Saturday, September 8, 2012

Anna's Quilt

Pinwheel quilts are fun to make.  I just sent this one to Anna, my niece who's almost two years old now.  For some mysterious reason I already had all of these feminine girly pastel fabrics in my stash.  I really have an aversion to pastel colors, especially pink.  But, I'm pretty much in love with this quilt, especially when I imagine Anna dragging it around the house with her.  I hope that when it's all tattered with love, I can take it back and convert it into a stuffed animal or something.  That goes for all of the other baby quilts that I've sent out recently.

I took a 'Hail Mary' shot outside on my deck.  My toes are in all the shots and I decided to leave them.  So why is it that beat up chippy furniture looks cool and trendy, but beat up chippy decks just look old and beat up?

Ever since I made this quilt, I have felt compelled to name and label every quilt.  I should've made the pinwheel the darker color and the border the light green color.  I actually considered taking the label off and redoing it, after having sewn it onto the quilt.  But I didn't.  I'm kind of glad that my perfectionist tendencies are lessening as the years go by.  It's a relief actually. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Floral Applique

It seems like I've had this book forever.  I've had it so long that there's now a new and improved version available, although I prefer the cover of my older version.  I'm in love with everything about the quilt on the cover - the color choices, the curvy design, the use of many reds for the background, and the folk art style.

So, why haven't I made it yet, you ask?  And on a related note, hubby keeps wondering why I'm making all these cool blocks and sending them away.

I've known for a long time that I'm much more productive when there are deadlines.  When I make something for myself there are no deadlines, which results in lots of UFO's.  Being a part of the Long Distance Quilting Bee (LDQB) has given me deadlines.

So, one of the gals from the LDQB requested a block with flowers.  I seized the opportunity and finally made a block from this quilt.  It was difficult to part with when it was done, but I'm now inspired to make the quilt for myself.

I modified it a bit because I didn't want to hand applique all those little berries, leaves seemed a lot easier.  I'm happy to say that I stuck with my goal to use fabrics I already owned.  The flowers and leaves were made with Kaffe Fassett fabrics, leftovers from a quilt that I made for me - that I actually finished long ago!  It probably would've been better to use a different stem color but I ran out of greenish Kaffe fabrics.  Anyway, I love how it turned out and am excited to get started on mine!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Nighty Night

This young lady was dying to learn how to sew.  She came over one afternoon and we made a pillowcase.  I let her pick fabrics from my stash, which aren't the most teen friendly fabrics.  She's an amazing anime artist but I've got absolutely no anime fabric.  It does exist though, but I think she should design her own and submit it to Spoonflower.  Anyway, she also likes music and was able to find some sheet music.  Ha!

Making a pillowcase is a great beginner project.  She learned how to used a rotary cutter, how to pin, how to sew a straight line, how to stop before the pins and not sew over them, and how to keep a steady speed.  She did a great job for her first time ever.  She's a natural!  I was really happy that she didn't slice an artery or sew through a finger.  Phew!

There are lots of beautiful blog tutorials and free pillowcase patterns out there, but for me, this one was the most informational.

Sew, to all my nieces out there who want to learn to sew.  I'm thinking about teaching you online.  What do you think?  Is that something you're interested in?  I know that GG already knows how to make a pillowcase and has moved on to more advanced things, but what about the rest of you?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Corn on the Cob

I can't wait to try this - cooking corn on the cob without having to mess with the husk and the silk.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

More Boy Quilts

In a year's time, three nephews were added to Hubby's side of the family.  I made three quilts from the same stash of fabric.  I love that each quilt has denim from Hubby's old Levis, scraps from a dress that I made for their grandma a while ago, and scraps from one of my favorite denim dresses from back when denim dresses were 'all the rage'.  I also included scraps from one of my mom's old denim dresses.

None of the plaids are from clothes that we wore.  Some of the plaids came from an era when I would buy plaid shirts from the thrift store and cut them up for fabric.  Most of them were just collected from fabric stores in different states over time.  These quilts are multi-generational, multi-familial, and multi-statal.  How do you like all those big fancy words?   

The first nephew got this quilt.  The second nephew got the one that I've been calling Plaid Pinwheels.  I really like making pinwheels.  They're super easy and accurate if you use the half square triangle method of piecing

Many quilters suggest starting your free motion quilting in the center of the quilt and working towards the edge.  On the pinwheel quilt, I followed the diagram above and found that it worked really well.  I'll definitely use that technique again.

The third nephew got the one below, which was inspired by this quilt that a friend made.  It's weird how the same pattern can look completely different depending on the fabric choices.

