Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Butterflies in a Garden" Fenced In

It may have taken me months to make the 184 fence posts and the 4 corners posts, but I bet you heard me cheer this afternoon when I finished pressing the final seam!
I spread my "Butterflies in the Garden" Block Swap quilt top out to admire!

This newbie did it! 

As you peeked into my sewing room this summer and watched the process develop in earlier posts, you saw that I drew a graph, figured the math, and planned for the white picket fence and soft blue sky, which will be finished with the blue binding.

It took time to figure out all the dimensions and sizes for what I would need. Careful shopping helped me find the chocolate brown dirt edge for the garden, followed by a grassy green border and finally the picket fence.

So, now my garden is ready for the next process of making a sandwich of fluffy batting and green grass backing and basting it all together!
Stay in touch as I carefully work my way through quilting flitting butterflies and give dimension to this flat beauty!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Coffee vapors

Autumn breezes chill the room as they gently shuffle the sheer curtains bordering the open windows and draw my attention to the vapor lifting off my steaming hot mug of comforting and aromatic coffee. The steam's disappearance causes me to compare how quickly September has evaporated from our lives.
Tomorrow's journal page will begin another colorful month yet it also warns of colder days racing towards my snug little home. Cicadas' songs bombard my normally silent room yet I smile because I hear the laughter of neighborhood kids jumping off the school bus with happy feet running to spend some free time riding bikes or bouncing on a nearby trampoline.

Emptied suitcases huddle in the guest room reminding me of our final summer road trip. At the start of the month, we rushed toward a beloved southern home to enjoy the toddling of a little one while stealing some precious moments with her parents. Not only do the colors and cool air of September make it my favorite, but we celebrate the whole month for bringing our baby girl to us years ago. Now, treasured moments of repeatedly reading little cardboard books, hearing soft giggles and hearing a baby attempting to make words are carried into this new Autumn month.

On each of our road trips, I love crossing the Mississippi and expectantly look for the beautiful St Louis arch rising on our horizon. It shouts "come back soon" or "welcome back" into the sky as the car speeds cautiously through the annual ongoing construction lanes.
The pleasant voice from an audio book played out dramatic scenes for our imaginations and filled our quiet car hours as I sat in the passenger seat next to my favorite guy. We love these road trips when we're only reminded of the summer heat as we stepped out of the car to stretch.

I stitched away the travel hours with fun little hand embroidered coffee scenes. Not really sure what the finished project will be, I still found these little squares fun to stitch.

Then in a little quilting shop, I surprisingly found some coffee themed fabric to border these muslin squares. I'm thinking I'll be warmed in the coming wintery days when the breeze turns to harsh winds and the closed windows hold the sketches of Jack Frost.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Connected by more than a thread?

The luxury of hammock lounging on a free summer day in the most awesome breeze and unimaginable pleasant August temperatures came to a standstill this morning when my phone rang requesting a fill in at the front desk for the remainder of the week.

Abruptly our lives take sudden changes in which, if we're willing, we can learn a peace produced in flexibility. The quick decision to fill in for others teaches us how fragile our own control of circumstances, time, activities, and schedule really is. Those who are making unscheduled changes in their routine can also learn the value of connection with others. There is great blessing in allowing others to help fill in the gaps made by abrupt plan changes and possibly awaken a sense of our reliance on others. There is also the other side for those who enter an open door to serve another and find joy and receive blessings while filling in for someone's day and schedule.

So, each of my plans for this beautiful day screeched to a halt as my body raced into gear to prepare for my arrival at the office. As I gathered all I'd need for an office day, I mentally browsed my list for possible speedy cheats on personal wanted accomplishments, such as tossing a quick load of laundry in, and spot-cleaning the breakfast nook. Glad for the habit of advanced food prep, a couple of crock pots were filled and turned on for a supper to await our end of day return and packed containers for lunch were quickly grabbed to suffice a grumbling tummy.
Glancing at the clock, I found moments to linger over a prepared breakfast fruit dish and catch the scope of the Fox Daily News Alerts.

It's odd how an event can make us aware of others and their reactions. The news made it apparent that sudden and immediate changes impacting others in tremendous ways were happening in all parts of the globe. My little rush to the office was minute when hearing the horrible news of a plane crash, and thoughts of families affected with morning phone calls took on a deeper meaning. Other news portrayed long-term changes that took health, the loss of children, weather-related damaged homes, and so on. The reality of tragedy awakening many this morning made my schedule change seem so small and unimportant. It also posed the question of how any of these people could have prepared for such sudden tragic change and the inevitable new path carved by the news. 

