Monday, May 30, 2016


I finished my house block.  I embroidered hollyhocks and daisies and added a birdbath.  Thanks to the sticky fabri-solvy the embroidery did not pull and distort the fabric and it washed right off.  I had never used it before so didn't know what was going to happen.

I told you I would show you the wonderful embroidery book I use.  It is just an exquisite book with lovely color photos, clear cross referencing so you can find the flower you want to work on, and excellent instructions.  I have shown the page of instructions for the hollyhocks.

Here are some flowers from her book:

This is one of the best books I have ever owned.  It is a wonderful reference.  I plan on using a lot of the flowers when I finally make my village quilt.  Amazon has this book for sale.

Here are the four blocks I just finished:

Here is a close up of the honey bee hive which I personally think is adorable. 

Honey bees (other bees also) are endangered right down.  They are dying off at an alarming rate.  Some blame mites, others blame pesticides, some both.  Whatever the cause, the shortage of honeybees not only diminishes the beauty of our lives but harms our food production.  Here is a link if you are interested in reading more about it.

Memorial Day Weekend is the beginning of summer and the start of boating season.  It is the weekend all boaters arrive at their lakes and show off their new boats.  It reminds me so much of how we used to spend summer on our houseboat.  Her name was "Jackson Island", a reference which will be familiar to all Mark Twain buffs.  That was the name of the island to which Huck and Tom Sawyer disappeared when the constraints of civilization were too much.

It reminds me also of our dog Morgan, a golden lab.  The dog and my two daughters would line up on the edge of the dock and I would throw a stick as far as I could into the water prompting them to dive and swim race to see who could get the stick first. While Morgan had a slight edge, it was pretty much a tie between the three of them.

Here is blossom relaxing on the holiday!

Memorial Day.........

While thoughtful people of conscience can disagree about the nature of war, no one can but esteem the men and women who are overseas and potentially in dangerous situations and away from their families.  It is to those people my thoughts go out to today.

Happy quilting!

Thursday, May 26, 2016


This is the first real weekend of the summer.  A three day week end to spend having fun and playing in the sun.  We owned a houseboat once upon a time.  It was a 45 foot old bucket but she was "seaworthy" and we loved her.  We had her moored at a corp of engineers lake which means no one could build houses near or on the shore.  We could moor the boat in a private cove when we went out.  This was a huge lake with lots of room for everyone.  The lake was primarily a flood control lake.  One year we had a terrible flood.  The dam held water back so it would not flow into the Mississippi.  The water was so high in the lake that all the coves were flooded and we had to moor the boat to the treetops.  So for 2 weeks we lived among the treetops.  We could dive off the houseboat and climb into a tree.  It was like living in a tree-house (one for my bucket list).  The downside was that the flood waterlogged the trees and killed them.

The square above is my latest block for stonefields. I had a hard time making the color accurate in the photo-it still is not right.  I hope my new birthday camera will have better color resolution. 

 I am making some blocks now which display some of my favorite things like the seashore or honeybees.  Isn't this nice fabric?  I am going to make a honeybee skip for the center of the block, applique some of the bees around it, and use the bee fabric for the border.

Aren't these great bees?  I kept bees at one time when we lived on our farm years ago.  We had almost 4 hives but that's another story.

Also I am beginning the embroidery on my house block.  Since the block was small with no room for a hoop, I put some sticky fabri-solvy to stabilize the fabric when I work on it.  I hope to have it completed by next post.

I only managed to visit only one quilt shop on our trip to Kansas City.  I had never been there and was a bit disappointed.  Her fabric was not the first-class fabric-house fabric quilters are used to.  Her shop was very nice though and I sympathize with how hard it must be make such a business profitable.  I did go to Joann's to buy a Clover mini iron II, an essential tool for me, but it broke this morning and now wiggles like a loose tooth!  grrrraah!

For lunch we had barbecue.  Kansas City is famous for both bbq and blues.  This place, Lawnside BBQ, combines both blues and delicious BBQ.  The place is funky with old blues posters and memorabilia and on weekend nights they have live blues which I think must about rock the place into the stratosphere.  

The downside with going to the "big" city ("they've gone as far as they can go in Kansas City" )  is that it takes at least one day to recover.  I will be 69 on my next birthday in July.  Here we are, people my age, filled inside like a 25 year old with ideas, fun, curiosity, excitement while we drag around this body that belongs to an old grandmother. Oh well, life is good!

Happy quilting and happy, fun Memorial Day!

Monday, May 23, 2016

I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO ADMIRES THE NEW FABRICS........Blossom has such good taste!

As I said last post, I have been working more on the Stonefields blocks.  I am getting back into the rhythm for which I am very thankful.  I wanted to proceed with it but I did not want it to be a chore, a duty.  Quilting, especially applique, is a delightful voyage of texture, design, and color.  Here are my latest blocks:

The rose broderie perse block is my favorite of this crops blocks.  It is composed of seven pieces from a 10" layer cake piece from French General Pom Pom de Paris.  

