Saturday, August 31, 2013

Made in August

August was a month of getting caught up. I can finally say I feel like I have gotten a lot finished...but still not one of the these things is on my Finish-a-Long list.

The mosaic shows what I did complete in August, some of which I still need to blog about. For some reason blogging has taken a back seat for me. I have not been writing much and I certainly have not been reading or commenting on many blogs. I'm hoping now that the summer is winding down I can get back into a normal routine. Taking vacation in summer threw me off my game. We usually holiday in the fall.

1. Larry's Gone Fishing, a St, Louis 16 patch memory quilt made with the Hawaiian shirts of a special friend
2. July Stitch Tease Bee Blocks for Dianne
3. August Stitch Tease Bee Blocks for Jennifer
4. & 5. Cosmetics Case and Travel Duffle for my secret partner in the Sew Sew Modern Swap
6. Pillow Cover made with the scraps from my Swoon quilt
7. 6 Polaroid Blocks for a charity quilt
8. Paper Pieced sunglasses, zippered clutch for my granddaughter
9. Quilt top for my cousins baby...needs quilting
10. Improv quilt top for 100 Quilts for Kids...needs quilting

I set a goal for myself in August to swim 25 miles. About half-way through the month I realized I was not going to make 25 but maybe I could swim 20. Guess what? I swam 21 miles in August and I have the horrible tan to prove it! 

Thank you to Lynne, who I can now say is my real life friend, for hosting this monthly feature.

Lily's Quilts

Friday, August 30, 2013

Making Polaroid Blocks

Last night, before going to bed, I had a quick peek at Instagram and saw Sharon's post about a request for quilt blocks for a little boy named Blake.
It seemed a simple task and one I am happy to help with. You can read all about Sharon's request for Polaroid blocks here on her blog.

Today I pulled some cute little prints acceptable for an i-Spy quilt and got to making 6 blocks.

These will be sent off to Australia after the long weekend holiday here in the states.

If you would like to help please see the link above.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Future's So Bright

I had to make shades

The girls at Sew-Ichigo have come up with a super cute pattern again.
I couldn't wait to make these adorable sunglasses.

But what shall I make with this cute piece?
I know, I'll make a gift for my granddaughter's birthday.
So I fused some Pellon Vinyl Fuse to a coordinating piece of fabric for the lining.

Then I incorporated Lindsey's vinyl zipper pocket idea to make a waterproof pocket for the inside...

add Anna's open wide zipper application...

and some Briar Rose on the back...

and I have a zippered clutch.

Our granddaughter just celebrated her eleventh birthday and she also got braces this summer. I made her this purse so she has something cute and waterproof to take her toothbrush to school. Now there should not be any excuses why she's forgotten to brush her teeth after lunch.

This pouch measures approximately 6"x12".

Sunday, August 25, 2013

No Olives This Year

A few weeks ago we were looking forward to our olive harvest. The tree was laden with medium sized green olives, some starting to turn black to purple. That's just what we wanted.
Then we looked at them again last week and saw this...

The official diagnosis is Anthracnose.

It's caused by a lack of copper and or calcium. We are so sad because we were looking forward to curing our own olives again. I will be making a run to the garden center to find out how to fix this. I sure hope it is fixable and we won't need to remove the tree.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blog Button

If you are one of the kind people who display my blog button on your sidebar, it has a new code. My sister originally made it for me and she accidentally deleted it from her photobucket account.

Random Thoughts Do or di

If you would still like to display the button, then can you please grab the new code over there on the right sidebar?

Thanks a bunch. 


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gone Fishing...a memory quit

My friend, Larry, died a few months ago. It seems he was always wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Funny, the things you don't really notice when someone is alive but once they are makes you think. 

His sister-in-law mentioned his shirts at his memorial service; in fact she brought them to the service. I immediately saw "FABRIC" and offered to make a memory quilt with the shirts.

She gave me 13 of his shirts. I chopped them into 4-1/2" strips because I knew I wanted to make a St. Louis 16 patch to show off the prints on the shirts and get it done pretty fast.

This is what remained of the shirts. I was able to get about 12 strips per shirt.

Mr. R and I took the quilt to our local park for a photo shoot on a lovely evening.

I named this quilt Larry's Gone Fishing...I don't think it needs any further explanation.

