In from the Cold

It was ONE degree Fahrenheit when I left the house for work this morning. That is COLD. Des Moines, Iowa got 8.5 inches of snow yesterday–welcome to living in a house with a sloped driveway and a single car garage (that currently doesn’t fit a vehicle!). Not that I am complaining–we love our home and we are extremely grateful to be out of the condo! But the snow does present and extra challenge or two! 😉

I’ve been so busy this Autumn; apparently too busy to blog — though I had plenty of material I could’ve blogged about! I took a class at the University where I work, in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications; called Social Media Strategies.  I learned so much, but I am so glad to have given my final presentation last week and to be done with the class.

The Thursday before Thanksgiving the Des Moines MQG met for our holiday social. We had freezing rain (icy conditions) that evening, so many didn’t make it.  However, we had a decent sized crowd, good food and great company.  We do a holiday swap (everyone is asked to bring a grab bag item for any holiday our season of our choosing).  I made this mug rug/mini quilt from Kate Spain’s In From the Cold pattern (I downsized it to make the block smaller):

Kate Spain In from  the cold Teacup Mini by Doris

Those little sawtooth squares (half-square triangles) are like 1/2″ finished on my version!

Teacup Mini by Doris 2

On the back, I used up some orphan Flying Geese that I made while testing methods and sizes for our Fox in a Box pattern.

Teacup Mini Back

Teacup Mini back 2

The item I brought home from the swap was this wonderful organizer that Jill made using one of my favorite Christmas fabric collections from recent years:

Organizer by Jill

Organizer by Jill Inside

There were some other great handmade items, check out our post to see more of them!

Row House Creations is keeping me busy as well; working on Building Foundations Sampler blocks each week, our weekly business workday, quilts for magazine submissions, and a new pattern that we hope to introduce before too long.

I’ll be back soon with a catch-up post or two!

a Blessed Advent Season,



I threw my hat in

Meaning “Throw your Hat in the Ring”

To make or take up a challenge, or demonstrate one’s willingness to join an enterprise…. (The ring in question here is a boxing ring. These, of course used to be circular spaces in a crowd of onlookers, rather than the square, roped ‘rings’ of today.  Anyone who fancied his chances in a bout would throw in his hat – rather than try shouting over the noise of the crowd.  The expression dates from at least the early 19th century.)
Like many Modern Quilt Guild members, I threw my hat in for the Jay McCarroll Habitat Challenge, and tonight is the reveal at the Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild of our completed challenge quilts/pillows, etc.   The parameters our guild set were a finished quilted item with a perimeter of at least 60 linear inches and no more than 120 linear inches.  Every fabric from our fat eighth bundle had to appear somewhere on the quilt top/front.  I had six of the fabrics in the photo above to work with, the peach polka dot in the background, and the five pieces at the center of the line-up.  I was particularly inspired by the fabric with the large, dark, polka dots against the soft floral background, the second from the left in the photo.  The soft floral aspects in a few pieces of this collection contrast greatly with the dark, bold, and in-your-face colors and graphics in the other prints.  I wanted to capture the softer side of the collection.
Here is what I came up with:

It measures 24″ x 24″, I used Kona Charcoal, Navy, Teal Blue and a Burgundy solid in the pieced ring, and Kona Aqua as the main background fabric.  The back of the quilt is a pink Kona cotton, scraps I had leftover from the edges of a large quilt back.

The flowers are made from long strips of three different pieces of the Habitat fabrics, and the petals are also three-dimensional, made from the peach polka dot.

I made the pieced color strips first, and envisioned this as a long narrow table runner, with flowers splashed across if diagonally.  But then at the last minute, I cut the strips in half lengthwise, to create the square ring, and used little scraps to free-piece log cabin “flowers” for the cornerstones. 

Colors and fabrics I wouldn’t normally pick out (other than the aqua blue!), which is what truly made this a CHALLENGE.  But in the end, I really like this little quilt…. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else created!  
Are you participating in this challenge?  What did you make?

