Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Progress and Magnolia Facts

The “4 to 9-patches” that I have been working on are progressing nicely.  I was on a roll once I figured how to cut the pieces of the blocks that I started earlier in the year – I still have a few more to cut.  The two blocks at the bottom show two more colors that will be introduced when I finish sewing.

Then I’ll have to dig around in the ol’ stash and find some country colors for the borders.  I’m sure I have something suitable since I’m on a self-imposed fabric buying diet!

And now for the Magnolia Tree facts:
Magnolia trees are actually relatively pest-free and easy to grow and they are gorgeous with big showy blossoms, lovely fruit and colorful seeds.  In my area, we have both the larger Magnolia Grandiflora  and the slightly smaller Sweet Bay (Virginiana).  This is an example of the flowers we saw earlier this summer:

On my walk today, I took some close-up shots of the cone-like woody fruit that we are seeing now and the seeds that pop out of the cone as the fruit matures:

The seeds are a favorite of pileated woodpeckers and other birds.  Yes, they also attract those pesky squirrels that my dog has sworn to eradicate - LOL!  The red coating on the seeds is high in fat and often migrating birds seek them out for the energy boost.

And did you know that the flowers are not pollinated by bees?  Nope, they’re pollinated by beetles, so don’t be too aggressive in eliminating beetles if you have a magnolia in your yard!  You can find lots of information about majestic magnolias at

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Don't Wait Too Long

I began making Four-into-Nine Patch squares back in March.  I have no idea how I got sidetracked (maybe a fabric sale and some adorable kiddie fabric?!!), but I only made this many squares then they got set aside:

That was a big mistake because then I didn’t remember what sizes I had cut the original pieces.  And we all know that math is not my strong suit.  The fabrics I started with were similar to layer cakes (which are 10 inch squares), but these came from a packaged set of odd sized rectangles instead (approx 9 x 10).

See those strips at the top of the picture above?  – that’s what helped me remember what to do.  Fortunately I had saved them from the original cuttings because I expected to make a piano key type border from them.  They were about 1 inch wide, so I figured I had started with 9 inch squares. So I went ahead and cut and sewed the 4-patches.

Then I remembered that I had used a black-marked 3 inch wide ruler instead of my regular Omnigrid ruler, so that was easy enough to see that I had cut the middles at 1 ½ inches on either side of the center seam.

Voila!  More blocks are in the works and I’m back on track.

Thank Heavens!
PS  Check out the picture of the great barn block on the police station in Tillamook, Oregon at the top of my sidebar.  Apparently the whole town was getting on the barn block bandwagon and a quilter on a quilter’s message board took this picture (I’m sorry I can’t find the original message to give her credit for the photo).  But look closely and see that those “flowers” really are iced donuts!  What a hoot … perfect for a police station stereotype ...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Another Top for Bev B

Continuing the memorial to Bev B – a dear friend and leader of the Sunshine Quilt Guild that passed away last year:

Yesterday, I finished up another top from blocks I was given that had been in Bev’s stash – Bev had the four big blocks and lots of little matching fabric 4-patch blocks - my job was to assemble what I had into a pleasing pattern and to find some similar or blendable (is that a word?) fabric for a border to bring it up to a good size for the kids that Sunshine supports.
The squares aren't as pink as they look here -
 they're more wine-colored.
Of course, I never remembered to take a block along when I was in a fabric store, so last week, when I saw this heart fabric, I thought I’d just wing-it.  The colors looked pretty close to what I remembered about the blocks and I thought the hearts theme would make it more kid-friendly.

