Sunday, June 27, 2010

Can you tell I like WOOL?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I LOVE hand work. I love sitting at my sewing machine and making beautiful things...but I love when I get to the binding or something that requires me to sit with a needle and thread. That is why I love working with wool. It is relaxing, rewarding and very enjoyable. One of my favorite stores is Primitive Gatherings. I have never been to the actual store yet but have purchased from them at the Quilt Show in Rosement as well as online. They dye their own wool and it is beautiful. They also have fabulous patterns and books. It is a must see!!! This little table mat is one of their kits. If you ever plan on trying wool felt, the best way to see if you like it is to buy a prepackaged kit that comes with the instructions and the wool. They have a large assortment of kits to get you started.

The colors in this table mat are beautiful. You could even substitute the squares with colors pertaining to a certain holiday. Use reds, greens and creams for Christmas or orange, rust and gold for fall.

Does this picture show my passion for wool? I think so! These are just a few of the pieces I have worked on. Some of them will become pin cushions. Others are waiting for me to decide what I want them to be!!

These cute little candle mats are fun to make up as well. They are made by Bareroots and are adorable. They are the perfect size for a small votive candle. Some stores sell them in a kit with the wool included.

I also made a wool wall quilt where every block was a different flower. It took alot of time but the end result was worth it. It's one of my favorite pieces!

This is a close-up of the daisy block. Each block was accented with french knots in some way, which really gave them dimension.

If you've never worked with wool, I suggest you give it a try. There are many great tutorials out there on how to do the buttonhole stitch around it, how to prepare it, etc. There are also tons of patterns from the very easy to the very hard! Pick something fun and simple to start and I can guarantee you that you will be hooked!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Half Square Triangles - You are so pretty!!!

I recently participated in a half-square triangle (HST) exchange with my daughter-in-law Diana. The theme was patriotic given the time of year. The rule was to sew a light and dark fabric together on an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper with grid marks and sewing lines. They then get cut apart into these perfectly stitched HSTs. Each sheet yielded 8 HSTs. I made a total of 21 sheets so I ended up with 168. It's fun to get them back and see all the different color combinations that were used. It's a great way to get lots of variety for your scrappy quilt. Let me tell you though...the cuttimg apart and tearing the paper off of them is not the most exciting thing to do but the end result is worth the pain of it. Below is a picture of my HSTs with paper on them and my little scrap container to catch all the paper that is torn off of the blocks.

Here they are all pressed and ready to go! Since the color theme was patriotic (blues/reds/tans/golds), I decided to sort them into two red and one blue. That way I could alternate them when I sewed them into blocks.

I chose the Depression Block for my quilt. When you use a light and dark on your HSTs you get a fantastic layout of color that forms a diamond in the center.

Here is a sneak peek at what this beautiful quilt will look like when it's sewn together. I can't wait to finish the rest of the blocks.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Don't get me started!

Sewing is like reading a good book. Once you start, you can't stop!!! My entire week felt like sewing was involved in some way every single day. It started out with an all day sewing marathon with my daughter-in-law Di. First things first....we set up our sewing machines in my living room so that we could "spread out" and boy did we. I think we covered every square inch of dining room, living room and entry way!!! But when you have a sewing marathon, it's important to have everything out and ready to go! So here is my trusty Pfaff Performance 2054 ready to work it's magic.

And here is Di's brand, spankin' new Janome Memory Craft 6600. It even cuts her thread for her! It is fabulous and is very lucky to have found a home with Di! She is a master sewer and master sewers want the best!!! It purrs like a kitten when it sews...but then so do Di and I! :-) Can't help it! It makes me "hoppy."

Here's Di working at her machine and using our trusty painter's tape to sew a straight line. What would we ever do without our painter's tape. Best invention of all times. Helps you sew a straight line and doesn't leave residue on your fabric! Perfect!
Here is the living room set up with our machines and our Sew Ezi tables. Best sewing table you could ever own!

So here is the result of our first day of sewing. Two very cute Hobo Bags from a book called "Journeys" by Whimsicals. We have sewn their purses before and their patterns are cute and unstructured. Here they are finished up and ready to use for summer! The side tabs that are actually the handles have a piece of elastic and a button on the side. Very, very cute little bag...and very summery!

Our next sewing day was to make a "String Around the Collar" wallet by Tammy Tadd Designs. Di has become the master at this wallet as she has already made quite a few. She has some very lucky friends who have been the recipients of this fantastic wallet. Let me tell you it wasn't easy. But it wasn't hard, if that makes sense. Tammy Tadd's instructions are fabulous and extremely clear. But it requires lots of cutting and measuring so it was more time consuming than hard. But the end result is fantastic.

Di even added her own design element and put a key hook inside so that we have a place to hang our keys when we are shopping. Fabulous idea.

The pattern also called for an open pocket on the back for a cell phone. Di thought it would be better to have it close so we designed a different outside pocket with a flap. Bingo!!!!

Sooooooo...... since my machine was out all week AND my downstairs was still a mess from our sewing marathons, I decided to try making the larger hobo bag from the Journeys bag. I am in love with this bag and the unstructured way it hangs.

Next on my agenda for this week....clean up my mess, vacuum up threads, put away fabric, take all my supplies back up to my "real" sewing room.......then start my next project!!!! I know, it's an illness. But it's one that requires no medication but LOTS of therapy!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

"I So Hoppy"

I had to start this post with the words that make my heart warm! It has nothing to do with sewing...yet everything to do with sewing! I will explain.

