CATCHING UP

I can tell summer activities have consumed me.  Between yard work here at the house and the cabin as well as kitchen duty, the summer is flying by and I haven’t kept up on my blogging.   In my last post I think I included a picture of one of my pots that I was planting.  Well, here it is a month later.  It has survived 4 hail storms, some high winds and some unseasonal cold temps but is thriving.  I like having the pictures…it comes in handy when deciding what to plant next spring.  Above is the pot the end of May, and here it is now. 

This is one of my favorite views of my back yard.   (more…)

IT IS TIME….

This week found me outside everyday.  We had one of those weeks of weather that makes a gardener go crazy.  We call it Minnesota beautiful.  That means sunny, no wind, a high of 70° and no humidity.  It was perfect for everything…work and leisure.  I have learned over the years that I generally need two to three trips to the nursery. (more…)

Spring Spruce Up

Each season always brings a renewed effort to spruce up the house and garden.  It is always fun to change things up a bit without major investments.  The first thing I turn to is moving my accessories from room to room and changing up the combination of items. This exercise always makes things look fresh again and each time I do it I think I have found the right combination. But soon, it will change again. The space above my china cupboard in my dining room is always the first place I start and is the most fun to do.  I know have shared  this view a number of times, but items are a new combination.

I have been dabbling a bit painting with acrylics and this past month did two new paintings for spots in my house that needed a change of pace.   (more…)

SEWING ROOM INSPIRATION

One rainy day spent in my sewing room always turns into either mending and ironing or rearranging fabric, sorting supplies and generally putting things back in order.  Usually, the process results in finishing a project and perhaps getting inspired to use up “stash” items to create something from “nothing”. It is always a good day when new, finished projects are the result.

If you remember the hearts I stitched for Ella’s holiday tree in her room….they needed to be replaced with bunnies and eggs for Easter.  She announced she would like decorations for the tree for every holiday throughout the year.  It sure is fun having someone who loves my little wool felt stitchery.  Here are the new spring decorations for her tree.  Luckily, I have a stash of wool felt, embroidery floss and pearl cotton that I can always dig into to make these small treasures.  There is no pattern.  I sketched a shape within a 2-3″ size and cut two pieces of felt for each ornament and stitched the edges together with a blanket or buttonhole stitch.  Just before I finished stitching around the shape, I tucked a very small amount of polyester fiberfil in to give a little dimension to the ornament.  Cookie cutters make great patterns for simple shapes if you do not want to free hand the shapes.

I think the next thing I need to do is come up with a special box to store all the ornaments in that can be tucked on a shelf in her closet so that as they accumulate they can all be stored in one place and retrieved easily for the years to come.

As I was looking for thread to use for these ornaments, it seemed like a good time to gather and organize all of the embroidery floss and pearl cotton that I have.  It is always frightening to discover the amount I have accumulated.  Over the years I have amassed quite a collection including threads from my grandmother, my aunt, my mother and everything from the Thimbleberries Studio.  They are now all in one antique picnic basket along with my embroidery hoops.  It is always a good thing to get every like item in one spot.

While sorting through, I thought of an idea that might use up a good amount of the embroidery thread stash.  I collected a group of threads of coordinating colors and stitched the strands onto a base to make a new pillow.  I found a neutral scrap of upholstery weight fabric that I had once used as a base for a group of appliquéd runners back in the eighties.  It was one of those pieces that I just kept over the years, knowing I would use it someday.  Well, that someday finally arrived and it was perfect for this project.  It is now a pillow and not a scrap of fabric.

I used a spool of variegated thread, and a huge variety of flosses, a wide zig zag stitch, a medium length stitch and stitched the floss onto the base in a diagonal pattern about an inch apart in both directions. I used the embroidery thread as it comes in the skein…6 single strands in a group.  This made a nice thick cluster to zig zag over.   As I stitched, I would slightly twist the 6 strands to make it easier to catch all the individual strands within the wide zig zag.

For the pillow back, I used the same zig zag stitch in the same diagonal pattern, eliminating the embroidery floss and used my usual envelop closer technique.  (Directions can be found in all of my books that have pillow projects.)

I love the finished pillow and also love knowing I made a little dent in my embroidery floss stash. The best part of the finished pillow is that I have found many places to use it in my house. Because I used so many colors, it seems to blend with all of my other pillow groupings in many rooms.

SCRAP QUILTS

I think most quilters have a soft spot in their heart for scrap quilts.  They were the first antique quilts that I responded to long ago.  I now know why.  Even then, I loved quilts that had large variety of prints in them and I think they reminded me of the resourcefulness of women that made very functional items from ordinary scraps.  We since have moved into an era of some pretty wonderful collections of beautiful fabrics and have many choices of “scraps” to use for scrap quilts.

Scrap Ease, found in my new book, Quilts with a New Attitude, is now my very favorite scrap quilt.  The book shows it in a queen size made from Thimbleberries fabrics and a throw size made in a coordinated collection from Cotton+Steel.  The piecing is easy, the cuts are big and the overall design very pleasing.  It has no border so it is to adjust the size if you need something other than the two sizes included in the book.  I just keep wanting to make more of this quilt design.  It would be so fun made in baby or kid prints….and Christmas prints and Halloween prints and the list goes on. A simple machine quilting design works well on this quilt.

