Sunday, December 30, 2012

Giveaway - Ring in the new year with new "old" fabric!

I hate to clean.  Perhaps you recall me sharing that once or twice here on the old blog.  But I've got to tidy up my sewing room or the photographer from the newspaper will just be taking photos of my mess and sending it on to some reality TV show about hoarders.  (Aren't ALL quilters hoarders?  Isn't that what our stash is?)

Anyway, I've been taking it slow down there, straightening up, sewing a few seams, folding fabric then pressing seams - you know, the old "mixing business with pleasure."

One pleasurable thing has been putting away my "new" fabric that I just washed.  You see, a few days before Christmas, I visited a friend whose mom had died and who had tubs of fabric she was trying to get rid of.  She warned me in advance that the fabric was old and that her mom had a lot of polyester.  She did, but that isn't all she had.  I came away with 13 different pieces of yardage, 2 pieces of corduroy (I've been wanting to make something with corduroy), and 11 pieces of either cotton or a cotton/poly blend.  And while I can't precisely date the fabric, I'll say it is probably all from either the 80s or the early 90s, based on some of the receipts that were included in the bins.

I can't wait to use some of this new-to-me old fabric (I'm not calling it vintage since I don't have actual dates), and just because I love giving things away, I'm going to give 2 half yards of some of my favorite new-to-me old fabric to one of you.  Just leave a message and let me know which two of the following 4 fabrics you would like to add to your stash.  I'll choose a winner, with the help of, of course, on Wednesday morning at 6 AM - you know, something to look forward to on my first day back to work.  Here are your choices - comment away!

Pretty multicolored flowers tossed on white - I've already got a quilt design using this fabric percolating in my little ole brain! 
Paisley flowers on yellow - for some reason the background color isn't true in the photo, it is more yellow than it appears here.   I love paisley, so I was tickled to see that the flowers were arranged in a paisley form.
The colors in this bird print scream 70s to me - which is fine because I love the orange/yellow/brown/green combos of the 70s.  The background looks almost tea dyed in person.
Winnie The Pooh and Piglet, too!  I literally squealed  when I saw this adorable little print! 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Act quickly - support a quilting DREAM!

I'm a dreamer.  I can make long drives much shorter by spending my time fantasizing - about the house I'm going to design and build, about the business I'm going to start, about the novel I'm going to write, about the quilt I'm going to make. And sometimes, I even actually act on those dreams.

I stumbled across another dreamer today while finally getting back to reading blogs.  I've never met or even heard of this dreamer, Kerry Wilkinson, but she is actually acting upon her dream to bring a modern quilting magazine, Fabricate, to the UK.

Now, I don't live in the UK, but I think we dreamers need to stick together and support each other, just as we quilters stick together and support each other.  I hope you will take a peek at her dream and and scrounge up a dollar or more to support her.

Here's the catch, though - you've got to act quickly.  As of this writing, she only has 65 hours left to fund her dream, one dollar at a time, from people like you and me.  It is quick and easy (I LOVE PAYPAL), and as a fixed funding campaign, if she doesn't reach her funding goal, all our donations are refunded to us.  But I don't want my money back; let's show her the power of the internet and the overwhelming support of quilters and help her reach her goal!

Here's the link to help her out:

Oh, and if you blog about her project, even if you can't afford to donate to her project, you are entered into a drawing for $25 gift voucher for Pink Chalk Fabrics.  Even if I weren't excited about this opportunity to help out a fellow quilter, this possibility would get me blogging right away!  Let's DO THIS!

Friday, December 28, 2012


There is so much to revel in this season!

Family - my twin sister and her husband and two kids came to spend Christmas with us.  My brother and his partner and her two kids also came over on Christmas day and spent the night.  There were presents and food, of course, but also lots of games, some exercise (ugh!  My sister drags me running with her every time we are together.  I HATE to run!  The only good part is the sense of accomplishment afterwards), and lots of laughter.  Plus, my gorgeous little niece wanted to do some sewing.  I was more than happy to oblige.  She made two denim bookmarks, one for her and one for her dad, plus two little 4-patch sachets filled with sweet pea scented rice.
She can barely see over my ironing board!
But she was meticulous about sewing, going a nice even slow speed and sewing a remarkably straight seam. 
Sewing - I was sad to say goodbye to family, but after they left, I realized I could get back down to my sewing room.  My kids were exhausted, and were happy to entertain themselves for a while while I worked on a Hurricane Sandy quilt today, plus made my December Let's Bee Together blocks
Quick and easy sewing - little 4.5" foundation pieced string blocks 
and 5 Block Lotto blocks for January.
Tall Shoo-fly blocks measuring 6" x 9" finished, with white, spring or lime green, true red and black - I like the look of these, and they were super easy to make
When I went to post them today, I realized it is still December - maybe I should make some more of December's blocks while I still have the time.

