Thursday, January 29, 2015

Double Duty

I left Syracuse early in the morning two Saturdays ago. The temperature gauge read -7 degrees Fahrenheit (that's a minus sign in front of the 7, in case you missed it!). By the time I landed in Ontario, California, it was early evening and it was significantly warmer outside. 

Ontario Convention Center

I planned to arrive in California a day early for the Road to California workshops I was leading. That extra day allowed for travel delays (there were none to speak of), and a little down time once I arrived. A chance to check out the Convention Center, just steps away from my hotel, and to take in the sights and scents of summer time, still a long way off in central New York. This rose, on a bush right outside the Convention Center smelled heavenly!

California roses

Monday's workshop at Road to California was Chopped. You start with a whole mess of squares. . .

scraps for Chopped quilt pattern

. . . then make even more half-square triangles. . . .

half square triangles for Chopped Quilt Pattern

. . . and eventually you get some blocks.

happy quilter making the Chopped quilt pattern

. . . times 25 or so in the class!

Happy quitlers with their Chopped quilt blocks

On Tuesday, we worked on the 99 Bottles quilt from ScrapTherapy, Scraps Plus One! We were so focused on the project, I didn't manage to take any pictures. Regardless, it was a fun group and project!

Then it was time to head home. All too soon, I might add.

No worries. A quick change of clothes--unpack warm-weather clothes, pack cold-weather clothes and a sewing machine and head back out again to a ski-vacation rental near Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks, northern New York.

Adirondack ski rental home

Beautiful rustic interior.

adirondack ski rental

Quilters certainly know how to convert a regular living room into a quilting studio in no time flat. I happened to snap this picture first thing in the morning before 'production' was in full swing.

In between the here and there, I had a note from Mary. She visited my booth at a show last fall and purchased one of the Mini Scrap Grid packs. She tweaked the pattern a bit to make Valentines ornaments (out of 9-patches) for all the residents at her mom's senior living center. She didn't share a picture of her project, but I played a bit with a square of the grid and came up with this version following inspiration from Mary.

I worked with only one 9-patch section of the grid to give the idea a test-drive. Place squares cut from two bright pink scraps and one background square on the grid. Fuse. . .

Taste of Nectar Pin pattern variation

Fold and sew. . .

Taste of Nectar Pin Pattern variation

Snip, press, and furl. . .

Taste of Nectar Pin Pattern variation

Ta-da! (For more detail on the Mini Scrap Grid how-to, click here)

Taste of Nectar Pin Pattern variation

Add borders, a backing and the fusible foamy stuffing to give the pin structure.

Taste of Nectar Pin Pattern variation

Add a little heart-shaped quilting . . .

Taste of Nectar Pin Pattern variation

Attach the pin to the back with some perle cotton.

Taste of Nectar Pin Pattern variation

Pink the edges. And you're done. . .except . . .

taste of Nectar quilted pin variation

I wanted a more heart-shaped shape. So I re-pinked around the heart-shape.

Taste of Nectar Quilted Pin pattern variation

What do you think? Better as a square? Better as a heart?

By the way, just in case you want to make some for yourself or for your sweetheart (or your mom's senior living community!), you can ask for Taste of Nectar Pin Packs (and refill packs) at your favorite quilt shop, or find them at the links shown. The packs even have the foamy batting and pin backs included! What a deal!!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Every five years or so, Joe stops by to see if we need a new paint job on the exterior of the house. Such was the case last fall. Come to find out Joe also does interiors, and we hired him to paint an upstairs bedroom and hallway at the same time he completed the latest paint job on the exterior of the house.

So, when Joe contacted me last week and said he had some painting time open, I jumped on board.

The small half-bath on the main floor and the dining room have never been painted. I guess I always felt that each room had some unique characteristics that required a little extra care. And that I would 'get right on the project any day now.' We moved into the house nearly 15 years ago. It is time to stop thinking I was going to 'get right on it!' I could also hear my business coach rewinding the words over and over again in my head: "painting isn't your 'brilliance'--let someone whose experience and expertise IS painting handle it."

It's true, Joe has all the right tools and equipment. And he knew exactly what to do to get right down to business. For as long as it took him to do both rooms start to finish, I would have only gotten started and would have lost precious sewing time!! Priorities should always come into consideration!

