Thursday, December 13, 2012

Swimming as fast as you can?

Me too!  Yet, the faster I swim the farther it seems to be to that relaxing beautiful reef where they have everything under control and you can take a deep breath and let out a gust of air that lets every other fish in the school know you've doing just fine.

If you are like me....then you have lots to do and you need it done fast.  I thought I'd share some excellent gift ideas with you....and I'd love to hear about your excellent gift ideas too :)

In no particular order....these are some of my best gift ideas:

I can't think of a person over the age of 35 who doesn't appreciate getting a hand written note or letter....and I recently bought these beautiful note cards from Gene Black, Alabama Artist and Quilter.

 You can find them HERE at Gene's Etsy Shop

Gene's art is beautiful and his cards would make a lovely gift for anyone....and everyone.  The other thing that makes giving Gene's note cards as gifts is that it supports an artist to continue doing what he loves to do....create, sew and quilt.  A gift that keeps giving....that's what I call a win/win :)

Giving that continues to give....that is what is important to me.  I'm very blessed to have meet and know many talented artists in the past three years.  I'm so intensely grateful for all that they have added to the beauty of my life and their work makes the best my opinion. 
Here are more of my favorite artists that sell their work.  Buying from them....from their websites or stores....helps them pay for the expenses of their they can continue to create.  I know you have others whom you would love to support and I'm always open to hearing about them...just leave a comment after this post.

If you click on the persons name, you'll be taken directly to their website :)

 I have all of Susan's DVD's and would highly recommend them.  Her book is excellent as well.
She also sells her work....sadly for all of you....ya can't buy this one....Mr. McSteamy got this for me for Christmas already ....sorry!  (A total bold face lie...I'm not sorry....I'm tickled beyond all tickled)

I've known Kathy for several years and her work is excellent...down to the finest detail.  I've purchased several of her purses and given them as gifts over the years.  I can promise you the quality will be impressive! (I know this will embarrass her....that's ok....cuz I'm telling the truth)
Wildflower Shoulder Bag
Time to whip up a beautiful quilt?  Me either....Kathy has some ready to ship :)

Patsy and Ernie are both very talented artists.  I've purchased several of Patsy's DVD's and books and have learned so much from her.  Earnie, her husband and partner, does the work behind the quilting, machine embroidery and thread painting scenes.  He is the amazing artist who does the video work.  Earnie is also a wood worker and a skilled artist himself. 

Patsy has added many new Digitized Embroidery Designs to her website.  This Bird Block is just one example of her beautiful designs.

Hyperquilting is so much fun Patsy has done a wonderful job of  illustrating how you can add some pizazz to your projects by adding some Hyperquilting.

Patsy is very generous with her free videos as well....don't miss the opportunity to see some of them HERE.

Clyde's Workshop offers absolutely beautiful wood crafted Quilt Ruler Holders and Wall Mounted Quilt Ruler Holders that are made from a variety of beautiful woods.
I am fortunate enough to have one of these Wall Mounted Quilt Ruler Holders and if you missed my blog post about HERE.

Only a person who absolutely loved working with wood would make and sell these heirloom pieces for such an affordable price. You'll be so surprised to see the quality and the price....I know I was!

Pat absolutely loves being a quilt designer and teacher.  One of her greatest joys is traveling and teaching others to quilt.  She is definitely a people person and someone who exudes the true spirit of a quilter.

Spotlight on Neutrals is Pat's most recent book.  If you missed my blog review, you can read it HERE.

 Strawberry Pie is one of Pat's "Go-To" patterns when you need an excellent pattern and you need to get your quilt done quick.  Click HERE to see several of her other lovely patterns.

Pat also has some very fun cards :)
This one makes me smile and to see all of the other great know what to do....just click HERE.

SewCalGal's desire to share all of the insights and lessons she has learned about in the world of quilting and machine embroidery is what makes her extraordinary.   Not only has she hosted a Free Motion Quilt Challenge for the last 12 months, she has also hosted the following events:

Maintains an ongoing list of Quilt and Machine Embroidery Events

SewCalGal  is an excellent teacher and mentor and has recently taught at Quilt In A Day!!!

Did I mention the Contests and Giveaways that SewCalGal keeps the rest of us updated about?   I have such respect and admiration for her great work and have always respected the fact that she has done all of this work to promote others, teach others and share her enthusiasm for quilting and machine embroidery. 

Did you know you can now SHOP SewCalGal?  Yes you can!!!  Click HERE to see all of her favorites available from Amazon.   She receives a portion of each purchase and that money is used to subsidize the expenses of shipping prizes for giveaways.

Oh yes, and there is always I Have A Notion!!!  You will need to order very soon to guarantee your gift arrives in time for the holidays.  Don't like to wrap or ship?  Let me do that for you.  Just send me an e-mail with your list and the addresses, I'll do the rest. 