This is the finished top – I think I did ok!  This one will go to WAS (see my sidebar).
A Big Kiss and Little Hugs from Bev B

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Finished Up a Top

I finished up the Frog Top today.
Oh, you didn’t realize it had anything to do with frogs?!  Well, check out the middle block … aren’t they cute?  Little frogs around bigger frogs.
This block was one, among many cute ones, that I won in the novelty block month and was the inspiration for the whole quilt!  Thank you, *S*, in the Sunshine Quilt Guild (you know who you are).  I loved everything about this block and couldn’t stop smiling at the frogs smiling back at me - so I surrounded them in their very own frog pond.  Now it’s in the UFO pile to be quilted for donation.  Hope that happens soon – the pile is growing!  These will all go to WAS.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

How a Quilter Exercises

I used to have a desk job.  Now that I’m retired, I try to build in a little exercise wherever I can, but today I think I got my fill.  This is what happened (and a little background).

A couple of days ago, I picked a pattern from a quilt book.  It was a darling quilt in bright fabrics – perfect for children.  I cut out the right number of pieces for five or six blocks to start and then got chased out of the sewing room by the lightning (a seasonal hazard here in west central Florida).  This photo is from Brazil, but shows the awesome power of these storms:
So I picked up today where I left off then  - No problem – I was ready to go.

I laid out the block pieces nice and neatly on the cutting board ready to sew.  Wait!  I’m missing two squares at the top and bottom corners of each block.  How did THAT happen?  So I get up and cut those squares – fortunately, I had plenty of fabric.  Getting up to cut those was the start of the exercise for the day.

I then sewed the left column of pieces I had laid out to the middle column.  Very pretty:
Then I sewed the left sections to the right column.  Again, very pretty:

More exercise (now this is planned – I have to get up to go to the ironing board so I get some activity – good plan, huh?) – well, I get up to iron the tops and bottoms ready to sew to the middles.
 Wait AGAIN!  What’s wrong with this picture?
The tops and bottoms aren’t the right size to sew to the middles.  Now, I’ve heard tell of quilters that actually read and follow the directions, but I thought I KNEW what I was doing.

I checked out the picture in the book.  Yep.  It’s perfectly clear that only one corner on the top and one corner on the bottom has the square – that’s why I didn’t need those extra pieces I had just cut.
Go to get the seam ripper – more exercise.  Do the frog imitation – rippit, rippit.

Sew the corrected tops to the middles and get up to iron – count that as exercise.

Then sew the bottoms to the middles.  You got it, more ironing and exercise getting to the ironing board.

Then, get up to square up the blocks – more exercise (hey, every little bit counts).

And I only ended up with a few blocks, but I like the way they’re developing, so it’s back to make more tomorrow (got chased out by thunderstorm AGAIN today). 

Might glance at the picture before starting in again tomorrow – LOL.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Box Finally Gets Packed Up

I’ve finally packed up the box with all six quilts to go to Wrap-Them-in-Love (WTIL).  Our Sunshine Quilt Guild (on-line) supports this group along with Wrap-a-Smile (WAS) – see the buttons on my sidebar for more info.

I may have already posted about the two Teddy Bear panels that are in this box, and along with those I added two more neo-natal intensive care (NICU) quilts and two larger child-size quilts for a grand total of six that are ready to travel to their new homes.  Now I have to finish up a few that are in the works and top off the box that I’m preparing to go to WAS.  Always something to do when you love to play with fabric!  These are in the current box:

Bound in Green

Bound in Red

I posted about the other two here with photos.  Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Two Quilt Finishes

I was able to get a lot of sewing done this morning.  I finished quilting the Box Kites top that I made from my Mailblocks on-line swap lottery winnings.  I tried something different with the quilting on this and won’t try it again.

I thought I could free-motion some straight lines – only to find that you really must have a ruler to do this successfully.  And I didn’t plan ahead for what I was going to do when I got to the sashing (the sashing was necessary for the small differences in sizes since different people made the blocks).  I think I could do this again if I plan to make curvy lines instead!

Here's a detail (that I probably shouldn't show ...):

And I got the binding on both the Box Kites and the Rows of Posies quilts.  Oh, happy day!

