Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Purse Contest Winner - 2011 CQI

Woo-Hoo!  This morning they just announced the winners of the 2011 Crazy Quilting International Purse Contest.... and I won!!  (insert Happy Dance here).   There were only five (yep, five) entries submitted, although more than triple that had registered to participate.   And every purse was absolutely unique and lovely.

Purse Front

Front, closer in
Front right detail

Web (with Spider!) on lower left front
Back side

I don’t know why it never occurred to me before to use fillet lace as a beading foundation.  It was easy-peasy and turned out much better than I anticipated.  It’s a technique I will definitely use again.

Beading detail
Lined interior with pocket

Congratulations to Lauri Burgesser, Colleen Anderson, Stacie Bebber and Marilyn Nepper who entered the contest and won varying prizes.  Every entry was lovely, and when they are posted on the CQI blog, I will link to it for you to see them.

In the meantime, I have been madly adding golden-dyed laces to my Etsy Shoppe, so be sure to check them out.  I have days of work ahead of me to photograph and add more, but watch in June for a big explosion of my golden-dyed laces, vintage laces and trims, and vintage linens and goodies.

Cathy maroon

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

I am a little late posting wishes for you to enjoy a nice Memorial Day. The router of our fiber optics provider was having troubles on and off and crashed earlier today.  But we’re back up now and I’d like to share a few vintage images with you.  Did you get a chance to relax and enjoy your family today?

I have more pictures of CQ work to share tomorrow.  

Cathy maroon

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Needle Books & Basic Tutorial

Last week I finished up the needle books that a woman ordered from me as a custom commission.  She saw me stitching (when Bruce had his first outpatient arm surgery earlier this month), saw my needle book and asked me to make three needle books for herself and her two daughters. So, I figured I would just make a fourth once so I could list it in my Etsy.

Well, she came by last week and bought all four! I guess that’s good news, LOL. Here is how these simple needle books finished up.

Finished Needlebooks

She had seen me using a simple needle book with mixed fabrics and a cotton interior.  Therefore,  the ones I made her all had cotton interiors as well.   

The needle pages, however, are wool felt for better moisture wicking properties.

I used to put closures (frogs or ribbon ties) on my needle books, but found that they are unnecessary and are more trouble than they’re worth. Not to mention more work. And if you are making these to sell, it makes them more cost efficient.

Making a simple needle book is easy and quick.  First, decide the size you would like the book to be, then double it (to allow for a front and back). You also need to decide if you want your finished needle book to be a basic square when folded, or have a portrait or landscape orientation. I have made needle books whose finished size when closed ranges from a square of 3.5” x 3.5” (cut at least 7”x 3.5" plus seam allowances when open) to a portrait-oriented  5” x 7” when closed (cut at least 10” x 7” plus seam allowances when open).  

On a piece of muslin, mark your size and add 1/2 inch all around for seam allowance.  Piece the rectangle and embellish as you desire.  

Cut a piece of coordinating fabric (cotton, moire, or other fairly sturdy fabric) for the interior lining. Also cut to the same size some thin batting. This may be something as thin as another piece of plain cotton, or you could use some felt, thin batting or some interfacing. A lot of loft is not desirable. For my needle books, I used another piece of felt.

Sandwich the embellished outside to the inside lining fabric, right sides together. Place the batting/felt/whatever over one of the wrong sides. Sew all three layers together, leaving an opening for turning. Clip the corners and snip batting down to the seam. Carefully! Turn and stitch opening closed (I use invisible thread). Press.

Insides before pages added

Cut “pages” out of thin wool, wool felt, or even regular felt if that’s what you have.  Use a fabric that won’t ravel when you cut it with pinking shears. Pages should be smaller than the book itself so that they don’t show when the needle book is closed. One piece of felt, when folded, will make two pages, two will make four, etc. The number of pages is your choice.

Open the book, lie the trimmed felt pages flat, and sew down the center. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end to lock your seam.

That’s it - you’re done! This is a great way to use that odd block you may have laying around, or perhaps some piece you have been practicing on. And they make great little gifties for any type of needle worker.

Having said all this about needle books, I am still hoping to one day make myself a full-fledged hussif or chatelaine or CQ’ed needle kit, complete with scissors holder, pin cushion, and storage.  But that is on the back burner for now....

