Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Beanbag Covers

Here's my workspace at the library. You'll note the shelves of books, chair, computer, printer, and sewing machine? vinyl scraps and squares?

Yup, I've taken my sewing machine to work! Our beanbag chairs in the Easy book section were all very worn and tattered. Some had holes that had been patched with clear book tape, and in the way of little kids, no matter how difficult it was to peel the tape off, pick, pick, pick they did, leaving the sticky residue on the beanbag chairs, which slowly attracted dust and dirt from the carpet and turned black. So I decided to recover them. I'm using simple 9 and 16 patch blocks made of squares cut from vinyl donated by Ann-sewsalot. Here's a finished one:

Much better than the original deflated looking red beanbag behind it, isn't it? I have sewn a velcro seam on the back that allows me to stuff the whole 'old' beanbag inside the new cover. I'll make three of them. They won't match, in fact, I'm pretty much out of bright colors and have started using the silver, gold, maroon, and black scraps to cut my squares. But on the positive side, that does give me a good chance to use those color words that don't get into a toddler/preschool crayon box!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Two Quilts to New Owners

Here's my brother Bob and his wife, Paula, on Christmas Day with the 9 patch snowball quilt I made for them. Paula likes things scrappy and is always buying fabric for me. :)

This one started life as a nine patch swap I did with my guild - we were supposed to pick one color, and use a light and a dark of that color to make a set of nine patches. You could bring as many sets as you wanted to swap, so I made a bunch. Here's the best picture I got of the whole top:
I added snowball blocks between the nine patches, to make stars, and connected them with cobblestone blocks, to make it kingsize. The border was made from all the bonus triangles from my snowball blocks. Mary S. in Missouri did the quilting for this quilt.

I also made one for my grandniece, Randi. Here she is with her great grandma, my mom:

I wish I had thought to get her to take the hat off! I think she almost liked the rainbow check fabric I used for the backing more than the front of the quilt. :)

This one started it's quilty life as a one day mystery sponsored by Planet Patchwork, on New Year's Day. If I'd have known what it would look like when done, I might have chosen my fabrics differently, but I think she liked it anyway!

Here's a pic of the whole quilt with borders to show the pattern. This one was twin size, and quilted by Ann-Sewsalot, also from Missouri.

And oh, Ann's just adopted, you ought to go to her blog and see the pix. :)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Blog Changes

There, made two changes to my blog. :)

The top one's easy to spot - a Winter themed header. I made the snowflakes at "Snowdays" which is a really neat snowflake generator I found a couple of years ago on a quilting site, of all places... lol Try it yourself, it's fun!


I'm ashamed to admit how many I've made. I showed the kids at the library where I work how to do it, so some of them are demos... and some of them I did on a couple of boring evenings on the computer! You can search by my screen name, ForestJane, if you want to see some of the patterns I've done.

The second blog change is a little more difficult to find... I changed the stash picture to be an actual picture of some of my own FQ stash, the pink-to-purple drawer. I also have the shades of blue drawer, and shades of green, and big prints, and florals... but the sidebar only let me have a picture 100 x 100 pixels big! Maybe seeing my own fabrics there will be more incentive this next year to use some of them!


And here's some little gift bags that I made for the folks at work. Instead of drawing names and getting one person a big gift, we celebrate the spirit of giving, and get everyone one small stocking stuffer gift costing $1 to $2. Then we hang big fleecy stockings, and fill them up. There's no pressure, no whining, and no re-gifting! So I got everyone a little scented candle in a red glass holder, in Holiday Berry and Apple Pie scents, then put them in the little drawstring bags I made and personalized with everyone's name in gold metallic thread. After Christmas, they'll make great camera or cell phone protectors.

I've also finished binding and put the label on a quilt that's being given tomorrow, but more pix of that after the giving!