Larry was an amazing fighter. Diagnosed with cancer of the hip bone (in 2006) just 6 months after his beloved wife died after a 7 year battle with breast cancer, he could often be seen walking around our local lake with his walker. He was not an old man, just 65 when he died, but he didn't have a hip joint! He hired a golf coach to re-teach him how to golf so he didn't have to give up the sport he so enjoyed. He traveled to Hawaii, often, and went camping with his friend and caretaker. He never gave up the fight. Whenever I saw him at the grocery store he had a smile on his face and always said "life is good". I learned so much by knowing Larry.

This quilt will be given to his sister-in-law and her family. Larry and Kim did not have any children and he was an only child, but you would never have believed this at his memorial service. The church was full of people who called Larry "family".

I met Larry and Kim in 2001 when we were all training for a 3-Day, 60 mile walk to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. We lived in the same neighborhood, but it was through the many hours of training that we became friends.

So Larry, a fond farewell...but you will be forever in our hearts. And your memory quilt will keep your family warm and be a gentle reminder of the wonderful example you were to all of us.

This quilt was a joy to make. The pattern is so easy and sews up really fast. I had a hard time deciding on the backing and in the end it was the wrong green, but it is a happy color and that is all that matters. I used my walking foot to straight line quilt on either side of each vertical and horizontal seam. The binding was in my stash from my early days of quilting. The quilt had so much going on I think the grey-beige color actually frames it nicely and is not as boring as you might think this color would be. I used the glue basting method to attach the binding and I must say I am a total convert. I will never use binding clips again. The glue basting method takes a little longer, but it is so easy to sew and makes really nice, crisp corners.

Quilt Stats:
Fabric: good quality Hawaiian shirts
pattern:St.Louis 16 Patch
backing:Spot On 108" extra wide in Chartreuse
batting:Warm and White
binding:marbled grey-beige from stash
Straight line quilted by me with Aurifil 40 wt. color 2000
Kim and Larry, 2002
San Diego 3-Day walk

Where I Sew

Jennifer is having a fun blog hop featuring some of our favorite blogger's pretty sewing rooms. 
This week she is allowing us to link up our less than pretty spaces, too.
This is where I sew. It is a work in progress.
I have a big room upstairs. It's the old master bedroom, where my mom lived for 11 years. After she moved to assisted living it didn't take me long to move all my sewing supplies to that room. My favorite part is the big picture window where I can look out over our street and see what is going on in the neighborhood. It let's lots of light into the room too.

I do most of my sewing on my old Bernina 153, but also have an 820 for quilting. (It's in the shop right now.) I recently got a Horn sewing table. It has lots of storage drawers and expands to make a big flat surface for quilting.

We have decided to remodel the bathroom connected to this room and install hardwood floors so I have held off really making this space my own with decorating and painting. This shows a nice overall view of the room. I have so many plans for that big wall. I have bunting to hang and gifts, lots of gifts, to display.

The big Bernina drops in so all is flat for quilting, but I still use the attached table on the 153. My laptop and camera are usually never far from my side when I am sewing. I enjoy listening to audiobooks while I sew. I'm listening to Blood and Beauty now. The fascinating story of the Borgia pope of the 15th century.

Last year I made this cutting table from 3 cubby storage units purchased at Target and a tabletop from IKEA. It fits my large cutting mat with room to spare. This side stores some of the projects I am working on and also some of the gifts I have received that will be on display when I complete the decorating of my room. In the bottom are bins of charm squares and my purse frames.

This end stores my books, black and white scraps and miscellaneous reminders of things I need to make.

The other side holds the rest of my scraps in color coded bins. Target didn't have yellow or orange bins so I need to mark the beige with their colors.

My Oliso iron is always ready and has been a good work horse.

My design wall is just a piece of batting hung between the closet and entry doors. I wish it was a little bigger.

I have a pretty good stash of fabrics. I keep the fat quarters folded. The half yards to 2 yard pieces are folded onto comic book backer boards. Larger pieces are stored on bolts (I get them free at Joann's) and kept in the closet. There are more scraps in one bin and works in progress and orphan blocks in another.

My thread stash is pretty sad. It is one of the things I really want to get organized and displayed when I finish the room.

I started making a muslin months ago and this is as far as I got. I probably should put a cute old dress on the body form.

Two favorite pillows and the caricature portrait my sister made for me decorate one corner of my room.

