Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A little more Christmas...and first felted pieces

Here are a few more holiday photos. My brother-in-law Richard has a new orange kitten named Tigger. Doesn't he look like he belongs on a December calendar here?
Soon after that shot, he began eating the pinecones. He and CJ spent most of their time chasing and teasing each other.
We had a new great-nephew this year. Here is my BIL ,Grandpa Grady, with his son Philip's baby, Zach. He was a very friendly baby who looks like he is also very well-fed!

Yesterday I finally started playing with my new toy, the Baby Lock embellishing machine. I started out with a small pink felt square and added wool roving and Angelina, yarns, and sari ribbon.

It is great to just move the piece under the machine, and never have to worry about starting and ending threads! Later I added a piece of sheer fabric with gold spots, and burned some of it off with the heat gun. That sort of finished the edges of the felt.
I found an issue of Quilting Arts with some felted backgrounds for landscapes, so I tried a couple of those. You use netting on the back and top, layer yarns and roving in between, safety pin, and needle-felt. These were fun and could be some future postcards.

Finally, I got a piece of lime-green fleece and used most of my pile of thread, ribbon and yarn bits. It ended up looking sort of like a strange-colored forest. The fleece really got distorted, though. Probably too stretchy to make a good base.
On all of these pieces, I liked the back side as well as the front. Better even, on this green one!

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Things Quilty

I told Santa I only wanted one thing for Christmas this year...but it is a very nice thing! This is a Babylock 12-needle embellishing machine. I have not had a chance to play with it yet...

but now I have these...
which came from JoAnn's and from Mary Jo's. Lots of lovely soft wool roving to play with.

And for months I have been saving a bag of these at each of my sewing areas They are bits of thread, Angelina, yarn, and other various fibers. I have lots of these ready to be part of some future project.

The nice folks at Carolina Sew-and-Vac gave Santa a bag of this gorgeous rayon thread when he picked up the embellishing machine. I found it in my stocking on Christmas morning.

And here is a great gift for the machine stitcher...the little bendable sewing light. It attaches to the sewing machine. This was on my wish list at Quilts Like Crazy in Wake Forest and was a very appreciated gift from Dave and Emily. When the CyberBee met a couple weeks ago, I saw many of these being used by the girls who participated in the sew-in.
When I go to Mary Jo's Cloth Store, one of the first places I check is the Fat Quarter table. They had a great variety this time. Most of the FQ' s there are only $1.25, but not the batiks.

My niece Melinda sent me a link to the baby nursery bedding that she likes. So I looked for some fabrics that might work for a home-made version. She would prefer to have more lavender than pink.Anyway, I am ready to play! My alma mater (North Carolina State) has a bowl game this afternoon, so I will probably be watching football on the tube instead of sewing. But do you think I will need to start a new blog...All Things Felty?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Final Project Reveal: Pillow Shams

Back to blogging after a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas with our son Dave and DIL Emily. Then, we arrived back in town Sunday afternoon after a nice trip to visit the McBrayer clan in western North Carolina. And my wonderful DSH (Dear Sweet Husband) agreed to stop at Mary Jo's Cloth Store in Gastonia, NC for some whirlwind shopping on the way. The shopping mall where it is located is being renovated, and the entrance to the store has changed, but they are still there...and busy as always. I picked up some FQ's, some packages of wool roving in every color for my new embellishing machine, and a few fabrics that I hope will work for my niece Melinda's baby nursery.

Now that all my Christmas surprises have been given away, I can show what else I finished recently.

Here is the wedding quilt that I made for son Dave and wife Emily as a wedding present a couple years ago. I heard a little bird say that they would love to have some quilted shams to match...

Luckily, I still had many of the white fabric squares, some of them already pieced together. I used one of my pillow shams as a guide to the size. After quilting the top to the same wool batting and a muslin backing, I sewed them to the back fabric and top-stitched about one and a half inches inside the edge. The quilted feathers are mostly from the book Floribunda Quilting by Nichole Webb.

Isn't it fun to be able to show all the secret surprises we have all been working on?

Merry Christmas!

At our house, we are ready for Santa to fill the stockings...

Those are not real kitty-cats, but they seem content to bask in the glow of the gas logs!

And we have lots of surprises under the tree for tomorrow morning. One of them looks like just the right size package to be my needle-felting embellishment you think I have been good enough all year?
Wishing those of you in the cold, snowy areas a safe and warm Christmas and holiday. It was cold enough here a couple days ago to freeze up the fountain in our little garden pond, but it is warming up today. I have been outside in just a light long-sleeve shirt. And it looks like we are dreaming of a wet Christmas.
But, I wish everyone a time of peace, joy, and love. And may you carve out a little time for yourself to sew, quilt, knit, draw, read, or do whatever makes your heart sing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Another Reveal- Quilted Tote Bag

Okay, breathing big sigh of relief that huge family gathering has come and gone. Everything went well, and it was great to see everyone. My aunt and cousin Lisa recently relocated from Alaska back to Virginia, and they were able to join us this year. My kids all stayed the whole weekend. I gave the second of my Great Big Tote Bags to my sister Katy.