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


*Thumps head with heel of hand*

I like having my e-mail address on my comments, instead of being hidden. And one night I spent 20 minutes looking through all the settings on my dashboard trying to make sure I had my e-mail address showing on my comments. But it STILL wasn't showing.

Finally, Joyce was trying to respond to a question I'd asked her about the jacket she's making, and she said the magic words I needed... on my PROFILE I needed to go check to show my e-mail address. Not my settings... on the Profile! Well, it's finally fixed, and I'm sorry for all those comments you weren't able to reply to!

*thumps head on monitor*

Sometimes I can be so slow. :(


Well, here's step two of the new cat tree... I bought a 4 foot length of 12 inch diameter SonoTube. They use this for making concrete columns... and cat tree perches. Around $10 at the local home improvement store. I cut it in half, then one of them in half again, longways.

Here's Toby in the tube, and Libby looking a little disgruntled that she didn't beat him in there:


And of course, two minutes later, here's Libby in the tube, and Toby wondering how he got displaced. Doesn't she look a lot more pleased with herself in this second picture?


I am planning that the tube will be the highest perch on the cat tree, and the half pipe next to it will be one level lower, with the ladder in the previous post connecting one to the other, at a good climbing angle. The semicircular bit of plywood you see to the right of the half pipe will be at one end of it if I can figure out a way to make a washable cover that will fit over it. That old yellow towel (from the 70's, I'm ashamed to admit) will be the padding for the half tube, and I'll recover the green fleece pillow for the whole tube. Thinking about maybe dots of velcro for the covers, because if I put little ties, surely someone would untie them. :D

More later! And if any of you have any good suggestions, I'm always open. :P

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cat Tree and Pillow top

I took a bunch of half square triangles I had, and put together this little pillow top to go with a quilt I'm giving away for Christmas. The hsts were little bonus triangles - I used most of them to go around the border of the quilt, but had a BUNCH left over. The resulting pillow is way too contrasty, but I figure, hey, it matches the border perfectly. :) And I wanted to try the depression block, too.

I've also been starting on a new cat tree. The one I have now is over 20 years old and has been through a lot. The sisal rope has been clawed completely loose in places (which is really fine, I WANTED it to be used) but it's looking awfully shabby. The carpet on the top is coming off, the carpet on the middle perch is shredding strings. I bought some sonotube to make perches with this time, getting fancy! Also, when the local fabric store went out of business, I got some of the heavy duty tubes that upholstry fabric is rolled on. My nephew cut one in half for me, and drilled three holes in each tube for dowels. I'm covering it with more sisal, and this will be a cute little three-rung stepladder between levels.

Toby was wearing himself out, chasing the rope end wiggling around as I was wrapping the ladder, but I stopped and taped the free end down when I decided I needed some hot glue to put around the wrapped dowel. He came over to check the ladder out, then got tired of waiting for me to entertain him again.

I've even been thinking about doing some quilted, washable covers for the new sonotube perches. Here's a picture of a tree with sonotube perches, but my cat tree is going to look different, with half tubes and a whole tube cave for them to snuggle in. Have any of you ever combined quilting and cat-tree making? Any advice?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Catch 33

Need a break from quilting? Kinda silly, and sure enough a time waster of the best kind, but you've gotta go try it. How fast can YOU catch the numbers? You don't have to click them, just roll the mousie over them to make them pop.

Catch 33

My best time was 56. You?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Electric Depression?

Ok, had to try this as all one quilt, so I expanded it to only be the Electric Fan block, alternated with the Depression Block. Don't know what I'd name it but electric depression's not good! Any ideas?

The Depression Blocks are totally scrappy, and I started using only three fan blocks of each color, but it was looking a little disjointed. Then I put only blues on the edge, and I liked that better. Now that I think about it, limiting the edge fans to the darker colors would probably work as well, deep blue, green, purple, burgundy. It was probably only the brights I didn't like on the edge next to the border.

