Thursday, December 22, 2011

Favorite Christmas "things"

Most of the things in my home have a history or are there for sentimental reasons and today I'm sharing three of my favorite Christmas "things".

This Nativity Scene dates probably from the late 1960's and my sister and I set it up under our family's Christmas tree every year. I don't know where my parents got it, perhaps at Woolworths or at a farm auction, but its no longer in its original box.

By the time I received it, the cardboard stable was bent and missing some of the woodshavings on the roof. Some of the figures are missing too and I don't even remember if we ever had them. I still set it up every year.

Besides the story of Christ's great sacrifice, it reminds me of the great anticipation and planning that went into Christmas in my younger years. I miss the wonder that Christmas brings to children!

Several years ago, I purchased this old magazine cover in an antique mall. I don't know who the artist was but this is another "thing" I make sure is set up every Christmas. Perhaps it reminds me of some happy memories of Christmas caroling with family and friends.

Unfortunately, I've not been blessed with musical talent so please don't expect me to come carol at your home!

If you came to my house, this is what you'd see in the entry. Its nearly the same every year - the red and white Drunkard's Path quilt, the wreath and the old, battered kerosene lamp - but this year I added the wooden creche purchased my first year in college.

I've finally finished the shopping, baked two kinds of peppernuts (nearly all gone!) and assorted goodies, sent out some Christmas cards and generally just got caught up in the busyness and stress of the season. I must always remind myself to look beyond the many activities, decorations and obligations to keep my heart focused on God's plan which He set into motion long before the stable.

I hope you are having a wonderful and meaningful Christmas season!
See you next year, Mayleen

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

11 out of 13

Does that sound like a math question at school? 11 out of 13 = 2!

Only 2 more of the 13 diamond blocks need sashing strips sewn to them! That means I've sewn sashing strips to 11 of the blocks so far.
Of course, there's still the setting and corner blocks, deciding on a layout and then hand stitching all the blocks together. My next goal is to finish sewing the sashing strips to all of the blocks by next Wednesday, the 21st. I would really like to finish hand piecing this quilt top before the new year begins but unfortunately, I don't think I'll have the time to do that.

I have a bad habit of overcommiting myself, mostly to things that are worthy and need doing, but just who am I trying to impress? Instead of working like a mad woman on this quilt just so I can say I finished it before the new year, I plan to slow down and enjoy the process.

The Christmas season can be really stressful when we try to live up to other people's expectations. I'm going through one of those times today and feeling very torn about what to do.

Time to slow down, time to decide what's really important and time to enjoy the process!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday's clamshell progress

My clamshell sashing progress is going slowly. This past week, I either hurt my shoulder by doing too much handwork or the pain was weather related. I've noticed I tend to tense and scrunch up my left shoulder and also hunch over my work. My left shoulder muscles were very painful this last week so I took some necessary time off from hand piecing which just about drove me crazy!

Yesterday, being my sewing day, I spent a few hours hand piecing the first sashing strips to the clamshell diamond blocks as the photo shows. I tried to be really careful about my shoulder and, so far, my shoulder is relatively pain free. The lower left block is just laid over the sashing to show you how it will look when finished.

My biggest challenge with the sashing strips is how to applique the narrow stem (?) with its sharp point at the base of the bottom clamshell of each block. This is the first time I've ever had to do this and would love to receive any advice you readers can give! The top block was my first attempt and its point seems a little blunt. The next block was the second attempt and its stem and point are better but seems bulky even with careful trimming. Any advice?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Wednesday - Sewing Day!

I always think of Wednesdays as sewing day!

My mom was part of a church sewing society which met on Wednesdays during the fall, winter and spring months. Many of the women who attended were older farm wives and this day was not only a day of growing spiritually and doing something meaningful for church missions but it was also a day of socializing.

No socializing on my Wednesdays but I try to keep it just for sewing and not let a lot of errands and "things to do" creep in to my day!

Fifteen years ago, my mom embroidered tea towels with scenes of teddy bears doing housework. I wanted my kids to dry dishes with them so they've seen a little wear. Instead of them just laying in a drawer and never being seen, I decided to make them into a wallhanging. This is a little on the "cute" side for me but I still like them and hope to finish hand quilting this wallhanging someday.

