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Monday, December 22, 2008

From the Bergstrom Kitchen to Mine

Last night I read The Quilter's Kitchen, Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek series novel with recipes. The reviews I read were poor, so I was not anticipating much enjoyment from the book.

I was so wrong.

Yes, the book is lacking in substance. There isn't much of a story. Yes, it's loaded with recipes and I got the impression that the author had to rush to meet a deadline and threw in whatever recipes she could find to fill the pages. I did not even look at most of the recipes. When I got to Chapter 8, entitled, "Christmas", I was hoping to read about Gerda's apple strudel and find a recipe. I was happy to find it on page 162.

At first I wasn't too impressed as it called for purchased phyll0 dough. We all know Gerda didn't use purchased dough. While reading the recipe I noted that I had everything I needed to make the 21st century version of the strudel, then put the book down and went to bed.

All alone in my kitchen at 6:30 this morning, I decided to give it a try. I went around and turned on all the Christmas lights, then began peeling the Gala apples I had on the counter.

As I spread melted butter
over each piece of the paper-thin phyllo sheets,
bits and pieces of the previous novels popped into my thoughts. Before long I was deep into Bergstrom reverie. I felt like one of the Bergstrom women making Gerda's legendary apple strudels to take to friends during the Christmas season.

I even wrapped one up, jumped into my car, and took off down snow-filled, slippery country roads to deliver a strudel to my Mother while it was still warm. If only I had a horse and buggy as Gerda would have used to deliver hers....

Was the strudel worth making?

Yes, it was delicious and very easy to make. I did omit the raisins and the walnuts because unlike the Bergstrom men, my 21st-century man does not like raisins or nuts.

My enjoyment of this book was not so much in the reading, as it was in the strudle making that followed. It ended up giving me a very enjoyable experience that I would not have otherwise had.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Outrageous Prices for Button Cover Paraphernalia

I had DH drop me off at Joanne's this morning while he went to the supermarket.

I wanted to get a some button covers. Holy smokes, I was surprised at how much those things cost. I expected to get a big bag for $4 or $5.

No way. They are about .75 each and then I have to do all the work to make them. I think that's outrageous!

I bought this Butterick pattern for chair covers.

I love B - the first one on the bottom row. It requires 6 button covers per chair and almost 4 yards of fabric per chair. GET OUT OF HERE! I am not about to spend over $50 per chair cover! If I am making these myself, I expect to exchange my labor for the big bucks chair covers cost at retail. You can't find a decent home dec fabric for much less than $10 a yard. I guess I will hold this pattern until I find some good quality fabric that is reduced to a fraction of its full price.

Does anyone have a source for button covers at a lesser price?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pink Christmas Centerpiece

Now that I have the centerpiece made, you can hardly see the Dresden plate. I think it's just enough to add a little "something" to the center of the table. At least I will convince myself of that so all of my work was not in vain. :) I already posted about how I made this. If you want, you can read about it by clicking here.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dresden Plate Table Center or Mini Tree Skirt

It's been a couple of years since I made something that was not paper pieced.
I was in the mood to sew something that was quick and easy. I decided to make this in pinks and it could go in the center of my dining table. I still need to make a centerpiece.

Just prior to making this I had been ironing a new jacket and the pressing ham I used for the sleeves was still on the ironing board. It's a real pain to iron out scallops. I usually use a straight pin to pull them out, iron a bit, pull out more with the pin, etc. I am always looking for easier ways to accomplish the same task and decided to try the ham (I know many people no longer iron, so if you have never heard of a pressing ham, it's that brown plaid thing. It helps to iron in small places).
I stuck it down to the scallop seam
and pulled it taut.
Then hit it with the iron and moved on to the next. It went fast and the scallops came out pretty nice. I just had to pull a few places with the pin on the final ironing.
This can also be used as a tree skirt for a 2 ft. tree.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Is Anyone Doing Paper Panache Mystery #49?

I gave up on the elf clothing. It was too much work, for too little reward.

But I am so glad I tried. While looking for the shirt pattern, I found this tool that I have been trying to find for months. See that clear thing on top of the box? Do you know what it is?

It is a quarter-inch marker for adding that amount to templates.

It is so much easier than using a ruler and making little 1/4-inch ticks, then trying to align the ruler and draw the line.

I am thrilled to have it back! It was worth the 30 minutes I spent making the rejected elf shirt.

That template I am marking is for the Paper Panache Mystery Challenge #49. I am wondering if anyone else has done this one because I don't think I have it made correctly.

I need to make 6 of these and put them together in a hexagon and then I will know what it is. I can't imagine that it will look like anything recognizable, so I am wondering if I have made mistakes.

