Friday, November 29, 2013

The Wrappings

I'm not a Black Friday shopping kind of gal. But the day after Thanksgiving IS a signal to me that, you know, Christmas is on its way! And one little detail I like to include in my prep is some fabric gift bags.

My go-to bag for any season is Jeni/In Color Order's Lined Drawstring Bag. Daughter dear shared a photo of some of her Christmasy bags in a variety of sizes. Believe me, we've made them all.
Last Christmas, the Pillowcase Pouch from Ruby Star Wrapping was also a handy addition to my wrapping repertoire. I made all these, and even included a gusset on Mr. Polar Bear. (Never sewn a gusset? Check out Jeni's new tutorial - adaptable to any bag you make!)
I saw Amy/Diary of a Quilter added a pocket to the front of one of her pillowcase pouches. I love her addition of the pocket to hold a label!
Another handy gift bag is the Small Lined Drawstring Bag by Pam/Threading My Way. Isn't this one by Susanne/Quilt it out darling?
Dear Santa Draw String Bag
So do you make your own wrappings? If so, please share! Meanwhile, I've got to get busy!

Revised to add a link to Wrap it Up! at sew, mama, sew - lots more good gift bag ideas!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

W.i.P. Wednesday

It's kind of ironic - or maybe not - that the last time I did a W.i.P. Wednesday post, our home was entering a stage of unrest, so to speak, in the form of a new flooring project. Finally, finally, by last night the work was done, the furniture moved back where it belonged, and the last box unpacked, just in time for the first Thanksgiving houseguests to arrive. So six weeks later the relief is palpable, as you might expect, and in spite of the upheaval, I'm pleased with what I've managed to get done. Most of the finished projects have had their own post, so I'll just link to those in case you missed them the first go-round.

Finished projects
Mini Quilt Swap project - This was a super fun experiment and my partner seemed to like it. And I'm happy that due to my over-zealousness in crazy-piecing, I have lots of bits to work into another project.

Pillow Trio for mom - These were great fun to make. Mom chose the fabric, the pattern, and the quilting designs. At 20" each, they make a statement, and boy do they look great on her couches.

'For Pleat's Sake' Tote - Totes aren't a frequent project for me, but I had special fabric for this one, and with it being my first use of leather handles, it was a nice adventure. Let's say I've been carrying it every day since.

November bee blocks - Enough said. Enjoyed them and they are all mailed off. Yay.

Matchstick-quilted mug rug - One night I just had to drop everything and do this. Small yet satisfying, I can't wait to do it again.

Lined drawstring gift bag - This probably didn't get a mention in a post, but that doesn't mean it wasn't pretty, pink, and perfect for grandgirl's birthday present.

Current projects
City Sampler Quilt Along - I've managed to keep up with the weekly blocks and they continue to be a pleasant diversion every time. Here's a few of my favorites made during these last few weeks.
block80 City Sampler blocks City Sampler blocks block67

Binary quilt challenge for SMQG - The deadline is just 10 days away, so this is going to be tight. I'm just over one-third of the way into the quilting. Here's a peek of the center panel that is quilted. If I have any moments at all to sneak into the studio over the long weekend, this is what I'll be working on.

Riley Blake challenge - Has not been touched since last W.i.P. Wednesday, but I've got time. (Famous last words, right?)

Upcoming projects
* more City Sampler blocks
* SMQG Christmas swap gift - Also need to have this done by 12/7/13. Yikes.
Polaroid Quilt - On my FAL Q4 list, I'm still hoping to get done by 12/31/13!
* pillow for grandgirl
* another scrappy quilt
* a Nora Clutch

Linking up with W.i.P. Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday at the Table

Tea and I go way back. I remember as a young teen, whenever we went to Canada on vacation, I'd choose a bone china teacup for my hope chest. And in later years, my parents would bring one back for me when they traveled to England. I also received them as gifts now and then, so I have quite a collection now.

As a family, we enjoyed going out to what was called (incorrectly I've learned) "high tea", which in reality was "afternoon tea" - a light meal consisting of fruit, little sandwiches, scones, sweets, and of course, the requisite tea. As daughter dear was growing up, she just loved tea parties, and many of her birthday parties were celebrated in that fashion. I've got quite a little library of tea books still, as well as all the appropriate accoutrements. So you can see, even though I'm mostly a coffee drinker these days, I have a real fondness for tea, especially when accompanied with all the special touches and tasty treats.
So when I was invited to a tea party last weekend, I was intrigued. It was the maiden gathering of a home party venture by Queen Mary Tea Room, which just happens to be the oldest independent tea room in America, conveniently located here in Seattle.

