Sunday, December 9, 2007

Two More Scrappy Quilts Done!

I am so very pleased - I finished two more quilts this weekend for two very sweet nieces in New York. I created this pattern myself and used up a ton of medium value scraps and I am thrilled with the end result. I quilted them both myself, as well. Also, for the first time ever I have put quilt labels on both quilts...I know, I know... I came to the game a bit late.
All that being said, check out my "What's Cooking" list to the right. I have registered four more "DONES!" I am getting a bit blurry-eyed, but it is Christmas and doesn't that happen to all quilters? It is the natural progression of things. I will say I am ripping through my stash, and feeling quite good about it. I just love Christmas. WooooHoooo!

And, Mare - I am still alive, I promise, just sewing like a crazy woman trying to get all these project done. I know I set my expectations too high sometimes, but the fun part of Christmas for me is the old fashioned giving of gifts from the heart. Corney, yes, but 100% me. I just can't help myself. I will get back to the emails as soon as I feel like I have a chance to make my deadline!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Bitty Baby Dresses

**BITTY BABY PATTERN UPDATE November 23, 2009: A new post was just put up announcing the release of our new line of Bitty Baby clothing patterns. There is even a new page up on our website with a free Bitty Baby pattern for immediate download. Jump ahead to this blog post and see what's new...or stop by for some inspiration and Quilty Indulgence!

I think that my little darlings are going to have very happy Bitty Baby's this year. I just can't seem to stop myself. What fun I am having! Shouldn't Bitty's have clothing choices, too?

So, Mommys, Grandmas and Aunties, here are the patterns. I found them online and they are free patterns. I just couldn't resist. The site is called Bellaonline and there is a whole list of free patterns for American Girl Dolls, as well as Bitty Babies. I found the Bitty Patterns by searching their site for "bitty baby". You can print out, enlarge and sew until your little heart is content! The dress pattern and the pinafore were so easy, I highly recommend checking out this site. It is well worth the trip!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Double the Joy! It's Twins!

Ahhhhhhhhh! This is the kind of thing that makes creating a gift for someone so worthwhile! These two beautiful little girls are the children of friends of my daughter. Brianna and Mikayla were born six months before my granddaughter and thus they are all wonderful friends. Their mom had mentioned once that she would like "kid size pillows" for these little darlings, and I just couldn't resist. I made them from the most lusciously soft flannel and then embroidered their names on the cuff of each pillow case so they could always recognize their own pillow. These photos just made my day! Sweet dreams, little ones....

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Doll Quilts and Bitty Baby Jammies

Here is my latest completed project, Bitty Baby accessories. I made four pairs of Bitty Baby pajamas and four Bitty Baby sized scrap quilts for my Granddaughter and two nieces (one has twins!). The doll quilts were made from the leftover "bonus" triangles from the Pineapple Blossom Quilt pattern I used to make the HoHoHO Quilt pictured in the previous post. They certainly came in handy! The Bitty Baby pajamas were made from Christmas material I purchased after Christmas last year. I am very pleased with the results and I think that my most favourite girls are going to love these gifts.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ho Ho Ho Christmas Quilt

Here is my latest completed quilt. I call it my Ho Ho Ho Quilt. I made it with swap blocks from the Penny Pincher 5 Ho Ho Ho block Swap that was held earlier this year at We used Bonnie Hunter’s Pineapple Blossom quilt pattern, and as luck would have it, I had it quilted by none other than Bonnie Hunter herself. You all know Bonnie – she’s the star of Quiltville Machine Quilting and the Quiltville Blog. It seemed to me to be the natural order of things to have her do the quilting. She used the Whirly Gig pantograph pattern on it and I am very pleased with the end result. I have wanted a Christmas quilt for myself ever since I started quilting, and now I have one! So, let the Holidays begin! I am ready!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Peas and Carrots

