Saturday, November 30, 2013

Oh What Fun...!

We're headed off to spend the day doing Christmas baking but since I consider this the official launch to my holiday season I thought I'd show you the finished Log Cabin Christmas placemats. They seemed particularly appropriate to post today because I've lined them with a red that has snippets of the song Jingle Bells scattered across it, along with some bells and holly.

It's a great fabric, more garnet than bright red, which is what I tend to prefer, and it nicely suits as a backing. I used a variegated blue/green thread to quilt them.

They are bound with a green on green leafy fabric that I've had for ages and also love. I thought I had tons of it and was planning to bind the Log Cabin potholders with it as well but I guess it's time for Plan B as I only have a small little strip of it left.

Never knew I needed Christmas placemats but I've got them now, and the nice part is that they have the Official Cookie Tester's seal of approval. Oh ya, and they are finished before midnight Christmas Eve....M

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Almost There

Slow and steady has been the pace for this one but it's paying off. I've got the centre panel done and just need to finish off a few more stars before I sew it all together.

There's lots of different fabrics in the centre panel - some holiday prints and some not - and it's just fun to look at. I really love how it has come together - the combination of the reds, greens and yellows are a happy centrepiece for all those wonderful little 4" stars. And the little bit of white & cream thrown in makes it feel 'snowy' too (is that a word?).

It's finally starting to look like its name, Stars All Around.

I'm trying to get as many different reds into the stars as possible for a really patchwork/scrappy feel and have made a few of the stars using a couple of reds too, just to mix it up.

And it's been fun adding in a few interesting background fabrics too. I think this red and green dot might have been from Fig Tree (surprise, surprise!). I'd love to have more of it but these are the remnants from my red & green Flying Geese quilt. I'll enjoy them that much more knowing that there's no more to be had....M

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Required Reading

We're ramping up for our annual Christmas Cookie Bakeoff this Saturday and look what arrived in the mail - Bon Appetit's Christmas edition, with a section devoted to cookies. While the cover didn't really say 'Christmas' to me, it did say 'cookies', so I took a quick peek.

It's not the prettiest spread - not sure if they were attempting to make it look like something from Instagram (have clear, bright images gone the way of the DoDo?), but it did have a good refresher section on how to mix, roll, freeze, slice and decorate. These Roasted Almond Thumbprints on the left looked yummy - they fell into the 'anyone can bake cookies (even non-bakers)' category.

Savoury Rosemary and Toasted Caraway Shortbreads caught my eye too and I think that I might have to give them a try.

Then there was this page with painted Sugar Cookies. Not to my liking for sure, but it does have a certain graphic quilt pattern sensibility, doesn't it?

I've done the run to the grocery store for supplies but didn't have all my recipes out to see what it was that I needed so I'd better regroup in the next day or two.

We got our first big snowfall of the season overnight and woke to this beautiful sight so I just had to turn the lights on while it was still dark. It should be nice and festive for our day of baking; time to download some carols to the iPod....M

Monday, November 25, 2013


It's been busy lately so I haven't had much time to stitch, but every now and then I get another of the little 4-inch stars cut and put together. Now there's a pile of 12 and I need 24, so I'll just keep plugging away.

They are all done in reds with cream backgrounds and will look great alongside the centre panel. I thought that I had a pic of the panel to show you but I guess I just imagined that - next time. It's finished and I'm really happy with how it turned out.

I won't show you all 12 of the stars but I will show you a few just so you get the idea.

Some are more Christmassy than others...

Love the green dots on this one.

Each one is different but they are all really sweet....M

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Klepto Quilting

Back in February when Betty and I were busy raiding Jane's stash for our projects at our quilt weekend we thought that we couldn't be the only quilters that loved doing this. In fact, we jokingly commented that we were brilliant - why buy fabric when you can make quilts for free? :) What's not to love? One thing lead to another and before you knew it we had coined it 'klepto quilting' - yes, as in kleptomaniac - and it has since become a popular and often used refrain. I think it will be the title of my first book... :)

You already know about my obsession with little bits and pieces, so, as a true klepto, when I found a baggie of 1-inch-wide leftovers in red, pink and orange from Jane's gorgeous Kaffe Fassett quilt I tucked them into my bag with dreams of making fun, wonky, tiny, scrappy, log cabins á la Jean Wells. They were just too hard to resist.

And so they were born. This collection of wonky little 4-inch blocks from what looked like a lonely little pile of scrap. They look great with black...

and equally fun with white. I just love the pink & orange combo. I added in a few greens & yellows to make them go farther and add a little interest.

I've got 8 of the little guys made to date and if I can squeeze one more block out of the scraps that would give me 9 - maybe enough for a pillow.

This is the kind of piecing that I think I love - little hits of colour working within a slightly non-traditional block, all made up from those tiny scraps that I have such a hard time ditching. It's great fun making fabric and the end result is always a mystery - not unlike making the green setting triangles for my Pumpkin Patch at Midnight.

A couple of years ago I made about 30 very similar blocks in yellows; I didn't know what they were going to be used for when I started them, I just wanted to make them. They will be used for a border of a quilt that my niece is working on. Maybe some day I'll make a full quilt using this style but in the meantime, we're having fun with the klepto quilting theme....M

Friday, November 15, 2013


The tiny 4-patch blocks that I ended my last post with have sort of taken over the machine sewing lately. They are for a Stars All Round table runner. I started it about a year ago and tucked the bag into a drawer until I had more head space for it. Cutting the little 1.5" remnant squares reactivated my interest so I figured that binding could wait and kept going.

This is what the centre panel will look like - 4-patches in red/cream/yellow alternating with green 2" blocks. I had found a speedy way to do tiny 4-patches but had already started with the 1.5" squares so I'll use that technique another time.

It will be surrounded by 4" stars in a variety of reds.

I found this tutorial for a 4" star on the Temecula Quilt Co.'s blog last week (great timing) so I roughed up a cheat sheet and sat down to try a few.

Despite the tiny pieces they do go together easier than I had imagined and I'm really liking how they work with the centre panel.

While I was pressing blocks I took a good look at my ironing board (I have it angled in beside my sewing table so that I can easily press as I go) and realized how sad my cover is looking. I've actually worn my way through one corner and baked the area around it! Time for a new one. Such a shame as I'm really fond of this cover and the majority of it is still in great shape, but this just looks ratty....M

Monday, November 11, 2013


When I first showed the Log Cabin potholders to the Official Cookie Tester he really liked them and mused aloud that they would be nice placemats. It got me thinking, then digging through my 'favourites' (saved before I became a Pinterest junkie) for something that I had seen on Connie's blog roughly this time last year. She referred to hers as Christmas logs, but another look at them makes me think that it's really the Courthouse Steps pattern. Regardless, since the table was still covered in the remnants from the Holly Bazaar sewing I decided to try and use them up rather than put them away.

I wasn't quite sure what to use as a starting strip size but settled for a 5" piece and it worked out perfectly. The placemats are about 14" x 12" which is the size of a woven set that I have that I like - that's the turquoise that you see in the background. They are still on the table waiting to be quilted and hopefully that will get done this week.

There were still a few strips left over so I've put together two more potholders which still need to be quilted and bound as well.

The pile of strips was getting smaller so I started cutting the 1.5" strips into squares so that they would be used up. I was going to just add them to the bag of pieces for another project that I started earlier this year and get the quilting done first, but when I sat down to sew today I ended up making scrappy red & yellow/cream 4-patches instead of quilting. More to come on that one....M

p.s. Hope you thanked a Veteran today.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Good To Go

There's been the usual flurry of activity with lots of finish up work for the bazaar, but I must be getting a little better at it because this year I'm actually getting to be before midnight :). Potholders have been bound...I found a nice little check with stars in it that has a dominant stripe so when it's cut on the diagonal it looks more like a stripe than a check but I think it sets off the colours in the block nicely.

