Friday, October 30, 2015

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? Pillow Talk

Hi, all!

It's Friday, I'm back in the US, and I've actually had time to make something!  It's time for us to get our whoop whoop on - I hope you're ready too!


A while back, my daughter brought me a piece of needlework 
in a hoop that she had made for Emmy, and asked me to make it into a pillow for her room.

I had been ruminating on what to do with it for several weeks,
and while I was in China, I came up with a great idea.

And so, when I got home, none of the projects that I should have been working on appealed - but this one was calling my name...

You may remember this quilt that I made for Emmy earlier this year using Etched fabrics from Hawthorne Threads...

When I saw the color of the stitching on my daughter's piece, I realized that it was the same as the blue green in the Etched line, so I dragged out my scraps from the quilt.  I had more than enough of several of the blue green prints to cut the necessary squares, and added in a few of the coral squares just to break up the design.

You may remember this blog post where I discussed making blocks using fusible web and a grid to put the pieces together quickly.

I decided that would be the most efficient way to make this pillow top, so I grabbed my lightweight fusible webbing, laid it on my gridded cutting board, and started laying out pieces.  Note - you need a piece larger than your finished pillow top - something I forgot the first time I cut it out! And on another note, in my experience, this technique gives you perfectly matched seams every time - so much easier than traditional piecing!

You can read more about the process of sewing the patchwork on the earlier blogpost (referenced above) but when I finished sewing all the seams, I put a piece of backing material (muslin) on the top, drew a circle in the center the size of the opening I needed, and sewed around it.  Cut out the center, turned the muslin to the back, and pressed it well.  

I made a quilt sandwich of more muslin and batting, and centered the needlework under the circle.  Basting spray holds all the layers together.  On my Singer, I used a blanket stitch to secure the edge of the circle through all the layers.  

Then I switched over to the Juki and did some cross-hatch straight line quilting.  

I really like all the texture the cross-hatch quilting gives it, and I think Emmy will love it, don't you?  This joint venture with my daughter, up-cycling a wall hanging into a different purpose, has been a lot of fun!

So - - - can I get a whoop whoop?


And now it's your turn!  

What's making you whoop it up?

What's got you dancing the happy dance this week?

Share - we want to dance right along with you -
And it's always more fun to dance with friends!

The party will stay open until Sunday midnight.

Hope to see you there!



Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What's On The Bookshelf Wednesday - A Little Bit Country, a Little Bit R&R

Hi, all!

Welcome to What's On The Bookshelf Wednesday!  Because I was traveling last week, and busy catching up since I got home, I don't have a new book review today - but I'm pulling out one from earlier this year that you may have missed.

Country Girl Modern is the first book written by Jo Kramer and her daughter Kelli Hanken, and I'm  pleased to say it's a wonderful book!!  Of course, if you are familiar with Jo Kramer's blog, Jo's Country Junction, you'd expect that.  Jo and her daughter Kelli have been creating wonderful quilts together for many years and I've enjoyed seeing their progress along the way.

I particularly enjoyed Jo and Kelli's forward in the book. They shared tips for sewing with family.  One of Kelli's tips?  "Shop your mom's fabric and notions first."  I think my daughter has that one down pat!  And Jo advised, "Let them sew - you do the ripping."  I was blessed to have a grandmother who knew this many many years ago.  I think she must have stayed up late at night to repair my first sewing efforts so that I would have clothes that actually fit when I finished a project! 

And oh, this book is chock full of great quilts!  Eleven designs that give a modern twist to the traditional.  I tend to lean more towards modern quilts, and these are a like a fresh breeze - modern in feel, but without as much negative space as some modern quilts.  

It's so hard to choose a favorite - I love this quilt for its scrappiness and think it would make a great quilt design for the quilt ministry...

....and I adore the bohemian flair of this one!  It's such a simple block to make this wonderful quilt.

And this one is a creative way to arrange a simple, traditional block - but what great results!

And now Jo and Kelli have taken part in a second book - 75 Fun Fat Quarter Quilts!  This one is a compilation of fourteen different quilters' contributions, featuring thirteen quilts and many variations on each quilt.  The book is scheduled to be released in December, just in time for Christmas.  They are taking pre-orders of signed copies on their blog - so now's your chance!  


So that's what's on my bookshelf this week!  Have you taken a look at yours lately?



PS - if you've written a quilt-y book that you'd like to see featured on What's On The Bookshelf Wednesday, drop me an email at!  I'm always looking for good books to review!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Make-A-List Monday - Home Again!

Hi, all!

It's Monday, and I'm finally back in the U.S.!  We had quite the trip back - left late from Beijing, which was worrisome because we only had a 90 minute layover in Dallas, and had to collect our luggage and go through customs before boarding our flight home.  Well - we arrived at DFW 30 minutes before our next flight was supposed to start boarding, then sat on the tarmac for over an hour - needless to say, we missed our connecting flight.  But we stayed at a very nice hotel overnight, with a great bed (more on Chinese beds later) and got a good night's sleep.  Early flight Sunday morning, and voila, we are home!  

But now it's time to get back to work - so let's see how last week's list went...

1.  Work on Nathanael's stocking.  I'm close to being finished, so maybe I can get the top stitching done during my LONG flights!
Done!  I couldn't stitch on the flight - sitting in the middle seat gives you no elbow room for stitching, but I did take a morning in the hotel (rainy day) and finished the topstitching!  So here is the finished cross-stitch...

2.  Work on a hexie project I'm taking along.
Done!  I made up a whole pile of hexies, and started sewing them together last night.  I always forget how fun hexies are to make!

3.  Write up the tutorial for a recent quilt.
Done!  I'll be posting this sometime in the next couple of weeks!

4.  See the Great Wall of China!
Done!  We had a great time - but wow, is the Great Wall steep!  You can kind of get an idea of how steep from this picture.  I made it to this point and stopped; my husband went up farther, and another guy we were with went all the way to the top.  I'm glad I stopped when I did - I wasn't too sore the next day (unlike some others I could mention!)  The steps are very uneven - sometimes six inches apart, sometimes twelve or even fifteen inches!  Very hard to climb, both up and down....

Our sightseeing was made infinitely better by this pretty lady...

 ...named Joy!  She was our guide on Monday and then again on Friday when I went shopping, and I don't know what we would have done without her!  Amazingly, it was her first day on a new job, working as an assistant in a publishing company, when she took us to the Great Wall.  I'll tell you more about Joy later on this week.

So that's how my week went last week.  Something tells me this week's list will be much longer....

1.  Finish a pillow top for Emmy.

2.  Cut the sashing and cornerstones for the t-shirt quilt.

3.  Assemble the t-shirt quilt.

4.  Cut the background pieces for a ministry quilt.

5.  Assemble the ministry quilt.

6.  Take my car to shop for recall work.

7.  Scan and email a quilt pattern to a friend.

8.  Take a picture of all fifty quilts for Ethiopia on Wednesday night with the members of the kids' classes.

9.  Start re-organizing the garage so we can park both cars in there again!

10. Keep up with any quilt ministry needs that come up.

Well, that's certainly enough to keep me busy this week - and there are lots more things I can work on if I get through all this!  After all, 'tis the season and all that... I've got lots of things started and commission jobs to finish, too!

So now the question is - - - what are YOU working on this week?



Friday, October 23, 2015

Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? Some Beauties from Last Week...

Hi, all!

Well, here it is, Friday again!  With any kind of luck, right now I am checking out the only man-made object visible from outer space...

...the Great Wall of China!  Hopefully next week I'll have photos of my own to share, but for now, this Google image will have to do.

