Monday, December 14, 2015

Baby Quilt- Finished!

I finally finished applying the binding to a baby quilt, and it is ready to go to little Carter over the holidays!

I made a label and colored it with Tsukineko inks.  I like to add fabric strips to the cotton label to coordinate with the quilt fabrics.

It is from a book of quilt label designs that I have had since the mid-90's.

This quilt was last seen in my post of July 16, before we left for Canada and later Florida.  It was all quilted, but needed some kind of binding.  The quilt top is a whole-cloth "cheater" quilt that looks like patchwork.  It is soft as a cloud!  To make it even more cuddly, I used Minky dot fabric on the back.  

How to bind it became an issue.  I wanted the edges to be just as soft as the rest of the quilt, so I used leftover strips from trimming the backing.  

Oh, my!  It looked like a fluff war had taken place in my sewing room!  The fabric shredded like crazy when I cut the backing strips.  Can you see all the little dots on the cutting mat?  My clothes were covered with even more!

My usual procedure of making a double-fold French binding would not work with the thick Minky fabric, and mitered corners were out of the question.  I decided to sew strips to each side and turn them over to the back.

After sewing each strip to the front, I zigzag-stitched the seam allowance.  Then I turned under the unseen edge of the strip and zigzagged it as well.

Finally, I turned the strip to the back and straight-stitched it down.

The edging is rather thick, but I don't think it will unravel or shred.  That little boy is going to have one soft blankie when he gets this quilt!  I ordered both the top and backing fabric from Hancock Fabrics several years ago.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hand-Made Christmas

I have been to three Christmas parties with friends since my last post!  Should have gone to another on Saturday, but it is getting down to crunch time to get my preparations ready for Christmas.

The "Christmas Craft Night" with my daughter-in-law's mother was a first for me, and a really fun idea.  Emily and her mom are awesome hostesses, and this party was no exception.

Maribeth had set up four stations with instructions, a finished product, and all supplies needed.  I felt just like I was back teaching elementary school and creating successful learning centers!

One of the most popular was the fabric garland.  We each got a strand of electric lights, and all we had to do was knot strips of fabric, burlap, trim, etc.  Mine is going to look perfect hanging over the kitchen window in the mountain cabin.

I also love my snowman ornament.  We used chopsticks to stuff some fiberfill into a clear glass ornament.  We twisted red and green pipe cleaners and glued on cotton pom-pons to make him some earmuffs.  A permanent felt-tip pen and some orange paint created the face.  How cute is that?

We also made some plain red pillar candles look much more glam for the holidays simply by applying double-stick tape and adding glitter.

There was another project to make gift bags out of lunch bags, but I have not decided what to put in it yet.  I have an assortment of ribbons, tulle, and gift tags punched from Christmas card stock.

Maribeth said all her project ideas came from Pinterest, and most of the supplies came from stuff she already had or the Dollar Store.

The next morning I drove back to Wake Forest for the annual Christmas brunch with my Whacky Ladies quilt bee.  We have a tradition of exchanging small gifts for everyone, and a larger gift for one person in a "Dirty Santa" game.  (Person number one chooses a wrapped gift and opens it; Person number 2 can steal it, or choose an unopened gift, etc.)  I managed to hang on to my beautiful little snowman quilt made by Marilyn.

Mary made Christmas trees from buttons and cinnamon sticks!

Lori added crystal beads to wooden Christmas ornaments.

Marilyn made the blue heart-shaped snowman ornaments.  Her embroidered felt ornaments represent a good percentage of my Christmas ornaments after twenty years or so of this Christmas exchange!

Donna Made machine-embroidered mug rugs in red and white.  I'm not sure if she somehow made these via a computerized pattern on her long arm.

I feel so lucky to have these enduring friendships and people to share my love of quilting and crafting.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Child's Art Journal

One of the joys of being with my grandchildren is making art with them.  I babysat for little Charlotte two days a week from the time she was three months old until she was two and a half.  She loves to paint and color.