So, on this "What are you doing, Wednesday?" Blog Hop #16, I find myself filling a vacated chair, browsing a strange computer while answering many phone lines to direct callers to correct department for problem solving. As I work, I pray for those who faced the challenges today, but it also reminded me of just how blessed I am by happy moments, pleasant greetings, office friendships, and opportunities to speak kindly to apprehensive voice connections on the other end of phones. To top off this wonderful day, I was honored by two extraordinary little visitors traveling through my city. They lingered in my office area to be with me while parents had meetings with other office staff. We had a great time catching up on the years we've been apart. There's not much more precious in my life than my little friends around the world.

My simple schedule change caused contemplation for the lives my voice will touch today. I wonder if their requests are being made to compensate for sudden changes announced into their schedules and lives. And what about beyond these office walls to those televised changes in lives struck by tragedy? .Are the structures of those lives solid and secure? Will they withstand the storm? Are those hurting people connected to others who have flexible schedules? Will they reach out and find help? Have connections been made to help them cope now with damaging changes brought by a morning phone call?

How important it is to be CONNECTED to others in this life!

When the course of our path changes, we need more than a face book of unknowns.
We need each other.
So, how are your connections? Are they real and personal and ready to weather storms in life?
I'm praying I stay aware of abrupt changes happening around me, and in spite of my busyness, I intentionally connect with flexibility whenever the phone rings.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday's "What' cha doin?"

Joining "What ya doin' Wednesday?" from Content in the Meantime again causes me to pause the humming of my sewing machine so I could click onto my Quilting Blog design page and post my accomplishments.
Ready piles...

This week my quiet moments found me in the sewing room trying to accomplish the challenge of "catch-up". Admittedly though, I planned ahead last week. I wanted to actually sew during my free time, so I set the instructions and their individual cut out pieces in piles, prepared to assemble at a minute's notice!

Block #9
My piles also helped me avoid frustration or waste more time than necessary in choosing the fabric per block. I spent one full day just choosing fabric and cutting the pieces out for each block.
This week, I worked on #9 and #10.
When I laid all finished blocks out together, I realized my objective needed to bring more individual color into a couple of my blocks by keeping the backgrounds of blue swirls at a minimum. On this block #9, red tone is emphasized. My hope is to contrast more with the stripes and dots of color by the blocks of individual color.

My next choices from the Layer Cake is a block that emphasizes its olive green.
Block #10
I didn't realize this block #10 resembles an earlier block until it was assembled. When I chose its fabrics, the earlier blocks were in their storage box. I noticed the resemblance of pattern and colors while browsing through the photos of all the blocks. I like them both, but must make sure they're placed carefully when I finish all 16 blocks!
Block #2

I've enjoyed this Bee and keeping tabs on the progress of The Sassy QuilterI have one more block to complete before I've caught up and wait with her for the Bee's new instructions.
I've posted my photos on Flickr with both groups.
Hopefully, by the end of my week, I will finish #11 and be caught up to the original group and able to move through the rest of the blocks on their time schedule.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Virtual Quilting Bee Progress

No better excuse than just being weary of sitting behind a computer screen inside a beautiful home when I could be outside on the patio, at the edge of the pool, reading a book on the hammock, or even speeding along the highways to visit family. There just seems to be special times when one must leave all life's activities 'back home' and just have fun in the sun! That's about sums up my summer months!

So, In the evenings, my computer remained quiet after a cursory glance to update email messages. I've enjoyed the longer warm evenings with gentle breezes and peaceful neighborhood noises. While enjoying the patio, and time with my Don, I prepared many of the would-be project pieces and organized my piles so I would be ready when time with my dear sewing machine became available. I wanted to make my time really profitable when the sewing machine hummed.
I made a list of things needing my attention and crossed out the little projects as they were prepared. I also enjoyed a class at a nearby Sewing Machine Shop where they taught me little tidbits using the variety of machine stitches available with my Janome model.
And finally, I was even free to mark off one full day to be busy as a bee in my sewing room.

With all the fabric cut, I was able to assemble three of the 5 blocks in my "to do" pile. I'm really trying to catch up to those in the Virtual Quilting Bee and The Sassy Quilter. I hope to finish my other two blocks by Friday!

I think I'm going to really like this finished project with the blue swirl as my main background fabric. As I lay the blocks out, I'm leaning on binding with the blue swirl, plus use it for the backing. I especially love the lacy look it gave block #7 and the soft look it added to block #6.

Using Multidot & Delight Layer Cake has challenged me a couple of times. Once or twice, the artist's instructions ask for larger than 10" strips, but in studying the great photos offered, I realized it would just prevent chain sewing now and then. It just took a little thinking to proceed with the 10" squares.

The greater challenge has been to choose one or two designs out of the pile of the wonderful selection of fabric in this Layer Cake. As I cut, I hope the designs I've chosen fit the cuts I'm asking of them. So far, I've been quite pleased at the final layout.

