And Now For Something Completely Different

"Antique Flowers Collection" by Lecien

Do not adjust your set ...

I KNOW!  What is UP with ME?!  LOL!

I'll tell you what.  Another Lecien quilt for Quilt Market!

Yes, I know.  There's nothing really Shabby Chic about these colors either.  In fact, one could argue they are like the anti-Shabby colors I most often relate to.

But I'm totally head-over-heels in love with this fabric all the same. 

Why?  Lemme 'splain.

Even though I’m a city girl I have many fond memories of visiting my Dad’s childhood home.  He was raised on a small farm (80 acres) and my grandparents grew wheat & corn.  They also had sheep and chickens.  They lived in a tiny (and by tiny I mean the original bathroom was an outhouse) turn-of-the-century Cape Cod style farmhouse in southern Ontario (Talbotville, if you know the area) with a quaint parlour just inside the front door to the left.  To me, that little parlour was the ultimate in old-fashioned, traditional romance.

Well, my sentimental heart jumped the moment I laid eyes on this collection.  You see, my Grandma Irma - of Finnish decent - had beautiful long auburn hair (always worn up in a gentle bun). 

And these colors are, in a word, her. 

Soft golds,

rich merlots,

tobaccos, (this is a very ... unusual color ... but it plays so well with the other colors in this collection and I think is one of the "keys" - hardy har har - that really make Antique Flowers feel ... antique)

warm caramels,

deep chocolate, (I was gonna say coffee, but I don't drink coffee ... and I do love chocolate)

silvery greens, (another color that almost defies description but is so gorgeous in real life)

... even the littlest hints of blush & rose

... it's all Grandma Irma. 

Her parlour was appointed with everything one would expect to find in the "best room" of a country farmhouse.  The window was adorned with cream, voile curtains.  Heavy velvet drapes – which matched the gold wall color - functioned as a closet door. 

There was a dark, antique pie-crust coffee table and oak cabinetry with glass doors to hold her books.  A small wingback chair occupied one corner while a chesterfield lined the far wall and a smaller couch sat in front of the brick fireplace.  (Her prized Royal Doulton & Hummel porcelain figurines cluttered the mantle!)  The furniture was all mismatched and covered in a variety of upholstery from brushed mocha velvet to goldenrod cordeuroy. 

The accent colors were wine and smoky blue/grey. 

And the painted, squeaky floors (which were almost EXACTLY this color ...)

were covered with layers of oval braided rugs in russet & autumn browns. 

And then of course there were the quintessential vintage glass bottles on the window sill to catch the light and the doilies to protect the wood and decorate the furniture.

I think you've got the picture. ;)


It's as though Lecien went to my Grandma's parlour, took an inventory of all the colors and made these fabrics especially for her.

And I've not even MENTIONED this quilter's dream combination of timeless cabbage roses,

dainty posies,

floral etchings,


and whimsical polkadots ...

you know ... to keep everything from being too serious.

Can you just IMAGINE what beautiful quilts can be made with this collection? 

Well, I've got one in the works here.  Partly the reason I haven't got my FW blocks done yet.  I've been cutting and sewing like crazy working on this quilt these past few days and can hardly wait to show it to you.


Wacky Hair Day

I don't know if your child's school does this, but mine does ... Wacky Hair Day.  The kids love it.  Secretly, it's my favorite fun day too ... since my girls and I came up with this idea:

crossing a french braid concept,

with a small collection of Littlest Pet Shop toys.

There are 9 creatures in all.  Each one is held in place with a small, clear hair elastic around its neck.

Pretty cool, eh?

Best part is that the hair is out of her face and the animals stay put all day.  These pictures were taken AFTER school. 

Other best thing is there's no hair spray, glitter, color, gel ... nothing goopy or messy.


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along - Oops

I'm so sorry you guys.  I haven't got any new FW blocks today.  I'm very sad.  This is the FIRST Monday I've missed since I started last July.  I'll try to get them done in a few days. 

Instead, I thought I'd show you what my FW project looks like behind the scenes.

Remember I showed you how I organize my FW fabrics,

this picture from my Sewing Room Makeover,

and my confession that my room farted after the pictures were taken?

