July 31, 2010

Another Finished Blanket Of Love...

The French General quilt that I made with the Moda "Rouenneries" fabric is completely finished now. I sewed the binding onto it on Friday night. There was no daylight left to photograph it, so we did that Saturday morning.

I can't tell you how much I'm loving this quilt. The colors, even though there are reds in it, are restful to me. I even have enough of the fabrics left to make another quilt, adding some navy fabrics that I have in my stash. Don't you think they would combine to make a perfect, all-purpose, patriotic-feeling quilt or table cover?

I found that the French General's newer fabric lines coordinate perfectly with "Rouenneries", too. So, I could also add fabrics from "Lumiere De Noel", "Rural Jardin", or "Maison de Garance" and they would all work together. Good to know if you'd like to make one of your own and can't find any of the "Rouenneries" line.
Here, you can see both the front and the back of the quilt. It measures 60" wide by 74" long, so it's perfect as a table cover for my antique oak table in our dinette area. The table I'll use it on was our dining room table in Wisconsin. It was a wedding gift from my parents, and I couldn't part with it when we moved to Florida. As we have a teak dining set here, this well-loved antique now resides in our alcove which features windows facing out onto our pool.

The quilt fits it perfectly, so I'm sure it will cover the table for many future gatherings. It's really funny to hear the reactions of friends when they realize I've set the table for a meal on top of one of my quilts. "You mean, we're going to eat over this pretty quilt?" I just laugh and remind them that it's washable, just like a regular tablecloth.

Don't you think it's just being a gracious hostess to set a beautiful table with beautiful things? Of course, you do! I've seen many of your tables, and am inspired by each and every one of them.
Here's the label on this quilt. I always credit the machine quilters, too. Without their talent, my quilts wouldn't look nearly as good. Thank you, Kathy! You're a true artist, my friend. Whether it's used over my table or as a warm cover for a nap, a quilt is a blanket of love. I think that's why making them is so special to my heart.

July 30, 2010

My Devout Acorns...

When we first moved to Florida, I dabbled a bit in jewelry making. I also made a few rosaries as gifts. Although I'm Methodist, I've always been fascinated by the significance of rosaries, and I've always found them to be beautiful devotional items. I've been collecting rosaries for some time. And I've been collecting acorns for much, much longer. Can you even imagine how excited I was to find this unique and elegant rosary? It features acorns instead of beads.
The acorns signifying the ave beads are all in silver, and the acorns signifying the pater beads are in gold. The links, crucifix and center medallion are all in silver. I think this rosary is simply stunning, and I so happy to add it to my collection(s).

PS. The "Charmed" quilt tutorial is finished and can be viewed here. I've also added a link to it from my "Free Patterns and Tutorials" link at the top of my blog so you can find it any time.

July 29, 2010

Binding The Faeries...

Yesterday, I sewed the binding onto the "Faerie Glen" quilt. I chose to bind it with the same fabric that I used for the back. Beautiful, green leaves to really complete the theme of the quilt.
I sewed the label onto the back (baby's name obscured here for privacy). I'm really happy with the way it turned out, and I'll be putting it in the mail to the birthday girl today.

I'm on a binding "roll" now, so I'll finish the French General and Williamsburg Welcome quilts next. I'll share my progress tomorrow.

Hey! It's already Friday. Man, this week went fast! What did you accomplish this week? What's on your agenda for the weekend? Something fun, I hope!

PS. Thanks for all the compliments on my new look. There are a few things that have to be tweaked yet, but I'm really loving it!

July 28, 2010

I Have A New "Dress"...

Well? What do you think? My new dress design is complete and Karen (my blog heroine) uploaded it today. You may have noticed that I kept my same header. I want to be able to change that element out from time to time, rather than have a different one forever. I also love that my typeface is larger. It makes it easier to read, don't you agree? I really like the way everything turned out...especially my sweet acorns! Do you love my new look? Is is me?

You can click on Karen's image above to go to her design website. She offers a lot of different service, from the tiny favicon in my url box (the little acorn replaces the Blogger "B"), to the little elements that now appear between my posts. Have fun shopping! I'm sure you're going to find something you need to have for your blog. Thank you, Karen!!!
My "Charmed, I'm Sure" quilt is finished. I added the binding yesterday, and sewed my custom label on the back.
I use a washable cotton fabric for my labels. Mine were purchased through Blick Art Materials website (here) and made sure I got the cotton that could be washed. No quilt is truly finished until you sew the label on it. Now, off to finish my lavender "Faerie Glen" quilt!

I haven't finished loading the rest of the tutorial into my Flickr album yet. I think I took close to 30 photos to help show how I apply the binding, but I promise to do it today! Hope you accomplish something creative today.

July 27, 2010

Bindings, Bobcats and Bomb Scares...

On a scale of 1-100, yesterday was a 90, and I'm not talking just about the temperature! It was pretty darn eventful! I spent much of the day in the studio creating the binding for the "Charmed" quilt, and photographing the process for what has become a tutorial. I'll be adding photos to the tutorial today to share more of my "how to", and I'll finish that quilt later this morning. Now, I know that doesn't sound really exciting, but bear with me. It gets better.

Tuesday evenings are Books A Million "girls night out" for a group of us who get together to knit, crochet, sit around, drink coffee and chat. We all look forward to it.

I went through the garage to go to my Explorer (parked on the driveway) and saw - at first glance - what I thought was a large cat. It was sitting at the back of my vehicle and watched me punch in our code to close the garage door. It sat there as I walked toward it to get into the car. When I was still about 20 feet away, I said, "Hi Kitty" in a sweet voice. It stood up and just sauntered around my car, away from me, and it was at that point that I saw the short tail that gave away its identity.
Internet photo
It was a bobcat! I'd seen a larger bobcat here last fall, and then a young one this spring (sitting on the top of our mound system), so they're no stranger to our semi-rural neighborhood, or even our yard. I think this one is the young one I saw, now about four months older.

When I got to the car, I walked to the back side to be sure it wasn't under the chasis. I saw her standing about 15 feet from me, looking at me and swishing her tail. I lived with cats as a kid and knew that a swishing tail isn't something I wanted to fool with. I casually got in my car and backed out to go to Books.

When I got into the main part of the drive, there she was again. When she saw the car, she hightailed it back into the brush. I'll be watching for her now, and I understand what seems to grab Kes' attention now when we go out to the mailbox. She must be sniffin' "bobcat"!
I drove to Port Charlotte without incident. I got to the shopping center where Books A Million is locate only to be greeted at all entries to the parking lot by squad cars with lights flashing. The officer just directed traffic to the right as we entered, and then I saw people standing all around and a section of the lot cordoned off with police tape. What the...?

I parked and walked to the entrance to the store, and although the lights were on, all the doors were locked. Hmm? I asked a lady who was passing by what was going on. She told me that there was a car in the lot that had a sign on the windshield saying that there was a bomb inside the car! She was upset because her car was inside the police tape and they wouldn't let her move it and go home. Everything was on lockdown, employees and shoppers were all evacuated and at 6:30 pm - at this shopping center - commerce had come to a standstill.

My cell rang and one of the gals told me they'd all moved across the street to Panera's, so I got back in my Explorer and drove over to join them. I'm still surprised that the officers even let me into the parking lot for Books a Million. We watched the flashing lights on the squad cars all evening. When I left Panera's, it was 10:30 pm (Alright, so I got into a lengthy conversation with my friend, Krisann and we lost track of time.). The police had left the parking lot across the street only a half hour earlier. That shopping center was locked down for over four hours! I can't wait to read today's paper to find out how this all played out. (UPDATE: Here's a link to the story that appeared in Wednesday morning's local paper about the incident.)

So, there you have it. My day of "bindings, bobcats and bomb scares". Who would have thought?

PS. I still haven't found my seam ripper, but I like Rettabug's suggestion to get a magnet wand to look for it! Who knows what I'll come up with! xoxo

July 26, 2010

A Tutorial For ZuZu...