Only trouble is, you have to be prepared for your life to be completely disturbed for a few days. The contents of my china cabinet found a temporary home on any horizontal surface in my kitchen. Nothing goes back into the cabinet without first experiencing a cycle or two in the dishwasher! (I don't really like to dust, can you tell?)

I have an addiction to . . . I mean . . . a healthy collection of cookbooks, normally stored on a baking rack in the dining room, now relegated to a corner of the floor off the sun room. Some favorites, some not so much. It's time to make some tough decisions . . . Sometimes, less is more.

The dining room kinda looks like a scene from Ghostbusters!

Joe hard at work in the Ghostbusters room!

I'll be putting dishes away for a while, and sorting through cookbooks for the next few weeks, but I have to say, the rooms both look fantastic! And the best part is that I didn't even skip a beat on the sewing machine! Have I motivated you to look up your friendly neighborhood paint-dude?

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Bling in the New Year!

My friend Janice Pope--oh, you know Janice, she' the creator of the Two-Hour Tulip Purse--is running a contest. All you have to do is make a Two-Hour Tulip Purse and 'bling' it up! Get creative, the more over-the-top, the better! Send a picture of your blinged-up Two-Hour Tulip Purse to Janice by the deadline, and you could WIN big!

You have until March 31 to make your purse and bling it big! Seems like a very realistic deadline considering it's a TWO HOUR sewing project! Rules, deadlines, and all the deets are right here. If you are a winner, you might just find a copy of the new book, When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters in your prize package.

What? You don't have the pattern? Well, here's another contest to get you started. Make a comment on this blog entry just below, and you'll be entered for a random draw to get a signed copy of the pattern, straight from Janice herself. Don't delay! The random drawing to receive the pattern happens Monday, January 12, so only those comments made before midnight Sunday, January 11th (East Coast Time) are eligible. All you have to do is comment!

Good luck!

Oh, and before I forget, if you are a shop owner and would like your shop to join in the challenge, Janice is offering some special wholesale pricing just in time for the contest. Check her website and get in touch with Janice for the specifics!

Update: We have a winner! Janice Pope drew the random number 11. That means Char Popson wins the autographed copy of the Two-Hour Tulip Purse pattern. Congratulations Char--bling it on!! 

But there's more! . . . If you still want the pattern so you can enter the big contest, order the pattern here, and Janice will refund the shipping cost. This special only lasts through Friday, January 16th! So, don't delay!


Those of you who follow this newsletter regularly know that I travel a lot! It's one of the great perks of doing what I do! Sometimes, all the travel leaves me missing my sewing machine. Whenever I get a good stretch of quiet time at home, like during the holidays, I try to take full advantage of some glorious, decadent sewing time. Here are a couple of projects I busied myself with this holiday season . . .

I saw a sample of this table runner pattern at Quiltique when I was in Henderson, Nevada in November. With new living room furniture delivered just in time for the holidays, this table runner, entitled Open-Weave from the Tiger Lily Press, was calling me. Stash fabrics in neutral tones, a spurt of time here and there, and call this one 'done!'

I made a second Hummingbird quilt using the pattern from the new book When Bad Things Happen To Good Quilters for Tim, one of my editors at The Taunton Press. I don't know why he didn't feel confident enough to pull out the sewing machine and make one for himself after spending all that time reading and re-reading the book text . . . Anyway, he tells me the quilt is going to be a special gift for someone who just loves hummingbirds--I can relate to that!

To make this version of the panel project, I opted for some hand quilting in the main section of the quilt. It's so nice to step away from the sewing machine for some hand work during the crazy holiday season! The pattern, and even some tips for hand quilting, are in the new book! The beautiful hummingbird fabric from Blend Fabrics might be tough to come by since it's been out for a year or two.

Speaking of hand stitching. This detailed cross-stitch kit was one of the treats I purchased just for me last summer during the Alaska Quilt Cruise. I started working on the stitching in August, and I've been chipping away at it fairly diligently ever since. Once the stitching is complete, I plan to add a quilty-scrappy border--maybe sometime this coming summer at the rate I'm going. . .

Oh, and I started working on a new project featuring the Mini Scrap Grid. It's still really early in the process to share very much, but here's a sneaky peak . . .

What about you? Did you get any holiday stitching in between cookie-baking, gift-wrapping, deck-the-halling? Do share!

Happy Stitching!