Thursday, October 27, 2011

Improv Scrap Blocks

So I didn't really work on what I was supposed to today... Well, I DID but then I got distracted....I ironed and cut and cut and did some work on the purple & green improv quilt.

But....Rita's post at Red Pepper Quilts kept buzzing around my head.

Everyday I start off readin' my emails, and the various quilt blogs I like, and the news posts, etc whilst enjoying my cofffeee. I like to read several dif bloggers that both inspire me and help keep the gears turning in my head.

So... pics below....are my OWN scrappy improv log cabins... because MY scrap bins were also overflowing and needed to be taken in hand. Now. All I need is a layout and to decide what colours to border and sash with....thoughts?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Well this week flew by.
But today, I was VERY productive. RiDiCuLoUsLy productive.


All tested for Snuggleability and Comforbleness

ALL quilts carefully inspected by #12 and #7
I finished finished finished a Fabulous 9 Patch/Rail Fence Hybrid that is a special order for someone for Christmas whom I cannot mention...heh.... but it shall be shipped out tomoro.

I also finished FINISHED! My Pink Stripes Reversible lap quilt for ME yaY! (even though, it's gonna be taken over by the cat, this I know already) and the pics are below!

I couldn't bring myself to cut up this beautfiul fabric

The Amazing colours pop out at you, so rich!

And the fabrics go in an almost perfect way!

I also cut and started piecing a Christmas order  quilt for a special young lady, this one is going quick and I love the purples and greens, pics to come later tonite. I'm having fun with this one; it's an improv'd pattern and I'm gonna mess around some more with HST's later...see what happens....

I have a go see tonite for a possible order and so will finish my WIP Wed post later....

***LATER ****

Yay! Looks like I have a definate order for a Baby Luv Quilt - one where I'm gonna use bits from the kids' baby clothes and blankies into a wonderful keepsake quilt. I'm excited!

So here's the progress report for this week:

Custom order #2 - FINISHED!
Pink Stripe UFO for me - FINISHED!

Christmas custom Order #1 -  - Twin Size -cut out, partially pieced
Christmas custom  Order #2 King Size - On order, no work done yet
UFO Rail Fence - still glaring at me, sighing, from the treadmill
Two planned gifts for Christmas, to be cut and done
Two gifts for Christmas - one partially cut, one still in fabric-y piles
UFO Baby quilt for Etsy store - cut, needs to be pieced
Pink Cheater Baby quilt for Etsy - needs to be fixed and re-done in parts

And tons of more projects in my head......can't wait to get through them all!
I'm gonna go eat some Oatmeal Raisin Cookies that I made. They're ok. They're not the best...but hey, they're COOKIES!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tools of the Trade

Here is a post about What I Have Learned About Far....

Or; Use the Right Tools For The Job.
This is a short note on what I've learned the past few years, that are the basics if you're just starting out.

Like any professional trade,you need the right tools to get the job done right. The best, most efficient, and accurate jobs all use the proper and correct tools.
For example:  you could mow your  entire lawn with the weedwacker (and you know who you are if you've done it) but it won't all be even, you'll have brown spots where you dropped it too low, and you'll have all sorts of uneven edges. But if you use the proper tool, a real lawnmower, then the entire lawn is even, and done right and you can use the wacker for it's intended purpose, which is edging and trimming.

Such is the same for sewing, and quilting.


Rulers are king. And not just any ruler. Not just rulers you buy at the dollar store. Or in kits at a department store.
Do yourself a favour and invest in the OLFA line of the clear acrylic heavy rulers. Get the square one. Get the small one. Get the 6x18 inch one. Just do it. Stop arguing. Stop thinking that a cardboard template will do the same job. Just suck it up, pay the exorbitant amount at the register and BUY IT ALREADY.
Let me tell you. After investing in these babies, the TIME you will save going over what you've already done to straighten and neaten will amaze you. Do it once right the first's wonderful advice. And now I know how!
These rulers are invaluable tools and your accuracy will amaze you, and you'll only have to do everything once (maybe twice if you don't sew your seams straight). Less fabric waste, less time waste, and ultimately the project will come together neatly and near perfectly.