The other day my Mom (Addison's Great Grandmother) and I were sitting at Addison's little table in her bedroom doing puzzles with her. We must have sat there at least a 1/2 hour while Addison stood next to us working the pieces. All of a sudden Addie put her arms around me, patted my back and said "I So Hoppy." It was a moment that melted my heart. Just thinking how lucky this little Addie was to have both her Grandma AND Great Grandma sitting with her!

So how does this statment tie to sewing? Well, other than my wonderful family and grandchildren, sewing makes me "So Hoppy" as well. It is a love that I have had for almost 47 years. And what is even more special about this statement is that my Mom, who I was sitting at the table with and sharing a moment with Addie, was the person who taught me this special, wonderful skill. It was because of her that I sew. It was because of her that I think I'm pretty good at it. Maybe it was all those times she would make me rip things out until they were right. And for that reason, I put in a mean zipper!!!! She was also the one who taught me to knit, crochet, and embroider but that's for another post!! She is one talented woman and I know that she is "so hoppy" that she was able to pass her talents down to me.

I can't wait until Addie is old enough to start sewing with me. It won't be long. But in the meantime, my sewing apprentice is my daughter-in-law Diana. I really shouldn't even call her an apprentice because she has taken off with her sewing skills. I keep asking her if she has sewn her whole life and has just not told me...she is THAT good!!! Her work is something like you would see from someone who has been sewing..say 47 years!!!! It is phenomenal to say the least. If I could only get her to admit it! Whenever she makes a mistake, I always tell her that even experienced sewers make mistakes sometimes. Like the time I was quilting a piece of fabric and quilted a scrap to the back of it. Or when I pin a purse together wrong, or rip out a bad seam. Or mend my son Adam's pants pocket and sew it to the back of the leg so he can't put them on! It happens to the best of us. I always make sure to show her my mistakes so that she knows it has nothing to do with "inexperience!"

Here is a sneak peek at our latest sewing marathon day. The first two pictures will explain why Di and I make great sewing partners! See this table full of fabric? We were trying to decide what we wanted to make our purse out of. Now mind you we had TONS of choices. We just couldn't decide and stood there for the longest time trying to decide. We both looked at each other after lamenting forever and said "let's go shopping." So we headed to the fabric store to buy MORE fabric! We are sick I know!

Here is what we ended up with. Isn't is pretty? We both wanted something bright, summery and fun! And another thing we are alike in...we picked the same colors, only different prints!

Fabric chosen...check. Machines set up....check. Cutting board out...check. Ironing board up...check! We are ready to go!

Stay tuned................................................

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Outside my window

Over the past three days I have watched with excitement as this beautiful nest was being built outside my office window! The effort that this bird put into this little nest was amazing. She must have made 100 different "trips" to this Rose of Sharon bush to drop off a load of "lumber" for the new home her and her babies will inhabit. I watched her bring twigs, pieces of corn husk, wet leaves, and even a piece of plastic that I'm sure she found laying in the yard. At first it was just a bunch of stuff piled on top of each other. But then she started to perform her magic and carefully weaved everything together into this beautiful piece of work.

I couldn't get a very clear picture of Mama bird through my screen window but was able to run outside when she left for another load to get a close up of the nest. Beautiful work this Mama did. Of course I don't know anything about birds so I have no idea what kind it is but I am so excited to watch her as she sits on her eggs in anticipation.

I'm so happy that she picked MY Rose of Sharon to make her new home in.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Strawberry Jam at 55

Thanks to my very talented daughter-in-law, I finally learned how to make strawberry jam! And I must say it is fabulous! I couldn't believe that I actually made it. We spent the morning on Thursday picking strawberries at Mary's Berries in Momence, Illinois. They were the tastiest strawberries I have ever had. And I must admit that since I made the jam, I have had it on toast every morning since then. If I keep this up, I may be in trouble! Doesn't my toast look yummy? I can't believe how easy it was. If you are interested in trying your hand at making your own, just check out The Apple Pie Gal and you will get all the help you will need to make your own. Believe me, if I can do it, you can too.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Addie's Newest Sweater

I never know what to work on first. I love quilting and sewing but I also love knitting. I try switching back and forth between my two loves. This little Tiny Tea Leaves Cardigan is my knitting love right now. I am making it for my granddaughter Addison. I am using a beautiful yarn called Dream in Color Butter Peeps that I have had in my stash for ages. It feels good to actually make a sweater with yarn I already have. Yeah me!!! Here are pictures of it prior to sleeves being put on. I am hoping to finish the sleeves tonight so that I can get it blocked and off to Addie so it is hanging in her closet and ready for fall. She will look so cute in this sweater with her little boyfriend jeans and a cute white turtleneck!!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Is there EVER enough time?

Why is it that there is never enough time in a day? I have so many great ideas in my head that are just waiting to emerge! Even though it seems like I get alot done, I really don't feel like I do. One thing I know for sure is that I have loved not working and being able to enjoy my family. I spend lots of time with my daughter Jen and my two grandbabies Addison and Blake. I have spent time with Ryan and Meagan while they search for a new home. And I have been sewing with my daughter-in-law Diana AND got my first lesson today on making homemade jam from the beautiful strawberries we picked on Thursday.

Of course I can't forget to mention my numerous quilts in progress and my two sweaters that are on the needles. Oh, and I read a great book called "Heart of the Matter" by Emily Giffin. It was a fabulous read!!!

I guess when I see it in writing, I really DO get alot done!!! But I still need more time!!!