Saturday, November 29, 2008

Is it Christmas already?

It's hard to believe Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is almost here. The calendar keeps surprising me. I was in Houston again last weekend to visit with Phyllis. Honey was in Houston for the motorcycle show so it seemed like a good time for a few days off. We had a lake effect blizzard in Erie as I was leaving. They got about 8" while I was gone. I think I left just in time. It was raining when I came home. Most of the snow had turned to slush.

The show in Houston seemed small this year. BMW was not there. Yamaha brought the big trucks in for their display, but did not put up their usual booth. Honey is working with Victory this year. To give you a little back ground, once upon a time I had a t-shirt business. I had a booth at these shows to sell the shirts. I have quite a few friends that still work the "Winter Tour". I'll have to wait until they come to Cleveland to see them though. They were not in Houston. I did get a chance to check out all the new bikes though. Yamaha has a 950 cruiser that looks interesting. I like the Victory Vegas in the red. Kawasaki has a new concourse also that looks pretty cool. There are times I wish my bike had saddle bags to carry things around. I have a bag I can strap to the rear seat that works pretty well. Here are our bikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway 2 years ago. We're thinking about taking a trip down towards Chattanooga and back through Nashville this summer. Let me know if there are any must see quilting places along the way!

I've been working on Christmas recently so I can't show you too much yet. I did get a few purse frames while at Market. I've been trying to design something to go along with them. Not anything too fancy, although some of the frames are pretty dressy. I'd like them to be used. If I make them too fancy they will sit is a drawer.

I also made a table runner for my cousin. A thank you for helping me out at Market. It's the first time I have worked with silk, certainly not the last though. I was thrilled with how it turned out. I embroidered snowflakes on white silk dipioni. I then made 4 patch blocks to make the center of the runner with pale blue and silver grey and placed the snowflake blocks around the outside. I had thought about beading it, but was afraid she wouldn't be able to put anything on top of it then. I used a lightweight knit interfacing on the back of the silk and stabilized it with an iron on stabilizer fort he embroidery. My designs were not very high stitch counts or very dense. I was concerned about it puckering with a more dense design. The pictures did not come out very well. Sorry. The silk just reflected back and you can't see the embroidery. I've had the same trouble photographing white. Maybe someday I'll get the hang of that.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dilly Dallying in Houston

Hey all!

I was Houston for Quilt Market last weekend. What an amazing place to be! I left Erie, Pa Wednesday, just as the temperature was dropping. It was in the 40's when I left. The drive to Houston took 2 days. It's about 1500 miles. It's a fairly easy trip, as long as you don't mind driving. I stayed on the highways all the way. There are plenty of gas stops and rest areas along the way.

We went in Friday to set up the booth. I love that anticipation right before the show. The booths were so amazing! Attendance was down this year, but we still had a good show. Here are new designs I was showing. Pleated Paradise has pleated sashing. I've got some great new ideas for Pittsburgh in the spring.

Now that I am home again, I can spend some time with my new longarm, well, new to me anyway. It came about a week before I left. I have it set up in the basement and did not have time to even thread it. I spent last night trying to figure it out. I put some muslin on it to play with and got it threaded. I had the hardest time with the needle, mostly because I was trying to put it in backwards. I think I've got it now. I wanted to get it going because I know my sisters will want to give it a go on Sunday.

I'm having the Great Cookie Bakeoff on Sunday. Every year we get together to make Christmas cookies. This year we decided to make them Halloween cookies instead. The whole family is coming over. I think I'll have about 16-20 people here. We're having Butternut Squash Soup, Pumpkin Bread, Macaroni and Cheese, Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, Mummy Meatloaf and Shrunken Apple Heads. Did you catch the theme? We're making Halloween cutout cookies and spooky spiders that look like chocolate haystacks with eyes.

I may need another vacation after all this...

Happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just in case you were wondering...

