I Need This Like I Need a Hole In The Head

Friday, December 23, 2011 7 Comments »
Random Craft Tutorial.   Talk about a time suck -- bet you can't stop at just one, though!   Don't say I didn't warn you (evil chuckle).

Geez, thanks Vicki!

A flurry of activity

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 4 Comments »
I saw a small-ish quilt on the cover of a magazine & decided I really wanted to make it.  It was a Christmas quilt without screaming CHRISTMAS -- more of a refreshing winter number.  It used Kate Spain's Flurry line of fabric.

The flimsy is off to the long-armer tomorrow in the hopes that I will be able to get it back and bound in time for December 25th.  Not sure at this point who will be getting it, but I'm leaning toward my lovely daughter-in-law.

I had a ton of scraps left over, so inspired by Mrs. Goodneedle's post, I got myself some Insul-Bright and hunkered down in the sewing room for a potholder fest.  Here are the first two.  They were gifted to a dear friend this weekend.  Another pair was given to someone at work today, and I've got seven more sets in the works. 

Nancy's addicted to making them too!  Who knows where all of this potting will lead?  Thanks, Mrs. G.!!

A BIG Helping of Cuteness

Thursday, December 08, 2011 6 Comments »
I guess some people might think that grandmoms can be annoying, what with all the bragging and picture sharing and such.  I don't care.  I'm gonna brag and I'm gonna share. 

My daughter-in-law's wonderful friends gave her a gift certificate for a professional photo session for baby Owen.  The photographer, who is located in Lancaster, PA,  is incredibly gifted, even making all of her own props -- the teeny tiny hats, wraps, and such.  You can check out the results by going to her web site, then clicking on "client proofs" as the bottom of the page and entering Owen as the password.  Talk about tough choices! 

I checked out her blog too.  Holy talent, Batman!

Quilt Labels

Friday, December 02, 2011 5 Comments »
A few of you commented on my last post, asking what I used to make my quilt labels.  The label on Owen's flannel quilt was printed on EQ Printables printable fabric.  Packs of the printable fabric are available at many quilt stores, and on-line from the Electric Quilt website or from Amazon.  I'm sure there are scads of other on-line vendors as well.    It is the best printable fabric that I have found in a pre-packaged format, but it has limitations: 
  • It can be expensive because the tendency is to print one label per sheet.  You can actually fit several labels on a sheet, but that takes some planning -- something that my ADQD brain has a hard time with. 
  • It is not as soft as it looks.  In order to hold the ink well, it's a very tight weave  and somewhat stiff -- although not as stiff as other printable fabrics I've used.  I used to hand-sew the labels on, but the fabric is very though to get a needle through, so now I am machine stitching. 
I use MS Word to create the label, adding graphics and color just as I would for something I'd be printing on paper.  I do several test print-outs on paper just to make sure everything is to my liking; once I am satisfied, I print on the fabric sheet.  The printable sheets are the same size as the paper you would normaly use in your printer, and feed through the same way; they have a plastic backing that allows them to keep their shape during the printing process. 

The ink on your label needs to dry for 15 minutes after it's been printed.  I usually let mine dry overnight.  Then the fabric sheet gets soaked in cool water for 10-15 minutes and allowed to dry.  Once that's done, I iron the fabric, cut the label out with a rotary cutter, turn the edges under and iron with spray starch or Best Press.  All you need to do after that is position it on the back of the quilt and sew it down. 

I think I will try something different for my next label.  I am told that you can iron freezer paper onto the back of good quality white fabric and run it through your printer in the same manner as the EQ Printables.  My white background fabric of choice, and something that I usually buy in quantity, is Southern Belle Premium Muslin, made by Springs Creative.  It's used a lot by doll crafters for doll faces and is recommended for quality photo printing on fabric.  I get white, but I believe it is available in natural and cream.  The reason that it works so well is that it's not dyed and it is 200 thread count (higher thread count means that the ink won't bleed into the fibers).  I first fell in love with Southern Belle when I started making quilts for the grandkids and wanted a white background and backing fabric that had a soft hand and crinkled up to a nice, soft antique quilt look.  I like it ever so much better than Kona.  You can get it by the yard from Joann's and from Nancy's Notions, or here.  I'm almost out, and may have to see if I can find a bolt at a good price. 

