday, I thought I'd break into the archive and share some of the patriotic minis made in years past.  Won't you join me on my parade?

I'm averaging 1 quilt every 2 years!  In case you were curious, these are taped to the fence with 1.5" masking tape!  Who knew it would work so well?!?  Sorry they may appear "washed out" - too  much sun today, I think.

Table Runner: This year's project
Flags with Photos: Me and my Sister in Washington DC
Patriotic Mini: My first attempt at paper piecing

Upper Left: So simple yet one of my favorites
Lower Left: Background tan fabric is sprinkled with cool mini flags
Upper Right: My absolute favorite paper-pieced project (see detail below)
Lower Right: Can't see them but the navy is sprinkled with flags. 

The bird is about 7 inches tall - with lots and lots of pieces

Hope you enjoyed my parade of patriotic quilts.  Have a safe holiday surrounded by those you love!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tawas City (or Why I Need A Nap to Survive My Stay-cation!)


Yep, that's me!  Yesterday was Day 2 of my stay-cation, and I spent it in the very beautiful coastal town of Tawas City, Michigan on Lake Huron.  In the mighty green dynamo, my rag tag band of family trekked north to enjoy all that is American this holiday weekend:
  • great food at Mr. Jack'ss, treats at the Village Chocolatier and ended the day with ice cream at Marion's
  • beautiful scenery (and the occasional lightning flash) at Tawas Point and Tawas Point lighthouse

  • fabulous shopping downtown and in the quilt shops - more later on that
  • geocaching on the rocks and the beaches - see my sister-in-laws blog on THAT adventure! There was blood involved.

  • and, obviously, putt-putt golf at Hubie's Wondergolf (I tied for first!)

On this voyage was (top) OriginalRager, Wikid Kriket, myself,  Rockin' Robyn, (bottom) Mr. Energy and Little Brother. 
They let us loose on Tawas City and we had clubs! 

If you have the chance to travel to the Tawas area, you must stop at Bayview Calicos in Au Gres on the way.  What a delightful surprise!  It's a little cottage tucked along the highway.  Inside, you'll find many patterns (including Australian embroidery), bolts & bolts of fabrics (black & whites, batiks, Christmas, 30's, patriotic), a good notions wall, kits, many samples (LOVE the series of applique lighthouses), and all the do-dads & trinkets you love discovering on quilt shop shelves!  The owner's daughter gave me the grand tour and was a lot of fun to talk to.  Conveniently, I had plenty of time to explore as my family was focused on the geocache hidden outside!

There's also the Cotton Patch Quilt Shoppe in the heart of Tawas City - wools, kits, and antiques, mostly.

I think one of the most awesome parts of the trip was heading home late at night - as we drove the 3.5 hours back towards Detroit, we saw fireworks display after fireworks display along the highway.  Best seats in the house!

Happy Independence weekend!

p.s. This was my favorite day so far this year!  Thanks everyone!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Perfect, Pretty Points

Yesterday was Day 1 of my stay-cation, and I spent it making 9-patches. A friend (hi Lauri!) had asked for my secrets to perfect points and flat blocks. These tips are really useful with smaller blocks & sections. I'm not sure I'm sharing anything new, but here's some of my favorite tricks passed on by quilters I've met over the years.

1. For alternating 4-patches, 9-patches, 16-patches, I always press to the dark.. That way, when I join sections, I can butt the seams together.

2. Do not pin where seams intersect. Instead, with your seams butted together, pin 1/4" before and 1/4" after the seam intersection. This will prevent a gap where sections join.

3. When you sew rows together, do not press your seams to one side (this causes bulky bumps). Instead, use the spiral method. After sewing, slip your finger into the flap in the back center of the block to gently break the threads apart.

Open your block and press the seam allowance into a spiral. Your block will lay flat.

Eventually, I will piece the alternating blocks together to make a new table runner.

What are your best tricks?

Happy Stitching!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Quilty Stay-cation!

Oh joy! Oh rapture! Oh enjoying the sunlight in my pajamas!  I'm on... stay-cation! 

Find a bench (this one is my favorite), pull out a good book (reading Charles Finch's The September Society), and revel in having no responsibilities!  And, when it's too hot and I've had too much Vitamin D.... off the quilt!

I've noticed that my finished projects list is not getting shorter.  I've been working on so many things simultaneously, but over the next few days I'm going to knock some things out!  Last night I made headway with a holiday project:

Ok, I know - wrong holiday, but at least it will be ready for next Easter!  This is from Nancy Halvorsen's Count On It book - I replaced "April" with the word "Easter" since Easter does not fall in April every year, right?

Lucky I kept my handy-dandy blue index card (look familiar?). 

These I keep in my Bernina manual so I can replicate my settings for specialty quilting.  I used to capture these settings and store them on my computer, but sometimes I'm too impatient for the dinosaur to boot.  I had also made notes on Post-its inside the manual cover, but they are flimsy.  With my index card, I was able to sit down last night, change my settings, and start stitching.  For some reason, I have it in my head to master the machine buttonhole. Weird, huh?

Do you have any special plans for this holiday weekend?
Happy Summer!