Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ahoy Maties!

Last weekend, I headed north to Alexandria Bay on the New York/Canada border. The 1,000 Islands in the St. Lawrence River is such a beautiful spot for a wedding. Unless it's raining!

My sister, Valerie's wedding weekend started out perfectly. Blue sky. Warm weather. Terrific sunset. So I settled into my room in Alex Bay on Friday evening, ignoring the forecast for Saturday, wedding day.

I woke up to buckets of rain water falling outside my hotel window. I snapped a picture of this barge crossing in front of Boldt Castle on Heart Island, the location for the wedding later in the day. You can see how gray the skies were first thing in the morning.

Because this area is heavily tourist and resort oriented, it's easy to forget that it's also a major shipping thoroughfare. Then you see the barges and you are reminded of the river's importance to commerce.

Fortunately, as the day went on, the weather cleared. We caught the boat for Heart Island for the short ceremony around four. George Boldt built the castle on Heart Island as a summer residence in the early 1900s. As the story goes, all work stopped on the construction when his wife, to whom the structure was dedicated, died. The Castle fell into hard times until it was purchased by the Bridge Authority. It is now beautifully restored and the grounds make a perfect wedding destination. And it's a popular tourist stop on the tours through the 1,000 Islands.

Even though the clouds didn't completely dissipate, the short ceremony was in the clear.

My sister has always loved the Popeye cartoons. Can you tell by their cake?

Here's the happy couple. The wedding theme featured tropical flamingos! Notice the fun glasses. Al may not be happy that this picture is now on the internet.

But that's what sisters-in-law are for!

Stay dry!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Birdie Bags

I've been busy. I'm going to a small wedding this weekend. I made a bunch of sweet little embroidered bags for all the women guests.

For starters, I downloaded the Blue Wren's Nest embroidery patterns from one of my favorite blogs by Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches. Once I downloaded the pattern, I did a little Photoshop magic and reversed the stitching pattern, then printed it onto Quilters Freezer Paper Sheets (made by C&T Publishing) on my inkjet printer.

Using a light source, I traced the stitching pattern on the front of the background fabric, in my case I used muslin. The freezer paper stabilizes the fabric so it doesn't shift while I'm tracing. Neat trick!

And I stitched. . . and stitched. . .  and stitched some more!

Cash and Carry, a terrific little bag pattern by Atkinson Designs became the basis to finish my project. I adjusted some of the sizes from the pattern sightly to accommodate the stitchery. Instead of making a pocket for each side of the bag, I have a pocket on one side and the stitchery on the other.

Great pattern! Really easy. Zippers, too!

Added the little birdie zipper fob to finish it off.

Fourteen handy little bags ready to go to a wedding with me!!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I'm doin' it. Are you?

I'm talking about the Nine-Patch Project, of course!

During the course of the summer, grab some fabric - anything - your scraps, some fat quarters, something from your stash, or heaven-forbid run out and buy some fabric at the quilt shop! Then make one nine-patch block every day throughout the summer. Read Karen Montgomery's June 1st blog for more details.

As I understand it, there's no Nine-Patch Police, so even though this whole thing started on June 1st, you really can start any time. You can play catch up and make three blocks today, or make two nine-patches for the next three days and you'll be right on track. Or just start today. By the end of the summer you should have a bunch of nine patches - if you count one for each day of June, July, and August, that's 92 blocks!

You can follow along on facebook, or watch for more information here. 

For my blocks, I went scrounging around in my ScrapTherapy bins and found a bunch of 2" batik squares. I pulled out some cream fabric from my stash and rolled up my sleeves. I decided to make nine-patches within nine-patches, so I cut my 2" square twice to make four 1" squares. Then cut 1" squares from my cream fabric (bet this would also look good with black fabric!) and went to the sewing machine.

Once the mini-blocks were sewn, I added more 2" scrap squares to make a 5" unfinished nine patch. For odd days of the month, I'll do a nine patch with five mini nines, and for even days of the month, I'll do a nine-patch with four minis.

Yep, those are tiny pieces of fabric, but I find that every once in a while, it's good to stretch a little bit. Besides, when you piece something small, you have to be accurate. When you have to be accurate, your overall piecing improves. Kinda like being an average Sudoku or crossword player. Then you try your hand at an uber-difficult puzzle. You fail miserably (or at least I do!), but when you go back to the average skill level puzzles, they are so much easier!!

By the way, my blocks have all the tiny squares. Yours can be any size you want, scrappy or not, lights and darks or not, light centers, dark centers, or not. Here's a simple scrappy nine-patch to show you what I mean.

One simple block each day. Now that's not so overwhelming, is it?

See you on the 'back nine!'