Stay tuned for more of my favorites soon!!!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Charm Square Bow Tie Tutorial

Guest Post by Karin

I have this charm pack of fabric and I never know what to do with squares - I usually start with strips or yardage.  So here's what I'm doing with it:

Fabric is Lilac Hill by Moda
I started by laying a charm, face up.
 Fold it in half, right sides together and finger press it.
 Rotate it 90 degrees, and fold it in half again, still right sides together.  Finger Press again.
Easy so far, right?  OK, here's where it gets hairy, so don't say I didn't warn you.  Flip your charm over, so it's face down.  Pinch the edge right at one of the middle folds, and bring it to the right, to meet the corner and pin it there (you may certainly go left, if that's easier for you):

Rotate the charm 90 degrees, clockwise and do that again:

 Next verse, same as the first.  Do it until all middles are pinned to their corresponding edges:
 So now you've got a lumpy charm, with 4 pins in it right?
 Neatly flatten out that lump, so it looks like you have a 3-D square in a square:

OK, here's where you break out the hand-sewing needle.  Wait, don't drift off just yet - I know, hand sewing's not my favorite either, but this is really REALLY easy.  And you can do it while you're watching TV, so you can do this instead of snacking (one of my REALLY bad habits!).

Single strand thread is fine, and please, don't be too fussy about the size or even placement of your stitches. Make a knot in the end of your thread.  About halfway down one of the smaller square's side, slip the needle between the base fabric and the 3D square, and poke it through, coming out towards your other hand (or your face, whatever is most convenient, just don't poke out your eye at this point, 'cuz you're gonna need it in a minute).

Rotate and repeat.  See the pattern?
Go all the way around, and take another stitch right next to your first stitch, so you now have another square in a square:
 Give a good tug on your thread (should still be in the needle), and draw all the edges together:
Now pinch to adjacent folds together and whip stitch them closed.  Remember, you don't have to make your stitches pretty, but do try to go through all 4 layers:

When you get to the end of those two, go back to the center with your thread, and start stitching the other two folds together:
 When you're done, they should be nice and neatly stitched together into a line:
Take your pins out and flip your charm over:
 Gently tug the corners of the bow out:

When you've piled up a few, give 'em all a good press, making sure to straighten out the sides, so that everything keeps pretty square.  Sew them all together in any combination you choose.  I'd suggest pinning, to keep those layers straight and square.

There you have it - a fun and easy way to use charm squares.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Perfect Endings with Floriani :)

Hey y'all, Karin here again...

Just wanted to pop in a moment and share a thought with you (I can't stand it when they rattle around inside my head, just clamoring to get out!)....

If you want a perfect ending, you've gotta start with a good beginning.  And if you're gonna start off right, you'll want to start with Floriani Thread.  Believe me, I've used my share of the other stuff...and then some.  And I'm here to tell you, results just aren't the same.

Take a peek at what came off the machine yesterday.

Bet you're wondering what the heck they are?  They're pillowcases!  Made with the super easy "hot-dog" method, then just neatly folded and laid side by side.  

I actually started with some really nice fabrics from Moda (the stripe is Songbird), Benartex (the solid teal is Quilters Suede), and Windham (the small checks are Christmas something...).  The dotted fabric is unknown, sorry.  They all have a really nice hand and were super easy to sew.  They frayed something fierce, tho, I must admit.  (I pre-wash EVERYthing before I use it.)

The thread is Floriani PFP52, and to my eyes, it's a really close match.  Unreal how different fabrics and thread from different manufacturers all works together, eh?

Anyway, back to the beginning....I ironed some Floriani No Show Mesh  to the fabric, loaded a hoop with Floriani Tearaway, then a narrow strip of Floriani Perfect Stick, then placed the fabric on that.  Of course, I had finger-pressed to find my center and marked it with a straight pin.  I programmed the name straight off my Babylock Ellegante2 and messed with adjusted the spacing just a wee bit.

Once I had my placement perfected, I pressed start, and away she went!  I can't say it enough, Perfect Results, Every time.  Thank you Walter Floriani!

Now, if you don't mind, I have some purple turtles calling my name.  Thanks for letting me pop in here, Kelly!  Wishing you and all your fans a very happy and safe holiday season!


Sunday, December 9, 2012


Today is the big Quilters Christmas Party Day 
hosted by SewCalGal.

Parties are so much fun....and you just never know who will be showing up or how good the entertainment will be.  One thing I do know for sure....SewCalGal pulls out all the stops and provides plenty of fun for everyone.

Since it is a virtual party....I figured it would be fun to invite some totally cool people to entertain during the party.  I'd like to introduce you to some of my favorite people in the quilting world.  These folks really do know how to have fun and party, party, party!  So without further ado....I'd like to introduce you to Lady Eleanor (Quilt In A Day) Julie Herman (Jaybird Quilts), Gene Black (Alabama Artist and Quilter), Ricky Tims (Musician and Quilter)  and Alex Veronelli (Aurifil Threads)

You know it is so much easier to get forgiveness that it is I didn't ask any of these amazing people if they'd like to dance today....I just figured they are so much fun they would accept my invitation to dance like no one is watching :)

The party is to benefit Operation Homefront.  I had heard about Operation Homefront but I had never seriously considered making a donation until SewCalGal shared more information  about the program.  Operation Homefront  provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors.  I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to have an injured family come home from a tour of service....not to mention falling into need.  Lets show those who have served to protect us some love and compassion by helping...... TODAY!