For all my blogging friends who alter/dye/paint fabric, I used a piece of color-discharged fabric on the back of this bag. I think I must have used a Clorox bleach pen, because I had drawn some designs on the fabric. I can't remember, because I discharged a lot of fabric years ago after seeing an article on different techniques in American Quilter. I quilted in some big loopy flowers.

This tote is a bound quilt that is folded in half and seamed up the sides by hand. Then you sew across the bottom corners to form a bottom of the bag, and I added a covered bottom piece attached with Velcro.

Do you remember the dreaded double-knit polyester quilt? I spent many hours sewing up or patching over the parts that had dry-rotted during its decades in a plastic bag. It was bound and delivered to my sister-in-law, who was very happy with it despite it being kind of stretchy and lumpy. It has great sentimental value for her since her grandma made it.

Here are a couple of my favorite shots from the weekend. The family patriarch once again volunteered to carve the turkey. Actually, two turkeys, deep-fried!
My niece Melinda (on the right) and her brother's wife Robin are both expecting. A third niece, Rachel, is due at the same time as Melinda, but she lives in Tennessee and could not make it to the party. We should have lots of babies to pass around next year. :)

And there were lots of little ones running around this year. My dad gave my granddaughter Lily a sketch pad and some washable markers, and she had a mini-art lesson at the lap of the expert.
He asked what she wanted him to draw, and she quickly replied "A Mermaid." So she scored a nice Pete Turner original to take home.

My father is staying with me until Wednesday, when he will travel to my sister's near Greensboro. He lived in nearby Cary for forty years until relocating to the North Carolina mountains, so he is enjoying some visits with former neighbors and friends today. And I am going to try to get my Christmas cards ready to mail.

And enjoy a quiet day. :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Little Angels are Coming to Town

Tomorrow is the day we have been waiting children and grandchildren will all be here!

I can't wait for Avery and Lily to see the house decorated for Christmas. The snowmen are waiting for them...
Santa might be hanging around in the kitchen... and dining room...
I like to put a child-friendly nativity scene down low where they can touch it and move the figures around. They are just plastic, for that very purpose. This is the first year I have had the china cabinet we bought in the mountains.

Did you enjoy the huge full moon last week? Here you can see it low in the sky to the left of our house.

We can ride around and see the neighbors' Christmas lights...
And then on Saturday, forty-two of our relatives will be joining us for dinner!

This will probably be my last post until Monday. I think I might be a little busy for the next few days!

But, please check out Selvage Blog today. I got a nice nod from Karen, who provided the instructions for the Great Big Tote Bag. Thanks, Karen!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sharyn Craig Challenges

Another quilt shown at our CyberBee meeting last Saturday was Alice's Sharyn Craig Challenge that she made with members of her quilt bee.

Sharyn Craig is a very prolific quilter, teacher, and author of quilting books. She visited our guild several years ago and got many of us inspired to take orphan blocks and make them into finished quilts with various sashing and setting techniques. She also was in a televised appearance, I think on Simply Quilts, where she described a challenge that she set for her quilting bee.

Each member was to make the same block, using one fabric that was provided, but choosing all other fabrics to suit her taste. In six months, the members would exchange their blocks. In another six months, they would all complete a quilt top using their blocks.

The CyberBee had a very successful Sharyn Craig challenge several years ago, in which I participated. We started with a Moda bittersweet print fabric in white, orange, and russet. The two project chairs chose a star-shaped pattern, which turned out to be very difficult to piece because it was printed in a smaller size than original. Let me tell you, it was not easy getting those points to match!

Here are some of the different star blocks that we excitedly exchanged. (These are from my quilt, already quilted.)

They look totally different in the different color schemes and with different parts of the block highlighted. A couple people said they never even saw the "star" in the design.

The best part was when we got together to reveal the quilt tops. Here is where each quilter really made their quilts individual.

Holly enlarged the original block to make a center medallion, added applique of bittersweet flowers, and log cabin blocks in the border. She was a big winner at the North Carolina State Fair with this outstanding quilt.

When I saw the browns, rusts, oranges and greens, I decided my quilt would be a wedding gift for my son Bryson and his wife, who were married in October. Those were their colors. I added a spinning star for the center medallion, using fabrics that I intended to "glow". I also added a smaller spinning star in the border. The remaining SCC blocks were made into pillows for their king-size bed.

Here is one with lots of additional applique and piecework by Jean. I think some of those blocks may have been from a CyberBee row-by-row.

Janice also made a beautiful applique center medallion for her quilt. Some of the flowers have thread-painting. It was not quite finished in this photo.Part of the challenge was to find a setting that would work for fourteen blocks. Many creative settings were utilized. Sharyn's books, such as Setting Solutions, were a great help.

Here is Margaret's quilt top.

Susan's whole quilt top resembles the original block.

Here is Tess's quilt.

Jenny's quilt went together beautifully with extra sashings around each block. (Obviously taken at the group "reveal" meeting... don't you love all the white tennis shoes?

And Dorothy's.

And Carolyn's setting was probably the most unique.

If you have a group of quilting friends, you might want to challenge yourselves a la Sharyn Craig. We had a blast doing this, and really got some great quilts out of those blocks.