Rotary Cutters:

Not all are created equal. I have two myself; I have a 60mm Olfa and a 45 mm Fiskars. I like them both but for ease I do prefer my Olfa. They're both excellent but I've had the Olfa longer and just like it better I guess. The key though is to always use a SHARP blade. Once they get dull they won't cut as cleanly, skip threads and you end up pulling your fabric apart, not slicing. Makes a mess. Keep blades sharp. Here's a tip Canadian sewers; Ebay. The cutters are nearly 4 times the price they are if you buy them online. I'm not saying don't support your local stores. I do as much as possible; but I can't justify spending 59.99 for a product I can acquire for 19.99 online. Even with shipping and exchange, it's still  worth it. Same with the replacement blades.


Really and truly I use my tiny snippers more than I use my big scissors these days>my rotary cutter does most of the work. I do use my wonderful left handed shears though for cutting batting and when everything is laid out and I can't use the rotary cutter. Yes, I'm left handed. If you are too, I suggest investing in a solid pair of left handed'll be AMAZED at how they FIT in your hand and how easy it is to cut with them!


Always always always start a  new project with a new needle on your machine. Make sure you have the right needle for the project! It *will* and does make a huge difference in your finished work.


I use the Guterman line of threads; they're what we have available most here in my area. I have used Coats and Clark, they're pretty good too but more expensive and less on the spool. So my personal preference; Guterman. Colours I want, gets the job done, solid and durable.

These are the basics. I'm not even gonna start in regards to fabrics, machines, etc etc etc. There's simply too much to cover.

Quick progress report:
I'm almost finished my recent commission; the Blue Rail 9 Patch Quilt is almost finished. I washed and dried it last night, and snipped all the dangly bits off, and will bind it later this afternoon. Ready for shipping by tomoro!
The gift quilt I'm starting in purples and greens and turquoises I've cut out, and are ready to be pieced.
I have a go see tomoro to take an order (or two!) and will bring my sketch book etc and samples to see
about taking two more orders for Christmas.

By the by.... I can get THREE more done before Christmas if they need to be shipped anywhere!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Mornings - A Travelling Story

Ahhh. Tis Saturday.
And I got to sleep in, wander downstairs, feed the cats, feed the birds, make coffee, and sit on the couch for a few minutes watching the Weather Channel before starting my day.

Ahhhhh. Perfect.

It's only been the past year or so that I've been able to enjoy weekends, and waking up slowly on a Saturday.
Because for the last 10 years or so; since 1995 (roughly)  I've  been working as a travelling entertainer doing outdoor festivals that only happen guessed it....weekends.

And how much fun those Festivals are!! You've all been to one! The Bean Festival, The Harvest Festival, The Something Exhibition, The Happytown Fall Fair, Insert Town Name Here Days, The Blankety Blank Faire, and of course....The Renaissance Festivals. The fried food, the overpriced drinks, the midways, the nip in the air in the fall or spring, the heat of summer heavy with the threat of thunder, the teens showing off, the little ones racing around, and everyone excited to see what Shows are on the Schedule for the year.

The view I saw for so many years....
Well, for most of my adult life, I've been one of those Shows on the Schedule. Touring from town to town, living in an RV, or in a hotel, or on someone's couch, or guest room (if we were lucky!) From kids' shows to my own shows, there's not much I haven't done on a stage (ahem. Not Like That, Fred.).

So weekends were always the workweek for me, and the folks I worked with. Our weekend was Monday -Thurs. Heh.
Saturdays and Sundays were crammed with 5 days of energy and focus and performances,sometimes up to 12 a day. (And for the Rennies reading this, I'll clarify: 4 stage shows, Open, Close, Smoker, Feast, Pubsing, whew!) Or 8 sched half hour shows for the kiddies with the meet n greets afterwards.
Quite exhausting. Guests always wondered if we went out and partied all night,  laugh.... no way. We were in bed usually by 9pm; oftentimes there would be one or two of us falling asleep over the dinner table (no names here, SD...hahaha) For some reason that's  a myth perpetuated by Festival-goers....but it's not the Entertainers out all night.....But I digress.