Cathy maroon

Friday, May 27, 2011

Of Tea Time, Robins, Hankies and the Big C

Since I haven’t posted for a week, it would make sense to break up all my news into individual-topic posts.  But the lazy me says it’s easier to lump it all together and just take care of business.  Besides, I’ll likely forget enough to warrant another post in the next day or two anyway, LOL.

This past week I finished the Tea Time block for Cathy L in our Tea Time DYB (Do Your Block) round robin for CQI.  All of Cathy’s blocks are very wild and colorful, with lots of prints.  Quite honestly, I am intimidated by the busy-ness, but did fall in love with the individual fabrics. She had one black, white and red block left, and it was the one that truly called out to me.  So reminiscent of the 1950’s!!

Cathy had already added the quote from Queen Victoria across the block. I added small rick rack on top of it and a simple black chain stitch below. In the upper right I added a crocheted doily topped with a vintage button with cherries on it, which echoed the cherries on the print of the white piece next to it.

In the upper left, I appliqued on a pink and red flower with green leaves from some old linens.  The flowers and colors echoed the print of the fabric beneath it, with the leaves serving as a seam treatment.  I feel that it also quiets that corner a bit...  The top yo-yo is from vintage fabrics, and the other two are there not only to make a trio (and yo-yos are so “fifties”), but to repeat the red and black in the vast white space of that patch.

This little hat was actually an earring. I removed the hardware and replaced the blue plastic flowers with some little red vintage millinery flowers.  A bit of red-dyed lace beneath the hat visually separates it from the mostly-white background of the patch.  I also added a red hat band and streamers of red gimp.

The red teapot and cup ribbon was perfect on the seam, but to outline it, I used more black thread and echoed the xxxxx’s in the white fabric print.

I know that you would not normally use a personalized MUG with a cloisonne teapot, but as I often say... this is my world and I make the choices, for better or worse, LOL!  I have had this little pot forever and have been saving it for a special block.  Same with the Cathy mug.  I had two, so it seemed fitting to give one to Cathy L and share the Cathy thing (aaaaack!).   :-)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The first picture of the robin’s nest (see here) I shared on Mother’s Day showed 4 eggs.  That was 20 days ago.  Today I decided to brave Mama Robin and see what was happening.  So, I climbed up on a chair in the patio, stuck my camera through (and mama flew away temporarily, rightfully indignant at the intrusion) and snapped this picture.


I’ve truly tried to stay away, and in doing so, must have missed the hatching of the first clutch of eggs and the subsequent fledgling babies.  Robins usually nest for 11-13 days, and the first picture (May 8) must’ve been taken somewhere near the end of the nesting, just prior to the babies hatching.  Because they remain in the nest for about two weeks before flying out, never to return.  And then the mama robin begins laying another clutch, one egg per day.

So.... perhaps the other eggs hatched and fledged (hopefully) or taken by a predator.  At any rate, we have a new clutch in the works.  I plan to go out again on Memorial Day (Monday, in three days) and take another picture to see how many eggs there will be this time.  And maybe if we have nicer weather, I will be outside in the back more to watch from afar.   But in the meantime, the leaves of the grape vines are filling in rapidly, and the nest will be more protected and better hidden.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

My husband Bruce had his right forearm operated on a couple weeks ago to remove a painful lump.  It’s been there for years (albeit not painful), but none of his doctors ever thought much of it.  About six months ago it became painful, and he saw a couple specialists who blew it off as either carpal tunnel or repetitive stress syndrome or a fatty tumor.  Finally, a well-recommended doctor told Bruce he thought it was a hemangioma (an abnormal build-up of blood cells in the tissue) and should be removed. So it was.

The biopsy, however, came back showing that is a P.H.A.T.   and mildly malignant.  He will be rescheduled for another surgery to resect the remaining affected tissue (which is the fatty tissue beneath the skin but not involving the muscle). They will do a skin graft from his leg to his arm. Prognosis is excellent. This is a relatively new and rare type of tumor, and studies are just evolving. There has been no known case, however, of metastasis from a PHAT,  but they will check check the lymph nodes as a routine.

So Bruce’s short-term medical leave continues, but his spirits are up and his first incision is healing nicely.  We are both looking forward to a nice, quiet Memorial Day weekend and some quality yard time (weather permitting; rain is forecast).  Or, we may start on building that ark.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When Blogger was acting up a couple weeks ago, dear Marsha Greenberg, author of Hankie Couture, tried to leave a comment on the blog but couldn’t.  So, she wrote me a note, and I would like to pass it on to you lovely readers:

Thank you one and all for all your lovely comments about my book, Hankie Couture, the dolls, AND EVERYTHING!!!  I am flattered beyond belief! Thank you everyone for your kindness. 