I don't mind if other people use this design (or any of the block combos I've been playing with for the last few days) at all, as long as you give me a dab of credit and send me a picture of your completed quilt. Oh, and no fair selling it either. :)

More Choices

Went to Blockbase today, and dug around for more blocks that would look good next to a 16 patch Depression block. I did find the one I used this morning, it was called "Colorado Star" when it was first published. Then I found two more:

Then I used EQ again to make a quilt that used all the blocks I liked so far... so I could compare them next to each other.

On the top third, the regular star, on the middle third, the electric fan block, and on the bottom third, the pieced star. The electric fan is not really a 16 patch block, but I DO like the curves that it makes around the depression block. Now my problem is, which do I choose?

Different 16 patch blocks

Ok, I was over at Rantala Rags, and SHE had another 16 patch block that I just had to go try as an alternate block with the depression blocks... :)

I think I like the star blocks alternating better, but this one is interesting. The pinwheel/windmills jump out too much for my preference, but I also see a stronger diagonal line, which is kind of neat. Does anyone know what this block is called?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Another new quilt idea

It seems like I just get almost finished with one quilt top, then get started on an idea for another. I went to Cynthia's blog and saw the little star she's working on... and then at Finn's blog, I saw her Depression block.

Now I've put them together into a design that will look good scrappy, I think. I love designs that look like you've set them on point without all the bother of actually having to cut setting triangles:

That depression block is going to be January's block of the month for my quilting guild, so I was planning on making a sample or two anyway. So I'm going to do THAT, and take pix, then get back to work on finishing the borders for this floral thing before I start making depression blocks and stars!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Need border ideas

Well, here's what I've been working on for the last week and a bit. It's somehow turned into a weird size - that's my kitchen doorway it's hanging in, so it's about 50 across by 62 down. I would have kept going, but I was limited by the FQ's I was using for some of the florals.

I have a lot more of the following fabrics, going from the top left down: Royal blue small print, loud floral after the yellow, the pale pink marbled, and the pale peach solid. Plus theres lots of strips left that didn't get used, especially from the fabrics in the top left corner and bottom right. :)

I HAVE to put a border of some kind on, all the edges of the quilt now are bias. I had been thinking about a skinny border then trying a braid effect border, using up the floral strips ... but now I'm wondering if that'd be too busy unless I put a wider border. Don't guess I'm trying to make it into any particular bed size either, just whatever looks good.

All suggestions and ideas welcome! How would you border this?

Bedbug, anyone? I finished this block last week. I had taken a class at retreat from Suzanne Marshall, on applique. I'll admit to not really liking applique, but I took the class because I don't really know much about it. It was a good class, and I learned a lot. If I need to needleturn applique something now, I have a better idea how to do it right, but I had no interest in finishing the other 3 bugs on this white fabric that were going to make a kaleidoscope-like pattern.

Rather than throw it away and waste several hours in tracing, applique, and embroidery, I cut the one bug I'd finished into a 6½ inch square. Then I added strips, log cabin style, to make it into a 12½ block I'll eventually add to a 20+ year old UFO, my green and brown king size sampler.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Dan gets a Quilt

Well, the scrappy twist quilt's gone to it's new owner - my big brother, Dan. Here he is holding it up for everyone else to see:

And a closeup of him:

And of course, I made him read the label for us. I had a few blocks left from that middle border that I used to frame the label:

I don't see him very often, but he generally drives up to Tennessee every year around Thanksgiving. It was great to see him again!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Turkey

Here's a picture of my holiday turkey... lol

Looks like he's saying, "I have your sewing table blocked so you can't sew, I'm sitting on your quilt so you can't bind it, and I have your remote... play kitty games with me or else!"

