Monday, October 22, 2018

Some of you may know (remember) that I am a long-time member of the Bear Patch Bits Club.  This club is part of Bear Patch Quilt Company, located near Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.  SisterStitches is the manager there.  I've made several visits to the store, when I've visited family and friends in the midwest, and it is a really, really nice store.  Lots of wonderful fabric, classes enough to choke a, well, a bear, coffee and cookies, nice quilt samples all around.

Now to the Bear Patch Bits Club.  For a mere $40.00 (I think that's what it was) I receive a package in the mail every month.  Containing twenty (yes, 20!) 5-inch squares of new fabric that the store has  recently gotten into stock.  Accompanied by a nice letter (written by SisterStitches!), usually containing a quilt pattern using 5" squares, and also a yummy recipe.  

I have to tell you that these packages have become like Christmas every month for me!!!  I see that oversize white envelope in my mailbox, and I know that there are 20 pieces of joy inside!  Really, each one makes me very, very happy.  This happy relationship has been going on for many years.

Bear Patch Quilt Company is going to close within a few months from now.  I know.  It's very sad.  And I certainly don't begrudge the owner and employees a nice retirement.  But that also means that my little white envelopes will no longer be coming in the mail.

Well, MisterStitches has often been the spectator to my opening said envelopes, and he knows how happy they make me.  So, he really stepped up.   He asked me if he could provide a similar thing for me.   After I picked myself up off the floor, I said, yes I think you can!!  So I pointed him to Missouri Star Quilt Company, and told him that getting a charm pack in the mail would definitely mean the world to me.  

So last week he presented me with the first box.  I opened it and this was inside.  A beautiful, beautiful charm pack of "island print" batiks.  Oh so beautiful!

Just look at them all!

Such luscious colors!!

Aren't these blues gorgeous!!

And the reds/purples!

See what I mean!!??!!

As you can see, MisterStitches really hit it out of the ball park with this idea!  
I think I'll keep him around.

A friend witnessed me opening the box and going through all the colors.  Oh my, it was so much fun!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Alphabet Embroidery

My friend,Jenny, over at Jenny of Elefantz, has designed some beautiful embroidery designs for the whole alphabet.  And she is sharing them by email from her blog one or two at a time.  I thought that maybe this was a "make-along" that I might be able to keep up with, as they are small, so I'm working at turning out lots of pretty little letters.

So far I've done a through f, and am currently working on g.  Once I get the fabric ready and the threads collected, these only take about an hour each to make.

I'm pinning them up on my design wall to keep track of the finished ones.

And now for a few close-ups.  I have to admit that I am more eager to show close-ups of some of them, and a little reluctant to show others, the ones which aren't as nicely done.  But, as DaughterStitches is fond of saying, "It is what it is."  Or "C'est la vie!"

Jenny's idea and instructions call for making 26 little pin cushions with our embroideries.  (Each letter is around 2-3" tall.)  So I added some pretty lavender print to the sides of the "b" for that reason.  But I'm not sure that I want to make pincushions, so now I'm leaving them as just little squares.  Maybe I'll put them into a sampler wall hanging.  Or maybe they will be Christmas ornaments.  Who knows?!?  And some of them might even turn into pin cushions!

Aren't they such cute little designs?!?

I decided to streamline things a little bit, and prepared several squares ahead of time.  I found pieces of appropriate fabric, cut them to size, and ironed a stabilizer onto the back.  I even went through my Bear Patch Bits and found some little squares in there to use.

I have to admit that I have changed the colors a few times from what Jenny has called out.  Sometimes I can't find the right color, and sometimes I just feel like doing it a little differently.  Or, I've chosen a blue background, and she calls for light blue thread.  It's fun because they are such cute little things when they're done.  Go on over to her blog and check them out!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Cautionary Tale

Please, please, please be careful with your rotary cutters!  They are so very sharp, and I know we get used to using them and don't always think about how sharp they are.  Or maybe I'm just speaking for myself.  Anyway, the other day I was doing some cutting, just a small little bit, and the rotary cutter jumped up onto the ruler and shaved a small piece of skin off my finger.

Boy, did that hurt!!  I immediately tried to stop the bleeding and put a bandage on it.  It bled right through.  So I gave in to MisterStitches's suggestion that he drive me to Urgent Care.

  It wasn't a big cut at all, just sliced off a little bit of skin, but it sure bled.  I kept wrapping more and more layers of kleenex around my finger while I waited.  It actually took quite a while for the PA to get the bleeding to stop.   I was told that if a capillary gets cut off at an angle it can be hard to stop the bleeding.  

Now, of course, I am just fine.  Although not as good as new!  That will take a little healing time.  It's very challenging to type with this plastic thing on my finger!

And guess what!  There was my protective glove, lying right there beside me on the cutting mat.  Of course.  You know, I almost always use it.  I bet I'll use it even more often now!

