Thursday, July 31, 2008

Four Seasons Swap - Finished

My quilt is now in the mail to Oregon and seeing as I don't think my recipient reads my blog, I thought I'd share with you photos of my finished project. As you might recall, the swap rules are pretty simple: a quilt between 16 and 20 inches square, with a "summer" theme. You can pretty much go anywhere you might like with it.

I settled on ice cream, as you probably already knew. Here's the finished view:

I'd originally wanted to do an ice cream truck and some music like Pop, Goes the Weasel!, but when I realized the actual size I'd be working in, I didn't think I had the skill to pull off something that detailed in the relatively limited amount of space. So, I went pretty basic.

I'm not sure how I feel about it; it's really my first original design effort, other than a small quilt I made for the guild's coffee cup challenge a few years ago. I was inspired by advertising for ice cream in general (do a Google image search on some particular products, like "ice cream sandwich" or "ice cream bar" and you'll see what I mean) and wanted to make it fun and bright.

Now, I don't generally do a lot of applique, so this is a bit of a departure and a challenge. I did my best - downloaded a fun font from online called Heartbreaker (I think this is the one!), used it to type out the words for the quilt at the right size, printed it out, cut the letters apart and taped them back together so I could get the desired level of "overlappingness."

I had fun quilting the cone to really look like a cone. And I sewed bugle beads on the top scoop to look like sprinkles. Not being experienced in beading, I hope that they stay on. Had a few miscues with beading needles and such, but they do seem to be well affixed. Ben helped me a bit with drawings of ice cream sandwiches and cones. Thanks a million, honey!

This was a fun challenge, but I must say I'm relieved to have it finished and in the mail. I waited to the last minute yet again, and this caused more than a bit of stress. I'll certainly be checking my own mail in the coming days to see what fun quilt I might receive. I still need to upload my images to Flickr with tags for the group, but will do so soon. You can search on the "4sqssum08" tag to find those images already there. Quite an inspiring group; very interesting to see how many directions the theme can lead.

Now it's time to get started on a major project that has a mid-September deadline.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

St. Louis, Baseball, and Hogwarts

Since we moved to Milwaukee 4+ years ago, we’ve been talking about going to St. Louis to add a Busch Stadium to the list of those we have visited. But we just never seemed to get around to it. We finally got around to it this year! Unfortunately the Brewers were not in town for a weekend series at all this year, so we settled for seeing the cellar-dwelling Padres in a weekend series July 19 and 20.

Boy, did we pick the wrong weekend to go: we had bleacher seats for Saturday afternoon’s game at 94 degrees and in the sun the entire time. Thankfully we enjoyed Sunday’s 96 degree heat in the shade along the first base line. It’s a nice park for the most part: check out the view of the Arch from behind the plate! We have some cool panoramas as well, but I don’t know how well you'll be able to view it. (The one I have included here isn't sewn together too well because I really want to get this up and done with, so my apologies. At least you get the idea.) While it’s a nice park, I also have to say that it is an expensive park. SRO tickets are $21 if that gives you any indication. A bottle of water or soda: $5. You can bring things in with you, but keep in mind that in 90+ heat, you need to find it somewhere close by if you’re from out of town. And there really is NOTHING close to the park where you can find such amenities. No Walgreen’s. No CVS. No convenience stores. No gas stations. Thankfully there was one street vendor and we were able to purchase a couple of bottles of water for $2 each. After draining them, we refilled the bottles from lukewarm drinking fountains spread throughout the park. At least it was wet! Cardinals won both games, with come-from-behind wins, and we saw Yadier Molina win Sunday’s game with a 9th inning walk-off grand slam!

We stayed at a B&B a couple of miles from the park in the Lafayette Park neighborhood. The private drive on which the B&B was located had a number of really cool houses built between 1860 and 1890. Apparently, at that time, it would have been a gated drive with a keeper at the end of the street. The houses don’t look all that big from the street, but looks can be deceiving: they extend back from the road in really deep lots.