Twisty Thanksgiving Gift

Just got the binding finished on this Strip Twist quilt. You might recognize the Strip Twist pattern from Bonnie's Quitville site. It went together really quickly, and I've discovered I love rotary cut patterns. You can't really see it, but I bound it in a deep wine red that looks good with the olive green border. :)

My big brother is coming from Texas for Thanksgiving, and I'll give it to him this week for an early present. He reads my blog, but he's traveling tonight, so the surprise should be safe. I'll try to get a picture of him wrapped up in it this weekend.

Here's a closeup of the quilting... I sent it to Ann-Sewsalot and she did it on her neighbor's long arm machine for me. It's a nice all over stipple, which is great for a scrappy utility quilt I hope will be used and snuggled under. I'm almost done with the label then will be DONE done.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, everyone that celebrates it!

Friday, November 17, 2006

EQ6 is HERE!

Ohh, lookie what I got from my friendly UPS man today! EQ6 is here, and it was delivered on my birthday too. How fun to see my design on the back of the box, and read the tiny print with my name and city-state ... ok, I know it's not much, but it doesn't take much to make me happy!

Now all I need is a new computer so I can use the software... :( I was trying to hold off till Vista gets here before getting a new one, seems like I've been waiting forever.

You'll also see in that picture the strips for the newest quilt I'm working on - trying to use up a lot of the floral fabrics I've got. This one is all from my stash of FQ's. The scissors and cutter on top of the strips are meant for cat deterrent. They like to park their little rear ends on fabric, but NOT on a cold pair of scissors.

And a couple more pictures from retreat:

Suzanne Marshall is on the far right in the coral colored shirt, she was our guest lecturer for the weekend. I took an applique class from her. She's a good teacher, and I learned a lot about applique, but I also learned that I really don't like hand stitching. I kept thinking - If I'd fused these bits and machine stitched the edges down, I'd be DONE with this block already... lol I guess I just don't have the patience.

Remember seeing my pieced block I'd done with the challenge fabric a few posts back? We had a lot of blocks entered. I didn't win the viewer's choice ribbons, OR the drawing, but got to see some beautiful blocks! The retreat director divided the blocks that were entered into groups of 12, putting them into categories... this is the pieced blocks that look like stars category, I think. There was also an applique-only set, and two mixed sets. I wanted the picture of these for inspiration. Mine's the second from the left on the top row.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm Baaaack :)

I'm baaaack! What a retreat!

Here's the first few pictures to entertain you though. I had scrounged some election signs after the voting was over last Tuesday, and decided to make a quilty version of the Burma-shave signs:

The last sign said, "Is in the Dictionary!"

I thought I'd gotten a picture of it too, but I was taking the pix as I left the retreat center, in reverse order, just before I loaded the signs back into my van. I'd put them down the long winding private drive, spaced every couple of hundred yards, and as I got to the dictionary one, someone pulled up behind me, trying to get out. I didn't check the camera, just snapped a picture (or thought I did) then snatched the sign, pitched it behind me, and drove forward to a wider place in the road so she could pass me.

They were VERY easy to do... I just used permanent marker to draw the letters on white contact/shelf paper, trimmed to the size to cover the candidate's name. The hardest part was sticking the contact paper to the sign with no wrinkles, sticky contact paper just doesn't like me.

And HERE is my friend Ann-Sewsalot, the longtime online friend that I met 'for real' for the first time at this retreat, with her version of the Onion quilt in oranges. The fabric choices she's used blends REALLY well in this quilt. That's Ann on the left, and Jeanie, the instructor, on the right:

Ann's just as great as I was hoping she'd be, funny and vibrant in person - it felt like we had already been friends for years, and I guess we have! Her friend Mary, that does my longarm quilting, is wonderful too, very sweet. All three of us finished this quilt top during the weekend. Here's Mary's sherbet colored version of it, that's Mary on the right, and Jeanie on the left this time:

The two of them fit into my guild like they'd been members for years! I guess no quilter is ever a stranger - we'll always have something to talk about. Finally, here's my pink and brown version of the onion quilt. Sorry about the two chairs, but they DO hide the fact that I've got one last skinny dark border on the bottom not done! I'm on the right:

Now I'm off to bed to catch up on my sleep! I'm glad I'm off from work tomorrow, whew!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Fat Quarter Friendly

Calico Cat asked why 10½ blocks made the quilt more fat quarter friendly... I tried to answer just her, but it was a no-reply addy, then I thought maybe others would be interested in my math. So here goes!