Dresses for Mama

I’ve made two of these sweet little wallhangings before, one lives at my friend Lisa’s house (she won in it our Guild auction!) and one lives in Australia. This one I finished up on Friday night, just in time to give to my Mom for Mother’s Day on Sunday…

It seems especially appropriate for her; my Mom grew up on an Iowa farm in the 40s and 50s, and she had three sisters. The first time I ever saw this quilt pattern , it made me think of my Mom and Grandma!

Raw-edge applique, a tiny stipple, and simple straight line quilting finished it off.
One more Spring to Finish complete! That makes SEVEN finishes so far! I’ve been sewing a little more too, but not much to show just yet…

Had a little time to get out and enjoy our chilly Spring this weekend (seriously, what happened to our warm weather? We went from 80 degrees to 34 degrees in two days!)

It hasn’t killed off all the May flowers…yet.

And these little robins seem to be well protected in their Mama’s nest, in the little spruce tree in my sister’s backyard.

But maybe just a tad bit hungry…

My two-year-old nephew is learning a lot about Mama birds, baby birds, and how important it is to not disturb the nest, from this Science lesson in his backyard.

Hope you are all seeing the signs of Spring in your corner of the world…

Tea, anyone?

This sweet mini quilt was designed by Emma… She’s a member of my small group, Seams Sew Easy, a graphic designer by trade, and a talented quilter. I offered to test this pattern for her, and this is my finished product:

Complete with yellow Darlene Zimmerman designed teacup border, royal blue flange, and polk dot(!) background. (My photos are terrible–but trust me, it’s sweet, cute, bright and fresh colored!)

I received another block last week for my Neighborhood quilt, from Alissa:

I’m loving all the little details everyone is adding, those are Heather Ross seagulls…

and a green car parked by a little orchard?!? Alissa didn’t even know I drove a light green Beetle, that could be my car!

There have been four more revealed here, that haven’t arrived in my mailbox yet. Go check them out!

Have a blessed Easter weekend,

Gifts in a Snap!

I made several Snap Happy! bags for stocking stuffers and small Christmas gifts… The pattern makes three sizes, but gives instructions for making any size you want:

They are made using a piece of metal tape measure at the top, so the bag opens by pulling on the triangle tabs (prairie points) and snaps shut.
And, yes, that’s right, it uses pieces of a metal tape measure, like this:

I produced these assembly line style, and it did go rather quick.

And the options are endless for matching the likes/tastes/hobbies of your recipient, novelty fabrics are wonderful for these. I made several girl-y ones (I love that lingerie fabric!), a music oriented one, a sewing themed bag, and the matching set above that will go to my best friend soon!

I was the lucky recipient of a surprise handmade gift in the mail…from a “new in 2009” friend, who like me was striving to focus on the Advent season rather than the stressful holiday season, and thought I could use this token of her friendship to keep me focused.
It’s hanging proudly on my sewing room door, and it worked, it kept me focused on the reason for the season with every glance I took at it! The added bonus, I almost never receive handmade gifts myself, so this was a true treat!

Keep Christ in your heart, and have a very Happy New Year!

Farewell, Summer…

So, yes, packing up my life, moving across town…to the western ‘burbs actually…but it’s not healthy to be all work and no play, right?! And, besides, I have obligations to swaps and such that I signed up for before I knew I’d be moving this autumn…

So I pulled out my fabric last night and whipped this up for my swap partner in the Good Ol’ Summertime Mini Quilt Swap:
The blues in the ocean all came from my “blue” scrap basket, and I did the free form curved piecing to give the effect of waves rolling in. I’ve loved that cabana fabric ever since I first saw it, and until now, it just sat in my stash basket ’cause I couldn’t think of a use for it. Then this swap came along…
Now, my Iowa summer bears no resemblance to this quilt whatsoever…yes, we do have beaches here and there, lakeside beaches, but I haven’t made it to one of those in years. This is how my summer “in my head” looks. dreams of being in a lounge chair on the beach with pretty, bright colored cabanas dotting the horizon. If only… Need to add a label tonight and send it off in the post tomorrow! John, your blocks are next!