About the block above, I'm not particularly fond of mending but I do enjoy sewing!

Clean day is also not a favorite day for me but it needs to be done. No cleaning fairy at our house!

Probably my favorite day is Bake Day! Unfortunately, that usually means an unhappy moment on the bathroom scale the next day.

Back to Wednesdays and sewing days - Yesterday, I finished handpiecing the clamshell blocks! I can hardly believe the blocks themselves are done. Here are some of them, not in final arrangement yet though. There are 13 full diamond blocks, 8 half diamonds for the sides and the 4 corner blocks.

Next up is figuring out how to make and sew on the scalloped sashing. My quilt is inspired by Kaffe Fassett's quilt in his Museum Quilts book. He used a narrow bias strip to make his sashing but had to make small tucks at each scallop. I don't want to do that so I'll have to draft a pattern for the sashing. The sashing fabric is green and will also be hand pieced/appliqued to the blocks.

I hoped, in one of my more optimistic moments, to have the top completely done by the end of the year. LOL My schedule this month has gone crazy with something on our calendar nearly every day of the month. I'll be checking in from time to time though and will let you know how my sashing saga is progressing!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is our cat, Charlie, reminding you to be thankful in all things!

Charlie came to us the night we moved into our house, a very skinny burr infested stray. Our two other cats were not excited to see him but he made his way into our lives and into our hearts. Although he feels he should get more attention and definitely more tuna, if cats can be thankful I'm sure he is!

The "Be Thankful" quilt is a Pat Sloan design (maybe) from way back when. Because I didn't think my cutting and piecing skills were very accurate, I decided to try making folk art type quilts which I thought would be more forgiving. Instead, I made a lot of mistakes on it and had a terrible time trying not to match things up! I was, indeed, very thankful when this quilt was finished. It usually hangs on our living room wall during this season but this year, it became a couch quilt and we like it there!

I haven't blogged much lately simply because I'm working on some larger projects and not getting anywhere fast. Remember my clamshell quilt? I've been working on it off and on for over a year now but I'm determined to get the top done by the end of the year! I've finished all 13 of the clamshell diamonds and am now hand piecing the side half diamonds.

Last week, a local quilt shop was having a storewide 25% off sale so after doing numerous calculations and rounding up for a little extra just in case, I purchased fabric for the borders and sashing. I hope I purchased enough fabric!

For those of you in the United States, I wish you all a very meaningful and happy Thanksgiving! We are sharing our Thanksgiving dinner with two other families. I'm in charge of making the pies which I enjoy making. I'm planning to make Pumpkin, Pecan and Apple pies and maybe a pumpkin roll. What I'm not planning to do is step on our scale for a few days!

Friday, November 4, 2011


Here it is, finally finished!

"The Parlour's Tin Ceiling Quilt",
my version of Jacquie's Tin Ceiling Quilt!
You can get the tutorial and see her quilt here and here.

The quilting design is by Angela Walters. I liked it so much that I asked my machine quilter, Jan, to do something similiar on my version of the quilt. Yes, it does remind me of the tin ceiling in my parents' farmhouse! However, we certainly weren't fancy enough to have a "parlour" so that's a reference to the spiderweb. Perhaps you remember a poem about a spider and a fly, "Will you walk into my parlour, said the Spider to the Fly."

Thank you to everyone who sent me selvages! Some responded from a request on this blog and others heard about it at quilt guild. Even after making the border, which I thought would use almost all of the selvages, I still have some left. Looks like there may be another selvage project for me but definitely not one this large! It began as a throw and ended up Queen sized.

The pictures have been brightened up a little to show the quilting but the quilt is still a little on the bright side. You may have to put on your sunglasses to look at the back! Can you guess that I really like bright pink?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Binding Quilt #2 this week

I finished binding my daughter's 30th. birthday quilt and am moving on to binding quilt #2 - the Selvage Spiderweb Quilt! I have to be in the right frame of mind to make binding. It's not that I dislike binding but I don't like working with long bias pieces of narrow fabric!