I received the comment from Zuzu of A Cottage In The Woods, after I finished the lavender quilt top last weekend.

said...It's gorgeous! What wonderful times these lucky little ones will have snuggled up in their quilts! I am very interested in how you finish your quilts, Donna. I made a quilt top years ago, but never finished it, because I just don't know how to. If possible, could you share how you pin the layers together & finish them? I'd love to learn! :)

Zuzu, dear, this is for you and anyone else who wants to know...I'll post a few photos here, but anyone who wants to know more about how I finish my quilts can get all the steps and processes by clicking on my Flickr album here. I don't have room to do large quilts in my studio, but these photos will give you an good representation of how I do the stitching on my own smaller quilts. I do my pinning on my antique oak table in our dinette area. (And, if I had more room, I'd certainly follow the same procedure for a larger quilt.)
In addition to the items I have on hand to do the quilt assembly (shown in this photo), I also used 100% cotton batting and bull dog clips (clamps). I machine quilt, so of course, Prissy got busy yesterday afternoon, too! (I couldn't do it without her or Miss Ellie. I have a nice, big quilting table surface attached to my Espire (quilting) sewing machine (nicknamed Prissy), so she's my go-to gal for these projects.
Here's what the "quilt sandwich" looks like after it's pinned and ready for sewing. Remember to decide on how you want your stitch pattern to look and then pin the pieces together so that you don't stitch over them when you're actually sewing the layers.
You can see in this photo that I have everything assembled, pinned, rolled and ready to quilt. The first photo is my finished "stippling", also called "meandering", pattern. I was lost in the movement of the fabric under the needle in the afternoon and time just seemed to fly. I haven't tackled the binding yet. My plans are to finish stippling the other quilt top and then doing the binding on both on the same day.

I hope you enjoy looking at the album (sort of a tutorial, I guess). Thank you, Zuzu, for the request. Anyone wanting more information from my posts, should know that you're welcome to ask me anything, anytime and I'll try to accommodate you. I really appreciate your comments and like to help whenever I can.

ps. I'll post the balance of this tutorial when I trim the quilt edges and add the binding in the next day or so. Then the tutorial will be complete.

July 25, 2010

A Little Message From The Universe...

So, I've lost my favorite (sharp and fine) seam ripper. I've been looking for it for almost a week! One minute it was there, the next - poof! - it was gone. It's brass, with a brass case. I have the needle threader to match (which I never use). Of course, I couldn't lose the needle threader. The photo shows the complete needle threader, and my lonesome case for the seam ripper.

How does this happen? I've even gone through the waste basket that sits next to my cutting table, thinking it might have dropped off the edge into the bin. I've decided that I don't like "dumpster diving" ...and, nope, it wasn't there either.
When things like this happen, there are some pretty interesting exchanges around here. (In the mode of Sophia Petrillo on Golden Girls... "Picture it. North Port, July, 2010.")...I'm in the studio. On all fours. Trying to see under my sewing cabinet. (My seam ripper could be under there!) Butt in the air, facing the door.

Handsome, standing in the doorway: "Oh, hello." (I know he's smiling without even having to look up!)

Me, still looking under the cabinet: "Hiya."

Handsome: "What are you doing?"

Me: "Looking for my seam ripper." (I'm also running my hand under the cabinet in case the seam ripper has become invisible.)

Handsome: "Under there?" (I think he's giggling.)

Me, now I'm giggling, too: "Uh, huh. Have you seen it?"

Handsome: "I don't even know what a seam ripper is."

Me, looking over my shoulder and trying really hard not to sound sarcastic: "It's for ripping out mistakes in my sewing."
(I know, you're really surprised, right? "Donna makes sewing mistakes?" Trust me. It happens fairly frequently.)

Handsome: "Is it under there?"

Me, checking one more time: (sigh) "Nooooo." (using my best "frustrated" voice.)

Handsome: "Uh, Ok. I'll be in the other room, then." (as he turns and walks away.)

Me, finally turning around: "I could really use some help getting back up."

Too late, Handsome has left the studio. It's ok. I can do it myself. Hang on a minute. Do they make grab bars for studios? I'll have to look into that.