Since I'm in China, I definitely don't have any finishes, or probably anything much accomplished this week - so I'm going to rely on the kindness of you all, my blog friends, and share some of your beautiful finishes from last week.  There was lots to choose from, but these were some of my favorites...

Check out this beautiful Downton Abbey quilt by Katy of Katy Quilts - I love a quilt waving in the breeze!

And look at this fabulous Moccasin quilt in neutrals by Cindy of Live A Colorful Life!

Isn't this a great picture?  Farm Girl Vintage by Tracy of Tracy's Bits & Pieces.

Don't you just love this Christmas tree table runner by Cynthia at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework!  You should see how she created this - it's ingenious!

And check out this precious giraffe made by Carole at Fresh Off The Frame!

Thanks, ladies for bailing me out this week!  
And keep up the good work!  
Whoop whoops to all!


And now it's your turn! 

What's got you whooping it up this week?

What's making you dance a happy little dance?

Share - we want to dance right along with you...
And it's always more fun to dance with friends!

The party will stay open until Sunday at midnight.

Hope to see you there!



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

What's On The Bookshelf Wednesday - A Cool Technique!

Hi, all!

It's Wednesday, and I'm in China!  But I've still got a neat new book to share with you today - written by my friend Jan Ochterbeck of The Colorful Fabricoholic!  

Now, in the interests of full disclosure, I will tell you that Jan sent me a copy of her book and asked me to review it.  But I will also remind you that I promised to tell you exactly what I think of the books I review, whether I got it for free or not.

This book is so cool!  Jan says in the introduction that "the premise of this book is that you can easily make a variety of simple yet versatile quilt blocks by making a parent block, slicing and dicing it, shuffling the parts, and resembling them...".  Once I read over her technique, I was amazed at the variety of quilts she designed after starting with the "block mama" and performing a little magic with a rotary cutter.

For example, this quilt is called "Labyrinth".  It is made taking one basic block, the "block mama", and doing a little slice and dice.  Then the parts are re-arranged into this cool design!  

And this quilt, called "Zen Garden" is another variation, using the same "block mama" and a slightly different arrangement.

And I absolutely love this one - Heat Wave - 
shown in four different color ways!  
This one is definitely going on my bucket list!

It is amazing what you can do with a little slicing, dicing and re-arranging - creating beautiful quilts that look complicated, but are really very simple.  If you like to make quilts but don't have a lot of time, this book is a great investment.  It is available from the American Quilter's Society or from Amazon.


And that's what's on my bookshelf this week!  Have you taken a look at yours lately?



Monday, October 19, 2015

Make-A-List Monday - Ni Hao!

Hi, all!

It's Monday, at least in middle Tennessee - I am in China this week, where it is 13 hours ahead of the time in Tennessee.  That's confusing, but is easiest understood that if you are in the Central time zone, China is 13 hours ahead - so at 5:00 in the morning in Tennessee, it is 6:00 in the evening in China.  OK, enough of that!  

I did have a short list last week, so let's see how it went...

1.  Quilt more ministry tops.
Done!  I ended up quilting three more tops - it would have been four, but I had a threading problem on the first one, and had to spend an hour or so taking out an entire pass across the quilt - the tension was terrible on the back!  But it wasn't Jolene's fault - I missed getting the thread through the tension disks properly.  I'm just glad that's all it was!  Here are a couple of the quilts I quilted...

2.  Clean up the house.
Done!  That's what I spent Thursday doing - I evicted dust bunnies right and left!  And I found out I have a beautiful dining room table when it's not all covered up...

And while I was slaving away, check out what my faithful companions were doing!

3.  Write extra blogposts and schedule for next week while I'm in China.
Done!  Or at least, almost.  I'm writing this post Thursday night, and I have one more post to write before I'm done, but I'm waiting for a "go-ahead" from a friend before doing that one.

4.  Keep up with any quilt ministry needs that come up.
Done!  Only one quilt this week, for a woman who had a stroke and is not expected to recover much mental function.