We didn’t really check out Lafayette Park, which was right at the end of the street, but we did have an opportunity to run the 6-mile route around the outside Forest Park, which wasn’t too far away. The B&B owner gave us the low-down on where to park and what to expect; loads of people were out in the morning, when it was still relatively cool and there was a more than welcome light rain. Would love to go back to check out the history and art museums and it seems like there’d be lots of opportunity to develop longish running routes through the central portions of the park (if we'd had more time, running along the Mississippi would also have been fun).

In addition to the baseball games, we did take the trip up into Gateway Arch. Ben hadn't been up before and wanted to check it out; I'd been up with my parents in December 1994 when we made a college visit to Wash U. (I'm dating myself now). We learned the hard way that times are different post-9/11 and in the summer vacation period. If you go: buy your tickets in advance online!! If you do not, you will have to wait outside to get through the security checkpoint so that you can wait in line downstairs under the Arch to buy tickets so that you can wait until your appointed time to go up, which can be hours later. Because the next available time was in the middle of the ball game, we opted to purchase tickets for a trip up the next day, which meant we had to wait in line again for the security checkpoint. Arg! We did check out the late 1960s/early 1970s-era film that they made about the construction of the arch, and it's worth it if you have time.

We also found our way to Platform 9-3/4. Here's Ben awaiting the Hogwarts Express. Actually, this is portion of wall within Union Station painted to invoke Harry Potter. Do you think they had to put the stanchion up because too many kids had a run at the wall trying to find the train? The Whispering Wall in the station really does work (if you follow the instructions, unlike the people who tried ahead of us), and the central portion of the station is absolutely gorgeous. This photo really doesn't do it justice.

Last stop before we headed for home: Ted Drewes Frozen Custard on the Old Route 66. We're a bit mystified as to why they call their flurry-type product a "concrete," as it exhibits none of the properties of concrete (if it were frozen solid, ok, I'd get it), but it was a welcome reprieve, nonetheless. Ben says Kopp's is better. I say that any frozen treat on a 96 degree day is more than welcome! (Well, maybe not sherbet. Or orange dreamsicles.)

A quilting-related post soon, I promise!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Four Seasons Quilt Swap - Sneak Peak

Yes, I finally began the process of moving from idea to reality for my Four Seasons Quilt Swap. Time is running out and I still have a good amount to go, but I am also showing this picture of the quilt where it stood somewhat earlier in the course of the day than when I left off last evening. Betcha can't guess what my main topic might be? I'm not sure I'll give many more sneak peaks because anything more will give a lot away. Gotta have this done and in the mail by two weeks from Thursday. I do think this will be doable, although I will be putting in some significant hours very soon.

Haven't done a whole lot of sewing over the past week because we had to take care of all of the cherries that we picked while we were in Ohio. Free cherries off my Grandma's tree. How perfect! Cherry jam is my favorite - second only to raspberry! But I have learned the important lesson that 5 gallons of unpitted cherries is a LOT of cherries. A one gallon tub stuffed to the top with the lid on is enough - pretty much exactly - to make a double batch of jam. Three double-batches and 39 jars of cherry jam later, and we were pooped. And still had 2 gallons of cherries to deal with! We opted to pit them, add sugar, and bag them for the freezer so we can enjoy them over the course of the winter. If anyone has any good recipes for sour cherries, I'd love to hear about them!

Probably not too much quilting this week as we're hosting a small All-Star Game party tomorrow night. My favorite player - Corey Hart - was voted in as the final player. Don't ask how many times I voted (I couldn't actually tell you, but it was a lot!). We also had fun this past weekend going to two games between the Brewers and the Reds. It's getting really tough for me to go to those games - I can't root against the Reds, but I want to root for the Brewers because they need to keep up with the evil Cubs and Cardinals. Unfortunately, the Brewers lost both of the games we went to and I still didn't see Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a home run (although I did see Adam Dunn hit two in one game).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

And the winner is....

Drumroll please. I know you are all curious as to who won the free fabric! (I would have drawn last night, but I was still dealing with the five gallons of cherries that I picked from my Grandma's tree last weekend.)