Since my darling little Granddaughter moved to the "country" I felt it necessary to outfit her accordingly. I whipped this up last weekend, and must say I am quite pleased with the results. The shirt and overalls came from Old Navy, and the peas embroidery design came from Ann the Grans free design section. The lettering is a built in font in my Janome 11000, and the carrots on the overalls I just drew myself and then appliqued using WonderUnder. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Bragging Time

Here are some of our kids, all dressed up in costumes they made themselves, getting ready to hit Duval Street for Fantasy Fest 2007 in Key West. I am not kidding, the kids literally made these costumes themselves using the green foam you buy at Joanne Fabrics, PVC pipe, felt, high density foam for facial elements that were then carved with an electric turkey carver, lots of glue, paint, sweat... My only contribution was 50% off coupons for Joannes and I sewed the pant legs, sleeves and hands out of felt they had purchased. I am blown away at how good they are! It wasn't enough that they made Spongebob and Patrick costumes - they then had to make pirate costumes for their costumes! I couldn't be more proud! Oh, and did I mention they are seven foot tall?!!!

Above, from left to right, Kate the Pirate, Justin dressed as Spongebob the pirate, Joseph the Spongebob Security Guard, and Jeremy as Patrick the pirate.

My favorite shot..........

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Scrap Bag for Snips and Things

Well, the day finally came when I could no longer tolerate the ziplock bag taped to my sewing table. I used this to conveniently put all those clipped threads, clipped points and the little pieces of tear away stabilizer that we seem to accumulate while sewing. I found a great design that is perfect for the sewing room, grabbed a hunk of old pinwale corduroy, and whipped up the perfect solution for collecting these scraps. I made two straps, put a button hole on the end of each, then I screwed two small screws to the inside of the door, hung the straps on these screws, and Wa-La, I have a new trash bag! I used up an entire hunk of fabric that is probably ten years old and have something to look at that is more pleasing that the ziplock bag taped to the top of my sewing table! I will thin down this stash...I will thin down this stash...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Odds and Ends

Yes, I have actually been sewing up a storm these days. I am using up some fabrics I have had laying about for quite some time, so I feel good about the completed projects. I really need to thin down the stash because my sewing area is microscopic - and I do mean microscopic! Sooo, whining aside, here are a few of the items I completed this week.

First, and probably my favorite, is the Halloween costume for my wonderful nieces American Girl doll. I had this great black velvet, just sitting on a shelf collecting lint, very close to this fancy red silk that seemed to be screaming to line the witch's cape, and Wa-La, you have the perfect costume for a doll!
Second on the list was this bag, also made from the same black velvet, but this is lined with fabric I purchased in New York City that depicts the city in blacks and white. I embroidered a scroll design on the front of each side to spice it up a bit. It is a great pattern from Butterick and I intend to make more bags using some patchwork for one, and brown corduroy for another.
The third project for this week was also for the niece that had received the American Girl costume. She wants to be Dr. Seuss's Thing 1 and to have her little girlfriend be Thing 2 so I made for their costumes embroidered "Thing Emblems". That wasn't good enough for me, so I then made them coordinated Trick or Treat bags. I sure do love my Janome 11000 - it is so easy to embroider and personalize!

The fourth project I can't show you here because it is in a package on its way to Mishicot, WI and I don't want to ruin the surprise, and I know that the recipient reads my blog.... she will just have to wait.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cities, Quilt Shops and Whales

My husband and I just got back from making a trek north to visit New York City and Boston for a few days. I have been to New York City many times, and never tire of it. In fact, every time I go I am amazed at the way the city energizes me! I love it there. We went to see a show on Broadway, Phantom of the Opera for the first time and I was awestruck. A fabulous evening, to say the least. I would recommend it to everyone. If you have never seen a live show, you really are missing something. The talent in front of you is truly a gift - I feel so blessed to have seen the few I have thus far. At the top of my mental "To Do" list is "See More Shows". I intend to follow through.

