November 30, 2012

Numerous Blessings

Here is an excerpt of an email my husband received this week from someone at work:

Met a woman tonight at UofU [University of Utah] hospital that makes the phrase "count your blessings" come alive.  Be good.  Be nice.  Be grateful.  Life is too darn short...

... Stage 4 breast cancer that has moved to multiple locations.  Cancer has broken her neck and spine and is incurable at this point.  7 months pregnant and trying to keep alive for healthy delivery.  9 other children. Lives east of Spanish Fork in canyon.  Met husband.  Oldest son about to leave on a mission. Home ward taking very good care of family.

My blessings are too numerous to mention. Yes, we all have trials which vary in magnitude and duration. Hopefully, we will remember that the final reward will depend on how gracefully, cheerfully, we endured them.

The sun is shining. I am getting ready to quilt a few projects. My children are healthy and are at school. My husband is employed. Our relatives are well, employed, have homes to live in. I can see, smell, touch, hear, taste, walk, and think clearly (albeit the latter fails me sometimes!).

I am free to worship, to move about, to wear what I please, to drive, to vote, to communicate my thoughts.

Like you, I am only human, thus prone to forget all of the above. Like me, it may be worthwhile for you to take a few minutes and pray for (or send positive vibrations towards, or meditate about) this lady who is laying in a hospital bed, likely hoping she will live long enough to deliver a healthy child.

Life is good.

November 29, 2012

Linky Parties

I am linking to the craft parties at Quilting by the River, A Crafty Soiree, Freshly Pieced, Sew Much Ado, Seven Alive... Check out these blogs for awesome ideas!

Holiday Decor Tutorial

At this time of the year I search for ideas of gifts I can make for friends, teachers, my husband's co-workers, and others who have affected our life in a positive way during the year. As I make the gifts, I am filled with gratitude for them... and hope they will feel it as they receive the gift. My requirements: the gift should not take hours to put together, it must be creative, and its materials must be easily found in nearby stores.

This year I made a Christmas wall hanging decoration depicting the Holy Family: Joseph and Mary holding baby Jesus. This handmade holiday gift fits my requirements, and its design can be changed to suit your taste (or the season).

Here is what you will need:

Wooden embroidery hoop, 5 inches
Background fabric
Scraps of blue, red, and green wool
Contrasting thread for applique
Scraps of tone-on-tone white fabric
Pearl bead
Small red button, medium star button
Burlap string
Red yarn
Glue gun, pinking shears

From scraps of wool cut pieces as follows: a 3" x 1" rectangle from blue, a 2.5" x 1" rectangle from red, and a 1-1/2" x 1/2" rectangle from green. Pin them to the background fabric (except green piece), with the burlap string behind the wool rectangles as shown above.

Using a blanket stitch, machine applique the red rectangle, close to where the burlap string lays.

Without breaking the thread and changing the stitch to a regular straight stitch, move on to the blue wool rectangle. Change back to blanket stitch and applique the piece, going over the burlap string to secure it in place.
This is what the back of your work should look like - neat, no straying threads.
Pin the green wool rectangle across the blue and red ones, making sure to cover the piece of burlap string and the straight stitches you made when going from one rectangle to the other.
Make two yoyos for the heads (I used the Clover Yoyo maker, small... I had 5" squares of tone-on-tone fabric, which I cut in four pieces, each piece being the right size for the yoyo maker.) Use a strong thread (quilting thread is a good option, as it will not snap when you pull the fabric together to form the yoyo), and do not cut it after you finish the yoyo, as you will use this same thread to tie it in place onto the background fabric.

Secure yoyo to background fabric with a few small stitches.
Do the same for Mary's head, and then attach the pearl bead next to the green rectangle, as the baby's head.

Tie the burlap string across the figures with a double knot and bow.
Center embroidery hoop over the scene to determine its position...
... and hoop the fabric.
With pinking shears, cut fabric to within a 1/4" of hoop.
Apply glue to hoop and fold fabric onto it.
Trimming the fabric with pinking shears will prevent fraying, and the back still looks neat.
Glue red button onto center of the burlap bow...
... and glue star next to the metal fixture of the hoop.
Cut about 9" of yarn, feed it through the metal fixture of the hoop, tie two knots and trim it. It is done!

I made 12 of these, using different colored stars on each one. I hope you like this idea and have fun making these wall decorations this Christmas! Then, think about Valentine's Day, Easter, Fourth of July... just use appropriate designs and wool colors!

November 27, 2012

Quilting with wool

I love the look of wool applique, and have made a table runner, a small wall hanging, and a pin cushion, and have a Christmas wall hanging kit waiting to be worked on. I think I will start it soon, as I have been dreaming of working with wool for quite a while. I am perhaps influenced by my friend Sandi, whose applique quilts are to die for...