Words from the heart enter the heart, and everyone who took the time to write on this blog has entered my heart! 

Love to all,
Marsha of Hankie Couture!  

For those of you who may have purchased the book, both Marsha and I would ask if you would be so kind to visit Amazon here and leave a review of the book.   Or browse the book if you haven’t already done so!

HEADS UP:  Marsha and I are teaming up to put together a great contest for you, dear readers!  We are tossing around a few ideas, but Marsha would like to offer a dress and doll, or perhaps a book..... something wonderful either way, LOL!  So watch for that coming in June...

Until next time,
Cathy maroon

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Current Projects, Robin Update

In last week’s post (where has the last week gone?!?) I told you about a nurse I met at the surgical center who ordered three needlebooks from me.  I have another ten days to finish them, but got started a couple nights ago by piecing all three, plus one additional to give her a color choice.  She requested the pink/green and the red, white and blue ones, but whichever other one she doesn’t pick will go in my Etsy shop.  In the meantime, I have started working them by adding laces and trims, and now I am doing seam work.  I expect to finish all the embellishment in the next couple days and will post a picture of them after assembly.

I have also pieced a simple Mourning Heart for Hideko.  I need to applique it to the black block and then do some simple seam stitching, as she requested.  I also hope to have this one done later this week.  As you know, black does not photograph well, but all pieces are much darker in person.

I started my Hearts and Hands for Sendai block in the plane on the way home from Connecticut last month and have not picked it up since.  Once I finish the above projects this week, I have several round robin blocks to work on.  I hope to pick this up after Memorial Day and have it done by mid-June. Those gold feather stitch branches will be covered with cherry blossoms in silk ribbon.


I also finished up my purse entry for the annual Crazy Quilting International purse contest.  It came together very easily, which was surprising, because color-wise it is way out of my comfort zone.  I actually used an old UFO (now I have done completed 2 UFO’s this year!), so that is my biggest thrill.

On Saturday evening we had some really strong winds blow through the valley. The type of winds that knock down large branches and cause general havoc. I was so worried about the robins, but when I ran out on Sunday morning to see if the nest had survived, this is what I saw:

Not only did the nest make it through the storm, but Mama Robin is still diligently nesting. Can you see her sitting in there? Her eye and yellow beak are below the horizontal brown branch, near the center of the picture. Her tail is just right of the upright tan branch (the left “goal post”, LOL). All is well. 

The weather here continues to be rainy and blustery, punctuated with a half day of sunshine here and there. With Bruce’s arm out of commission for a couple weeks, I got to mow the lawns for the first time (ever!) It was easy with the new electric mower, but don’t tell Bruce. Tomorrow if the weather is nice, I want to go out to find some annuals to plant in my front porch pots. I have been collecting the Mexican Talavera pots for years; every time we drive to visit the whole Fam Damily south of Tucson, we bring home one or two. They look lovely on our steps, even empty. But they are crying for flowers....

Cathy maroon

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Another Tea Time Block Finished

Today, I accompanied The Hubster (Bruce) to the surgical center, where he had a hemangioma (an abnormal buildup of blood vessels) removed from his forearm.  It went smoothly, as expected, and our total time from walking out the door at home to walking back in the door when it was over - was just under four hours.  Bruce is doing fine and is perched in his recliner, playing with his new iPad (the one that I wanted for my birthday in March but he got for his birthday in May).

Anyway, I had about 90 minutes of time to stitch at the surgical center, and had the pleasure of working on Kerry’s six-inch block in our Tea Time round robin.

The beaded rose was a motif I got in the Motif Swap at the CQ Adventure.  I believe it was made by Nark (yes, she has a real name, but she has always gone by Nark!)   Anyway, just a simple block.

While stitching, one of the nurses came up to me and was fascinated.  She asked a lot of questions, we chatted, and to my surprise (NOT!) she is a crafty person who crochets, tats, sews, quilts, owns a kiln and fires porcelain doll heads (then dresses them).  She wants to learn crazy quilting and I want to learn to tat, so I think a friendship has been born!  AND she ordered three needlecases from me!  Woo-hoo!  I love a person who appreciates and supports needlework!

So, I am back off to my studio, where I will whip up these needlebooks in my SPARE TIME.  Let’s see... I have a couple hours of spare time between 2 and 4 in the morning in about two weeks.....  HA!

