Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry, merry! Happy, happy!

Knee Hugger Elves, pattern by Heidi Boyd
My message to you this week is brief but sincere.

I hope all your holiday preparations are well underway, and that you enjoy the holiday season to the fullest.

As 2015 comes to a close, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing a little of yourself with me and allowing me to share bits and pieces from the weekly activities in and around my quilting studio.

2015 has been a fun ride. I hope you've enjoyed the things that I've shared here each week. I can't wait to see what 2016 has in store for us! Quilting cruises and retreats, travel and shows, finished quilts, new projects, and fun adventures. Bring it on!

In the meantime, I'm taking next week off to play with fabric and thread in the studio, and relax with family and friends. Thank you sincerely for joining me in my weekly journey during 2015. I'll chat with you again in the new year!

Merry Christmas!

              Happy New Year!

 . . . and Happy Stitching!

(in the photo: Knee Hugger Elves, pattern by Heidi Boyd)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Last Minute LuLu

Ginger SnapsThis Christmas season, I feel like such a Last Minute LuLu! How about you? Is all your shopping done? Cookies baked and ready for festive holiday trays? Lights on the tree? Shopping complete? All wrapped up with shiny paper and bows?

Me, not so much. BUT, I have a good excuse! I could just about bust keeping this a secret until now. I have a new coloring book in the works! 

Scrappy Quilts Coloring Book

Here's the thing, the coloring book is SO new, and came together SO quickly, that it's not available anywhere just yet! It's on deck for arrival sometime in January or early February.

Do you want to be the first to receive your very own copy?

To celebrate the new coloring book and to help you finish your last minute quilty shopping, here is a special offer just for you--and your Santa shopper (feel free to share this post with your guy in red so he knows just what to do!)


Spend $30 with the Hummingbird Highway

Add the NEW Scrappy Quilts Coloring Book to your cart. (For a sub-total of at least $39.95)

Enter the Coupon Code LastMinuteLulu (no spaces) and be among the first to get the Coloring Book . . . for FREE!

Offer ends Monday, December 21, 2015 at midnight (east coast time).

Your order will ship no later than Tuesday, December 22 (assuming everything in your order is in stock).

The Scrappy Quilts Coloring Book will ship as soon as it's available (expected January 2016)

Happy holiday preparations!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

'Like a Light Bulb'

Every year, I stuff my holiday greeting cards with a simple, hand-made ornament. With the holiday closing in, and just enough time to get the cards in the mail, this week I've been a busy-bee with the needle and thread.

Sewing supplies

First, the Ho Ho Sew Sewing Machine Ornament from Betz White. It's a pdf download, so if you have some felt and a few other items in your craft stash, you can start (and finish) right away!

ornament pattern and felt

Here's my version! Betz's ornament has a little Santa hat in progress, I took a slight detour from her pattern and added a little quilt in progress instead of the hat. I never was one for garment sewing!

Ho Ho Sew Ornamenbt

Fair warning, these are really fun to make and so addicting. How do I know? Well, let's just say I have a little production line going. Some of my sewing soul mates just MIGHT find one of these on their trees very soon! Aren't they cute, cute, cute??

felts ornaments

Moving on. the sewing machines are great, but I'd have a tough time jamming them into my holiday greeting cards. And not everyone on my list is a sewing soul-sister. Therefore, for my holiday card ornaments this year, I took my inspiration from holiday light bulbs. . . I used some brightly colored felt, thread, and a template. Here's the template, enough for twelve ornaments on each sheet (just in case you want to make some, too!).

felt ornaments tutorial

I printed the template onto freezer paper, rough cut apart pairs of ornaments and bases and fused the shapes onto the felt. Then cut around the shapes.

Light bulb ornaments

Remove the paper, and add some embroidery details. I used metallic embroidery thread to add stem stitches and a couple of lazy daisy loops to mimic the old-fashioned filament inside the bulb. Regular perl cotton works just fine too.

felt ornaments

Embroider two bulbs, and grab two bases cut from gray light-colored felt.

felt ornaments

Use a glue stick to hold the pieces together. Sandwich two bulbs back to back, and two bases.

felt ornaments

With coordinating thread, sew a running stitch or blanket stitch around the edge.

felt ornaments

Add a loop for hanging. . .

felt ornament tutorial

And there you have it!

felt light bulb ornament

Find a tree branch to decorate, and you're good to go! (Ho, Ho, Ho!)

felt light bulb ornaments

Now, I just have to make the time to get my cards addressed and in the mail. . . And then there are cookies to bake, shopping to finish, gifts to wrap and ship, . . .

Rut-roh. I'd better get moving! How's your holiday to-do list coming along?

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Threading the Needle

Sometimes just one little tip and make all the difference!

This week, I've been working on finishing up some projects that have been hanging around for a while. UFOs (UnFinished Objects), PHDs (Projects Half Done), WIPs (Work In Progress).