In case you've been wondering what I've been up to... I am deep into market preparation mode. I am going to have a booth at the Fall Quilt Market in Houston this year. I am so excited and a little nervous. I knew it was going to be quite a bit of work, and of course it has been. I have 4 new quilt designs. Sorry, you'll have to wait a little longer for those. In addition to finishing up my quilts, I have been researching everything else that needs to happen to go. I think Honey is going to out together some poles to hang the quilt in my booth for me. All of the draping needs to be fire retardant, so I have had to figure out how that all works. Of course I need to make a sign with my name on it, oh and the pole covers. Sleeves to fit over the poles to make them pretty. You just can't go to a show without those! When I first considered going to the show, I thought, "Well, I've done motorcycle shows before. This can't be that different right? It's still a show." Well, silly me. This show is very similar and at the same time, very different. This show is much more about how pretty everything is and the booths at Market show all the time and attention pretty gets. I'm just trying to make sure my booth doesn't stand out like a sore thumb or like I put up a big sign that said "THIS IS MY FIRST SHOW!" Yes, in caps with the exclamation point. In the end, it will be just fine. I'm very happy with my quilts and my prospective booth layout. Here are the boys, by the way, helping me get ready. They have worked so hard! Bailey Boy has been out helping PaPa. They have worked their little paws to the bone!

The Quilting around Chautauqua show was last weekend as well. I had 4 quilts in the guild room and 1 in a vendor booth. Those will also be going to Houston as soon as I go pick them up. I ran out of the house without my camera, of course. I don't have any great pictures of the quilts. I did have a friend take a picture of me in front of Jan's quilt. It was set up with a copy of Quilter's Home in front of it.
Here's a little teaser as well. This project has so many of those things I like, lime green fabric, bright colors, curves, paper piecing. I'm going to try to use freezer paper for my templates this time. You can buy the freezer paper in sheets to go through the printer. I think that sounds a whole lot better than tracing each plastic template 36 times. They come in 50 sheet packages in both letter size and 12 x 15. I'll have to use the letter size. The larger pages won't go through my printer. C. Jenkins make it.
I've been doing some research on batting as well, but that will have to wait until next time. I have to give the bamboo batting a try first.
Have fun stitching!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Little Sewing Fun

I have borrowed a new book from my guild's library "The Art of Manipulating Fabric" by Colette Wolff. It is so much fun. The book covers many different ways to fold, gather and stitch fabric to achieve 3 dimensionsal results. I have so many new ideas my head is spinning. I think I'm going to have to buy this book for my reference library. Jus tlooking through all the photos has given me ideas. There are also detailed instructions on how to pleat, tuck, gather and fold. The book is divided into sections, organized by technique. Definately worth checking into. Love it!

I also have been working on a little jacket and top for work. This is McCall's 5007 jacket and the top is New Look 6669. Both went together very easily. The top took me about 5 hours to cut and sew. I did lengthen the jacket about 2 inches. I like to weat my tops out right now and I wanted to make sure the jacket come down past the hem of the top. It may or may not be fashionable, but it is a little more professional looking. I think they'll look great with a pair of black pants. In fact, I think I'll wear them tomorrow.

As for my quilts, I have been busy , busy getting reasy for the quilt show in Chatauqua at the endo f the month. I have 2 more that need quilting. I have also been planning what I should take to Houston in October. Sorry, you'll have to wait and see on those. They are only on paper right now, now yet in fabric. I can give you a few little hints though. I love the Benartex Fossil Ferns. You can be sure I'll be using some of that fabric. I also have taken some ideas from the book that I think I might use in a table runner. There is still that wedding quilt as well. I'll have more hints and sneak peaks later. Maybe I'll get back to that mirror idea...

Did you know there have been studues which prove sewing reduces blood pressure?