I also mailed out my ugly, lame-o house block for Beth's Neighborhood House Party over at Love, Laugh, Quilt.

I kept meaning to embellish it, but never found the time.  Sheesh!  I even forgot a window and a door!  Oh well. It probably won't get there in time anyway.

Generosity - people continue to give to the Hurricane Sandy quilt relief project.  An anonymous box of orphan/sampler blocks came
12 B&W sampler blocks
12 fall colored/themed sampler blocks
and a whole passel of HST blocks
plus a quilt that is already sandwiched and ready for quilting.
Some of the shamrocks are already appliqued on, others are just pinned in place. See that round roll of matching binding?  This will be an easy one to finish.  Thanks, Marcia!
Our project is getting some recognition, too.  There was an article in the Republican-Herald newspaper out of Pottsville, PA on the Monday before Christmas and a reporter from the Roanoke Times out of Roanoke, VA called me yesterday and is sending a photographer to my house on Monday to get photos of the blocks and quilts.

Can you guess what I'll be doing this weekend?  Yup!  Cleaning up the sewing room!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day one of winter vacation

When I left work yesterday, starting a 12 day vacation, I was nearly giddy with excitement.  What to do first?  My twin sister and her family are arriving tomorrow, so the house needed cleaning, but that could wait until today.  Instead, I sewed!  And while I did work on Hurricane Sandy quilts a bit, for the most part, I sewed for ME!

First of all, I've been wanting a patchwork stocking for years now.  I just never took the time to make one.  Yesterday, was the day.  Voila!  And it is the biggest stocking in the house, too!  I hope Santa fills it up for me!
Only the front is quilted.  The back and the lining are that solid green, which I upcycled from an old sheet. 
I also  bought some flannel pig fabric about 6 weeks ago with a co-worker in mind (she LOVES everything PIG!).  I had meant to make her something ages ago, but never seemed to find the time.  I decided to make a pillow, but gosh, the pillow forms are so expensive.  My solution - I bought a jumbo 20"x28" bed pillow at WalMart ($4 or $5), cut it in half, and sewed the two halves closed to make two 14" x 20" pillows.

Then, I made an envelope style pillow, but with big 1" seams on the outside, and then snipped the seams like a rag quilt.  When it came out of the washer and dryer, it had ragged up nicely and the pillow is SO SOFT!

I just may have to make the other half into a pillow for ME!

Today, I helped the kids clean their rooms (ugh!), cleaned out the refrigerator (double ugh!), and did some laundry and some floors.  I also took the kids to see a local ballet company's production of The Nutcracker.  I've never seen it before, and enjoyed it immensely.  My boys were tolerant and well-behaved, but not impressed.  For being such good sports, I took them out to eat afterwards with a friend and her 3 boys, who had met us at the ballet.  Then, it was grocery shopping in preparation for having a full house of 8 people for the next few days.

As I sit here in the dining room, blogging by the light of the Christmas tree, I can't help but think of how blessed I am.  It is cold outside, but I am cozy here in my house.  I bought groceries without having to wonder if I had enough money to pay for it.  My children are healthy and happy and here with me.  I wish that everyone could be as secure and as content as I am right now.  It makes me want to get back down to the sewing room and work on some projects for others.  I'll definitely be making at least one pillowcase to send up to Sandy Hook.  And I have many more Hurricane Sandy quilts to work on.  The mail counter guy at the post office (where I am always shipping either quilts and/or fabric or books) shared with me yesterday how he was filling Toys for Tots orders and a kid had asked for a blanket, and he just started to cry because he didn't have one to give, and felt helpless for not being able to fulfill such a basic need for someone.  It just about broke my heart.