I ran out of Levi pockets for labels, but am in love with this label also.  I've been calling this quilt 'Words with Sun'.  Sun is nephew number three's mom and we're addicted to playing a certain game.

A member of my quilt guild asked me what it's like to use denim for binding.  I wouldn't recommend it.  The edges aren't too bad if you have a good thimble, but the mitered corners are a nightmare.

Speaking of thimbles, I discovered this awesome thimble at Joann's right before I started sewing on the binding.  I love it because...
  • It doesn't continually slip off of my finger like a metal thimble does.
  • I can push the needle through the fabric by sitting the end of the needle in the metal indentations.
  • I can pull the needle out of the fabric by gripping it with the rubber.
  • There's a handy dandy size guide (a hole in the packaging) to help you pick the right size for your finger.
Happy quilting! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Outer Space Quilt

Last year I made this paper-pieced rocket quilt block for Joy.  I was so excited to design the pattern myself.

Joy received all kinds of fun space blocks from the Long Distance Quilting Bee and made this quilt for her nephew.  My favorite block is the one directly below mine - so unique and very modern!  Zoom in and check out the cute quilting in orange thread.  I wonder if she did it herself?

Here's a closer look before it was quilted.  So, this reminds me that I have two years of blocks to put together.  I better get started!

Monday, May 21, 2012


Lately I'm a paper piecing maniac.  I got this elephant pattern from A Quilter's Ark by Margaret Rolfe.  One of the gals in the Long Distance Quilting Bee wanted 'anything baby'.  The pattern calls for embroidered details, like an eye and stuff.  But I kind of liked it without all the details.  I think a checked body and a plaid ear is detail enough.  What do you think?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Paper-pieced Pitcher

That title is a tongue twister.  Just see if you can say it five times fast.  This is one of the first blocks that I managed to make without changing my mind about the fabrics a gazillion times.  I wasn't sure I was going to like it - too girly for me.  But, I really love it.

The April challenge for the Long Distance Quilting Bee was to make something with blues and greens with a light background using our current favorite method.  I continue to be intrigued with paper-piecing so that's what I did.  Once again, I used a pattern from my favorite quilting book.  One of these days I'm going to design my own pattern again, like this one.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Biltmore

We, the handicrafty sisters, met up at the Biltmore last week.  Jill, a friend from California, was also there with us.  The best memory is when we (Patty and I) decided not to eat lunch at Cedric's Tavern.  We made this decision after the waiter had already seated us and had brought us our menus and water.  We made this decision without the approval of Jill; and I might add, to the mortification of Jill.  

Patty and I came to the conclusion that we were not going to pay $16 for shepherd's pie made out of lamb, or anything else on the pricey lunch menu.  When the waiter came back to take our order, we told him we needed more time (time to escape).  He left us to continue poring over our menus.  We decided to make a break for it.

Before our exodus though, Patty's conscience pricked her and she decided to leave a $3 tip - one dollar for each water.  While she searched for the $3, Jill quickly vanished.  We found her seated outside, pretending not to know us.  She eventually forgave us and even ended up laughing with us about it later that evening.

By the way, I just googled Cedric's Tavern and found out that Cedric was George Vanderbilt's beloved St. Bernard.  For some reason, that tiny bit of trivia makes the story even funnier to me.

And, I just grabbed this image off of their website.  I do believe that the table on the left is the one we were sitting at!

Postscript:  Jill just confirmed that the table on the left is indeed the very table where the notorious incident occurred.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How to Name and Label a Quilt

How do you name a quilt?  I've never done it before, but I like the idea - in case it becomes famous some day or something.  Yea, right!  There are lots of ideas on how to come up with a namebut I've discovered it's not that easy.

Here's the quilt that needed a name.  It's for a baby.  (Well, when I started the quilt, he was a cooing baby and now he's a talking toddler.)  Some people might name a quilt after the fabrics or the pattern they use, but 'Used Denim and Plaids' or 'Old Denim and Plaids' were too literal and too boring.

Since it's made out of some old denim dresses and hubby's old Levi's, the name 'Family Scraps' might have worked.  But then you might envision a brawling family or a family digging through the trash can for dinner.  I could have named it for the recipient and called it 'James' Quilt' or 'Scraps for James'.  Again, too literal and not quirky enough for my taste.

The truth is, every time I see this quilt I think of Roseanne.  Awhile ago Hubs discovered all nine 'play now' seasons of Roseanne on Netflix.  Yes, that would be Roseanne Barr.  (I know, it's hard to imagine us watching that show, especially Hubs, but it was pretty comical to us as newlyweds.)  Anyway, I had a Roseanne marathon while piecing this quilt.  I'm sorry James, but the name of your quilt is:

I've given away a lot of label-less quilts.  But I couldn't pass up using this pocket for the label.  After researching the topic of labeling quilts, I've decided that putting labels on quilts is not only important, but it's another fun and creative component of quilt making.

