Monday, December 24, 2012

Ready for Christmas

Christmas sewing is done.  One little zippered pouch for Kim, and Mors Bags for the worker bees at Plymouth Place.  They are all neatly packed away in one of my totes and ready for delivery today and tomorrow. 
 Ok, so maybe this is my last entry of the year...

Friday, December 21, 2012

An Odd End to theYear...

 My mom fell Nov 29.  After elbow replacement she was transferred from LaGrange Hospital to Plymouth Place on Dec 13.  Her progress is slow, especially since she's still in a cast and learning to use her left hand for the first time in over 80 years.  So I'm obviously not spending much time in my studio.  Instead, I've been practicing my hand work. These 12 x 12 blocks aren't fabulous, but at least a needle is feeling more comfortable.  I still have the lower right one to finish.  What will I do with these four?  Not sure...yet.
I have started a new project and don't want to say too much about it at this point.  This is one-half of a quilt, design copied from Jacquie G at Tallgrass Prairie Studio - I need to tell her...  It  felt very good to be cutting and measuring and ironing. 

 The staff at Plymouth Place are gentle and kind.  I know I will be there Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day as well.  Going empty-handed isn't an option.  So I'm working on a pile of Mors bags (Qff Wayne, what would I have ever done if you hadn't taught me about Mors bags?) as a tiny thank-you to those who take daily care of my mom.  So far I've made three, have 6 kitted and ready to sew, and have 5 more sets of handles.  Fourteen will have to be enough.
And of course there are quiltlets from the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative coming in.  I'd like to complain about them, but here's the thing.  There are three of us who do the quilt scanning.  Diane was diagnosed with breast cancer and is in the middle of chemo.  Eileen's father died last week.  And me - well, my mom being in the rehab center gives me a bit of time.  So I'm the one with the least to complain about! 

Bloggers like to set goals at the beginning of the year and then post about whether they've been met.  Quilters are madly finishing presents.  Some are trying to get all their UFO's completed.  Me?  I'm trying to do what I can with the timing of the holiday and my family.  I didn't make the goals I set for myself last January.  I think this will be my final blog post of 2012.  I haven't made much in the way of presents - the Mors bags are taking priority.   My sister-in-law Kim has requested a little zippered pouch - I would very much like to do that in the next few days.  But this is all okay.  I'm at peace and doing what I can daily - for my mom, for my husband, and for me.  And here's to 2013!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Studio as a Guestroom

My mom has been hospitalized for 10 days - tomorrow she is having elbow replacement surgery.  And I think she'll be there another almost week before going to a rehab center.  This has been rough, especially since she has no memory at all of anything.  All of us have slept at the hospital, but as brother Al pointed out, there is no coffee maker in the room and people keep coming in all night to do vitals.  So yesterday my studio became a guest room for Paula. 

I've never thought about napping in the studio.  Suddenly it's appealing.

And what a great surface to lay fabrics out on!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

An odd birthday for my sister

Paula is 60 today.  Every year I blog about her present ahead of time and ruin her surprise.  This year I didn't blog, cleverly wrapped her present, putting one bag inside of another inside of another, kind of like those nesting dolls, and mailed it off to St. Joe, MI.  And then my mom fell.  She's in the hospital awaiting surgery - a new elbow - and letting her cracked pelvis heal and be less sore.  So Paula came here.  And her present is in St. Joe.  And seriously, are these nice or what?  A duffle/tote, a Mors bag, a Roundabout purse, and wide-mouthed ditty, and a drawstring bag, all in wonderful Asian fabrics.  The outside of her tote bag on one of the special fabrics I bought in Scotland this past fall. 

Gotta get to the hospital and let Paula go back to St. Joe for a bit!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mors Bags for Anne!

A fellow volunteer I met at Chicago's Rally to Restore Sanity in October 2010 saw the blog post about my Chicago Modern Quilt Guild's food drive for the Greater Chicago Food Depository and the 225 cloth grocery bags we made. Anne G remarked that she could use a new cloth grocery bag. Anne, these are for you! Happy-Shopping-With-No-Plastic-Bags!

Friday, November 23, 2012


Jen's Bag
 Some guildsters came over to play bags, and working together - with a completed project at the end of the day - is a great way to roll.  We all made the WOW bag, a neat tote that expands and become a duffel bag.  This clever pattern is one I bought from the Jinny Beyer website and made in her fabrics - see it here.  Here's the one I made for CMQG's secretary Emily, who just turned 25. 

Natalie's Bag

Sarah's Bag from Fat Quarters

Inside of Sarah's Duffel, with gusseted pockets

Outside of Sarah's Duffel

Melissa's Bag with its fancy pockets
 Guild member Erika volunteered to help the CMQG organize and unify its approach to social media.  Although we have yet to put her 7-page plan into action, we are appreciative and will implement many of her suggestions soon.  As a thank you, I asked her to give me a yard of a fabric she cherishes.  And here's the result.  I can't wait to give it to her.  But not until December 9!

