Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Gimme Shelter

My sister Dori has been busy, busy, busy with Christmas sewing for the past couple of months. She always checks in with a women's shelter near her to see if they will be having any mothers with young babies over Christmas and then likes to make a quilt for them if they do. Well, this year they said they'd be having not one, not two, not three, but four, so her work was cut out for her! She sent through lots of great pics as she was putting them together (I'm training her well) so I'm going to share them with you in two bundles.

The first is made from a bright and cheery collection of 60 degree triangles in pinks, reds and a few mauves; it looks like there's a bit of light green in there too.

It's mostly florals but there are a few stripes in there too.

Rows all marked and ready to sew. Don't you just love that pincushion?!

Whereas my machine is down in the bowels of our basement in a room without any natural light, she has a beautiful sewing room on the third floor of their home. It's not huge but it has a great cutting space and nice lighting.

And here's the finished product. I suspect that this one was for a little girl, given the colours, and I'm certain it will be treasured.

The second one is also made from triangles but this time HSTs and lots of graphic prints.

Pretty amazing that even her scissors match, but then you have to know Dori...

The white really sets off the prints nicely.

It looks like this one might be a favourite of Bennie's....M

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Christmas Quilts

On December 23rd I put the finishing touches on my Christmas quilts - come take a peek.

Nantucket was the second one to be bound but the first to go onto a bed. It is bound with the same toile that I used for the backing and the fabric does a nice job of pulling together all the whites, reds and creams in the blocks.

It's also a nice soft contrast to the precision of the nine patches and large stars.

Once it was ready I wasted no time dressing the bed in the guest room with it. That extra wide nine patch border is a winner in my books.

I love a red and white quilt and this will be a great one to tuck in under.

Then it was time to get Country Charmer onto our bed. The Official Cookie Tester had hung his stocking with care at the foot of the bed so it seemed only right that he should have a new quilt too.

He totally loves it and is already negotiating for it to stay on the bed all winter and not just for the holidays. I think he's got a very good chance of that happening.

It's really beautiful and was the perfect quilt to wake up to Christmas morning.

I am finding it really hard to believe that I made both of these in time for Santa's visit and was able to get them quilted too, given my late starts. Seeing them folded up with Fly Away Home that  I made last year was a real treat - I never imagined having a collection of Christmas quilts! Guess it's all just part of the miracle of Christmas (and a very firm deadline :) )....M

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas!

So happy to share that Christmas quilts were finished just in the 'Nick' of time for Santa's great ride and I will share pics with you in a few days. In the meantime, here's wishing you all a beautiful, joyful holiday with the ones you love. May you keep Christmas always in your heart.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Gold Medal Winnings

I feel like I've just run the vacuuming, dusting and scrubbing Olympics and taken home a gold. Every floor - every last one - and seemingly every surface in the house is now clean and shiny and ready for the week's festivities. Whew! And my reward? Binding, of course!

My gingham is proving to be the icing on the cake for Country Charmer.

I was very focused on how it would go with the red floral border on the quilt front, but am really liking how it works with the paisley backing too.

Bindings have been cut and sewn onto both Country Charmer and Nantucket, and this time I used a new method to join the start/end points. I usually create little pocket when I first attach my binding to the quilt and then tuck the end into it when the binding finishes up, but at times I've felt it was just a little too bulky. Time to try something new. These instructions from Mimi Dietrich's book Happy Endings are a cinch and give a great finish. For some reason I thought this was going to be very complicated, but it couldn't be easier, and you can say bye bye to unnecessary bulk. Wonder if it would work on my waistline?

As if on cue, today we finally got more than a few flakes of snow - not tons, but enough to make the Christmas lights glitter just a little brighter and lift your spirits. It's a start. So, I'm going to spend my evening with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and a few good carols and see if I can finish the hand stitching on this one. On with the reindeer games!....M

Friday, December 18, 2015

Not A Binding In Sight

Still no binding made or attached yet to either Nantucket or Country Charmer. Running around doing Christmas prep has been consuming all of my time in the evenings and by the time I sit I'm too pooped to sew anything. Not to say that Nantucket hasn't already been used for the odd nap by the tree...

The upside of all of this is that I am ahead of the game in the gift wrapping department. I am notorious for still wrapping gifts long after guests leave our Christmas Eve celebrations so this year the goal is to have all of that done by this weekend. After that it will be time to bind (oh ya, and scrub floors...).....M

Monday, December 14, 2015

It's A Wrap

I feel like I've spent the last two weeks in a fog of flour and butter, but all for a good cause. The Christmas baking is, for all intents and purposes, finished and packed in tins for the freezer and for gifts.

Social Tea Squares are always a hit and I think this year I made four batches. Maybe five. It's all a blur. And three batches of my all-time favourite, Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread, cause you want to be certain to have enough.

The usual suspects were on my list - Toblerone Shortbread, Pecan Tassies, Chevre Sugar Cookies, Pecan Shortbread with Chocolate, and Fudgy Chocolate Tartlets - but it's always nice to try a few new recipes too and I really like everything that I tested this year (as did the Official Cookie Tester). Those little Cherry Ginger Thumbprints on the right are delicious and easy.

Cranberries are a favourite of mine and I had pinned a new recipe for these Cranberry Orange Cookies. They are fantastic. Dried cranberries and pistachios combine with orange to make a lovely little treat to have with tea, and the tiny bits of red and green are a festive touch.