Cathy maroon

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Exciting Mother’s Day Discovery!

Yesterday (Saturday) was a beautiful, warm day here in the valley, and I was finally able to begin my spring clean-up.  As I was sweeping up the patio and trimming the dead wood from the grape arbor, I looked up and noticed a bird nest!  Can you see it?

This is our 9th summer in this home, and the first time we have ever seen a nest!  We used to have a huge pine tree in the front yard that was likely home to a bazillion birds (see the story of its demise here), but we never did find a nest there.

Anyway, I decided to take a quick peek, and this is what I found.  Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Robin were nearby, squawking at me (which explained all the birdsong as I worked in the backyard!), so I quickly retreated and Mrs. Robin returned to tend her precious eggs!!

Later I spotted her outside out back door (on the mat, of all places) searching for food.  Or maybe she was just making a house call to thank me for leaving them alone, because the bird feeder was full, and here she was at my back door!  I consider the presence of The Robin Family to be the best Mother’s Day present I’ve had for a good many years!

So, in honor of Mrs. Robin and mothers of birds and humans everywhere, I would like to share with you some of my vintage graphics.

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cathy maroon

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Doll Has a Name!

As several of you know, I have been deliberating waaaaaay too much about naming my Hankie Couture doll.  I really enjoyed the suggestions, even the silly ones.  This is, after all, a light-hearted matter.  

I finally narrowed it down to three, although I was leaning toward a particular name.  I asked DH to pick his favorite of the three and he picked the same one, so it was a done deal.  
Without further ado,  meet
suggested by Maureen F. in Maryland
The runner-up names were
Sofia (Sophia) 
suggested by Angels Watching Over Me
suggested by Heather A.

Now this is where it gets a bit complicated.  Maureen F. did not want hankies, but did want to play. So I have decided to throw in a couple more hankies to the pile and split them between Angels Watching Over Me and Heather A.  Congratulations, ladies! Please contact me privately with your mailing information.

Thank you all so much for playing along! I love hearing from you, and I hope this was something a bit different and fun for you.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Currently I am working on a crazy quilted purse, which will be entered into the Crazy Quilting International Annual Purse Contest if I can finish it in time (I have one more week).  Regardless, I should be able to reveal it by the end of the month.  I also have a private commission to sew an apron for someone this month, plus a lot of catching up to do on the round robins I’m stitching in.  I’ve been making progress, but don’t have anything to post yet.

And finally, I usually stock some handmade items in the Wheeler Farm Country Store on a consignment basis.  But everything is on hold now, because there is some question by our new management about whether Salt Lake County ever officially approved the consignment form. Since I am the one who drafted it (and ran it by the County Attorney), I am trying to help clear the situation up. Luckily, I still have the emails from the County Attorney’s office that gave the approvals, so I am hoping that by next week we will be “back in business”.  If that’s the case, then I have more girls’ aprons to sew and stuffed cows to dress, LOL!!   :-)

Cathy maroon

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More “For the Birds” Blocks

It was a busy day today, but somehow busy days often become productive stitching days, despite errands and other obligations.  My granddaughter London (now a big girl of 20 months) spent the day, and we visited the Farm in the morning. Her hands-down favorite was the cows (maybe because Grammy is also biased toward cows?!?), but the piglets and horses were also hits.

Bruce and I went out to dinner tonight to celebrate his birthday, and then settled in for the evening.  I stitched, and was able to finish the block for Connie in our “For the Birds” round robin.  In addition, I completed my portion of the group block.

This is the full six-inch block that I stitched.  The apple in the lower left is velvet, with a velvet leaf.   Connie asked that we use the colors in the fabrics of the blocks, but to also try to coordinate with colors from other blocks.  Two of her blocks are primarily red-green-gold like this one, two are purple-yellow-green, and the other two are green-brown-blue with yellow-gold bits.  So... I added purple to this block as well as a small bow of yellow.  

And this is the group block.  Nicki Lee had the block first, and added the blue lace with embellishments. I added everything else, going overboard a bit.  For some reason, I thought there was only one lady stitching after me on this one, so I did a lot.  Then when I was done, I realized that there were two ladies to stitch on it after me, so I’ve hogged too much of the space (sorry Janet and Cathy L!!)

My Name That Doll contest is still running through Friday.  I would love to have you help me select a name for my lovely new Hankie Couture doll.  Check out the post here and leave a comment with your name suggestion(s).  Thanks!

Cathy maroon