Friday, November 28, 2014

Times they are a changin' / Happy Thanksgiving

"Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way"

Thanksgiving week is probably the one time of year I really, really miss living near family. I miss the memories being made, good and otherwise. But it is also nice to have others to share the burden with. 
If you spend Thanksgiving with others the drill is normally that you provide part of the meal. This lightens the load on the host family. Well, when you spend the day with just immediate family guess who gets to shop, pay for, prepare, and clean up the ENTIRE meal? (I am sounding a bit like the Little Red Hen). Yep, since we moved away from Tampa and the joy of having our family nearby I have had the pleasure of preparing the whole shebang. 

That first year I think I tried to make everything on Thanksgiving. I probably made the desserts the day before. It wasn't long before I realized that with one oven and a huge turkey inside the oven for most of the day that cooking anything else in there was going to be nearly impossible. So the next year I planned ahead and that's when the feast became a several day long ordeal. 
As a side note, that first year I also quickly realized that I had maybe one casserole dish. I don't know how many casseroles you enjoy with Thanksgiving meal, but one wasn't going to cut it. So I went out and got an entire set of Corning Ware casserole dishes in different sizes and shapes with lids. Still use them and they will probably get dispersed with my estate some day as they indestructible. Most of them just get pulled out once a year though. 

Here we are 13 years later, still celebrating with "just us," but it is different now. Kevin is currently living in Iowa while we try to sell the house. He got home Wednesday afternoon and will go back Sunday.  The boys are growing up. Hunter's girlfriend brings the number up to six around the table (8 if you count the four-legged fur babies under the table). Jackson works at the RTJ golf course and had to stay until the last idiot  golfer came in from the course. He got home around 5 and Hunter and Shelby got back from her mom's around 5:30. All that to say that I had to adjust my cooking schedule. Instead of eating at 3ish where I would normally get up and put the bird in the oven bright and early then settle in to watch the parade I had to wait, it seemed like forever. AND I haven't quite mastered the timing with the convection roasting thing. So Mr. Tom was still done quite early. I did have plenty of time to make the gravy though without everyone breathing down my neck. So that was nice. It turned out to be a really good batch too. All in all a very quiet day around here. 

Another thing that is different, I didn't take a single picture yesterday of the bounty or the family. I used to be almost pathological about taking the pictures. I guess after so many years the meals all look the same. I could just use an old one and nobody would know any better. 
One more difference, since we ate late there was no card playing after dinner. The older kids scattered to go shopping and the movies. I personally wish the stores would stay closed until Friday so I don't go out. But they must give the masses what they want and as long as the masses are coming in the doors spending money the stores will be open. 

So I think this is a transition year. Next year will be even that much more different. Hunter will stay in Huntsville when we relocate to Des Moines and Jackson will hopefully be in college somewhere. I really don't want to think about them being so far away.  And life marches on.....

How did you spend Turkey Day? Loads of crazy family or a quiet day? Either way I hope you are feeling blessed and content. 


Monday, October 27, 2014

Day one IQF quilt show

II mentioned awhile back I was invited to work in Houston at the International Quilt Festival. The time has finally arrived. Sunday was day one. 

I woke up early for a 7 a.m. flight from Huntsville through Atlanta to Houston. When boarding the full plane in Atlanta there was a brief Ben Stiller moment (think meet the parents) with the boarding agent. She didn't call "group three" to board and there were about five people left so I just went to get on and she said we aren't  boarding group three yet. And in about 2 seconds she said "okay, now boarding group three". I thought it was funny. Art imitating life or vice versa.  

After an uneventful flight I caught a shuttle to the convention center (luggage in tow) and went straight to work learning  one of my jobs. I am working with about 20 people from all over the country. Sunday and Monday I am working with Barbara Black checking in the teachers. It is awesome to meet the teachers and quilters whose books I have bought,read, and followed. 

After a full day about 12 of us went to a local authentic Mexican restaurant called Ninfa's. The wait was forever and the food mediocre and expensive  unfortunately.  After 9 pm I finally got checked into the Hyatt. Nicest hotel I have probably ever been in (besides the Grand Wailea in Maui). 

More exciting adventure to come. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Houston here I come

I have been so busy getting the house ready to sell and getting customer quilts done that blog land has been neglected. This week might prove different. I am headed to Houston for the International Quilt Festival and show. I am working on the education team with the classes and instructors. More to come....

Monday, September 1, 2014

Mondo Bag Fun Day

The Mondo Bag from QuiltSmart was a big hit and a gal in my stitch group (Stitch Its) suggested we do them as a group project. So we did just that. I ordered the fusible interfacing/pattern by the bolt and all interested parties got theirs.