Well, here is partial evidence of said wind-breaking.

And I had to remove an equal amount of mess that was sitting on top of my FW fabrics just to take this picture.



Cherry Blossom Baskets

Yesterday was like the best day EVER.  A new friend came over for tea and stitching.  I met her in a quilt shop a while ago.  She recognized me from my blog.  (Dude, that was totally weird ... being recognized in public from my blog!)  She found me in blogland from this lovely lady

So I ... or rather WE ... finished my quilt yesterday.  She kindly offered to help me bind it.  (Thanks again for coming over G, and for the beautiful pink tulips!)

Holy cow does synchronized binding every go way faster!  Or, at least it makes up for time lost from chatting and pouring/drinking tea. ;)

Thanks to her, I can show you the finished quilt.  (She's holding it up for me.)

You guys, this quilt was so much fun to make.  I think I accomplished what I set out to do - make a pretty quilt - simple, but not boring - to feature the entire fabric collection.  But doesn't it look like a total scrap quilt?

I was inspired to make baskets because of a beautiful appliqued pattern I'd seen recently, and from the notion in my head that these fabrics looked like they came from Grandma's scrap basket.  Basically, the universe was telling me "BASKETS" and I listened ... I've learned to not mess with the universe.  It says "jump" I say "how high?" 

And these rogue prints? 

Well like I showed you yesterday, I managed to use the whites for all the cherry blossoms (LOVE how they just pop against the other fabrics!)

and the check in the pieced border. 

I'm really tickled with how the white dotted prints ended up becoming the inspiration for the secondary (or arguably the CO-primary) feature of this quilt. 

It just sorta happened.  I didn't see them in the beginning.  I think they're my favorite thing about this quilt. 

Oh, and I also got the idea to FMQ a little flower in each post. (Except that wave of brilliance came AFTER I'd already swirly twirled my way through one ... )

So I hope you like Cherry Blossom Baskets as much as I do. 

And I really appreciated all your comments about my quilt this week.  It really feels so nice knowing you like what I do and look forward to seeing the things I make.  I do not take your time and appreciation for granted.  Thank you for making me feel ... worthwhile.


Not Done Yet ...

Sorry, things like the dentist & and neglected laundry sorta got in my way.  (I suppose I should be grateful my children don't want to simply turn their dirty underwear inside out ...)

But here's a quick sneak peak.

And I figured out a way to incorporate the whites!  Yay!

Just the tiniest bits of embroidery.  It always amazes me what a few simple stitches can accomplish.  Total bang for your buck!


Expanding One's Creative Horizons

Remember this quilt I designed for Lecien's booth at Quilt Market last October? 

Well, I've been asked to design & make another one (... or two) for Quilt Market in Kansas City next month.


I know.  I can't believe it either!  I'm still pinching myself. 

This set of FQs from their "Quilter's First Collection" arrived in the mail last week.

I opened the package like a kid on Christmas morning.  

Check this out ... there's a pleasing combination of teeny dots,

large florals,

medium florals,

checks in my preferred size ... bitty ... ;)

light florals (LOVE those tiny little dots in the background!),

pokey-dotty stripes that remind me of grosgrain ribbon,

small florals on a very subtle diagonal pinstripe that will give texture and movement to any quilt,

and the cutest ever teensy weensy calicos that say "sweet" but not "sacharin" ... (squeal!)

Colorwise, this collection has a versatile & complimentary mix of reds,





and even pinks

& a few (dotted) whites.

The funny thing - at least to me - is that they don't necessarily read as a "fabric line".  The colors and prints have been selected so cleverly that they look more like a fabulous collection of vintage scraps, like someone raided Grandma's basket of precious leftover bits from shirts and dresses and such. 

But then I sorta scratched my head.  Hmmm.  Wasn't sure what to do!  You have to agree that these colors don't exactly look like my stash, right? 

If left to my own devices, I'd probably only ever make pink and white quilts.  And then I'd get so bored I'd want to shoot myself.  Plus I'm often (too) quick to turn up my nose at things that don't fit my narrow-minded taste.  When I walk thru a quilt store I take milliseconds to decide if I like something and even less time to decide if I DON'T.  Not necessarily a quality that leads to creative satisfaction.

