Monday, November 29, 2010

Amish miniatures

It’s been a busy holiday week--cooking, eating, cleaning up, visiting with family, and eating again! We had a thankfully short-lived crisis when my daughter Genevieve had to go into the hospital with a bowel obstruction the Saturday before Thanksgiving. But it resolved itself and she got to come home to enjoy the turkey dinner and all the trimmings. My little granddaughter loved the new bedroom/playroom that my husband and I set up for her, complete with my “Tiny Bubbles” quilt on the wall and a vintage quilt on the bed.

I made it back into the sewing studio for a day to whip up some Amish miniatures—perfect for taking on the airplane with me. Another road trip! This time to Colorado and then Laramie, Wyoming, where my youngest daughter will defend her master’s thesis in creative writing. (And I’ll help her write a resume so she can find a job!)

This pattern appeared in Miniature Quilts magazine in January 2000, and I’ve been making it ever since to give away as gifts. It is only 8 inches square, finished—an ideal size for hand quilting when I travel. Cutting directions:

Row 1: (Center square) Cut one 1 7/8” square

Row 2: (Triangles) Cut two 1 7/8” squares, then cut them in half diagonally for 4 triangles

Row 3: Cut four 1 1/8” x 2 ½” strips AND cut four 1 1/8” squares

Row 4: Cut two 1 3/8” x 3 ¾” strips AND cut two 1 3/8” x 5 ½” strips

Row 5: Cut two 1 ¾” x 5 ½” strips AND cut two 1 ¾” x 8” strips

When I give away these little quilts, I always put a nice label on the back that says something like “A Little Amish Sunshine—a miniature quilt made for you by….” In other words, I put too much work into this for it to be mistaken for a potholder! Anyway, I think most people who have received one of these little quilts from me have liked it enough to hang on a wall somewhere and enjoy the colors. I certainly like to make them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What was I thinking?

525 pieces later, I can only ask myself—What was I thinking?!! I’ve been working off and on for two weeks—TWO WEEKS—putting together the center of a Christmas quilt for my granddaughter, Danica. And there have been so many interruptions—the roofers finally came to fix a skylight, I had to clean out and reorganize my closet before I tripped one more time over suitcases and summer sandals, the car had to be serviced, there was the church bazaar, and on and on, or so it seems. But really, the thing about this quilt that has taken so long is just the sheer number of pieces. No strip piecing here; each piece was individually cut, placed and sewn. The center of the quilt:

I guess I DO know how this started…. Last month when I was at the Main Street Quilt Co. in Shelbyville, Illinois, I fell for “X-Rated,” a little Schnibbles pattern by Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co. This pattern was specifically developed to use charm squares. The pieces are cut 2 inches by 5 inches, and 2 inches by 2 inches, making a 4 ½-inch finished square. These X’s looked more like kisses to me, so I had the idea of adding some O’s and making a Christmas kisses and hugs quilt.

I also bought two Moda charm packs—one called “12 days of Christmas” and one called “Bliss.” The colors are what I would call “new” for Christmas—apple green, light red, and turquoise blue. To avoid the matchy-matchy look, I added more traditional Christmas fabrics in darker reds, greens, and even a dark turquoise, and a white-on-white dot for the background. I almost reconsidered using this crazy mix of reds and greens of different shades (with pink, even), but I did it anyway. It really is true that the more fabrics you use, the less important any one of them seems.

It wasn’t very much fun to sew all these tiny pieces, to tell the truth, but I do love the finished product. I stopped at 9 rows of 9 X’s. I was going a little crazy and I could see this quilt was going to end up like an accordion—seams expanding and contracting—if I continued! This center measures 39 ½ inches, or 40 if I really smooth it out, so now I am faced with squaring it up and adding the border. The first row will stabilize and square it up, then I can add more X’s and the appliqué O’s that I have planned. I do love to machine appliqué.

And I just opened up the cover of the pattern and saw this written in pencil inside:

I hope tat u havv fun maceng mi kwelt Felse
(I hope that you have fun making my quilt, Feltsey)

Oh yeah—that’s what I was thinking. That’s why I sewed these 525 pieces! Danica is coming to my house on Sunday, and I sure would like to have the top ready to show her by then. I’ll be sewing like crazy for the next few days, before I have to start all the turkey business ….

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Liversary!

Today is the one-year anniversary of my daughter Genevieve's liver transplant. Read her blog at It has been a long year of recovery. Our family is thankful beyond words to the donor who made that gift of life possible. Sign your organ donor card, folks. It saves lives, and my daughter is one of them. We are so thankful to have Genevieve in the world.

The last few days I have been cooking for my middle daughter, Anne, who is home for a little TLC from Mom--and to use my washing machine because hers broke! I'm sending her home with a small quilted project--a Christmas wall hanging. This one is traced from a pattern with a Sharpie on muslin and colored in with crayons. I added borders and a little hand and machine quilting.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A quick post

Just a quick post to let you know I’m still here! I had a very nice road trip to Illinois, but now I’m in Tennessee helping my daughter Genevieve get off morphine. She is almost one year post-liver transplant, so this is a big milestone for all of us. (The anniversary is Nov. 11.) She has gone from being curled up in a ball, shaking, to trick-or-treating a block or two with Danica on Sunday. It’s up and down, day-to-day, but the road is headed upwards, not down.

Jackie asked me to post a picture of the scarf I made with 20 inches of different fabric at one end. Here it is:

I have been sewing a little for Danica, who asked me to make her a Christmas quilt and is "helping" me. These little pieces are only 2 inches square, so it has taken a while. I am determined to finish this one quickly. Good thing I'm not aiming for bed-size, though!

And finally, Danica the pteranodon who wants a Christmas quilt: