Friday, December 30, 2011

Slow progress toward the New Year

I am not making very fast or concrete progress.  I was on fire before Christmas and now, definitely NOT on fire.

I did have Cliff put up my new thread organizer, it is just for the cones I use on my Gammill.  Can you believe how many cones I have?  He just put this up and I practically need another organizer.  I could never find one of these in the stores, just organizers for regular spools.  Shelby found it online and gave it to me for Christmas.  I love it!  I had a calendar here but I had Cliff put the nail for that on the bookshelf next to my machine.
I know what you are thinking, What about your other sewing Christmas presents Ms. Quilter lady?  (I know these things because I am psychic, or was that psycho?)

At any rate, I did fold all the fabrics in that laundry basket.

That's all? 
Well, yes, that's all!
And the new machine?

The machine and I are getting to know each other. 
Hey, I am not that kind of girl!

I opened all the packages, put the accessories in the special box, read parts of the instruction booklet and got it plugged in.  Hurray!

I also filled a bobbin which was fab - u - lous!  My old machine no longer did this and this one, well, it was a religious experience!  I also threaded it and sewed a whole line of stitching!

My first little project will be to hem this piece of fabric on all sides for my next book club.  We are discussing "The Good Earth"  so I ordered this fabric from Paducah's of Kentucky, my favorite fabric store in the whole world.  It is from Japan but creates the Asian look I want for the table.  I am going to finish all the sides and put it over a blue tablecloth for an accent piece.  Then I will start ironing and cutting that cute pile of green fabric next to it!

I am going to take the Holiday weekend off from blogging but not from sewing. I will post again on January 3rd.

Happy New Year!  I wish all of us good things in 2012!  Next year I want so many good things to happen to me and my family that you will say, hot damn, that Kathy has one amazing life!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Out with the old, in with the new

 OK, fine, maybe I did say I was done with sewing on the 23rd but...I had more dish towel ideas in my head!  I snuck up to the sewing room on the 24th and decorated 6 more and I am glad I did!

The rest of the year, I am going to be on the look out for better quality solid dish towels that I can decorate.  I have some pretty cute fabrics stashed away, it's a great way to use it!

I love these "tea" towels!

Here is a picture of the important things under our tree.

Do you see what I see? 

I can hardly wait to get my new machine, it's only my 4th sewing machine that I have owned since I was 22.  One a year!  Ha ha.

I have an Elna right now and before that I had two Singers.  I have loved all my machines and used them a lot. 

This Elna has probably gotten the most use, nearly every day for two years and lots the 8 years before that. 

I am keeping it, it will be my back up sewing machine.

Here is the Elna, all packed up and ready for a much deserved rest.  I hemmed 7 pairs of pants on her for her last bit of work.

Here is the Bernina - unpacked and not really ready to go!  I just looked at it!
See this collection of "stuff" that came in the box?  I have to sit up there, read the manual and figure it all out!

I also got a bonus gift of a travel/carry case for my machine.  This will come in handy when I go back to Thimbles for my "Mastery" classes in January!

I am ready for new beginnings, I will indeed "master" my new machine!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Time to stop sewing! Put down the needle and step away from the machine!

 Ta da, another bird apron.  I bought an extra quarter yard so I could make some matching dish towels. I decided to put them on bright green, very lively and fun.

You can see the apron and the dish towels here on the left.  I have  the apron folded back so you can see the flowered batik I used for the lining. 

What I like about doing the tube for the accent is that I can sortof roll the tube until I get the view of the fabric I like.  It doesn't matter where the seam is.  I just press it then and pin it down.  

I have made quite a few gifts, none of it really Christmasy items, but Christmas gifts none the less.  I think I have made all the Christmas aprons, table runners, pillows and quilts anyone needs!

I was able to zip the decoration on three more dish towels, pink version of the grey cupcake fabric.  I only bought two fat quarters in Hannibal this summer, I actually wish I had bought more.  I would still be up in the sewing room, making some more decorated dish towels.

I have more fun fabric but maybe it's time to stop sewing and do some wrapping.  I will save the other dish towels and fabric for gifts throughout the year.  Plus, these dish towels are not the best quality, I will keep my eyes open for better solid colored dish towels.