However, if there's one thing I learned sewing samples for a quilt shop for six years is that working with fabrics that fall outside my ... er ... prejudicial preferences ... makes me a better designer, a more satisfied quilter and a girl with broadened horizons.  All good things.


My point (and yes, I have one) is that my foolish narrow-mindedness would have prevented me from buying this beautiful fabric that is absolutely FULL of character, texture, subtlety, tradition and dynamic color tension. 

That said, when I first laid my hands on them I was totally stumped in terms of what to make.  But the creative process always takes me by surprise.  I never know what will inspire me or how I will overcome self-imposed mental blocks.

One of my favorite tricks - and you've seen me do this so often with my Farmer's Wife blocks and even with my Embroidery Sampler - is to find an emotional or sentimental connection with the fabric/design.  With this fabric I saw "Little House on the Prairie", the dresses worn by Laura & Mary which were made by Mrs Ingalls with calicos bought from that mean old Mrs Oleson.

Another trick of late is to take a stack of fabric to the tv room, spread them all out on the ottoman which sits between the couch and the tv, and then just quietly wait for the fabric to start talking to me ... no pressure ... I'm not staring at them constantly ... I'm just letting them be and waiting for my subconcious to connect with them.  Watching my new favorite show "AWAKE" with my husband also seems to help.  (LOVE this show!  Can't get over that he's Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter!) 

This trick worked like a charm because by the 3rd commercial break I found myself wanting to pair up the FQ into dark & light color sets, like this. 

Seems my OCD personality craves order.

Sorting these prints into pairs was so much fun for me ...

... it's how I get my jollies.

Admit it ... you've got fabric idiosyncracies too!

Sixteen pairs in total - a very nice number of blocks to work with.

Then I totally got butterflies in my tummy knowing a quilt design was being born. 

These few leftovers didn't seem to want to cooperate with the picture growing in my mind ...

so I just set them aside ... for now.

The reveal tomorrow or Thursday ... depending on how fast I can get it done!


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 48

Red, White & Pink

#13 Buckwheat

This block is gluten-free.


Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley & rye and a host of lesser known grains.  It is a virtual poison to those suffering from Celiac Disease and other "wheat" intolerances.  If you or someone you know is Celiac - like my daughter - you will know that despite the name, "buckwheat" is a grain which happily is absent of gluten. 

And buckwheat is not only gluten-free, it's delicious ... especially in the pancakes Daddy often makes for us on Saturday mornings.

So I love this block. 

Because it's gluten-free.

#74 Ribbons

I wanted to make this block look like a twisted ribbon with two prints in the same color but different textures for both sides of the ribbon.

I love it. 

Although I can't TELL you how many times I've tried to pick off this little strand of "thread" ...

which is actually part of the print!  It's driving me crazy.  I think I might find a red permanent marker to color it out.

In fact ...

Crap.  Can't find one. 

But I will! 

'Cause I'm a little neurotic quirky that way.


It's All Just Smoke & Mirrors Over Here People

For those of you who think I never make mistakes when I sew and that all my projects turn out perfectly all the time - thank you so much for the compliment, but - let me present to you Exhibit A ...

Need clarification?

Exhibit B ... my new one.

See the difference? 

I use my stitch ripper so much I've almost completely worn away the letters!

I only show you my work when it looks good ... AFTER I've fixed my screw-ups ... all smoke & mirrors, I assure you. ;)

Happy weekend everyone!


Hexagon Love Affair

For the longest time, I had this oh so pretty Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Garden Rose pile of fat quarters on one side of my desk.

And these two templates on the other side. 

I bought these fabrics here a while ago and for a long time I didn't know what I was going to do with them.  I just liked to stare at them while I was working away at my computer.

I've also had a love affair with hexagons since my very first quilt ... in 1987 ... and the several quilts that followed ... all English paper-pieced.

My girlfriend had these templates and I've been dying to make something with them ... just didn't know what.

Until one day I FINALLY made the connection.  DUH!!!  Use the fabrics & the templates for the same project!  (Sometimes it takes me a loooooooong time to connect such obvious dots.

