Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Still have Dresdens on the brain

Have you seen the great stuff coming out of this Dare to Dresden blog hop?  My day was last Friday (be sure to visit that post if you missed it, as there is a giveaway!), but I've been so inspired that I completed another Dresden project today.  A friend and her son watched my kids a week and a half ago when I had to work on a Sunday and my husband was out of town.  I wanted to give her something as a thank you gift, but what?  A co-worker suggested that I make her something.  I have no idea what she would like, but I had these leftover dresden wedges and a pillow form, so...
pillow is 12" x 18"

How do people get good photos of their hand stitches???

 Envelope style back with my little label
I like it, so I hope she will, too.  Machine pieced, but hand appliqued and hand quilted.  My only real criticism of it is that I should have lined the center circle as some of the dots and stripes show through from the ends of the wedges underneath, but whatever.  This pillow plus a thank you card with two coupons for free homemade ice cream at the shop in town should suffice, don't you think?

Work is kicking my butt.  Seriously.  I was on the verge of tears all day long.  A karate class and some time hand quilting and I feel almost human again.  Now for some restorative sleep before tomorrow, which I already know will be another hectic day.  I just hope to have time to do some hopping, as I haven't visited any of this week's blogs; have you?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dare to Dresden & Giveaway

I had to join this blog hop - DRESDENS!  I've loved them since the first time I laid eyes on them!  Thank you to our cheerleaders, Mdm Samm and Christine, for organizing this.  I am honored to share my day with all these talented folks:

OK, back to me and my love affair with Dresden Plates.  It started about 8 years ago when my guild had a workshop to make stack and whack Dresden Plates from a single fabric.  I loved the variety of plates we could get from just one fun print, and I made a quilt for my younger sister for her college graduation.  I love that when I visit her now, I get to sleep under it.  I quilted the words "MY SISTER, MY FRIEND" in the yellow border around the center plate, so that's what the quilt is called.
This photo is from back before I added the binding. I really need to get better photos of my quilts!  Hand quilted. 
Next, I got excited about plaids and stripes and homespuns, so I made a Plaid Dresden for my twin sister's vacation home in the New Hampshire woods.  Unfortunately, that was two years ago and it is still just a top, not a quilt, but it is on the short list for quilts to finish.

forgive the wrinkles...

For this blog hop, I wanted to make several projects.  First, a Dresden Plate Color Wheel clock for my office.  I fear that I am a bit color challenged - it took me FOREVER to pick out the 12 fabrics for the color wheel.  I finally just said ENOUGH and stuck with whatever was on my ironing board at the time. Not perfect, but they would do.  I got it stitched down and wouldn't you know, I BROKE the clock that I was going to use!  ARGH!  But then I found a clock kit in my sewing room (there are benefits to being a hoarder who buys things on sale just in case I'll need them some day), and managed to make a clock anyway.  Again, it isn't quite what I had in mind, but it'll do.
There are corner tabs on the back to hang it...
...but for now, I just have it sitting on my mantle in my office. 
Then I found a stack of 5" charm squares of polka dots and stripes that I had pulled out to make something for myself.  Aha!  A Dresden Plate pillow!  I cut out all the pieces and realized there was still quite a bit of each of those charm squares left after those first cuts.  I decided to cut baby Dresden pieces from the leftover scraps.  They were so cute, I forgot all about the pillow and sewed them together and made a bib, backed with a green knit from a favorite t-shirt that I ruined with a bleach spot the very first time I washed it.  It seems every third woman in my life is pregnant so I'll have plenty of options when it comes to giving this away.

Speaking of giving away...I've been trying to straighten things up in my sewing room, and I've come to the conclusion that it just isn't going to look neat until there is less stuff down there.  Wanna help me out and take some of it off my hands?  I have two things to give away:

1) Victoria Findlay Wolfe's new book, 15 Minutes of Play: Improvisational Quilts - I bought a copy for myself, and then my mom bought me a copy for Christmas.  I was tempted to keep both copies - it's that good! - but no, I'll share.

2) Assorted scraps - I have so many beloved scraps that they are overflowing every scrap bin and bag that I have.  I've stuffed these into this cute Chinese take-out container.
What's inside?
An eclectic mix of scraps of various sizes - fun, fun, fun!
It's easy to enter to win - leave a comment letting me know which giveaway you'd like to be entered to win, either BOOK or SCRAPS or BOTH.  I'll get some computer generated help to choose random winners on February 1.  I'll ship anywhere in the world.  Until then, enjoy the hop!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Coming soon! (and Sandy Quilts update)

View from my porch yesterday evening as we had our first real snow of the year. 
I've been so remiss about blogging lately - not posting regularly, but more importantly, not reading my favorite blogs to see how my fellow quilters are and what they are up to!  Sunday, I hope to change that.  I'll be at the airport for quite a few hours for work, meeting flights and getting some visiting students on shuttles to campus, so in my down time, I plan to enjoy the free wi-fi and see what you all have been doing.

