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Saturday, October 30, 2010

TGIM - Thank Goodness Its Muslin

A few posts back, I shared I'd been asked to help make a Zelda costume.  Its been a long time since I did any garment construction.  So I decided to make the dress once out of muslin to ensure it fits correctly and to refresh my skills. 

Notice this dress has two lengths.  That wasn't supposed to happen! Thank goodness my cutting error was not on the beautiful Ivory Peach satin fabric we bought for this dress.  It should be a clue when you use far less fabric than the pattern calls for. 

The dress will have a zipper in the back, and I discovered I have an extra one in the right size.  May have to put the extra zipper in the mock up dress to refresh my zipper installation skills too. 

Still, its been fun to do something a little different.  Still have oodles of quilting projects I'd like to get at.  Maybe tomorrow! :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Winter Walking

I sat down to the computer intending to brag how a few years back a friend and I vowed to walk every work day, all winter long, in every kind of weather.  And we did.  And today I walked my dog a mile, despite a 32-degree windchill.

I titled this post "Nanook of the North" - thinking Nanook was an urban legend.  I quickly discovered he was a very real, very hardy and resourceful man.  Viewed in light of Nanook's life, my walking accomplishments are microscopic.  And so, I changed the title of this post.

"Nanook of the North" was the first ever documentary, filmed in the 1920s.  In fact, the word "documentary" was not yet coined.  Seriously, you HAVE to see this:

How many people and critters came out of the kayak?  Unbelievable!  The women were no slackers either. Someone had to sew all those pelts together to make their warm garb.  I like Nyla's oversized hood that doubles as a baby backpack.

Lesson of the Day - If we arm ourselves with knowledge, many layers of warm clothing and perserverance, we can stay active, even under adverse conditions. (Or at least hit the treadmill!)

To learn more about winter walking, see:

To learn more about Nanook, see:

New Foot

The new Janome 1/4" foot arrived in my mail box today.  I've been eager to get it, so I opened the package and compared it to the original.  No difference from the top view.

The new foot is on the left.  The groove should provide better control going over seams.  Will have to take it for a test drive and report back.  If you own a Janome Horizon and got your new foot, I'd love to hear how you like it.  :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Star Chain Finish!

The Star Chain baby quilt is quilted and bound.
Now all we need is the baby - so I can put her name and birthdate on the label.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Zelda Costume

I've been asked to make a Zelda costume.  Anybody know how to sew armor??

Monday, October 18, 2010

Handy Dandy Thingamajig

OK, its really called a Welby Lifestyle Suction Cup Grab Bar, and it was in my grab bag when I went on retreat.  I'd been thinking of picking one up for an older relative whose having trouble getting in and out of the tub/shower.  Then I learned many a quilter has held her ruler fast while using a rotary cutter - only to slice off part of a finger.  Ouch!  That hurts, just thinking about it!  But the grab bar gets the fingers well away from the blade.  I trimmed my latest project using the grab bar on my ruler.  It worked great! You can lean on the bar and that ruler isn't gonna slip or slide.

After using it on my ruler, I mounted it in the bathroom, sat down in the tub and used it to get up and out.  The grab bar was solid, even when I leaned my weight into it. If you've been thinking of picking one up for either purpose, this cool tool can do the job. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Backyard Quilt Shop

Made a great discovery on the way to the State Marching Band Competition.  Saw this sign and knew we had to investigate.  Owner Kathy Knaak was very friendly, and enjoying a brisk business on a Saturday morning.  Backyard Quilt Shop's claim to fame is the amazing selection of flannels.  This striking star quilt is made in flannel.

 I've seen this owl fabric in cotton; didn't know it comes in flannel too.

More flannels.  I sewed a few flannel nighties, but never considered it for quilt making.  Probably because most flannels I've seen were baby prints.  With winter coming, it seems fitting to give flannel a try.
There was a wide array of 1930s reproductions - a favorite of mine.
If you want to make a quilt for a baby or young child, this is the place to go!  Here are  Dick & Jane fabrics on various backgrounds, including a black one.  I love the Amish-style colors in this quilt.

Who could resist cuddling up with a fuzzy teddy bear on a cozy flannel background?
Here is Kathy's 14-foot long arm machine.  Don't think I've ever seen one this big!
Backyard Quilts also has notions and gift items.  The flannels and vintage theme gives this shop a character all its own.  To find out more, visit:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Star Chain Border

I tore my sewing space apart to get ready for last weekend's retreat.  When I got home, I left my things packed up, while I rearranged the sewing room.  As a result, I went 6 days without quilting!  Tonight I finally got to quilt the border.  All that's left to do is trim, bind and label this quilt.  And of course, to reflect on lessons learned along the way. :)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Autumn Musings and Memories

I picked up this leaf a few hours ago.  Already the contrast between the yellow side of the leaf with the bright green stripe down the center, and brilliant orangey red are fading.  When I saw it in the sun the colors were vibrant.
So what does a 1987 edition of Atlas of the World have to do with Autumn?  Everything and nothing.  On my daily walk, I thought of something my family did every year, without fail.  We'd all pile into the car, drive to a state park and hike the trails - expressly to rustle through the leaves and collect "pretty" ones.  We'd come home, lay the leaves between two pieces of wax paper and press them between the pages of the dictionary or encyclopedia. 

I have NO idea what we did with them from there, but for years to come, I found  pressed leaves in an assortment of old books.  And so it is that I picked up a few leaves on my walk today.  They're safely nestled amid the pages of the Reader's Digest Atlas of the World.  I need more red ones.  In fact, I found one outside my work place.  Its now tucked under some manuals on my desk.  Tomorrow I'll transport it home.