Naturally, I also had to hit a quilt shop while in the city. The City Quilter is more than worth the trip if you are in the Big Apple. My husband and I had been out for a nice stroll in Central Park when a rip roaring down pour began. I knew I would never find a cab in the storm and I was quickly getting soaked to the skin. My husband, always willing to support the arts (and probably avoid a tantrum), changed his afternoon plans and escorted me to the door of the quilt shop. The people in the shop were as nice as can be, and the stock was exemplary. I was in heaven and spent some of my children's inheritance while there. They will love the quilts more than any money I could leave them anyway, right?

The second half of our mini vacation was a trip up to Boston, a city I have never been to. That, too, should be on everyones "To Do" list. My sister-in-law lives in a neighborhood adjacent to Cambridge, a great place called Davis Square. I know that many people carelessly throw the word "cool" around, but honestly this place is totally cool. I loved it! From there we went whale watching, took a helicopter ride over the city, and ate some of the best food I have ever had. I don't want to be one of those people that drones on and on about their vacation, so I will end here, but honestly people - Boston is a city we should all go visit. Oh, and just so you know, my husband actually took that photo of the whales beside our boat.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Calling all Grandparents!

Here is my latest project - a bag and
pillow for my darling one year old Granddaughter, Madelyn. Her parents just moved to New York, and they took her with them. Imagine that! This was my first weekend with them living in New York, and me living here in Florida. To help myself with the tremendous "missing," I sewed up a few things for her.

Let me give you a tiny bit of background - Our last name is Freebery, so I came up with this design. We have a lot of family up in New York, and there are two sets of Great Grandparents up there as well, and I fear her forgetting about her Florida Grandparents. I want to sew up a multitude of "Berry" projects so that everywhere she looks she will be reminded of her Florida Berry Grandparents. So, all that being said, if any of you have any Berry projects or ideas - send them my way! Help this very sad Grandma create a gazillion Berry projects so that I am always front and center for little Madelyn! Terrible, probably, but it can't hurt to have a constant presence, can it?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Oh, Happy Day!

Oh, happy day! I finally took the big step and bought a new machine. Here she is, the Janome 11000. I have had the Janome 9000 for at least seven years, and have thoroughly enjoyed it, but always wished I had a second machine. It will be great to be able to do regular sewing while my 11000 is embroidering. The 11000 also has a much larger embroidery field so the sky is the limit with what I can embroider. It will also be nice to still have a machine at home when I take one or the other in for routine check-ups.

Before now, it just never seemed like the time to make the additional investment. Recently, it simply “became the time,” so down I went to this wonderful sewing machine shop in St. Petersburg called Sue’s Bay Area Sewing, and I bought it. The best part is that I have met the most wonderful of women there, and am very happy I discovered Sue’s shops. There are actually four shops in different parts of the county to choose from, and that is going to be splendidly convenient as well.

Since this machine does exponentially more than my old one did, I keep getting distracted trying all the new capabilities out. So, in the 48 hours I have owned the new machine I have only completed these two bags for my niece who is about to start pre-school. I was very pleased with the ease with which I can take designs directly from my computer to the machine, and combine them, laying them out directly on the machines computer screen exactly the way I want them sewn out. It is a wonderful thing. My mind is racing with the projects I want to do. The other night I actually had a dream about dish towels! Now THAT is a good thing…

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Summer Fun, Motorcycles, and Sewing Machines

So, I have been away for awhile for two reasons. My previous post discusses the pillowcases I made recently for my son, who lives in New York. My baby boy had recently purchased a motorcycle and subsequently I was “blessed” with the phone call every mother dreads. Yes, there had been an accident. Jordan hit a deer on his motorcycle and though he faired much better than the deer, it was very frightening for a few days. He is doing fine right now, and is on the mend. He was lucky enough to have “only” a bad concussion, a severely broken left arm (that will require surgery), a few broken fingers in addition to the customary road rash that goes hand and hand with a motorcycle accident.

I always try to find the good in every situation that arises in my life, and yes, there was good in this accident. My son has decided that motorcycling is a dangerous thing. He found that even when a driver, such as himself, is doing all the right things, it is dangerous. He is giving up his motorcycle and going back to four wheels only. For this I am very thankful. I am very pleased that he is still here with us to have learned this lesson.