Lots of cookies have been baked and wrapped. This year I made Oatmeal Chocolate Chip with Raisins & Dried Cherries, White Chocolate Gingerbread and Toblerone Shortbread.

The packaging and labelling is fun but can almost take as much time as the baking!

I pick up rolls of ribbon from the sale bin after Christmas each year so I have a good selection to work with.

I also made eight mini Apple Pecan Bundt Cakes and got them wrapped and ready to go as well. I haven't made this recipe in a while and was tempted to set one or two aside for us to enjoy, but I'll just make another batch in a day or so.

There are 20 hearts and 4 jars of the Plum Chutney that will also go into the box, and tonight I put the finishing touches on 6 felt birds while watching a little college football.

I tried a blue ribbon with the cream birds this year and quite like them. Nothing left to do now but fall into bed and get ready to deliver all the goodies tomorrow morning....M

Monday, November 04, 2013

Holly's On The Horizon

Friday is the Holly Bazaar so I've been working to finish up some of the felt birds and heart decos for the craft table along with a few more potholders.

This latest batch is very Christmassy - a variety of 1.5" strips made up into scrappy Log Cabin blocks and then quilted with a diagonal pattern.

I toyed with quilting in the ditch around each of the concentric rings but wanted to make certain that the back was as clean as the front so I went with the diagonal lines instead. It made me think of this Mrs. Bobbins 'Stitch In The Ditch Club' comic - cracks me up every time...bwahahaha!

They are scrappy and each one is a little different - I tried not to repeat a fabric just because there were so few strips in a block. It's a great way to use up batting remnants.

For whatever reason, I made 5 but last night as I was quilting them it occurred to me that you usually buy a set of 2, so I made add one more to the mix. The backing on most is the same green, with the exception of one, and I no longer have any more of that green so I guess I'll need to see about mixing and matching a set.

I thought I'd have them all made and bound by now but I spent much of yesterday cleaning up the flower beds for the winter so I only got them quilted. There's still baking to do so it's time to scamper!....M

Saturday, November 02, 2013

A Closet Full of Memories

As I was waking up in Beijing one morning I realized that I was staring into a closet full of quilts. In all of the excitement of getting there and travelling around it had taken a bit of time for it to register just what I was looking at, and the longer I looked at them, the more I realized what a time capsule they represented. I knew I needed some pics to share with you so I tried to get a few without totally disturbing the entire pile.

On the very bottom was a Dresden Plate that mom had made using old men's ties. It is rich in colour and each plate is beautifully embroidered with a feather stitch - onto wool blocks, if memory serves me correctly.

Sitting just above it (you can see just a corner of it in teal/green/purples) is the Log Cabin that I made for their wedding gift. This thing is huge. Michael is a very tall man and we don't like our quilts skimpy in our family, so I wanted it to be large enough. Even though it was made on the machine I remember sewing on it and wondering if I would ever finish it. Had it been pieced by hand they likely still wouldn't have it, and they have been married 20 years...

The orange quilt on top of that one is from Denyse Schmidt. She and Lili became friends when Michael and Lili lived in Connecticut and when it was time for them to move to Helsinki, Denyse made her a quilt as a goodbye gift that Lili had admired from one of her shows. Hard not to like friends like that, isn't it?

It's beautiful slabs of various orange fabrics with narrow winter white strips running through it and lined in a blue/grey. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good shot of the front but love the quilting pattern that she used on it.

On top of the pile was another one from mom, a Postage Stamp chock full of all kinds of wonderful scraps. I remember her stitching it in the car on a road trip down to Connecticut to visit with them, so it's fitting that they now have it. Sorry it's a little fuzzy but you can make out the X and O pattern that she quilted it in.

And last but not least was the quilt that we slept under. This is another one that mom made; she was very prolific. The bed was covered in luggage when I took the shots so I only got one corner to show you, but all in all there are approximately 12 strips of geese.

Actually, they are HST Flying Geese and hand pieced as well. Lots of love and scrappy goodness in one little closet....M