Monday, September 30, 2013

Merry Miniatures

One of the little handwork projects I took on my recent trip was three of these "Merry Miniatures" little quilts.  It was the perfect travel project--I did the embroidery as we rode--I was NOT driving.

She's a little crooked--I'm just calling that "charming".  A hundred years from now someone will think this was made by a child as she learned to quilt!

The pattern is from Chickadee Hollow Designs and is called Baby Steps.  I don't see it on their website but they have lots of other projects.  This is about 8" x 10"--just a cute little thing.  I picked the pattern and buttons up at Paducah this past April.  I'm making 3 to use as gifts as a memento of that trip.

The first is done, the second needs buttons and mine needs the binding turned over and the buttons. 

Check out Judy L's Design Wall Monday to see what others are doing. 

Let's Quilt!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Southern September Sojourn--Sunny and 75

My husband and I took a little vacation, a chance to get away for a week.  The one thing you just can't plan for, the weather, was spectacular!  We really lucked out with the perfect early fall weather--day time temps were about 75 and the evenings dropped into the 50's.  Skies were blue, not a drop of rain anywhere.

Our first day took us about 350 miles to Asheville, NC.  We stayed at Cedar Crest Inn, a bed and breakfast that was recommended by a friend who stayed there in June.  It is a lovely home built in 1895 which has 15 rooms, some in cottages on the 3 acre property.  Our room, the Queen Anne, was in the main house on the second floor.  It reminded me very  much of the house I grew up in, built in 1900 in Philadelphia.  My house wasn't nearly this grand but had similar woodwork, wooden doorknobs, dark wood floors, a creaky old staircase, and claw-footed bathtub.

 Unlike a hotel, there are no elevators or bellhops so we climbed the 2 flights of stairs with our luggage--these old knees found that a challenge.  The room was well-decorated with antique furniture and the bathroom had the essentials.  No air conditioning to speak of, but it was cooler and not humid so, for the first time in a long time, we slept with windows open.  Our room was on the front of the house, 2 blocks from a hospital in one direction and the railroad in the other--between the occasional ambulance and the 3 freight trains that went through, neither of us slept all that well.  Isn't that the way it goes the first night of a trip?

In the small shopping area called Biltmore Village, less than a mile from the Inn, we found a great Mediterranean restaurant, Rezaz.  After driving most of the day, it was great to walk down the hill from the Inn to this shopping area.  The meal was terrific, and the perfect start to our holiday.  Of course, after dinner it was a walk uphill but that was fine and a glass of wine on the veranda awaited us.  It was nice to chat with other guests before retiring to our room for the night.

The next day it was off to the Biltmore Estate, a mile from the Inn.  Driving in on the long windy road, I could only think how long this must haven taken by horse-drawn carriage--we learned it was a one hour ride from the train station to Biltmore back in the day.  This is a spectacular place and I highly recommend a visit!
Stock Photo--we didn't this far back to show the entire house
Our son told us we would love to visit here and we had to rent the audio tour--it was worth the extra $10 to learn so much about the house, the people, the times they lived in.  Life here was much like Downton Abbey, and having seen the first 3 seasons of DA, I really appreciated this place even more. Here are a few of my shots:

Side view of the house
The view from the Loggia--my favorite spot--I could sit out here and stitch all day.

 We toured the house and gardens for about 3 hours, then drove to the winery on the estate, for tasting and shopping.  We had a late light lunch at the Bistro at the Winery, then headed to Biltmore Village for a little more shopping.  We did some Christmas shopping, oddly enough, at The Tree and Vine, where we could taste many different flavors of olive oils and balsamic vinegars--chocolate balsamic for fruit, mandarin orange to use as marinade on poultry or fish--yum!  Next door was the Southern Highland Craft Gallery, filled with wonderful handmade items.  There was a small quilt handmade by Georgia Bonesteel and several beautiful quilts from contemporary quiltmakers.  Enjoyed browsing there. 

Next we went to downtown Asheville, to wander amidst lots of shops, an old general store, antique shops, had ice cream for dinner since we'd had a late lunch, then back to the Inn for wine on the veranda.  We enjoyed our visit to Asheville.  Now we're moving on.