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Beautiful Christmas Stocking

My dear daughter-in-lawStitches has been working on a Christmas stocking for SonStitches.  It has been a TON of work for her.  She's carried this project to our house many, many times to work on in her spare time.

And now it is finished.  She recently brought it to me to help her finish it up.  There were good directions, and a piece of felt to use for the back of the stocking.  We also cut another piece of felt to put behind the stocking front, to protect the back side of the stitches.  As much work as 
Daughter-in-lawStitches has put into this stocking, we wanted to make sure it was protected!

And here it is.  Isn't it beautiful!?!

Here are a couple close-ups.  Look at how many little stitches are sewn to make the intricate design.

Such a labor of love!  And she immediately started on a stocking for BabyStitches!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Progress. . .

I've been making progress on one of my three quilts for our guild's challenge show.  That's really a good thing, because they need to be turned in next week!

Here is a cloud in my blue patchwork sky.  I machine felted regular batting onto a sheer white fabric. Then I tacked the fabric onto the quilt.  That saved me from the uncertainty of how the felting action would affect the background, if at all.

And this is a shrub.  A real close close-up of a shrub.  I started by laying down some random fibers that I had collected from my dryer's lint trap after washing new fabric.  Then I embroidered feather stitches over the top in a very random way.  I repeated the embroidery with different colors.

And I'm quite proud of this!  It is a  brick sidewalk, and I think it turned out pretty well, for someone who isn't an expert in free motion quilting!  I checked Pinterest for "free motion quilting bricks" and whose name should come up but Lori Kennedy!  She's a queen in my eyes, of free motion quilting.  I followed her great directions for bricks, did a practice piece, then went to work on my little sidewalk. I used a chalk marker to make the parallel (and in some cases slanted) lines, to keep my bricks fairly even.

This is maybe more detail (and quite different lighting!) than is really needed, but I thought I'd include some more photos of the bricks.

After the challenge show opens next week, I'll show you the finished photo of this quilt, and my other two quilts, too.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Two-Inch Squares

I was reading recently about Bonnie Hunter.  Many of you will know of her as she is a wonderful quilter and teacher, with several books to her name.  I've never taken a class from her, or met her, but I read about an idea she uses.  Bonnie doesn't use a thread catcher (thread spider, leaders and enders, whatever you call them) at the beginning and ending of her seams when sewing patchwork.  Instead, she has a stack of small squares beside her sewing machine.  She pairs together two small squares, and sews them as her beginning piece and ending piece.  Does this make sense?  Then she is left with lots of little two-square pieces, the beginnings of a scrappy quilt.

Here is just one of her many books about quilting with scraps.

So I have been cutting some of my scraps into two-inch squares.  When I'm watching tv, or doing something else, I pair two different squares and face them right sides together so they are all ready to use.  I have a small drawer divider tray where they can sit nicely next to my sewing machine, within easy reach.  The already stitched two-patches get placed in the bigger part of the divider tray. 

I actually found some pieced scraps that had been trimmed off something else and I cut a few 2" squares that already consisted of two different fabrics.

This wire drawer divider was holding a few safety pins, and not really being used, so it now sits  beside my sewing machine.  The two lower stacks are single 2-inch blocks, and the sewn-together ones get put in the upper section of the divider.

I'm not sure how many of these little two-patches I need, but I'll keep gathering them and I'll store them in a bin to go together some day into a larger quilt.  Check back on this blog in ten years or so to see if I've finished the quilt top!!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Sashiko Design for the Quilt Guild Challenge

Several years ago I started a sashiko embroidery piece in a class with Sylvia Pippen.  Like a lot of my sewing, it got put away half-finished to be discovered at a far distant time.

I came across it and decided to finish it, as there wasn't very much more to do on it.  And as I was working on it, I realized that the pretty blue mottled fabric (in the center below) was very similar in color to our guild's challenge fabric for this year (the outer fabric below).

 I decided to frame it with the challenge fabric and finish up the wall hanging.  Dear Daughter-in-law-Stitches was visiting us, and since she has such a good artistic eye, I got her input on my borders.  We agreed that a thin white border and slightly bigger black border would work well inside the blue fabric.  The white brings out the white stitches, and the black helps "tame down" the brightness a bit.

This photo shows the fabric auditioning process.  

So I made the strip sets and sewed them onto the wall hanging to make a mitered border.

Here it's all laid out with the borders sewn on, ready to be mitered.

You can see a little bit of the diagonal line I drew to mark the 45 degree line, and then I added pins to stabilize it while I stitched it.

The front is finished!!  I did very minimal stitching on this, with a solid line 1/4" inside the white border, and some wavy stitching (#4 on the Bernina) in the outer blue border.  I may return to it and use blue thread to make a hand-quilted circle just outside the white embroidered circle.

Here it is all put together.  I debated about blue or black for the binding, but chose black to make a good stopping point for the eyes.  Now it is all ready!  I even have the label and hanging sleeve sewn on!!