Too often Saturdays and Sunday mornings were early, 6:30am days, bundling up to go out into the cold, or the searing heat, or sticky humidity, to stay outside in the elements All Day. No matter what, staying happy, cheerful, and upbeat and energetic. Performing during any type of weather, tornado warnings, rain, sleet, snow, heat, you name it, we sang in it. Laugh.....the best of times, the worst of times.
 And so now, I'm quite content to stay home, to travel on occasion, and do shows close to home. I'm writing some stories that I think will be great shows. And teaching...I have discovered that I enjoy teaching So Much that I hope I can extend the classes and do more.
I still get itchy feet though;  like the geese that migrate, my internal clock was beating out Time To Go! Time To Go! in Early September, and even now my clock thinks I should be on the move somewhere.  And I think of my friends and miss them terribly, and miss where we would go, and the fun we had, and the places and the sights.....and the FOOD oh the FOOD.................. I *still* crave Muffulettas from Central Grocery...and beignets, and....yummy. Ah! The Chocolate Bar in St.Louis, King's Fried Chicken in St.Peters......Nick and Tonys Pizza in Guilford, AIE the Corner Deli by the laundry in Bradford, CT, Lis' Cupcakes , MYSTIC PIZZA...Pizza Louis in KS...BBQ in TX.....aie....Tarpon Lodge in FL....hmmm I might have to go cook something......

It was great fun though, and a wonderful learning experience. But so Tiring. And it was very difficult always being away from your loved ones; no matter how amazing an experience, missing weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, etc etc wears a little thin over the years. Yes, I've seen all sorts of amazing things and met INCREDIBLE people and I wouldn't change a day of it....but...... you know. There's no place like home.

So to be sleeping in, drinking coffee, being lazy on a Saturday is a real treat. :) I hope you're enjoying your day,
.....I'm gonna go do some yard work! Woohoo!

Here's some pics from my travels:

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I love MAIL!

These days; all it seems we get in the mail are bills and flyers. But I have a secret confession.

    I love mail. I love receiving it, I love sending it, I love mail.

AIEEE!!! There it is. My horrible confession.

Maybe it started as a kid when in 4th grade we started Pen Pal programs with kids at another school in the US, and then continued over the years corresponding with friends made at summer music school; who knows. I just love getting mail.

There's nothing more homey and perfect than having your coffee on the front steps in the sunshine reading a hand written letter from a far-away pal.

But that trend has fallen by the wayside with technology for the most part. I do like to send postcards and letters when I'm away; I used to send buckets of letters home all the time when on tour; and I have an extensive collection of post cards that I kept over the years from people and ones I kept that I never sent (just for the pictures).

But Ebay. Ah! Ebay. Magical wonderful Ebay. can have delightful packages sent to your home!

And today I received not one but TWO packages of sewing supplies ordered online!

I live in a small town; with one shop that sells fabric and notions. Needless to say; sometimes options are limited; and grrrrr that the closest "big" shop is about 40 mins away. Sigh. Oh yes of course we have the W-mart like everyone else but they're good for very little other than the basics. 

Yes, like all of you I have done the HOLY CRAP I'M OUT OF WHITE/BLACK thread at the eleventh hour; and quilckly thrown a coat over my pajamas and raced down to the big boxers on the edge of town to grab what you need.
     (Come on. You know you've done that. And then you found yourself wandering aimlessly through the aisles wondering, "do we need that? Of course we do." And then ending up at the checkout with socks, needles, thread, two boxes of hamburger helper, and a plastic pink basket you're sure you need).

But I digress.

So today I got TWO parcels in the mail!! I'm super excited. I had ordered the replacement blades for my Olfa rotary cutter; I have the 60mm one which is the BEST tool ever; and I couldn't get the blades anywhere locally. And I saved a ton on Ebay; even with the s&h. 

And the second package was my yummy fabric I've been waiting for....yay.Some gorgeous black and white patterns,(yay Bunny fabric!) and the rich brown and neato green squares I've been waiting for.

Not sure what these are going to become but I'm super excited for the green squares......can't wait to see what that tells me to make! They're already in 2 inch squares and so the work is already half done for me. I have some blues and reds already in the Quilt Cave that'll be perfect with it...GAH!!

