Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all!
This is our Christmas card this year.

This photo was taken in Dublin. I just love the festive look of the bar, with all the lights and the old world red building. The Temple Bar is a famous landmark in Dublin. We listened to some talented local musicians playing while there.
The family photo was taken at my mom's memorial reception. It was the last time were were all together in 2016. I look forward to every moment when we all gather together and try to take a photo every time. 
p.s....Paul thinks he looks like FBI in this photo. I agree!

I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas. For some this holiday does not bring joy, so remember to be kind to everyone you meet. I wish all my Jewish friends a very Happy Hanukkah, too!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Ugly Sweater Block Pillow

Several weeks ago I saw all these incredibly fun Ugly Sweater Blocks popping up on Instagram. I resisted for a few weeks but seriously, how can you resist making something so cute? 
The first one I made was in a plaid fabric by Jeni Baker. My gorgeous quilted Santa received a lot of comments. He was purchased in New Orleans in 1987 and is a family favorite Christmas decoration.

ugly sweater block

The next Ugly Sweater Block I made was with this cute panda print by Animaland.  Who can resist a panda butt?

ugly sweater block

Keeping with the "ugly" theme, my next block was made with a C&S print. The print is not ugly, but I would never wear a sweater made from this fabric.

ugly sweater block

The last sweater is an old strawberry print fabric I had in my stash. Enough said...this would be an incredibly ugly sweater in real life.

ugly sweater block

I decided to make a pillow with the four blocks. I know some have made enough blocks for a quilt; I am not that ambitious. These blocks are very time consuming. I can see making many more as a long term project, but that's a project for another time.
I asked Mr. Romance to take a photo of me holding the pillow...he thought Martha should be in the photo. 

ugly sweater block quilted pillow

Here's a better photo of what I asked him to focus on. I asked him to take a photo of the Feed Me Tacos sweater and the pillow; no make-up equals no face photos  please. My cute sweater was purchased from  my daughter-in-law's shop LolaJeannine.  Isn't it fun?

LolaJeannine Instagram

When it came time to quilt the pillow I knew I wanted to make the sweaters pop, so I quilted the white areas surrounding the sweaters quite densely, leaving the actual sweaters unquilted. I used a C&S print from the Tinsel line to finish the pillow front and used straight lines spaced appoximately 1/2 inch apart to quilt it.

cotton and steel tinsel fabric

I had this fantastic print from Carolyn Friedlander's Carkai line for the back of the pillow. It coordinates so well with the Tinsel fabric.

A zipper hidden behind a flap makes the pillow completely washable. I like to remove the pillow cover to store it in the off season. So now I'll need to make a second pillow cover to fit this form.

carolyn friedlander carkai fabric

The finished pillow fits a 14"x28" pillow form. I just love it so much. It will be gifted this Christmas.
ugly sweater block quilted pillow

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Christmas Blues

This weekend I watched my favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas. This movie is a must see for me every year and I usually watch it several times. The movie is corny by today's standards but I couldn't love it more. It's just not Christmas without it, for me. 
But this movie also makes me sad. It gets me thinking about days gone. About simpler times and family that is no longer around to celebrate with us.

When I was growing up in the 1950's and 1960's the big celebrities at the time all had Christmas specials on TV. Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Carol Burnett, and Perry Como would all have shows. They were variety shows with lots of singing and funny skits. Perry always ended his show by singing I'll Be Home For Christmas and my mom would always cry. She missed her brothers in Pennsylvania and I'm sure she was remembering Christmases past with her family. 
This will be our first Christmas without my mom. I miss her so much. I miss not being able to ask her a question. I didn't realize I had so many unanswered questions about her life, or a recipe, or how to say something in Polish. 

The song that gets me every time is Celebrate Me Home by Kenny Loggins. The first time I heard it was during the 1996 holiday season when our eldest son was on his Mormon mission. He was far away and it was our first time to be away from him at Christmas. I longed for the days when the boys were younger and we were all together. That song still gets me every time I hear it!