Secondly, my husband and I have been very busy wrapping up the sale of a large building that is on Duval Street in Key West, Florida. The sale closed on Friday so as soon as I have time to look up from all the work that I neglected in the last several weeks, I am heading out to my favorite sewing machine shop to pick up the Janome 11000. I need a shiny new toy right now. I have had the Janome 9000 for years and absolutely love it. I will never give that one up. Besides, I have only ever had one machine and think it is time to have two. Soon my granddaughter is going to be sewing beside me and she will need a machine all her own to work at (ok, since she is only 15 months old, it will be a little while, but it is always good to look to the future…). Now I will be able to send one in for maintenance without going into a deep depression at the loss of my beloved machine. I will still have one at home to keep me company! YEAH!!!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Sweet Serendipity

Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.

A few weeks back, my lovely son phoned from New York. He is 21 years old and he phoned to let me know that the flannel pillow case I made for him more than 6 years ago has finally passed away. It was literally threadbare the last time I saw it, and quite honestly, I can not believe it made it this long (makes me wonder how many times it actually was washed since last I saw it...). All that being said, he then asks me if I could please make it out of the very same flannel I used the last time? Now, keep in mind that I moved from New York to Florida, and six years have passed! So I explained to my son, as gently as I could, that there was absolutely no way I would ever find that "moose tracks" flannel again. No way.

Cut to this past Saturday morning. I head over to the "End of Month, End of Bolt" sale at my favorite quilt shop, Country Quilts and Bears (30% off if you buy the end of the bolt!). I head straight to the flannel (living in Florida, it wasn't real busy on the flannel side of the store) and I start looking for the bolt with the least amount of fabric on it. I don't care much what the flannel is, and I don't give a single thought to finding the flannel I bought for him all those years ago. It doesn't even enter my mind... until I see this rather thin bolt, and look closer at it because I just can not believe what I am seeing. The EXACT same fabric that I used to make the original pillowcase! I buy it all - without even thinking, and make him two (maybe that will promote more frequent washings).
Serendipity, if you ask me...

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Big Closing

Well, we did it! My husband and I are in the real estate business, and after four years of marketing a particular building in Key West, Florida, we have finalized a deal. It will close on July 25th, and I could not be more excited and pleased. I saw a ticker on another blog this morning, and said to myself, if ever there was a time for me to post a ticker, it is today.

I can assure you that on July 26th, I will be busy. There is a particular Janome that has been calling my name for years... Can't you hear it? "...Susan....Susan...time to upgrade your machine..." I must comply. It is the right thing to do.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Scrap Happy Quilt with Borders

As promised, here is a photo of the quilt with borders and pinned, ready for me to quilt myself. I intend to use a medium dark purple 30s fabric to bind it - that will frame it nicely, I believe. For those who asked, the flower blocks are 9.5 inches unfinished, 9 inches finished. The logs in the border are 2 inch by 4 inch, unfinished. The quilt top is a total of 54 inches square.

Have a great Father’s Day everyone! May all your cookouts be rain free, happy events!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Scrap Happy Quilt

Here is my latest completed quilt top (YEAH – crossed it off the list!!). I made this for my ever so sweet niece, who lives in New York. It is made entirely out of my stash. I had purchased an unbelievably large quantity of four inch charms years ago, for some project or other that I was doing at the time. As luck would have it, I didn’t use all the charms up. In fact, the Depression Quilt that is shown two posts back is made entirely out of those very same left over four inch charms. That gives you some idea as to how many charms I had laying about. That quilt didn’t even use them up!

I drew the flower pattern freehand, making sure that each four inch charm would produce two petals. Waste not, want not, as my Grandmother used to say. Then for each of the logs that make up the inner borders, I simply cut a four inch charm in half. That also helped to use up a good quantity of charms. To make the flower blocks, I used a fusible product (Wonder Under) to adhere the petals and flower centers to the white on white fabric scraps, then top stitched them all down very carefully using my machine’s blanket stitch. I like to use a rather close setting on the stitch regulator when using the blanket stitch for appliqué. This way I am sure there will be no raveling after years of washing.

