Saturday, August 29, 2015

See Jane Run...

This is yet another project that Jane was working on last weekend. She was so busy I felt that I was just standing still, and she got lots done. This is a table runner that she found in her stash when she went looking for something else, so out it came to be quilted and used this Fall.

She picked a large leaf print for the backing...

The blocks are a collection of blocks that she had wanted to try making so it has a bit of a sampler feel to it. The black strip with the large leaves is a print that she incorporated; it is all hand stitched. In my mind, she is the Queen of Autumn and this project really reflects her love of the season.

Once she had it pin basted we headed outside to the picnic table under the trees where she cut this great plaid on the bias for a binding. By the end of the weekend she had started quilting it so I expect it will be done in no time at all.

While she worked on binding I worked on cutting hexies for Minnie. Jane had pulled a few pinks from her stash for me, so I happily cut a few strips as I have been having a hard time finding pinks that suit.

She also had this little bundle of scraps set aside for me thinking that they would work nicely in Minnie, and she wasn't wrong, so I came home with lots of new fabric strips to incorporate into my quilt....M

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Backing It Up

Jane was on a roll over the weekend, moving lots of projects along to the next step in their process. One that I just had to share with you is the backing for her Fruit Salad.

She has had a strip of oversized triangles about 6" wide that echo the triangles in the quilt top ready to go, she just needed to cut her coordinating fabrics and put the backing together, and that's what she did. The top is all hand stitched, as is the triangle strip, but she decided to speed things along a little bit when attaching the two larger pieces and used the machine.

This quilt is so stunning and that strip of triangles is just the icing on the cake. The two pieces of fabric for the backing are very similar in colour, with the dots being a little more teal and the paisley a little greener.

Here's a reminder of some of the yummy fabrics that she worked into it.

She's toying with quilting it using Perle cotton and big stitches, which I think could be lots of fun. Stay tuned....M

Monday, August 24, 2015

Branching Out

Late last week I was talking to myself (I think we all do this a little bit, right?), reminding myself that I had lots of projects on the go, a few self-imposed deadlines that I'd like to meet, and no time to be practicing the art of distraction, in particular trying a new technique that I'd seen Paulette playing with on her blog - improv trees and birds, for which she kindly provided links to tutorials. That resolve lasted about 48 hours.

I went to see Jane at the cottage for the weekend with plans to get some hand stitching done. I did some work on Danuta's Garden, but yesterday we decided that we needed to give improv trees a try. What fun!

Jane is already in Fall mode so she worked with two large leafy prints similar to what she had seen in the tutorials.

I didn't have a photo of Paulette's work but I remembered it feeling very wintery, so that's the direction I went in.

Our mystery guest also tapered her branches more than mine so she ended up with lots of great perspective in her two trees. I will say though that using tapered branches creates a bit more challenging assembly as it really skews your block as it grows. Jane put a border on this one and is planning lots of ghostly embellishments to create a Halloween wall hanging or runner.

This one in particular looks to me like you are standing at the base of the tree and looking up into all those leaves.

Here's our tree collection - not bad for an hour or two of fun.

When I got home I played some more and made the five blocks on the right. They are wildly addictive and it will be fun to see where they take me.

I thought that they would go well with the two I made yesterday (on the left) but the turquoise background is too intense for the new blocks, so I will make them into something else, maybe pillows for the Holly Bazaar. Anyway, so much for giving myself a good talking to....M

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Charm of Country Charmer

Besides being a really great block to work on, I think that the biggest charm of this quilt is how it comes to life with a myriad of scrappy fabric combinations.

As I sew along I think, "Oh, this is my favourite block". That's until I get to the next one and then it becomes my favourite. Am I fickle?

This is going to be a Christmas quilt so there are several decidedly Christmas prints, like this...

and this.

But much of it is just a combination of red and green prints that I like.

And all neatly tucked into an 8" block, just slightly larger than the size of my hand.

I know that I promised to show you these in more natural light but it's been incredibly dull and dark today and it didn't seem to matter if I was taking pics in the Bat Cave or upstairs in natural light. It's raining so hard right now that I'm seriously contemplating building an arc! One day soon, I promise, because these photos aren't doing it justice....M

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Sewing Up a Storm

Minnie has been getting a lot of attention while I sit and do my hand stitching, but on a regular basis I've been heading to the sewing room for short stints to work on Country Charmer, and its all adding up. Things are moving along beautifully, to the point where I've now got more than half of the 30 blocks that I need sewn together.

Here, in no particular order, are 16 of them; two more are sitting on my sewing table, which gives me 18. I'll get upstairs the next time to give you a better sense of the colours.

Here's a hint of how they will look with the sashing.

To say that I can't believe that I'm this far along is an understatement. With 53 pieces to a block I expected things to go at a very moderate pace, but when you get into a rhythm you have a block or two done before you know it. Actually, I've started putting the sections for three blocks together and then do the last step for all three at the same time so it really feels like you are making progress.

Four of each of these two units and a 2.5" centre square make up a block. The instructions have you working on the narrower (in this case red) section first but for some reason I've gotten into the habit of making the square corner sections first and working backwards. Either way, it works.