Until I have a chance to start working on the wall hanging, I have been reading the latest title I purchased for my quilt library: Pennies from Heaven: Celebrated Quilt and Companion Projects, by Gretchen Gibbons.

The cover quilt is so beautiful! Gretchen begins her book with great tips for working with wool, including how to prepare wool if you prefer to felt it yourself, the many ways to prepare and applique the pattern, alternatives for affixing applique pieces to background, etc. Whether experienced or novice, you will enjoy Gretchen's book!

As I was shopping yesterday with my friend Diana G., I was drawn to wool packets, patterns, scraps, kits... I did purchase background fabric for some projects I have in mind... but resisted buying wool, as I want to check out Primitive Gatherings offerings, which I heard are excellent.

Have you worked with wool? Do you prefer to purchase it at local shops or somewhere on Cyber space?

November 26, 2012

Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday...

Last Saturday I went to JoAnn's very early in the morning, armed with coupons and cash. Look what I got:

Yep, the entire roll of my favorite batting! When my friend Diana S., who also happened to be there super early with her mom, suggested I buy the entire roll since the price was so good, I listened!

I am the proud owner of this roll of 40 yards of Warm and Natural batting, except I feel like a thief who just stole the contents of an entire house but can't pack it all onto his 'bicycle'!!! Where in the world will I store this?

DH was happy with the savings, and said: "Wow, now you have batting for at least two years!" Ignorance is bliss, huh? :-)

How about you - did you find any deals you could not resist?

November 23, 2012

Painting wood crafts

What do I do when I do not want to spend time sewing, quilting, embroidering, etc? I paint wood crafts!

This one comes from Brazil, and I just finished it, using stencils over an off-white background. It can be used as a caddy for utensils, or as a pencil or gadget holder.

My daughter-in-law, Daniela, liked it so I gave it to her. It is very light weight and durable, so I know it will last her a long time.

What do you play with when you don't feel like playing with fabrics?

November 21, 2012

Table topper

Hmmm... Winter is just around the corner, yet I still favor my spring quilts!

My husband asked me why I haven't displayed this one at home yet... so I guess it will make its way to our dining room table soon.

I fussy cut the butterfly wings and appliqued them on each corner, as flower petals. So cheerful!

November 20, 2012

Christmas Stockings

This is the first time I made Christmas stockings, so now my younger boys each have one. They love them!

My mom had brought me some cool ric-racs from Brazil, and this one was red and green, perfect for this project. I selected a few different Christmas fabrics for the front, and used one of them for the back of the stocking.

We decorate the house for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, and I am looking forward to featuring the new stockings. The house is clean 'today' (it won't stay this way until then, pity!), tomorrow I will shop for the Thanksgiving dinner, and on Friday we will get all the decorations out.

I cannot believe how fast Christmas is arriving this year!!!

November 19, 2012

Christmas Table Runner

This table runner goes together fast: one square with red borders, than cream borders, than add triangles to each corner to put it on point, than add the off white triangles. It sold right away at the Holiday Festival, but I will definitely make another one.

It is fun to make table runners for every season, and they make great gifts, too.

What have you been up to?

November 16, 2012

What inspired my tutorial

Now that our guild revealed our round robin quilts, I can show you what inspired my paper-piecing tutorial:

My friend Sue appliqued the block (based on a David Taylor pattern) and I added the first border. As soon as her quilt is ready, I will ask to take a picture and share it with you. The other borders were so beautiful... but you will need to wait to see them.

November 15, 2012

Round Robin Surprise

I mentioned in previous posts that our quilt guild had been working all year on a round robin. When I prepared my block, I had no idea what it would look like when the quilt top would be done, after passing by the gifted hands of four other guild members.

What started like this (plus yoyos and buttons I forgot to photograph)...

... turned out like this! Isn't this gorgeous? I could not stop staring at it during our big 'reveal' at the quilt guild meeting, and then at home when I placed the quilt top over my bed.

Stunning choices of borders around my center block, and the last border with its gradation of colors, just wrapped it all together so well!

I hope we do this again. We learned so much in the process...

Have you ever participated in a round robin?

November 14, 2012

Holiday Boutique

I have been very busy preparing for the Hidden Valley Country Club Holiday Boutique. It will be held tomorrow, the 15th, from 2 to 8 pm. My sewing machine has been sputtering after all these weeks of work! The Bernina and I will need a few days of vacation, away from each other!

Table runners, mats, stockings, napkins, stuffed animals, purses... Ai, ai, ai... No wonder I have posted fewer comments lately.

Keep me in your thoughts and wish me Happy Selling!


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