I am going to end this blog with one of my favorite Christmas quilts.  (If you want to see them all, and who wouldn't, there is a separate page with all my Christmas Quilts.)

I will be doing the wrapping thing tomorrow.  Fine, yes, I am just going to put everything in a bag and I mean EVERYTHING!  Then our family will celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  It may not be our best Christmas, that's okay.  Look at the scrap Christmas Quilt, some of those fabrics are actually darn ugly on their own.  (Yes, I am talking about you, clearance table green floral stripe.)  But taken as a whole, it's a great quilt.  Life is like that, Christmas can be like that.  Not every one is terrific, but as a whole, over a lifetime, Christmas has been pretty darn great for me.  Merry Christmas?  Maybe not, maybe this year will be Mediocre Christmas but next year, it will be one of those fabrics that zings and adds the pop to the quilt of life. 

Enjoy your holiday and your family and I will post again on the 28th.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sewing is good for me

 Hearts times two, I finished both squares.  Just in time, I talked to Gina tonight and we are going to get together next week.

I love seeing my friends and since many of them are still teaching, I see them when I used to when I worked, on breaks and the summer.

Today I met two friends for tea in Morris which has a great fabric store called The Fabric Center.  I walked in and the lady asked if she could help me.  I replied, "Oh there's something I need here; I just don't know what it is yet."  But I found it!  And then some!  Buying fabric is an absolute pleasure for me, it's right up there with chocolate, tea and coffee.

 I also got to decorate three dish towels.  I could make these all night long, they are so easy.  I just cut a 6 inch wide strip, hemmed the short ends and sewed it right sides together.  I turned the little tube inside out, ironed it along the dish towel and used a blanket stitch to sew it onto the dish towel.  Now I know I didn't need fabric on the back of the decoration but if I didn't make a tube, I would have had to iron those edges down and sew it super carefully.  It was faster to make a tube.  I want to make more before I finally stop and wrap things up for Christmas.  I hope to make 17,000 more dish towels or maybe more.
Here are three of the pieces of fabric I bought in Morris, they are washed, dried and ironed and I would love to make one more bird apron tomorrow.  Someone special on my list saw the other one and said that he/she would love a bird apron as well.  I saw this delightful bird fabric and got a yard and a quarter, yard for the apron and a quarter yard for, you guessed it, to decorate a dish towel.  The other two fabrics are for the backing and the straps.   

I may not be healed but I still derive so much satisfaction from sewing.  Sew good for me!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Therapy and hearts

Mad Plaid is done!

I was hurrying to finish the binding and when I was evening up one corner, I poked my tool right through the flannel.  Shoot!  How to fix that hole?

Ignore it?  Once Nick gets the quilt I can blame it on him?

Zig zag over it and sortof darn the hole together?

Redo that part of the binding?  Yep, that's what I did.  I ripped out the stitches, cut off the part with the hole, sewed on a shorter new piece of binding, sewed it down, clipped it and redid the corner.  Only this time I was a bit more careful.

I really liked this quilt and completely enjoyed the therapy of working on it.  I hope Nick likes it!

I also worked on the two heart squares.

I cut all the strips, cut them into squares and triangles and lined up all the pieces, two deep.  This is the point where I like to check, did I do it right?  Sometimes I recut pieces here if I want my hearts to march in the same direction but this one looks fine.

I sewed all the triangles together and I am about half way on completing the two blocks.  Not sure when I will see Gina, but I want to be prepared.

Therapeutic sewing and heart blocks, yep, just what I needed.  I will do some wrapping eventually, say by Christmas Eve.
I hope your activities are full of hearts or therapy today.  Or both!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Friendship quilts

This quilt keeps me warm while I watch TV.
 I am working on the binding for the Mad Plaid quilt, I am almost done!

I did not get to start on the dish towels, oh well!  There is always next year or other holidays.

I remembered that I have to make a Heart square for the Valentine's Quilt that I am making with my friend, Gina.  I have previously shown the Christmas quilt we made together.  That took 5 years, this is the 5th year of the Heart Quilt.  We made a blue and white tea mug quilt in about 2 years, including hand quilting, it is on the left.  I made half the blocks and Gina made half; she has a quilt just like it.  I adore it!