I'm still working on my Picket Fence border for the Butterflies in the Garden BLOCK SWAP and several other projects are nicely coming together, but oh...they will have to be for another post or two!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Picket Gate Corners

I did it! 
Even though worn out erasers reminded of my old persistent math teacher, I dutifully bent once again over the fractions and geometrical shapes scratched on my graph paper. He had never quite convinced me of math talent, but through his many practice sheets, at least he gave some knowledge on how to figure out a new block for my quilt!
So, today...I finally have my picket fence corner blocks!
My concern was to square off my "Butterflies in a Garden" quilt border just like a garden fence!

I drew what I was picturing in my head with the desire to have easy geometrical shapes fit together nicely, finishing with an 8" block for each corner. It was the corner post that challenged me because I wanted the picket fence to meet in the corner, turn sharply and finish with the sky still above the fence.
As I worked, I wrote a list of needed measurements, and cut them out for a sample. 
2 blue rectangles....1 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch each
1 blue square...1 inch sq
1 white square...1 inch sq
1 white square....2 1/2 inch sq

These pieces gave me a 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 inch square.

Then I attached this square to a block made of 3 fence posts trimmed to 3 1/2"tall. This gave me

half of my finished block. I then attached this half to 3 full length fence posts going in the new direction for the continuing look of a fence border.
This little HST made an interesting little post on top of the corner post, and left sky on the outer rim of my border.
I didn't need to change my measurements for fence posts. I found I could just cut my prepared fence posts in half, using the bottom half for another corner's 3 1/2" tall fence posts.
Making fence posts can be found at this site:

Because of the fabric I purchased, I needed to constantly be alert of the NAP. The skylines can best be seen in the above small square, where they turn the corner with the post. Please notice also the look of wood splinters in the white. This changed direction for me along with the seam.
This may be a tad bit OCD for a quilter, but it mattered! So, to keep me from making many mistakes, I ironed each blue square in half, then put them in dishes for RIGHT or LEFT.
I like the result of seeing little wisps of clouds floating horizontally as you would see on a summer day.

I cut, measured over and over, ripping out a seam here or there, and squaring over and over...but finally, with a big sigh, I have a perfectly squared 8" block, with a little bit of flare for a corner post!

I assembled all corner blocks, liking how nicely they came together. So as I leave my sewing center...
all four CORNER blocks sit waiting for the rest of the picket fence!

PS. I think this photo best shows all the lines in the nap and how I turned the fabric to match the horizon lines of the sky! I also like the splintered wood look of the white posts.  
This hasn't been squared yet. :) (no quilting police allowed)

Friday, June 7, 2013

VIrtual Bee Quilt Block #3

Adding this post to WIP Wednesday and "What are you doing?" Block Hop (click on links in right column), because TODAY...I'm busy in my sewing room.

I am cutting out the pieces for Block 4.
Thought you'd like to see that the colors are working together (photo of 3) with the soft blue swirls for a background...

It's FRIDAY, and I've finished another block for the Virtual Quilting Bee and Sassy Quilter's challenge.

This one went together very easily and was so fun!

My greatest challenge seems to be choosing the fabric for each particular block.

My stash is the Multidot & Delight Layer Cake.

I spend a considerable amount of time placing fabric here and there before I settle on the pieces.

To make things less confusing for me in this decision process, I begin each block with a background from the "soft blue swirls" fabric.
The instructions are awesome!
I don't know what the final result will be yet, but so far, these fabrics seem to be making a pleasing array of design.

I'm so glad I chose to join this Virtual Bee and Challenge!

If any reader still desires to jump in and join us, click on one of the links above and start cutting and assembling your blocks. Make sure to connect with us so we can see your blocks and join you in this fabulous group's
                 "oooh and ahhhh"!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Virtual Bee Block #1 and #2

Along with the Sassy Quilter, I joined the Virtual Quilting Bee, hosted by Amy at Diary of a Quilter.
The goal is to do a block every Friday until we've caught up to the original group.
Today, I proudly display 2 of my blocks.  

Sherri at A Quilting Life gave us the pattern for Block #1.

And Block #2 was designed by Amy at
Sukie Don't Ya Know

For this project, I've chosen Multidot by Windham Fabrics through MSQC, ordering a Layer Cake and then, a yard of soft blue twirls for the background and their dark plaid for contrast. 

This Virtual Quilting Bee is so fun!

Thank you, "Sassy" and Amy, for inviting others to join you! I'm really having fun as I hop from one designer's blog to another.
Thank you also, dear designers! I'm learning from your great instructions and photos.
The best gift of blogging is I'm finding more and more friends in this wonderful corner of the quilting world.
If you're interested, the Virtual Quilting Bee button is in this blog's right column. Click...and come, join us.

Wednesday Workings

Good morning, Wednesday! 

