Thursday, August 30, 2012


We're back from our trip and settling in at home again.  My family is coming to visit us this weekend so I'm scurrying around getting things prepared just now.  We had a lovely time in Yellowstone, perfect weather, no internet/phone, and the most dynamic geology I've seen anywhere.  Rather than subject you to a boring travelogue, here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip.

And just a couple videos;  the mudpots were my very favorite thing!

Hope you are all enjoying back-to-school season.

Monday, August 20, 2012


While I'm gone I thought I'd share a couple of pictures of the hand project that's been following me around the world the last couple of months.  Inspired by the lovely Tonya over at Hillbilly Handiworks, I decided to kick my English paper piecing up a notch.  She has been presenting an awesome series of English paper pieced blocks (called Ahhs), you guys should totally check it out.

I was getting bored with regular hexies, so I decided to make a block based on her  Ahhh #4 Little Girl's Star and is a bit like Ahhhh #25, Seven Stars.  She mentions that this block was first published in 1950.  You should check out her version, I love the way she fussy cuts the fabric to give a nifty kaleidoscope/snowflake effect.  I went with a more geometrical version.

The whole thing is about 7" across, so each of the pieces is pretty small.  I thought it was going to be finished with this much (I figured I'd hand quilt it to be a mini-mini-quilt), but it just doesn't feel done.  I have it with me on this trip to add some more layers around the outside.  I love the rainbow of colors with the black and white (of course the ugly white basting thread will come out when I remove the papers).  It's been a fun, small thing to carry around and stitch on,

Friday, August 17, 2012

Follow the yellow brick road...

All the way to Yellowstone!  Mike left on the bike early this morning and I'm flying to meet him in Casper tomorrow.   Amy at Diary of a Quilter just got back from Yellowstone and made me even more excited!  It's been a busy, emotional summer and I'm grateful for a chance to be somewhere else, thinking about something else.  Especially a somewhere else as beautiful as Yellowstone and the Tetons.

The monsters will miss us I'm sure, but my good friend Justin will be housesitting so they'll be well looked after.  Of course, none of them wanted to have their picture taken this afternoon, so we have Missy with her trademark stinkeye look  (try to take her for a walk, I dare you); Bullett who's only interested in scratching an itch, and Bentley who is making the weirdest dog face ever.  Nuts.  Of course, when they think no one is watching, they rule the world from on top of the patio table, but try to get more than an iphone pic through the window and off they go.

Before I left, I just wanted to pop in and share a couple of quick pictures of the baby quilt I made for the fair (to be donated afterwards).  I just used some fun fabrics from my stash- even though it's blue-toned I think it would work for a boy or a girl.  I originally bought the owl fabric to make a minky blanket for Kenda's new mini-man, but it got bleach spots in the pre-wash so I had to use frogs on the blanket for her.

Luckily, I was able to avoid the bleach spots and cut out enough squares for this little quilt.  I decided to do a fully machine sewn binding to make it extra sturdy, so I initially sewed down the binding on the back and then flipped it around and top-stitched on the front.  I used a 2.5" strip, and I promise a 1/4" seam allowance sewing it onto the back, but I wound up with tons of extra binding on the front!  Yowza!  I suppose it might have been a scant 1/4" and the batting is pretty thin, but goodness!  It almost looks like a whole extra narrow border instead of a binding.  I actually like the framing effect it gives, but the quilt police would hate me for sure.

I hope a little baby somewhere will be happy with the cute owls!  I'm so excited for summer to (hopefully) be almost over, Fall is my very favorite season.  Hope you guys are looking forward to it too!

Edit:  I'm linking up to 100 Quilts for Kids.  What a great idea!

Monday, August 13, 2012

State Fair Blanket

The Oklahoma State fair is coming up in about a month and as usual I entered a few things I've finished in the last year, specifically S is for... #2, Purple People Eater, and the Chili Quilt.  In addition, they had a special division for Infant Crisis Services.  In these categories you enter something as a donation to Infant Crisis Services and then after the fair they give the items to needy babies.  I'd wanted to do some charity sewing this year, although if I had any brain cells left I'd realize that right before the deadline for Seymour was a really really bad time.

In any case, I signed up (this was about a month ago) for one baby blanket and one baby quilt.  Last weekend after working on some other unrelated super secret projects I had a bit of downtime so made up this Minky blanket with yummy chewy ribbons.  I used some Bugs Bunny fabric I acquired via a friend from a lady at church who isn't sewing anymore.  I think it's cute; I have fond memories of Bugs, and Tom and Jerry, and Tweety although I'm not sure kids now know who they are.  The fabric is a bit old (the label informs me 1988) but clean and new and in any case it will keep a baby somewhere soft and warm.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Arrival of Seymour

Or rather, finally a plan for his arrival.  All this time, Seymour's just been floating in the back of my mind, but now that his romping fields (er... desert and jungle) are ready, it's time for him to come forward.

When last we left off I'd decided to incorporate trim in the facing of the quilts so that the two sides could be laced together.  In contrast to the test block, I didn't want black trim for the actual pieces, I think it's just too dark.  I got some cream colored trim at JoAnns and tried dyeing half of it with brown ink to darken it up a bit for the back side.  It worked a little, but not very much.  There's obviously more that goes into dying (especially something like a synthetic trim) than soaking it in diluted brown ink!

Anyway, I used the same procedure as I did on the test blocks; glue down trim (with washable glue stick which I put on everything), sew down trim, sew on facing, then flip facing and iron iron iron. Finally, I hand sewed the edge of the facing on the back.  I just finished that part this morning (hooray).

In my original drawings, Seymour took up almost the entirety of the quilt.  But when I was at the Denver Museum of Natural History I was able to view an actual Coelophysis skeleton and it was smaller than I'd thought.  In addition, I really don't like the idea of covering up all my background.  Finally, I don't want the quilts to look like the dinosaur is just stuck on top.

I decided to audition (via photoshop) three different sizes of dinosaur for each side.  The first is the original size I'd planned to do it, the second two are smaller.  I'm currently leaning toward the smallest.  What do you guys think?




Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Test Block for Seymour

I'm not really sure how much I've shared about my recent thought process for Seymour, so I'm going to back up a ways.  Sorry if it sounds redundant!  My original plan for this quilt was that the front would be the desert side with Seymour's skeleton and the back would be the jungle side with Seymour's body.  From the beginning, the practical aspects of this were daunting:  How was I going to get it quilted so both sides looked right?  How was I going to bind it (I wanted a faced binding) so that it was truly reversible?  How was I ever going to get it lined up right, especially if I decided to overlay the raw-edge applique with tulle?  I finally decided just to start and figured I'd work out the details when I came to the proverbial bridge.

After assembling both backgrounds though, in addition to still having no idea how I'd solve the above problem, I was really in love with both sides and the thought of one side being permanently against a wall made me really gloomy.  I decided the best thing to do, which would have the added benefit of solving all the above dilemmas, was to make two completely separate quilts.  The only remaining problem, therefore, would be how to make them hang as one front-back piece in the show for which I'm making them (where they're supposed to be a front-back thing).

I decided to try to find a way to finish the edges that would enable the quilts to be laced together, back sides together, for display as one piece or unlaced for display as a diptych.  Before trying something rash on my big pieces, I thought I'd make a test block to try it out.  This also enabled me to decide whether I needed tulle over the raw-edge applique.  I wasn't crazy about the idea of tulle, every time I held tulle up over the quilts it blunted the colors in a way I didn't like.  However, I wasn't sure how the edges of the fused pieces would do without something over them.   I therefore made two test blocks, about 11 x 14ish, in the same way I made the backgrounds, namely fusing together random bits of fabric.  I then draped tulle over half of each side and quilted them each separately (with separate batting and backing).  I went to JoAnns and picked up three different types of trim to try and glued sections of each to the quilt top.  I then sewed over the trim so I'd catch it consistently in the same place. Next I pinned on the facing and sewed around again, this time from the back, so that I could sew exactly on top of the same stitches as were used to hold down the trim.  After flipping and ironing, the trim stuck out nicely from the edge on both sides.  Hooray for something working as I'd imagined it would.  Then all that was left was lacing the two sides together.

Various test trims glued down.

Test trims stitched down.

Both sides laced together after facing; from either side it looks just like a normal quilt with a special edge.

Both sides laced together, observe black cord laced through the trim.

I liked the results enough to go for it on the big quilts (although not with black or silver trim), which is what I'm working on now.  Incidentally, I decided I didn't need the tulle, the test blocks quilted just fine with the raw edges.  Since I've now quilted the actual quilts, I can say I don't regret that decision although there were a few loose edges.  Some of them I sewed down with the quilting, and some of them I fused back down where I could.  There are a pieces that are a bit frayed, but I've just concluded that's a consequence of doing raw edge applique.

Linking up with Lee over at Works in Progress Wednesday.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Anna's First Book

Not really of course,  Anna already has more books than almost anyone I know, thanks mostly to the fact that we have children's books going back five generations.  In any case, this is the first book made for her by her grandmother (Muddy).  My mom got an embroidery machine a while back and has been having fun trying it out.  She made a bunch of cute kiddy embroideries for Anna and decided to assemble them into a fabric book.  While I was there this weekend for a fabulous 85th birthday celebration for my grandfather, I helped her put in the grommets/rings and snapped some pictures.  Super cute no?

Anna's getting bigger by the second and has now mastered sitting up.  She's so adorable.  It was really wonderful (although a bit whirlwind crazy) to see so many extended family at the party.  Afterwards we went to White Sands (a perennial favorite) and cooked out, and enjoyed the beautiful views and sunset. Here's my wonderful Grandpa in 1928 when he wasn't too much older than Anna!

Incidentally, wildfires have been flaring up all over Oklahoma and Mike's been very busy with the Red Cross disaster assessment team.  Please keep all those who've lost there homes here (many) in your thoughts and prayers!