I love finding patterns on line!
We had made two quilts before so we had quite a discussion about what to make for our next one, I got to choose so Gina will pick the next one.  I chose the tea mug pattern and Gina chose the Christmas pattern.  Gina didn't remember this and I am writing it down here so I will remember it!

We decided on a quilt for another holiday, Valentine's Day.  We found a very simple block online, I had to write in ands change the number of squares because I make two identical blocks, one for me and one for Gina. 

I collected bunches of dark, medium and light value reds/white/cream, this is my favorite part. 

Then I select three fabrics for Gina's Christmas present block and three for her birthday block.  

Aren't they terrific?
These are the blocks we have made so far.

I have five blocks that Gina made and five blocks that I made.

I imagine we will have lattice work in between the blocks as we will have 12 total.    Maybe each of it will finish the blocks into a quilt our own way or maybe we will do it the same way.

I love Friendship quilts.  I have two others going on which are not progressing as steadily, maybe they will pick up!

I will have the blocks done soon!
The three fabrics in front are the three I picked for this block.  Behind them are two project boxes filled with the fabrics I am saving for this quilt.  I didn't want them to mingle with my stash.  Eventually, when the quilt is finished, they will mingle with impunity.

Sharing experiences with friends is a great bond; be it reading the same books, watching shows or snacking together the time and years create many kinds of friendship quilts.

Some are just the kind that end up keeping you warm and  snuggly.  Enjoy the "Quilts" you make with your friends.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Blue bird of happiness

The Mad Plaid quilt is off of Gladys, all trimmed and waiting for the binding.

I cut the binding before I put MP on the longarm and I put it...where?  I looked everywhere and guess where I found it?

In the garbage can!


Yes!  I cleaned up all the extra bits of the flannel and threw them away and obviously I got carried away.

 I also finished the tea wallets, my wonderful husband used his muscles to put in all the snaps.

On the right hand side of the picture you can see one opened up with 6 tea bags neatly stored in there.  No more bad tea at restaurants!  Or if you only like a certain kind, these can store that as well.

I finished up these projects by stitching the original back together and putting it with all my tea bags.  I used up all my favorites but lucky for me I am going out for tea on Wednesday, I will stock it again!

My next project is sortof an ongoing present project.  I ordered a whole bunch of solid colored cotton dish towels.  Then I gathered favorite fun fabrics.  I think there is something I can do to perk up those dish towels, don't you?

However, I have 28 dish towels.  My husband always says that overkill is the best kill and I sure over killed it on the dish towels.  I will save them and make them for presents throughout the year. 

I hope to make at least 4 and finish the binding and only then can I start wrapping or as I like to call it, shove it all in bags!

My sorority sisters gave us blue topaz necklaces to remember Darcy since that is her birth stone.

I also wanted to remember her on my Christmas Tree so I told my daughter that I was going to buy a small bird in memory of Darcy who flew away from us but who we will never forget.  She said, oh get me one, too, and look for a blue one.  Perfect, a blue topaz bird!

Here's to the Blue Bird of happiness flying back into all of our lives.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Sewing Signs

Can you tell the progress I have made on the Mad Plaid quilt? On the left you can see how rolled up it is on the roller now.  On the right you can see the squares, rectangles and lines I am quilting. 

I enjoy being in my sewing room, working on the quilt and various Christmas presents.  I have so many cool things up there.  The possibly coolest part of my sewing room are the various signs I have collected and displayed.  Here they are:

I got this during the Winter Olympics

Hey, maybe this was the original quotation!

This was my first sign and it is my favorite

This one seems apt to me lately

That's me!

Are you insanely jealous right now?  Well, maybe Santa will get some for you.  Most of mine came from Thimbles in Lockport, Illinois.  The other signs I found at The Pickwick Society Tea room in Frankfort.

What are favorite signs of yours?   I hope they are as cool and fun as mine.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mad Plaid and more

 I am so glad I had a quilt already on Gladys, doing the quilting is very therapeutic.  I have to really focus, always have, but more so lately.  It chases other thoughts out of my head and I have a bit of a break from thinking. 

