Friday, December 24, 2010

Ta Da! Here's Journey Two!!

I am so happy to finally reveal the projects for Journey Two of the Prairie Women's Sewing Circle club!  The quilt on the front cover is called Remember Me, and is a Friendship quilt.  This time, I decided to print all of the quilts on two sides of the cover to be able to enlarge the size of the quilt photos. 


This is the back cover, revealing the other five quilts and the bonus pillow project!  Do you like them?  I sure hope so!  From the top left, they are The Quilting Gathering, Prairie Huswyfe, Peace Among the Flowers, Next Door Neighbor, The Mill Girls, and Olde Settler's Way

I can't wait to get back to hosting the club and spending time with the wonderful ladies who join me in our journey back in time.  If you're in the Chicagoland area and would like to join the fun, our club will begin next month at The Quilt Merchant, in Winfield, IL.  Click here for club information.

For anyone interested in information for a shop outside of the Chicago area, please email me, and I will do my best to help you find a shop near you, or one that offers the club by mail.




I want to tell you all how much I have enjoyed your emails and comments since I began writing this little blog of mine.  You have touched my heart!  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy New Year full of time spend with the ones you love, doing what you love!
Pam












Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Peace Among the Flowers


Peace Among the Flowers is the bonus project for Journey 2.  It's a pillow embellished with wool applique (which can also be done in cotton, of course) and Yo-yos.  It was a bit of a stretch for me to create an applique design, and I love the way it turned out. 

The club pattern cover is now finished!  Stay tuned for the big reveal of all of the full sized quilts!
I can't wait to show you!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Mill Girls


Here's the sixth preview of the Journey 2 PWSC quilts called The Mill Girls!  I'll be posting a photo of the bonus project next, and then the big unveiling of the new pattern covers which will show ya everything!  WooHoo!  I'm so excited!

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Know what else I'm excited about???  Take a look....


I am soooo proud to say that my very dear friend, Tara Lynn Darr of Sew Unique Creations, has a new and wonderful book coming out in February!  If you know of Tara's work, then you know what a treat you're in for.  If you don't know Tara, then take my word for it.  She creates wonderful, traditional quilts with an authentic vintage look.  She's been published many times in American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, among others!  Click here to visit Tara's blog, to keep informed on just when her book will be ready, order the book, and see all the other fun and creative stuff Tara's up to! 

As we countdown the days to Christmas, I hope you're finding a little time to do something fun and relaxing for yourself! 
I'm gonna try to do the same!  Merry, merry....Pam


Friday, December 17, 2010

Next Door Neighbor


Next Door Neighbor is the 5th sneak peek of the quilts for Journey 2 of the Prairie Women's Sewing Circle.  I adore the combination of pink and brown fabrics....so vintage, so warm and lovely.  When my friend, Julie Hendricksen released her newest fabric line, Miniatures, I just knew I wanted to design a quilt with it.....right away!!  Yum!

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Because our house has been somewhat torn apart (to say the least!) for a couple of months, we're not decorating for Christmas as we usually would.  We're just decorating the kitchen and family room...the two rooms we live in the most.

This tree, in the kitchen, is one of three we usually have.  You might say this is my tree.  It's really small, just a simple pencil tree, but I have all of my favorite folky ornaments on it.  Notice the red door?I chose to paint the kitchen walls a goldy tan color, but wanted some punch in the room, so...what the heck?  Let's go for a red door, and we all love it!  Did I ever mention that I'm definitely in a "red" period in my life?  I'm drawn to all things red for some reason, and I'm going with it!

When you pull out the ornaments to decorate your tree, it's like seeing old friends.  Remembering where you bought that one, or made this one.  But wait....what is that space ship ornament doing on my tree?  That is one of dear husband's favorite ornaments, and over my mild protests, said he'd really like to see it on this tree in the kitchen.  Ugh.  He doesn't ask for much.  
I must confess that this is a photo of our family room last year.  I hope it looks like this by Dec 23rd!  My kids decorate this tree with all of the ornaments that have been given to us over the years, or those they made in school.  It's definitely the centerpiece of our Christmas!