I measured the selvage spiderweb quilt top, made some calculations to find out how many inches of binding I'd need. I came up with 400 inches which turned out to be too much but I'd rather have too much than not enough. Extra binding I save to bind scrappy projects.
I find that if I wind it up and then rubber band it, I can control it better as I'm sewing the binding to each side of the quilt top.

Here it is machine sewn on and tomorrow I'll start hand tacking the binding down. I hope to finish it before the weekend, create labels for both quilts and then they'll be done!

Another picture of the beautiful machine quilting done by Jan!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Binding in my future

Can you guess what it is?

Last weekend, I picked up quilts from two machine quilters! Both quilts are beautifully quilted but quite different from each other in pattern and quilting.

You've seen my daughter's 30th. birthday quilt before while I was embroidering the blocks and machine piecing it. It was the first quilt I picked up and was machine quilted by Siriporn Hollar.

I'm in the process of binding it so if you look closely, you'll be able to tell the binding isn't tacked down on three of the sides yet. I like a narrow binding so I usually make a 2 1/4" bias binding. Whenever I make a straight binding, the quilt corners are pointy which is a pet peeve of mine. Even though a bias binding uses more fabric, I stick with what I know.

I was disappointed the large photo didn't show the machine quilting better but you can get an idea of the beautiful quilting on this photo of one of the blocks!

I'm sorry I wasn't able to wrestle this monster up to hang from the top of our bookcases for a better picture. Its the back of my queen sized Spiderweb Selvage Quilt! I'm only showing you the back this week because I haven't even begun to make the binding for it yet. As you can guess, I didn't have enough of the pink floral fabric so had to piece the back with two more blue fabrics and even more selvages. Pictures coming of the front when its bound next week.

Jan did a wonderful job quilting it. She's probably resting her arms this week after quilting all those little swirls! Check out her website for a look at the Prairie Quilt Guild's beautiful Opportunity Quilt. I've been trying to figure out how many tickets I need to buy so that I can win it at the Common Threads Quilt Show in Wichita next June!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Was Granny Smith really a Northern Spy?

It's been a bed sized quilt year for me!

Here are a few blocks from the next bed sized quilt I'm planning to finish. The blocks will all be red and green and after being trimmed and sewn together, the red diamonds should match at the points. I started it months ago but got a little bored with making the same block over and over again so I set a goal of 20 blocks a week. Very do-able and I have only 30-ish blocks left to cut and piece before piecing the top!

This pattern is from Bonnie Hunter's book, Scraps & Shirttails II. She calls it "Criss-Cross Applesauce". I wanted a name with a little more personality so in keeping with the apple theme and with a nod to the Civil War, I'm calling it "Was Granny Smith really a Northern Spy?" Both names will be on the quilt label along with giving Bonnie credit as the designer.

Here's a picture of her version from the book. By the way, I recommend this book for anyone who likes scrap quilts. I try not to buy a quilting book or magazine unless there are 3 or more quilts I want to make in it. This book definitely qualifies!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Big Fat Pink Life

See this stack of bright pink forms?

These are membership forms for Wichita's Prairie Quilt Guild! This year, I agreed to serve as Membership Chair and for the past month I've been processing forms, over 400 so far. Our guild's membership has been over 700 in the past few years so just a few hundred more to go!

I have to ask you to do this.

OK now, repeat after me:

"I promise to fill out membership forms entirely. Yes, ENTIRELY!"

I feel so much better now that you've promised!

What's that you say? Speak up, don't mumble.

Pink, yes. Big stack, yes. Fat, huh?

Fat is what I'm going to be if I'm not careful.
Here's how I've been coping with the forms.

No indication whether its a renewal or new membership, eat an M&M.
Contact information missing: eat another M&M.
Can't read the writing: have an extra M&M.
Finished processing a membership form: reward yourself with an M&M (or two)!

Help, I've had to buy more M&Ms, the large economy size from Sam's. I'm no longer concerned if I'm eating them in ROY G BB order and very shortly, I'm going to have to spend quality time with the Mr. Treadmill and I absolutely dislike, abhor, dread the thought!