My sister tells the story of the first year I was married. We were living in the Chicago area while my husband was going to school. On Christmas Eve, my family was gathered around the dinner table in California, when my mom started crying and my sister said, "Oh Mom, are you crying because Diane's not here?" She said my mom quipped back, "No, I'm crying because you ARE here! Of course, I'm crying because Diane's not here" We laugh about that every year. There are so many funny memories to keep us laughing. Once my brother ate so many shrimp his lip swelled up like Daffy Duck. Luckily, it was not more serious that that. 
Christmas is just a funny thing. So many emotions associated with the holidays.

Our second Christmas in Chicago

Our first two grandchildren are 13 and 14 this year. I miss those babies but look forward to another baby coming in January.

This year we will gather at our son's home for Christmas Eve to make another year of memories. Three of our four sons and their families will be there. Then we will travel to Arizona to make memories with our eldest son and his family during New Year's weekend. I look forward to being with family. 
For those that Christmas is a difficult time, I'm thinking of you this holiday season.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Patchwork Forest Pillows

I'm making lots of last minute gifts. Do you all do this, too? I think I have everything I need as far as gifts go and then I see something a friend is sewing or I see a cute project on Instagram and I want to sew all the Christmas things I can.
These pillows are made using Amy Smart's fun tutorial for her Modern Christmas Tree block. You can see lots of fun projects if you check out  #holidaypatchworkforest on Instagram.
I wish I would have made a bigger border around these trees so they would not disappear into the sides or bottom of the pillow.
I ordered a new brand of pillow form on Amazon. They are made by Acanva and are down alternative pillows. They are so soft and squishy. No more Joann's pillow forms for me.
I'm hoping to keep making trees and be able to show you a finished patchwork forest Quilt next year.
Now I need to get back to sewing because I've also fallen hard for the #uglysweaterblock quilt along. Stay tuned for a pillow using the sweater blocks soon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Confetti Christmas Socks

This is a quick blog post fitted in between Christmas sewing, shopping, baking and end of the year stuff.
These socks are just my simple, plain stockinette stitch socks with a Fish Lips Kiss Heel.
The yarn is Madelintosh, but that's all I can tell you because I can't find the tag! (I searched the interwebs and it might be Tosh Sock Holi Festival) 
So I'll just leave you with more photos than you really need to see of a simple pair of socks.

These socks were gifted for Christmas and are a finish on my Q4 Finish Along

2016 FAL

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Turning Off Comments

I've made a decision that I have been vacillating over for a while. I have decided to turn off the comments section of my blog. It seems I am blogging less and less. There are lots of reasons for this, but mostly they narrow down to time management.
There has been a slow moving trend in the blogging world. People are using Instagram more and blogging less and it has led to fewer posts and less and less interaction between my readers and me. I think readership is down and then of course comments have dwindled and to be honest, that made me sad. I loved reading your comments and I prided myself on always responding to every comment. I'll admit I have been guilty of not reading as many blogs as I used to. I seem to scroll for content and then I usually don't comment, either. Guilty as changed!
When I originally started blogging, it was for me, as a permanent record of my creativity, travels and family life. I will continue to blog for that very reason. I cannot tell you how many timnes I have referred to my blog to look something up or to find a photo or a recipe. It's a great source of reference for me. 
I am still planning on blogging and now I might even pick up the pace a little more, after the Christmas holidays wind down.
So the things that started me blogging...











I'll still be blogging about all these things.

I hope you will continue to read my blog and if you want to comment or have a question you can always email me or leave a comment on Instagram, because it seems that is an easier medium to communicate quickly. 


Monday, November 21, 2016

Fraternal Twins

...the quilt version.
What quilts would you make for your friend if they were having twins? What quilts would you make for your friend if those twins arrived nearly two months early? My sweet friend and fellow Stash Sewciety Bee mate, Carlie, told me months ago she was having twins...a boy and a girl. I thought I had so much time but then sweet Tucker and sweet Lucy arrived in mid-October. I wanted to finish a few  other commitments before deciding what to make for the twins.

I stumbled across a photo on Pinterest. It was an easy strip quilt made for twins. Unfortunately, when I clicked on the photo it was a dead end, but I knew they would be easy to recreate. They were super easy and I was able to make both quilts in two days. A few more evenings of hand stitching the bindings down and I had the gifts finished in a flash.

I used the stitch and flip method to make both quilts. I made the pink one first and realized too late that I should have started on one end, not in the middle; that is why the blue quilt is one strip longer than the pink one. Don't tell Lucy, hopefully she'll never know that her quilt is a little short. To secure the batting vertically, I quilted straight lines every 4.5", from top to bottom.