So I got to work.

Happy work.

Very pretty happy work. :)

The kind of work that (almost) makes you totally forget you have any responsibilities at all ... you know, like picking up your children from school and making dinner ... (why doesn't my family like to eat peanut butter sandwiches or cereal for supper?  It's not like my cooking is anything to write home about!)


I'm a Lucky Blogger

Wanna know why?

'Cause I have like the nicest readers EVER.

That's right.  I had a giveaway (several months ago now ...) and the winner took time to send me a thank you note ... in the mail! 

Not only that, she sent a HANDMADE card,

personalized with my favorite appliance in my favorite color.

And by the way, it is just my humble opinion, but quilters have superior skills when it comes to other crafts like scrapbooking and cardmaking.

See?  A perfect mix of a solid (scalloped applique, no less), floral & check ...

... even stitched together with a zigzag.  (LOVE that!)

With the sweetest message inside.

But the best thing about a homemade card is this ...

the logo on the back by the maker.

Thank you for the thank you, Becky!


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 47

Red, Pink, Yellow & White

While reviewing my nerd sheet for this week's colors I was surprised this combination had escaped me!  Wohooo!!! Something new. :)

#44 - Gentleman's Fancy

I waffled sooo many times on the colors for this block.  I thought I'd do it in "boy" colors ... blue & gray. 

But as much as I like to invent SOME sort of meaning or purpose or story to my blocks, this one came out this way because a) it could handle 4 colors and b) I was in the mood for something easy after ...

#95 - Temperance Tree

... THIS 41-piece monster! 

Now, IF I were to make this block again ... and chances of that ever happening are slim-to-none ... and Slim just rode out of town on his horse ... I'd change the yellow triangles to white.  I like the tree-type blocks to look really graphic.  I threw the yellow in there out of necessity.

I'm ok with the results, just not over the moon happy with it.


Mystery Block of the Month 10

Ok.  This is DEFINITELY my favorite block so far in this project.

Just LOOK at it!  So cute.

I admit to fussy cutting the red floral.  I didn't want big blank spaces of solid red.  There are still a few "bald spots".  But overall I got the look I was going for ... very flowery/blossomy.

And the polka dots in the corners?  Love.

Designed by Gudrun Erla of GE Quilt Designs.

She's from Iceland, you know!  I think that is ... SUPER COOL.  Cool as in totally awesome, not as in polar bears & frostbite. 


Mystery Block of the Month 9

I do NOT know what was UP with me for this block ...

I think I messed up on at least half of the outside points!

(Designed by the HILARIOUS sister team of Barbara Groves & Mary Jacobson!)

Although now that I think about it, I was sewing this block on a Saturday nite when hubby and the kids were out, leaving me with several unadulterated hours of freedom!

So I may have had a beer with my leftover chili supper (which I zapped in the microwave and then ate standing up in my sewingroom while I stared at my WIP) ...  guess I shouldn't drink & sew!  LOL!  Mind you, I really shouldn't drink and do ANYTHING! 

Anyhow, here's another group shot.

Only 3 blocks left! Eeeeep!

Has anyone else started working on the finishing kit yet?  I think I'm gonna start on all the flower stems ...


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 46

Pink, Green, Gray & White

This color combination came about as a .. well ... like this:

#36 - Flower Garden Path

When I read the name of this block my poor brain went literal.  The main detail in the block is the big X - presumably the path made of grass.  Then I saw beautiful stone benches one sees in romantic, French, palatial gardens.  You know, like Versaille.  So my garden has 4 benches. 

And then what color flowers?  "Pink", said Queen of the Obvious.

I love the light and airy feel of this garden ... no dirt, bugs or worms anywhere. :)

#98 - Waterwheel

I'm starting to feel a little restricted by my "two blocks with the same colors" approach.  With only about 20 blocks left my color format is becoming ... tedious.  I may have to let that go soon.

However, I managed to make a mate for the above with this block.

At first I was a little disappointed.  Didn't like the fussy cut flowers in the middle.  And didn't think the contrast between the gray & green was strong enough.