To finish this one off, I plan to use a medium to dark pink binding to “frame” it up. I need to figure out what to use for the backing first. All in all, I am quite pleased with this very simple, very happy little quilt. And again, nothing but stash!

I intend to complete, before Christmas, three more quilts for her siblings (egads!). I really would like to give them each a quilt for Christmas. I probably should have started in January…

**Post Script - I just discovered that Hubby took our digital camera with him on a business trip! Rather than hold back the post until he gets back with the camera, I decided that I would use the photo of the quilt top without borders and replace it with the finished one when he returns. Big Sigh...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Appreciating All Things Old

My husband and I purchased a home almost exactly one year ago, and have been remodeling it ever since. It is a 1925 Craftsman style house and surprisingly this house was very near it's original condition. What I mean by this is that nothing had been updated since it was built, well, except for the addition of many, many layers of paint. We have tried to maintain the integrity of the original design while updating it to what I feel to be a minimum standard of living. For example, we live in Clearwater, Florida and this house did not have central air conditioning. In my humble opinion, that would be the equivalent of living in Mishicot, Wisconsin and not having heat in your house. It still had the original porcelain sink mounted on the wall in the kitchen and typical to the period, it had no kitchen cabinets to speak of. We had to completely remodel the kitchen, in addition to many other “minor” projects like re-drywalling all the walls and ceilings, rewiring the entire house, and sanding every single Dade County Pine floor….
It’s been a very long journey, but right now I would have to say that I am most pleased, not with freshly restored wood floors or the crown moldings throughout every room, and not even with the brand new kitchen. What I am most delighted with is the restored glass and brass interior door knobs! I smile every time I touch one. I can not even begin to guess how many layers of paint had built up on the key holes and brass fittings to these door knobs. I soaked every last layer of paint off (thank you Martha Stewart for you website tips), and with the help of my husband we have reinstalled them to the original solid wood doors. I even stripped the brass hinges, and honestly I couldn’t be more proud of this hardware. As I was gazing at them again tonight, it occurred to me that just as I admire the craftsmanship of the quilts of yesteryear, I feel much the same about these door knobs and doors. Back in the 1920’s when these doors were made, they were done by hand, just as the old quilts were. They were not created on an assembly line, nor was machinery used that you just “fed” the doors through to get the holes drilled out properly to fit the knobs. They really were "crafted".

Though I love the way I assemble quilts today, I can’t help but think back with admiration to the methods that led up to the way we create things now.

I had to show off the hibiscus that came with the house and grows in the front yard. It is ancient, and over the last year, with lots of love, natural pesticides and plant food, I have coaxed it back in to bloom. I do so love old things!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

One of My Favorites

This weeks topic was to discuss our favorite quilt. I have so many categories of favorites it is a very difficult task for me to choose just one favorite. I made this quilt about a year ago. I had found the pattern at Marcia Horn's website, The Quilter's Cache. It is called the Depression Block and it was the first time I used a block where color created the pattern. I really had fun with this one and it used so much of my stash. I also met a new long arm quilter and had her do the quilting because it was just too big for me to tackle. I know, I am getting a bit lazy on that end.

It is funny how a quilt you have completed can take you back to the time you were making it. I just got this one out of the closet and I instantly traveled back to that time. I had just moved to Florida from New York and everything was so new. Sometimes all the newness was exhausting and when I was feeling overwhelmed, I could just slip back to my sewing room and sew a block or two and be instantly revived. Quilting is so relaxing - it cures everything!

Oh, and this is also an example of a quilt that I made where I didn't follow the pattern exactly. I had tons of 4" blocks and decided to use them without trimming them down to the called for size of 3-7/8 inch blocks. It worked out wonderfully and if I didn't mention it, no one would know.