Many more disappearing 4-patch blocks have come in over the past week.

Plus two quilt tops:
a crib sized quilt
And this wonderfully scrappy HST quilt
But look!  There are about 5 of these blocks interspersed with all the HSTs! What fun to find them in there!
A woman from my guild donated lots of backing yardage:

Also, I was contacted by a reporter from the Republican-Herald newspaper in Pottsville, PA, I am believe our project is going to be featured in an article in Monday's issue.  I'll keep you posted on here, hopefully with a link, if it goes to print.  Thanks, Becki W, for making that connection.

Another Hurricane Sandy quilt was mailed out from here this week, and I have another one to mail tomorrow.  I also have 5 completed tops in my house waiting for quilting, and, of course, many blocks waiting for assembly.  The Blankie Depot will stop accepting Hurricane Sandy donations on February 15, so now there's a deadline.  Gotta get cracking!

Not sure how much blogging I'll be doing with company in town.  Happy Holidays to all of you, whatever it is you may celebrate at this time of year!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lesson of the day: Stick with what you know

First of all, we have a winner in my Blog Hop Party Giveaway - Lisa C! - She has been emailed, and hopefully she'll get back to me soon with her mailing address.  Thanks, everyone, for playing along!  I see I am not the only one with hordes of UFOs lurking in every corner of my sewing room!

I've decided not to continue with the after-school program, Ready To Quilt, next marking period.  It is unfortunate that its beginning coincided with my Hurricane Sandy project, but the result is that I have had virtually NO TIME to quilt for myself in the past 6 weeks.  No many Christmas projects coming out of my sewing room this year!  I hadn't really considered how much prep time would go into this.  Shame on me - having been a teacher before, I should know better.  But I guess I always taught older kids and adults, people to whom I could just give instructions and let them go.  Perhaps during the final marking period of the year I will do it again, or maybe next year - it is a 3-year grant, and I have a standing invitation to return whenever I want.

I say this because while Saturday was busy with me gone ALL DAY, I was home all day on Sunday.  Time to quilt, right?  WRONG!  I needed to come up with an activity for the kids to work on by hand while I worked with them one-on-one on the machine.  That's what I did last week, and it worked wonderfully!  I had them play Quilt Bingo while we sewed the blocks together for our fair quilt.  I drew a 5x5 grid of 1.5" squares on a paper, copied one for everyone, gave them all a glue stick, and then dumped my tin of 1.5" scrap squares on the floor for them to choose from.

(and I nearly cried - with 30 kids that's about 750 1.5" squares that I can no longer use in my scrappy creations - oh, grow up, Erin, and share nicely!)

I created cards with categories - colors, stripes, stars, hearts, dots, animals, solids, 5 colors or more, something man-made, etc. - and let the kids take turns calling out the games.  The winners took home an embroidery hoop and a needle - we're about done with those, and I don't need 20+ embroidery hoops.

While that happened, we sewed together the quilt top (well, they sewed the blocks into rows, and then I sewed the rows together at home).
A and D are up there, my co-worker just has short arms. (hee hee!) Z will be in the bottom row, along with the name of the school and the name of the workshop in smaller letters that they colored and embroidered.
For today's meeting, I figured we could make something that the kids could give as a gift this holiday season.  Maybe a necklace, like this one I found at The Cottage Home.

I like it, but I struggled getting my beads into my little fabric tube, so I know the kids would, too.  Moving on...

Maybe this beaded necklace from MommaGoRound?

I couldn't find beads as big as hers, so with my little beads, it was pretty fiddly.  I could do it, but I don't know about the little ones.  Back to the drawing board...

A ric rac bracelet like this one from Elizabeth Abernathy?

This was easy and fun, but all I have is yellow and black, and don't want to have to go ric rac shopping today. Hers in red and blue, though, is super cute!

I have felt, so maybe some felt barrettes, like these from The Purl Bee? (by the way, there are also some rose barrettes there that took my breath away!  I definitely plan to try to make some of those for my niece!)