By the way, we stopped watching Roseanne in 1995 so we missed the last couple of seasons.  I have to say that the last two seasons were the worst!  The plots got too wacky, DJ wasn't a cute kid anymore, just when you got used to Becky #2 they brought back Becky #1, and John Goodman wasn't even in several of the final episodes - a fatal error in my humble opinion.

There you have it - more than you ever wanted to know about Roseanne and about naming and labeling quilts.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


I've always been afraid of poetry.  But guys like Shel Silverstein and Pablo Neruda and Billy Collins (just learned of him today) make it more approachable for me and even enjoyable. 
When you get a poem [in a public place], it happens to you so suddenly that you don't have time to deploy your anti-poetry deflector shields that were installed in high school.” (Billy Collins)
Check out Billy Collins' TED Talk.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Journal Project

What a great idea!  I wish I'd thought of it.

P.S.  I was just reading through the comments.  She has a world-wide blogger audience (e.g., New Zealand, Slovakia, South Africa, Bolivia, Israel, Japan, Sweden, Poland, Austria, many states in the U.S.) and many of them are sending their addresses to be part of her journal project.  

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sweater and Bear

This is a sweater and bear that I knit for Crystal's son.  He's a big kid now.  I think she found the pattern when we were roommates and of course I had to have a copy.  Since she found the pattern worthy to tear out of a magazine, I figured that she'd like it for her son.  

The bear pattern came from Debbie Bliss's Toy Knits, one of my all-time favorite pattern books.  I added the matching sailboat on the bear's sweater.  As I look at it, I'm not too crazy about the blue bear - it's too matchy matchy!  I think the matching bear sweater would've been enough.

In Crystal's 'thank you' note she mentions 'Lucy and Ethel' moments.  She was Lucy and I was Ethel.  The memory that comes to mind most often is when we first started rooming together.  My brother set us up as roommates - I was moving back to San Diego from San Bernardino and she was moving from Los Angeles to San Diego.  

Right off, I noticed that she really liked to cook and bake.  She would go on kicks.  I remember a muffin kick.  She made a gazillion types of muffins, all in the same week.  I don't even remember what she did with all of them.  We managed to stay slim and trim in those days so I don't know who was eating them all.

Anyway, there was the ice cream kick.  One day she was making some custard for an ice cream recipe.  Her double boiler was a glass bowl over a boiling pot of water.  I didn't think anything of it - of course now I know better.  All I remember was a loud explosion that left blobs of custard and glass shrapnel all over her and the kitchen.  I remember wondering, "What did my brother get me into!?"  She ended up being a lot of fun, very entertaining, and a great cook.  Go here to read about one of Crystal's more recent Lucy moments.  I promise you won't regret it!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Quilted Jars

There are two challenges for March's Long Distance Quilting Bee - the garden one and the jar one.  Amy, the Bee coordinator, wanted the standard jar pattern without the bottom strip.  The first jar I made for her is filled with strawberries, the only fruit fabric that didn't make it into the fruit salad blocks that I made for her last year.  

My husband thought the other block was a sand art jar.  I wish I would've thought of a clever idea like that!  Look below to see what it really is.

 Broken Butterfly Wings

By the way, I started to wonder how people make those sand art jars.  It's pretty amazing.  Check it out.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Paper-pieced Butterfly

This has got to be one of the most complex quilt blocks I've ever made.  One of the challenges for March's Long Distance Quilting Bee block was to make something related to gardening.  I got the pattern from this book, the same book that the kimono and crane came from.  The pattern calls for this block to be 6" x 6".  That's just loco!  Fortunately Joy wanted bigger blocks.  Check out the amazing points you can get with paper-piecing.

Butterfly Guts

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Thistle Toe

Thistle and lavender

plus a purple pump

plus a big mess

equals THIS!

My favorite part is the thistle toe bow!

I had the challenge of making a centerpiece out of a shoe for the Brentwood Women's Club fundraiser.  A friend gave me the brilliant idea of making it about Thistle Farms.  Why didn't I think of that!?  I love how it turned it.  It's very Mother Nature-y.  And the best thing, someone at the fundraiser actually wanted to buy it!  Someone wanted to buy something that I made.  That's a great feeling!  It wasn't for sale though.  I'll be taking it over to Thistle Farms in the near future.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

To Paint or Not to Paint?