But then my feelings moved from disappointment to indifference to possibly a hint of like.  Whatever the reason, this block is growing on me. 


Happy Easter!


Couldn't decide which photo I liked best.

According to my daughters,

they should ALL have jelly beans in them.

Happy Easter!


Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

We have to say goodbye to someone special today ... my daughter's Grade 3 teacher (who also taught my older daughter).  As far as teachers go our family has been pretty lucky, but Mrs M really topped them all.

She got married last summer and in September when we found out she'd be my daughter's teacher for the second year in a row (yay!) I informed her that she & her husband were allowed to ... you know ... "get busy" in another month because we needed her until the end of June. 

Jokingly of course. 

Sort of.

Sometimes I say inappropriate things like that to people, especially if I've known them for a while.  But she got this weird look on her face.  I thought she was just a little surprised that a parent would say something that ... personal.  A few months later I learned the reason for that look ... she had NOT waited for my permission to get busy!

Anyhow we are all very happy and excited about her new arrival due later this month.  But we're also very sad to lose the best teacher ever.

My daughter - the same little munchkin who made this,

and this,

really wanted to make her a farewell gift.  So here's what she did.

Found a font she liked for the letter "J", Mrs M's first initial, and printed it out.  I gave her a piece of white fabric, she picked a floss color, grabbed my light board and got to work. 

The note on her Template says "Don't throw out! Thx :)"   Apparently my children are used to me tossing out unidentified bits paper they leave lying around.

She stitched this up in about 25 minutes. 

Did I mention she's 9?  You can't see me here but my chest just exploded all over my keyboard with that special & unique sort of pride that can only be known by a mama for her little one.  You know, the kind that can reduce you to a puddle of tears?  Especially if you have PMS?  (Excuse me for a sec while I go get the mop ...)

When she finished the embroidery, however, she didn't know what to do with it.  I suggested a lavender sachet ... 'cause ... well ... what can I say ... I'm just really excellent at solving crafting emergency problems.

Another 25 minutes later and we had this ...

I wish you could smell it.

Happy motherhood, Mrs M.  We will miss you!


Mystery Block of the Month 7

I signed up for this project with a friend.  But she lives almost an hour away and our schedules are turning out to be far from compatible.  We've only managed to get together ONCE last Fall to sew our blocks.  I cheated a little and did a few more without her, but I felt so guilty for going a little ahead so I haven't made any since.

But I'm starting to feel so disorganized and I have so many other projects going on here that I just NEEDED to get caught up with this & start planning the final quilt.  So she graciously gave me permission to continue if I promised to still help her when we can get together. 

Done. :)

So!  Here's block #7 ... only about 5 months late.

It was designed by the lovely Cyndi Walker.  I had the pleasure of meeting her at Quilt Market last year.  Super nice girl.

Cute, eh? 

While making this block I realized these are my two favorite prints ... polka dots and little flowers on a tiny dot background.


Workspace Makeover, Part V

Whoops!  I got so distracted with my Daisychain Sampler I forgot to finish off my Makeover tour

So.  Guess whose fabric I used for the drapes? 

Right, Laura Ashley. :) 

People, I was SO not kidding about bows being genetic for me.

And guess where I got the lace panel? 

Right again!  (I totally bought it before I was married & had a house.)

Yeah, I agree the lace should probably go.  It's a bit fussy.  And don't look too close 'cause it's seen better days.  But I keep it for now because I like how it lets in the light and I can see what's happening outside my window, but the neighbors can't see me if/when I'm still in my jammies.  There's a roller blind behind the lace that closes every night for privacy.

I found this mannequin a few summers ago in Utah.  It was an impulse buy.  I thought she would look pretty and add interest in the corner without hogging the space because she's not a solid object. 

She does look really nice right now - especially with the pink bolts of old Moda barkcloth and laminated fabric.  But she's usually hidden under ... stuff.

One of the things I'm very happy about is my table. 

My uncle made it for us as a wedding present and it was our kitchen table for a long time.  I positioned it with the short side against the wall so I could have 3 accessible sides.  I sew on the one side but I can cut from all 3 sides - very helpful when I'm cutting yardage and I don't have to lift the fabric to turn it around.  The cutting mat is 24" x 36".