These tables are in our family room, too.  I love these red tables!  This is one of my favorite vignette areas to change up every couple of months.  This photo is from last year also.  It looks like this right now, except I haven't gotten the quilts out yet.  There's been too much dust.  Hopefully this weekend, I can finish up.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another peek ~ Olde Settler's Way




Here's the next peek at another PWSC Journey 2 quilt. 
I love simple patchwork.  Nine patches, four patches, checker boards...there's just something great about it.  This quilt is done in blacks and browns with a few "make-do" blues in there for good measure.  It won't be long now, that the full collection will be revealed.  The quilts have all been professionally photographed and the cover artwork is being created as we speak.  I'm anxious to show the whole kit and kaboodle!

At long last the folks working on the house said their last good-bye on Tuesday.  They were all wonderful people who did a great job, but I don't think they'd mind me saying I'm glad they've moved on to their next client. Oh, for a normal, boring day at home!

Now, we'll be doing a final clean-up and giving our full attention to Christmas!  One of my favorite times of year is coming!  More about that next time. 
Stay cozy......Pam

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

So Proud!

Our son, Ryan, has been in the local Fire Fighter cadet program for the past 4 1/2 years.  We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful program, run by outstanding mentors of the fire department, whom are very dedicated to training young men and women for careers in fire service and emergency medicine.

Ryan, at age 15, took to fire fighting like a duck to water, and it's been wonderful these past 4 years to see him enjoy his chosen career.  Now that he's 19, he's working as an EMT, and is continuing his training and community service with the FF cadet program.  

Brian (Cadet Advisor) & Ryan









Last night, we attended the cadet Christmas party.  We were so proud when Ryan was honored with Cadet of the Year! 









We were also surprised that he was promoted to Cadet Assistant Chief!


Ryan will attend the Fire Academy in January.





Thanks, dear readers, for allowing me to share our happiness with you!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Quilting Gathering

Time for another sneak peek of a new quilt coming in Journey 2 of my Prairie Women's Sewing Circle club!





This is one block from my quilt called The Quilting Gathering.  This particular block is a favorite of mine.  It's commonly known as a square-in-a-square-in-a-square, but it's real name is "Humility" for good reason!  The more layers, or squares to add on, the harder it is to be accurate. Fear not, dear readers!  I have a paper piecing pattern for you!  It is very easy and oh so accurate to paper piece this treasure.  I promise!

(In case you were wondering about the fabrics I used in this block, the pink is from the Miniatures collection by Julie Hendricksen for Windham, and the black is from the Civil War Chronicles collection by Judie Rothermel for Marcus Bros.)

I thought you might enjoy seeing what some of the Prairie Women from around the country are creating in their club.  The next three photos are from the PWSC club held at Adel Quilting & Dry Goods shop in Adel, IA. 


These ladies all made the first quilt, called Leap of Faith.  Don't you love how differently they all turned out!  Great job!

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Next are a few of the creations from the club held at Back Door Quilts located in Greenwood, IN.

This Leap of Faith was made by club member, Gracie, and was made exactly the way I made mine.  Love your choice of fabrics, Gracie!

This is a quilt called Heartland Crossing.  Gotta love a traditional & scrappy Log Cabin block!


Here is a closeup of the scrappy fabrics used in this quilt.

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The photo above, of Heartland Crossing, was sent to me by Prairie Woman Karen Wood.  She told me that she had leftover scraps from making the original quilt, and made four additional Log Cabin blocks.  She didn't have enough fabric to make them full sized, so she just Make-do with what she had, and made the blocks smaller!  Then she used the throw away scraps (of the connector corners) from the Flying Geese border to make the little Half Square Triangles seen in the sawtooth border.  Don't you just love it!  It's soooo cute!  Great job, Karen!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Deck The Halls Winner

We have a winner!  The random number generator chose number 6.....Angie!!!  Congratulations, Angie!  Please email me with your name and address, and I'll send the decoration to you mucho pronto! 