I still haven't found my seam ripper. While you're at it, have you seen the sweet, tulle drawstring bags I bought for holding my strawberry roses...or the set of six, vintage berry bowls I brought back from Wisconsin last fall? I seem to have a black hole somewhere in the studio. Things have gone in there, never to be seen again. Perhaps, the Universe is trying to tell me that I need to empty those cabinets and start over with transparent storage? Or perhaps, Shell needs to come to Florida to help me purge, sort and re-organize. I have to go now. I haven't given up hopes of finding my seam ripper. If you need me, I'll be in the studio.

My two quilts are posted as part of my De-Stash Along 2010 projects with Missy from Crafting with Cat Hair. She has set up a Flickr album for all the participants here.

I took a sewing break on Sunday. I really did tidy up the studio, still searching for my lost treasures. At this rate, I'll be able to hide my own Easter eggs next spring!

July 24, 2010

Charmed, I'm Sure...

I knew when I got up yesterday morning that I'd start and complete my second quilt top. I thought I'd decided on the fabrics ahead of time, but by morning's light, I'd changed my mind about my choices. I opened the doors on my cabinets and started pulling fabrics. I settled on a collection from Benartex (Called "Charmed") in shades of sweet pinks and yellows.
My second decision was how I wanted to arrange the fabrics, and I decided on pinwheels for the little lady who will receive this finished quilt. I spent the next hour cutting all the fabrics into 5 1/2" squares. From there I joined fabrics and cut them to become assembled squares of half-square triangles. (I'm posting this album to show you the actual steps, in case you're interested.)
I added a sweet plaid sashing to the edges, and entire pieced quilt top measures 40" x 49". I'll quilt this one myself, too, and I'll start that later today.

I had so much fun with both of the quilt tops. The one I shared yesterday I'm calling "Faerie Glen", and this one will be called "Charmed, I'm Sure". I'll quilt them this week, photograph the to share with you, and they'll be on their way to their new homes.

July 23, 2010

Faeries In The Studio...

(You can always click on my photos to enlarge them for a better view.)
Two of my favorite young ladies are having birthdays a week apart in August. I wanted to make something special for each of them, so I decided on quilts. These ladies love dolly tea parties, picnics on the beach, and little naps in the afternoon, so I think they'll love having their own special blankets to dream on.
I decided to use a fabric line featuring garden faeries for one of the quilts. Nothing like busting into my stash in search of the perfect assortment for the task at hand. So, yesterday, I pulled out the collection. 5 1/2" strips rolled into a compact package and tied with a ribbon...patiently waiting for me me to take it off the shelf and decide how it would be cut. I decided on 5 1/2" squares (my own charm squares), from the assortment, and I added 5 1/2" lavender-colored fabric for the opposing squares. Then, I added the light lavender sashing and darker lavender corner blocks between each square set.
I started cutting the fabrics around 10 am yesterday. By 6 pm, my sewing day ended with a mostly finished quilt top to show for my efforts. It's a sashed, four-patch pattern, and it measures 48" square, which should be the perfect size. I'm going to quilt this one, and the next one (for the other little lady) myself, so I'll piece the second quilt top today, and do the assembly of both quilts (pinning top, batting and back together, finish quilting and binding) when both tops are finished.

I'll show you my progress tomorrow. Hope your weekend involves doing something fun or creative!

July 22, 2010

On A Wing, And A Little Prayer...

A little nervous, a little apprehensive and a lot excited. I'm taking a little leap of faith, and puttin' myself "out there". We'll see what happens. I promise to let you know more as soon as I do. Do you like what you see? I hope "they" do, too!

On another note, I picked up my French General and Williamsburg Welcome quilts this week. Kathy at Sandy's Quilt Shop does a beautiful job of quilting my everyone's pieces on her long-arm, and I'm thrilled with the results. I'm looking forward to my final contributions - the binding and label to make "complete".

Williamsburg Welcome will be raffled at the Consort in September to raise funds for music student scholarships, and The General will become the newest member of our private quilt family. I'll show you what they look like when they're all finished and ready to use.

July 21, 2010

I Hope You Like Them...