Most fat quarters are 22x18 ish...right?

Sometimes you lose a bit if you prewash them like I do. I fold the FQ in half (making it doubled 11x18, following my math?)and by the time I trim the frayed edges off it's a doubled 10½x18.

I could only get ONE 12 inch square from a FQ, but can get two 10½ inch squares. That leaves me with a nice size hunk (18 take away 10½, and take away the other frayed edge = 7) so my hunk leftover is about 21x7.

21x7 is a good size for a leftover bit... cut that in half longways and you have 21x3½ strips which are a great size for scrappy borders or bricks.

OR Cut it in thirds and you have three 7 inch squares... Throw those together with some background fabric and make half square or quarter square triangle bits...OR cut those 7 inch squares in quarters and you have twelve 3½ squares. If you have several coordinating FQ's you'll have lots of matching squares or strips to use in your border.

See how that can make a fat quarter friendly and fun to play with and easy to use almost all of it?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Red Onion Class

I've signed up to take a class at retreat based on a quilt from the book 'Stack a New Deck' by Karla Alexander that I showed you all earlier. The class is using the Red Onion pattern, and I'm also looking at a very similar pattern called Saturn. I might mix the two almost identical quarter curve blocks in one quilt, because, as usual, I want something different. Instead of 12 inch blocks like her book called for, I'm being fat quarter friendly and using 10½ square blocks.

I've also seen lots of pink and brown quilts being blogged about lately, so that's what I picked as the color scheme for this one ... I'm hoping all the curved lines will make it look like a box of chocolate creams, the pinks like raspberry nougat, the deeper pink like a chocolate covered cherry, and the tan blobs like nuts or caramel. :) Here's the fabric palette I'm using. I've cut 48 blocks to use:

I've really got a thing about wasting fabric and trimming large amounts, so I made 4 test blocks to see how the smaller 10½ square blocks would trim up. I was able to trim these, with 3 cuts and 3 seams, to 9 inches square... her instructions say start with a 12 inch block and trim to 9 inches. Of course, some of my trims were skimpy, but I'd much rather cut off just a sliver than a chunk an inch or more wide. If I can't get them all 9 inches, I'll retrim these first sample ones another ½ inch or so. Some of my blocks will have only 2 cuts and two seams... and I might even make some with only one cut, so with less seams, I shouldn't have any trouble squaring those to 9 inches.

Hopefully, the next post you see from me will be the finished top for this quilt!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Retreat Preparation

One more work week until my guild's retreat! This retreat is extra special to me because I'm going to meet a long time internet friend in person for the first time. I met Ann-Sewsalot playing internet games, on Pogo. We've tried to think back, but can't remember if we first met in one of the Solitaire games or in Poppit (a strategy game where you pop matching sets of balloons till there's -hopefully- no balloons left) and we also can't remember exactly how long it's been. Our best guesstimate is 4 to 5 years ago.

Ann first talked me into getting EQ5, and was there for me when I was constantly asking questions about how-do-I-get-it-to ... ? She pushed me to enter the EQ monthly virtual design challenges and we had a lot of fun sending blocks and ideas back and forth. I found out her neighbor M. is a long-arm quilter, and that's where I send all my bed size quilts to be done. Last year, after our November retreat, Ann started talking about how fun it'd be if she came to the retreat, sometime... so this year Ann and M. joined my guild, long distance, then registered for the retreat a couple of months ago... now we're down to the wire - just a few days left to go!