I had my husband hold up the quilt and since it is so big, we had quite a time with it. I decided to use the photo of him peaking over the top rather than make him help me take another one. Sometimes this can lead to many shots and my "quilt rack" can get a bit tired of the process while I struggle to get that perfect shot!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sewn Block Swaps

Here are some of my most prized quilts. You can tell they are my most prized because I still own them! Obviously, I could never give these away. They were made with the help of my friends at "About Quilting" and honestly I love these quilts most of all. I enjoy participating in the block exchanges that are hosted on the quilting forum and I take great pleasure in the camaraderie that I have found on that site. I think you can feel the kindness and love in the finished quilts. Corny, I know, but I can't stop myself from telling anyone that will listen how these quilts came to be. “These quilts were made by the loving hands of women from all over North America and a few foreign countries….”

Once on the "About Quilting" site, go to the forums (on left hand side of page) and you will find one of my favorite quilting hang outs. There, divided by topic, you will find fabric swaps, sewn block swaps of every skill level and style, general quilting discussions and even a beginning quilters area where you can post any question and get very good answers in return. I especially love the “Show and Tell” forum where quilters show off their finished projects. It was in these forums that I stumbled on to some of the best Scrappy Quilt Block Swaps ever. The concept is really quite simple - using the pattern provided by the hostess, you make sets of ten blocks. When the blocks are completed, you send them in to the hostess. In return, the hostess sends back to you ten blocks all made with different fabric . This allows you to make a very scrappy looking quilt with fabrics that you don't actually have.

The first quilt I have shown here was from a swap that a woman in Hawaii always hosted, and sadly, I simply can not remember the name of that series of swaps. The second quilt I am showing off is from the “Penny Pincher” series. That quilt came from the “Penny Pincher Ho Ho Ho” block swap. In this photo I hadn’t finished putting on the border, but it is now boxed up and ready to ship to a long arm quilter. The next time a Penny Pincher block swap is posted, I will post a note on my blog so if you are interested, you can join in on the fun.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Quilting Companion

Well, here he is, Champagne P. Freebery. He is about 12 years old. We rescued him from the SPCA when he was just a kitten. True to his breed, as an adult he grew to be a bit cantankerous. He also developed some pretty quirky behavior through the years. He has crossed blue eyes, and somewhat oddly, he loves to ride in my husband’s car. My husband leaves the window open in his car in the driveway so that Champagne can lounge in the back window. When the car trip is something that will not require Champagne to sit in the car unattended, he gets to ride along. I know, totally bizarre.

While in the house, Champagne lounges one of two places. One is in my husband’s open briefcase. The other is behind my sewing machine. He only lounges there when I am sewing – I think he can feel the love. I have started leaving a water dish back there for him, because he was always trying to drink my water when I left it sitting there. If, while I am sewing, he feels that what I am sewing has over stepped its bounds, Champagne has no problem with lashing out at it. Not a friendly little swat, mind you. But an all out assault. Yep, that’s our kitty….. Oh, and the P. in his name stands for Painy. For obvious reasons.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Scrappy Batik Quilts - all finished!

I have to admit that this scrappy quilt is one of my favorites - my daughter's Batik New York Beauty. It was my first foray into foundation piecing. I found that that isn’t my favorite method of piecing, but I sure love the way the quilt turned out, so I am pleased that I persevered. It was a gift for my daughter and she loved it, too. I used up a ton of scraps with that quilt, and it was very easy to piece (well, except of those foundation pieced New York Beauty points). I used the Foundation By The Yard fabric and then built the rest of the quilt around the center. I believe I had seen a similar quilt on the cover of Keepsake Quilting and modeled it after that one.

Another of my top three batik scrap quilts would have to be the Hibiscus Quilt. I made this for my wonderful niece, Katelyn. If you look closely, you will see my right index finger holding up the corner of the quilt. This quilt was made using Karen Stone’s Hibiscus quilt pattern. I wasn’t in a photogenic mood, so I did the only sane thing, and that was to duck!