Perhaps I'll trace them and create a meandering quilt pattern.  Perhaps I'll venture into dying my own fabric.  Or perhaps I'll forget about them completely - happy in knowing they took me down memory lane. 

What do you do with pretty leaves?  I'd like to hear from other quilter/crafters.

They're Back!

The Juncos have returned to Wisconsin!  You won't find them here in the summer, but they're the first to arrive in the Fall and the last to leave come Spring.  They'll visit platform feeders, or feed on the ground below a tubular feeder.  In winter, they move about in a mixed flock of Black Capped Chickadees, Red Brested Nutchatches and Downy Woodpeckers.  I love the delicate pink shade of their beaks.  Roger Tory Peterson notes, "This bird is charaterized by white outer tail feathers that flash conspicuously as it flies away."
The Juncos' arrival reminds me that even when we cannot see it, Mother Nature and Father Time have matters well in hand. 

Wednesday Weigh In - Halloween & Food Allergies

About a third of America's children are overweight or obese, but this doesn't always mean they are well nourished.  And the Halloween tradition - amassing large quantities of sugary treats - doesn't really help matters.  But kids wait all year to go Trick or Treating, and should be able to have some fun with it.  Here are a few ideas for keeping kids happy and healthy:
  • Keep animal crackers on hand for your youngest trick or treaters. 
  • Give out a healthy snack, like raisins or sugar-free chewing gum.  (Never fear, they'll STILL get a ton of candy.)
  • If you're going to hand out candy, make it vitamin fortified fruit snacks.
  • Be aware of food allergies or sensitivities.  Read the label on whatever you decide to hand out.  If it contains peanuts, or was made on the same machine that handles peanuts, have an alternate taste treat on hand or keep a few quarters at the ready.
Of course, inspect everything your child receives - for overall safety and for specific ingredients, if needed.  For additional tips on managing food allergies at Halloween, see:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What's Old is New Again

I've been mulling over how to arrange my sewing space.  Thought I'd get two work tables with hard plastic tops.  On a quilting retreat I discovered that sewing and lightweight tables don't go together.  The tables start to bounce and vibrate if you sew too fast.   I'm very happy I discovered this before I bought tables. 

Then I remembered the poor, old, neglected kitchen table of my youth.  Down in the basement, dutifully holding my laundry supplies.  It was dismantled, moved upstairs and reassembled.  This thing is built like a tank!  It took two of us just to bring the table top up the stairs.  And its big - 36 x 60".  Still haven't decided what's the optimal arrangement for sewing and quilting.  But a good solid table is a great start.  :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Star Chain Update

Had hoped to get this quilt quilted on retreat, but didn't get that far.  The interior is quilted in hearts, and the interior border is stitched in the ditch.  I drew out several different outer borders, using invisible ink.  One thing I learned is that piecing works well at retreats.  Most people don't do their quilting there because you cannot set up a table to your left to support the weight of the quilt.  Even with a smaller quilt, this was problematic.  Now that I'm back home, I should be able to finish it soon.  :)

Quilting Retreat at EAA

I attended my first quilting retreat.  We had wonderful accomodations at the Experimental Aircraft Association's Air Academy Lodge.  There were 25 of us, and we had the entire lodge to ourselves. 
The grounds were beautiful and the weather was perfect.  When you needed a break,  you could take a relaxing walk on the trails, or go visit a LQS. 

These statues are atop a scenic overlook. On each of four benches, were personal items belonging to this family. You can see a flight jacket on the bench in this picture.  The woman's sweater had eight pointed stars on it.  Indoors, one of the first things to greet us was the "chocolate salad" below. 
I was amazed at the talent and creativity!  It was fascinating listening to the discussion amongst the quilters.  Here are some of the projects people brought on the retreat. 

Above are the templates I made for marking my baby quilt.  Below is the pattern on the quilt.  I got everything quilted except the border.

This quilt won in a competition.  There are 323 stars in it.  The woman who made it (at right) told us how many half square triangles it had, but I don't recall the number.  Her original plan was for a larger quilt but she reached a point where she just could not make one more star!

This pineapple quilt is so intricate.  It was met with many "ooohs" and "aaahs."

This is an aerial view of the work space.  The large windows provided lots of sunshine and a beautiful sunset.
 Had a great time and learned a lot.  I think there will be more quilting retreats in my future.  :)

Sunday, October 10, 2010


In my profile I mention my grandma, who taught me to sew, knit, crochet and bake.  Well, Grandma Clara had her 101st birthday today!  She was tickled to see her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 
Blowing out the candles for the second time today, then singing the "I thank you, I do" version of the birthday song.

Visiting with family and pets. 
It was a happy birthday indeed!

Quilt Essentials - Oshkosh, WI

Had the opportunity to visit an LQS in Oshkosh, WI.
Quilt Essentials is "The Friendliest Quilt Shop in Fox Valley," 
and strives to have the most batiks in the region. 
This is Marilyn, doing a Vanna White imitation.  She graciously entertained our questions (even though we turned up just 15 minutes before closing time).

Above shows some of their beautiful batiks.  Below are fat eighths.  These would be ideal for stripping or scrappy quilts.

 Above is a log cabin themed quilt.  Below is a new technique, in which you cut and fold your fabric to make a three dimensional diamond pattern.  Quilt Essentials carries a special ruler to produce this effect.

 I'm intrigued by realistic images of landscapes, people and animals - such the owl quilt above.  Below are some seasonal projects, and the aforementioned "essentials."  
For more info about Quilt Essentials, see