Be kind, fill out your guild's membership form completely, OK?!?
Membership committees everywhere thank you!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Other people's scraps!

Would you get excited about this?!?

I would, I did and I am!

Decisions, decisions.
Those are 1/4 inch and 3/8 inch paper hexagons laying next to the quarter.

I'm going to allow myself to do this because

1. I'm crazy enough to try.
2. I need to get it out of my system.

Things are a little stressful in my life these days and whenever things get that way, I cope by pouring myself into something very detailed. I'll let you know how it goes but I may not be able to start this anytime soon. For now, I'm dreaming and planning!

By the way, the selvage spiderweb quilt is now in line waiting to be quilted by the machine quilter. I still have selvages left but need to work on other things for a little while. So far this year, I've made several bed quilts and several more are in process. Its safe to say that the hexagon quilt I make will NOT be a bed size quilt!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Scrappy Tripping Around the World!

Monday evening, I went to hear Quiltville's Bonnie Hunter speak at the Walnut Valley Quilter's Guild in Winfield, Kansas. She's a great speaker and I loved her Fabric Food Chain quilt since I'm really trying to use up 30 years worth of fabric!

Here's Bonnie with her Virginia Bound quilt which is another quilt I'd like to make "someday". In fact, I'd like to make 3/4 of the quilts in her latest book Scraps & Shirtails II.
Here's her version of Scrappy Trip Around the World. I got to take her workshop for this quilt on Tuesday! She's a great teacher so if you have a chance to hear her speak or take a workshop with her, be sure you do so!
Below you can see the blocks I finished in class. I made mine with 2 inch strips and set 9 strips in a row.

Its a lot brighter than I thought it would be and I'm not so sure I like it. What do you think I should add? More prints or more greens or blues? Can you tell I have a lot of pink and red fabric to use up? I'm working entirely from my stash so I'm somewhat limited. A big problem I'm having is that the strips need to be 18 inches long. Quite a bit of my fabric stash is not that long or is yardage I'd like to keep for backings. Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Flopsy, Mopsy & Peter

Look what I found next to the hose reel this morning!

Can you see them? Flopsy, Mopsy and Peter Cottontail. Click on the photo to see them better if you need to.

I hope I don't regret being a foster home for baby rabbits! No garden this year and no dog right now but we do have a cat and the occasional sighting of a black snake. Eeek.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The line up

First came this mini wedding ring quilt on its own quilt rack. It was a gift from a ladies group to me for speaking about what I'd learned from making quilts. I probably should have made that a really short presentation because the more I quilt, the more I realize I need to learn a lot more!

This summer, Karen Griska surprised me by sending this cute little cupboard of "quilts" just because I let her borrow a quilting book. It joined the quilt rack on our fireplace mantel.

Last night at the Prairie Quilt Guild's last board meeting for the year, our President Jan gave each of us a one of a kind pincushion. Later as I walked into the house with mine, three people turned, looked and after a pause asked, "What is that!?!" Of course, they are kind of used to me liking things with a bit of personality but this one stumped the guys and my nonsewing daughter.
Personally, I think it looks really good with the wool wallhanging in the background!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

30th. Birthday Signature Quilt

Here it is - my daughter's 30th. birthday signature quilt top!

The quilt blocks were signed by women in our church who also added a favorite Bible verse reference. I embroidered their names and the reference saying a prayer for each one as I worked on their block. At first, I thought the quilt might be a throw or lap size but it grew to be a full size quilt!

Micaela chose the mostly Jo Morton fabrics with a few other reproduction fabrics thrown in. She likes scrappy quilts so I tried to mix up the fabrics as much as possible.

This morning, I delivered the quilt top and backing to the machine quilter. I think it turned out well and am looking forward to seeing it quilted and bound. The machine quilter's waiting list stretches all the way to the end of October so it will be a little wait!

For some reason, our cat, Charlie, took an even more "like" to this quilt and especially to the border strips as I was laying them out. He didn't really care for the Picket Fence quilt I made last year, the RRCB quilt was good enough to sit on but this one, he made himself right at home on!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pedal to the Metal, oh yeah!

