Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's a Good Thing

First day of school tomorrow (sigh) and we're busy buying last minute school supplies, hunting down new sneakers, and filling out paperwork.  Not much time for quilting, but I do have a good idea to share.

A few years ago, my husband was nice enough to bring home from work a table that was headed for the garbage.  It's pretty beat up and the top of the table is a bit sketchy, but it's big and solid and has adjustable legs - perfect for quilting.  I've had it pushed up against the wall in my sewing room all this time, but recently decided to try it in the center of my room and I love it.  We even added a shelf across the bottom of the table that's big enough to hold my batting, several bins of fabric, and my lap quilting frame.  It works really well, but it doesn't look that great.

Another problem in my sewing room is that my overworked quilt rack can't hold any more pressed quilt tops, quilt backs, or binding strips.  I'd hang curtain rods or towel bars to use for storage, but I don't have any available wall space.

But the other day, my daughter and I were in Home Depot and in a moment of DIY clarity, inspiration struck.  Why not use the edge of my table to hang fabric and quilts in progress, keeping them flat while simultaneously hiding the storage shelf.  Ta-da! 

Here's what we came up with:

We bought two screw eyes and a 36" long - 3/4" diameter dowel rod.  We pre-drilled holes (34" apart) in the edge of the table before screwing in the screw eyes to prevent the wood from splitting.  The screw eyes are pretty heavy duty, so it was a bit hard to screw them into pre-drilled holes, but once we got them started, we were able to use a screw driver inserted into the screw eye hole as a handle for turning - much easier.  We inserted the dowel rod through both screw eyes and presto! 

Now I have a curtain around the table and hanging storage that acts as a visual reminder of what I'm working on.  And it's pretty!  I liked it so much that I added two more.  As a final touch my husband added a few screws to one end of the table so I can hang my quilting rulers.  Perfect!  And to think it only took four years!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quilters Newsletter's Best Christmas Quilts Blog Tour

Welcome fellow quilters!

"On the 3rd day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three french hens..."

Ok, so it's not the 3rd day of Christmas, but it is the 3rd day of QN's 12 Days of Best Christmas Quilts blog tour and while I don't have french hens, I do have calling birds! 

And they are sew sweet - perfect for adorning your Christmas tree or to add a little something extra to a beautifully wrapped package!  The pattern for my quick and easy ornaments can be found on page 24 of Quilters Newsletter's special issue Best Christmas Quilts 2012.  Best Christmas Quilts 2012 is available now on newsstands and in bookstores and quilts shops.  It's also available through in both hardcopy and digital editions.

Also featured in Best Christmas Quilts 2012 are my Let it Snow table runner and pillow.

I actually made the pillow version of Let it Snow first as a Christmas gift for my mother.  When she opened her gift and started to laugh, I looked at the pillow and realized that I'd forgotten to give the snowmen arms.  I was horrified, but it turns out that she was laughing because she had also made a snowman pillow for me - go figure.  She didn't even notice that the snowmen didn't have arms!  Needless to say, they have arms now!

I loved making the snowman panels for the pillows (yes, I made one for me!) so much that I decided to adapt the pattern into a table runner, something that I could keep out not just for Christmas, but for the rest of winter as well.  Because of the hand work in the snowman panels, I decided to keep the patchwork in the center of the table runner simple.  I chose homespuns because I think they instantly convey warmth, but these projects would be equally charming in any fabric that suits your taste or decor.

Here's a close-up of one of the snowmen.  Isn't he cute!  I made him out of felted wool and appliquéd him to the background using a whipstitch.  Super simple and fast.  But you can use whatever material and appliqué method you prefer.  Change up the color of the hats, add whatever embellishments speak to you, and have fun -- just don't forget the arms!!

And now, the moment you've been waiting for (and thank you for your patience), your chance to win a fat quarter bundle and two panels from the Too Many Men collection from Red Rooster Fabrics.

Look close... closer... closer still... yes, that's right, snowman fabric!  If only I knew of a pattern for say a table runner or even a pillow to make with snowman fabric, hmmm. 

If you'd like a chance to win this adorable fabric and a copy of Best Christmas Quilts 2012 leave a comment on this post before 11:59 p.m. MDT tonight (8/22/2012) by clicking on the word "comments" in the blue box below.  I will draw one name at random (just please make sure I have your email address).  Only one comment per person, please, and the contest is only open to those who haven't won something from Quilters Newsletter in the last 90 days.

Enjoy the rest of the blog tour and good luck!