I used a random number generator online to select my winner. Here you can see proof that I entered numbers 1 through 5 to represent all of your comments (I'm so glad I actually had to draw!).

The results of the first random number selection: comment #3 (Tamara) won. But she didn't really want to be in the contest. Wouldn't it figure?

The results of the second random number selection: comment #2. Congratulations, Karen of Sewprimitive Quilter! Send me an e-mail with your mailing address and I will get this out to you right away.

Thanks to all of you for reading my blog and for taking the time to post. Better luck next time.

BTW - this happens to be my 50th post! How appropriate to announce the giveaway winner on this "monumental" posting.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


I took a bit of a break from my work on Suffragette to machine quilt a small project that I blogged about some time ago. I needed a break from sewing flying geese (not only are there plenty on the center of Suffragette, there are also more in the borders!), and I also hoped to have something to work on in the car when we drove to Ohio to visit my family over the 4th (bindings are perfect for this).

This small piece had been sitting and calling my name for some time. I finished piecing it quite a while back (it was a WIP here) and then debated about what exactly I wanted to do in terms of quilting. Took it to my last Daiwabo Club meeting at Bigsby's and I think it's probably good that I did. Normally, I just would have quilted this with some sort of all-over design our a stipple/meander, but was encouraged to try something more individually block based.

Staff there directed me to the book Skillbuilder Mastery for Quilting by Machine by Renae Allen. It's mean to go along with a practice quilting panel (and a CD that I don't have), but where this book is good is that it shows you quilting patterns that might be appropriate for particular block layouts (e.g. stars, those based on a 9-patch grid, triangles, etc.) and shows you a few blocks quilted with those designs. It also provides blank templates so you can draw out your design for quilting once you've sized the block appropriately. Once again, I must say that I am thankful that I can handle some basic math, as I had to downsize these pretty significantly to fit the small blocks of this quilt. Here's my drawing of the pattern I quilted in each of the blocks and the setting triangles.

I used Golden Threads paper and got smart this time and needle punched the extra papers so I didn't have to draw out the designs over and over. This worked fairly well, although there was definitely some issue getting all of the paper out of some of the smaller areas between sewing lines. This is where ingenuity came into play and I discovered that the lint roller is helpful in picking up some of the tiny bits of excess that get all over the place!

I used a variegated thread on the top that I purchased for a class with Ann Fahl in May and which just happened to be the perfect color complement to this project. And I'd also purchased for that class some Bottom Line that was just right in terms of blending with the backing fabric (I left the spools at home, otherwise I'd let you know exactly what I used). Seeing as I hadn't really planned to quilt this when I did and of course wanted to start right away, I feel very fortunate that I was able to make do with what I happened to have around home and that I didn't feel like I had to compromise in using what I had. Here's a view of part of the back of the quilt, which shows off the quilting pretty well.

I don't think I ever mentioned what this was based on. It's the pattern Novantique, a Schnibbles pattern by Carrie L. Nelson of Miss Rosie's Quilt Co. (which doesn't appear to have its own website). The pattern was designed to use charm packs, but I made my own charms out of my growing stash of Daiwabo fabrics. I ordered the pattern at some point a while back from the Fat Quarter Shop. I must say that I am more than happy with how this turned out!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Christmas Fabric Giveaway!

It's not often that I pass on fabric, but my monthly Fat Quarter Club installment from the Fat Quarter Shop arrived early and is one that I cannot fathom EVER using. The line is Isn't Christmas Jolly by Mary Engelbreit. I do like Engelbreit's drawings and her magazine, but I must say that I just find this fabric to be completely outside my holiday tastes. With so many yummy holiday fabric lines out there, why did they have to choose this one?

At any rate, my disinterest in this line can be your gain. Rather than have this take up precious stash storage space, I'm going to give it away: 12 fat quarters, a whole 3 yards of fabric! Leave me a comment; I'll draw a winner from those received on July 8 (if drawing is even necessary, given the low number of comments I receive).