Sunday, November 30, 2008

Alzheimer's Quilt Donation

Good Morning!!!!. Well it was morning when I started this blog. I had some problems so now it is the afternoon. My husband Paul has had the crud this week. So we have been hibernating. You know if you take medicine it takes 14 days to get over and if you don't it takes 2 weeks.

I have been clearing my desk and working on projects in my studio. One of the projects is a small quilt for the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative. The quilts are no larger than 9" x 12". here is the one I am sending. It is a block from a class I used to teach. It made a pretty little quilt to donate. 

While working in the Alzheimer's booth at Quilt Festival I noticed the greatest way to make a sleeve for these small quilts. I thought I would share it with you here. You can two squares 2 12" x 2 1/2". Then press them into a triangle. Next, before you put your binding on the quilt place the raw edges along the sew line. Sew the two squares to each of the top corners along seam line.sides, That's all there is to it.

Place a small dowel rod in the pockets and you are ready to hang your quilt. I put a pencil in mine. Saved a trip to the hardware store.

Till next time keep quilting. Linda

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm going on vacation...

Well, not really a vacation - more of a Thanksgiving break. We leave tomorrow after lunch for Oklahoma City (OKC) where we both have family. I'm scrambling to get everything ready and am not finding time to blog. BUT - there is a wonderful treat coming on Monday. You'll like it, I promise! 

I might find time to post between now and then, but I also might not. I'm going to leave you with this wonderful photo of my Aunt Esther and my grandmother, Nan, aka Mabel Eckroat. She was born not long after 1900 and died 6 years ago. (I am so very bad with dates that I don't have the exact ones in my head. I hope I am never in charge of writing an obituary.)

Nan was a stitch! She sewed many of my clothes as I was growing up. She even made my senior prom dress (a halter-top!). She was not a quilter but that's OK. In the picture below she and her sister are pretending to be "bad" - with fake cigarettes! This photo is taken outside of their family home in Cheyenne, OK. When she was little, Nan lived in a dugout (an underground house) so this house is something the whole family was proud of.

I could go on, but I won't because I have to get ready to leave tomorrow :-). Later, I'll post more family photos. I have some really wonderful ones!

Monday, November 24, 2008

My grandson...

I took this movie of my grandson, Jack, a few weeks ago and am just now getting it posted. The boy crawls with his leg bent funny. I'm a normal grandmother so I sort of worry about that but it is my hope that he will walk straight and tall! I will share (and I hope not bore you with) another movie soon!

FYI - those cloths on the floor are there because Jack put them there. He has a drawer full of  (clean) rags that I let him pull out, then I put them up, then he pulls them out... you get the idea.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Something purple...

Steve and I worked in the yard some this morning. It is overcast today, but not raining and it is cool, but comfortable. I raked and cut back plants that needed it. Steve dug up saplings that were growing in bad places. 

I hate to say it but now my hands hurt. There are many good aspects to getting 
older... but knowing that your body is beginning to fall apart is not one of them. Thank goodness for Advil!

I took these "purple" photos when I was in Baltimore and I've been saving them to share with you. I have no idea what this flower is but isn't it cute!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Christmas Trees...

I just uploaded our newest downloadable pattern - The Christmas Trees! This quilt was in both A Piece O' Cake Christmas and A Slice of Christmas. Those books are out of print and we had so many requests for this pattern that we decided now was the time to make it available to you.

We hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cinnamon apples...

Every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas my grandmother, Mabel Eckroat, made cinnamon apples. I cannot image a holiday without them! I make several packages of apples and share them with family and friends and now they can't imagine a holiday without them either :-).

Cinnamon apple rings are served cold and can last several weeks in the refrigerator.

The apples are cooked in a mixture of water, sugar, and red hots. Use apples that will hold up to being simmered for 1-2 hours. Granny Smith's are what I can usually find at my store in Texas. I cook them in a Kobenstyle enameled casserole dish.

The apple-cooking day begins early. Pour 6-7 cups water into the pan (about 2" deep). Add about a cup of sugar and about 1 bag of red hots. Turn the heat to low-medium. Stir occasionally until  the red hots are melted. 

