Tuesday, December 29

Best of 2015

Cheryl, of Meadow Mist Designs, is holding a Best of 2015 Linky Party this week.  Be sure to join in the fun!  The linky is live through January 2nd and is chock full of the most wonderful Quilty Goodness.

It wasn't easy to choose, but here are my five favorites from the projects I worked on in 2015.  You can click on each picture if you want to know more and it will take you to the original post.

My favorite adult quilt: "Serenity Now!" - a design my son Sam chose, based on a painting by Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings.  It was made with shot cottons.

"Serenity Now!"


My favorite children's quilt: "Elephant Parade" a pattern from Lorna McMahon of Sew Fresh Quilts

"Elephant Parade"


My favorite baby quilt: "Little Totoro" featuring Totoro appliqued on Connie Kresin's "Blue Sapphire" pattern: 

"Little Totoro"


My favorite project: Modern Mermaids Thread Catcher & Pincushion with appliques inspired by Heather Ross' Calypso Mermaids fabric.

I think I would have picked the Charly & Wilbur mug rug I made for Ruth too, except that was my most recent post and I imagine you all have seen enough of that by now.  

Modern Mermaids Thread Catcher


And last, but not least, my most viewed post, by far: 
Delectable Mountains - Paper Pieced Miniature Quilt - Four Free Patterns and a Tutorial

It's interesting to look back and see where you've been.  I hope to see you at the party if you take a stroll down memory lane yourself!

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Friday, December 11

Charly & Wilbur - a Puppy Mug Rug for Ruth

When Ruth and I decided to do a mug rug swap together, I had a lot of fun "stalking" her and figuring out what to make for her.  If you've ever spent time at Charly & Ben's Crafty Corner, then you probably can already guess what I made for her.  :)  

Charly & Wilbur, going for a spin in their red wagon

I would have been hard pressed to have picked any other subject than her two loves: Charly, the spunky Jack Russell terrier & Wilbur, the soulful Basset hound. Luckily for me, Ruth has participated in Pets on Quilts at Lily Pad Quilting for a few years and there were a lot of great photos on her blog, so I was able to keep my plans a complete secret. 

We had decided on 6" x 9" mug rugs, but mine turned out a little larger at 7" x 10", if I recall correctly.  

Here is my preliminary sketch.  I had initially thought I would do them wearing aviator goggles.  I decided to forgo that part, as their faces were too cute to hide.  I had to change Charly's legs so she could sit in the wagon and hold onto the handle.  After all, a Jack Russell has to steer.  

Sketch of the pups

I don't know which is truer colors, the first photo at the top, taken outdoors, or this indoor shot.  I took the pictures rather hurriedly. The outdoor shot, in natural light, is definitely clearer.  

Charly & Wilbur

I knew Ruth would be super generous, because that is how she is, so I made sure to include some fun extras in her package.  She has plans to do a Polaroid quilt project, so I sent along a couple dozen of the center squares and some pretty feather fabric.

Ruth's Swap package - ready to send to her


For those of you who like to scrutinize whenever I make something with applique (ahem...Maryse LOL) Yes, I used my no-fray technique for the appliques.  

We've had quite a bit of excitement this last week, because the AQS editorial team let me know they have started editing my upcoming book Crafted Applique'..... New Possibilities  So now I feel a lot more confident that it is really going to happen!  (Plagued with insecurities much?)  It is due out on April 12th, 2016 and is now available for pre-orders.  

Adriana, the proofreading editor said that the cover tested very positively with their marketing department.  :)  So, it looks like this really will be the cover, which I'm very happy about!  It's a shot of one of the projects, but I'm not sure if I can say what it is, so will keep it a secret for now.  

Crafted Applique'.... New Possibilities


I probably won't be posting again until Cheryl's Best of 2015 Linky Party, which runs from December 26th til January 2nd, at Meadow Mist Designs.  I hope to see you all there!  

Until then, I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a happy holiday season!  

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Sunday, December 6

Mug Rug Swap with Ruth - Part 1

This summer, Ruth, of Charly & Ben's Crafty Corner and I decided it would be fun to do a mug rug swap with each other.  And it was!  

Doing a private swap is a wonderful way to start getting to know a quilting friend better.  I really enjoyed going through more of Ruth's blog than I had seen previously.  (I was on the hunt for photos of her two favorite pals - Charly and Wilbur.)  Ruth is such a warm and friendly person, a lot of fun, and a very talented quilter and if you don't know her yet, hop over and pay a visit! 