Erika's Duffel

Erika's Tote with a little matching tiny tote
 If you want to know more about the WOW bag and the pattern, contact The Dusty Attic at  The creator of this pattern is Mary Beth Scarborough. 

A Very Mo Thanksgiving

Ben, Jack, Grandpa John, Natalie. Nikki, Brandon, Sam, Ryan in back

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Evolution of Pattern Following

Look at these cute little bags from the Runaround Bag pattern by Lazy Girl Designs. They have a lined interior, a back pocket, a zip closure, and are 7" x 9". As the pattern says, "A great little purse to runaround with."  I saw one made by guildster Sara Hochhauser in a terrific fly fishing fabric.  At a fabric swap during the fall retreat of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild I got this fabulous black and red Oriental fabric from guildster Debbie Bookman and decided to use it for the trial run for this pattern.  Except for the strap being a bit too short, I do like this.

The black pocket on the back needs something - some quilting? something. Using a great fabric with green trees and a coarsely woven fabric (on loan from Eileen), I created two more, trying to figure out where the feature fabric should go and what should be plain, and missed the mark on both. The bags are nice. But not great. The straight-line quilting on the green bags helps a lot to make the bag interesting. Of course it does. I'm a quilter. I like texture. Of course I know this. But somehow I forget something this basic when making a new pattern.
So - using my handy-dandy,never-ending supply of scraps - I began doing some improvisational foundation piecing to create the bag front. And then another improvisation piece for the pocket. And I love the result. This bag is the keeper! When I returned the rest of Eileen's fabrics to her, I gave her her choice of bags - she chose the one with the quilting. Still need to create some nify zipper pulls for these. Guess Eileen will have to do her own.

This pattern is fat-quarter friendly and just needs 2. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Repurposing T-Shirts

  Not just yet...


Monday, November 5, 2012

An Equal-Opportunity Direction Follower

This past weekend I followed the directions of fellow Chicago Modern Quilt Guildster Erika and made a scarf of t-shirts. Today's project was a drawstring bag with directions provided by CMQGster Sarah S. This nifty bag is about 8" wide by 10" tall and has a boxed bottom. I love the generous spirit of quilters!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sewing Weekend

 I had some specific goals for this past weekend.  Some of them I met - some still need work.  Friday I visited the Fiber Arts Show at the Chicago Botanic Gardens with two of my favorite people, Wayne and Eileen.

Properly inspired, I began to wade my way through a list.  With Erika M's hot directions in hand and after raiding my t-shirts, I made a t-shirt scarf.  This is long - 110" and colorful.  Can't wait for it to get cold. 
The snake of many colors is a sample pack from Jinny Beyer - 150 bits that  are 2.25" x 3.75".  I've made some wall hangings but am thinking jacket with this set.
I meant to free-motion some table covers for my living room - binding is even ready.   And I have some fabric from Eileen and am ready to try making Sarah S's drawstring bags.  Maybe I'll get to these this week...

Crap.  Just realized the jazz shirt logo on the t-shirt scarf is upside down.  So it goes...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Priming Creativity at the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild

This group is pretty creative to begin with.  But we can all use a little help.  Tricia did Nesting Boxes, Holly did Coffee Sleeves, Jen and Eileen did Mug Rugs, Erika did T-Shirt Scarves, Sarah S did Drawstring Bags, and I did a Sewing Kit and a Magic Business Card Case.

Pull on the little yellow ribbon and a business card magically floats up.

Open the Sewing Kit, and you have
  • a pair of little scissors
  • spool of thread
  • pockets for needles and thimble
  • a big pocket for whatever project you're carrying
  • a pin cushion

Here's the outside of this kit made from leftover bits.  So many leftover bits still to use.  Let me know if you want directions for either of these.  The Sewing Kit is from Rashida Coleman-Hale's book Zakka Style.  The Magic Business Card Case was a free project from Quilting Arts. The sad part of the afternoon was that we presenters didn't get to see what the others were doing.  Lovely Sarah H gave me one of her drawstring bags out of a fabric used in my Modern Round Robin from the summer of 2011.  Very thoughtful!  Think I'll check out what t-shirts I have laying around...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quilting for a Novice

Jen, a Kennedy art teacher and one of the most talented teachers I know (she runs, she instructs yoga, she's nationally certified) has started quilting.  Look what she did with these lovely fabrics.  This simple pieced baby quilt just sings because of the fabrics and design.  She entrusted this quilt to me for quilting.  We are both pleased with how it turned out.  I sent her home with a binding demo and a book with clearly-written binding directions - Quilts Made Modern by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr.  Can't wait to see the finished product!  And I can't wait to teach Jen some of my tricks! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Time for a Shower

My friend Cecilia's daughter Kim is getting married, and her wedding shower is tomorrow. After looking at Kim's on-line registries, I was getting a sort of retro vibe with her color and style selections. And look what coordinating fabrics just happened to be in my stash, all ready to be quilted!  Between the spoon made by my cousin Jerry and the nifty new 9 x 13 pan and the insulated lining, this present is one I'm proud to give.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Squirrel vs Birthday Man

 John loves birds.  And he feeds them constantly.  Those little sparrows are really little pigs.  But John's bigger program is that the local squirrels love the bird seed.  He has moved the feeder and bought "squirrel proof" feeders.  But to no avail.

