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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hidden Quilts - Quilt Shop

Pictured here are the directions to Hidden Quilts, in Platteville, WI.  When you see this tank, follow the arrows down the driveway and down the hill.  Hidden Quilts is tucked away on the back side of a medical building.  Its a small shop, but full of goodies.  The staff there are very friendly.  The day I visited, a sewing group was in session in the back room and they seemed be having a great time.

I'd been looking for fabric for my next project, for a paper peicing class in March.  I took my pattern along and found exactly what I needed:

The folks at Hidden Quilts liked this pattern so much they took down the information so they could order some also.  Here are some shots of the shop and quilts:

Batiks make up over half the store.
They even have a quilted clock.
Classroom area.

Hidden Quilts is building a website at:  The Contact Us tab provides the telephone number, address, map and store hours.

Birds, Inside and Out

Mrs. C is finally complete with red tinges on her crest and tail.

Yesterday I spied the male and female cardinals approached the feeder together.  Mrs. C  then flew up to a branch and waited for Mr. C to follow.  He picked up a seed, flew up to her and offered her the seed.  When she accepted it, their bills touched.  It looked like they stole a quick kiss!

Today I spotted a band of 5 bluejays.  I've been hearing them for about a week, but didn't see them.  The spring bands are led by a female with several males following after her.  This is the precursor to pairing off for nesting season.  Yet another sign that spring can't be too far off.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

One Red Olympic Ring

Today's accomplishments: One hexagon ring completed, and additional fabric purchased.  
FYI - Gloves in a Bottle is sold at my LQS - its amazing stuff. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Project

Tomorrow is the first ever Quilter/Crafter Luncheon at my work place.  We're all to bring sack lunches and do some quilting, jewelry making or what-have-you.  I can't wait to see everyone's projects.  I hope to snap some pictures to share with you.

I needed a portable project to bring along.  I can't take credit for the Olympic Ring idea, as I saw it on a blog prior to the opening ceremonies.  I didn't jot down who posted it.  So if that person is YOU, please send me an email so I can give you proper credit. :)

I LOVE the colors of the Olympic games: royal blue, turquoise, lime green and true green.  Will probably use those colors as a border. 

This is my first foray into working with hexagons.  I can already see that if I ever want to make a full size Grandmother's Flower Garden, the hexagons will need to be bigger so I can see the finished product in THIS life time.  :)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quilt Top Nearly Done

Been doing some Olympic-style stitching, with the finish line in sight.  Will hand stitch red tinges on female's crest and tail.  Been thinking how to quilt this.  The pattern is pictured with diagonal straight-line quilting for the nine-patch squares and one simple outline around each bird.  Another option would be to stipple the light squares and light background so the reds, greens and yellow really stand out. 

Meanwhile the cardinal songs outside are growing louder, longer and stronger.  The males sing to establish territory and the females sing back and forth to strengthen the bond with their mate.  Now the males and females approach the feeder separately.  But soon they will come in pairs and begin mate-feeding.  All good signs that Old Man Winter is beginning to loosen his icy grip!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Needle Turn Applique-By Hand

Finally figured out how to applique the pine needles on this quilt.  Here's my "Snip As You Go" method: 
Step 1 - Gather your tools.  Use Fray Check on all points and notches.  Tweezers and bifocals not pictured.
Step 2 - Outline stitch around freezer paper shape.  Trim fabric to 3/16 of an inch.  Don't trim anything to 1/8 inch until or unless you HAVE to.  If you get any fraying in handling you can then cut it off later, as needed.

Step 3 - Trim freezer paper tips to reduce bulk.

Step 4 - Use Disappearing ink to lightly mark quilt.  A couple dots will do.  Position applique.  Stitch with a waxed, single thread.  Leave a gap for removing freezer paper later.
Step 5 - NOW trim fabric around tip to 1/8th inch.  Turn tip under.  Secure tip with TWO stitches (one will simply unravel).  Fold under opposite side. 

Step 6 - Secure other side of tip with TWO stitches, before stitching down the other side.  Repeat until all tips are complete.  Remember to leave a gap.  Gently insert embroidery scissors to loosen freezer paper.

Step 7 - Remove freezer paper.  Use tweezers, if needed.

Step 8 - Stitch up the gap, and feast your eyes. 