To tell you the truth, I like girly quilts more than masculine quilts for guys, sorry gentleman!

But this little Mad Plaid quilt is soft and cozy, it has lots of lines in it and I just like it.  I know, I am surprised as well.

You can see the first group of quilting that I have done on it, it's all geometric.  One of the first rules of machine quilting is to not quilt yourself into an area where you can't quilt your way out.  Ok, I have done this a few times but since it is all lines, I just back track on the line.

My daughter and I were not telling her husband that I was making these quilts for his daughter and son.  In the midst of the long, emotional weekend, I told him and even in his grief, his face brightened and he said that the kids would love them and that I would have to be there when they opened them.  It's nice to have that to look forward to for this Christmas.

I was also glad to have this easy apron already cut out, it was comforting to have a tried and true apron to stitch up.  Sewing is my best therapy.  It makes the world seem doable and orderly.

Isn't the fabric just terrific?  I love the colors and the birds, those beautiful birds.  It makes me think I would like to find a bird ornament to put on my tree to remember sweet Darcy who has flown away from us.  I am not sure you can see how great it is, the picture doesn't do justice to this fabulous fabric.

I get distracted lately, a molecule in the air shifts and poof, there goes my attention.   I think you can tell from the randomness of this blog entry.  I have to get going, no more Mrs. Magoo!

To this end, I sat down with the torn apart tea wallet, got my mind engaged and made one, a prototype.

You can see it on the right hand side.  It snaps at the top.  For my stocking, I had my husband holding onto a pair of snap pliers I had picked up at Vogue Fabrics.  I had gotten it for bibs so I was glad to have another use for it and to just get it early.  Cliff and I sat and figured it out and his strong hands got that snap in.  He says he can only do one a night, I have five more waiting to go, I used every single scrap of that Mary Englebreit tea cup fabric.  I am thrilled I will get a total of 6 if I get myself in gear!  Go Kathy, go Kathy, go Kathy GO! 

I have one more project I was planning on making for Christmas presents but we shall see.  I am kindof letting my feelings guide me.  However, this blog does help focus me so I am glad to be back at it.  It will help me get those presents done!

Mad Plaid quilt, I shall finish you!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Hi dear blog readers,

I know I have written about Baby Girl here as well as the quilts I planned to make for her.

Sadly, this will not be.  My daughter discovered that precious Baby Girl's heart had stopped and she delivered our dear Granddaughter, Darcy on Saturday.  Darcy will never live on this earth, but only in our hearts.

When I resume the blog, it will focus on other sewing projects.  Sewing has always been like my yoga and meditation; it is therapeutic for me.  I will use it to manage my own grief and my concerns for my daughter and her husband.

I am thanking you in advance for your compassion and concern.

With love, Kathy

Thursday, December 8, 2011


No blogs for a while, our family is grieving.

My sewing room

 While I am working on the mad plaid quilt and the tea wallets, let's talk about where I do all my work, my favorite room in the house.
On the left you can see my cutting/design table with all the wardrobes open and on the right, they are all closed.  The fabrics on the left are reserved for future projects but on the right, they are scraps or fabrics I bought just because.

Sometimes when I am pondering what to do I will open the doors just to look at all the fabric, to gain inspiration.  I am insanely in love with the storage system.  It combines two of my main loves:  fabric and organizational equipment.  Here are more shots of my favorite fabric areas.  Yes, I am aware I am a rather sick individual but it still makes me sigh with contentment.    I have, as you can see,  divided  them by color.  Yes, I do love them unreasonably.
I add to them and take away so my stash is dynamic.  And fabulous!

Here's another area I adore, my hand sewing chair with my yarn storage next to it.

Do you see that terrific lamp made from an old sewing machine.  Aren't I the luckiest woman in the whole world?  Wait, there is more!

I have a book shelf full of books about sewing and quilting, I use them for inspiration as well.  The drawer unit next to it I have had since 5th grade when I developed my odd love of organizational systems.  My mother took me to Chicago Heights and we bought this unit at a used furniture store, it was from an apartment that had a Murphy bed, there were two of them and the bed went in between them.  Sadly, we only bought one of them.