M. is going to be driving down to Tennessee with Ann this Friday, (deer hunting season begins Friday also, their husbands will both be busy) and I'll get to meet them for the first time face to face! I'm so excited! As long as I've been online, I've never met anyone 'for real' that I first met virtually. I'm such a wimp. What if they hate me on sight? What if our personalities clash? What if I find out that Ann not only quilts beautifully but also ... spits tobacco, or some other weird habit we've just never talked about during our hours and years of chatting? :D

Anyway, all nervousness aside, here's what I worked on this weekend. Our guild does a challenge block as part of the retreat. They pass out an 8" square of fabric, and we're all challenged to make a block using at least a square inch of that fabric. Here's what I came up with:

The challenge fabric was the light khaki color that I used as a background. They let us buy additional squares of it for 25¢ if we needed to, and I did! I'd picked three different colors of blue to use, and ended up using this shade beacuse it more closely matches the little bit of blue in the challenge fabric. Now I wish I'd used the darker blue for more contrast, but... too late now! It still needs to be pressed one more time. The block is called 'Children Take Wing' and it's from Quilter's Cache. I redrew it in EQ because I wanted that center square to be one piece, not 4 triangles. My version goes together like a square-in-a-square, her version was a 4-patch.

Now I'm pre-cutting squares for the Friday night class we're taking. More on that later!

Friday, November 03, 2006


Found a really cool site that quilters and crafters might be interested in:

Ambigram Generator Site

You type in a word, and it will show you what that word would look like as an ambigram, a word that reads the same upside down. I typed in quilting, and here's the ambigram for quilting:

It also does two words... so that upside down one turns into the other. Can you read this set?

Might be fun for a table runner or something... where people would sit on either side... it'd be right side up to everyone. Or a fabric postcard - you wouldn't know which side was up! :)

And I'm wondering how Tonya would use this with her letters too - seems like you could get really creative with ambigrams.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Been trying to post these since I got home, but guess blogger was having a lot of graphic traffic. Better late than never!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Halloween Decorations

Full speed ahead for Halloween! We're all decorated at the library. I don't think I've shown this on my blog, but here's a little wall hanging I did last year. Don't be scared by the spidey hanging on the right side!

I saw the instructions for the stars in a magazine, one of those stack and slice techniques where you do two blocks at a time and switch the colors. The witch, pumpkin and ghost were all drawn in EQ5 and paper pieced, with applique bits added.

I've also been doing activities at the library with the neighborhood kids. This year I drew a large outline picture on paper with black crayon, and after school, they've been tearing small bits of construction paper and filling in the outlines. I've had all ages working on it, from the 4 year olds that come to my storytime (one bit at a time, with adults smearing the glue) to teenagers, doing the detail trim like the black outlines.

And here's three of the kids working on it Saturday afternoon. They'll love seeing pictures of themselves on my blog. Didn't they do a wonderful job? It's almost finished.

The bulletin board above the mural has the quote from Shakespeare's Macbeth; "Double, double, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble...." I figured I might as well make it slightly educational while I was at it. :)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Windy Leaves

Cloudy, gray, and windy today in Tennessee. I had this finished in time to take it to my guild meeting for show and tell, but it rained the last couple of days so I couldn't get a good picture of it outside.

Tried to put the finished leaf quilt up on the fence to take a picture, but the breeze wasn't cooperating!

I found these little spring loaded clamps at the store (like clothespins that open big enough to fit a fence board) but that didn't help me with the bottom. The first shows the backing. I used plaid both because it reminds me of Fall - did you ever have a plaid dress for the first day of school, or a plaid bookbag? And because I got a LOT of this 100% cotton shirting stuff when the local fabric giant went out of business. The quilt is just over a yard square, so I wanted something lightweight, it will be used as a wall hanging mostly.

This is the picture where the wind was blowing the least. The prairie points looked better before the quilt was washed. Now I think I need to iron them flat again. Should I try to put some spray starch on them?
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