I went back to the site and she says it will look like nothing for quite a while. That was reassuring. Then she said you may have to stand back to see the secret message. I stood back, on top of and then photograped to view it on the computer. I don't see anything. I hate to make 5 more of these if I have them wrong.

I decided to make 6 copies of the finished block and set them side by side.

I still can't tell what it is.

Can you?

If you have made this, I would be eternally grateful if you could give me some direction so I know if I should continue on.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Honored with an Award

Anya, from Hills Creek Quilter, recently surprised and delighted me by naming Perpetually Piecing as a blog that she finds creative. With millions of blogs out there, I am always thrilled when someone finds something in mine that inspires them to return on a daily (or near) basis. Thank you, Anya, for making my day!

I visit so many blogs that there is no way I can pick 5. Simply put if I visit you often, then I find your blog creative. Otherwise I wouldn't check in all the time to see what new and wonderful projects you have all posted. I just wish I had more time in the day to visit more of you.

See all of these elves that I have made?

I love these guys. They hang out all over my home during the month of December.

You might find one in a tree,
sitting in a stocking, or

perhaps peeking through a vase of live greens.
Why, they even find a way to get up in the archway garland! They are everywhere!

I have decided to make some new clothing for a couple of them. I want to try to insert a tiny paper-pieced block into the shirt front.

Stayed tuned to see if it works. If it does, I think it will qualify as a quilting post, since it will be paper pieced. :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Rosette Gift Topper

I found another use for the rosettes. I put one of the tree ornaments in the middle and just hot glued it to the package.

I think they make a nice substitute for a bow on tiny packages.

I still have not been doing any quilting, but I did do a little sewing yesterday to make these chair backs to match my dining room tree.

Did you notice that I used the rosettes here, too?

I am certainly having fun with those. Thanks again, Sparkle Jars.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I've Been Too Busy Christmas Decorating

Sorry, it's been a while since I've posted here. I have decorated 11 Christms trees in the past week. Nine at home and two at work. I've been posting about it all on my main blog. You can click this sentence if you want to go there.

I hope to get back to sewing soon.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Finally Finished with my Rosette Valances

I have been consumed with rosettes since I saw them on Sparkle Jars blog.
I was just finishing making valances for four windows and I needed something to embellish them.

The rosettes worked great.

I put little mirrors in the centers of the kitchen valances.

I ran out of mirrors so I left the family room rosettes plain.

I may add something to them later, but for now I like them just fine.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Which Blog Should I Post to?

It's been a while since I posted here because I haven't done any new quilting projects. I am still working on machine quilting the pink star quilt. It's getting less frustrating, but I find it pretty boring so I don't do it for very long.

Today I was pretty consumed with a different sewing project. I posted about it on one of my other blogs. You can read about it by clicking here if you want to.

It's gets complicated trying to keep three blogs going. Sometimes the posts overlap and I have to decide where to post them.

I just wanted to pop in to let any regular followers know where I have been. I know there aren't many regulars, but I still like post every couple of days.

Happy quilting,

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cardinal Quilt Block

Two weeks ago I spotted this fabric in the new Christmas fabric section.

I immediately had an idea for its use, which had nothing to do with Christmas.

When I got home from work this afternoon, I decided to make one test block with the cardinal fabric. Sometimes I just need to create something new. It will do me good to get my mind off the machine quilting (although it does seem to be going slightly better and I will probably do a bit more on the pink star later tonight.)

What I did with the cardinal fabric was fussy cut a bird and use it as the center for this star:

I will show you what I do with it, when I decide what to do with it! At the moment I am content just to know it does make a nice center.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I'm trying to Learn to Love it...

but this machine quilting is taking a lot of time to wiggle its way into my warm embraces.

I had started to hand quilt my pink star. I did one small area and it sat for a couple of weeks. Friday night I picked it up to work on it. The thought of spending months quilting it didn't seem so appealing, so I decided to make my first big attempt at machine quilting. I've had this machine since Feb. and if I am ever going to get good at it, I need to start now.

I am really appreciating the 10" extended sewing surface. There is no way I could have gotten all this fabric through on my old machine.

With just a bit of pushing, it goes right through.

I am only sewing straight lines (let's say "somewhat" straight--I have no markings and it's not all that easy to keep them straight).

But the less than straight lines are minor. It's all the problems on the backside that are giving me a headache.

I have puckers....

I have a hole................I knew it would only be a matter of time before I snipped the fabric as well as the threads.

But the worst of all is this......................Arrrgggggggg............the extra fabric on the edge folded back and I sewed right over it.