Here are a few of the labels that I've made this way.  Suzie Q's Garden label was hand-colored and printed with fabric pencil & a micron pen. 

Baby Things

Thursday, December 01, 2011 5 Comments »
I make a special flannel quilt for each of my grandchildren. They are meant to be used, loved, put on the floor as a play surface, wrapped around strollered babies, dragged around as a favorite blanky, and washed over and over.  Here is Maddie's, and here is Alma's.   I'm not sure where the pictures are for Annabelle's and Ians (sorry). 

Here is the lastest one, for baby Owen.


I love Valori Wells Flannel.  Modern, colorful, and very high quality.  If you are looking for a good source for quality flannels (and other fabrics!), try QuiltHome.  I have purchased quite a bit of fabric from them and can't say enough positive things; great service, fast shipping, and just awesome communication.    

 I also made a dozen burp clothes, or "burpsters".  They are meant for heavy use & will stand up to lots and lots of washing.  The plain ones are flannel on both sides, sandwiched with a layer of thin (Joann's) flannel & lightly quilted.  The super soft ones (the ones my daughter loves) are flannel on one side, and a fleecy fabric (from Joann's) on the other, sandwiched with thin flannel and lightly quilted.  They are super soft and just so cozy for baby to put his face on when he's being held over your shoulder. 

Owen's Burpsters

Super (fuzzy) Burpster

Plain Burpster

Kate likes the burpsters so much she asked me to make 2 sets of 4 each for up-coming baby showers.  Now I need to get busy on those crib sheets:  two cotton/one flannel for Owen, and two flannel for Alma.  I'll post pix when they are finished.  

Owen Thomas Deck

Sunday, November 27, 2011 6 Comments »
I finally got some good pictures of the little peanut.  He looks like a clone of his big brother, Ian.  My DIL Jamie says he is the most calm and most laid back baby of her entire brood.   And dollars to doughnuts, Mrs. Goodneedle, and Nancy, he's going to be a redhead too. 

Rainy Day

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 5 Comments »

Chilly, rainy, day off from work.  Just the right kind of day for doing laundry and having a cup of soup and a sammie made with my special tuna salad.   And binding baby Owen's flannel quilt.   And watching the DVD series, Why Quilts Matter.  Excellent binding-on-a-rainy-day-after-eating-a tuna-sammie entertainment! 

A Racey Post

Sunday, November 20, 2011 2 Comments »
Jelly Roll Races, that is!  Actually, there was no racing involved, since everything was done in the quiet of my own sewing room, and the stop watch stayed in the drawer. 

I'm sure you have read about the idea of a Jelly Roll Race, or  Jelly Roll 1600 quilt top.  I've been intrigued with the concept for a while, but wasn't juiced enough to try it until I saw this post on Jackie's blog.  The race part wasn't what did it, it was the no-brainer simplicity. 

Take a jelly roll, or the cut-from-your-stash strip equivalent, sew the strips together, end-to-end as you would for binding, then fold the whole darned 1600" length in half to stitch along one edge, cut along one side & repeat the fold/stitch/cut routine until you have a quilt top.  You don't have any control over where the strips will land in the finished top, so there is no point in trying to plan the strip sewing order.  Ridiculously easy. 

Some of the finished tops in Jackie's post, just did not speak to me -- they looked a bit choppy.  They were still nice tops, but not what I was looking to make.  The ones I did like, however, were the batik tops, and one that was done with all black and white prints.  I think the trick is to not use so much glaring color contrasts, and to use fabrics with good texture.
So how did mine turn out?  The first one was great.  It is intended for my nephew and his fiance.  Their living room needs some color --it's your basic beige, with a brown sofa and one picture with some teal in it on the wall.   I picked a Bali Pop that had blues, teals and some browns.  I liked the way it turned out.  When it's folded and draped on the back of the sofa, it will bring a lot of color to the room.

Flush with success, I tried another, this time featuring a Bali Pop that had purples in it, for my purple-loving niece.  It did not turn out well.  Similar colors were lumped together, and a number of the diagonal joins ended up in stacked in rows instead of scattered over the surface.  I think that may have been because I strayed from the magic formula & stuck in one or two additional strips.  Then it struck me.  Why not cut it in sections and re-piece it so that the flaws were not so obvious?  It worked.