Happy sewing all.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Baby Quilt

It's finished. I love it. Seems funny to be saying that. Now, let me explain. I have been asked to make a baby quilt for someone. As I'm sure you know, there were some requests and requirements. I could design the quilt, but it had to be in yellow and white. No other colors. I was very concerned. It's not that I have a problem with a monochromatic design. They can be amazingly beautiful. I was concerned about the amount of contract you can get with yellow and white. I designed the quilt. I thought it would be OK. I bought the fabric, I thought it might be boring. I added Minkee to the top to give it some texture and interest. I think it came out great. The Minkee is so very soft. The backing is traditional cotton. I might even do this again! (I am glad it was just a baby quilt though)

I felt the need to move into a little color. I have a throw planned for Diane Next Door using the Loralie panel we purchased, but first a small tote bag. I have been eyeing this fabric at my local quilt store, trying to decide what to make of it. I decided a tote would be great (with a little extra fabric to go into something later). I knew I wanted to use my favorite green. It wasn't in the baby quilt or the red lotus flower quilt. I had been feeling some of those withdrawal symptoms, sweaty palms, the whole thing. The pattern is from Lazy Girl Designs. The bottom of the bag was solid black, until I started quilting that is. The lining is that wonderful green. It's almost too bright, but I shouldn't loose anything in there. I had some decisions with the handles. I was going to use a pair of wooden handles I had lying around, but they were too small. I also had a pair of vinyl longer handles, the ended up being too narrow. In the end I decided to make the fabric handles. I love it! Now I can move on to those crazy ladies from Loralie and then maybe that Halloween quilt...

Check out the Benartex website when you get a minute. My Floral Delight quilt is on the front page!

Here's what the little boys have been up to.

Monday, August 4, 2008


I went to the Grand Reopening of Millcreek Vacuum and Sewing over on Saturday. Loralie from Loralie Designs was there to speak. She is so incredible creative! I bought some of the Sew Fancy and Sew Girls lines to make a wall hanging for my sewing room..someday anyway. My neighbor, Diane Next Door bought the Masquerade Ball panel and has named every lady on it.

I didn't have much time to stay and chat though. Honey and I are trying to work out a booth at the Houston Quilt Market in October. I have quilts to make, quilts to quilt as well as the whole booth to design. I'm looking at these poles to hang the quilts. I am curious how well they work. Market is in 2 1/2 months, not very far away and then it will be Christmas!

By the way, the September/October issue of Quilter's Home is hitting the stores. I have not received mine in the mail yet, but I was able to buy a copy at my local quilt store and at Barnes and Noble. (just in case you wanted to see my quilt in it).

Back to work!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Lazy Days of Summer

Oh how I am wishing for a lazy summer day. This summer has been jam packed. I can't believe July is almost over already. I typically have a bed size quilt at least started by now for a Christmas gift. Hmmm, not this year. I haven't had any time to think that far ahead. Now don't think I'm complaining, really, I am not. This summer has been full of really exciting happenings, well exciting for me anyway. In May I went to Portland, OR. In June I went to San Francisco. In July I've been catching up.

I have been working on a log cabin quilt with a lotus block. I've finished the top of version one. Here are the teasers.

Love, Love, Love the second combination. I'm combining this block with cream and gold log cabin blocks. Sew much fun!

You'll have to check out the next issue if Quilter's Home as well. It should be available August 5th. I'm camping out by the mailbox for my copy. My quilt "Just for Jan" is in the Sept/Oct issue! I made this quilt for my sister for Christmas last year. Our birthday's are back to back, the 3rd and 4th. I often wonder if that is why we like so many of the same things. She is my color companion. We like the same blend of colors and the same types of design. This issue is coming out just in time for our birthdays. How appropriate! When I told Jan, she said she wanted an autographed copy! What a great sister. My sisters (I have 4) are the main reason I have started publishing my patterns. They ganged up on me and demanded I start writing out the instructions. I promised them and now one of my quilt has been published. Smart girls, those sisters of mine

I've also been working on a baby quilt for a friend of my sister in law. I love pinwheels for baby's. I'm also using Minkee for part of the blocks. This is a one block quilt. The pinwheels are in the center of the blocks.
I hope you all are enjoying your summer as well. I'd better get busy again.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My Perfect Day

I've been thinking recently, it's time to have one of those perfect days. I know exactly how I would spend that day, so I've been planning. Not that it takes long to plan. I want to spend my day riding to several quilt shops. I rode to my brother's house last weekend for the holiday. I brought my sister her quilt. It was a beautiful day for a ride and that just got me thinking again.