In the meantime, I've done a little working on Sandy quilts, a little pleasure reading (The Giving Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini), and a little preparing for an upcoming blog hop.

Yup, that's right, I signed up for a blog hop!  I discovered them in September during the Dots on Dots Blog hop - I am crazy about dots and have been trying to add more to my stash. Then, in October, Leafs Me Happy caught my eye, followed by the fun Wicked Blog Hop.  I skipped the Coin Purses and Pillows hops, but In Your Words just consumed a good half hour of each of my days for the last week and a half.  Next up is Dare to Dresden, and Quilter Kathy recommended that I join in since I was working on a Dresden project anyway. Besides, that's another opportunity to have a giveaway, and as I've been trying to keep my sewing room a bit neater these days, I've discovered I have way too much stuff!  That settled it, I'm in!
Be sure to come back next Friday, January 25 to see my Dresdens, past and present, and to enter for a chance to win a giveaway that will include not just fabric, but also a book by a favorite quilter.

Three more of our Disappearing 4-patch quilts have been received by Blankie Depot this week. Hillary, the President of Blankie Depot wrote on Thursday:

Hi Erin,
Box #2 arrived this morning.  The smaller quilt will head to the labor & delivery dept of Riverview Med Center and the large blanket is heading to Atlantic City.

Thanks so much, where do you find the time??!!


Of course, I wrote back to let her know that I have LOTS of help.  Thanks, everyone!  By the way, the first quilt she received was assembled, quilted and then bound by three separate members of my quilt guild - I love you guys!  And the little quilt she mentioned that is going to the labor and delivery department, that's the one you made and quilted, Becki - you rock!  

My newest hero, Margi, assembled and quilted the bedsized quilt that is headed to Atlantic City.  She's working on number 2 right now.
Great job, Margie!  Thanks!
Anita in MI, a steady supporter in this project, completed her 3rd beautiful quilt for us last weekend after a nasty bout with the cold - glad you are feeling better, Anita.  It is backed with cozy flannel donated by Becki in PA - great idea!
Great job, Anita!  Thanks!
The Star Quilt Guild in Roanoke just wrote to let me know they finished assembling the 3 sets of blocks I sent them, and that they are on the way to the quilter's.  Julia K in my guild just dropped off the top that she assembled.

Becki in PA and I have both been sending assembled tops to Kelly in TX who has been quilting for us.
One of our quilts on Kelly's longarm - I think we've sent her SIX! 
And just yesterday, Gail C in my guild volunteered to quilt a couple for us.  After already quilting another one for us that Carolyn H in my guild assembled.  So, yes, Hillary, I have LOTS OF WONDERFUL HELP!  Thank you, everyone!

Sunday, January 13, 2013


I've been out of town, sequestered in a windowless conference room for 11 hours a day, 2 days in a row, with 10 of my colleagues interviewing candidates for an open position at my university.  It was an exhausting, yet intellectually stimulating exercise, and I left with even greater respect and affection for my colleagues.  And I left energized and excited by the finalists we selected to bring to campus.  But I was also ITCHING to sew!

I brought a quilt to work on, but never made a stitch.  Instead, it just adorned my hotel room bed and kept me cozy warm the two nights I had to spend away from home.  I also brought my GFG hexies out of retirement.  I did end up taking a few stitches during breaks on day two, and managed to get one flower done and attached to another.
I made the one on the left yesterday, and attached it to the one on the right that was probably made 4 or 5 years ago. 
But when I got home, I realized the way I put them together won't work with what I have together already.  Note to self - add just one flower at a time to the whole.
Looks washed out in the sun, but lots of scrappy color in this quilt top. 
I got home very late last night, and enjoyed sleeping in this morning as my kids were spending the weekend at a friend's house in my absence.  But my Cub Scout meeting was this afternoon, and I had to prepare.  I spent my entire morning and early afternoon measuring, cutting and drilling to prepare for our woodworking project.  I didn't have time to make a prototype - I just had to hope that I had thought of everything and that it would come together.
Spoon basketball.  I adapted a plan I found online to make these. 
And it did!  The boys were thrilled with their projects, and spent a bit of time trying them out.

