Greetings, Polka Dot Exchangers!

Do you see your fabric yet??

Do you see your fabric yet??

OK folks, this is the first time I have ever participated in a fabric exchange.  What a hoot!

So far, about half of the fabric has come in…I think.  It was 60 that we sent out, so I’m guessing that it will be 60 that we receive.  Just getting all the fabric is wonderful, but I am so pleasantly surprised and charmed by the lovely notes and greetings sent in each envelope!

I love quilters.  No doubt about it.

And I am moved by some of the people in this exchange…like 85 year old Eula Mae in Kansas who’s been quilting for 65 years.  Bless her heart.  And Carollee in California who’s husband recently passed away and is hoping the polka dots will cheer her up.  (Hi Carollee!  Hope they cheer you up too! Aren’t they interesting to receive?)

As soon as I opened the first two or three, I decided to create a tiny scrapbook of the notes from everyone, which are just as lovely as can be, don’t you think?  If you are receiving them, you know just what I mean–each one unique.

Notes from the ExchangeIt’s also unbelievable to me the reach that was achieved on this exchange:

Texas. Washington State.  Mississippi.  Massachusetts. Californinia. Indiana. Virginia. Michigan.  New Jersey. Colorado.  And that’s just in the first half.

Polka dot ExchangeI can’t wait to start using all your fabric and I am SO grateful to all of you for participating!

If you want to send photos of any of your projects that you work on using the polka dots, feel free to contact me.

And I’ll keep up the posting when the rest come in!

All the Eggs in One Basket

Egg basketI made this little basket (or bag) from the Easter egg files designed by Purely Gates.

She only works with distributors and quilt shops, so you can ask for them at your local quilt shop (or at Sew Generously if you ARE local.)

You use mylar in the hooping as an applique. The sparkle of the eggs is not showing up well in these photos because I took them with my iphone, and did not pay much attention to the light.

egg basket 2The sparkle is obvious when you view them in person and turn them toward the light.  Each egg pattern is different and distinct and the color palette and instructions are very clear.  Just be sure to purchase some mylar too.  I guarantee you’ll have some fun with this.

Here in the midwest we have a stretch of mild days ahead.  My plants are not yet showing any signs of life, but it’s early.

I have faith.

May your Easter holiday bring you the peace of knowing that even the viciousness of this past winter is not the last word, and we cannot possibly understand or anticipate the resurgence of life just by looking at the barren twigs of today. Somehow, some way, spring will come and new growth and new life will triumph.

It always has and it always will.

I Must Be Crazy

hand quilt5And so it begins.  The long task of hand quilting this baby, stitch by stitch.

I started with a lovely 28 wt. Aurifil, which I would highly recommend for machine quilting.  But after a few minutes, I switched to a much heavier weight (8) Valdani cotton.  I agonized over the two threads for a long time, finally consulting my husband who asked what would happen if I mixed them, or if, heaven forbid, I decided to machine quilt about half way through.  What if you get bored, he asked, or frustrated, or your hands seize up from the constant grip of the needle, or carpel tunnel sets in, or arthritis?  Will the quilt police come after you??

I thanked him for all the positive encouragement and cursed the fact that he knows me too well.

Meanwhile I decided on the Valdani.  It will be a wee bit more expensive, but I love the obvious hand sewn look.  At a size 8, this thread simply will not go through a machine, at least not as a top thread, and therefore is only used for hand work.

hand quilt 3I love that it gives the whole quilt top a homespun look.  I really do not want a quilt that looks like I purchased it at Pottery Barn (no offense to Pottery Barn, they have lovely merchandise.)

I just wanted something that could not be purchased anywhere.  So, yes, as crazy as it may seem, I’m going with the large thread and the hand quilting.

hand quilt 4According to my calculations, it takes me a steady 1 hour to complete a block, and in the quilt there’s approximately 108 blocks, plus the border.  I would have no problem machine quilting the border, but for kicks, let’s add it in.  If I worked an hour every single day, I could complete the quilting in 4 months.  Skipping days here and there, 6 months.