Thanks for visiting. I hope by this time next year I can show you a completely remodeled and decorated sewing room.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Eleven years ago, today, our lives changed when this sweet young lady was born.
Our first grandchild, a GIRL, has brought us so much joy.
As our first grandchild, she holds a special place in our hearts.

Lately, Makenzie and I have been sewing, although it is difficult to find time when we can get together.  I really enjoy sharing my love of sewing with her and I hope it is a skill she will pass on to her children and grandchildren.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Afternoon Sewing

Ever since I saw Rita Red Pepper Quilts beautiful quilt made with Riley Blake's Seaside collection I have wanted to make my version. Yesterday I started pulling fabrics and chopping them into 4.5" squares and today I have a finished quilt top.

I haven't made a baby sized quilt in a very long time. I forgot how quick they come together. This will be a gift for my cousin's newborn son (they live in Slovakia). The playful nature of the fabrics and the bright colors combined with some basics are perfect for a baby boy. I think a quick cross-hatch quilting job and a spotty binding and I can have this one finished by the end of the week. The baby was born in July so I am not too late with the gift.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Lauren Stanley

I've waited 38 years and I will have to wait a little longer (wedding date TBA), but we are finally going to have a Lauren Stanley in our family!
Lauren was the name we had chosen if we had a 1975 and then again in 1977. But boys were in our future until 1999, when our boys started getting married. 
We have amazing daughters-in law and now we will add another wonderful woman to our family.
Evan got engaged today and her name is Lauren and we couldn't be happier. 
Mr. Romance has been a great role model to our boys and this engagement scene says it all.
Photo credit goes to my nephew. 
Evan and Lauren are vacationing in Honduras where my nephew is developing a resort.
Mother of the groom, one more time. I can't wait!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Photo Shoot

I've been wanting to update my head shot for a while. My sister has a good eye behind the camera and also is a wonderful iPhoneographer, so we headed to a park by her house and attempted to find a shady spot for a photo shoot.
I had fun playing model and even being silly in a few shots. As a teen I thought I could be the next Cheryl Tiegs, Twiggy, Lauren Hutton or Christie Brinkley.  It gave us both a good laugh.
These are some of the outtakes of the almost 200 photos it took to finally get one decent photo.

Geri took this one with her iPhone and did some editing with it. If you like iphoneography you should check out her blog.

This is the photo I decided made me look the youngest skinniest the most like myself.

Have you updated your headshot? It's always nice to put a face to the blogs we follow and love to read.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bee Happy

This month I have been sewing as much as I can but it seems I can't get caught up with my commitments. Luckily, Di is a doll and gave the Stitch Tease Bee some leeway in our due date for her July bee blocks (due to the fact that so many of us were either at Fat Quarterly Retreat, on holiday or moving) she generously said it's ok to be late. Now mind you, I don't like being late for anything, so even given a pass, I still feel bad that these are being mailed in August. She requested a variation of the Birdsong block from the Modern Blocks book with something special in the center and then squares and/or rectangles in 2-3 colors surrounding the piece.
I just love a Dresden plate so I did a partial one in the center of the first block and then surrounded it with squares in aqua, red and yellow.
For the second block I used my best embroidery skills I tried my hand at embroidery. I chose a Spoonflower print to embellish.

Here's a close up of the stitching. I really have no idea what I am doing when it comes to embroidery. I can do a backstitch and a French knot. The rest I just played. But I like the way it turned out.

Jennifer is one of our new members in Stitch Tease and she asked for the Arkansas Traveler block for her month as August's queen.  She posted this photo as her inspiration for the colors she wanted.

Lee has a fabulous tutorial for this paper pieced block on her blog and it is detailed and walks you through the process of making this block, step by step. Maybe if I would have read each step BEFORE I began to make the blocks it might not have taken me 5 1/2 hours to sew this thing together.
The second block was so much easier. Note to self...always read the instructions all the way through and then read them again before you start sewing.

That backing's Scattered Newsprint from the Collage collection. It's going to be the backing for my Dreaming of the Caribbean quilt, which I hope to get basted next week.