 Don't get ahead of myself here.... I have enough UFO's for now without making more...laugh.....I have a rail fence quilt for myself that I have to pick the basting stitches out of; the backing shifted on me and it's all wonky. So...ack to sqaure one again after the stitches come out - gotta retape it and reposition the whole thing. But that's a quilt for me and I'm gonna finish my commissioned quilts first.

Okay. It's a grey and rainy day which is perfect for staying in and working. I've put off for far too long today what needs to get done TODAY... my class is tonite and I *have* to finish their scripts! And I want to cut out some more blue and white blocks for D's quilt....
So much to do!
There is one more package of fabric due to arrive any day now; it's fabric for a Christmas gift....woot! Can't tell you for who though....:)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Wednesday...AGAIN!

Oh dear. Where did the week go????

Well I sorta know where it went; my days were spent working on Freds' Mom's Quilt; or (FMQ) and nights were rehearsing the Haunted Hayride show over at the Pioneer Village in the Big City nearby. (I have mentioned that I'm a performer, yes?)
The show opened last weekend; and the rehearsals were pretty hectic. The show itself takes place at various stages around the village and it's of course, all outdoors. Mostly the weather co-operated but we did have one absolutely miserable night in the pouring (and I mean, pouring!) rain. The event is rain or shine; and it's pretty cool if I do say so myself.
here's the link to it: The Cultured Criminal Haunted Hayride . I play the Florence Birchall; the wife of the accused murderer. It's a true story that happened around here back in 1890. Super sensational for the time.

Yesterday I took a break from quilting, in fact, I only did a bit of quilting all weekend; working a bit on another commissioned quilt; in blues and whites. I actually have to do a bit more work on it; some of the blues I picked when all laid out didn't quite fit my image, or go completely so I'm now reworking a few 9 patches and making brand new ones as well. It's a simply 9 patch and rail fence quilt but the dark blues and crisp whites really make it special. I think I might edge it in red as well, and really make it pop!~
I also found this tutorial on paper pieces Star Blocks over at Fresh Lemon Quilts; and think I might be adding one or two of those into this quilt.  We'll see how into paper piecing I get..... but I love love love that Star block.

I digress - I took the break from quilting yesterday - because I needed to find a 70's costume for the murder mystery I'm working tonite. Big hair and blue eye shadow with an orange and brown pucci-esque print dress. That's more of a shirt but that's why God created Spanx. Heh.

It's cold in here...maybe I should go get a quilt to snuggle under.....

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I almost forgot...WIP Wednesdays

A few other quilting blogs I read (okay stop laughing) that are pretty great reads and fab inspiration - they do this thing called "Work In Progress (WIP) Wednesdays". And I think it's a great idea.

So here's my list of WIPS:
Finish Fred's Mom's Quilt - finish stippling, neaten and bind.

Finish cutting and start to sew D's quilt.
Decide on a pattern and cut K's quilt.
Finish cutting L's quilt. Pattern is decided.
*Actually I'm doing two of L's quilt as they are both awesome patterns and I know two ppl who will love them.
Sew flannelette baby blanket I cut out for Etsy.

And I have one pending order for a king sized quilt; biggest one yet. I think I will send that one out to be quilted; I can do the top no problem but that might be a bit too much for my little Brother sewing machine. I will have to source some local quilting spots.

I'm waiting for a fabric that I ordered online to arrive this week so I can keep working on my Christmas quilts for my family; I have to do Dad's still and one for my other brother; and I know there's a couple that will still come up.

OH and I'd like to finish the two I started for ME at some point. Laugh. Funny how they all got bumped down the list!

SO I have a list of things to do. Not too bad. And in a fit of pique today while fighting with my machine I reorganzied the Quilt Cave. It's a bit more accessible; tomoro I shall finish sorting my fabrics into drawers and actually get stuff off the floor. Eeesh. I may pop over to the storage unit as I *know* I have a gorgeous sky blue cotton somewhere that I can't find. (I may have used it for packing when I moved; that's how I used a lot of my fabric to justify keeping it all...used it for packing around things like lamps, pictures, etc. So just have to find it. No sense in having great fabric if you can't find it to use it.)
Oh I also found a great chunk of muslin that I'm gonna use to make a string/crazy quilt. Yay!