Not bad, the kids could do this for sure.  But what if they don't have a woman or girl in their life with HAIR to gift it to?  What if the females in their family look like me?
This is me (with my super short hair) working with one of my favorite students on our denim rag quilt 
Donald said he could make some for his cousin, which got me to thinking, I need to give them an option that would be useful to everyone.  Everyone I know has a NOSE, so how about tissue holders - they are always a hit on my ETSY shop and at craft shows.  I just need an easier version, maybe with the felt that I bought for the barrettes.  Using these holders from Martha Stewart as an inspiration (had to change the size, though, to 5.5"x7"), I came up with this.

But, darn it - I don't have enough felt for everyone!  What I DO HAVE, however, is lots of denim scraps from our denim rag quilt project, so I whipped one up in denim, too.

OK, by far my favorite project of the day!  I love denim!!

Whew!  That's a lot of prep for a one hour class!  See why I will be taking a break from it next marking period?  All that searching for the perfect project, and I should have just started with a project that I know and have made dozens of times!  But it isn't just about the results, it is about the process - and the process was fun!  If you are inspired to do some sewing with a little one in your life, I hope you find all the links useful!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Sandy Quilts - Updates!

(if you are looking for my giveaway, go here - open until 6 AM EST on Monday, December 17)

Lots of updates to share about the Hurricane Sandy quilts project.  Look closely, and maybe you'll be able to see your quilt blocks in one of these photos.  First of all, more quilts have been finished and delivered:
Thanks, Char, for quilting and binding and shipping  it.  Thanks to everyone for the blocks and the backing! 
Thanks, Anita, for quilting and binding and shipping it.  Thanks for everyone for the blocks and the backing! This one is backed with a flannel sheet someone donated, so it will be nice and soft and cozy!  And do you see in the top of the photo, there's a scrappy quilt on that chair and a quilted tree skirt, I think.  Gosh, I wish the photo panned out more so I could see those better - I love looking at other people's quilts!  Oh, and Anita, saint that she is, is currently quilting yet another of these quilts for us!
Thanks, Marilyn, for quilting and binding and shipping it!  Thanks everyone for the blocks and backing! 
There's another completed and ready to be delivered quilt here with me that just got its binding from one of my guild members (thanks, Karin!) and needs shipping off - I'm waiting for the other one here that is getting bound by another guild member (thanks, Judy!) so they can go together, hopefully early next week.  Photos will come later for those two.

Then, there are a bunch of completed tops!  I'm still working on assembling my fifth top, but here are 3 more that are currently living with me until I can find a volunteer quilter or get to them myself:

Thanks, Pam, Kerry and Elizabeth (all from my quilt guild!) for assembling them, and thanks to everyone for the blocks! (excuse the mess in my sewing room!)
Plus, Becki assembled one top, and is in the process of assembling another:
Thanks, Becki!  I swiped this photo from your FB page.  Am I forgiven? 
In addition to that, there are blocks being assembled by 7 of my local friends and guild members.  Thanks Alma, Nancy, Elizabeth, Michelle, Julia, Caroline and Sue!

The mail for the past week has brought in more than 100 more blocks!
Thanks, JoAnn, Nancy, Eileen, Kay, Sharon, Teddy, Beth, Carolynn, Annette, K Roy, Lori, C Berge, Diane and Carol!
We are now at just under 1300 Disappearing 4-patch Blocks received - enough for over 30 quilts! (that doesn't include other types of blocks sent or quilt tops or completed quilts sent - just amazing!)

And they ARE being delivered to those in need!  Check out this link on Victoria's blog to see a photo of the first of our Disappearing 4-patch quilts and it's recipient!!!!

Plus, we've gotten these messages of thanks from Blankie Depot in NJ and the Acacia Network in NY:

11/16/12 from Blankie Depot:

Dear Erin & friends in service to others,

This afternoon, we received your beautiful donations, thank you so much

Every cozy and cheerful quilt will be heading to a specific volunteer outpost in Long Beach Island, Howell, Long Branch, Keansburg and Red Bank, NJ.  The families affected by Hurricane Sandy had been without electric and gas service until just this week.  Many "islanders" have lost their homes and it is our mission to provide warmth and compassion during a time of unthinkable loss.  Some families are going to be without permanent housing for some time.

Thank YOU for sharing your time and creative talents with NJ residents affected by the storm.  It has been such a pleasure to take your calls, respond to your generous emails and experience how beautifully the crafting for charity community comes together to help others. 

Hugs from this Jersey girl!