OK, so those diagonal joins are still there on the bottom right, but it looks a whole lot better than it did. 

Would I do another one?  Less than 3 hours for a good sized top?  Yep, I would.  I'm wondering what cutting some of the strips in half or into differing sizes would do to the finished layout.  I'm also wondering what a whole bunch of Kaffe Fassett fabrics would look like, especially if I stayed with one color family.  Seriosly folks, it's questions like these that keep me up at night.

Here are some random Jelly Roll Race links:  here, here, here (where they do a variation by putting a 2.5" square between each strip), and here.


Yowzer! Happiness Abounds!

Saturday, November 19, 2011 8 Comments »
First, let me introduce you to Owen Thomas Deck, the newset Deckette. 

He was expected somewhere around Decemeber 4th, but decided Wednesday, Novemeber 16th, was more to his liking.  Weighing in at a not-to-shabby 6 lbs, 6 oz, he measured a very looong 21".  Master Owen joins Mommy and Daddy Deck (Jamie and Andy), and siblings Annabelle (almost 6), Ian (not quite 5), and Maddie (19 months). 

And, on another very happy note, my niece Jessie Lynne Grasso became engaged to to Jordan Grater on Thursday. 

They are two absolutely wonderful people, as perfect a couple as they look in their picture.  No wedding date yet for JG2, but my sister is going to have a very very busy time ahead.  Step-son Jesse Michael is getting married in May, and son JJ's wedding is in October. 

So, what do you think I will be doing in the upcoming months??? 


Sunday, November 13, 2011 7 Comments »
That's Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.  If you are a fan of fresh, home-made bread, you have to try it.  It's nothing short of a revolution in bread making.

Basically, you take all of 5 minutes to dump your water, yeast, salt/sugar and flour into a large plastic container (a dough bucket).  You mix it up with a big ol' wooden spoon until everything is incorporated, then you let it sit at room temp for about 90 minutes.  You can then cut off a hunk right then and there to bake, or you can just put that bucket of dough in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, cutting off a hunk whenever the mood strikes, and bake a nice little loaf.  No kneeding.  No double-rising.  Wish I could say No calories, but that ain't happenin'.

The only special equipment you need is a big plastic container, a pizza/baking stone (I just leave mine in the oven all the time), and a pizza/bread peel.  You can substitute a rimless cookie sheet, or even a cookie sheet turned over for the peel. 
Yeast, bread flour and a little cornmeal (to put on the peel under your ball of dough to make it slide off easily) are the basic ingredients. 

I have all three of the books, and to say they are the best thing since sliced bread is an understatement.   The newest book, Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, has a method for making pizza dough that keeps in the fridge, and has you making your pizza in 10 minutes.  OK, that doesn't include the time to heat the oven.

Now I've also got all kinds of specialty flours, like wheat, rye and pumpernickle, as well as a number of nifty things to make my bread even more yummy and healthy.  My favorite place to get all of these if King Arthur Flour.  My local supermarket carries a number of the King Arthur Flours, but not the really cool stuff like vital wheat gluten, wheat berries, deli rye flavor, or Artisan Bread Topping. 

Check out the blog and check out the videos.    Winter's coming -- there's nothing like a big pot of soup and some home made bread to warm you up!


Saturday, November 12, 2011 0 Comments »
My friend Jan send this like to me in an email.  Done like you've never seen before! This video from the small Yupiq Eskimo Village of Quinhagak, Alaska , was a school computer project intended for the other Yupiq villages in the area. To the surprise of the villagers, over a half million people have viewed it!  Enjoy!

In Flanders Field

Friday, November 11, 2011 3 Comments »

In Flanders Fields

By: Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

McCrae's "In Flanders Fields" remains to this day one of the most memorable war poems ever written. It is a lasting legacy of the terrible battle in the Ypres salient in the spring of 1915.  Hostilities in that "War To End All Wars" did not cease until the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.  

We set aside this day to remember all who have served, and all who continue to serve, to preserve our freedom.  Originally called Armistice Day, the day is now commemorated here in the United States as Veterans Day, and in Britain and Canada as Rememberance Day.  The poppy, which bloomed in blood red profusion across the fields of Flanders, has come to symbolize the sacrifice of those who gave their lives. 