The invite promised:

Enjoy sweet and savory tea fare.
Experience a tea tasting and learn about the wonderful world of tea.
Shop for everything to make your perfect cup of tea with an experienced tea queen.
Find the idea gift for everyone on your holiday list!
Mom and I went and really enjoyed tasting teas (my favorite was a seasonal chestnut), learning a few things (like the high tea inaccuracy), and of course consuming some scrumptious nibbles.
Oh, one fun bit - we got to pick what tea cup we wanted to use, and I chose one unlike anything in my collection - this bright yellow one!
It all kind of took me back . . . like visiting an old friend.

Monday, November 25, 2013

City Sampler Quilt Along :: Blocks 79, 80, & 81

It's been fun to have a few of you succumb this far into the City Sampler Quilt Along and purchase Tula Pink's City Sampler because you've enjoyed the blocks you've been seeing! Awesome. Glad to have you joining in the fun!

This week we continue with the squares section, which I'm really enjoying, especially when it's obvious a fussy-cut or two is in order.

 #80 here is a new favorite. What looks black in my photo is really a dark Kona Coffee (no pun intended!).

 And finally, block #81 marks a momentous occasion. Can you guess what it is?
It would be that moment when my block-stuffed book no longer stays open by itself! A few more weeks and it can take a well-deserved rest!

Linking up with Sew Sweetness.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November Bee Blocks

With {hopefully} moving back into newly-carpeted rooms in our home, houseguests, Thanksgiving, a family gathering, and a short but busy work week, I knew I had to get this month's bee blocks done and now.

Doing the blocks for the Always Bee Learning Bee is almost always first on my list, as the bee mama that month sends us the fabric to use. For November, Leanne/shecanquilt sent some lovely Blitzen and asked us to make Ocean Waves blocks for a Christmas quilt she is planning. These went together really nicely, and Leanne had some good tips in her tutorial regarding bee block seam allowances.
Ocean Waves blocks for Leanne

For That Stash Bee, we made Crown of Thorns blocks for Toni/HoosierToni. They are an awesome 15" finished, and the palette Toni chose is one of my favorites. Love these blocks and their striking scrappiness!
Crown of Thorns block 1/2 for Toni

Crown of Thorns #2 @hoosiertoni #thatstashbee

Mid-Century Modern Bee was given the assignment by Rene/Rene Creates to make Spider Web blocks with neutral low-volume backgrounds and bright modern strings. As much as I wasn't looking forward to these blocks (I thought they were paper-pieced.), I thoroughly enjoyed them! The tutorial was clear, and seriously, sewing straight from my scrap basket was a delight. This technique was so nice to work with and created a super clean finished block. Rene asked us not to sew the quarter-blocks together as she's still debating her layout, so that was kind of a bonus.
Spider Web blocks for Rene 

And last up was a set of blocks I had done once before - Gemstone Blocks for Anna/annaleeah of FAITH Circle. It was getting very late by the time I got to these, but I really wanted to finish up. So I used the advantage of 5" charms for all the prints, which made these blocks super speedy.
Gemstone Blocks for Anna
Yay! Made my goal of getting these done before the hectic week begins!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It Just Keeps Coming . . .

After sharing about cloth napkins twice last week, wouldn't you know I found some more great ones! I went ahead and created a board for them all on Pinterest, just in case you're interested.

Did you catch the tempting feathers quilt along announcement this week? Silly me, I didn't realize before that the pattern involved paper piecing, but I'm still mulling it over. At the very least it'll be fun to follow the flickr group!

I happened upon an awesome post about barn quilts. Here's a photo of one I saw a few months back (more here). If you're as enamored with them as I am, check out the ones over at Art Gallery.

And finally, after seeing Leanne/shecanquilt and Heather/Winding Bobbins show off their matchstick quilting lately (click links to see the awesomeness), I just had to try it, even if only on a swatch. I chose some polka dot linen and variegated gray Aurifil and just went at it! Boy was it satisfying!
trying out a bit of matchstick quilting - I like!
I only made myself a simple little mug rug, but at least I got a feel for it. Kinda anxious to try it on a 'real' project, that's for sure.

Short and sweet this week, but still linking up with Really Random Thursday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

That Thing Called Process

Often when I start a project there comes a moment a few hours in, where I stand back and say to myself, "What was I thinking?" I just asked myself that very question.

So we have a guild challenge going on - a "binary" challenge, where we are to make a two-color quilt. No other criteria beyond that, except it's due on December 7. And yeah, I'm just getting started.