Here is another version of the Scrap Ease made in another, rather wild collection of scraps.

When piecing the units for one portion of the quilt, you will get pairs of triangles that are trimmed off and technically waste.  I used my leftover triangles to make this narrow, long runner….I love it.

NEW ATTITUDE

My new book, Quilts with a New Attitude has arrived and is available from Landauer Publishing and hopefully at your local quilt shop. This was a fun book to work on using traditional quilt designs and showing them in both traditional and modern fabrics.  I am convinced that a good, well written quilt pattern works for all fabric preferences. Thimbleberries patterns have always been the “go to” for teaching new quilters.  Showing the quilts made  in a variety of fabric collections helps everyone imagine the possibilities.

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Throughout the book, each quilt was made using vastly different fabrics.  In some cases the same block was used but half sized.  In some cases, the same blocks were used but sashing and borders were eliminated and in many cases an alternate size quilt dimension was the result.  A touch of appliqué now and then also changed the flavor of the quilt.   Below is large Autumn Crescendo with appliqué and the second one is a half size version with wool appliqué.

 

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Following, the Citrus Crush quilt used very bright hot pink and orange prints.  A stark contrast to the traditional version using the same block and quilt design as the Autumn Crescendo quilt.  This makes the book a treasure of multiple projects.20170304181125599

I worked with my fabrics for the traditional quilts and used a variety of prints from the Cotton+Steel collection for the modern versions of the quilt designs.  Many of the quilts have already found homes to nestle into to add that charm only a quilt can give to a room.

As usual the blocks that were used for the quilts are simple.  The instructions are illustrated in color and so easy to follow.  A great example of the versatility of the quilts in this book involves the Very Merry Tree Skirt and the Black, White and Bright crib quilt.  Both use the same block construction  However, the tree skirt used the 8 inch block and the crib quilt used the same block but half sized at 4 inches.  The tree skirt used traditional red and green fabrics and the crib quilt used a large variety of black and white fabrics with a variety of solid bright colors.  The piping on the Black, White and Bright quilt is a unique mix of two different sized checked fabrics…a nice detail on this small quilt.

Here you see the Black, White and Bright quilt on my daughters new gray tweed couch.  It is a perfect accent to her contemporary room adding a bold, bright accent.  The Very Merry Tree Skirt has been tucked away for her tree next holiday season.  It will be a perfect Thanksgiving surprise to kick off the holiday season.IMG_0020IMG_003020170305081350782

LITTLE SWEETHEARTS

As you have noticed, I get to spend a lot of time with my two grandchildren, Taylor (8) and Ella (5).  Here they are, sweetly posing for me with their quilts we made together that are now on their beds in their bedrooms.IMG_0677 IMG_0678 Ella loves to decorate…rooms, trees, cakes, cookies, etc. How great for me, right?  This past holiday, her mom let her have a little white feather tree in her room that was all decked out for Christmas.  She wants to keep the tree up, so I stitched up some pink and purple hearts from wool felt with pearl cotton blanket stitched edges and a loop hanger.  I added just a bit of polyester fiberfil to puff them up a bit.  As soon as I delivered them, she headed up to her room to decorate her tree.  I guess I better get busy on some bunnies and eggs.  Easter will be here shortly and she will want to transform her tree once again.  Yesterday, she actually suggested I bring her something for every holiday for her tree.  I think it might be a fun activity for both grandma and Ella.  I realize I have a small window to do things like this with her while she still thinks it is special.IMG_0693IMG_0696IMG_0709IMG_0713

SWEET MEMORIES

The first item on my list to do after the holidays was to finish the quilt my 4 year old granddaughter and I started to work on last summer.  Both she and and her brother created their own artwork on fabric squares with textile markers for their quilts.  He is a bit older so his artwork was a little more involved.  Check out the August section in the archives of this blog for instructions and marker resources for the artwork blocks.

Ella was very definite about the colors she was going to use on her blocks which dictated the fabrics used on the quilt.  I had a nice stash of  Cotton+Steel scraps leftover from the projects I made for my upcoming book, Thimbleberries with a New Attitude.  (The release date is March 1, 2017 and I will keep you posted if that changes.)  The fabrics are whimsical and with juvenile images and perfect colors for a little girl’s quilt that blended well with her artwork.  She was determined to just have hearts, flowers and rainbows on her blocks, which is exactly what she did.  Both she and Taylor wanted a “cozy” backing so I used a lightweight fleece on the back which you can see in the photo below. IMG_0675 IMG_0672

I am not sure she will remember drawing these blocks for the quilt, but I certainly will.  It was a fun activity this summer at the cabin on a rainy day afternoon now and then.  When all else failed, we could always work on our quilt blocks.  Now, I must work on labels for the quilts.  These are two that really need to be documented.

When I finish a quilt top, I prepare the binding immediately.  All too often, the fabric I wanted to use for a binding would have been used for something else before the top was quilted.  This way, I can get started on the binding immediately after the quilting is done.IMG_0671

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