Another spectacular day, weather-wise, as we made the 450 mile trip to Fredericksburg VA.  Twenty-five years ago, we lived in Stafford, VA and I visited F'burg often--it was a sleepy little town with great antique shops and the closest quilt shop to me.  Today it's not so sleepy and there are 2 quilt shops.  The primary reason for our stop here was to visit old Marine Corps friends who live here.  We met them at a terrific little restaurant, Bistro Bethem, and caught up.  Dinner was excellent but the company was priceless.  The next day we drove by one of our old homes and on to the  National Museum of the Marine Corps.  Walking into this place was an emotional experience for me--loved it!  We spent 5 hours there and didn't see it all.  Every Marine needs to come to this place, at least once. 

As it was mid-afternoon, we headed back to Fredericksburg to go to our friends' home for dinner.  We had a great reunion with their two adult children and 3 of their four grandboys.  And added bonus was their "pretend" son, another Marine Corps kid we knew back in the day, who currently lives near them and was able to join us.  Great fun, lots of laughs, a few old stories, and mostly just catching up and enjoying sharing their company.  A real highlight of this trip.

The next day it's back in the car to Harrisonburg, VA to the Virginia Quilt Museum
There were special exhibits and a few of their extensive permanent collection on display.  I bought the book of their entire collection and was glad I did.  Well worth the one hour visit there.  It had been an easy drive there, less than two hours and not on the interstate, so it was nice to see the countryside.  And do you see that blue sky?  Yes, another perfect day.

At this point, we're starting to miss our bed and thinking about home.  We headed south for a couple more hours and stayed overnight in Bristol, TN.  That made it an easy 6 hour trip home the next day.

The desk clerk at the Hampton Inn we stayed at recommended Brooklyn Grill, just 3 miles up the road in Bristol, VA--a town divided by state lines.  Oh my goodness, what a find!  The only other choices would have been fast food joints but this place was a true reason to stop in Bristol.  Great food!  It was a Thursday night and most of the guests appeared to be hotel visitors.  Our hostess was also the waitress and the bus girl--she did it all with grace and charm, handling the 6 tables that were occupied during our visit.  My husband said to me "she's probably married to the chef" and darn, if he wasn't right!  It was upscale dining in a most unexpected place--we had such a good dinner--a fine way to end our holiday.  You just never know what you're going to find. 
Our kittens were mad at us for leaving them at the "pet resort" and are still a little stand-off-ish.  But they know who feeds them and they'll come around.  There's been some purring and the little girl even agreed to sit on my lap for a brief while.  We're all glad to be home and almost back to normal.
Vacations are great but it's so good to be home.  Now life gets busy again.
Let's quilt!


Monday, September 16, 2013

New Little Quilt

Last week, when I should have been doing other things,  I used 2 of those little 2.5" quilters' candy square packs and made this little quilt for a friend:

It's titled "9" x 9", and is 18.5" square.  The fabrics are Le Belle Fleur by French General for Moda.  It's just a simple little wallhanging/table throw but I think she will like it--despite its' imperfections.  And it was done in one day.  Sometimes I just have to create something start to finish.

Now I'm working on two garments for Houston.  The first, a tabard vest, is almost done and the second, a jacket, gets underway today.  Also, still binding the X Block Swap quilt, with kitten help so it takes longer. 

Also today, I'll make all the quilt labels I need to get made and sew them on the quilts.  The show quilts need labels and I try to make permanent labels for all my quilts--since I won't live forever. 

Check out Judy L's blog to see what other quilters are doing. 

Let's quilt!


Saturday, September 14, 2013


It's been about 2 months since we got our kittens--they were about 10 weeks then.  They are healthy now and fun, fun, fun--when they are not getting into trouble--just like little kids!

It's hard to get photos of them, since they are in constant motion or asleep.  Here are a few shots:

Stitches, in his usual pose
Patches, on the dining room table--that's trouble!  She knows the water bottle is coming...