I include the house again as I am still working on it. I think I have come up with an interesting idea for it. Do you ever visit the blog "Cat Patches"  Her cats live full lives which Barb documents through photos and extrasensory cat perception.  (She can read their minds). She also quilts and does photography as a side line.

She does a lot of embroidery also.  She was embroidering some vining flowers on an edge of a block which made me think of embroidering some trailing roses for my house.  I have a wonderful book on embroidering flowers which I will show you when the block is completed.

So you can get a sense of perspective on the stonefields progress,  I enclose a photo of work so far.  I had to move this project to the big design wall as it had outgrown the 60x60 one.  The newer blocks are on the right.  By my calculations on the finished quilt, I need 54 more blocks to have the top completed. 

The sides of the quilt will be much simpler than what is called for in the original stonefields.  I love hexies but I know myself and I would never be able to complete hundreds she requires.  Ditto the flying geese.  The end product of my piecing skills never measures up (literally) no matter how careful I am.  Some of the pieced blocks you see below I had to redo 3 times before they fully measured 6.5x6.5

Here is Petra Prins beautiful and faithful version of Susan Smiths Stonefields for those of you who are not familiar with the pattern: 

Here is the link if you want to view it more closely:  You can see some of my blocks match Susans pattern and some are my tangent.

We are off to Kansas City tomorrow where I will visit a couple of my favorite quilt shops.

Happy Quilting!

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Saturday, May 21, 2016


 We all know the feeling!  Excitement, anticipation-will it be as nice as I thought!

Well it is!

After much thought and deliberation, I decided to subscribe to Quiltmania's Mystery Block of the Month-Petra Prins "Discovery".  January and March fabric arrived today in the squishy package and they are wonderful!  You have heard me talk about how beautiful Petra's Dutch chintz are and how much I just love them.  I am so glad I decided to sign up.

Here is the mystery quilt as of May with 3 months completed:

I copied this from Quiltmania/Petra Prins You Tube video.

The reason I don't usually like mystery BOMs is because you never know where they are going and if you want to go there.  Already I can see where I am going to make a change and that is in the center around the mariner's compass.  Instead of the stars and other shapes, I am thinking something twining with broderie perse flowers.  However, I will wait until November when Petra will reveal the entire quilt.

Homestead Hearth in Mexico Missouri hosts Quiltamania's Mystery quilt every year.  That is the source of my delightful squishy package.  Now here are the fabrics-both January and March:

Don't you agree they are beautiful?

I am creating Stonefields blocks quicker than my hands can make them.  They are just basted now.  I will show them later.

Happy quilting--just had to share the exciting news!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


I guess this is a pink week.  Sure looks like it!  The house block is not finished as you can see.  For one, the 2 birds are not definite enough-they do no show up.  And second, I think I have to rearrange the roses better.  I want to give the impression of climbing roses.  The house in the fabric looks amazing like my house only without the pretty stream and the lovely landscaping.  Here is the fabric with other bird possibilities:

The birds on the blue fabric will be much better.  However, the borderie perse will have to be done carefully so there is as little blue as possible.  This blue fabric has sentimental value to me as it is from the first quilt I ever made.

Do you want a helpful quilting tip?

I thought of this (tho it is probably out there already) when I was quilting Mountmellick.  There were several narrow areas to be quilted.  Quilters say to draw, draw, draw so your fingers have muscle memory and will be able to do your quilting bidding.  It is difficult to practice some areas as they aren't amenable to being practiced.  So my solution was to drag the quilt to the printer/copier and print out the troublesome area.  
  I drew and redrew on the troublesome areas until I felt I could comfortably proceed with the real thing. It was easy because I could erase and redraw and then trace what I had drawn.

On another note......I could not figure out why Blossom was adding a nice layer of plumpness on her furry body.  Then I busted Kitty on the stove licking the iron skillet.  I had lightly sauteed some salmon in the skillet and she was enjoying the salmon crumbles and the olive oil.  I explained to Kitty that this was was wrong on so many levels.  I was wondering why she was plumping out just eating her regular rations!  So self satisfied!

I didn't say you could take my picture.  And comment on my person.  Humph!

A Bewick's wren was attracted to the bird feeder this morning.  She is nibbling on the bits of sunflower seed on the ground.  

 Wrens are some of my favorites with their hoppity and their turned up tail.

Happy quilting to you!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Where's my mojo? When is it coming back?

This is what happens when I stop working on a project for a while and then try to return to it.  I stopped working on Stonefields for about a month to set up my blog and to quilt Mountmellick.  Now I have quilters block and, while I have made some blocks, I can 't work up too much enthusiasm. What do you think?

The two I like best are these which are based on blocks from Chuck Nohara's book 2001 Nouveaux Blocs de Patchwork.