It's the middle of my week where I can announce what project is near my sewing machine, and what I hope to accomplish by Friday. 
I have assembled my set from the
"Butterflies in the Garden" and I'm quite pleased with the outcome.

My goal was to have rows of the same color varying in shades of color and as close to how it would naturally look in a landscaped garden. 

Next, I added the 1" chocolate tone-on-tone "dirt" border around my garden. Today, I will add the 2" green grass tone-on-tone border. 
It will be ready to add the picket fence, I hope next week, when I finish my pile of Picket Fence Blocks

So, one of my projects this Wednesday - Friday is to add to this pile of picket fence posts!

I'm also working on my Virtual Bee blocks, but that's another blog post. So, hop on over to the next entry and see my just finished blocks! 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Making My Picket Fence

1. I cut white logs...2" x 8"
     Cut strips of WOF 8" first, then
     Cut 2" logs from strips 
I cut blue squares 1.5" x 1.5"
       Cut WOF 1.5" strips, then 
       Cut 1.5" from strips 
2. Press squares on diagonal.

3. Put 1 square on a log

4. Sew along diagonal.

5.Trim Seam to 1/4"

6. Press new corner open

7. Place 2nd sq on the log,
         covering opposite corner

8. Sew 2nd sq on the diagonal,

9. Trim seam

10. Press open

11. Finish assembling 5 posts

12. Assemble 5 posts for finished BLOCK!

                    And there you have it.

Friday, May 17, 2013

"Butterflies in the Garden" Fence Post Block

SAMPLE border for garden
While waiting for the butterflies to fly north to my garden, I gathered supplies for my border. I decided to keep the same theme of tone-on-tone, yet keep the floral fabrics within the garden.

Off I went to shop for fence posts fabric.
I found white-on-white in a splintered wood look.

Then, I found a soft blue that looks like a summer sky with soft wisps of clouds floating lazily.

I already had the grassy green, but after some thought, I wanted to trim my quilted garden as I do my flower gardens. I love the intense outline of dark brown chips along the border, so I browsed the store for a dark tone on tone. I found a piece that actually looks like the shades of browns cast by the chips!

With all the fabrics in hand, I began to design the border and fence posts for my butterfly garden. I'm so excited to work on these blocks.
The actual blocks will be five fence posts with blue sky, measuring a 7.5" block. I will first border my garden blocks with 1" strips of brown, then of 2" strips of green and finally, add my "white picket fence outlined by a sky blue" block rows.
My binding will be also made in the soft blue.
My quilting plan is to stitch crossbars along the posts and then use grassy green thread to make strands of grass along the fence in FMM designs.

So, thank you "Block Swappers"! Your blocks are vivid and beautiful! I've squared and arranged my rows of floral fabric blocks.
My Butterfly Garden awaits my diligent work on the fence.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Small projects

As I wait for the Butterflies to wing their way north to my floral garden, (previous post) I decided to put quilting aside for a week or two and focus on some cute little sewing projects. After all, why would I be given the precious gifts of grand daughters and ignore the possibilities of sewing adorable little outfits?

I wanted to make a jumpsuit for the birthday of our sweet 1 year old grand daughter. The blue of this fabric reminds me of her beautiful eyes and I know her mommy loves blue! I began my sewing projects with this little outfit. I'm quite proud of the changes I made in the pattern. I put cuffs on the legs to keep it fitted over her shoes. I also left the collar off and made a ruffle of the short sleeves. The fabric makes it dressy, but it's no frills for play.

Her mommy made some bibs from terry cloth and scrap fabric which just needed my sewing machine to add a little touch of Velcro as fasteners. The little one finds sleepy comfort rubbing terry cloth with two fingers in her mouth. Using terry cloth backing makes great washcloth cleanups when the meals are done.
Here are 2 of the little bibs!

I found adorable fabric to replace a favorite outfit that had long since become too small for our third little overseas princess. It was her favorite Grandma-made outfit, but sadly had to be passed on. To dry the cascading tears, I promised to replace her Dora dress as soon as I could. I searched in several stores before I found any Dora fabric, and was thrilled with this vivid dark shade of burgundy with blue butterflies. It is a reversible outfit, so I found some matching blue for its backing.

The calendar page turned over to May while we visited the little one in a southern state. It was wonderful to see the azaleas and dogwood in full bloom and enjoy the southern sun and hospitality. We returned home on the first of May only to be met with spring rains and the predictions of SNOW (?) brought by very cold winds.
My Butterfly Garden blocks hadn't arrived yet, and it's too cold to plant the transplanted day lilies, so the rest of this week, I hope to finish the Dora dress and get it in the mail.

I love being a grandmother with a sewing machine! The joy of sewing somehow brings the little ones with their conversational questions and contagious giggles right into my sewing room while I dream of them receiving and wearing these adorable creations!