By the way, is that not the tiniest red and white houndstooth you've ever seen?

Here's a close-up so you get a better sense of what I mean.

At this speed I'm now hoping to have all of the blocks finished by the end of the month. Wish me luck!...M

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Makin' Minnie

It's been back to work after vacation so things have slowed down on the quilting front, but there has been some progress on Minnie - three more four-diamond diamonds have been put together and are waiting for their next border of hexies.

I needed more soft yellows and pinks and found a nice selection of yellows at the local shop; I couldn't resist a little piece of that blue either...

...and a bit of digging in the sewing room produced a few pinks/mauves. I cut 1.5" strips and then using my  template and small scissors, cut my hexies, so all of these strips are now little piles of hexies.

I've been making more of the smallest diamonds and couldn't help but notice that two of them had the blossoms made from Jane's scrap bag. There literally wasn't more than enough for about six little hexies from that cream print, but it's just enough to add more variety.

And this blue-grey is lovely too - both great mementos from a generous friend sewn into my quilt.

Now that this new batch of strips have been cut I've been having fun creating the fabric sets for new diamonds, but I've also spent a little time at the machine, with great success. I'll have that to show you the next time (the suspense is killing you, right?)...M

Saturday, August 08, 2015

A Summer Quilt

Since picking up this bundle of greens at FibreFest last fall Anne's been busy hand piecing stacks of 9-patch blocks for a new quilt for her bed and it's coming together beautifully. She dropped by with it yesterday to see about potential border and backing options and so I've got a few pics to share.

Originally she was planning a Seminole border but after we found this tiny check for the binding she changed her mind and is going to keep things simple. The colours in the binding fabric nicely pull some of the darker colours in her prints.

It's 54" wide now so she will add another row or two and then just a white border and then bind it with the check. We looked at options for the backing but came up empty. She'll look for either a green or blue or maybe even a pink, if it's the right colour.

This colour combination is very fresh and summery - much lighter than the saturated colurs she tends to work with - so she's following Jane's lead and referring to it as a summer quilt....M

Thursday, August 06, 2015

A Peach of a Day

With a basket of peaches all ripening at the same time it was time for a Barefoot Contessa intervention. I decided to try Ina's Peach Cake recipe from her How Easy Was That? cookbook. Not sure if it was the peaches, the sour cream, the cinnamon or the pecans that were the tipping point; maybe all of the above.

It was quick and easy and did not disappoint. It was also a great excuse to break in my new Queen Bee spatula :).

It was still a little warm when we dug into it and couldn't resist topping it off with a bit of ice cream. The Official Cookie Tester gave it two thumbs up. Actually, I believe that the quote was, "If this was a ballgame, you just hit a home run". I'm thinking that's good.

The bonus that made this a just peach of a day was mail from Audrey at Quilty Folk. A short while back she celebrated five years of blogging by putting two books up for grabs - The 1718 Coverlet and The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt. Truth be known, I have a copy of the Farmer's Wife so I wasn't going to play along with this one, but as I read her post about living in a rural area and learning to quilt, devouring any book or magazine for inspiration that she and her friends could, it reminded me of my start, and how my friends and I still share today. I decided to put my name in the hat. If I won I was going to play it forward and pass it along to my sister Betty who has long coveted the book. Well, surprise, surprise! I shared the good news with Betty and she is over the moon. So thank you Audrey for your years of quilty inspiration, your generosity, and for continuing the sharing tradition - you have made us both very happy campers....M

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Beautiful Baker

Thanks to gorgeous birthday gifts from two of my sisters last month I've just upped my baking game. They are so beautiful that I had to share them, and so perfect for the baker in me.

Betty was kindly granted access to Jane's stash of vintage linen tablecloths (how generous is that?!) and designed and made this beautiful linen apron for me from a cloth for a lunch table. The blue is almost an aqua and the ornate border is spectacular.

I would totally have picked this off the shelf if I'd seen it in a shop. Jane, you are a doll for parting with one of your treasures - thank you!

And, without any collusion (at least as far as I know) my sister Frances gave me this beautiful Queen Bee spatula and lovely linen tea towel.

The towel is huge and has a beautiful honey bee design on it. Again, something I would have picked for myself. Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled. With all of this finery I'm thinking that maybe I need to be a little more presentable when I decide to pull out the mixer from here on in.

I almost put all of them into action today, thinking that I would make a blueberry lemon loaf, when I remembered a treat that's been in the freezer since this time last year. My lovely niece Julia and her fiancé had picked wild blueberries and she dropped by with a pie for us to enjoy. Can you believe it?? Wild blueberries. I'm not sure that I could be generous enough to give that away. It got tucked into the freezer to be enjoyed at a later date and today was the date.

A little dollop of vanilla bean ice cream and ta da. It. Was. Fantastic. The Official Cookie Tester is still licking his chops and currently eyeing the pie plate for a second serving but I think we're out of ice cream. Thanks again for the very special treat Julia and Ryan...M