For over three decades I've lived in white-walled rentals where the rental agreement includes things like: don't even think about painting these stark white walls.  

I'm beginning to realize how simple the days were when we just learned to live with rental 'design' - blue indoor/outdoor carpeting with concrete for padding, bright orange Formica kitchen counters, gold fridges, blue bathtubs and toilets and boring walls.  And now that I'm free to paint my walls, I find myself paralyzed with too many choices.

Here are the paint chips I've collected along the way.  I now know why paint chip collections have evolved into craft projects and artwork.

I'm beginning to find it hard to believe that the DIYers in Blogland are finding really cool looking free furniture and they just happen to already have the perfect color of paint in the garage and the project only cost them $3.42 because they only had to buy one extra knob to complete the collection they already had - and fortunately the knob was on sale.  All I want to do is paint the living room and I've already spent a small fortune on paint samples!

Many of these samples have been designer-friend and art-friend approved.  In the paint store the colors look amazing with my itty bitty carpet sample, but they mysteriously morph when 'painted' on my walls.  Well, what do you think?  Should we paint or not?  I don't dare ask if I should keep looking.  Oh, and just to remind you, here's an idea of the palette I'm working towards.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Long ago, when I had less resources and better eyesight, I remember finding a needlepoint pattern that I liked in a small craft catalog.  The picture of the finished project was about a square inch or so.  I scrutinized all of the blues and greens that were in the floral pattern and bought (or scrounged up, or asked Mom to buy) the yarn that I needed.  I counted each microscopic stitch with the point of a pin and repeated the design on canvas.  It amazes me that Dad and Mary Ann still have it hanging in their home.

Digital photo taken last year while visiting the folks.

Once it was bigger, it was easier to make a second one.  I made a very 70s looking chunky-yarn version for Mom and Bill.  And yes, I made the crocheted zigzag afghan displayed behind it in the photo below.  That's the biggest afghan I ever made and it still keeps me warm when visiting Mom.  I remember buying the yarn at Safeway (a grocery store that was in walking distance of our house), back when even grocery stores and big drugstores had at least a few racks of yarn for sale.  I kept having to go back to buy more yarn to make the length proportional to the massive width.  But, I digress.

Old photo scanned - everything looking very 70s!

Some of my most creative moments have happened when I had to 'make do' with what I had on hand.  I'm still amazed that I thought to count all of those tiny little stitches in the picture and even more amazed that I was able to replicate it.  I realize that I wasn't really being creative because I used basically plagiarized someone else's pattern.  (I hope the copyright police don't read this post!)  But, I was resourceful.

It kind of makes me sad nowadays when I see aisles full of craft accessories, especially in the scrapbook section.  There was a time when I succumbed to the lure of those cool gadgets and doodads.  Over the last few years, though, I've been really good at passing up all that stuff.  It's cheaper and more importantly, my pilot light of ideas ignites and the creativity starts to flow again.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I Think I'm Turning Japanese

The challenge for January was to make an Asian-inspired block.  I had no idea what to make, but Mary Jo Hiney saved my hiney!  She has the most amazing paper-pieced patterns in this book.  

My first choice was to make the crane below, but my goal is to use up my stash and to NOT buy new fabric.  It didn't seem like my on-hand fabrics were going to work with the requested color scheme of saffron, rusts, golds and greens.

Anyhoo, a lot of trial and error and gnashing of teeth went into this block.  Is there anyone out there who gets the color combination right the first time?  If so, I want to know your secret.  

I tried three different combinations before I finally came up with something I liked, although I would have preferred to have had a subtly patterned light background rather than just the plain light yellow that was in my stash.

In the first two, the kimonos didn't 'pop' because the background color blended in too much with the kimono fabric.  I loved the third fabric, but it seemed like the scale of the print was too big for such a mini kimono.  Anyway, the kimono finally 'popped' against a lighter background.

And wouldn't you know it, I ended up using the first 'kimono' fabric that I had picked out.  I should learn to trust my instincts.

And, here's a retro video for your viewing entertainment.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Periaktoi sounds like some kind of scary contagious medical condition, but it's really a 3-sided panel used to make quick scene changes in theater.  An 11 second YouTube clip is worth at least 42 words.

For the last couple of weeks I've been painting periaktos (that's the plural form) and other random scenery things with my friend Kate.  When we're done, I'll post some pictures.  But, the experience is dragging up memories of other scenery painting and drama experiences that I've been involved in over the years.