Core, peel, then slice 2 apples. Slices should be about 1/4" thick. Place the slices in the pot, overlapping as necessary.

Let the apples simmer. When they look about like this, carefully turn them over. I use a big, slotted spoon for this task. Keep your spoon in a 2-cup measuring cup that has water in it and any gooey red hots will get dissolved off the spoon.

Let them simmer some more. The first batch can easily take 2 hours. If you have too much water, the apples will lose their shape. This corrects itself as water is cooked off. Too little water and you have syrup - add more water.

You should see simmering, not a rolling boil. And your house is going to have a wonderful, cinnamon-y smell!

The finished apples look like this. I still need to pour a bit of the remaining syrup over them to keep them moist. I do that after I've cooked all I'm going to cook. Store them covered in the refrigerator.

To continue... Add some more water to your pan to bring the level up to the level you began at (unless that was too much water), add some more sugar (1/4-1/2 cup), and some more red hots. You can taste one of the apples from your first batch and adjust sugar and red hot amounts to suit you. As you are preparing your next 2 apples, the red hots will melt. Stir the mixture and begin again.

I sometimes take 2 days to cook apples. The syrup can stay on the stove (with a lid on the pot) overnight. That makes it much easier to begin again on Day 2.

It takes more red hots than you would think. I'm guessing I'll use 5-7 bags for the 16 apples I'm cooking.



Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Smaller Lorna's Vine continued...

There were some questions in the comments in yesterday's post about this quilt and I want to answer them here. Note that while the photos in this post are the same size, the quilts in the photos are different sizes.

The original Lorna's Vine quilt is shown above. This quilt is 71" x 71". There are 36 vine blocks in it. 

I sewed together the blocks for the smaller quilt and put it on my design wall with some 8" red border strips around it. Note that there are only 16 vine blocks. The pieced center is approximately 40" x 40". 

I had thought that I might piece the borders - maybe using 1" squares in 4- or 9-patches. But the more I looked at this quilt on the wall, the more I thought that piecing would detract from the applique. Then I wondered about adding a narrow inner border...

I tried a couple of blue strips and decided that, even if they are pretty, they call too much attention to themselves.

I tried some gold strips... and I liked them better. I looked at the photos of all 3 versions of this quilt on my computer and decided to go with the gold inner borders. 

Here is the finished top. The inner border is 1/2", the borders will finish at 7 1/2". This quilt is bigger than I imagined it would be - approximately 56" x 56". But this is an excellent size for the wall or to use as a throw. Now I just have to get it quilted!

I've put together a PDF with the yardage and cutting instructions for this smaller quilt. You still need the book, but the PDF is free. You can click to get it on the Piece O' Cake home page or on the Amish-Inspired Quilts page. Happy stitching!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A smaller Lorna's Vine...

I teach the Lorna's Vine quilt (at left) from our book Amish-Inspired Quilts. The quilt belongs to my daughter-in-law, Lorna, and I don't travel with it. 

I decided that I needed a smaller version of this quilt to travel with. I finished the applique a few days ago and got the center of the quilt set together just now. I thought I'd share it with you!

Here it is on my design wall. I hope to add the borders tomorrow and I'll share that image with you too. I hope to get it quilted before I teach it again at the end of January.

I have to be honest, I like the bigger quilt more. But I don't have time to make it again full-size and I don't have a place for a quilt of that size. My guess is that there are a lot of you who would prefer to make the smaller quilt too. Once I have all the measurements worked out, I'll post the information to make the smaller quilt on our website. You'd still need the book, but you won't have to do the calculations for the smaller one on your own.

FYI - If you look down 3 posts to the movie you'll notice that I was taking these blocks off the wall in that movie. I didn't actually take the blocks off the wall 3 days ago! My husband filmed me doing that at least 5 weeks ago. It's taken me this long to edit the movie, do the voice-over, and get it posted. Many of you are sharp-eyed enough to connect these posts and I didn't want you to get the idea that I am Applique Wonder Woman :-).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fiddlestick Booth

Whoops!! I forgot to attach the picture of the Fiddlesticks booth. Linda
I returned from Houston last week. The quilt show was incredible. I love Quilt Festival the vendors and the quilts are Christmas to a quilter. I was there to serve on the International Quilt Association Board as Secretary. It is an honor to contribute to this wonderful organization. 

