Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quilt Store Inspiration

In years past, I made most of my Christmas presents, but now my list is long and I don't enjoy the luxury of time I once did. Not expecting to make any more presents this season, I needed to take a trip to the Village Quilter for my monthly fix--my Buck A Block and peruse through the store to see what is new. Kind of a mini vacation that I take once a month to a quiet fabric filled paradise.

This trip something caught my eye--a cute fabric with an assortment blond, brunette and red-headed skaters. Since one of her granddaughters is red-headed, one a brunette and her grandson red-headed, it seemed like the perfect gift for my mother. Add in the artwork, reminiscent of a favorite childhood card game we would play of little kids taking dragons for a walk, it was sure to be a hit.

Susan suggested a piano key border, so I picked out some complimentary fabrics. Was able to assemble the top in a Sunday afternoon, but finishing it was tricky. With all the necessary Christmas preparation, pagents and concerts, time was at a premium. So, another deadline was missed and now it is a New Year's present.

Expecting this entry to be the last for this year, but looking forward to many more finished projects to post in 2009!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fabric Origami

When I was little, my dad would make all kinds of origami for me--samurai hats, water bombs, blow-up frogs and cranes are all part of some of my favorite childhood memories. He patiently sat at the kitchen table, teaching me the folds and how to read the directions when I was old enough to make them myself.

Since I have far more fabric than colored paper, decided to plunge into doing some fabric origami. Soaked the fabric in straight starch and allowed it to stiffen. Next time, will use Stiffy or a similar project to make it very stiff. The directions were frustrating --pretty much backwards. For anyone that tries this technique, always make the bottom of the box first, then the lid, regardless of what the directions tell you.

So, now my dad will have a fabric origami box holding a special Christmas gift from Arizona. What a wonderful way to continue a tradition!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Window Treatment

Took a quick break from what quilting needs to be done and finished a curtain for the living room that compliments the new furniture. Learned that it is not a good idea to wait too long once the "right" fabric is found. Would have loved to have had eight yards of this cranberry and tan striped moire, but there were only five and three quarters yards left--rats! Now I had to rethink my plan. Fortunately, my mother could see the perfect window treatment, which saved me time I didn't have.

Always working with cotton, this slippery stuff gives me the willies. Was not sure how to keep it all from raveling after cutting, so another phone call to my personal sewing hotline--my mother! She suggested that I pink the edges and, as always, mother knows best! That worked like a charm! Oh, and thankfully, I have a ton of pins that kept everything lined up.

All in all, this project took a few hours for a custom window treatment. Now, off to find sheers that fit a 67 inch window....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

New Endeavor

Seems that quilting takes a back seat to all the holiday preparations that happen between Halloween and New Year's Day. (Eight family birthdays from September to November don't help, either!) Getting in the last bit of quilting before my frame has to come down for the snow village that only fits in that space.

Was asked by one of our fellow church members to quilt a quilt for our former pastor. Since all that was required was a simple meander, didn't think it would be too difficult to quilt, then found out it was 104 inches by 94 inches! Measured my frame, and in theory, it should fit just fine. Turned out that it was more a challenge than I originally thought, getting the tension clamps in the right place and the carriage all the way to the end to quilt the borders. With a little patience, I was able to get the whole quilt done, even with the machine acting up the last 18 inches. Guess "Jaws" (my Brother 1500s) is just as tempermental as I am after quilting for five or so hours.

Now I should be finishing up a few more of my own projects before the season gets too busy, but I don't have any deadlines looming. Just enjoy the process too much to rush it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dressing Up

Well, it's that time of year when I put aside my quilting to work on our daughters' Halloween costumes. Being Christians, we use this time of year to be creative and make costumes that can be a family project. Our older daughter is doing the work on her costume, now that she is a teenager and I concentrated my efforts on the other.

Last Halloween, it was decided that our sweet little girl would be the Travelocity gnome. Thought about this costume for better part of a year and had a plan. Then, FamilyFun magazine had their annual costume edition and there was a ready made gnome...and one on a mushroom! Our family's passion with fungi dictated that this was the costume to make.

After visiting quite a few stores, hot gluing pool noodles, sewing a mushroom cap, assembling a white skirt for a stem, gluing felt circles, stuffing pant legs and making a belt out of duct tape, cardboard and aluminum foil, the costume was ready for the school's annual carnival.

Much to our delight, her costume won the prize for "Most Original!" She happily claimed her prize--nearly knocking down anyone in her path. (It's quite a wide costume!)