Now, the kids are in bed, I have a cup of tea and my new copy of Jennifer Chiaverini's The Giving Quilt, and I'm going to enjoy a bit of down time.  The weekend was busy and full of interactions with other people, but everything about it was a resounding success!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Has anyone seen my motivation?

It's one of those days - I'm up, I'm at work, but I fear I am pretty useless right now.  I have no energy, no motivation, no enthusiasm.  Perhaps I'm overtired?  Or overwhelmed, thinking of the upcoming two weekends that I have to work?  Or maybe I'm just in partial hibernation mode, waiting out my least favorite season?

Whatever the problem, I thought maybe a blog post would help me focus and get me moving in a positive direction.

It's been an exhilarating week for me.  People have called and emailed and stopped me in public places - "Hey, didn't I just see you on the front of the newspaper?"  I never imagined that happening to me!

And the sweet things people have since done!  One woman brought me a dozen eggs fresh from her farm - wanted to do something for me since I was doing so much for others.  Another man called me at work and told me he had a bunch of fabric he's collected from auctions over the years, and wanted to donate it to the cause.  He made his first delivery last Friday:

The Star Quilters Guild in Roanoke asked to help - I sent them 3 sets of blocks to assemble and quilt.

I've gotten two inquiries about commission quilts - one that I'll definitely do, the other, I'm not so sure.

Above all, it's been a feel-good week.

I haven't had a ton of time to sew, though.  I've gotten most of another Sandy quilt top assembled while making a quick little hand project to take to basketball games.  I made this color wheel Dresden thinking I'd make it into a clock, but I accidentally broke the clock trying to take it apart - oops!
This was a hard exercise for me.  I used just scraps, and had a hard time deciding which fabrics worked and went where. I finally just sewed together what I had, but it still doesn't quite match the color wheel I looked up online.
Maybe I'll get another clock, but maybe it will end up being a pillow or a wall hanging.  Who knows?  I just know that January means sitting on the bleachers through 3 basketball games every Saturday, so I need something small and portable to keep my hands busy.

Mostly, I've been doing prep work:

Prepping for an up-cycling workshop I'm going to do with my guild in February - we are going to make "green" shopping bags from pillowcases and drawstring backpacks from t-shirts -
I love using these bags - they are fully lined, super sturdy and machine washable. 
I can't go shopping with these without someone asking where I got my bags. 
The cashiers are always so amazed at how much these can carry! 
This is my absolute favorite - that yellow check is so cheery it almost makes me want to go shopping! 
Very lightweight, and the perfect size for a day hike 
Again, fully lined for durability - although both Jason and I have used ours so much over the last two years that they are starting to come undone! 
Prepping for our last week of the Ready to Quilt program - the kids are mostly finished with their composition book covers now, and are ragging the edges of the denim quilt.

And prepping for our next Cub Scout meeting this weekend - we'll be doing a woodworking project, but I am doing all of the cutting and drilling in advance.

I'll leave you with images from fun times with my friend, Michelle, on New Year's Day.  We went over for lunch, and ended up having a bit of a jam session.  One of these days, I might actually even learn how to play a song on one of the FOUR guitars we have at our house!
For some reason, Donald hates having his photo taken these days, but he was on keyboard. 
Jason is in the background getting some guitar instruction, while Michelle's little cutie was rocking out on his new 4-year-old sized guitar.
And Michelle and I fumbled our way through some John Denver (strum strum - wait while I reposition my fingers! - strum strum - giggle!)
Oh, and how funny, but someone who found my blog through the newspaper article, Lisa U, won my giveaway.  She chose the yellow paisley flowers and the bird print, and should have already received her winnings by now.  Hmmm, what can I give away next?  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

We made the FRONT PAGE!!!!

Without all of you, there is no story.  THANK YOU for all you have done and continue to do to bring warmth and comfort to those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

OK, so I guess you can't really read the article from the photos. But you can read it at There are even thank you notes from people who received our quilts - I hadn't seen those yet!

And, right on cue, more blocks came on Saturday from a mother/daughter team in PA - 59 blocks (42 already put together into a top!) and yardage for backings.
yards and yards of backing fabric - I particularly love the clocks! 
a completed top - thanks Shirl and Jana!
plus 17 more blocks - their sewing machines must have gotten quite a workout! 
What a blessed way to start the new year!  I hope this is an omen of good things to come this year. (not a case of "it can only go downhill from here")  :p

Happy 2013, everyone!