I save up her artwork (mostly big swaths of paint) and the little crayon drawings I make for her.  I used some of these to make a cover for an inexpensive spiral-bound art journal I got her for Christmas.

The pink flower background is a painting with washable glitter paint, Charlie's medium of choice.  The little girl is a crayon drawing that I enhanced with a black ink pen.  I added a little watercolor to the figure to fill in the color.  The text is just lettered on with a permanent black ink pen.

On the back, I cut some shapes out of Charlie's painted papers and added some words.

I used gel medium to attach all the papers to both front and back, and also to coat the finished pages.

I can't wait to start filling up all those white pages inside with her!

We are enjoying a balmy December here in Raleigh.  What a treat to be able to go for walks with my dog without even needing a jacket!

Yesterday we walked on the greenway at Crabtree Creek near our home.  It was so nice to be able to enjoy the outdoors as winter approaches.

Our pond at our Raleigh home was looking nice and shiny yesterday.  I enjoyed a rare chance to eat lunch outside on our deck overlooking the pond. 

Tonight is craft night at a friend's house.  I have no idea what we are going to make.  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Folded Fabric Ornaments

How are you all doing with your holiday preparations?  Here in Raleigh life is busy, busy, busy, with special lunches, dinners, parties, and outings with friends and family.  Over the Thanksgiving holidays I made some ornaments to exchange with my quilting friends at our holiday parties.

I saw the instructions for making these Folded Fabric Ornaments on You Tube.  The video is by someone with the unlikely name of Crouton Crackerjacks.

His turned out to be perfectly straight and even.  Mine were kind of lumpy and uneven.

Oh, well, I got them done in time for our latke party last Wednesday for the art quilt group (notice some in Hanukkah colors?)  And I think I have enough for my Whacky Ladies quilt bee brunch on Friday.

Someone decided to knock over our mailbox last week.  I came home from eating dinner at my son's home, reached to check the mail, and met empty air as the post and box were lying on the ground.  One of the nice things about renting is that you just call the landlord's agency and get it taken care of. Now our old dented mailbox has been replaced with a shiny new one.

December 3 was the five-year anniversary of adopting our sweet dog, Kasey.  We got her from a family who had gone through a divorce and changing situations.  They did not tell us that she had heart worms.  We got that taken care of.  Later she had to have surgery and physical rehabilitation for a torn cartilage in her knee.  Before she even recovered from that, she developed an abscess from a broken tooth, and had more surgery for that.  This little free dog has cost us thousands, but she is so sweet, and is a very good dog.  She does not leave the yard, is content to mostly sit at my feet all day, and has been such a good companion.

We kept our granddaughter, Charlie, last weekend.  What a joy!  She will be three in January.  She seems so grown!  It will be fun to watch her enjoy this Christmas.

My husband is continuing to recover his strength after all his cancer treatment and surgery.  In fact, he has been working every day for the past two weeks to try to finish up the financial year for his clients.  We hope to be able to spend a couple weeks at Christmas in the mountain cabin.  It is all decorated and ready for us!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"It Doesn't Matter"...It's Quilted!

After almost a week back at our Raleigh home, I felt more rested.  Yesterday I drove up to our North Carolina mountain cabin, and today I decided to see if my poor, neglected Gammill long arm machine would crank up after more than four months of sitting idle in the basement.  Yes, indeed, what a good ole' horse!  I saddled up a little quilt top that I finished a long time ago.

Here it is on the machine with only the very top quilted.

The top is called It Just Doesn't Matter!  I read about how to make it here on Del's blog.  An instructor named Rachel Maus taught her how to piece the top using orphan blocks, strips, scraps, etc.  You can see some of the settings I tried after constructing the 9.5" squares on this old post.

Anyway, I ended up using no sashing, but adding a black dotted print border.

I used a lime green thread with free-motion "artistic" quilting on the long arm.

The backing is a cheerful cherry print.  I am thinking that this will be a table topper, and either side of the quilt could be used.