I hang all my rulers here on the end ... nails installed by moi.

A scribble on the drawer from years ago by one of my daughters that I just can't bring myself to scrub away.

And now the best part of all ... the fabric.

My books, (lots of Japanese craft books & magazines) and a portion of Moda Simplicity on the top shelf.  My Moda Fig Tree stash underneath ... the pile in the foreground will be used to finish my Mystery Block of the Month quilt ... another project I've neglected but will be catching up on this week.

Lecien/Japanese, whites & brights ...

Romantic and very pretty shabby chic colors ...

And some of my lovely pins from my lovely friend Gigi.

I think I should be embarrassed that this is (most of, but not all) my fabric AFTER getting rid of about 150 lbs!  Yikes!  I better get sewing!

So there you have it.  (Check out these earlier posts to see the rest of my Sewing Room Makeover Series.)  It's not perfect.  And I'm not a professional decorator or anything.  (And there's probably an ugly rubbermaid container and a few ... er ... several ... other things hiding in the hallway while I take these photos.)

But I really like being here.  This place suits me just fine ... as long as I keep the hoarding and the shoving and clutter under control.

Confession:  You know how you have to hold in a fart when you're in public? And then when you're finally alone you can "let loose" and be normal?  Yeah, well, now that the photo shoot is over my room just farted.


Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Week 45

Gray & White

According to my nerdy chart, I'm still really behind with gray.  So in the event I never catch up, I decided to do the backgrounds of both blocks gray instead of white.

#76 - Sawtooth

I always thought I was going to use a larger print on that nice big triangle ... but I just couldn't resist those little posies.  Man are they ever cute!

#75 - Rosbud

Speaking of "Rosebud", have you seen the critically acclaimed movie "Citizen Kane"?  My husband & I finally watched it a few years ago.  We didn't get it ... you know, the whole "this is like one of the most totally awesomest movies ever made in the history of forever".

We much prefer watching things like "America's Funniest Home Videos".  I laugh hysterically during the clips where people get scared/surprised.  

Sorry.  I've tried to cure myself of finding that sort of thing funny, especially since I don't like it when people scare me.  I'm profoundly aware of my hypocracy. 

But I just can't help it.

What make you laugh?


Daisychain Sampler "U"

Ok, this was kind of a weird one to do.

But also super cool (I think I've been using that phrase too much lately ... but I can't think of any other way to decribe it right now so ... super cool it is.)

I kept thinking feathers on an arrow, as in bow & arrow.  Can you see it too?  Or am I just going completely mental here?

I was also asked about my needle size yesterday so I thought I'd do a little show & tell on the subject.

My favorite brand - Jeana Kimball's Embroidery/Redwork needles.  Love them.

And my favorite size is 10.  HOWEVER, I ran out of 10s and have been resorting to an old pack of 9s lately ... which are longer.  Embroidery needle numbering is such that the larger the number, the smaller the needle.  Totally decided by a man, I'm sure! LOL!

But I don't like buying new needles if I have some that still work, even though they are a little cumbersome. 

Anyhow, a #9 embroidery needle is about 1 3/4" long. 

I think my needle looks so big in my photos because it's really hard to judge the size of my letters without accurate reference ... they are just over 1 1/4" tall.

Remember, I like little. ;)

And since it's the end of another row ... AND it's Friday ...


And one more thing ...

As to my plans for this Sampler when the embroidery is done, still no final decision.  But the floss was inspired - in part - by these fabrics ... Moda's Seaside Rose from about 7? - 8? years ago?

I may or may not use them for the finished piece.  All I know is that it will become a wallhanging of some sort.

All right, that was 2 weeks of Daisychain Sampler catch up and it sure felt good!  But my old tendonitis is starting to bark at me a little and my sister has gone home so I should take a little break.  Kay?

Oh wait, and just one MORE thing ... I've had a few questions lately about the floss I'm using. 

Here's a link to a previous post with all that info, including where to buy the pattern, the floss and what colors I'm using.  There's also a category called Daisychain Sampler under Tags on the right side of my blog where you can check out my progress to date.  ;)

Happy weekend everyone!