Once again I used my favorite black and white stripe for the binding. This one is by Lecien. I don't think it is available any more but Timeless Treasures still carries a great mini black and white stripe.
These quilts don't look crinkled but instead look wrinkled. I think that's because they are not quilted with super dense rows of stitching.

As of this writing the babies are still in the NICU but will be coming home soon. Hopefully the quilts will arrive in time to welcome them home.

Quilt Stats: 
Quilt Name: Lucy and Tucker
Fabric Used: Kona Cotton Solids in Peacock, Melon and Iron
                     Michael Miller Cotton Couture Bright White
Batting: Warm and White
Thread: Pieced with Aurifil 50 wt.
Quilted by ME with Connecting Threads Essential 40 wt. Thread
Binding: Lecien mini black and white stripe
Finished size: Lucy 41.5" x 43"   Tucker 40.5" x 47"

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cargo (Chemo) Duffle

Readers of this blog know that my sister was diagnosed with Uterine cancer in September, just a few days after my mom died. Geri had a hysterectomy a few weeks ago and when the pathology report came back she didn't have uterine cancer, but had ovarian cancer! At first we were super freaked out because reports of surviving ovarian cancer are few and far between. But my sister is an exception. She is Stage 2. Most people when diagnosed are stage 3 or 4. The doctor expects her to make a complete recovery and live a very long life.

She starts chemo tomorrow and weeks ago asked me if I would make her a chemo bag. When I got home from vacation, I had a few commitments to complete first, but started on Anna NoodleHead's Cargo Duffle bag last week. The pattern is available for free on the Robert Kaufman website. I used Art Gallery Fabric Denim and Carkai by Carolyn Friedlander prints for the pockets, trim and gusset.

I've made lots of bags and feel I am a confident bag maker. This bag requires that you know what you're doing, but it is not difficult. I knew I didn't want to use the canvas on the inside because I planned to line the bag. I also assumed using by Annie's Soft and Stable would make a nice stiff bag that would stand on it's own. I also didn't want to quilt the entire bag. I chose to quilt the zipper gusset and the bottom gusset.

Geri wanted lots of pockets, so I added one to the backside of the bag and several inside the bag. After I completed the outside portion of the bag I realized it was still a little floppy.

I interfaced the lining with Pellon 808 fusible interfacing and I added Peltex to the bottom gusset of the lining. I wanted to make the lining in a lighter color because it's way easier to find things in a bag with lighter colored lining. This newsprint from Carrie Bloomston is fun and that word, BLESSINGS, is perfect. Since her diagnosis, my sister has been blessed many times over by good news and loving acts of kindness from old and new friends.

The inside zipper pocket is finished with a facing to make it easier to see. It's a big, roomy pocket.

One little pocket on the inside gusset panel is perfect to put in a cell phone or chap stick.

The last pocket is an elastic topped pocket that is good for holding a bottle of water.

I added a few extras that I found are essential to chemo patients, by searching Pinterest. Geri will add a squishy, comfy blanket, water bottle, her iPad and other things she thinks she might need on this journey.

Geri stopped by this morning to pick up the bag. She let me know she was really happy with it and thinks it will be perfect now for transporting her "stuff" to chemo and then it will make a great carry on bag after chemo is just a memory. 

Here is a list of changes I made to the bag:
  1. I made the bag 4" wider.
  2. I used by Annie's Soft and Stable instead of batting and the canvas inside.
  3. I added a small, patch pocket to the backside of the bag.
  4. I added a 2" decorative section to the gusset, below the zipper ends.
  5. I only quilted the zipper gusset and bottom gusset portion of the bag.
  6. I made the handles 2" longer and used 2" wide Craftex, instead of batting in the handles.
  7. I lined the bag, duplicating the front, back, bottom gusset and zipper gusset pieces. I interfaced these pieces with Pellon 808 and also added Peltex to the bottom gusset section. Iadded three different style pockets to the lining. I assembled the lining then placed it inside the bag and attached it by hand along the inside of the zipper gusset. Because it was interfaced and had the Peltex it doesn't sag and did not need to be attached in the corners like others have said when lining their bags.