When I taught 3rd grade in National City, my teaching partner, Carol, and I put on a play with our 3rd graders.  "What He Deserves" was about a greedy guy who tried to con the king and queen.  In the end he got what he deserved.  The king and queen gave him the most precious thing in the kingdom - a perfect turnip - which was the gift his poor neglected sister had given to the royal couple.

Carol always taught our students music - the recorder, Orff Ensemble (percussion instruments), singing, and music theory.  I always taught our students dance - mostly line dancing and square dancing.  So, of course, we had to add instrumentation, singing, and square dancing to the play.  Carol and the students rewrote lyrics to familiar songs and they learned how to sing them and play them on their instruments.  I remember the chorus, sung to the tune of Guantanamera:  "Rich greedy mister, so very mean to your sister."

I was also in charge of the scenery.  And, until last week, I didn't realize that what we had made were periaktos, kind of.  We painted the scenery on big appliance boxes - the castle on one side and the forest on the other.  The kids turned the boxes around for scene changes - just like periaktos.  We also made a gigantic papier mache turnip and a very uncomfortable top hat out of poster board and felt.

Doing projects like this used to be fun and maddening.  In the middle of it all you begin to wonder what in the world ever possessed you to take on such a project with 50-60 overly excited 3rd graders.  But, it's all worth it when you get to sit back and 'relax' during performance time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First and Last Roadshow

Back in the day our church congregations (wards) used to have roadshows.  The tradition started, in a different form, when the pioneers crossed the plains.  The pioneers would gather together in the evenings to sing, dance, and entertain each other.  It would help lift their spirits.

I didn't grow up in the church, but my siblings did.  For some reason I never got involved in the roadshows when they did.  (Knowing what I know now, I'm sure the ward would've gladly welcomed me to participate.)  I finally got to be part of a roadshow when I lived in Salt Lake City, after graduating from BYU.  I don't remember if I was actually 'in' the show, but I did draw and paint (with help) some of the scenery.

I drew out the designs on paper and then traced them with a Sharpie on some plastic that I had scrounged up and cut into small sheets.  Someone built some big lightweight wooden frames and we stapled butcher paper to them.  I used my newly acquired teacher skills to project and trace the drawings onto the framed butcher paper.

My favorite drawing was The Battle of the Champs.  I thought it was a pretty clever interpretation of the rivalry between the Brigham Young University Cougars and the University of Utah Utes.  

I was also proud of creating the illusion of a crowd in the stadium picture without drawing a gazillion little heads, but was quite disappointed when someone sneakily added in the 'Coke' ad and threw the whole drawing off center.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

Ed sent me a picture of his granddaughter with the well-traveled hutch that finally found a home.

And they lived happily ever after.  The End

Friday, January 13, 2012

Adventures of a Child's Hutch

It took many hands and many moves to finish this child's hutch.  Here are all the memories that come to mind when I see this hutch.
  • Being so happy to find a woodworking class in Wisconsin (at Western Wisconsin Technical College) when wood shops in the schools were becoming an endangered species.
  • Finding the instructions for the hutch in an out-of-print library book and then being able to find a used copy online and buying it - one of my first online book purchases.
  • Resizing the directions with hubby whose mantra is "Math is power".
  • Building this for a child, but making it the right size to hold CDs if there were no children.
  • Having Kevin, my wood shop teacher, help me every step of the way - especially when it was time to put the door caps on the tops and bottoms of the doors.
  • Not finishing it because the class ended and we had to move to Boston.
  • Storing CDs in it in the hall of our Boston apartment without bottoms in the drawers, a back, or the doors attached - the hutch, not the apartment!
  • Searching for and never finding a woodworking class in Boston.
  • Searching for and never finding the perfect hardware.
  • Trying to offer the pieces to Brendaen (woodworker extraordinaire and father to many girls) when he and his family stopped by to visit us the night before we moved to California.
  • Brendaen offering to help me finish it 'right then and there' and finding out later that he and his family had just come from an appointment where he had been called to be the new bishop of our ward.
  • Moving the thing, in pieces still, to California.
  • Meeting Ed at church and finding out that he was a woodworker and that he had a shop in his garage.
  • Finally finding the perfect hardware at Restoration Hardware.
  • Putting all the pieces together with Ed's help.  Okay, Ed put the pieces together and I watched.
  • Leaving the hutch with Ed to finish and to keep for his granddaughters when we moved to Tennessee.
  • Getting an email (and pictures) from Ed that the hutch was finally done.
  • Laughing hysterically right now when I reread all these memories and then reread the title of the book that the project came from!
 The instructions are on page 172 of this book.

 Hubby's math and drafting skills in action.

 "Exploded" view - love it!

We could buy our stock from the teacher - a definite plus!