I began with a fat-quarter stack of green Kona cotton solids and picked out a variety of shades.
To start, I cut strips 2" - 3 1/2" wide from each fat quarter, and from there began crazy piecing, using the method in Quilting Modern as a general guide. I kept going until I had a mass approximately 24x28" or about 672 square inches of green craziness.
As a background, I'm using Andover Textured Solid in Tapioca. I cut a piece 16"xWOV to start, and began the process of slicing and inserting 1" - 2" strips of the crazy piecing. Here's the first piece up on my well-used design wall.
I finished transferring what was in my head to my fabric. And here is where I'm asking myself that question. "Uh, what was I thinking?"
I found some fun backing in my stash but some bamboo batt is still on its way, so I have a bit of time to mull over quilting, and basically just stand back and look at it. We'll see where it goes from here. Stay tuned!

Linking up with W.i.P. Wednesday.

Tuesday at the Table

It'll be 80 some days before I report back on this post. Because hubby just started a fresh batch of limoncello, and that's how long it takes to 'brew'.
Though hubby and I definitely enjoyed limoncello when we were in Italy a few years ago, we actually first had it a few year's earlier at Ristorante Limoncello in Boston's Little Italy. We had never heard of it back then, but considering it was the restaurant's specialty and namesake, we gave it a try. And we were hooked.

We came home, searched the web, and the recipe I'm sharing today is our one and only and very similar to what our waiter told us.

  15 thick-skinned lemons
  2 bottles 100-proof vodka -- 750 ml each 
       (The higher alcohol level will ensure that the limoncello won't turn to ice in the freezer.) 
  4 cups sugar
  5 cups water

To begin, you'll need a one gallon glass jar with a lid. Choose thick skinned lemons because they're easier to zest. Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water. Pat the lemons dry and remove the zest. Fill the jar with one bottle of the vodka and, as you remove the zest, add it to the jar. 

After combining the vodka and lemon zest, cover the jar and store it at room temperature in a dark cabinet or cupboard. There's no need to stir: all you have to do is wait. As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly takes on the flavor and rich yellow hue of the lemon zest. 

After about 40 days, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, bring it to a boil, and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Let the syrup cool before adding it to the limoncello mixture, along with the other bottle of vodka. Cover and return to the cupboard for another 40 days. 

Then simply strain the limoncello into bottles and discard the lemon zest. You can store the bottles in a cupboard, but always keep one in the freezer so it's icy cold when you're ready to drink it. Serve in chilled liqueur glasses.
Feel like joining us in making a batch? Then we'll all have something to celebrate when the time is right!

Monday, November 18, 2013

City Sampler Quilt Along :: Blocks 76, 77, & 78

There's been some comments about my seemingly exhaustive Tula Pink stash, and I thought it might interest those of you expressing curiosity just what I'm working with.

To start off, I might as well spill the beans that I actually had zero Tula fabric when I heard of the sew along back in May. So I picked up a bit of 6 or 7 of my favorites found in my local shops, along with Prince Charming and The Birds and the Bees charm packs which I purchased online. I also managed to get into a Tula Pink Charm Square Swap, which was a great addition. And lastly, when Acacia came out not long ago, a fat-eighth pack was a reasonable way to give me even greater variety, and may just be my favorite line yet. Of course that's all been supplemented with stash dots, solids, and other prints when needed. Fair enough?

So here's this week's blocks - one of my favorite batches so far. I'm really liking this 'Squares' section!

Linking up with Sew Sweetness.

Friday, November 15, 2013

And that's not all!

By last night I knew another random post was in order, like now. I must have a second sense for cloth napkins lately, as I came across these Handmade Napkins with Mitered Corners by whipstitch, which also comes with a helpful size chart . . .

And these delightful and surprising Mind Your Manners Napkins from Gingercake, which give me such a smile.

On the topic of quilt labels, I realized the shop where I got mine isn't accepting new orders, but the following shops were recommended on Ig. 
Another option mentioned was that of printing your own on Spoonflower. If you go that route, here's a two-part tutorial by Jaybird Quilts (one/two). I'll update this list as I hear back from a few feelers I have out.

And seeing the new January 2014 issue of American Quilter magazine yesterday made my ho-hum day (read: carpet delay) into a much more fun one.
I knew it was coming, but still, seeing Common Affection in print along with the other modern quilt challenge winners from AQS QuiltWeek Des Moines really gave me a thrill. I think I'll ride on that for a while.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

All Randomy

So I transferred all my purse stuff into my new bag yesterday and loved it! I also loved my coworker's response when I asked how she liked the purse I'd just made. "YOU DID NOT!" I guess you can say I enjoy how non-sewists are so impressed with what we do. And can I just say how glad I am that I do sew? Thanks to my grandma who taught me the basics on her old black Singer. Thanks to 7th grade Home Ec back when it was mandatory, and where I was exposed to more tools and techniques of the trade. And thanks to my parents who fueled my passion by investing in a great machine that served me for the next 30 years. OK, that was a nice deja vu moment wasn't it? haha

But echoing that thought was Malka Dubrawsky/stitchindye's comment on this photo . . . I'm sure glad someone invented quilting. :)

"I'm sure glad someone invented quilting." Me too.