I'm making progress and hope to get caught up on some swap items this weekend.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

London and Fat Quarterly Retreat, Part 2

Saturday was a full day of classes, chatter, swaps, gifts and sharing.
My first class was machine quilting with Trudi. Wow, she is so good! I can't say my skills improved but I learned so much in her class and will keep on trying to some day be able to free motion quilt even half as well as Trudi does. Did you know there is a right and wrong side to needle punched batting? That's just one of the little secrets Trudi shared with us. We practised on quilt sandwiches that we had brought with us. I was lucky to be able to share a machine with someone.

My next class was photography with Judith and she really helped explain the settings on our DSLR cameras and gave us some great pointers for photographing our projects to be displayed on our blogs.
I am trying to get back to using my DSLR and not use iPhone photos quite so much.

I received some sweet gifts on Saturday, too.
This adorable pin cushion from Hadley

and a perfect little pouch to remember London and my first FQ Retreat, from Susan.

You might remember these cosmetics cases that I made for the sample swap.

These are the gifts I received in exchange for them. How perfect is it that I got a soft Matryoshka doll from the lovely Jo?
We saw the real dolls all over St. Petersburg.

Krista made the super cute little house that has a retractable measuring tape inside and Sonia made the crocheted heart ornament. Because my crochet skills are limited to granny squares I can really appreciate this little ornament. All these things now have pride of place in my sewing room. I can hardly wait to get the walls painted so I can really decorate the room.

here we are L-R: me, Krista, Sonia and Jo
Did I mention there was an awesome swag bag? Thanks to the amazing sponsors. I won't promise to mention them all because my brain is having a lapse...but just to mention a few...Aurifil, Pat Bravo, Liberty, Village Haberdashery, Fat Quarter Shop and so many more.

During our lunch break on Saturday, Rachel suggested we run over to Shaukat; they carry the largest stock list of Liberty fabrics and at a discounted rate. I bought three meters of this fabric and yesterday bought this pattern. Hopefully the two will be a match made in heaven. It's been a very long while since I have done any garment sewing for myself.

Dinner in London has so many possibilities but there was only one choice for us this night.  Dianne, Helen, Katy and I are all part of the Stitch Tease bee and we were missing our friend, Annabella, who was not able to attend the retreat this year. Did I mention Bella lives in Morocco? We walked by this Moroccan restaurant and we just had to eat there because it would be like we were visiting our friend.
First we had to ham it up outside the restaurant.

 Jan joined us too and it was so nice to meet her.

This grainy photo shows you that the guys were still having a good time in spite of all the quilty chatter at the table.

The food was really good, too. I had the tangine made with chicken, olives and preserved lemons.
and it had to be accompanied by a Moroccan beer.
This was a great evening.

There was still lots to do the next day. My last class was Blogging with John. His class was informative and he shared his top pointers for a good blog. His ideas confirmed that I am doing about 70% of things right.
Too soon it was time to say goodbye. But not before we gathered for photos. There were two quilts in the house that I had participated in making.
The first was Katy's Stitch Tease quilt. It was so cool to have 6 of the original 8 members there to hide behind pose with the quilt. Isn't it just fabulous? My block is the bottom left.
L-R: Susan, Di, me, Helen, Katy, Hadley
I am also a member of the Modern Stitching Bee. This is Cindy's quilt top. It's so fun to see the work of everyone come together in a beautiful, scrappy quilt top.
L-R: Susan, Cindy, Leanne, Emily, Nicky and me
Sunday morning came and went really fast. It was time for people to clean out their hotel rooms and hurry to the train or get home and frost cakes for their kid's school functions. Time to say goodbye; insert big tears, lots of hugs and promises to return, meet again sometime soon and keep in touch. Two friends even promised to come to a retreat in the US and I am holding them to it!

A special thank you to all the Fat Quarterly Retreat team. Sometimes we forget that these are regular people; moms, dads, quilters with real jobs and responsibilities just like the rest of us. It is easy to say they should have done this or that differently, but in the end it is a ton of work and we all had a great time. INSERT STANDING OVATION HERE!

With everyone going their separate ways, Mr. R and I decided to take a walk through Regent's Park. It was a beautiful evening and the perfect way to spend our last night in London. We enjoyed dinner at the same restaurant we ate at on our first night in London, Zizzi's.

I am so glad to finally get these posts finished. Sometimes it's difficult to blog about an experience. I can tell you the facts but you might not read all the emotion behind the words. Fat Quarterly Retreat was a wonderful experience. But it's the people I will remember the most.