 I suggested they cut the 2-1/2 inch squares and fuse them to the interfacing ahead of time. I expected at least 20 people and knew there wouldn't be enough time or irons to accommodate everyone. Most of them also sewed the short and long seams creating 4 panels.  This was a pretty good plan, most everyone was able to finish the bags during our get together. 

Below are some of the finished or nearly finished bags. I love the variety and how each person's personality comes through in the fabric selections!



Kathy's or Patte's  or Cecilia's ?

Pat S's




One shoe, bag on head, its been a long day! :0) 

Karen's (she even made a bottom to fit down inside)

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Shop Hop road trip or Jackie the enabler

Patterns and license plates from a couple of shops.

Last weekend I took a little road trip to Chattanooga, TN which is about 1.5 hours away from me. My friend Jackie suggested we go to some shops that are participating in the Row by Row Experience. (It is a nation wide quilt shop hop and each shop has created a pattern for a row in a quilt.) The state of quilt shops here in North Alabama is pretty sad and there are no participating shops in the state at all. We are down to one shop in Huntsville, if you don't count the sewing machine shops that sell fabric. That means we have to drive to see different offerings in the quilt world. There is always the internet, but you can't feel and pet it :0) My intent for this trip was to get the license plates and patterns only. I don't need any more projects or fabric!

So my super organized friend did the research, called the shops to be sure of their hours, mapped out a plan and off we went, leaving at 6:30 a.m. (There is a time zone change). 

Pattern for row from Hyderhangout
 The first stop was past Chattanooga in Cleveland, TN. Hyderhangout is located in a dark, damp, warm old building. Their offerings were not of the highest quality. So we got our "license plate" and pattern for the row only. 

Pattern from Chattanooga Quilts
Next stop, Chattanooga Quilts in Ooltewah, TN. Not a place you would happen upon just driving by, but definitely worth the trip! It is in an old building, nothing to look at from the outside. But once you get inside... Nice displays and lots of samples and decorated wonderfully with family antiques. A really nice selection of fabrics. Both Jackie and I found lots of stuff there and our tastes are polar opposite. I also liked that she had items from local crafts people like ceramics and jewelry. The owner was also very friendly. We had to order our plates to be mailed. 

Pattern from Sew N Quilt

Then on to the Bernina Sew N Quilt Studio. Jackie loves trains and the Chattanooga Choo Choo and their row is a train silhouette. Again, not much in the way of fabrics or customer service.

Two rows from Ready, Set, Sew

Our subsequent stop,  Ready, Set, Sew. They are also a machine dealer, but for Baby Lock, Janome, Elna machines. They had a big work room and lots of machines. We almost didn't go there because their row was an appliqué squirrel and if we ran out of time they were off the list. We were glad we went though because they had a second offering that was super cute and more regional. We wound up getting both of them. I didn't get the kit though because they had run out of the fabrics that the sample was done with and I didn't love the replacements as much. At this point, I am thinking of doing the rows to coordinate instead of in the colors of the shops. I was able to secure the "barn" fabric that would be difficult to find though. I also found a cute pattern for a Pat Sloan wall hanging. 

Pattern from Spool
Fifth stop, Spool. It is near downtown Chattanooga. The navigation had us cracking up because it took us to the street and then said "destination ahead, navigation ending" and we were not near the shop. The parking was behind the building and we found it because organized Jackie had looked at the street view on Google Maps and recognized the murals on the buildings across the street. Of course by this time we are a bit delirious anyways. This shop has been open about a year and has more of a "modern" feel. You won't find any civil war repros here but it has a good feel and lots of samples and a good selection. I picked up some goodies along with the pattern and ordered two different license plates. I will be back there if possible. 

Pattern and kit from Pins and Needles
Last destination, Pins and Needles Quilt Shop  .  A nice little shop. I got the kit for their row and they had a cute pattern of cars that you could put the license plates on. 

The key to a successful shop hop is to have an open mind and good attitude and a friend who shops like you do. I don't think it would work well with lots of people or if one is on a mission and the others are dawdlers. 

The Row by Row Experience ends this week I think but who ever came up with the idea is smart. It was a great marketing tool to get shoppers into the shops and then back for the contests and drawings. 
I have already been playing with my purchases despite having many projects underway already. Maybe I will be able to share a completed project some time soon :0) Until then, 
Happy Quilting or whatever you choose to do to occupy your time. 


Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Mondo Bag

Mondo bag made for Shelby.
This is my first shot at any sort of tutorial, so no promises on clarity of directions. I will try to show you how I made my second one of the Mondo bags. 