Another of my top three scrappy batik quilts is the one I call my Key West Quilt. I used the Friendship Star pattern from The Quiltmaker’s Gift to make this one. It also used up a heap of batik scraps. I had purchased a great deal of batiks to make quilted tote bags for my store in New York and got tired of making the bags before I ran out of batik material. Funny how that happens, but look at the beautiful quilts this stash created! Serendipity, if you ask me.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

“Tell us about your favorite Quilt Shop...”

I lived in western New York, in a very rural area, all my life. Nearly four years ago my husband and I very happily moved from there to sunny Clearwater, Florida. There was a great little shop in Fredonia, New York, called Mauzy’s that sold vacuums, sewing machines, quilting supplies and fabric. I got my beloved Janome from there, as well as a vacuum or two through the years. The owner of the shop was a magnificent quilter and sewer and also a brilliant teacher. Sadly, since I moved, that store has closed. One of the things I remember most about going to Mauzy’s was that never, ever, did I walk through the door that I wasn’t greeted with a warm "hello". It was like walking into your best friend’s kitchen. Always a warm welcome.

When I arrived in Clearwater, the search began for a replacement. I found this big, shinny quilt shop and thought I had found it. In fact, one day I walked in the door and nearly rubbed shoulders with Kaffe Fassett as he was walking out (he had just given a class there). I nearly gasped. I thought I had stumbled into the Bloomingdales of quilt shops! I decided I needed to introduce myself and start to create that wonderful relationship I was missing. I tried to chat a bit with the ladies that worked there, on several occasions, to explain that I had just moved to the area, etc., and honestly, they were simply not interested. You were never greeted when you arrived. Nothing. I was so sad. I was sure that my days of going to the quilt shop and feeling all warm and fuzzy were over.

Until one day my uncle came by and told me about this cute little shop called “Country Quilts and Bears”. Right here in the middle of Clearwater sits a log cabin and it’s a quilt shop! I couldn’t wait until Saturday! It finally came, and I shot right over there. I opened the door to enter the shop, and the first thing I heard was a cheery “hello”. The couple, John and Marilyn, that own the shop are so friendly, as are their employees. From the first time I walked through the door I knew I had found my new quilting home. Marilyn is an unbelievable buyer – the selection is so well rounded and I have NEVER not been able to find what I need there. I love chatting with everyone at the shop – seeing what they are sewing and talking about what I am sewing. They even listen politely when I drone on and on about my Granddaughter! Most importantly, every time I walk through the door, I feel like I just entered my friend’s kitchen. To me, that is the essence of a good quilt shop.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Blog Monster

So my friend says to me, “Susan, you don’t seem to be sewing much these days. What’s up? You haven’t brought in any new show and tell items?” I felt like I had been caught with my hand in the cookie jar. See, I started writing this blog exactly one month ago today, and I can not believe how it has grabbed a hold of me! In the incredibly intelligent words of my newly met blog sister from Wisconsin, “ …but the Blog Monster sucked me in….” I have become a blog stalker, constantly looking to see what everyone else is sewing, instead of actually sewing myself! Is this something that will pass, or am I doomed? Is my granddaughter destined to cover at night with store bought blankets? Oh, my gosh, how do I get this monkey off my back? Is there a 12 Stitch program I can enroll in? What’s to become of my beloved Janome if left unused for more than 24 hours? Will she seize up like an old, oil-less engine? Oh, the dreadfulness of it all. Oh, the shame. Today, I am going to get this under control. I am going to reclaim my sewing time and start producing again. I am just going to post this one post, and then I am definitely, definitely, going to sew the backing for my Scrappy Christmas HoHoHo quilt. Today I WILL do that backing, right after I wander over to see if Bonnie is back from vacation.....