I've been working on this project all year. It's part of a monthly club I attend when I'm in town, mostly for the social aspect. The pattern, Timeless Tradition by Bits 'n Pieces) is for a whole quilt. I scaled it down quite a bit to make a table runner.

quilted table runner

To keep the project portable, I opted to hand applique and hand quilt the project.

quilted table runner

And this little project isn't quite complete yet. A week ago, it was wadded up in a basket marked and ready for quilting. The embroidered center is a mixture of a couple of patterns from Bird Brain Designs. The center was then appliqued to the base, sandwiched, then basted. The quilting is complete. Now I'm in the process of adding embroidery embellishments to be topped off with some beadwork.

quilted embroidery piece

Then this week, the folks at Threads Magazine sent along this two-minute video packed with some really helpful tips. I'm happy to say I learned this technique when I first started hand-sewing, but the video is a good reminder. And I love the tip about the lip balm . . .

And the tip is so well-timed. I know a few people *a-hem* who might be doing some last minute sewing as the Christmas holiday gets closer and closer. You just don't need your thread fighting you as you place those last stitches to secure the binding around the perimeter of your quilted masterpiece!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Kind of Town . . .Chicago Is

I just returned from a fantastic few days in the Chicago area. I headed out of Syracuse with a car loaded full of quilts and quilty goodies last Wednesday. My destination: Hinsdale, IL (just outside of Chicago) and the Salt Creek Quilters Guild.

First up: an evening trunk show to a packed house of smiling faces!

salt creek quilters guild

The next day, our first workshop started bright and early. Because I didn't know the area well, and I was staying with my niece and her family, I planned a little extra time and arrived at the workshop location a bit ahead of schedule. A quick google search for some morning caffeine landed me right in front of a famous bakery. A quick step inside Kirschbaum's Bakery, and I had scored dessert for later!

Kirschbaums bakery

Next it was on to some serious sewing! Bloomin' Steps was our project for Friday. Some folks (not mentioning any names!) came with a scraps ready to sew, counted and organized to a 'T.'

scrap fabrics

Soon we started seeing whole blocks, pressed to perfection! . . .

Bloomin Steps scrap quilt

On Saturday morning, a new set of smiling faces appeared to work on the Stained Glass project.


Although, it's hard to choose, this quilt has to be one of my favorite workshop projects. The resulting quilts always look so wildly different based on a couple of inspiration fabric selections and the coordinated scraps.

There are bright and whimsical combinations. . .

scrap quilt

. . . Reproduction . . .


Stained Glass Scrap quilt

. . . Misty neutrals. . .

Stained Glass Scrap quilt

 . . . Bold reds, gray, and black . . .

Stained Glass Scrap quilt

. . . A rainbow of colors inspired by stained glass.

Stained Glass Scrap quilt

Once all the workshop participants retreated to their home sewing studios to continue working on their quilty masterpieces, I spent an extra day with Karen (my niece), Josh (her hubby), and Faye (their super-adorable 2-year old). Our destination for a stunning November Sunday? The amazing Garfield Park Conservatory.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Step inside to a series of connected greenhouses, each representing a different climate. Tropical palm trees to start.

Garfield Park Conservatory

With the terrible events only recently unfolding in Paris, this worker was arranging pennies purposefully in one of the water features.

Garfield Park Conservatory

This greenhouse was like walking into a quilt of light.

Garfield Park Conservatory

And the flowers. . . delicate orchids. . .


. . . Splashes of color to make a quilter drool!


Pin cushion?


Giant leaves of every color and shape. . .

Garfield Park Conservatory

Even Chihuly glass leaves in the koi pond.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Deserts full of prickly succulents in the next greenhouse.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Each greenhouse has so much to take in. This must be a gold mine for teachers and botanists in the Chicago area. And a treasure for people like me who enjoy perpetual summer sun and plant life.

 (I feel a sudden desire to make a pineapple quilt!)

Garfield Park Conservatory

My drive back from Chicago was uneventful with clear, sunny skies the whole distance. And a star-filled sky after sunset. Pretty unique for November in the central and northeast US!

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, November 5, 2015

A day in the life. . .

. . . of a quilter

A few weeks ago, I lamented over my fading smart phone battery. Well the new phone is now in my possession, and I'm so excited I can now take photos, interact on social media, and actually make phone calls and send messages again without the phone battery going dead at a moment's notice!

This week I'm offering a quick photo essay from my sewing room and vicinity - all the photos were taken with the new phone! . . . Enjoy.

My day usually starts with a little fabric inspiration . . .

quilt fabric

. . . and some sewing . . .


. . . and trimming.


Then, maybe a little exercise at the local rink. Depends on the day. . . and the inclination.


Back at home, time to cut some interfacing to pack some Mini Mug Mat packs. Lots of paper work to do, too, but that's not so much fun to photograph.

Mini Scrap Grid Interfacing

A step outside to enjoy a bit of Indian Summer. Frosty nights and mornings haven't completely swept the Summer away, yet. These begonias are hanging in there.

yellow begonia

A few years ago a twig appeared growing in a strange spot in the garden. We didn't know what the plant was, but let it root and grow. It's now about 12 feet high, and this year, we have a real clue to the plant's identity.

apple tree

Fall . . .


Fading summer. . .

fading sunflower

Milkweed, to draw the monarch butterflies.


This plant was part of the landscaping added with the front patio this summer. All summer long its green foliage gave no hint of the bright red berries to come. I'm not sure what it's called. Anyone?


And all the while, I can't shake the feeling that I'm being watched.

Sleeping parrot

Happy Stitching!