This is a very fun book.  Chuck explores lots of  the different types of blocks from applique to log cabin to circles to wedding rings and hexagons.  I mean, 2001 blocks covers a lot of ground.

Here are some photos of her book so you can get

a better idea.  Here are appliqued flowers and below are some pieced blocks and wreathes.  I am going to include the block of three flowers at the bottom middle in my quilt.

You can buy the book thru Quiltmania's site.

Anyway, back to my life problems: quilters block! Not the square kind!  Its the lack of focus kind.  I think the blocks I made are okay but I am just not "feeling it" and have to force myself.  This is why I rarely stop one project and work on another.  I get lost in a muddle.  However, I will keep on it and know my memory of this quilt will return to help me out.

In part, I lose memory of the fabrics for the quilt.  They are kept in labelled boxes by "major" color and it is easy to forget what is in the boxes and what matches were planned.  Ask any appliquer and they will tell you that you pretty much have to memorize the fabric you plan on using so it is always in mind.

Here is Blossom taking in the rays.  This is where we hang out most the time.  That's my worktable in the forefront.


Here is a photo of the Baltimore Oriole come to visit.  He will only stay about a week but he is so pretty!  Also in the photo is a blackbird, 2 ring neck doves and two ordinary sparrows.

Happy quilting to you!  I hope to me too!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Happy Meowther's Day! to all us cat ladies!

To other matters:
I have had some requests to explain how I laid out the blocks on the Caswell quilt since I did not follow the regular 11" square layout.  There were three steps:
1) Decide on size of finished quilt.
2) Make up a gridwork of the finished size.
3) Lay out blocks to fill out and fit the grid.

1)  I decided on a size of 60x60 for a several reasons. The interior of the original Caswell composed of her 11" blocks is 55x66 so 60x60 would cover the same approximate area.  I have a nice fiberboard design wall which I made and which is 60x60-a silly reason but there it is-I could lay the completed blocks on the board as they are laid out on the grid.  And lastly, 60x60 is a good workable size for machine quilting.

2)  To make the grid,  I dug out my trusty graph paper.  Each square is 1/4 inch so one square could equal one inch.  To make a 60x60 square grid box, I carefully cut some pieces of graph paper to the right size and taped them together on the wrong side  counting grids carefully all the time to ensure I had 60x60.

3)  I knew I wanted 30-35 blocks.  I began with some basics.  I knew i wanted to make a fruit basket on the bottom center so using my graph paper, i cut out a 11x22 grid square.  Here is a photo of the

original Caswell carpet in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum.  You can see the fruit basket at the bottom of the carpet and I thought that 11x22 would be a coherent size for this project.  I also cut several 11x11 squares.  I love all the squares which Corliss Searcy designed for this quilt and thought I would make some of hers exactly as she did.  This 11x11 size also had the advantage of being interchangeable on the grid so if one color seemed to be dominating in one part of the quilt, I could swap out blocks and break that up.
Here is my first grid with the block cut in graph paper and arranged so they all fit.  The secret was to keep counting the squares on the blocks all the time so the size is correct.

Here is the final version though I tweaked it here and there.

So.....that's how it did it!

Here is a pretty bird at our squirrel feeder:

My camera is pretty lame.  I hope to have a new one soon.  I caught this bird in a millisecond: the next second she was gone.  She is a Rose Breasted Grosbeak.  Here is a better photo which is from the Audubon site.

These are such pretty birds all rose and black and white.  This time of year some passers-thru visit our yard like the one above.  I hang out oranges also as to attract the  Baltimore Orioles who visit during the month of May.  We saw our first hummingbird yesterday!

Happy quilting!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Okay, I did it!  Mountmellick is quilted, bound, and hung!

It was actually kind of fun once I got started.  As I told you in the last post, I started the quilting process with a straight, flat, and perfectly stabilized quilt sandwich thanks to Cindy Needham.  Here is a closeup of the center medallion.

I cross hatched the middle and then quilted paisleys around the outside.  The broderie perse fabric is from Petra Prins reproduction Dutch chintz.  We are able to buy these now in the U.S. from  They are expensive but worth it.  It is always interesting to see the backing of a quilt to see how the quilting looks so I added this photo but since the thread blends so well with the fabric, you can't see too much.

This is a photo of me cheating.  I have terrible luck with a quilt lying flat if I sew the binding on in one long continuous piece.  Not only are my corners kind of curvy but there are waffles along the quilt sides.  The solution for me has been to do each side one at a time.  I measured along the rose 1/2" edging just inside the quilt, added the 2 1/4" at each end and eased the quilt edge to match the length of binding I had cut.  For me the problem is that the quilting tightens up the quilt but the outer edge to be bound has not be quilted and so therefore is longer.  I am happy with my solution but I know it is frowned upon.  

Here is what i have been seeing out my big window otherwise known as the cat TV.  

At the bottom of the second photo you can see a white crowned sparrow.  Both kitty and I are avid bird watchers.