Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cards Complete!

So, I told you about this idea I had to make Christmas ornaments for my holiday cards. First, as I mentioned in the last post, the book A Christmas Story by Anni Downs of Hatched and Patched provided the patterns for adorable embroidered ornaments.

On Saturday, my sisters were to arrive around noon with their Christmas card supplies ready to create. That morning, I still wasn't quite sure how my cards were going to come together. I had the ornament part under control, but not the cards.

I purchased some foamy double sided tape and figured I could make a frame for the ornament - with the foamy stickies creating just enough space between the frame and the card - so I could slide in the ornament. But I needed a little something to fancy up the frame - just a little, not too fancy.

Off to the internet, where I purchased some wreath clipart from Did a little magic in Photoshop, then printed the illustrations onto heavy paper and started cutting out the circle frame shapes. Found some more clipart for the message inside the card, and downloaded it, quick as a wink!

Photoshop to the rescue one more time - if the card recipient takes the ornament out of the card, the card would look fairly plain, so I scanned the ornament images from the book, printed them, and placed those images under the frame.

Well, all this creating can make you hungry, so my sisters provided some appetizers and some bread and I made one of my favorite recipes, Rachel Ray's Spaghetti and Meatball Stoup! Everything gets thrown into one soup pot, so the clean up is quick. Instead of using spaghetti noodles, I substitute small pasta shells. Yum, yum, yum!!

Now that the cards are done, I have to find some time to mail them! Please pass the postage stamps!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday Distraction

Every year, my two sisters and I get together during the long Thanksgiving weekend to make Christmas cards. We have a friendly competition to see who has the most creative card idea.

This year is no exception. We're getting together on Saturday, and I'm getting my creative juices in gear. I've decided to incorporate a handmade ornament in my holiday greeting cards. Wanna see? . . .

I started with A Christmas Story by Anni Downs of Hatched and Patched. The book has several absolutely adorable projects, some of them featuring cute little holiday-themed medallions. I decided to use the medallions for my ornaments, using a construction method not in the book.

First, I traced the medallions onto ivory muslin and then embroidered them by hand. I used one strand of hand-dyed embroidery thread by Valdani. Okay, yes, it's time consuming, but so relaxing. And isn't it a treat when you can escape the holiday insanity with a little handwork?

I cut the embroidered medallions apart, then used Quiltsmart SmartEase Circles to make my embroidered pieces into perfect circles that can now be fused to a backing. For my backing I'm using felted wool - because it's soooo nice and yummy!

Align one QuiltSmart Circle centered over the embroidery, right side of embroidery facing the bumpy or fusible side of the interfacing. Cut the center 'X' of the circle first, so you can turn it later!

As with most QuiltSmart applique products, sew on the solid line, cut on the dotted line. Then turn the ornament right side out.

Fuse the medallion to a piece of wool, then trim the wool even with the medallion. Back to the handwork - with two strands of embroidery thread, blanket stitch around the outside to hold it all together. Add a hanger - I used Aurifil wool thread for the hanger.

And ta-da!!

So you're probably thinking, 'How does this become a Christmas card?' I have no idea! But I'll have to figure that out by Saturday, eh? I'll keep you posted.

Have a great Thanksgiving!


Thursday, November 19, 2009

A New "Chunky"

With so much going on, I haven't been able to finish up any samples lately. Until today. I love making shop samples, they feature fun new fabrics and it's a nice break from the other quilt design work I do.

"What's a 'Chunky,'" you say?

It's a really easy, super-simple lap-sized quilt you can put together in a flash. The quilt blocks are big and bold - and chunky! Just a few stitches and the blocks are assembled. The fabrics are bright and cheery, hand-picked from the "Piccadilly" fabric line by Clothworks.

And the best part is the fabrics are all packed into a kit. All you have to do is get the kit, sew it up, and you're ready for a good book (and a nice nap!). "Chunky Piccadilly" is latest in a series of 'chunky' quilt kits featuring different fabric lines.

In case you're curious, the Chunky Piccadilly kits, including original pattern, and all the fabrics to make the quilt top, are available only from Calico Gals in Syraucse, NY. Give them a call (315-445-0617) or stop in, and have yours ordered up in a jiffy!

Holidays are coming - there's still time to stitch up a gift! Hey, if I can squeeze in enough time to make one, you can too!


Monday, November 9, 2009

Apples and Cider!

With my October full of speaking and teaching engagements around New York state, including New Quilters on the Block Guild in Candor and Lake to Lake Guild in Gorham, it was finally time to take a break for a little fun travel.

Saturday was a picture-perfect day around here, so it was an absolutely terrific day for my sisters and me to head out on an annual journey - to Fly Creek Cider Mill, of course!

Fly Creek is located in Central New York near Cooperstown, well-known as the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Every fall, for the last several years, we start thinking 'Fly Creek' when the leaves start to turn. To make the annual trip even more memorable, we put on our matching pumpkin applique sweatshirts before we jump in the car.

The cider mill houses a 19th century water turbine as well as a gas turbine installed in 1924. Both engines support the production of good old-fashioned apple cider! Yum!!

But, 100,000 visitors to the cider mill per year don't just come for the cider, the mill is a virtual cornucopia of apple treats, delicious fudge, to-die-for cheddar cheese (aged in nearby Howe Caverns), soup and dip mixes, and what seems like about a million other products! On Saturday, I managed to put a good dent in the holiday shopping list!

By the way, there's a great little quilt shop in Fly Creek, too! You simply must go!