I've read about quite a few people that use quilting as a way to relax and and get away from the craziness of everyday life. Mark Lipinski shared his view in the last issue of Quilter's Home. I have to admit that I also use quilting as a way to relax. How can you be stressed out when you are sorting through beautiful fabric. I fold and refold, put it away, take it out again, put it away again, just to sort through my stash and see what I have. I love to put pieces next each other and see how they play together. I get into that zone, stitching the pieces together, where I can sort through the things in my life. I feel blessed to have this wonderful craft.
I have to admit though, I get the same feelings riding my motorcycle. When you ride a motorcycle, you have to constantly watch what is going on around you. The same kind of focus you should have when running a sewing machine. Pay attention, you wouldn't want to sew through your finger. (I've come close and know a few who have.) My favorite trips on my bike involve a remote country road, a few curves in the road and trees overhead. As I ride down these roads, my mind starts drifting towards the colors around me and the shapes of the scenery. A new quilt design comes to mind. It is very similar to sorting through those piles of fabric.

So, my perfect day involves riding my motorcycle down some of those country roads to the quilt shop to pick out new fabric. I'll take in the colors and shapes and then translate them directly to fabric. and then start all over again on my way to the next shop. I wonder what the weather will be like on Saturday.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why do I quilt?

I have to backup a little before I answer that question. I spent last weekend in San Francisco for my sister's wedding. I have been very busy leading up to this trip with Quilt Market and making my dress for the wedding. I didn't have much time to plan my travel project. Now I have a hand applique project that I have been working on for the last 3 years. The pattern is Mexican Rose from Applique Quilts from 2005. It was designed by Donna McCall. I only work on it in airports and on planes it seems. It has become my flying project. I have finished one block and am well into the second. I found it goes much faster if I turn the edges at home and can focus on sewing. That is where the problem stemmed from for this trip. I needed to cut out more pieces and turn the edges. I use the starch and press method to prepare my pieces. I starch (or use sizing) the edges and press them down to the wrong side. Of course, this all requires a few minutes to prepare and I just didn't seem able to put it together in time.

So did I leave without something to keep me busy? Of course not. I have been intrigued by the dimensional flowers and have been considering putting them together with those mirrors I keep talking about. I saw mirrors used in a ceremonial coat in Seattle last winter and keep thinking about how to incorporate them in a quilt, to the point of feeling haunted by them. I quickly cut the required squares to fold into roses, following the directions of Rebecca Wat and her book Fantastic Fabric Folding. I made one rose before I left, and came home with only that one rose.

Which brings me to this question about why I quilt. Seems like a stretch, I know. I quilt because I love fabric and I love how the colors play together. I learned to sew making garments. I still make some clothes, my dress for the wedding, my own wedding dress, a shirt here and there. I still enjoy making clothes, but I have to make something I might actually wear. Quite frankly, my clothing color choices are far more boring than my quilt color choices. I wear alot of black and navy with a few colors thrown in. I just can't seem to wear that fuchsia pink and lime green combination that I can put together in a quilt.

