Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas and trying new things

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. We did!

I have been holding on to my African fabric for a long time now. The colors are bold and the patterns so distinctive that they do not blend easily into my usual quilt patterns and colorways. So, I held on to the fabric but have noticed some really clever ways to use prints like these. Kelli used some of her stash for a really cute blanket just recently. She encouraged me to get out the scissors!

The cloth I chose for this first experiment is called Homme Boubou (French: homme = man: boubou = a boubou is a traditional dress for muslim men in West Africa). I fussy cut the men either solo or with a pal. The shapes are rectangles. I used a solid black to make a border. On some I used 2 inch borders. On others I wonkified (a new word) the homme boubou. On yet others, I wonkified the black frame. I used a bright, multi-colored pattern for the outer border. I made one strip just to see how they might go together. I'm not yet sure how they will all go together but it will probably work out.

I find that cutting and sewing without a pattern is more stressful than using a pattern. I am conscious of wasting fabric and thinking a head to "what could I do with this little bit?" So far, I am saving all the little scraps just in case. I worry that the shapes will not come together nicely. I think I worry too much. I've been holding on to this cloth for 15+ years. It is time. It is time to try something new.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tabitha Bag

I fell in love with the Tabitha Bag and ordered the pattern from Flossie Teacakes. I asked and received timely advice about fabric to use. The pattern was easy to follow and I am pleased with the result. I started another one right away with a neat red paisley pattern as the inset pleats.

In other crafty news I am hand quilting a quilt with prairie stars that I blogged about a while back. I am sewing some cute jumpers for my girls that I might possibly finish by Thanksgiving. Pictures to follow.

Recently I have really enjoyed House on Hill Road. She has great book recommendations, cool crafts, and a fun tradition for her girls' birthdays.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Inspiration All Around Me

I just finished these two doll blankets for my girls. I was totally inspired by Crazy Mom Quilts ( AmandaJean had a quilt along earlier this summer making these cute 9-patch quilts. I loved the idea of making a special something for my kids to surprise them on vacation like Flossie Teacakes ( (scroll back to when she was on holiday). The fun part was the girls watched me make the blankets and would say "that is so cute!" They don't know they are the intended recipients.

Another inspiration came from Tallgrass Prairie Studio ( Jacquie posted about Iraqui Bundles of Love. She linked to the blog of a gal whose husband is serving in Iraq. He will return home soon but, like many inspired by Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, is striving to make a difference. He is collecting donations of fabric and yarn to provide to Iraqis who sew and knit. Follow the links from Tallgrass Prairie - she and he make it very easy! Time is of the essence, there is a 9-7-09 deadline to meet his departure and end of Ramadan. I mailed my box on Tuesday. While the thought of helping someone who may have killed an American soldier freaks me out, the thought that one small box of fabric might, in some small way, prevent an Iraqi from killing/hating/negative feelings about Americans in the future pushed me over the edge to send my box. After a lot of thought, I selected red, white and blue cloth from my stash.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Free Motion Quilting - still learning the basics

I bought a quilting foot and immediately used it on a baby blanket. I did a simple stipling pattern as this was my very first time using the new foot. On the back I noticed some oddities - the front side stitches were pulling through to the back creating a centipede sort of look. I emailed Jacquie at Tallgrass Prairie Studio for help. She asked for a picture. My camera is not good at capturing closeup so I drew a hand sketch. She also suggested it might be a tension problem. Thanks for the suggestion Jacquie! I think she's right so I will try to figure out how to correct it. The top came out fine, BTW - (just don't look at the back, hee-hee-hee).

PS - here is the finished quilt. Thanks for the advice, Kim. I need to get better about making time to test new techniques instead of plowing ahead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

26 Aprons on the Wall

I made 26 aprons as gifts for the Board Members of my Twins Club. What an accomplishment! The color scheme deliberately coordinates with the Rockies colors: purple, black, and silver. I took some license with those colors and made sure the material was also cute. All 26 are unique.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin is the story of a man who found his purpose in life is to raise money and build schools in remote parts of Pakistan and Afganistan. Not back in the day when Pakistan and Afganistan were unknown, romantic, vast spaces of beauty and interesting people - but right now in the midst of wars, terrorism, and politics.