Realistically… one year.  So, boys and girls, this is not a project for the instant gratification crowd.  This is an endurance sport. If you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to psych myself up for the task.

I can do this.

Even though I have lots of other projects I want to work on in between bouts of hand quilting, and you know, life.

I won’t bore you with the ongoing work, at least not too much.  I’ll just give you occasional updates.

So call me crazy. Or call me overextended.  Just don’t call me late for dinner.

hand quilt 1

 

 

How Many Quilts in a Lifetime?

One of the things I hear constantly in a quilt shop is “I wish I had more time.”

Usually someone is walking around a store, inspired by the work of others, inspired by the patterns, inspired by the fabric, just plain inspired.  But what is it about quilting that brings out the lament, “I wish I had more time” ?

When I worked in a fast-paced, deadline-oriented job, I never heard those words. Never.

Something about the act of creating makes us wish we had more time.  Or maybe it makes us wish we didn’t have to ever make any decisions.

But the truth is, we all make decisions about how to spend our time. Walking around a quilt shop, looking at all the work and beauty that goes into each and every project, we come face to face with the hard reality that none of us will ever be able to do it all. We simply cannot make all the quilts, travel to all the places, have all the adventures, meet all the people, have it all, be it all, do it all.

None of us.  No matter how productive, no matter how many sewing machines, no matter how much time we devote, no matter how skilled, no matter how trained or talented, no matter how much balance or non-balance, no matter how hard we plan, or how well we implement the plan, no matter how. hard. we. try.

We cannot do it all.

And every now and then, we look at one another and while we’re in a safe place, we say the words out loud.

I wish I had more time.

On a good day, someone smiles, gives us a hug and replies, “Me too.”

Larger than queen size. finally assembled and ready to be hand-quilted.

Larger than queen size. Finally assembled and ready to be hand-quilted.

 

 

 

 

Color My World … with Polka Dots

I’m ready for the World Wide Polka Dot exchange.

The fabric has been cut.  The envelopes are stuffed.

Now all I have to do is bring it all over to the quilt shop that’s sponsoring the event –  Prairie Stitches Quilt Shoppe in Oswego.

Honestly, there’s still time if you want to join!  It took me a total of about an hour and a half to 1. cut the fabric, 2. stuff the envelopes, and 3. add my return address labels.

I realize, of course, that this whole little event will mean I absolutely must create something with the fabric I receive from others.  But that will be a fun little challenge I can take on over the summer.  I’m leaning toward a sweet polka dot garden idea. With ricrac.  Because what in the world is cuter than polka dots with ricrac?

polka dots 1readytogo

 

Mylar Easter Eggs

I just ordered some of these decorative Easter egg embroidery designs from Purely Gates.  I can’t wait to get them and try them out.

The pics on this page are stunning.  They are reminiscent of Faberge eggs.

purelygates1purelygates2purelygates3

 

 

 

 

I know the last thing I need on my list of things to do is another embroidery project, but it’s cold and rainy outside today…and who of us this winter doesn’t need a little colorful spring cheer around their house?

puerlygates.com

 

Thank You Robert Frost

panaramic2

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Cedar Waxwing. Is this not a stunning bird?

Cedar Waxwing. Dozens of them.

cedarwaxwing2

 

Stitching on Paper? Leather? Fabric?

I don’t really know what to call it.

Technically, I believe it is paper.  But, apparently it can be machine washed and tumble dried. Call me skeptical.  Even so, it is a very fun product to stitch!

It’s called Kraft-Tex paper fabric.  The project is listed on weallsew.com.

kraftexkraftex explanationThe description on the packaging is pretty accurate. It DOES look and feel like leather.  It’s also a nice warm brown color, that makes everything pop out a bit.  I can see using it in a number of different ways.  For me, it borders a little more on the “crafty” side of sewing. But I could see it used in collage work, scrapbooking or anything that requires some dimension.

 

 

 

 

 

 

binder coverbinder spineI went ahead and created the binder cover in the pattern.  Of course, I used a different embroidery design.  Mine is a medallion from urbanthreads.com.  