Thank you for all of your comments.  This contest is now closed.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Why haven't I posted on my blog for the past two weeks?

Why is my husband afraid to come home from work?

Why has my well of quilting ideas temporarily dried up?

Why do my children run in the other direction when I come up from the basement?

Why am I now answering the phone:  "Jen's house of anger, how may I help you?" (but only when my sister calls)

One word.  Drywall.

A month ago, my husband and I decided to remodel and add a bathroom to our basement.  He worked on framing and hanging sheetrock and then passed the drywall finishing torch to me.  After all, I'm a quilter and therefore have a good attention to detail and passable motor skills and I'm a mild perfectionist (ok, mild to moderate).  Who better to tape and mud (yes, that's right, I wrote "mud" like a real drywaller, trust me, I've earned it) the corners, seams and screws?  How hard could it be to achieve smooth walls?  I had no idea. 

Every day I descend to the basement to spread on another coat of joint compound and my blood pressure begins to rise.  And every day after 4 hours spent struggling to smooth joints, and slopping mud all over myself and the floor, and using language that I dare not speak of here, I climb back up the basement stairs and call my husband and vow that I will never, ever attempt to finish drywall again no matter what.

My sister said I should abandon the project and get someone in to finish it, but as my husband says "I'm in it now."  God willing, tomorrow I will apply the final coat.  Then I'm hanging up my taping knives for good.  Sanding, priming and painting should be a walk in the park.  I'm almost there.  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Oh, did I mention I'm also supposed to install a ceramic tile floor.  Shudder.

I realize this may have been a somewhat gloomy post (welcome to my pain), so I've decided to include a gratuitous shot of our puppy Casey.  I take no responsibility for doing this to Casey -- it was my kids -- I'm just the photographer.  Although I must say, she doesn't look too worked up about her new look.

And by the way...

Check back here next week (the 22nd to be exact) for a chance to win a prize.  I'm participating in a Quilters Newsletter blog tour to promote their Best Christmas Quilts 2012 special issue.  I'll be writing about the projects that I designed for the special issue and picking one lucky reader to win a fabric bundle!  Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Juicy Rationalization

I started the day off feeling a little guilty today.  I haven't exactly been a prolific blogger lately and between the trip to Florida and our camping trip to Maine (aah, Maine -- I love Maine), I haven't been quilting as much as I'd like.   But then it occurred to me -- my productivity may have gone downhill, but I have been busy -- gathering inspiration!

Our annual camping trip to Maine is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  I love being at the beach watching the kids body surf and make sand castles.  I love eating sandy picnic lunches and beachcombing for sea glass, sea pottery, and other treasures.  And when we've finally had enough sun, I love roaming the little shops searching for a trinket to take home to remind me of Maine.  Did I mention that I love Maine?

This year I saw colorful pottery, crocheted earrings, and glass bauble sun catchers.  I saw beautiful handmade bags, countless paintings and, believe it or not, squirrel underwear (briefs, not boxers).  But these were my favorite finds...

I saw these whimsical fish painted on repurposed fence boards at L.L. Bean's Home Store.  My souvenir budget didn't allow me to take one home, but I snuck a couple of pictures for my inspiration file.  Who knows, my mom and sister may get fish for Christmas this year instead of quilts.

I found this carved wooden bird at a store in Freeport called The Mangy Moose.  When I walked by it, it called out to me and I had to pick it up.  It fit perfectly in the palm of my hand and I had to make it mine.  Now it (he? she?) is perched on my kitchen windowsill awaiting the perfect name.

Here's a photo of the shells, pottery, and sea glass I collected this year.  I even found a shard of elusive red glass and a baby sand dollar.  I had an amazing moment of elation when I found a tarnished spoon and imagined it to be a silver spoon lost at sea long ago; but, alas, when I cleaned it up a bit, I discovered the words "Stainless - China" on the back.  Sigh.

My final prize is this 5" x 5" signed print of a painting by Maine artist Catherine Breer (  I bought a calendar of hers a couple of years ago and couldn't resist this little print this year.  I love the color palette that she uses -- so bright and cheerful.  If I could paint, and I think I've firmly established that I can not (see my posts Be Not Afraid parts 1 and 2) this is how I would want to paint.  I'm going to frame this print and hang it in my sewing room to remind me of Maine until I get to go back next year.

I'm not sure if I will try to make a fish or carve a bird or paint a landscape, but my little treasures definitely got my juices flowing and they make me happy.  I'm always amazed and inspired by what other creative types are making.  Glad somebody is getting some work done!