Friday, April 13, 2007

Baby Doll Diaper Bag

Well, I certainly seem to be on a "baby track" these days. My niece has her third birthday coming up, and she has been in crisis due to a substandard Baby Doll Diaper Bag. So, like a good Auntie, I have come to her rescue (Shhhhh, don't tell her, it is a surprise!). Her Mommy tells me that Lily had been using an old diaper bag for use with her baby dolls. She had met many challenges with the rather large hand-me-down. First, it didn't come with a changing pad (the horror!), and so she was forced to fold up paper towels to keep in the bag for a changing pad. She also was having trouble because the Velcro on the handle lost it's "stick"... so, to make a very sad story happier, Auntie Susan stepped up and made her a diaper bag that actually fits her little body AND it has a changing pad. I intend to run to Target tomorrow and pick up some baby items to go in it - those little toy baby bottles, baby doll diapers, and what ever else I might find that a baby doll might need (?) or could use.

While I was sewing this bag, I wondered how I sewed items before I started quilting. I have only been quilting for about ten years but I have been sewing since I was a child. I had never layered fabric and quilted it together, yet now everything that I sew seems to need quilting. I guess that when a new idea pops into my mind, or a new need arises, because of my love of quilting, I always manage to move it into the quilting world. Funny how that happened. I guess then that this period in my life could be categorized as my "quilting period". I doubt it will ever end and I am glad of it.

Oh, and if any of you have a Hancock Fabrics near your house, I would stop in if they are going out of business like ours is. I got the fabric in the photo for an amazing price. It was actually pretty good quality and for less than $2.00 a yard, I couldn't go wrong! I know, we are supposed to be "busting the stash", but I didn't have anything cute enough for the all important Baby Doll Diaper Bag for Lily......

Friday, April 6, 2007

Scrappy Gift Bags

I have been sooooo busy preparing for my Grand Baby's first birthday party that I just have not had time to get a new post up. I had this wonderful brainstorm while sitting with my daughter and discussing the particulars of the upcoming event. My daughter and her husband had decided on a Monkey theme - my son-in-law loves monkeys. Now, probably because this is my first Grandchild, and also the fact that I am a quilt-aholic and occasionally an overachiever, the wheels started turning in my head concerning the coordinated Monkey Birthday Party accoutrements. I have found it so easy as of late to quilt and appliqué many child oriented objects, that instantly the idea flew into my brain to appliqué a simple monkey face onto gift bags for the birthday party attendees. How hard could that be, right? Certainly I have plenty of brown scraps to use for the appliqués, right? A little bit of searching and I found a bunch of pink felt, which I decided would be great for the body of the bags, and shoot, I wouldn’t be considered lazy if I chose not to quilt the 20 bags I needed, right? I would just appliqué the monkey faces onto 20 felt rectangles using my embroidery sewing machine, throw on the handles, sew up the sides and then miter the corners to make it a flat bottom bag so it could stand, and in no time at all, and at no cost whatsoever, we would have wonderful hand crafted coordinated gift bags for the birthday party. Exquisite!

However, I must say that there was one thing I forgot as the gift bag idea was born. I forgot that I really don’t like making the same thing over and over. I thoroughly enjoy creating a new pattern, gathering the new pieces, assembling it, working out the bumps, and then naturally – completion! Having to make twenty, yes, 20 gift bags has been a lesson in perseverance for me. Imagine, cutting 20 monkey heads, twenty monkey muzzles, hooping felt 20 times, cutting forty handles, then sewing each and every element …… I set daily limits on what I HAD to accomplish each day, or I could not have that second cup of coffee – and I made myself stick to these goals. That was the only way I could muddle through the boredom and monotony of producing something over and over, 20 times. I was surprised at myself because when you quilt, you are repeating the same process to make the blocks, over and over, but I realized that that repetition is not grueling to me because it is the journey to complete the one object – the quilt. If I had to create even 2 identical quilts, I would be hard pressed to make myself begin the second, but would have raced through the first as I always do, to get to that prize – the completed quilt. I guess I just like to create once – and when that one creation is complete, it is time to move on to the next project and begin a new journey.

All in all, the bags turned out wonderfully and I am so pleased that I made them. When lined up at the party the bags will look wonderful and I won’t tell a soul that I had to make myself top-stitch ten handles a day for four days in order to get them done in time…..