You will need:
-Two panels of the pattern that is printed on fusible web from Quilt Smart
-Enough fabric for 208 2-1/2 squares and two handles (I used less than half of a Bali pop or jelly roll) (you could also use just a few fabrics for a bold look, or even just strips)
-1-1/4 yd coordinating fabric for lining and handle lining
-1-1/4 yd fusible fleece
1) Cut the fusible pattern apart on the cut lines (little scissors show you where)

2) Cut your squares. This took about half an hour from jelly roll strips. Leave two strips for the handles. I used half of each  strip for a more scrappy look.

3)  With the bumpy side up (glue) and the "top point" in the upper left ...
(isn't my new ironing board cover cute?)

place your 2-1/2 in squares on the grid...
and press in place. I use a teflon/applique sheet to protect the iron. (There will be small amounts of glue exposed.) Note: If you take your pressed pieces to the fabric store at this point to pick out your lining, you WILL need to re-attach. The glue is a light weight one :0)

4) Next fold along the short side and sew no less than 1/4 inch seam. Do this for all short seams on each rectangle.
I did two at a time and "chain" stitched between the two.

Short seams stitched.

5) Clip each intersection up to the stitching. This will help the seams to lie flat and be pressed in opposite directions.

6) Next press each row in opposite directions. There are little arrows on the edge of the panel to show you which way to press. My tip for this step is to start with just the bottom row and go left. Then go back and work the second row to the right while keeping the bottom row going to the left. Then fold the panel in half so the top two rows only are showing and do the same thing.

(top two rows with bottom two folded under.)

7) Now stitch the long seams. On your second seam of each panel be careful to keep the seam underneath headed in the right direction. 

8) Press the long seams up. There are directions printed on the fusible.  
9) Measure your rectangles. They will be around 8-1/2 x 26-1/2 inches. Don't stress if they aren't, there are a lot of seams so they will probably be different. Mine were and it still works. 

Cut your lining and fleece to your rectangle measurements. 
Also cut lining and fleece the same size as the handle strips. 

Fuse the fleece to the wrong side of your lining and handle lining. Fuse interfacing to wrong side of handle strips.  Set aside. 

Here is where I forgot to take pictures. I will update next time I make another bag :0) 

10) Place one rectangle right side up horizontally. Place another one vertically above it to make an "L". Bring the top one down making them right sides together. The "bottom center" marks on the fusible pattern will match.  Stitch from the bottom center point to the end (about four squares long). Fold open and press to the top of the "L". Repeat with the other two rectangles. 

11)  Place one "L" on the table right fabric side up, but with the "L" upside down. Place the second one next to it as an "L" so the four bottom center squares meet (that is printed on the fusible pattern).

Next place these pieces right sides together and stitch together from where the diagonal lines meet on each side. (The diagonal lines form the outline for the bag bottom). Press seams in opposite directions, twisting at the middle. 

12)  With pieces lying face up, fold  top leg of the "L" on diagonal "bottom" line counter clock-wise, so it is right sides together with the one pointing to the left.  Interlock and pin seams. Sew from the center out.  Repeat for all four sides working counter clock-wise. 

13) Place lining sides right side up in backwards "L" (mirror of step 10). Make 2 backwards "L"s.  Sew the "L"s together matching centers. Press. Sew seams in the same manner as the outer bag.  LEAVE ABOUT 8 IN OPEN IN ONE SIDE FOR TURNING. 

14)  Place a handle fabric strip and a lining piece right sides together and stitch down each long side, leaving ends open. 

turn handle right side out and press. (I really want one of the turny things!)

Top stitch edges of handles. Repeat for second handle. 

If you are adding a key strap, do that now. Fuse key strap interfacing to wrong side of 2-1/2 inch strip and trim. Fold edges to dotted line and fold in half again, enclosing the raw edge. Top stitch.

15)  Pin Handles, right sides together, to "top point"  and stitch in place on  lines on pattern.  Pin and stitch key loop to desired place at this point also. 

16)  Insert lining into bag, right sides together. Match raw edges, pin well, ease as needed.  Stitch on solid lines, pivot at handle edge, stitch across handles at previous stitch line or just below, pivot again and continue. Clip inner corners to stitching (the bottom of the "v"). Double stitch along solid line again to reinforce. Turn bag. Neaten the edges and top stitch around top edges or "bind".  Close turning hole by hand or machine. 

I hope you have fun making your bag. I LOVE mine! 

Let me know what your plans are for yours. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Looking Forward to something

Red roses from my yard, because a post without pictures is boring.

Ahh, the lazy days of summer..... NOT
We have been super busy not doing much of anything. Day camps for one son, golfing and now work for another, and trying to fit  quilting/work in for me. Plus living at least 10 miles away from anything means a lot of "dead" time in the car. 

But all of that is about to end. School starts in less than two weeks for HCS. August 5. We should be able to get back into a routine of sorts, which will be nice. Something to look forward to. 