IQA is a non-profit organization. They put on the judged quilt show. Many of us have thought that Quilt Inc. puts the show on. They do the special exhibits. Quilt Inc. contributes to IQA in many ways.

 This year the quilts from DAR Museum was one of the special exhibits. It was the first time the quilts had been seen outside the museum. Wow! what a treat to see them. It is amazing what quilters accomplished back then. They are inspiring.

Pat Holly's miniature quilt won an award. I just do not know how she got all the fine details in the quilt. Look for it in the IQA Journal. You receive it if you are an IQA member.

IQA is a great organization. Without them there would be no judged shows in Houston or Chicago. Another show will soon be added. IQA needs the support of you. The money from dues goes a long way toward putting the shows on. IQA also gives grants and promotes quilting. If you do not belong or have not renewed your membership now is the time. You can go to to see the benefits of membership and join. Also you will see the many things IQA does. Please join now. We need each one of you to continue the quality of excellence the IQA show is known for.

While shopping I ran across a fun booth, Fiddlesticks. They use fine wire and fabric strips to make fun and funky adornments. I bought the Peppermint ornament. A great way to have fun with all your scraps. They have a book out Fast, Fun & Easy Fabric Fiddlesticks from C&T. Watch our web site for more. See the picture of their booth above.

I have so many ideas running through my mine from all the inspiration at the show. I see a still life quilt in my future. I have always been drawn to them. Something artsy with applique christmas balls. I made a list on the plane coming home. Never enough time. I have to figure out a plan to work on these projects and still meet my book deadline. A friend of mine Glenna Hailey with Holly Hock quilts once gave me some good advice. I was complaining about never finishing anything (this was before I had deadlines). She said if you would keep your butt home you would finish things. Every time I start to whine I remember what she said.

Till next time blessings 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Taking applique off the wall and making it portable...

I made a movie that shows how I take my blocks off of my design wall. I place the applique pieces on half of a folded sheet of paper (that has a smaller piece of flannel on it). the pieces are stacked so that piece #1 is on top and ready to sew. 

Once all the pieces are on the flannel, I fold the paper over them. I place the folded paper (with applique pieces) in a gallon-sized Ziplock bag. Usually the overlay will fit in the bag too. I carry my Frostings thread/bobbin sets, a pair of scissors, small pincushion, and toothpicks in a smaller baggie.

Enjoy the movie!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A good book...

I recently finished “A Year of Living Biblically” by A.J. Jacobs. I very much enjoyed this book and wanted to let you know about it. Mr. Jacobs has already been on the best-seller list for his book "The Know-It-All". In that book, he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. 

Mr. Jacobs is of Jewish descent and an agnostic. He decided to spend a year following biblical laws as literally as he could. There are a lot of laws in the bible! He reads many versions of the bible – because they are all a bit different from each other and he’s not playing favorites. He chooses guides and teachers from different faiths to help him.

The book follows a diary format, with entries for most days. Mr. Jacobs is married and has a young son and it’s interesting to hear how this experience impacts them. I enjoyed his thought process as he tries to determine exactly what the bible is telling him to do. I found myself thinking about the way I live my own life in ways that I have not questioned before.

FYI - This book is funny!

Mr. Jacobs wonders in the beginning of the book how this experience might change him. I didn’t really wonder if reading the book would change me at all – and I’m surprised to find that it may have nudged me to be a bit better person!

Monday, November 10, 2008

What's new...

I've been working on a new quilt for a while now. It's nowhere near ready for publication so I can't show the whole quilt top here, but I can show a bit of it! Think of this as a bite o' cake rather than a whole piece o' cake.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

We have a winner....

Thank you all for your lovely comments! I'm glad so many are enjoying our blog. A winner was randomly chosen and she is zizzybob! I've already sent an email to her and the block will be in the mail once I have a snail mail address.

Do keep an eye on our blog. We'll do another door prize in a 2-3 weeks.

Happy stitching,


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Blog Door Prize!