Quilters are givers and we are asked for quilts, fabric, time and money all the time because typically we are loving people who want others to know they are loved and important.  It is a pleasure when I share and help another person.....I often feel selfish because I feel so good after I know I've helped another human feel cared about and important.  I'm guessing all of you have families, friends, and guild members that you give to during the holidays and you are probably feeling a bit stretched.  I'm going to encourage you to stretch a little or a lot more.... 

IHAN has already donated lots of fun things for the party today....but I'm also going to give one of my favorite tools away today too....just because I love to see people smile.

I'll give one Hands Free 6 LED Beam N Read of my very favorite one lucky winner that will be drawn from the list of those who donate today through SewCalGal's Blog.  ALL Money is good please don't think...well 2 bucks isn't enough....everyone's 2 bucks adds up!!

If you are anything like don't want your name posted to a blog saying you I'm going to ask SewCalGal to just draw from her list for the winner of the IHAN  Beam N Read Light Giveaway.

Now go over and see what all the fun is about and hit all the other blogs that have joined in the celebration!

Smiles of Gratitude,


Friday, December 7, 2012

Working on Christmas Gifts

I've been working on some Christmas gifts lately.  I know some folks who are amazing and begin working on their gifts in January.  Not me....I'm a last minute gal if there ever was one.
I started playing with some designs I liked for guest towels.  I really liked this one so it is now hanging in my first floor bathroom.  Feeling festive around here :)

Machine embroidery on the corner of a dinner napkin makes Christmas dinner a bit more fun.  I'm making these for some family members as well.  I hope they like them.

I made these pot holders for a church donation today.  They are so easy to make and go together rather quickly too.  If you make them smaller, they can also be used as coasters.

Waldo has been working on some coil bowls and I just love how she embellished them.
Do you have any quick and fun gifts that you make to give during the holidays?  I'd love to hear about them.

I saw a fun  tutorial for making small, medium and large gift bags.  Click here to see how fun and pretty they are. 

Hope you are having some fun sewing time too.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Broken Wrist

No, not me!  Jocelyn, from Happy Cottage Quilter, has broken her wrist.  Jocelyn is among one of the finest people I know....and there are several of you out there!!!  Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers as she undergoes surgery on Thursday morning.  I sure wish I could send her my surgeon, Dr. Gladden, from Bowling Green, OH. 

Anyone want to overflow her mailbox with tons of cards? I know I want if you'd like to join me and don't have her addy....I Just might know a little bird that knows where to send cards :)

I'm so very grateful for all the love and well wishes I've received since breaking my hand......and I know everyone will keep it flowing as needed....and if you're in need....just let us know....its always a pleasure  to pass the love and  kindnesses along.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Ways to Cope With Holiday Stress

Some candlelight to relax by....

Kelly is swamped right now and can't get to her blog, so she asked me to write a blog post for her.  I'm Jean(ie) of Jean Creates, a sewist, grandma, and all-around goofy girl.

I was given free reign on what to write... Oh boy! I could write my Christmas list here for everyone else to see. But I think instead, I'm going give you a different list -- a few tips to beat holiday stress.

  1. Get sleep. sleep is important as the body restores itself during the sleep process
  2. Eat right. (Of course I'm writing this after eating a big honking piece of fruitcake. ), Make sure you get the proper amounts of protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables (Fruitcake has all that, right?).
  3. Delegate part of your to-do list if necessary. Kelly did the right thing by delegating an item on her list  (not sure if choosing me was the wisest part of the decision. LOL!)
  4. Set realistic expectations. Folks, let's get real. The perfect holidays only happen in books and Hallmark movies. Families, whether by birth or of choice, are all dysfunctional and crazy. Crazy Uncle Harold will always be crazy. Just choose to react differently. It's within your power. And the holidays are crazy times! Take your craziness and multiply it by the world population and you have an epidemic! 
  5. Take some time for yourself. Set aside some time to do something you enjoy. Linger over morning coffee for a bit longer, or perhaps take a bubble bath, or drive a few streets out of your way to see some light displays.
  6. Do something nice for someone else. I can go on and on about this one. But sometimes just seeing someone appreciate you for what you did or who you are will give you biggest energy boost of all. And it will also provide you with a sense of peace and accomplishment. 
  7. Be thankful. It only takes five minutes, a card, and a stamp to thank someone for a gift or kind gestures. Be a grateful receiver. 
  8. Last but not least, Laugh. Keep your sense of humor. Laughter is the best stress reducer. It helps bring  oxygen into your system. I call it breathing hard with a smile. Well, you know what I mean... 

Whatever the next few weeks bring, make it a happy time.

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