12/7/12 from Blankie Depot:
Dear Erin,

Thank you for sending additional quilts to us.  We are coordinating a delivery to families in Wall Township on Saturday and your beautiful contributions will be a part of that special day.

We greatly appreciate the time and considerable talents you are sharing with families impacted by the storm.  The show of solidarity across the country is a strong message of hope and healing.

Hugs from your friends @ Blankie Depot.

12/8/12 from Blankie Depot:
Box two arrived this morning, Erin!  Just beautiful.  Along with quilts created by fellow volunteers we will be distributing donations to families impacted by the storm in Hoboken, NJ on Monday.  Your compassionate donation brings a good deal of comfort to those displaced by the super storm.

Thank you so much!

12/3/12 from Acacia Network:
Thank you so much for the beautiful quilt and/or warm clothes you donated to the Bumble Beans and Acacia Network Quilt Drive. Rest assured that your donation will be received by someone who truly needs it. Thanks again for your kindness. A thank you note will follow if you provided an address with your donation.

Together, we are making a difference!  Thank you to all of you for helping make my little goal of making a quilt or two for Hurricane Sandy victims into a huge, happy, scrappy dream come true!

(and my apologies if I have left you off my thank yous or Heroes list - I'm not the most organized person in the world, so keeping all of this straight is straining my little brain!)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's a party!

Quilter's Blog Hop Party, that is!  To celebrate the Quilting Gallery's 5th birthday, bloggers around the world are having giveaways.  Click the graphic below to see the list of other participating bloggers, but not until you keep reading to see what is happening in my little corner of the world!

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways
Note that the party doesn't officially start until Monday morning, so if you are visiting on Sunday night, she may not have the list of links up yet.  If not, check back on Monday to join the fun!
For any new readers out there, here's a quick introduction.  My name is Erin, and I have been quilting for about 10 years now.  I adore working with scraps, and I cut my scraps into predefined sizes, using a system very much like Bonnie Hunter's Scrap User's System.  I rarely follow a pattern, either while piecing or while quilting.  I am a hand quilter, so it takes me forever to finish projects, but I do my best to always have something with me as I rush through my busy life to work on while waiting in doctor's offices or sitting on bleachers watching my kids play sports or even just during my lunch break.  In addition to being a quilter, I am a mom to 2 boys and wife to the most handsome man on earth, have a full-time job in college admissions, take and teach karate, am a cub scout den leader, and teach an after-school quilting class to kids grades K-5.

Recently I've undertaken an effort to provide some warmth and comfort in the form of quilts to those were affected by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey, and I've been so blessed by quilters all around the world, sending enough blocks and completed quilts to donate more than 3 dozen quilts so far.  You can see an up to date list of all the ANGELS who have helped with my project over there on the right under the heading MY HEROES.  Understandably, I joined this Blog Hop so I could give a little something back and to say THANK YOU!

Since I've been working on the Hurricane Sandy Project, there have been quite a few projects that have been moved to the back burner for a while.  The longer they sit there, the more I want to get back to them.  One that has really been calling to me, and that also very much illustrates my quilting style, is my color quilt.  Using 1.5" precut squares of scraps, I have been spelling out color words with scraps of that color.  I have no idea yet how I'm going to put them together, but that is par for the course with me.  Here's what I have so far:


Do you have projects that you look forward to getting back to eventually?  If so, leave a comment letting me know what that project is.  Or are you one of those amazing people who has no UFOs, who always finishes what you start?  If so, leave a comment and let me know your secret!  Either way, I'll enter you into my drawing.  I'm a visual person so links to photos of projects are encouraged, but certainly not required. Just one comment per person, please.  I'll leave the giveaway open until 6 AM EST, Monday, December 17. That's when I get up for work.  It'll help me get out of bed on a cold, dark Monday morning if I have something fun to look forward to other than my job (which I love, but which I love a little less at 6 AM on Monday mornings).

The winner will receive a package of over 150 assorted 2.5" scrap squares,

plus, three approximately half-yard cuts of a fabric that a co-worker brought back from abroad for me (I believe from India) that I love, but can't for the life of me figure out what to do with.

She brought back a yard of each, so half goes to you, and half stays with me.  I'm hoping to be inspired by what someone else does with it.