Pedal to the metal .... ummm, pedal to the carpet? That just doesn't sound very exciting and hey, it doesn't rhyme either! I guess you all know I don't have a metal floor in the sewing room. Please ignore all fuzzies, threads and ??? on the floor. And yes, I do store my little box of batik fabrics underneath on my sewing desk shelf. What else would I store there?!?

After a week of no time to sew, I'm determined to not be interrupted and to not find something else which needs doing! Plenty of that around here, unfortunately. I'm determined to get the last of the signature blocks pieced and maybe even cut the setting triangles this afternoon.

M&Ms have this effect on me. With all the unfinished projects around here, I need to buy a case or two of M&Ms to keep me on track!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A birthday quilt

Hmmm, I obviously took a blog holiday.

Its been really difficult to get motivated in the heat and drought in Kansas. The other day it was 112 degrees here and everything is drying up (except the weeds). I water my flowers, shrubs, trees and our yard almost daily just to keep them alive. Last night we finally got rain - a little over a half inch - but the straight line winds that hit Wichita missed us. I'm very grateful for that!

OK, what have I been doing? My big quilting project has been and still is the signature quilt I'm making for my daughter's 30th. birthday. She's convinced I won't get it done for another ten years but I have all but one of the blocks embroidered and am now piecing the blocks. My dd chose a scrappy look made with Jo Morton fabrics. The on point blocks will have sashing between them so obviously not even sewn together but here's a sneak preview:

I was surprised how much I'd missed embroidering so there may be another crazy quilt or embroidery project in my future. In fact, I'm pretty sure there will be a traditional crazy quilt start up soon. I have no idea why they attract me but they do.

I'm also still working on my clamshell diamonds and the selvage quilt. One of these days (soon?) there's got to be a finish to show you!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Finally, a blog update

A week ago: "Today I'm going to update my blog."

A few days later: "Today I'm really going to update my blog."

A day later: "I really need to update my blog!"

Yesterday: "I really want to update my blog!!!"

This morning: "I'm going to update my blog today!!!"

Tonight: "NOW!"

I thought that once the quilt show was over things would slow down a little but not so far. I do have hopes of more free time next week though.

My daughter's turning 30 this week and our church's ladies ministry is having a decade party for her. I've been involved with some of the preparation for it and since dd reads my blog, I can't share anything about the party. Ha!

However, I can tell you about the signature quilt I'm making for her. I asked the ladies at church to sign a block and include a favorite Bible verse. So far, 38 blocks have been turned in with just a few left out there. I'm grateful to everyone who wrote large because my embroidery looks pretty good on those blocks and I'm grateful to those who wrote small for providing me with a challenge! My embroidery skills are improving and small cursive letter e's no longer look like blobs. I have over half of the blocks embroidered and will share more about this project later.

Its really hot and dry here in southcentral Kansas but with consistent watering, I've managed to keep my flowers blooming! This is the hibiscus plant I accidentally brought home from my mom's flower garden. The bees love it!

I like sunflowers and I even like daylilies even though they're starting to spread a little too much. I think this fall I need to dig and move a few plants because somehow they're growing nearly on top of each other! The birds help me plant the flower bed each year by dropping in sunflower seeds they get from the bird feeder. I'm no better a gardner than they are because I seem to have planted the tall flowers in front of the shorter ones.

PS - I like sunflowers so much that I deadhead them!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Joy of Paper Foundation Piecing ...

I'm afraid I'm not so joyful about picking the paper foundation off blocks! Its really time consuming. To answer a few questions I know you might have: Yes, I did use newspaper for the paper foundation. I haven't noticed any news print being left behind on the blocks but I did make sure to use older newspaper.

I'm back to working on the selvage spiderweb quilt. Since I took this picture, I've added more blocks and have decided to make it a twin size quilt. Hope to begin sewing it together next week and I may add borders if I can find the right fabric.

Here's another quilted wallhanging I really liked at our recent show. Donna Bradbury pieced it and calls it "Strips & Curves in the Bedroom". Kim Hull did a wonderful job machine quilting it.