It has gotten very cold up here in the mountains, and the basement is still unheated.  One of our last projects in the basement was insulating between the joists, and I think that made a big difference.  I was quite comfortable quilting with just a small space heater.

We hope to get the gas company out here to move the kerosene monitor from our "Penthouse" garage apartment to the basement.  It would heat the whole basement easily, and we can put a much smaller one in the Penthouse.

Charlie is still worn out, but he came up here last week for the annual deer camp, his favorite time of year.  He did not even hunt, but enjoyed being around his son, grandsons, brothers, and other assorted friends and relatives who gather for deer camp.  Most of them went home Sunday.  We will be eating Thanksgiving dinner with our neighbors Ricky and Mary, who also live up here on the family compound.  We are feeling lucky to be done with all treatment in time for the holidays.  There's no place like home!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Dramatic Skies Class with Tom Lynch

Last weekend was Art of the Carolinas...a Raleigh trade show and artist instruction conference sponsored by Jerry's Artarama.  I have attended quite a few lessons over the past few years.  In fact, that is how I got started on watercolors.

This year we were away for all but the last day.  I signed up for a Sunday afternoon class with one of my favorite art instructors, Tom Lynch.  The title of the workshop was Dramatic Skies, Clouds, and Sunsets. Here is the photo used for the class information page.

Tom Lynch artwork

I probably was too worn out from the trip to Florida for hubby's surgery, but I did learn some neat tricks.  I think I need to do them again when I am not so wiped out.

We were not aiming for finished paintings in this class, but rather practice of new techniques.

Here is a colorful sky created by letting three different colors of wash blend together.

Here is a big fluffy cloud.  I need to add some more color to this one, I think.

 This one is a fail.  The top one got too dry before the colors could blend.  The bottom one got too wet and got a big water blossom.

The sunlit mountains are a technique I will probably use again.  We did the dark strokes first, then added a wash of orange/gold on top.  The dramatic dark sky also got a little too wet but I like the contrast.

Tom is a good instructor, and I would love to take a more intense class with him.  Perhaps when we are finished getting my husband's cancer treated, I can take a week long class.  Maybe in Tuscany some day?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fun With Lettering

I knew I would have some "sitting-around time" in Sarasota last week, so I downloaded two Joanne Sharpe videos from Interweave to play with.  I had brought along a small journal, some watercolor pencils, an Aquarelle water pen, a small watercolor palette, and a few black markers

Volume 1 deals with the elements of art.  Here are my attempts to work on the lessons.

Volume 2 deals with making coloring-book style letters that can be colored in with crayons, markers, pencils, paints, or whatever you like.

I like the floral doodles of my letter A.

The B is for Beach is probably my favorite.

 Butterflies used to form a letter C.

I have another one started but not colored yet.  It was fun to have something new, quick and not too hard to work on while playing the waiting game in Florida.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Back to Florida

This week it was time for Phase 2 of my husband's cancer treatment in Sarasota, Florida.  Most of our time has been spent on doctor and hospital visits and pre-post op exams.  We are now out of the hospital after a rough night.  I am glad to say that all went well.  I thank God every day for Dr. Michael Dattoli, a prostate cancer expert who has figured out a way to save men's lives from this disease.

He met us at the Sarasota airport!  (That's him in blue on the left on this electronic sign at the airport.)

We did have a couple of nice times this week.  The best was on Tuesday when we drove to Nokomis to meet my brother Jeff and his wife Anna for dinner.  First we went to the North Jetty beach and enjoyed a brief walk just before sunset.

Then we ate at Pop's Sunset Grill.  It was great to see Jeff and Anna again.

The restaurant is on The Inter-coastal Waterway, and it was lovely to watch the boats and birds as the sun set.

This shore bird landed on a roof above us and enjoyed watching us (and our seafood dinners!)

We go back to Raleigh tomorrow, grateful for the chance for healing in this beautiful place.