Step 9 - For larger shapes, leave freezer paper in place, then remove from the back of the quilt.  This will remove some of the bulk for smoother quilting later.

Final Tip - Snip as you go.  Again, don't trim your shapes to 1/8th inch until you really HAVE to. 

Disclaimer: If you enter quilts for judging in competitions, do not take this last word of advice:

I quilt for fun,  so I reserve the right to modify an applique shape ever so slightly.  If you HAVE to do this, snip the exposed outline stitch and remove with a tweezers.  No one will ever be the wiser! 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

One Done, Three to Go

Completed all the applique on one bird, hoping this would inspire me to stitch up a storm.  My strategy isn't working.  Inspiration eludes me.

I often have a love-hate relationship with my projects.  Love 'em at the beginning, love 'em at the end...but somewhere in the middle I wonder "WHAT was I thinking?"  The tips of these pine needles are next to impossible, and I'm going blind trying to do this during the darkest month of the year. 

I get my best results sitting near a bright, sunny window.  So I either need quit my job (and quilt by the light of day) or find a really good task light.  Since I'm fond of regular paychecks, I better go with the task light!  :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Flourless Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free)

Valentine's Day brings thoughts of love...and CHOCOLATE!  Here's a decadent treat:

Flourless Chocolate Cake (Gluten Free)

4 ounces mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder, plus some to dust the pan
3 eggs, plus one egg white, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Grease 8" cake pan, and dust with cocoa.
2.  Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler. 
3.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Pour into prepared pan.
4.  Bake 30-35 minutes.

I've made this recipe 3 times.  Every time the cake was eaten before I could snap a picture!  If you're making this for company, use a disposable foil pan.  That way you can remove the pan from the cake, rather than the cake from the pan.  Dust with powdered sugar, or sprinkle with mini chocolate chips while warm.  Then spread the chocolate when melted.  No frosting required.  

The original recipe came from

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I am baffled about how to applique these spiky points.  My usual method (fold down the tip of the leaf first, then fold in the sides) doesn't work for these skinny needles.  Even when I trim the fabric to 1/8th of an inch, its still too wide to make that fine point.  Can some kind soul advise or direct me to an appropriate tutorial?
Muchos gracias!  :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Miffed with My Muse

Put up a squirrel-proof bird feeder just after Christmas.  The cardinals were the last birds to warm up to it.  Only the males approached it - the females were nowhere to be seen!  So I consulted Roger Tory Peterson and the Audubon Society for the female facial markings.  Thought I had it nailed when I added the red mask.  No sooner had I completed my stitching, when a female finally comes along....sporting a BLACK mask.  Oh sure, NOW you tell me!  LOL  
The next challenge will be the pine boughs.  In the interest of preserving my eye sight (and sanity), I modified the pattern.  Stay tuned for further details.....  :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Winter's Song - For Real

The cardinals (outside, the real ones) are singing again!  Woo Hoo! In honor of this momentous occasion, I will endeavor the provide my quilt-y cardinals with bills, so they might sing along!  :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Four Calling Birds

These birds were a challenge.  You have to match the 45-degree angles of the back, lower back and tail,  so that it appears to be one continuous line.  There was some ripping,repositioning, and naughty words involved, but I'm happy with the end product. 

The REAL challenge lies ahead.  The instructions recommend using Steam-A-Seam II for the applique.  I've never heard of it - and it sounds complicated.  Might have to "wing it!"  :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Winter Song is Hummin' Along

Made a little progress in the last few days.  The nine patches are done, and I made my first cardinal - with no major blunders!   Takin' it nice and slow....the instructions are beginning to make more sense.

I questioned the name of this pattern: Winter Song.  So I looked in my birding journal to see when I first heard the cardinals sing in past years.  This proved to be a timely question; I've heard them as early as Jan. 15th (1989) and Feb. 4th (1990).  Hey - Feb. 4th?  That's TOMORROW!  

Every year (long before the robins return) when I hear the cardinal sing for the first time, I want to burst with joy at this, the earliest harbinger of Spring.  Every year I triumphantly annouce to "The cardinals are singing again!" 

Sadly, no one else "gets" it. They say "Sure, Chris" or "Yeah, Mom."  But I know, and the cardinals know: Spring WILL come!  Listen, we'll hear it soon! :)