I cut out those squares for the roses, contemplating what colors to take along and what I would eventually do with them. For me it's about the feel of the fabric and putting the colors together. I love planning a quilt and playing with different color combinations. I love making the quilt and seeing the blocks and the quilt come together. I especially love finished the quilt and then laying it out on the bed and running my hands over the beautiful results. I didn't need to sew and fold any of those squares this past weekend. I just needed them with me to take out and look at once in a while, admiring the shades of red and the feel of the fabric. Someday I'll fold all those flowers and someday I'll have 12 blocks of the Mexican Rose. I've heard Mark Lipinski say we are often buying the dream of a quilt when we buy fabric. That is what I have, a dream (Oh, and alot of fabric to play with).
So why do you quilt?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Almost Time

I'm almost ready. This is what I call the almost time. I am leaving on Thursday for San Francisco. My youngest sister is getting married on Saturday. I'm traveling with Jen and family. If you go by ages, she is sister 3. I have 4 all together. Jen and family and I make up 6 people, a whole row on the airplane. No we are not flying United! Here she is with the kids. Honey cannot come for this trip. He has had to go back to work.

I have my suitcase out, although not yet packed. My "probably" clothes are on the bed, waiting to see if they will make the final cut. My dress and shoes for the wedding festivities are ready to go. Everything is almost ready. Tomorrow I have to make the final decisions. Should I take the brown capri's or the black ones? or both? Do I take 3 pairs of shoes or 4? This weekend is going to be one of those trips where I will need at least 2 outfits for everyday, 1 dressy, 1 more casual. That means 6 changes of clothes, plus a few extra tops and an extra pair of pants in case I change my mind. (I'm sure you have NEVER experienced that.) You'll notice there are not nearkly enough clothes on the bed yet, Of course I always carry an extra pair of socks and an extra pair of underwear. Fortunately I have never needed them (I did come close on my Portland trip though). I think I'll put them in my carry on this time. Then for sure I won't need them.

I am pulling my travel project together. I'm trying to exorcise those mirror ghosts again. I'm trying out some dimensional flowers with a few mirrors thrown in. I was thinking about a carousel horse, but I don't have time to plan that out right. Instead I will go for a practice run on the flowers and maybe put them in a vase. I guess I'll have to get that worked out tonight. I have my books packed. I went to the library this afternoon and picked out a couple books. Edith Head's Hollywood and Couture An Illustrated History of the Great Paris Designers and Their Creations. Edith Head's Hollywood is the story of Edith Head's career in costume design. She dressed all the greats from Mae West in She Done Him Wrong to Robert Redford and Paul Newman in The Sting. How could I not be intrigued? This will certainly be first on my list. As for the second book, Couture, haven't you always wondered where today's fashions come from?

It's almost time and I am almost ready. I'd better get a little something for the kids on the plane. It's going to be a long ride for them.
PS. Too bad BooBoo can't go this time. He's ready.

Monday, June 2, 2008

In case you've been wondering...

If I seem like I've been a little distracted recently, I suppose I have.

Quilt Market was great! My patterns will be available wholesale from Pattern Peddlers. I shipped out the last package today.

My dress for my sister's wedding is almost finished. I tried it on today and am very happy with how it is turning out. It need a hem and the jacket need a little hemming. Here is it on Dressy Bessy. The wedding will be in San Francisco. You never really know what the temperature will be like. We are taking a short cruise under the Bay Bridge. A breeze of the water can be pretty chilly also. I just thought I would play it safe.

I still need to quilt my Parade of Flowers Quilt. That's next on my list. I'm hoping to get that finished before I leave for the wedding. I have about a week and a half left. It will be on display at Millcreek Vac as well as my Floral Delight quilt when I get it back from Benartex.
In the meantime, I have also finished the Chocolate Creams pattern and the Poinsettia Holiday. They are now available on my website.

I've been saving the best for last. We adopted a new puppy. His name is Bailey. He's an 8 month old Shih Tzu. He was neglected by his previous owner, but is settling in nicely with my little boys. He's also learning his manners. and has had quite a haircut. The groomer took off a pound and a half of hair. My goodness!
I'm really looking forward to my sister's wedding. The fun of the festivities and family will be great. My aunts will be there in addition to most of the immediate family. I'm am also looking forward to the break, short though it will be. When I return, I've got a couple great ideas for new quilts!