No product to show today so I will leave you with another Christmas quilt from my collection.

This is the first Christmas quilt I ever made, it was a sampler I sewed for my oldest daughter, Emily who is now expecting her own daughter.  I will make Baby girl a Christmas quilt of her own one day.  This one is machine pieced and hand quilted, Baby girl's might be machine quilted.

I hope you have a room or a chair or just a spot that is your sanctuary.  Some place you can go and feel good and rejuvenated.  I also secretly hope it has some sort of organizational system in this spot.  If you would like help installing one, just give me a call.  I might be busy tomorrow, however, I just bought a new system for all my wrapping paper.  I am not making this up!

Here's to an organized sanctuary!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I can make that!

Sweet time is finished!


And I finished her toute suite, don't you think?  (OK, it was an attempt at a bilingual joke!)

I am very happy with it and my whole family is excited to see if Ally likes it.  But, I am glad Christmas is still a bit away as I have to finish the Mad Plaid quilt and I didn't make much progress today, I was too undecided about the borders.

I decided to make pieced borders, I went back to the quilt store, looked at the sample and what there was to purchase.  That will be the main goal tomorrow.  I promise!

I fiddled around with another project today.    See this little cutie?  It is a tea bag wallet.  I bought it in Paducah.  Aren't you just dying to have one?

I wanted to make some for presents.

I looked online but I couldn't find a pattern.  Rats!  Why don't people post the patterns I want for free on the internet?  Is this too much to ask?

So I unfolded it all the way and then I took out all the seams.  It is just a rectangle sewed in the middle, cleverly folded and stitched down with the half moon pieces sewed in there with a snap closure.  Hey,  I just happen to have purchased a fancy dancy snap putter inner! 

I CAN MAKE THAT!  I am not going to sell them or sell the pattern, I am just making some as back up copies!  I can hardly wait to get up tomorrow and work on these projects!

I love that feeling, that "I can make that" realization!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

13th block

 Last night I couldn't wait to get up and start sewing, that is how enthused I am about these projects.
Of course, I didn't exactly get up and start on them.  I had to check my email, Yelp and Facebook.  Then I went out to breakfast with my husband and repeated all the computer checking.
What was I so enthused about?  Oh yes, my sewing projects.

First, I sewed on the last two borders on the sweet time quilt and as soon as I write this blog, I am going to go sew it down!
Then, I do some prep work on some tea bag wallets I want to make next and cut out the apron pieces.

Finally, I got down to the main project.  I used this pattern but modified it for a smaller lap quilt.  I decided to make 12 blocks.
Before I could make the 12 blocks, I had to cut the  fat quarters.

I stacked them so I could cut 3 at a time but they fooled me, I had 13 fat quarters in the package.  I cut one piece short, 16 inches long instead of 16.5.  I did not panic.  Remember the legendary stash?  I found 2 red flannels and one green one and cut out alternate pieces from that.

I love my stash.  I have so much dang flannel, I should make a couple of quilts just from the stash.  I could literally make four quilts, I bet.

 Back to the quilt at home, Kathleen.  (I have been a day dreamer all my life.)

I made 13 blocks.  Block "B" is on the left, there are 4 in that pile.  Bock "A" is on the right, there are 9 in that pile.

I am not so fond of having that extra block.  I will never throw it out, I will feel like I should make a pillow or something.  An extra fat quarter just gives me a whole new project to not finish.

But today, I did finish this quilt top.  Perfect for a 7th grade boy, don't you think?  (Just agree with me, please!  Thanks.)

On the left you can see the backing fabric.  I could also use that for the borders.  Or I could piece the borders, the pieces are already cut out.  Or I could use the green on the right.  (Correct, from the mighty stash.)  Or I could buy a flannel stripe.  I am leaning towards the first or the last option. 

Right now I am going to go hand sew two last borders.  Then I will fret about the border tomorrow after my massage!  Oh, and I could fret about that 13th border.  Why a baker's dozen?
For donuts, yes, for fat quarters, no thank you!