Anyway, it was pretty gratifying when a copy of landed in my mailbox Tuesday, and there was FAITH circle's February 2013 quilt which I had organized and finished as quilter that month. Jan/Feb 2014
I thought it was a nice article about do.Good Stitches. And yeah, I'm honored my photo was included. Click here if you'd like to read more about the quilt, HST Love.

Sometime this week I happened on an Instagram photo of someone mass-quilting potholders out of orphan quilt blocks. Several blocks were on one big piece of batt, and she was quilting one after another. You think I could find it again to share with you? Not. I do know whoever it was said she got the idea from Quilting is more fun than housework... But in looking for it again, I did come across some other very cool potholders, check out these mighty fine potentials here at cat&vee (here's one of my faves all finished!), and then some similarly quilted trivets at the colorful My PoppetSorry I didn't find shareable pics, but it's worth a click through, and if anyone remembers the original post I'm talking about, let me know, ok?!

Also on Ig I was reminded about the cloth napkin tutorial by Made with Moxie. I've always wondered how these wash up, made with quilter's cotton and all, so I chatted with Jill to find out more. She assured me they do just fine, so I definitely want to give these a try. Two fat quarters = two napkins. Sounds like a deal, huh?

Did you see Diane/random or "di"'s sweet hst framed clutch this week? I loved it!
Framed Clutch
The basic pattern is in her Craftsy shop, and a tutorial for the hsts are in her blog post.

Pat Sloan posted on facebook recently: "BIG STITCH - Do you do big stitch quilting? I love how [she] is using thread color to match the chevron, clever and effective! Tell me ..have you tried big stitch quilting? want to? I have an idea in mind for a little sew along.. leave me a comment if YOU want to try big stitch quilting. I generally use Aurifil Quilt Patchwork and Embroidery Threads 12 wt for my big stitching." (The photo shown wasn't shareable either, so here's a fine example from Ariane/arianecrafts.) 
Anyway, I'm curious what Pat has up her sleeve! Considering my hand quilting always looked "big stitch" to me, I'd probably be a natural!

And I'm wondering about quilt labels - do you use them? Here's what mine look like (my name is on the flip-side). 
I'm running low and am considering trying something new. I'd love to hear/see what you use, especially pre-printed ones like this.

OK, I'm randomed out, so I think I'll stop here and . . . link up with Random Thursday . . . Have a good day!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

City Sampler Quilt Along :: Blocks 73, 74, & 75

Well, life has stood still as far as home-renovation progress goes, since last Thursday when our new carpeting was rolled out, just to find a flaw too large to ignore. So furniture is still piled up around us, and up until last night, the sewing projects I'd 'packed' when this adventure all began had kept me going. Until it came time to do this week's City Sampler blocks. Thankfully the box with my Tula fabric was relatively accessible. My solids? I have no idea. So I had to get just a little creative with what was close at hand.

#73 was obviously easy peasy, and I'm really happy with my tree block.

#74 got a switch-up, swapping the solid and print of the book's block. Fine by me. And I like that it reminds me of a Polaroid block tipped on its side.

I was thrilled with the bits of pink I found to pair with the Tula print for the last of the week's blocks. In fact I really enjoyed all 3 and think they will be great additions to my growing collection.

Now three-quarters of the way through the book . . . I'm feeling pretty good about that!

Linking up with Sew Sweetness.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Quilted Trio

Once upon a time, mom, daughter dear, and I happened upon a stash sale, the looks of which none of us had seen before! We all found some goodies to bring home and at the time, mom knew exactly what she wanted made out of her stack - some new pillows for her family room.
Michele D'Amore's Habitat & Bold and Beautiful + Kona Sweet Pea

Fast forward 8 months and we finally settled on a pattern and some quilting designs and got the 20" pillow forms purchased. The pillow below was our initial inspiration, but note that this is actually the back of a pillow by PatchworkPottery. But we loved the stripeyness, the quilted goodness, and indeed, the tie back.
Crane Star Pillow - back
With plans for 3 pillows, I used the same mix of fabrics on each pillow, but in a different order.
Each also got a different quilting treatment, all with Aurifil 50wt #2326 (tan, though it looked more goldish to me).

 The third pattern actually got the addition of #2310 (light beige) as well . . .
And the backs? All three got a faced envelope closure with matching ties.
With a matching dotty binding to finish them up, I'm pretty sure they'll suit mom just fine. Better late than never, right?

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday.