Friday, November 28, 2014


I was digging through my embroidery floss box the other day and, the deeper I dug, the more I found - more than just floss, that is. In what seems like another lifetime, I used cross stitch. A lot. And I was in good company. My friends Nancy and Dawn were addicts as well; we were all hooked thanks to an absolutely wonderful shop called The Sampler that sadly no longer exists. It was when I lived in Toronto, so more than 20 years ago; I'm always amazed when I can use two digit numbers to recall times in my life!

Anyway, there are a few pieces that have been sitting in the dark patiently waiting for me to remember that I was working on them, and this one made it out of the box. It's called Believe and is a Mary Engelbreit pattern. This is one of my favourite of her illustrations - I also own a Christmas cookie tin with the same illustration on it and just love bringing it out every year.

It is so close to being finished that it's just sad. The pattern is dated 1990, so I suspect that it was started around the time I left Toronto. All that's left to do are some finishing accents and outlining with black floss - the needle is still in it! It's done on a raw linen and the stitched area is 10" x 14" so with a mat it will be about 14" x 18". I wonder if those fold lines will ever come out?

Well, I've decided that it's not going back into the box. I'm going to finish it and then figure out if it will be framed or made into a pillow. Not sure if it will be completely done by this Christmas given everything else that's on the schedule, but it will be finished and used. Maybe if I just do what the pattern says and 'believe' it will get finished in time. Regardless, even if it's just stitching on it, I will enjoy it this holiday.....M

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


There are more changes being made to Elizabeth's Stars in the Forest. Not huge changes, but just enough to make me like it more.

This is the layout that was provided, but it just seemed to me that all of those trees were upside down and it was starting to bug me.

So, since I had already changed the tree design a little bit I decided that a little bit more change couldn't hurt. I'm glad that I did. They are all upside down when compare to the pattern but seem a little more grounded now.

And I have to say that I am loving working with these 15" blocks! I don't think I've ever made a quilt with this large a pattern but it might be time to change all of that - you feel like you're just flying through the assembly. The fact that Elizabeth already had all of the centre star blocks made might have something to do with making me feel like such a Speed Queen ;).....M

Monday, November 24, 2014

Seeing The Forest For The Trees

I've been giving Elizabeth's Stars in the Forest UFO lots of sideways glances and decided that I'd play with it a little bit just to see how the trees in the first border came together. What looked like fairly fast blocks to piece ended up throwing me a few curve balls, so I changed things to my liking. The trees are made of three horizontal pieced strips, which at first glance were going to be very straight forward, but, when I tried making them, not so much.

The pattern calls for the tip of the tree to be flanked on either side by triangular pieces that had been cut from a freezer paper pattern, but even after trying my hand at a few, the best I was getting was this sorry mess. I think that she had cut only the narrowest of seam allowances and, despite trying to sew a very narrow seam, there was only so much room to work with.

I managed to get one that I thought wasn't looking too bad...

but when I sewed it to the strip below it looked like this. Not good.

Not to be refused, I decided to change the pattern. After doing a little math I figured out how to make the tip of the tree a narrower version of the two strips below it, and I like it - there was something about the original design that just wasn't appealing to me anyway, so in the end it all worked out. I need 36 of these so time for more sewing....M

Friday, November 21, 2014

The First Cut Is The Deepest

Remember the song, 'The First Cut is the Deepest'? It sort of describes how I was fretting about trimming away/wasting the points on Fly Away Home, but now that it's done it really wasn't that bad. Isn't it always the way?

With all of my attention given over to the Holly Bazaar recently, making the backing for this quilt had dropped to the bottom of the list. Roberta will be ready to quilt it at the end of the month so I decided I'd better get it together. Only then did I remember that I had my trimming to do. Luckily I was in the mood to get it done so it was done in no time.

I've saved the trimmings because the pieces are still a pretty decent size...

and then I started to play around with them a bit. Some potential, I think. They might also be nice just randomly put together and made into Christmas stockings.

Making the backing took more time than the trimming because I was trying my best to align the pattern. Having so little of the fabric, I really had to think about how I could cut it so that it wasn't looking like a dog's breakfast. It's together now too so next week it's off to be quilted. Roberta is so efficient that I expect that it will be back in a couple of weeks but even if I get it back Christmas Eve it will be fun to have in the living room, bound or not :)....M

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Unexpected UFO

If you took a look around my sewing room (or my kitchen, or living room, or study, for that matter) you would not be hard pressed to find any number of projects in varying stages of completion. I like it like that. I can work on what I feel like working on when the mood strikes, and eventually, a few of them move into the finished column. Well, I now have one more project to add to the unfinished column.

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with a group of gals that I have worked with over the years; The Ladies Who Lunch get together once or twice a year as to have a few laughs and get caught up. This time around Elizabeth brought a bag with one of her UFOs in it hoping that someone would finish it up. She's not a quilter, but about 12 years she decided to try it and it's only gotten so far. She'd rather have it finished and that someone use it so she was ready to hand it off. Of course, I couldn't say no.

It's from Fons and Porter's 'For the Love of Christmas' magazine. And see those little samples of fabric hanging out from the corner?

She has everything organized and samples taped in place so that there's no confusing which fabric is for which piece.

It's called Stars in the Forest. All the pieces are cut and neatly bagged and labelled. There's even a bag of extra fabric, should it be needed.

All 20 blocks are made and they are huge - 20" - so all that's left to do is make the tree border and get this baby together; I have to look at the dimensions again, but I believe that it's a Queen sized quilt. Not sure what I will do with it when it is all done, maybe make it a charity quilt, but it will be nice to know that I helped someone move a UFO along....M

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm Late...I'm Late...

Sew Sisters Quilt Shop in Toronto is hosting Blogathon Canada this week - a week long hop of Canadian quilting and crafting blogs, and I've been invited to link up to it when they swing through Ontario.

Here's how it works. Each day host bloggers from across the country will introduce themselves and their work on their blogs. In addition, they will include links to more blogs from their province so that readers can visit those blogs as well. And the really fun part - each host also hosts a giveaway of some of their favourite goodies from Sew Sisters' shop, so you'll have a chance to win every day of the week. Not only can you win prizes from the hosts, you can also enter to win giveaways on Sew Sisters' blog throughout the week! All giveaways on are open from the date of posting to November 23, so if you missed any go back and enter; international participants are welcome.
Sorry that I'm a little slow off the mark in sharing this info because all of the fun started yesterday, but here are the details and the host schedule; the Ontario hosts will be posting on Saturday. Take a little cross country quilting tour....M 

p.s. If you are in and around Toronto and would like to drop by the shop they are at 3961 Chesswood Drive; it is loaded with fabric, notions, patterns and books sure to inspire.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Return to the Garden

It's only been about three weeks but it feels like much more than that. I'm talking about the Holly Bazaar preparations. It seems like that's been the only sewing I have done as of late and it was nice to pick up some hand sewing that wasn't a pot holder binding or a little felt bird that needed to be put together.

I found my little fruit basket of 1 3/8" blocks for Danuta's Garden and spent a little time putting together tiny four-patches. As you can see from the photo above, a couple of the shorter sashing pieces also got put together and now need to be trimmed.

Nice as the holiday prints are to work with it was a welcome change to get back to this varied collection of floral prints.

As luck would have it, this is what the weatherman delivered this afternoon so, pretty as it was, a virtual stroll through the cheery garden prints was a welcome diversion....M

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Baking Season Has Begun

The official start to my holiday baking is always the Holly Bazaar so things are now off and running; from here on in to about December 24 the house smells of various combinations of butter, sugar, cinnamon and chocolate. Could be worse, right? :)

I was having a hard time figuring out what to bake this year and ended up going with three old favourites: White Chocolate Gingerbread, Cranberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Shortbread. Imagine that - chocolate in every recipe...

Last year I picked up new cello bags during the holiday sales and so they came in handy for packing. They are cute and were a fabulous deal but there's something about the simplicity of the white only patterns that I think are still my favourite.

Despite getting an earlier start this year on the felt birds for the craft table I was attaching bows and putting on eyes almost to the last minute. I had a dozen made but ran out of ribbon so only 11 made it to the bazaar with the pot holders.

The bazaar includes a bake table, a White Elephant table, craft table and a ham & scalloped potato luncheon, which means that the hall is full of great smells, lots of wonderful chatter and fellowship. By all accounts, this one appears to have been another success....M

Monday, November 10, 2014

Happy Little Bundle

The weather has been really changeable lately - sometimes snow, sometimes rain, sometimes beautiful sunshine - but I know that it's only a matter of days before the snow settles in for the winter. Might as well embrace it, right? After all, the Holly Bazaar is on Friday and that's all about Christmas cheer, and I have this little bundle of potholders all finished and ready to go.

You've seen bits and pieces of all of these before but I thought it would be fun to put everything together.