Something else I have to look forward to is the International Quilt Festival at the end of October in Houston, TX.  I have been "invited" to work/volunteer on the Education Team for the festival. It will be a lot of work and long hours but I am really excited about it, a whole week of nothing but quilts. 

One of the "perks" is that the volunteers get to sign up for classes right before registration opens up for everyone else. While there is not a lot of time for taking classes I have been able to pick out two sessions. I think it will be fun to meet the rest of the team, which is made up of about 23 dedicated people from all over the country.

It was exciting to see my friend Barbara Black's quilt on the cover of the quilt festival course catalogue too. This is the Ruby Jubilee Show "celebrating 40 years of great quilts." This particular quilt is red and white and is being featured on all of the official show stuff (tote bags, brochures, etc). It will also hang in the special exhibit Ruby Jubilee part of the show. You can see more of this phenomenal quilt here My Joyful Journey .  

One more thing to look forward to, my 30th high school reunion (next year). I have been asked to donate a little something for an auction.  More on that another time. But I am really looking forward to heading to paradise! 

Max is nine months old and just got his first haircut.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

How long does it take to get a driver's license?

Ahh, summer. That time of lazy days and sitting around drinking iced tea or lemonade..... NOT! This summer has been extremely busy around here. I thought the quilters would go out to their gardens and I might get a little break. Nope, I am staying very steady with my quilting and have several t-shirt quilts on order. Plus the kiddos are home and needing rides everywhere. The 17-yo did get his driver's license, but without an extra car that doesn't do us much good. 
Okay, here is the driver's license story. It took a full week to obtain said license. Not because he failed the test. Because the offices where one gets a license are understaffed and its a government agency in the state of Alabama.  

We decided to not even try to go to the office in Huntsville due to previous experiences of waiting 5 hours in line. People are lined up at 5 a.m. and you get a number and still might not get seen that day. So we head to a smaller office south of town. When we get there we discover it is a building the size of my kitchen and the sign on the door states no driving tests on wet roads. Well of course it was a drizzly day. So we go home. 

The next day we get to the office 10 mins after it opens and the sign on the door says the driving tests are all full. (Apparently only person staffs the office and she can only take two a day of those). I call another office and she says I can chance it but she won't do it in the rain. Well the radar say no rain until the afternoon, it is 8 a.m. after all. So we drive the 45 mins to that office. (Jackson is getting plenty of extra driving practice in). When we arrive in the basement of the courthouse the door is closed, the people waiting in the chairs in the hall say she (another one-person office) is on a driving test and that the computers are down. So we sit and wait. After the computers come back up we are first on the list and she actually puts all of Jackson's information in the computer and takes his photo, looking like its a go today. Then she starts taking people who came after us to get renewals and such. Wait, what? She then tells us it will be after lunch before she does any more driving tests. Sooo, we go shopping at Hammer's and eat a leisurely lunch, it is a government office and they are in no hurry. Get back from lunch, computers are down again. Look at the radar, HUGE storm headed our way. Ugh. Decided to call it quits for the day. On the way home it is raining so hard we had to pull off the road. Chalk it up to another chance of learning how to handle that driving experience for Jackson. 
The next day we didn't even attempt it, I had to get some work done this week. So Thursday we head out again, get to the office within 30 mins of it opening. No rain in the forecast, we have our paper work in order. After a couple of hours it was his turn for the test. Hallelujah, he passed! I don't think I could have handled going through all of that again. Now to find him a vehicle..... 

Do you have any government office horror stories?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Block exchange blocks #1

These are the first of several sets of 12 - 5 inch string blocks I am exchanging. These are Katherine's. I was able to stitch them up while her big quilt is being done by Cinnamon. She chose a Halloween theme. Fun and easy!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Alabama Quilts Syposium Ribbons

I am super excited! The Alabama Quilts Symposium was this weekend. I was unable to attend because I did a 3-day retreat at Grand Oak with some quilty friends earlier this week. There were a lot of entries in the quilt show from Huntsville. Two of them were quilts my customers entered. I have mentioned them before because they received ribbons at our guild show. 

So why the excitement? Mary's "Sallie's quilt" (which was also juried into the AQS show in Lancaster, PA earlier this year) won Best of Show. I got so excited and posted to our FB group that she won second place because someone else sent me an email earlier saying they saw my name on a second place winner. 

Well, that second place winner turns out to be Peggy's "Alaskan Totemic Art" quilt. She also won Judge's Choice!

Congratulations to Mary and Peggy. It is an honor and pleasure to be allowed to be a part of your beautiful quilts. 
Peggy B's Totemic art quilt, part original design, part wall hanging designs all merged together.
(This is Pre-trim and binding. I need to get a better picture!)

Mary M's "Sallie's Quilt"
(a design from Red Crinoline formerly Bonnie Blue patterns)