AND something else I forgot! It was Thanksgiving last week; I did a lasagne with some of the sauce I made back in August; and it turned out excellently. I coulda used more cheese, but hey. Everything is better with cheese.

It's bedtime....I promised I wouldn't stay up late...uh oh. I'm in trouble now!

I blame the cat.

Quilt for Fred's Mom ... PT 2

Or, A Frustrating Day of Sewing


Is there ANYTHING more frustrating than the simplest of things that will NOT work right?? GRRRRR.

The last two days were a sewing trial....a nightmare.

The completed quilt top had 'bubbles' in it. So.......I wanted to fix them, of course.

6 HOURS LATER....after ripping and reripping and resetting and resetting and ironing and re ironing and( GRRRR A TEMPER TANTRUM which involved jumping up and down and much flailing) having to rebuilt two blocks and reposition...the simplest of simple layouts was done. Sort of. There was still a bubble.

I think that there is such a thing as being Too Picky; and that that might be the case yesterday. Today was a new day.

I fixed the last square and all was well. The borders were reattached and ironed.
 I brought the quilt upstairs to begin the sandwiching of the backing & batting. In the middle I had it all laid out, taped down and ready to roll up and head downstairs to begin the quilting process.

I had gone into the kitchen to help Ma with something and then returned back to the living room where


My mother's cat had  somehow gotten underneath my quilt sandwich and had pulled it free of the tape. He had freaked himself out because he couldn't see and started to run amuck in my quilt. GRRRR. He made it up the stairs and got himself free; and I got the quilt back downstairs, retaped it and pin basted it. THEN I rolled it up and headed backdownstairs to quilt it.

AND for some reason....the stupid machine decided today was the day to give me more grief than was really necessary over tension. Sigh> The eyelashing under the quilt was OFF the Freakin' charts. 

BUT....I got it worked out. AND I got to watch "State Fair' and "South Pacific" today.

But most importantly....The Quilt is quilted. YAY! And later I have to quilt in the borders, neaten the edges, bind it and VOILA! Zee quilt vill be done. Woot!

.............then..........start on ANOTHER commissioned quilt which is a SURPRISE for someone who I can't mention! Just in case. *grin*.
 Here's the Quilt; the block pattern was "springtime".

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quilt for Fred's Mom

I love my friend Fred. He is one terrific guy. And even though I've never had the pleasure of meeting her, his Mom is also one terrific lady, and MAN can she cook.
So; my first finished (almost) commissioned quilt is for Mrs. F; and I hope she likes it. I wanted something homey but bright, so I chose yellows and browns and pinks for the main colours.
Assembling the Springtime Blocks

Piles of completed blocks

The finished blocks assembled and laid out; on grass so yes it's wobbly looking

The Blue border I like best so far. The quilt isn't skewed I need to work on my photo skills.

Springtime Block
The borders have  kinda stumped me; I had a pink in mind but then I thought it might be too 'young' for her; so then I thought, well, I can use the yellow floral  that is the main large triangle colour. But I wanted to use that for the backing and thatmight be too much
So now......I'm thinking I'm gonna add a border of bright royal blue with a feathery type pattern on it...wonder about some input? Thoughts?
Well... I went and added the blue border; I will post some pics in a bit. I think it's coming together pretty nicely.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mom's Quilt is Finished!

Wellllllllllllll It's all finished!

All the threads trimmed, bound neatly and ready to go! It's a bit too square than I had first planned but, I'm pretty happy with it. 
's favourite colours are coral and rust and coppery colours; I hope she likes this.

She told me about the heavy quilts she slept under as a child; and I used a heavy blanket and batting for the fill. It's nice and toasty warm; I tested it out watching TV last week and it worked really well. Nice and warm. :)
I hope she likes this!

I just used big squares and stitched in the ditch, added some sashing and hand stitched the hearts. There's also a "I love you Mom" in the border by the corner. Let's see if she finds it.