When Bad Fabric Choices Happen to Good Quilters

Sunday, October 23, 2011 16 Comments »
Maybe a better title would be "Second Guessing:  A Quilter's Guide to Monday Morning Quarterbacking". 

Mystery quilts are always a challenge.  Usually the author of the mystery will give you clues up front, such as which fabric is your focus fabric, and which is your background.  Those clues get you started, but you still need to really understand fabric values as well since the rest of the fabric requirements are things like ".5 yards of a medium light; 1.0 yards of a medium dark".  If you are a newer quilter, this can be very challenging, and the results aren't always what you might have hoped for. 

I did a mystery quilt a number of years ago, back before I had developed a network of experienced quilting friends and before I had a good understanding of fabric choices.  Yes, I knew what a batik was, and I could see that Amy Butler and Kaffe Fasset fabrics were different than traditional fabrics, but I couldn't tell a Civil War repro from a 30's repro. 

I picked my focus fabric based on some colors I liked, ones that would look good in my Family room. 

Then I picked fabrics that would pull some of those colors.  Unfortunately, I wasn't very good at picking the right values, and unwittingly picked a bunch of CW repros that didn't exactly match the feel of the focus fabric.


That darker paisley just doesn't contrast enough with the dark green, and my white-on-white backgroud was nice, but not for this quilt.  It probably should have been an off-white to blend with the focus fabric better. 

I'd gotten the quilt backing on sale, and whereas it picked up the colors, it was a whole n'other genre.

I finished the top, and liked the overall pattern, but had a mixed vibe about the whole package.  In the mean time, my friend Nancy had turned me on to Civil War repros, so now the idea of those repro fabrics next to the other fabrics didn't sit well.  I guess I was afraid the Quilt Police would come knocking at my door. 

So the flimsey and the backing sat on a shelf.  I found them a few weeks ago and decided to take them to my local longarmer along with some other UFOs -- what the heck, I'd put all that time into it.   Maybe she would wave her magic bobbin and make (as my mother was fond of saying)  a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  At the very least, it would be something to throw on the floor for the grandbabies to crawl on. 

As it turns out, the darned thing isn't bad.  Is it my most favoritest quilt in the world?  No, but damned if my hubby doesn't LOVE it. 

When I hinted that I might be giving it away, he got quite the hurt look on his face and started rambling about how much he loved the colors, the deep, rich tones, and crispness of the pattern.  It was then that I realized that I am my own worst critic -- we quilters are our own worst critics.  Who cares if the fabric genres clash?  Who cares if that background is a little too white?  Why do we kill ourselves with Monday morning quarterbacking when we should just let go and bask in the warmth of someone else's appreciation? 

I don't have a name for this quilt (any suggestions??), but I do have a home for it.  It's folded on the back of Hubby's favorite rocking chair in the family room, and I wouldn't be surprised if he and the cat wrap up in it tonight while they read.  It may not be my cup o' tea, but if it makes him happy, that's alright by me!

Mystery UFO

Monday, October 17, 2011 12 Comments »
I met Kimberly, author of the Jelly Roll Quilt Magic giveaway book, a number of years ago at the Lancaster. PA quilt show.   I'd signed up to take her Mystery Quilt class called Pinweels and Flying Geese.  The quilt from that class became Pinwheels for Ian, a gift for that red-headed young man over there on the right side of the screen.  I was new to quilting, and that was only the third quilt I had ever made.  The class was the start of a friendship as well as a love an interest in doing mystery quilts. 

Every once in a while, Kimberly would do a mystery quilt on her web site, with the fabric requirements being published on week #1, then various "clues" each week thereafter.  For one of the mysteries, I threw caution to the wind and decided to try batiks on black.  It was fun, I finished all but the outside borders in short order, then my ADQD took over & I flitted to another project.  That UFO took its place on the shelf with all too many other UFOs, staying there until earlier this month.