So all in all, not too bad.  I wish I could have quilted more quilts for the ministry, but six should get them through the week I'm gone.

And this week?  Well, I'll be traveling, but I do have some things I'm working on...

1.  Work on Nathanael's stocking.  I'm close to being finished, so maybe I can get the top stitching done during my LONG flights!

2.  Work on a hexie project I'm taking along.

3.  Write up the tutorial for a recent quilt.

4.  See the Great Wall of China!

So that's what I'll be doing this week! Now, the question is - - - what are you working on this week?



FYI, "ni hao" means "hello" in Chinese.... hopefully that's enough to get me by this week!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Can I Get A Whoop Whoop - For Tommy?

Hi, all!

Friday - can you believe it?  And just because someone shared this with me...

...and I believe that misery loves company, can you believe that, including today, there are only ten more Fridays until Christmas?  How did that happen???

But because it's Friday, it's time to get our whoop whoop on - and I know you're ready!  I have been working on making a bunch of UFOs to finish up after I return from China, and on cleaning up the house and packing this week, so I don't really have much to show today.  BUT - Tommy, one of the quilt ministry members, finished a fabulous quilt this week that I want to share with you!

Isn't that gorgeous?  It is made using a kit from Connecting Threads, and has some interesting piecing techniques and also some appliqué to make those blocks float.  Both techniques were new to Tommy, but I think he did a fabulous job!

And then he loaded this quilt up on our new mid-arm machine, a Block RockIt named Grace, and did the quilting.  He carefully stitched in the ditch around the blocks and the black border, then did a really nice medium stipple on the rest of the quilt to give it some fabulous texture!

Such a bright and cheerful quilt!  I rather think this one will go to a child in need someday soon.  And I can't wait to see what Tommy works on next!

So - can Tommy get a whoop whoop?


And now it's your turn!

What's got you whooping it up this week?

What's making you dance a little happy dance?

Share - because we want to dance right alongside you!

The party will stay open until Sunday midnight -

Hope to see you there!



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What's On The Bookshelf Wednesday - Instant Inspiration!

Hi, all!

It's Wednesday again, and that means it's time to see what's on my bookshelf!  I decided to show you one of my favorite "inspiration" books, particularly in light of the recent trend in "graffiti" quilting.

"Modern Quilting Designs" by Bethany Pease is chock full of great designs - more than 90 of them - to help you take your quilting to the next level!

The section on design inspiration shows how the author translates everyday sights into quilting designs...

This book contains page after page of continuous line designs...

...beautifully drawn...

...fanciful and inspiring...

...drawing on nature for inspiration, sometimes turning it on its side to gain a different perspective!

Even if you don't copy her designs exactly, you'll find that they will inspire you to branch out a little bit more!

As the back cover says, step out of stippling!  
There's a blank canvas out there just waiting for you to 
unleash your awesomeness on it!  

Don't know how to start?  Go to the store and buy a bunch of spiral bound notebooks and a good supply of mechanical pencils.  Then, sit down and doodle!  You remember doodling - most of us did it when we were younger, out of sheer boredom.  Your inner creative wants out, so play!  You don't have to show your doodles to anyone - just keep them for yourself.  Keep at it and you will get better the more you do it.  Look at quilting designs on-line and try to duplicate them in your doodles.  Add little changes that make the design your very own!  It's fun - and while you doodle, you are building muscle memory.  It will make quilting that much easier!

Then, when you feel comfortable, put together a quilt sandwich using some solid fabric.  Load a contrasting thread in your sewing machine and start quilting!  Try out those designs you've been doodling and see how they translate into thread.  The more you practice, the easier and smoother it will get.  Experiment with speed - sew faster and see if you get better results.  By experimenting, you will find your "sweet spot" for FMQ.

As Nike says, "Just Do It"!!


So that's what's on my bookshelf this week.  Have you looked at yours lately?