I also had fresh cranberries in the house so I made another recipe that I had pinned - Orange Cranberry Yogurt Loaf. Actually, I had enough cranberries for two recipes and each made three small loaves, so I had six made in no time. I need to remember both of these recipes for the Holly Bazaar next year.


Because I have several tins to fill I just store the batches in large plastic containers in the freezer until all of the baking is done and then fill all the tins at once. It's a bit of a process but easier than sorting through all the tins every time there's a new batch to add.

So, it's a wrap for another year. Some days I feel for the soft spot in my head wondering who on earth needs to bake this many cookies, but when I see them all packaged up and ready to give and know the joy that these little morsels bring, I have my answer.....M

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Christmas Cheer, Part Two

Roberta made my day last Saturday when she left a message that Nantucket was quilted, so I wasted no time in going to pick it up. I was anxious to see not only the quilting (which again, is perfection) but the toile as the backing. It turned out beautifully.

That feathered swirl is just so lovely - I think I could see myself using it on almost every quilt that I make. Just a second -- I think I have!

It's great to see it skipping across the large red stars and more subtly on the cream and white fabrics.

Someone commented recently on a post that all reds do go together, and I think that this quilt is a great example of that.

I've been feverishly working through my decorating and baking list so that I can sit down and start binding both this one and Country Charmer. The tree is now up and decorated (whew!) and there are only a few recipes left on the baking list, so I'm thinking that by the weekend I should be in the binding business.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Do You See What I See?

My visits to Roberta earlier in the week for the Nantucket backing yielded a very pleasant surprise - Country Charmer is quilted and came home with me. And it is gorgeous! It's patiently sitting in a bag behind the sofa, peeking around the corner at me until I get a bit more baking done, and then it will be bound.

Looking at it through the frosted bag is sort of like trying to peek at it through a frosted window.

I think that I've mentioned before how perfect Roberta's quilting is - she does beautiful work - and this one is no exception. I opted for the same feathered swirl that I used on Fly Away Home because I just couldn't find another pattern that I liked as much.

It is enlarged a little more this time and the loose swirls play beautifully with the precision of the pieced blocks and looks equally good with the floral border.

And, just when I thought things couldn't get any better, I found a fab paisley print for the backing in Roberta's stash of options. If I pinch myself any more I'm going to bruise.

Of course I couldn't resist putting a little piece of binding near it to see what the final result will be. If that's not incentive enough to finish up my Christmas baking so that I can work on this, I don't know what is.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again - thank you Lynn at Sew'n Wild Oaks for designing this beauty. It is just so wonderful and soon to be a big part of our holiday tradition....M

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A Great Start to December

Just when I thought I would never see my fabric order (placed in October) with my potential backing for Nantucket, it arrived as the calendar turned to December. And none too soon, as Roberta is now ready to quilt it. It's a great red and coffee toile from the Bon Voyage line by French General that seems to be a commentary on early hot air balloon rides.

Toiles can be an acquired taste but I really like this particular print, which is a relief because when you order online you can't always tell. And the fabric itself is beautiful.

I wasn't sure if it was going to work with the quilt top but a quick trip to Roberta's confirmed that it was ideal so I brought it home, washed it and put the backing together. It's now safely back in Roberta's hands and she will likely quilt it within the week.

Efforts to try and match the pattern were stopped in fairly short order. It was easy enough to match the pattern horizontally but in order to completely match the pattern I would have had to lose about 12" of width. Whaaaaat??? Not sure what the designers were thinking. Anyway, I still love it and am prepared to live with the half match that I've been able to achieve.

Since I had most of my cookie baking supplies still to unpack from our Bakeoff on Saturday I decided it was a good time to start the baking for our gift tins. These Raspberry Ribbons were a new recipe that we tried this year, and, in addition to working up quickly, I think they will look great on a cookie plate so I made a batch of these. The Official Cookie Tester was very happy with the results and didn't need to be convinced to finish up the trimmings from the ends....M

Sunday, November 29, 2015

One For You, And One For Me

Years ago when I lived in Toronto I loved going to the One of a Kind craft show with my good friends Dawn and Nancy. It continues to be an amazing testament to the talented artisans in this country and was always a great place to do Christmas shopping. It's also where I learned to appreciate Dawn's approach to shopping...one for you, and one for me. Works like a charm. :)

I decided to apply the same theory to my table toppers. Since I was making one for me, I made a second one at the same time (sound familiar?). Anne had wanted to buy one at the Holly Bazaar but missed out on her chance so this seemed like a great (very belated) birthday prezzie.

I got them quilted but I have to say that it wasn't all smooth sailing - the tension gods were not with me (in the end, two different threads, I think). Actually, there ended up being quite a bit of tension by the end of it all, but not the kind I had in mind. My topper was basically quilted twice because I ripped out much of the first quilting. Not what you are hoping for when you're looking to sit and enjoy hand stitching the binding, but I got there - eventually.

Both are backed with a happy green print and bound with a little red gingham for the final touch of cheer. And I found a great red and white string to use as a hanger for the little red felt hearts so I made a few of those as well.

Thanks for all the great comments on the table topper the last time I posted about it. Several of you asked about the size of blocks that I was using. The prints and the centre white block are 3.5" and I used 2" white squares for the star points. The topper finishes off at 18" square. Now all of you who said you were tempted to try one yourself are good to go....M