Thursday, October 27, 2016

Dropping Hints

There's more sewing to be done for the Holly Bazaar but I've been on the road this week for work so nothing is getting done. Mother Nature decided to drop a hint that I'm running out of time because today (yes, October 27!) we got our first snowfall. Eeeeek! There's more than frost on my pumpkins. It's too early, but very pretty and it's going to get warm again so it won't last, but I got the hint.

I've another square star table topper cut and ready to sew, but this one is not in Christmas fabrics. The gals at the church suggested that all of the craft items don't need to be holiday themed so I'm going to try one that is a little more summery.

It all started with this fabric, which will be the backing. It's a cute little seed packet print and I think will work well in a kitchen.

Last Saturday we made 172 apple pies at the church as part of the fundraising efforts for the bazaar and as we rolled out dough one of the gals asked if I'd do a custom order for her in golds and silvers - not a combination that I would have thought of but I think I have enough variety to make one so I'm anxious to see how it turns out. Nothing for that one is cut yet, just the fabrics pulled.

She's also interested in a white and aqua one I started last fall with Jane when we were doing improv trees. I'll need to see if I can dig it out and try and finished in time too. November 10 will be here before I know it! Pitter patter, time to get at 'er!.....M

Saturday, October 22, 2016

One For You, and One For Me

Thanks to everyone who took the time to leave your wonderful comments in celebration of my blog anniversary - I loved hearing from you and finding out what your favourite part of the quilting process is (sounds like cutting isn't very high on anyone's list!). It's all a process, and a wonderful one at that, and that came through loud and clear. I'd have to say that my favourite part is hand sewing; I find it wonderfully relaxing and always rewarding.

So, on to the giveaway. The Official Cookie Tester has done his duty and we have a winner of the hexie pincushion and fabric - Kyle from Timeless Reflections will soon be receiving a little parcel in the mail. I hope you enjoy both of them Kyle.

And I've had a little bit of an anniversary gift too. I've made a second pincushion for me in a different print. It seemed like a great way to mark the occasion. But, as Nancy said in her comment, I'm not sure that I could put a pin in the bee - I think I'll have to work around it!....M

Friday, October 21, 2016

It's Pumpkin Season...

I noticed that 'It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown' was on TV the other night and it got me to thinking that, other than Pumpkin Pie, I haven't really done any pumpkin baking this fall. Time for Sigrid's Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I've mentioned Betty's friend Sigrid before - she was a fabulous quilter, and an equally fabulous baker. This was her recipe:

Mix in a large bowl:
1 c pumpkin
1 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 egg

2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp soda mixed with 1 tsp milk

Stir  in:
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 c chopped nuts

Drop teaspoonfuls onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 12 - 15 minutes.

The gals are getting together Saturday morning at the church to make apple pies for our annual fundraiser so these will be for their coffee break.....M

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lets Celebrate!

Five years ago my QuiltBee blog was launched and, like so many recreational quilters who don't blog to support a business, there were lots of questions running through my mind as to whether or not I would have anything of interest to say, or for how long. But it was something that I was keen to do and I'm so glad that I did - it has been wonderful! I've met so many warm, funny, creative quilters and learned so much, but even more importantly, it has helped me develop a discipline to not only start but finish things up. Now don't get me wrong, there's still a healthy list of things that need to be finished, but I've accomplished so much more than I ever expected.

I'm incredibly humbled by the fact that you stop by regularly to see what it is that I am working on and I always look forward to your comments and suggestions. It's amazing to be a part of a generous and talented global community that check in with each other periodically to see what's up and it has helped me grow and stretch my thinking. It's also been a wonderful inspiration for me to see what you are working on.

So why don't we celebrate our online friendship with a little anniversary giveaway? I've stitched a hexie pincushion for the occasion. I'd like to say that it was my idea but you have the lovely and talented Susan at Thimblestitch to thank for that - I lifted the idea from her (I think I need to make a second one for moi!).

And, in keeping with the hexie/bee theme, a piece of this great bee fabric - I haven't cut into it yet but it will be at least a fat quarter, if not more.

Just leave me a comment by end of day Friday, October 21 and let me know what part of the quilting process you enjoy the most. The Official Cookie Tester will be pressed into service to draw the winning name on Saturday and if you are a no-reply blogger please remember to leave your email address in your comment so that I can touch base with you if your name is drawn. Thanks so much!....M

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Flurry of Bindings

The Queen of Bindings has been holding court in my house lately - at least that's what it feels like because all three Christmas table toppers are ready to be bound, which means making lots of binding. But that's okay because I found a great new way to cut bias binding. It's all in how you fold the fabric.

I've tried the 'tube' method but find it both confusing and cumbersome - the last time I attempted it things did not end well. Since then I've taken to just starting in the corner of my fabric and cutting 2" strips on a 45-degree angle until I think I have enough, but that gets a little awkward on my small table when the strips start getting really long, and it's not the fastest trick in the book.

Enter Roberta. When I picked up a quilt recently she made me wise to this great method from Heather of Anka's Treasures. It's quite simple - so simple that I almost don't believe it.