Guess what I'm popping in the mail today? If you said the 400th Follower ATCs, you're right! I finished them yesterday, so now they're ready to send off to their new owners.I used one of my current favorite fabrics, lace, silk ribbon, my signature acorn and of course, the giveaway image. These are "special edition", and I won't make anymore like these (unless I missed someone's name when they requested one).

Here is the list of (20!!) individuals who requested one. If you asked for one by the Friday deadline and you don't see your name here, I missed your email or message. Please let me know so that I can add you to the list and make a card for you.
  • Maggie B. of The French Bear
  • Carol D. of Beads and Birds
  • Raeann D. of Lady Farmer Parables
  • Sherry E. of Creatology
  • Marydon F. of Feedsack Fantasy
  • Denise G. from Vermont
  • Natalie G. (I still need your address, Nat.) of Tins and Treasures
  • Lisette H. of Liszha
  • Nancy H. of Huggins Haven
  • Zsuzsanna of Zsuzsanna Zeirlerne'-Kosma blog (Sue) in Hungary
  • Diva K. of Diva's Musings
  • Lisa L. of A Cuppa Tea With Me
  • Marsha M. of Sassy Mini Dolls
  • Connie M. of She Dreams Big
  • Debra O. of Common Ground
  • Linda P. in Iowa
  • Peggy in the Philippines
  • Lynn S. of Trash to Treasure Art
  • Nancy S. of Nancy Matters
  • Lesley W. in England
Thank you to each and every one of you who asked for a card. I'm so grateful and enjoyed making these with each of you in mind. It's always fun to know where your gift is going while you're creating it. I think I can add a little extra love into the project when I know who'll receive it. So, they're heading your way, girls. I hope you'll be happy with my efforts.

PS. Sorry for the big tag in the left corner of my blog header right now. (grrr!) I did update my blog background, per their instructions, but it's still there. I want to let you know that I finally decided to contact everyone's blog heroine, Karen Valentine, and will be working with her in the upcoming weeks to transform my blog look. (I'm more than a little excited!)

July 20, 2010

We've Had This Chat Before...

I originally posted this photo in October, 2009. (You can read about it here.) At that time, I was telling you about a wonderful service provided by The Cutest Blog on The Block, who provide my blog background design. I ordered my first blog books back then, and have recently ordered more to update my blog library.

I read this article last week about U.S. authorities shutting down WordPress host (with 73,000 blogs) and got paranoid all over again. I want to memorialize all the thoughts I've shared with my readers - Just. In. Case.

I really like this service, and it's available to other blog hosts - not just Blogger. They have lots of different cover designs. You can select hard or soft cover, and you can even choose to purchase digital versions. You can decide whether you want a compact layout, which uses the least number of pages, or the layout you used in your posts. They even allow you to edit your pages, include reader comments, and add or remove posts from your book. You just select the date range you want in one book, and go from there.

If you're interested, please use this link to visit The Cutest Blog On The Block book service, called Blog2Print, to see about turning your blog posts into books, too.

PS. Still busy with the ATCs and hoping to finish them tomorrow.

July 19, 2010

Let Love Be Your Guide...

I did this needlepoint piece a few years ago. It was a Claire Murray kit. I just love her designs! It was a fun piece to stitch, and I even did the hair on the angel in auburn French knots. (Our younger son's hair is red!) The design area measures 14" square, so it's not a small piece.

Claire has a home and shop on Nantucket. You can see the Nantucket influence in her work. She loves hydrangeas and whales, and those quaint, rose-covered cottages. I've been to her shop and I really love the hardwood floors, her hand-hooked rugs, bedding, tableware and all of her designs all around the space. Who wouldn't?

I've never done anything with my finished piece because I couldn't decide if it should be framed, made into a cushion or if I should do something else with it. (I have to admit that I hesitated to make it into a cushion. Black wool background. Yellow Labrador hair. See my dilemma?) So hard to decide. What do you think I should do with it? (Disregard the yellow dog fur issue.) I really value your opinion.

PS. It turns out that I have twenty ATCs to make and it's taking a little longer than I thought. I'll write a post about the finished cards just as soon as they're done (this week, I promise!). Again, my sincere thanks to each of you who requested one. I'm honored, and this is truly a labor of love for me.