Stitches with the hubby

On her favorite chair--mine.  If I get up for a second she is there.
Patches, the torti girl, is sweet and lovable and loves to cuddle in my lap, especially when I'm quilting.  She was about 2 lbs when we got her and is about 3.5 lbs now.  She is so soft and purrs whenever she's still.  She can keep up with her "brother" when the 10 pm cat tussle time starts.  She can also fly--last night she leapt from the arm of my chair to land on Stitches, a good 7 feet away.  She is very talkative, and can tell time--6 am each morning she's knocking on our bedroom door to announce their bowls are empty and it's time for breakfast.

Stitches, that big boy, is very curious and can climb on top of things--it won't be long before he gets on the kitchen counters, that will mean trouble.  He loves to have his belly rubbed and cuddles in my lap just as soon as I sit down.  His purr is loud--but that's all the sound he makes.  We've only heard him "speak" twice, the first time the vet clipped his claws, he really hollered with each snip, and once when I stepped on him as I was getting their dinner and he was under foot.  He was about 2 lbs and has now grown to 5.5 lbs.  Long and lean. 

About 10 pm each night it's "cat tussle" time.  They go wild, flying from one chair to the sofa to the next chair to attack each other.  That's when my husband gets the laser light and drives them crazy, going around and around, trying to catch that red dot.  Patches gets dizzy when she stops--that's mean!  Stitches chases his tail, and catches it too.  They go crazy for about 15 minutes then they're all worn out.  Fun times.

Cat Tussle

OK, that's all the cat news for now.  Back to quilting.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Modern Quilt?

Here is a quilt, cuddle size, I made this week for my son's girlfriend.

It's 64" x 68" after washing, the perfect "cuddle on the couch" size.  I used 80/20 cotton batt and had not prewashed the fabric so I was curious about 3 things:
1. How much would the fabrics "run"?  I always use a Shout Color Catcher sheet when washing new quilts and this one came out light/medium blue SO the fabrics did run and I will tell the new owner to be sure to use a Color Catcher the next few times she washes it.  I dug deep in my fat quarter and smaller bins for blue, green and gray fabrics.  Some of these are old favorites, at least 15 years old.
2.  How much would the quilt shrink?  The package said 3% and that was about what happened.  The top was 67" x 71" when finished and the quilt came out of the dryer 64" x 68".  Fine with me.
3.  Would the shrinkage help to disguise the few areas of puckers on the back?  Yes, it did.  Now you have to look close and be picky to see them.  I had to baste this in thirds, on the dining room table, with help from the cats, so the back was not as tight as it should have been.  Lesson learned--the cats can't help.

I got the design idea from quilts on Pinterest and Flickr--I searched for Modern quilts and found a few easy but interesting designs I might try.  This was the first idea but as it grew on the design wall I didn't love it. So I added the gray strip in the middle and liked it much better.  The idea was to have an easy design so I could complete it quickly, and use as many blue, green and gray fabrics as possible. 

Free Motion Machine quilting is not my strong suit and that's putting it mildly.  I wanted to quilt this one myself and chose an easy wavy line design for the pieced strips.  While they are less than perfect, I concentrated on trying to keep the stitch length as regular as possible.  In the border I used a circular design, to mimic the circles in the border print.  Well, I had intended to do ovals but from the beginning I got circles so I just stuck with that.  It quilted pretty quickly, over two days and all in all, the quilting is OK and as a cuddle quilt, it's just fine. 

This week I'll quilt the X Block swap quilt and get my show entries ready.  Our guild show is October 11-13 and I have 4 to be sure are clean and have labels in place.  I always add a sleeve while applying the binding so at least that job is done.  Also have to get going on garments for Houston--that's only 6 weeks away!

Be sure to check out Judy L's Design Wall Monday to see what others are doing. 

Let's quilt!


Monday, September 2, 2013

X Block Swap

The X Block Swap top is done--now to machine quilt in the ditch and hand quilt in the larger triangles.  I really like how this came out.  Had to stop myself from adding a wide border on the outside--that's so late 20th century, not how this one would have been done in the late 1800's.

Jump on over to Judy L's Design Wall Monday Judy L's Design Wall Monday blog to see what other's are doing.

Let's Quilt!