There are two versions of the Granny Square pattern...this one...

and this one. There are so many ways that these could have come together but I must say that I like the red pin dot for the border on them.

There's also a pair in the Log Cabin pattern.

And then there's the star pattern done in the winter bird print. Turns out that I have an advance sale - the Official Cookie Tester really took a liking to these and is prepared to pay double (!) for what they would normally be sold for (the gals at the church really don't charge that much at all - it's a fundraiser and more for the fun of having something to sell than anything else). So, it doesn't look like these will get as far as the church hall. Makes me wonder if I should be making a replacement set. We'll see - I have a few more birds to make/finish and then baking to do for the bake sale, so I may be getting ahead of myself.
Anne dropped off a similar bundle for the Madonna House Gift Shop a couple of weeks ago for me along with a batch of birds and heart decorations, so it has felt like a bit of a production line lately. It is fun to think up new projects to work on but I have to say that part of me is looking forward to returning to sewing without a deadline....M

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Piling On

The weather has taken a definite turn to the chilly side. For the winter we switch our bedding covers from a quilt to a duvet but in the interim I've just added a (third) quilt to the bed. Turns out it is one that mom made 30 - 35 years ago - beautiful pink appliqué tulips.

It's frayed a bit at the edges in spots but the memories that evokes are as strong as ever. Always resourceful, she used the backs of a stack of men's white shirts for the blocks. She did beautiful hand work.

You can see where it has worn through in places on this block - not sure why this particular one is so beat up because the others are still in good shape.

The green border is a Laura Ashley print - I seem to think that Dori bought it specially for her when she was a nanny in Montreal one summer as a teen.

This quilt been around for seemingly ever, and, despite a few frayed edges, still has lots of wear left in it. There's snow and rain in the forecast today so it's earning its keep. Where better to bundle up and wait for the gentle breezes and flowers of spring than under a bed of tulips?....M

Thursday, November 06, 2014

A Peek Behind the Curtain

Hello to all QuiltBee fans! Marie has graciously invited me to do a post on some of the items in my craft room at the cottage. There's not a lot of quilting but it is a peek at different things that inspire me. I'm happy that the photos focus on the items and not on the entire room, because that might scare you off.

I have various items displayed on the shelves in my room. Sometimes they are by theme, but more often they are just a jumble of things that end up together - like this wedding cake topper and Virgin Mary statue. I think the bride is getting some advice form Mary while that sad-eyed Scottie dog with the chipped ear looks on.

Those Bailey’s cups are just too cute to resist. I have plans for them, just like I have plans for every item in the room. I love old game pieces, wooden pegs and checkers, dice of all sizes, and wooden dominoes. They just don’t make them like that anymore. Now everything is made of plastic. I’m on a circus kick lately, and I love to use the game pieces in mixed-media assemblages.

More game pieces, Monopoly houses and such in the jar. Two vintage tin toys and a little Scottie dog with a thermometer that still works. The clown noisemaker has been at the cottage since I was a child. These things remind me of Mary Engelbreit - she always has the cutest things.

Wow, there’s a lot going on in this one! Where do I start? I’ve got a few Virgin Mary statues laying around because I have wanted to make a shrine for some time now. I just found a little metal Eiffel Tower on the street the other day, so it will go well with the Arc de Triomphe. Those pencils in the cup all have my name on them - I got them as a gift when I was 17 (you do the math!). I made those teeny fabric strawberries in the little blue cup from scraps my sister was throwing away from a quilt she was making. They look good enough to eat.

I love little wooden shoes and have plans to make them into pin cushions. That old metal shoe was once a pin cushion too, I’m sure of it. I can’t resist wooden spools and clothespins. They come in handy for winding bits of ribbon and lace around. Those beads in the background are from vintage glass Christmas garlands. I was thrilled to bits when I found those in a rummage sale. Now that I have quite a few, I use them on all sorts of Christmas projects.

I have lots of buttons. These coloured ones are vintage from the 50s that I bought from my friend who is a button collector and seller.

I often buy spools of thread just to get the wooden spools, but if the thread is still good I will use it. I find the old colours so beautiful and muted. This wee basket filled with threads was part of my Easter display.

The porcelain doll heads and doll parts were bought at a flea market in Brimfield, MA by the same friend who is the button collector. I couldn’t find any here in Canada so she picked them up for me. Someday I hope to go to that flea market with her.

Well, like I said, not a lot of quilting inspiration but it is a good snapshot of the different elements that influence all of my crafting, including quilting....J