No More Sniffles for These Lovelies

This week I am going to add to a new twist my usual quilt projects and try something new. Since February is right around the corner, I’m thinking about Valentine’s Day. I usually think of holidays way too late to do anything fun, so woohoo for me, I am ahead of the game this time!

I have a stash of hankies from my mom, grandma, and probably a few aunts. They are all packed together, so I can’t really tell who made them. Some of them are printed designs, but several of them have been hand embroidered, most of them likely stitched by my grandma. I’m amazed at the handiwork on them; you can hardly tell the front from the back. One of my aunts, Olga, apparently was not as proficient in stitching. My mom would often look at the back of the pieces we had and quickly identify Olga’s, saying “The back of her work was always messy.” I feel your pain, Olga, and love you just the same.

I have taken a couple of the hankies and I’m making tea mats with them. Why call them tea mats? Because the hankies are so delicate (they are really sheer) giving them the name mug mat just seems wrong! I thought these little lovelies would be a fun resting place for a cup of tea or mini candle. So no more sniffles for these lovely little pieces, unless I mess something up in the making and need to shed a tear or two.

This first printed hankie is of unknown origin. I don’t recall my mom or grandma using it, and it looked brand new. I thought the pink was very appropriate for Valentine’s Day and the bows just added to the mix. Initially I shortened the hankie by folding it and matching the ribbon design around the edge as closely as I could and sewing a seam. It was then that I realized I could actually get two little mats out of the hankie if I cut it apart, so I did. You’ll only get to see one of them in this post. I found this cute pink polka dot in my fabric stash, made my little sandwich, and stitched away.

IMG_3651Tip: I used basting spray to make my sandwich. It adhered nicely, but it was really difficult to get my needle through the adhesive. I’d only recommend using the basting spray if you decide to quilt it by machine. It does hold the hankie very firmly; no shifting.

 

 

Here’s a peek of it with a teacup and with a candle.

Next week I should have a second one done, a combination of two hankies. I’m having some fun with this, so come back and see what it looks like.

What else am I working on? Well, the batik quilt top is very close to being finished. I’m sewing the rows together and then I need to add the border. This means I will have to visit a quilt shop for fabric. Oh darn. 🙂

I’m putting my superpowers to work soon on a quilt for friend with a Superheroes theme (get it? superpowers – Superheroes? Haha. Clever, huh?) Watch for a sneak peek of those fabrics.

My elephants are still parading along. No new photos of them this week, but I have about 8 of them completed now so only 16 more to go.

Let me know what you’re working on these days. Do you have any Valentine’s Day projects perking?

Until next time — keep your needle threaded!

Wendy

Tripping Along

I took a little trip last week with John. He had a conference in San Antonio, so I went with him to keep him company, to soak up some sunshine, and to explore San Antonio. It was 70 degrees and sunny when we arrived!

We stayed at the historic Menger Hotel, which was established in 1859 and sits right next door to The Alamo. The Menger has had several notable guests through the years; Teddy Roosevelt recruited his Rough Riders at the Menger. The hotel also claims to be haunted — maybe I really did hear knocking on my door at 4 am!

While John was interested in the history of the hotel, I was fascinated with the beauty. I found myself thinking quilt designs quite often as I meandered throughout the building. The furniture, ironwork, and stained glass ceilings gave me some fun ideas.

What designs do you see? I don’t think I’ll tackle the stained glass, but it was really pretty. (My iPhone picture doesn’t do it justice.)

One of the big draws of downtown San Antonio other than The Alamo is the Riverwalk.IMG_3587

Shops and eateries line the river, together with walkways on each side of its banks. Tour boats and water taxis cruise along the river, and it’s a popular gathering place both day and night. We had lunch at one of the cafes after arriving at the hotel, as the pigeons wandered by our legs and comfortably roamed the restaurant both inside and out. At one other cafe, a man was sitting at his table sending a text while two pigeons joined him at the table, nibbling at his taco chips. Gross. 

On the day we arrived, the river had been drained, so it wasn’t nearly as lovely as it looks in this picture. Thankfully, it was filled before we left and we were able to take one of the boat tours, which was much better than the bus tour.

I also found quilting designs as we meandered down the Riverwalk. Not surprisingly, there were stars everywhere . . . Lone Star State & all, y’know. I really like the colorful spiral design, don’t you?

Needless to say,  I was definitely antsy to get home and get back to quilting! And I have been stitching away since I got back. I haven’t drawn out any of the above designs yet, but I have some ideas.

I finished my little Woolie mystery Block of the Month for January before we left on the trip. Here is the finished block. 27b1e33d-d5be-4014-8bea-6ae0abda66ed

I’ve made progress on my batik quilt — all the strips have been sewn and cut into squares. Hoping to be putting the top together soon!

And, of course, my elephants are coming along nicely —

IMG_3630
Just needs his ear and he’s done!