Here it is - the first of Becky's door prize blocks! The pattern is from the book Applique Delights. The background is 16" x 16" however, the block can be trimmed to as small as 12" x 12" finished size. Becky hand appliqued this block with her own two hands and it can be yours! 

To enter to win this lovely door prize, leave a comment on this post. Be sure to leave your name! 

On Saturday (or Sunday or Monday, depending on how the weekend goes) we'll announce a RANDOM winner of our prize! If you post anonymously we may not be able to email you to let you know you won, so be sure to check back.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Another "celebrity interview"...

Pat Sloan's "celebrity" interview with Becky will be up on her blog on Thursday, November 6. Click here to read it. If you missed Linda's interview on October 16, you can find it on Pat's site. If you would like to read it, and other interviews, scroll down the right side of Pat's blog and you will find the Celebrity Interviews link.

On Friday, November 7, we're going to have another Blog Door Prize!
 It will be one of Becky's found blocks (found when she cleaned out her closet!) Come back to this blog on Friday to see the block and leave a comment. We will choose a winner randomly from the pool of commenters. 

Washing fabric...

A friend recently asked me the fabric washing question. I thought I'd share my response here on the blog... 

Linda and I ALWAYS pre-wash. As I remember it, people quit prewashing fabric back in the day when Harriet Hargrave came up with the idea that if you make your quilt with unwashed fabric, used a cotton batt, machine quilted it and then washed it, the quilt would look more antique. This is absolutely true. It helps to remember that this was back when machine quilting was not accepted in the quilt world and Harriet's idea was a very big part of what helped machine quilting become accepted.

But, if you are not after the look of an antique quilt, we think you should still prewash because:
  • Fabric bleeds. How much it bleeds has a lot to do with the water chemistry where you are. There is a lot of variation in water chemistry.
  • Fabric shrinks - and not all at the same rate. In my opinion it's better if fabric is shrunk before being sewn into a quilt.
  • I think prewashed fabric behaves better for both applique and piecing. And, no, I don't add starch or sizing back into the fabric.
  • Fabric directly off the bolt has chemicals in it in addition to the sizing - formaldehyde being the one I dislike the most. There are also pesticides sprayed on merchandise as it enters the US and that may be in the fabric as well. I much prefer to wash those chemicals out of my fabric before I store it in the closet or sew with it.

So, I wash with Orvus Paste. I add a color catcher (made by Shout) if I am worried about bleeding. I also have Synthrapol and Retayne on hand (the bigger guns for controlling bleeding). I wash in the washer in cold water. I dry fabric in the dryer. I fold it and put it on the shelf until I'm ready to use it. Then I iron it.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Visionary Art Museum...

Celia and I went to the American Visionary Art Museum on Saturday. What a great museum! I could only take pictures on the outside - and there is a lot outside. There's even more inside. This is a museum dedicated to outsider art. The art is personal, quirky, very accessible, and I do love it!

There is a wonderful mirror mosaic on the outside of the building. It was begun by Jack Livingston and later taken over by Mari Gardner. Both were assisted by students.

The sparkly glass/mirror tree is like Christmas all year round!

The mirrored mosaic egg is pretty wonderful too.

The wooden meditation chapel in the wildflower garden is way cool. You can climb up in it.

That's where I found this fine fellow. If you find yourself in Baltimore, don't miss this museum!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Baltimore from the street...

I'm not a big city girl so I'm finding a lot to look at as we walk around in Baltimore. I thought this decoupaged door was interesting. I had not ever considered decoupaging an exterior door.

I'm not sure that I'm crazy about the colors on this particular door but the idea is really great. The "decoupager" also used blackboard paint very well. What a great place to leave notes for people.

I think the thing that I find so appealing about town houses is that they are similar to each other, but different. People put their individual stamp on them. It was the painted stairs that caught my eye here.

I like this power pole with electrical wires coming out in rays. Jeff and Celia thought I was crazy but where we live most of the power lines are buried.

The orange door with black mailboxes were fun - especially at Halloween.

I returned from Quilt Festival yesterday. Upon my return I found out my internet service had been down for 2 days. If that was not enough the auto reply to emails said I would return on the 20th instead of October 31st.

If you have been trying to get hold of me I apologize. Linda