July 18, 2010

Christening Day...

Sunday was baby Liam's Christening day. Some of you asked to read at least some of what I wrote to him. I included a letter in the back pocket of the storage garment bag I made as a keepsake along with the ensemble. I decided to share an excerpt with you today.

Dear Liam:

My prayers for you are that you live in a world where people are still considerate of one another - especially, a place where elders are respected and children are cherished. My prayers for you are that you grow up to be a happy and healthy person who finds someone to love, marry, and with whom you can share a family and a long, happy life.

I pray that, when you make decisions in your life, you choose to follow a righteous path. Although it’s easy to do the wrong thing, it takes a strong will and determination to decide to do the right things. I know that your parents will do their best to raise you in the church to give you a strong moral foundation, and that they will surround you with people who will support your heart and mind in ways that are honest and good. When you are grown and make your own decisions, the voices of these people will be able to speak to you when you’re unsure of your path, and they will help guide you.

I hope that you are blessed, as I have been, to be able to watch four generations age together, and I’m hoping that I live long enough to see a fifth generation born before I must leave this world. I want you to know that I consider it a blessing and an honor to have been able to create this gown for you to wear as your life is blessed - as your parents ask God to watch and protect your spirit as much as they will endeavor to watch and protect your body.

I claimed a Bible verse to embroider into your slip as you are the first baby to wear it. Psalms 91: 11 reads: “For He hath given His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”

This is my prayer for you, Liam. I wish it for all the babies that wear this gown. May God watch over you, bless you and keep you, now and always.

Love, Aunt Donna Liljegren

It's probably just as well that I wasn't in Minnesota yesterday. Watching my niece and her husband, standing beneath the same arbor that sheltered them as they exchanged their wedding vows - now sheltering them as my great-nephew was baptized in the gown I made for him. It would probably have had me bawling my eyes out.

I hope your Sunday was blessed, too.
In case you weren't here for the making of Liam's christening gown, here's the link to the photo album with captions to explain.

July 17, 2010

It All Started With An Acorn...

Imagine my glee as I opened a package from
Debbie at Mosaic Magpie
to find all these wonderful gifts! Debbie had told me that she had a little
surprise for me, and that she also wanted to make an ATC for me...only
her second one ever...but, I never expected everything else she added!
Shell...Can you see all the sweet bunnies Debbie sent my way?
Look! Here's the sweetest little acorn cookie cutter!
Debbie also included laces, those bunny embroideries, a charm
and more ephemera that I just can't wait to use!
Debbie, dear. I love your ATC! It's so cute and clever and PERFECT!
I'm sure you're gonna be hooked on making and sharing your artwork.
I know I'm thrilled to have a piece from you, and the acorn and "extras"
are all over-the-top generous! I so appreciate your thoughtfulness.
Your artist trading card will be on its way Monday!
You are truly a blessing and I'm very grateful for you and your gifts.

All those wonderful goodies - and then another package arrived
from Canada. I'd had an alert that this was on its way, but I
really had nooooo idea! I was just giddy with anticipation.
As Mum taught me, I opened the card first and read the message...
it was from Margaret B of The French Bear!
I had sent her a gift of one of my knitted Bead Fringe Scarves and
she said she was going to send a little somethingone my way.
I have to admit, I was curious and just wanted to tear open the
beautiful wrapping...but I carefully undid the ribbons and bows to reveal......Friends, I'd like to introduce you to "Nutmeg".
This sweet thang has jointed legs, soft white pads
The. Sweetest. Face.
And, when I straightened up her tie, I found a tiny
acorn charm hanging around her neck!
Margaret, I promise that Nutmeg will hold court in a place of
honor in the studio. I love her and will care for her forever.
A thoughtful and beautiful gift from the hands of my Canadian friend.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And to think, these wonderful gifts all started with an acorn - The mighty oaks, the talented and strong women who I call friends. Not just those in today's post, but all the friends I've made here in Blogland. My heart is full because of you.

PS. I finished the quilt top last night!! I'll take photos to share with you this week. Once I put the backing together, I'll be taking it to Harbor Heights to machine quilt everything together! woo hoo!