He literally stumbled into a village in the mid-1990s after an attempt at K2 and spent some time there recovering. After regaining his health, he also learned the local language, was befriended by the village chief, and promised to build a school. The book tells the story of his journey and his drive to build schools for girls and boys in places that had none. I liked this book because it gives me hope that someday things might get better in corners of the world that I previously had not heard of. It is a good read.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

New Fridge, Old Friends

Our fridge decided not to refridgerate last Thursday. I called a local Big Box and ordered a new one and it was delivered the next day. They hauled away my old one. I asked the salesguy if I was crazy for doing this and he said people do it all the time. My main criteria was that it fit in the existing space. It does, we now have cold food again.

My friend of 20+ years is in town with her two boys 8 and 10. Watching my girls try to keep up with them is really cute and somewhat scary for me. We have learned how to play Red Light Green Light, Bingo, and how to make decaf lattes in the play kitchen. I think the girls have learned some new words too. I don't have many friends from 20 years ago, mostly because I moved around a lot, so it is comforting to reconnect with someone who knows me with all my quirks and neuroses. We went for martinis last night and had some real girl talk! That was great, better than great. This girlfriend and her family might relocate to a large city nearby. Wouldn't that be even greater!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Own March Madness

I have about 4 quilts and 1 large apron project going. That's my own March Madness for you. I have taken up the Starlight quilt again, which I posted about earlier. I've come up with a cheap design wall by using a fleece blanket on sale from Target ($3.98). I used the existing bookcase and pinned the fleece to one of the shelves, this also helped to get a level design wall.
I've pinned the hexagons, although they stick quite well. I've got another fleece blanket in case I exceed my size but for now, this will do. It was useful to layout the hexagons and see where my blanks are, how the colors are coming together, and where I could use some improvement. Some of the blanks are solid hexagons, some are rubics-cube type pieced hexagons, and some are three pieced hexagons. I have started some of the solid hexagons and filled them in - mostly on the sides. So far, this is all hand sewn and I love it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

La Grandmere

Photobucket La Grandmere. Named for my grandmother because I worked on this quilt on the way to and from her 100 year birthday party last spring. I got a lot of comments from the flight attendants and looks during layovers. I hand quilted this one using a fan motif. This quilt was a gift from my husband and came from France as a kit. I ran out of the dark brown and the only source I could find was from a web site in Japan and in Japanese. I enlisted the help of my friend Hide to complete the transaction for me. Interestingly, the cost of the fabric was comparable to what we pay in the US. I frequently hear that Japan is a very expensive country so I was a bit surprised.

On a completely different topic - if I were singing for my life/in a sing off (American Idol - last week's show), I would sing Tall Trees in Georgia. Eva Cassidy sings this one so beautifully. I cannot sing but I feel it is important to be prepared, just in case. I used to sing this one to my girls when they were tiny babies. Now when I sing, they usually say "no songs!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Another Cute Apron

Blue & White Apron

I finished this apron for my friend Summer. She has an eclectic collection of blue and white dishes that would look great with this apron. I uploaded this picture with Photobucket so am experimenting with that. It uploads the picture really big and then I have to shrink it down. I'd like it to upload a thumbnail-size picture so will work on how to do that.

We had bitter cold here but today the sun is out and it feels good. I am making really good progress on handquilting. It is really nice to just sit with my husband, and frequently a cat, and quilt. I have a killer callous! I started a new quilt with a modified nine-patch design and Prairie Points. I am very excited about this 3D effect and texture to the quilt.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My Grandmother

At 100 years and 8 months, she passed away in her sleep. She taught me to sew, draw, be happy when camping in the rain. She and my Grandpa used to drink powdered milk (blek) and mix it in a purple container called The Purple Cow. We camped a lot in Michigan, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. She was very creative and thrifty. I have a beautiful rug she made from scraps, a Dresden Plate pillow sham, and a pencil sketch of a pheasant. I have some gifts from her when I was little including a pink sewing basket that I still use to keep fasteners in. I have a stuffed cat from a calico type quilting fabric. I have a dried flower Christmas Tree that I hang on my front door at Christmas time (and others).

I went to her 100 year birthday party. It is a nice memory for me. My Grandma asked me several times if I had a house and what it was like. From her perspective having a house meant security. She would frequently say "that's good, dear." She liked soup, hot water, and especially ice cream.

I will tell my girls about their Great Grandmother and hope they have some of her creativity and purpose.