Take a piece of fabric, make a 45-degree fold and then using that bias fold line, fold the two outer tips towards each other taking care to keep all of the folds aligned along the initial fold line. Once you have a rectangle just trim near the folds and then cut strips the width that you want, 2" in my case. Confused? Heather has kindly created a handout that you can print for easy reference.

Am I the last to find this out??? And do these people stay up all night figuring this stuff out (like the instructions for making four flying geese at one time)? I don't know, but I'm really glad if they do. Give it a try - you'll love it!....M

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Thankful and Blessed

Thanksgiving always gives me pause. It is that very necessary reminder that I am blessed. One quick peek into my sewing room is only one small example of just how blessed I am - so much fabric. It's a symbol of the luxury of living in a country where peace and democracy are the order of the day and a reminder that we live in a land of plenty. Millions around the world do not enjoy these basic pleasures.

So this weekend we are giving thanks, and as we gathered around the dinner table last evening to share our harvest feast the din of chatter and peals of laughter drove that message home. We savoured our traditional pumpkin pie...

and also celebrated (belatedly) two family birthdays, Anne's and Ted's (my favourite nephew :) ). I love a chocolate birthday cake but Ted prefers vanilla, so vanilla it was, and the perfect excuse to try out a new recipe - Buttermilk Vanilla Cake with a Buttercream Icing. I liked it yesterday, but I like it even more today. The buttermilk keeps it nice and moist and the icing works beautifully. Another reason to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!....M

Friday, October 07, 2016

Happy Holidays....Happy Holidays....

Please do not adjust your sets. Yes, I know that we are heading into Thanksgiving weekend, but I have jumped ahead a season, just for a little bit. There's a perfectly good reason though.

The Official Cookie Tester was travelling for work for most of this week so I decided that I could lay claim to the dining room table since there was no demand for three square meals a day for a few days. I brought my machine and the blocks for the holiday table toppers that I had cut out a while ago up from the sewing cave and have enjoyed sewing with a view to the outdoors. Its been a beautiful week, so that was a bonus.

I just plunked everything into the middle of my tiny pumpkins and gourds and had at it. The makings for three toppers will become two square and a long version (I think that one might need a border because it's quite narrow). The last square topper is almostt finish and I want to do that before I take my machine back downstairs, so despite hubby's return I have still laid claim to the table.....M

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

EPP - eeeeeeek!

Anna Levens and I are still getting to know each other. Colours continue to be switched up and blocks are being started, but the biggest change is that I am trying my hand at English Paper Piecing (EPP) for the first time, a bit of a change for me because I always just eyeball my seam allowance and hand stitch my hexies together without papers.

Lori Holt has a great tutorial, so I followed it (its from 2010 - how behind the times am I????). Thankfully these hexies are about twice the size of the ones I'm using for Minnie.

Her suggestion of using a paper clip to keep things aligned was really helpful, especially if you use a coated one. I set the first batch up using a different clip for each hexie but after that I found that it was just as fast to transfer the same clip from one hexie to the next.
They come together fairly quickly but I find myself frustrated with all of the steps - clipping, basting, removing papers, pressing, and finally sewing them together. I'd much rather just sit down and sew. But I couldn't figure out any other way to get a good clean line along the inside edge of the hexie frame so I'll stick with it, for the centre panel at least. After that I'll resort to my old ways :).

Lori also had the great idea of enlisting her young daughter to baste. At 10 cents a hexie I think its a great idea, but I'm not sure that the Official Cookie Tester would be lining up to do that for me.

I have a paper punch that is the just the right size so I've been cutting papers from junk mail and magazine reply mail cards - the bane of my existence. Unfortunately, I have had really lousy luck with this brand. There is a small piece in the handle mechanism that breaks off when you squeeze it (a design flaw - I think this is the third time around for me) which totally eliminates your ability to get a clean cut, but I managed to punch out 18 hexies, trim them with scissors, and I just continue to press them with the iron and re-use them.....M

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Me And Anna Levens

It didn't take much imagining to land on my next start now that Danuta's Garden is all together. What a surprise - more hexies!

I have been collecting fabrics that would suit the centre hexies on the Anna Levens quilt for a while now. The stack has grown to quite a size so, rather than risk having it topple over onto me from the top shelf I muscled everything down onto the table and started planning.

Designed by Margaret Sampson George, it is the happy amalgam of two old patterns - one by Anne Brereton (1801) and the second the Levens Hall quilt.

Anna and I are about to become fast friends as it's about to go through a third transformation - a little bit larger, rectangular rather than square, and a simplified outer border, but the essence of it will remain. It's also going to be my first EPP attempt (I usually just sew my hexies by hand, without the papers).

Here are most of the fabrics for the centre hexie panel (one or two have changed) - not as many toiles as in the original, but still beautiful, large, romantic prints that will be the centre of attention. That gorgeous turquoise will also be the backing but I don't have enough of the cream print at the bottom for the border hexies, so that will be switched up....M