Then came September's Philly Modern Quilt Guild meeting.  They announced that the project for the October meeting was to complete a UFO, bring it to the meeting, and share.  Out came that old mystery quilt, on went the borders, zip zip went the pieced back, and off to the local long-armer it flew.  I picked it up on Friday and completed binding this weekend.  It finished at about 60" x 60".  When you take that leap of faith, throwing caution to the wind and picking fabrics for a mystery quilt, you just never know how it's going to turn out.  For that reason, I called this one "Who knew?". 

DH really likes it, I think because he's very attracted to Amish quilts, and it has that bright-color-on-black look.  It will hang in the family room for a while.  

Please don't let anyone from my guild know -- it's supposed to be a surprise.  Denise and Bobbi, your lips are sealed, right?


Sunday, October 16, 2011 4 Comments »
My sister, Sue,  is 9 years younger than I.  My kids are both married and raising families, but my darling sister is just starting out on the wedding journeys.  Her son, JJ became engaged to a wonderful girl named Jamie in September.  Aren't they cute?

Sue is hosting an engagement party in a few weeks so that Jamie's family, who are from New Jersey and New York, can meet our family here in Pennsylvania.  It should be lots of fun.   

I'm never sure what the gift protocol is for an engagement party.  There will be a shower closer to the wedding most certainly, and of course the wedding itself next October.  Their wedding quilt is already planned and the fabric purchased, but what to do for the engagement party?

I decided to make a couple of table runners.  My idea is that I will get them started on a collection of seasonal table runners to kick start their holiday decorating.  For the engagement party, I'll give them a this Fall runner,

and this one to grace their table at Christmas.  

I'll continue that theme for the wedding shower and make runners for other occassions, like  Valentine's day, St. Patrick's Day (Miss Jamie is Irish!!), Spring and Summer.  Someone else can bring the crockpot and blender. 

Let's Give it up for the Giveaway!!

Friday, October 14, 2011 8 Comments »
Aren’t giveaways fun? We all enjoy a contest and the thrill of winning, but there’s a lot to be said for giving as well.

There were 100 comments posted on my giveaway blog. Some were from old friends, but the vast majority were from people I didn’t know.

Some of you are from my home state of Pennsylvania, but you're also from Florida, Maine, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Colorado, Texas, Idaho, California, Oregon, and Wisconsin, to name a few.  Many of you live in far-away places:  Canada, British Columbia, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Sri Lanka. 

You are a mix of young and seasoned, grand/great grandparents, parents, workers, retirees, singles, marrieds, knitters, scrapbookers, gardeners, ranch hands, avid readers, city dwellers, country folk, and denizens of the beach. You have dogs, cats, chickens, cows and horses.

We even had our requisite male quilter (hi, Gene!). Some of you have been quilting for years and years; others for just a few months.

Many of you have blogs of your own, and I visited every single one. Wow, what a talented group you are! Such great ideas and such beautiful quilts! You are funny, you are thoughtful, you are sharing, but most of all you love to quilt. It has been a pleasure peeking into your corner of the universe!

I printed out all of your comments.
I sliced across the pages until I had 100 slips of paper, each with a separate comment.  I made extra slips for those of you who also posted about my giveaway on your blog.

While I was waiting for my painfully slow computer to download and install Windows Updates, I folded each and every one of those slips of paper into eighths.

Then I put them in a big old plastic dough bucket and shook it like crazy.

I’m not a hat person, so I took the hood from my winter coat & dumped the slips in there. Why the hood? Since Junior was doing the picking, I thought he might appreciate a something that looked like it was trimmed in squirrel (or maybe even groundhog).

Anyway, I put a piece of sticky tape on Junior’s paw, he put his paw in the hat, and came up with……………

Michele!!!!  Michele is from Florida.  She's a stay at home mom, with 2 boys, and has a blog called IslandLife Quilts.  Her comment said:

Winning a copy of this book would be great!  You ordering two copies was a happy accident for visitors to your blog :-)  Using Jelly Rolls saves lots of time and cutting....I don't like cutting...and they are just nice to look at before you take them apart!!  I have a few in a basket in my dining room :-)

I'll be sending Michele an email to get her mailing address; the book and rulers should be on their way to her next week.

Thanks so much to ALL of you for stopping by!  I've enjoyed meeting you, and will continue to pop in on your blogs.  I sure hope you'll pop in on mine every once in a while.