Today I'm sharing the two wonderful mug rugs that Ruth made for me. Yes, she went all out and sent two, along with a whole bunch of other goodies.  Ruth does not do swaps half way, so be prepared for that if you are ever her swap partner!

This first mug rug is so touching to me.  Ruth got her inspiration from an email conversation we had about how nice it would be to be able to sit and have a cup of tea and sew together. She did hand sewn blanket stitching around her appliques, embroidered the words, and finished it with playful, swirly quilting.  

Tea Break Mug Rug - by Ruth Bourke

Did you see that she even quilted a little bee on there?  Here's the back view.  Love Ruth's Wilbur-the-Basset-Hound labels!

Here is Ruth's second mug rug... which is ever so pretty!  She did a wee Ohio Star.  Is it called a Limerick Star when you make it Ruth?  Actually... if there isn't already, there should be a quilt block named a Limerick Star.  Don't you all think that would be a great name?  The quilting and patchwork Ruth did is ever so tiny and sweet!  I love it!  

Star Mug Rug - by Ruth Bourke
I won't dare use these as mug rugs.  They are up on my wall in my sewing area so I can see them every day!  

And last of all, look at what else was in Ruth's package:  Quilt Now Magazine, a pin tin, fat quarters, and Cadbury Chocolate!  Like I said, Ruth is not a halfway sort of swap partner, LOL.  Thank you for my beautiful mug rugs and for such a fun time Ruth!

Next time, I'll share pictures of what I sent to Ruth. :)

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Tuesday, November 24

Ad Hoc Improv - Exploring Fabric Possibilities

This week with I'm doing something I've never done before: writing a new post before I've finished reciprocating and replying to the previous one.  That makes me feel a bit guilty, but Tuesday is the monthly Ad Hoc Improv Quilt Group link up at Sew Slowly and Fret Not Yourself and I don't want to miss it.  I will still catch up with everyone who commented last time, I promise. 

If you have been doing any improvisational sewing this month, be sure to head over to Ann & Kaja's blogs and join their Ad Hoc Improv linky party.  Even just for the reading pleasure, it's worth a look. People's posts are always so thought provoking and inspiring.  This is a really fun group!

I haven't made much progress on my Improv quilt, except that I did a preliminary fabric pull and have been exploring the possibilities, by pinning fabrics to the wall.  I'm playing around with the idea of creating two quaking aspens on the left side of the quilt.  I'm pretending that they are lit up because of the glow from a campfire, and standing out against a starry night sky.  I have a few more ideas of where to go after that, but will take one step at a time.  This is what was up on my design wall:

Frankly, I'm a bit stalled here.  I thought maybe I'd do the leaves and bushes in improv triangles.  Or maybe random squares and rectangles.  Some of those gold fabrics seem too bright, so I was thinking about over-dyeing them.  That's Carrie Bloomston's Indigo Stars fabric in the background.  The stars are represented by little bits of paper, like they were torn from the pages of a book.  Less of it will show by the time I do the bushes in the foreground and the leaves.  I'm concerned about making things too chaotic, because I really want this quilt to communicate a sense of peace.  But it will also look a bit like altered art when I'm done... I plan to add an excerpt from an Edmund Spencer poem.  All these elements and still a sense of peace... maybe that's too tall of an order. 

What do you think? Is the starry background too much?  And would randomly shaped triangles look better for the leaves and bushes, or rectangles and squares?  This is a learning process for me and I welcome your thoughts.   

Thanksgiving and all the preparation seems to take a very large chunk of time out of this week.  We also had a baby shower for our daughter Kaitie, which Alina & Gonzo drove in for, and our son Sam is home with us all week. It has been wonderful though.  I'm sure many of you are just as busy, but I would love to know what your plans are for the holiday (or the week, if you are not celebrating the holiday in the U.S.)  Also, I decided to wait to share Ruth's Mug Rug Swap with you next week, when hopefully we'll all have a little more free time.  

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Also linking this post to Cath's Design Board Monday at Bits 'n Bobs - which is open 'til Sunday!