I will ship anywhere in the world.  Please know that you cannot win if I have no way to get in touch with you, so please, either be a blogger with an email address in his/her profile, or leave your email address in your comment.

I hope you will come back to visit again!  Enjoy the party!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The flip side

I've got two quilts being picked up by members of my quilt guild for binding today.  That's two more that can be delivered any day now.  Woo hoo!  And while the fronts of the quilts all pretty much look the same, the backs don't.  Look at this wonderful pieced backing from Maureen in OR:

I'd have to switch between having the disappearing 4-patch on top and the pieced backing on top if it were MY quilt!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kid stuff

Some people wonder how and why I do all the "extra" stuff I do.  After all, I've got a full time job, a family, a hobby that keeps me busy.  But I gotta tell you, that "extra" stuff is what keeps me sane when the job is a drag and the kids are driving me bonkers and my dirty house makes me feel like an unfit mother and wife.  I can go into the karate studio just as low as can be, but after taking my black belt class and then teaching my intermediate class, I am flying high - every time!  And then Cub Scouts and the Ready To Quilt workshop at the elementary school - those are just more opportunities for me to be creative and hang out with kids!

The kids are almost finished with their colored and embroidered blocks for the Fair entry quilt we are making.
My Kindergarten through 2nd graders have turned out to be the most industrious. 
I guess I didn't realize until looking at these photos that they tend to self segregate by gender. But aren't they cute? 
Of course, I didn't have a real plan for the quilt design when we started, but yesterday I started whipping up some alternate blocks for them to sew their blocks to.  Here's a preview of how that quilt will look:
This will go across the top or bottom
They aren't sewn together yet - the kids will do that.  They outlined the letters with a backstitch and colored inside. 
Some ladies in my guild donated fabric for the Ready to Quilt kids, so I picked four the four largest pieces to combine in these quarter square triangle blocks.
And then, last Friday, the Cub Scouts and I were in the Christmas parade (whoever heard of a Christmas parade in NOVEMBER!?!).  We partnered with the drive-in movies again, and marched along behind a truck that was playing Frosty the Snowman on a big screen while we munched popcorn.  We made our "cars" again this year, but I gave myself a break and instead of making them out of cardboard (I swear I nearly got carpal tunnel from cutting so many boxes up last year!), I bought poster board and made them into "sandwich board" cars with some muslin strips across the shoulders.  The boys got really creative with their cars:
Yup, that's a deer peeking out the back window of the FORD truck 
My son even thought to put a seat belt on his driver!
Can you see that his lights are made out of tinfoil?  Who thinks to bring tinfoil to a parade? Clever kid! 
Can you see the little Christmas lights he drew around his windshield? Get my vote for most festive! 
Yesterday and today, the weather has been in the low 70s.  I'll admit to being affected by the weather.  This balmy weather has me skipping around and singing like a kid!  Just think, I'm on my porch in short sleeves and barefoot writing this right now, watching the sun go DECEMBER!  For this child of the Maine woods, that is nearly unheard of!  The hubby and I like to joke about taking off for Panama when things get rough at home and work - well, guess where I got quilt blocks from yesterday?

Thanks, Marina from Panama! (Hubby wants to know why they quilt in Panama if it is warm all the time.  Don't worry guys, in time, I will educate him to our ways.)

And today, I got 71 more quilt blocks in the mail from Lola in VA and the Rainbow Plantation Quilters in AL.  Thanks, guys!

Luckily, I made room in my sewing room today - I mailed out 8 quilts to Blankie Depot in NJ.  That's 14 delivered so far by me, and I believe 3 or 4 more have been delivered directly from the people who have been kind enough to quilt quilts for us.  And there are many more to come.  

Do you know that I've received over 1165 disappearing 4-patch blocks so far?

That doesn't include the ones made by me or those in my quilt guild or those that were made and delivered to me in quilt form or all the orphan blocks and unfinished blocks and tops you guys have sent.  Together, we are making a difference in the lives of those who are still suffering the effects of Hurricane Sandy.  Everyone reach over your shoulder and give yourself a nice pat on the back!

And for my final bit of kid stuff - look at one of my little fellas drew for me in Ready To Quilt yesterday - just melted my heart! (and he obviously knows I love scrappy, improvisational quilts!)