Hmm, better get started on next year!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

One Less UFO

This Christmas wall-hanging is one that took far too long to be finished. While at a quilt show, my mother saw this quilt kit and asked me to finish it for her. Of course! The fabrics were so beautiful--an assortment of greens, lovely background and a wonderful border print. Did find out, however, that the instructions had some serious flaws. Took me quite a while to recover from their miscalculations. Really wish that pattern designers would test their patterns more! Nothing is more frustrating than trying to recover from mistakes.

Did run into a glitch or two of my own when I went to quilt it. Prairie points and a machine quilting frame are a tricky combination. Had to finish the quilt while sitting at a machine which takes much longer. After a while, late is late, so one does the best they can.

Happily, it is now done and I can give it to my mother and before this Christmas--only several Christmases late!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bull's Eye Quilt

Finishing this quilt is sort of closing a chapter on a very trying time in my life. The girls and I were hit head-on by a truck which resulted in several broken bones, one of which was my collar bone.

A friend of mine had made this same quilt and had given me the pattern years ago. I had started collecting all kinds of homespuns, but there were so many other projects on the list before it. After the accident, accurate piecing was not an option while in a sling, so this simple pattern of sewing circles was perfect. Once the piecing was done, the dilemma of how to quilt it presented itself. Played with many designs, but had to pick one that was easy to do on my Little Gracie frame. With only 9 inches of quilting space under my Brother 1500, it was a challenge to do a complimentary design. Opted to go more primitive, since that seemed to be the feel of the quilt.

Every time I worked on this quilt, it brought back unpleasant memories of the accident. After three years, decided that it was time to put the accident behind me and finish the quilt. Now it is done and will bring warmth and new memories to those who use it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kind of Cozy!

This cozy project is for my sister on her birthday--today!! (She also shares her birthday with my DH, but he doesn't need a tea cozy.) She has admired the one I made for our mother for several years and offered it as a gift idea. Of course, I would make one for her! First of all, she is my only sister and secondly, she's never asked me for anything before. It was perfect.

Purchased the pattern years ago and it is well-written and easily assembled. The best part is that the cozy is reversible, so it can be two different cozies in one. Kind of fun to use all the decorative stitches on one's sewing machine. I did add the tassles as an extra decorative touch.

The tricky part is that she wanted a particular color to go with her dishes. After scouring about ten on-line stores, went to The Village Quilter and Susan helped me pick out fabric that would fit the style and color of her dishes. Guess we'll know for sure when I give it to her at her birthday party!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Stylish Note Taking

Was wondering if better ideas come to more stylish notebooks? Guess we'll see over time, but just thankful that this one is so bright that I will never lose it.
Using Michael Miller fabrics and a Pink Chalk pattern, went to work creating a handy way to keep all my notes in order for all the meetings and various workshops I attend. The fabric was a delight, but there were a few measurement issues with the pattern. If you decide to use this pattern, measure the pieces on the template sheet, not the written direction measurements. None of the mistakes were critical to finishing the project, just annoying.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fall Wall-hanging Swap

One of the fun activities Block Buddies sponsors is periodic wall-hanging swap. We all do our best work in creating a simple project that can be used as a reminder of the friends we have all over the world.

This year, I made a Nancy Halverson design from her Autumn book. Used the machine applique technique I learned in Karen Kay Buckley's workshop to do the angels. To save on time, the embroidery machine did a wonderful job on the lettering. Was very pleased with how all the colors came together, especially since I did not buy a single piece of fabric to complete this project--a personal first!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Super Sized Round Robin

My all-time favorite on-line quilting group is Block Buddies, sponsored by The Spiders' Web Quilt Shop, my favorite on-line quilt shop.(http://www.thespiderswebfabricshop.com/) Donna, the owner of the list and shop, always provides a pleasant experience for quilters. The best part of all is enjoying Christian fellowship no matter where we are across the miles.

We have a regular round robin that comes home to us at 14 1/2 inches square, but this swap was something special! We started with large centers and added rounds up to 6 1/2 inches. My 18 inch center went to West Virginia, Texas and Michigan before it landed home a whopping 54 inches square! Am thrilled with the final block and plan to finish it just as it is--will make a wonderful lap quilt.

So, if would enjoy swapping blocks with a group of talented, kindhearted ladies, then think about joining Block Buddies on Yahoo groups.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Quick, Before He's in High School!