Friday, November 20

On Pins and Needles with Sandra, Part 2

In my last post, I shared about the pincushion swap Sandra and I did together and showed you the beautiful pincushion she made for me.  Today, I'd like to show you the starfish pincushion I made.  When I was searching for ideas, Sandra had just returned from a trip to the seashore and she mentioned that she loves the sea.  So I chose a seaside theme for her gift.  I forgot to photograph the beachy batik jelly roll and the crabby card I sent along with the pincushion to Ireland, but you can see them on her blog, Studio Sew of Course, if you pop over there for a visit.  

Here is the starfish pincushion: 

Starfish Pincushion - top view

The top looks like it is beaded, but it isn't.  Those are little glass headed applique pins, in light and dark blue, which I thought would be much more useful.  I like to stuff my pincushions with cured sawdust.  It makes them very firm, gives them a nice heft, and holds the pins in very well.  If you've ever used an old red tomato pincushion, that's what they are stuffed with.   

Starfish Pincushion - belly up

The starfish sits a little bit off the surface of the table and its arms are curved.  It has a really deep, chubby shape, which I liked a lot for holding pins.  I used a very well done Starfish Plushie - pattern and tutorial, which I bought from Metroidhat on Etsy.  The pattern is for a plush toy, but I just resized it to make a smaller starfish.

Have any of you tried doing a private swap with other quilters and crafters?  I know some of you have, because I've seen some wonderful posts about it!  Swaps are a great way to get to know your blogging friends better. "Stalking" them, to fine tune your gift to them (it sounds sinister, but isn't) is a lot of fun.  Personally, I much prefer the private swaps and think that they are Head and Shoulders over the big public ones... No flakes!    (Ha ha)    


Sarah, who blogs at Cedar Fork Stitches, created another beautiful quilt for Moda Bake Shop, called "Prairie Rose Garden".  It's such a pretty design - perfect for both modern and traditional fabrics. Her tutorial is excellent and she uses a really neat construction technique when she chains stitches, called the web method, which was something very new to me.  Definitely worth checking out!    

When I mentioned that her enthusiasm made me want to give the Moda Crossweave fabrics a try, she sent me some in the mail, along with some pretty orange gingham.  Such a sweet and thoughtful thing to do... Thank you Sarah!  :)  And that Moda crossweave fabric is everything you said it would be!  LOL

Sarah's Sweet Surprise

That's all for today.  Next time I'll show you a mug rug swap I did with Ruth of Charly and Ben's Crafty Corner, which was also a great lot of fun!   

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Tuesday, November 17

On Pins and Needles with Sandra, Part 1

Not long ago, Sandra from Studio Sew of Course and I did a pincushion swap with each other.  

Want to know what the best part of it was?  We were friendly before deciding on a swap but during the process we became friends.  This is one of the things I love most about quilt blogging: the connections you make with so many wonderful people.  We live far apart (she, in Ireland and I, in the United States) and we would never have gotten to meet otherwise.   

This is the pincushion Sandra made for me:
Mini Dresden Pincushion, made by Sandra Jansen

Pretty amazing, isn't it?  Isn't that the sweetest, tiniest Dresden applique' you've ever laid eyes on?  The whole pincushion fits easily in the palm of your hand.  You can't even see Sandra's applique stitches without the camera blowing them up all macro, and even then, only barely. I love the cotton lawn against the dark grey fabric. (Shot cotton. I think.)  Then there are the lovely Sashiko like embroidery stitches she did along the side...  Ah, can you tell that I fell in love with it? 

Here are some more shots, as well as pictures of the other wonderful goodies Sandra sent along in her package.     

Top view of Mini Dresden Pincushion, made by Sandra Jansen

Sandra sewed a sweet cotton lawn hexie on the back

Oodles of fun in her gift box!

I felt very blessed indeed! Thank you for being such a fun swap partner Sandra!

Next post, I'll share the pincushion that I sent to Sandra. :)


As a farewell to my favorite season, I'll leave you today with some photos I took while on autumn walks.  Things change so much in a few short weeks.  Now the branches are mostly bare, there is a nip in the air, and it gets dark before Jim gets off work. 

Adventures Ahead for Penny!
A Peaceful Place
Milkweed fulfilled
Wild Rose Hips
Golden Days

My Pumpkin with her Pumpkin... and Penny

This year I am actually looking forward to winter, because our first grandchild is due to be born in January.  Kaitie is a glowing mom-to-be, although she feels more like it's a nuclear glow. LOL... but the excitement over finally meeting baby Eden James is building! 

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