Today from the kitchen window John saw one of the squirrels hanging upside down and just munching his ass off.
 John grabbed his favorite big stick (not the same one Teddy R had).  Of course as John neared the feeder the squirrel jumped to the ground. 

But this little squirrel doesn't scare that easily.  Once on the ground he kind of glared at John.  So John chased him out of the yard. 

And here's John victorious.  Quite the present considering today is his 73rd birthday!

(Shortly after I left the house and the squirrel was back on the bird feeder.  But don't tell John)

Thursday, October 4, 2012


My fabulous Chicago Modern Quilt Guild did an art swap that turned out to be a great hit and a tremendous amount of fun.  These 25 quilts are now going to be part of a quilt exposition, thanks to fellow guildster Sara Hochhauser.  In getting these quilts ready to ship and travel, I just happen to have some of them in my studio. Aren't they beautiful?  More to come on these quilts and the exposition!

Monday, October 1, 2012

I Travel

I travel to see how others live. I travel to see different geography.  I travel to see beautiful things.  And during these travels I find inspiration - and sometimes fabrics - for things I want to quilt. I have several folders on my computer for quilt inspiration. There was once a poster we bought years ago of the doorways of Dublin. And in Norway we found a lovely similar poster. Doesn't it have a beautiful quilty look? I like the idea of a quilt of various openings. My niece Jen took a fabulous photo through a battlement in the Great Wall outside of Beijing. Think it might be time to resurrect that photo, if I can only figure out which of the inspirational folders I've put it in.

Doorways of Alesund, Norway

Cliffs of Vestmanna, Faroe Islands

We spent one glorious day on the Shetland Islands and the following day at the Faroe Islands.  After a beautiful bus trip across we took a small boat to see the cliffs of Vestmanna, which is crazy with birds and scenic wonders.  We actually sailed through this opening.  Those on the outside of the boat had to wear helmuts as protection from the constant "drippings." 

Our time in and around Reykjavik was the most interesting because of the volcanic landscape and the gentle colors.In the volcanic soil are openings - crevices, streams, plants.  It looks forebeoding but beautiful.

Bright shiny fabric from Greenock, Scotland

As most of our fellow travelers went to Glasgow or to the Scottish countryside for an excursion, John and I stayed in the port town of Greenock and explored.  I made the above purchase in a lovely fabric store where the clerk admitted she didn't quilt and so of course I told her quilting was rocket science.  It's difficult sometimes to buy quilting fabrics in other countries because the US is the mecca of all things quilting.  However, Makower is the UK arm of Andover.  I found this bright shiny stuff,  which apparently I'm attracted to and had to buy!

I'm happy to be home and think about where I've been and what I want to create.  It was a lovely trip, and I'm a lucky girl. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to...

the North Seas we go! Brandon's quilt is on its way to T and F Quilting Studios, and I've got a shower present to start if there is any spare time today. We leave tonight for Copenhagen and will get on an NCL ship that goes up the coast of Norway, across to the Faroe and Shetland Islands, over to Reykjavik and then back to Denmark via Dublin. I may be leaving out a port of call. We are thrilled and happy. No sewing, no quilting, just lots of sight-seeing, reading, and perhaps a meal or two. Our stateroom is on the same level at the Fitness Center, so really - no excuses, right? Piece peace and maintain a sewing tension! 

(I can't stand to do a pictureless post, so here are two projects from my fellow CMQG's retreat work.  The top is Debbie P's - love the color and the design.  The bottom is Beth's batik quilt in process.  I hope they both know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery...)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

CMQG Fall Retreat

The Chicago Modern Quilt Guild's Fall Retreat at the Siena Center in Racine, WI was just perfect - a lovely and small group and ideal weather.  Our work room overlooking Lake Michigan saw so much production.  The first half of the retreat I worked on Morsbags for the September charity Sew-In my guild is hosting - I won't be there and wanted to get my bags done.  Organizers Erika and Holly announced a competition to see who makes the most bags.  I don't even know what the prize is, but that old competitive nature just kicks in...
The other project I worked on is a quilt for 8th grade grandson Brandon, who has moved from a twin to a full bed. He originally asked if I could enlarge the quilt he made a couple of years ago. When I suggested a new quilt, he asked if he would have to make it. When I assured him I would indeed make it, he of course agreed. These colors are bright and manly - I think he'll be happy to use this through his high school years! Want to know more about the retreat? Hop on over to the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild blog - pictures should be up in a day or two!