The feel of this stuff is pretty hard to describe. It’s not rough, it’s rather soft. Which is why it compares to leather.

I have not tried to wash it yet, so that’s an experiment for the future.

The project went together quite easily and frankly, I was impressed by the quality of the paper/fabric. I had never heard of such a thing and it behaves, in my opinion, a little more like paper than fabric.

 

If you are someone who dabbles in multimedia, you’ll want to give this a try. I’d love to use this for painting and drawing and then incorporate sewing into the mix.  If only I had more time in a day, and more inspiration in a night.  The products are out there.  Might as well find out what you can do with them!

Covering the World in Polka Dots

polka dotsThe thing about quilters is that they never seem to run out of interesting ways to connect to one another and to further their hobby/obsession.

This year, I am participating in a fun program from Prairie Stitches Quilt Shoppe in Oswego IL.  It’s a Worldwide Polka Dot Quilt Fabric Exchange.  You still have plenty of time to get involved, you just have to send or bring your quilt fabric to them before March 31.  The details of the rules are here in their latest newsletter.

The basic premise is this:  Cut 60 – 10 in. x 10 in. squares of polka dot fabric.  Could be anything with polka dots.  You know you have some in your stash or you can purchase it at any quilt store.  The only thing they ask is that the fabric be quilt shop quality (no chain store stuff….we all know their fabric is of lesser quality).

Put each 10 in. square into a business size envelope with your return address in the upper left corner.  Mailing address left blank.  Bring all 60 envelopes (or ship them) to Prairie Stitches in Oswego.  You have to call and sign up with them as they have a fee which they will use for postage and handling, and they’ll need to register your address.

Then just sit back and wait for 60 pieces of polka dot fabric from around the world to be delivered to your mailbox!  That’s pretty simple!  The fabric will start arriving in April.

What’s even more fun is they have a couple of Moda designers working on some great pattern ideas for your polka dots when they come in.  Prairie Stitches says they have participants now from around the world…Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and across the US.

So tell your friends everywhere to join in.  The more the merrier!

Find out the details from https://prairiestitchesquiltshop.com/

Great Backyard Bird Count and Quilt Progress

Because my family is sort of “bird crazy”, we participate in little projects like the Great Backyard Bird Count.  This tally happens every year around this time, and broader technology has allowed more and more people to participate and get more and more accurate data, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

It runs Feb 14 – 17 this year.

If you are interested, you don’t need any special qualifications to participate.

Here’s the website to sign up and get going   http://gbbc.birdcount.org/

Now, onto our regularly scheduled quilt update.

Remember when I suggested back in December that 2014 should be the year we get backlogged projects completed?  Well, amazingly, I am making some progress and I hope you are too.

Smaller size...should I go bigger?

Smaller size…should I go bigger?

I love the proportions of this as it is laid out…on point with a 5 in. border.  But I know that it will lose at least another 5 in. in width and length once it is assembled.  I also have a whole lot of this fabric left over, and I wanted this to be queen size.

So I am heading back to the sewing room to make a bunch more blocks.  I need to add at least 2 rows to achieve the same layout look.  At that point I may have to increase the size of the border to hold the proportions.

I'll have to fill it in and see what I think at that point.  As you can see, I tend to make up my patterns as I go along.

I’ll have to fill it in and see what I think at that point. As you can see, I tend to make up my patterns as I go along. Not to mention, I may be running out of room to lay this out.

At any rate, this is the quilt I want to finish through hand quilting. I love the look of hand quilting and I love to do it.  I just have to resign myself that once this quilt is assembled and laid out in a quilt sandwich,  it may take another year for me to complete.  But I am looking forward to having something I can sit and do in front of the TV this coming spring and summer.  Unfortunately, I don’t normally watch a whole lot of TV.

So I’ll be looking for some mildly intelligent series (on PBS maybe?) to follow.  If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.  So far, I’m thinking “Call the Midwife”  and “Mr. Selfridge”.

I hope you are making some headway on your piles of projects this winter.  I have faith that spring will be here eventually, and we’ll all be out gardening again.  Soon.