I'm leaving it. I am already fed up with having to rip stitches out of this.

I hope someday I look back at my first machine quilted item and get a good laugh. Right now it's not all that funny and I am pretty discouraged.

But I did find myself doing this

and that's a good sign.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Green, Rust & White Table Runner

I am trying to finish up all the items I made in '08. I love the colors of this table runner, but I wasn't sure how to finish it off, so I put it away last spring.

That's not a good thing to do because I almost always end up using the fabric that I should have saved to finish the project. I usually like my runners to have a pointed end, but this time I felt I needed to finish off that green square so a straight edge is what I ended up doing.
I think I like the 4 little squares in a row. I am not so fond of the unfinished squares on the sides, but they will have to remain as triangles because this thing is as wide as I can go for a table runner. I don't think I have any more of the rust fabric, so I have no idea just yet what I will do for the binding. Right now I will just work on getting it machine quilted.

I designed this runner to match a set of salad plates I own. When I get it totally completed, I will do a tablescape and post it to that blog.

Right now I am going to watch the historic election returns.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I Made a Valance to Match the Roses are Red Quilt

I wanted to make a bold window treatment to match the Roses are Red, Borders are Blue Quilt I recently finished.

I searched high and low for the same pattern as the valance I made for my living room. I looked in my fabric bins in the basement and I looked in every drawer in my sewing room. I found a lot of patterns for valances, pillows, aprons, & crafts. I had forgotten I bought a lot of them. Do you do that, too? Buy patterns and never use them? When JoAnn has a .99 cent sale I buy everything I think I may ever want to make....most of which I never do make.

I never did find the pattern I was looking for. I cannot imagine where I put that pattern, but I am sure I will come across it as soon as I no longer need it. Luckily it's a simple pattern and I used newspaper and traced around a finished panel from the living room.

I cut out 20 of these arrows - 10 for the front and 10 for the back (I did two windows). I started them on Saturday afternoon and finished them around noon today. I think it took about 10 hours of work...thank goodness I had that extra hour today!

This is what I ended up with.

I think it's a pretty good match for this quilt.

If I wanted to really made a WOW valance, I would have made the rose block in each of the arrows. I considered it, but making 10 of them was more than I could bear. Each of those rose blocks has 32 teeny tiny pieces in it! I think I like the valance, but I will have to look at it for a few days to see if I need to do any more tweaking. I added those purple sashes over each triangle because I wanted to bring in the purple color from the quilt. I also did not want it to look like a patriotic color scheme.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Tree Skirt Turned Table Runner is Done

It is entirely machine quilted. I used the new walking foot and did a basic outline around each star. I am pretty happy with that part. There are a few puckers on the back, but overall it's OK for a table runner.

I even sewed the binding on by machine.

That part was a total flop.

This runner is almost six feet long and I was trying to save time by using the machine. Big mistake. If I could do it over, I would spend the extra hours hand sewing the binding to the backside.
It looks OK from the front,but the back is pretty awful. There are spots where I missed sewing the binding completely for an inch or so.

When I use it I will have to pin it down to the tablecloth so nobody can pick it up and look at the backside!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Old Maid's Puzzle - book review

I am really getting interested in quilting mysteries. I am surprised how many are out there when you really start looking for them.

My latest read was Old Maid's Puzzle by Terri Thayer.

Dewey Pellicano recently inherited her mother’s quilt store and is determined to make it profitable.

It’s the store’s 20th anniversary. They are planning a huge anniversary sale. The day before the sale a national quilting show is going to air a ½ hour interview with one of the store’s clerks, (who also happens to be the jealous sister-in-law). Dewey is very optimistic that the national debut will be the saving grace for the shop.

That is until a dead body turns up in the quilting shop’s alley. . . and then a second body….

I found the book to be a fun read. I started it on Friday and finished it on Saturday. You don’t have to be a quilter to enjoy this book, but there are enough quilter references to keep you interested if you are.

I didn't realize until today that this is the second book in a series. The first book is Wild Goose Chase. I should have read that one first. I am not sure if I will read it now that I have already read #2. I hate to read them out of order.
I will, however, be looking forward to a third book.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lollies, Pumpkins & Maple Leaves

It's a very dark, cold, deary, wet fall day here.

Even so as I soon as I got home from work, I ran out in the cold drizzle to cut down some Maple leaves before they were all gone.

I had an idea to make a centerpiece with lollipops & maple leaves in a pumpkin.

I used the lollipops because they were the inspiration for the quilt I just finished and I wanted to use it for a tablecloth.

In about 10 minutes I had it completed.

I like that I have just finished this quilt and I already found a use for it.
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