These will go to WTIL after I finish one more to fill a box.  But now it’s back to that other project I had in mind … I've only cut a few blocks and I think I’m going to like them.  I’ll show the WIP soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hummingbirds and Quilts

I’m always amazed that people can get great photos of hummingbirds.
Up in Virginia, they had at least seven or eight hummingbirds that came to a feeder at the front porch at the same time.  Of course, I never remembered to have the camera at the ready when they came!  And this was a great front porch – big shade trees, light breeze, rocking chairs – how wonderful …

One did land briefly on a bush right in front of me and I was able to identify it as a female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.  She was a feisty little thing!  She chased all the other birds away from the feeder then stayed nearby to continue to defend her perceived territory from each and every intrusion.  If you look closely, you can see her at the bottom right with her needle nose in the feeder.  I could’ve watched these interesting birds for hours (and did!).

They also like the Rose of Sharon bushes and perched on the electric lines in between sips at the flowers (see closer to the left of the photo on the line).

So that’s the last of the nature reports from Virginia – it was a great visit.  Meanwhile, back at the sewing ranch, I was able to put together a quick top from novelty blocks that I won.  Each had delightful crayon colors and a touch of black, so I just sashed it in black and voila! - a finished top.  I also finished quilting my colorful flowers quilt, but still need to put the binding on.

I have more plans for today … here’s a sneak preview of the book it’s from – I think I like everything in this book!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Road Trip - Part 3

One more thing about my recent Road Trip to Virginia:
After we talked with the lady at the Fields-Penn House in Abingdon about natural dyes for fabrics and yarns, we were very interested in identifying local wildflowers in my friend’s yard and on our walks.  Fortunately, my friend had lots of the wonderful Peterson’s Field Guides; including Wildflowers, Eastern Forests and Trees and Shrubs.

We attached names to quite a few wildflowers, and I got fairly good pictures of the following:

We were looking for the tiny purple center that positively identified this as Queen Anne's Lace rather than Yarrow - it's there!

This is a Teasel - not to be confused with a Thistle (see below) - see the pretty tu-tu!

This is a Bull Thistle

This is Wingstem - I thought it was Sneezeweed, but now I think I was wrong (but I could still be wrong!)
And this is the easy quilt top that I worked on today, inspired by the various colors of flowers:
I liked all of the little kids in the border print - and I think words in English are OK - if it goes to a foreign country, they'll just think it's exotic (sort of like me looking at French!)
When I need something quick to get me back in the swing of quilting, I turn to the Ohio Star block.  These are 12 inch blocks  - to make your own, see the free pattern that Marcia Hohn offers on her Quilter’s Cache website at this linkI had this border print and the solid colors on hand and it just seemed to sew itself.  Great fun!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Road Trip - Part 2

OK – I’ll admit that I’m a wanna-be country girl, but I’ve always lived in the city.  On my way home from my road trip, I stopped at two produce stands – one in Georgia that had peaches and peach jam and one in north Florida that had Vidalia onions, green peppers and beans.  I chopped and sliced and packaged up most of the above to go into the freezer so I’d have lots of fresh-frozen veggies for this coming winter.  So, what’s the problem?  I don’t know what kind of beans I have!

I was going to ask, but another customer was distracting the produce stand owner, so I never got around to it.  Are these the snap beans that my grandmother used to open along the “seam” with a colander in her lap to get the beans out?  Or are these pole beans that you just cook up whole?  Or something else?  I think I’ll just be blanching them and then cut them into small pieces to have cold on my salad.  Just might work!

And now, here are some more quilts from the Abingdon, VA quilt show:
Embroidered States, Birds and Flowers - Amazing!

Detail of one State

I loved the colors of this one - would be a nice Sunshine Quilt

I really liked "controlled" scrappy

Another with beautiful embroidery

I want to make this with my scraps - it's right up my alley

This lady won their Guild's lottery blocks and made this great quilt - reminded me of Sunnies

This was displayed outside so the colors aren't quite true in the photo, but it was wonderful
 Another friend here in FL wants to go up to VA with me next year – oh, boy! – another road trip … now we just have to find a sneaky way to tell the hostess to expect more guests … LOL!