I’m still enjoying stitching them in the evenings. I’m discovering that I have certain things I need as I appliqué. Two new discoveries I have made are little leather finger pad thimbles and my needle threader. I have had the needle threader for quite awhile, but haven’t used it until now — what was I thinking??. The little thimbles are amazing. They can be used again and again (they are really sticky and stay in place well). They are so comfortable I forget I have one on. No more tender fingers!

What fun things are you working on lately while your creative juices flow? I’d love to hear about them — leave a comment below! By the way, I also have an email address piecefulthoughts@gmail.com if you want to contact me that way.

Until next time, keep those stitches running!

Wendy

 

Picasso Said I Could.

Learn the rules so you can break them like an artist. –Pablo Picasso

For all the years I’ve been quilting, I’ve been reading the rules, learning the rules, following the rules. Admittedly I have safely broken some rules along the way, but I certainly haven’t been reckless! So the quote above is for me, so I can remember that it’s okay to break some rules as I quilt. Picasso said I could. In reality, unless you are submitting your quilt to a juried competition, there really are no rules in quilting, just guidelines. If a technique works for you, whether you came up with it or are using someone else’s, as long as it keeps you quilting and stress free, go with it!

I’m not really breaking any rules in the current projects I’m working on, but I definitely have some rule-breaking thoughts tossing around in my head. So maybe you’ll be seeing some of them in future posts.

So what’s on my quilting table these days?

Over the holiday season, I stopped down at one of our local quilt shops, Reproduction Fabrics, to pick up a couple of Christmas gifts. If you are ever in this neck of the woods, stop in. It’s a lovely little quilt shop, and Margo is a delightful lady to get to know. She has a wealth of knowledge about fabric. If you want to make a quilt in fabric from a particular era, this is the shop to visit.

While there, Margo showed me one of her quilt kits she was offering — an elephant quilt. I liked the fabric kit so much that before you know it, I was walking out the door with 24 potential pachyderms in my bag. Here’s a picture of a couple of them. Aren’t they cute? Now mind you, I have avoided appliqué. I’ve hardly done IMG_3561any in my quilt life. However, I am thoroughly enjoying these little fellas. I figure that by the time I’m done with 24 of them, appliqué will no longer intimidate me. They are just the right size for stitching while I’m watching a movie in the evening.

The appliqué technique I’m using for the elephants is turned edge; however, I’m using a glue stick rather than a needle. If you want to explore other techniques, spend some time on Pinterest. You’ll find quite a few creative ideas.

IMG_3556When I’m at my sewing machine, I’m playing with this jumble of green/blue batiks. This quilt will come together quickly, using Tonga Treats (pre-cut strips). A friend of ours let us stay at her cabin on Lake Superior this summer. It was absolutely lovely! Those of you who know me know how much I enjoy Lake Superior, so it was a treat to have a cabin with our own little slice of lakeshore for a few days. As a thank you, this quilt will be going to her; the colors remind me of the walk to the lake, and the beauty of her cabin. I can’t wait to see it come together!

The last project is a little one. River’s Edge Antiques & Quilt Shop in Hayward, Wisconsin, is offering a free mystery Block of the Month, soIMG_3566 I decided to make them. This is the January block in progress. I’m making mine with wool. Woolies, as I call them, are a favorite of mine. It’s actually how I decided to begin getting comfortable with appliqué, because wool appliqué is very forgiving, and you don’t have to figure out how to turn any edges.

So that’s what I’ve been up to over the holiday season. I hope you have some fun projects on your sewing table as well. And remember, rule breaking is allowed — Picasso said so.

Threads of Thought

IMG_3552

Needles, thread, scissors, sewing machines. Women gathered, chattering away, while fingers stitched quilts together. The banter, laughter. The smell of coffee brewing.

These are some of the memories I have of growing up in a sewing community. The church ladies, yes; but also neighbors, friends. A beautiful creative legacy.

My grandmother was a seamstress, my mother sewed clothes and quilts, my sister-in-law quilts, has owned a quilt shop, and now teaches quilting. Playing with fabric has been part of me for as long as I can remember. When I quilt, I’m with all of these ladies in heart. One of my current projects is applique. I am using some of my grandmother’s needles as I stitch (pictured above — zowie, are they sharp!). It fills me with joy to use some of the tools that she so often used.

Did I grow up loving to play with needle and thread? No, actually. But I have always had a love affair with fabric — the feel, the patterns, the colors. And so, later in life I learned to quilt.

I’m primarily self-taught; however, I have family and friends who have nurtured my quilting through the years. I’m an avid reader, so when I want to learn a new technique I read about it, watch it, then try it. I just beginning to enjoy quilt classes.

I usually have several projects going at once (don’t we all?). Sometimes I stick with one until it’s finished, sometimes only until I feel like I need a break from it. Eventually they get finished. Even while I’m working on projects, another is brewing in my head. I enjoy every minute of it.

So — welcome to my quilting life. Soon I’ll post some pictures of what I’m up to. For now, feel free to follow me on my journey.