Well, it's finally done! When my brother and sister-in-love called me back in February to tell me that they were expecting their first child, "excited" is an understatement! Our guild was having a quilt show the next day, so I searched out the vendor that would have the best fabric to welcome this little love. My brother is a history major and it made sense to pick reproduction fabrics. Since the gender was unknown, red and blue fat quarter packs to make a controlled scrappy quilt seemed to fit the bill. Found the baby "talking quilt" package and then set out to create a design.
Unfortunately, after the quilt show I experienced significant back problems and subsequent back surgery, which delayed its completion. Did manage to finish a couple "drag around" quilts, but wanted him to have a quilt that told him how much he was loved, literally.
My brother and sister-in-love honored my hubby and I in asking us to be their pride and joy's godparents, so the quilt needed to be done. Didn't quite get done in time for the baptism--not for lack of trying. On second thought, this plan may work out just fine--a quiet time as a family without the audience of a party.
So, tomorrow morning, the quilt is going to live at its new home, where a sweet little boy can drag it around and enjoy it for a long time to come.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Whirlwind Existence

Seems like the month of May is worse than the Christmas season. Between end of the year activities for school, a big 13 birthday party, a host of quilting project coming due and the usual household responsibilities, time is at a premium and chocolate is a staple.

The first picture is of the rocket that involved the entire family to create. It may not have gone the farthest, but it was the best looking rocket, complete with nose cone. We were very proud of our effort.

Then came the blocks for the Good and Plenty swap with Block Buddies, my favorite on-line quilt group. Made six Sprocket blocks and six Paths and Stiles in black, white and pink. There was a paper pieced aspect of the Sprocket block that took forever. All in all, they turned out fine and it will be fun to see what I get in return.

After that, the fabric postcards with Love Apple Quilters came due. The best part is that I was able to get my American Flags, complete with the Pledge of Allegiance done in time for Memorial Day. (They didn't call me Betsy Ross in high school for nothing!!)

Finally, I finished an apron for another swap with Block Buddies. My swap partner wanted a tea themed apron in green and purple. While on the NJ Shop Hop, a tea cup fabric in purple and green jumped off the shelf and I had to purchase it. Also bought an apron pattern that made a very simple, easy to embellish apron. The only challenge was to use rick-rack. I had jumbo rick-rack that looked great on the pocket, complete with teapot. Got a very special red-headed model to show off the completed project.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

New Jersey's 7th Annual Shop Hop

In spite of the cost of the gasoline, I managed to complete the shop hop! My sweet DH planned my route to be done in two days. So off I went, GPS and passport in hand and collected the charm packs. This year was different in that patterns for all the projects were offered along with silver charms for a necklace. As you can see by the picture, each shop offered a variety of green charms.

As a finishing kit, I selected the purple and lime creation by the Village Quilter in Mount Holly. Loved the way the accent color complimented the greens zig-zagging through the quilt. Always pleased with anything purchased at the Village Quilter--the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. Susan DiBartolo has an exceptional gift of customer service that makes the shop always feel like a vacation in a fabric paradise.

Now that I have one more project gnawing at me, I should get something else done! Usually display a quilt or two at the June quilt show at Kirby's Mill in Medford, NJ and the Shop Hop quilt would certainly attract attention. Better get started!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Noah's Ark Ensemble

After taking more time than I care to remember, my new nephew's bedroom wall hanging and curtains are finally finished. Thank heavens for an understanding brother and sister-in-love!

The theme for the room is Noah's Ark, complete with happy animals looking through portholes, two by two. Had just enough fabric to make two valances for the windows with a complimentary fabric. The wall hanging was a panel with a boatload of happy critters, all outlined quilted. Verses from Genesis 9 were quilted in the borders along with the baby's name.

Now the happy little baby will have smiling animals and the Word of God surrounding him while he spends time in his room!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Comfort Pillow

Here's a quick little project I put together to comfort our daughter after surgery. Took a favorite sweater of hers that was too small, sewed the sleeves shut at the shoulders and across the neckline. Then added a velcro closure to the bottom and slipped in a pillow form. Voila`! Start to finish, this project took about 30 minutes and she was delighted to have a second life for her teacup sweater!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tuffimom's Quilts--My First Blog Experience

Welcome to Tuffimom's Quilts!
Been quilting for almost 16 years--almost as long as we've been married! Our first Christmas, my sweet DH bought me a quilt class and it's been a wonderful journey, both the marriage and the quilting!
This January, an inventory was taken of how many UFO's were lurking in my sewing room. The number overwhelmed me--just shy of 30!! Hoping this blog will provide me with plenty of witnesses to make sure I finish. The plan is that at the end of the year, there will be more completed projects than WIPs.
Thanks for reading my first post and I look forward to your comments!