Yesterday, I braved the crowds at the mall and started my Christmas shopping.  It actually wasn't too bad!  I made a pretty good dent, too.  Tomorrow, we'll start to decorate the house, which shouldn't take too long, 'cause we're only decorating the kitchen and family room this year.  When our two rooms are done, I'll show you photos.  I love seeing other people's homes, at Christmas and any day!  You never know when you can borrow a great idea, right?

Happy shopping and decorating!
Pam

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Deck The Halls Contest

Now that Thanksgiving is over, the coming days find us all focusing on decorating the house for Christmas and buying gifts for the special people in our lives.  Needless to say, the month of December is always a busy one!  Not a lot of time for sewing, but good things are happening none the less!

Traditionally, the week following Thanksgiving is when my family begins decorating our house.  This year, because of the mess we're still living with in various areas of our house due to painting and what not, we're not going to do Christmas as usual.  We're just going to deck the halls of the kitchen and family room, the rooms we live in the most, and see how it goes from there.  No doubt, you're doing the same!






When Lynne Hagmeier and I were at the Country Living Fair a few months ago, I picked up another little goodie too cute to pass up.  I bought an extra one!  So....let's have a contest! 





Please leave a comment by midnight, Wednesday, December the 1st, about anything Christmas, to enter the drawing.  That way, you'll have a little something more to deck your hall with!









Now, knowing how busy we all are, we still have to eat!  Time for another easy meal idea!  Here are two very easy recipes for one of my family's favorite meals.  One is for a Crock Pot and the other is made in the oven.  (Just wanted you to know I do cook other things besides slow cooker dishes!)



  
Good Enough For Company
Beef & Mushrooms

3 lbs stew meat, cubed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 large can mushrooms, drained
1 small can mushrooms, drained
½ cup red wine
1 envelope Good Seasons salad dressing mix
1 8 oz tub onion & chives cream cheese


Directions:

Soften cream cheese in the microwave (1 minute increments on half power) until smooth and creamy.  Combine all other ingredients in slow cooker.  Cover.  Cook 10 hours on low OR 5-6 hours on high.

Serve over noodles, rice, or pasta – optional.

Serve with Beefy Rice!  Yum


 What's Beefy Rice you say?

Well, it's about the easiest side dish in the world to make!  It tastes oh so good and needs only 4 ingredients.

Serve this with any beef dish.  It's a real crowd pleaser!  Whenever I take this anywhere, folks always ask for the recipe.







Beefy Rice

1 stick of butter
1 can Beefy Mushroom soup
1 can French Onion soup
1 cup Uncle Ben’s Converted rice, uncooked


Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

Put the butter in a 2 qt shallow Pyrex dish and melt in the oven.

Once melted, remove from the oven and add the soup; mix well.  Then, add the rice; mix well.  Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.


Let me know what you think!  Enjoy decorating.....Pam



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks


I wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!  Since we all take this opportunity to reflect on the things we're grateful for, I count all of you, dear readers, as blessings in my life.  Your wonderful comments and support as I continue this adventure mean so very much to me.  Without you, well.....needless to say, I'd be lonely!



We share a kindred spirit of needle-love.  Quilting, and other related needle-arts have enriched my life tremendously.  Not only does stitching feed my soul, but I have been blessed with the friendship of many wonderful girlfriends, and have had the pleasure of meeting so many of you in lectures and workshops as I travel the country.  I wish you all the continued pleasure of your time stitching with needle and friend!

Pam





Thursday, November 18, 2010

Prairie Huswyfe


Here is your sneak peek at the second Prairie Women's Sewing Circle club project called Prairie Huswyfe.  This quilt combines two of my favorite elements: basket blocks and red fabric.  I'm a total sucker for them both.  Is this the entire quilt or just a portion?  Hmmmmm.  Stay tuned!

We are making progress on the kitchen re-do and other home improvements still going on here.  Granite countertops were installed last week.  We hired a professional faux painter to assist with some special wall treatments.  The first room, the main floor powder room, was just finished yesterday.  I chose a faux sponge-y effect in shades of sage green and navy blue.  I'm madly in love with the way it turned out!  I promise more photos in the days to come.  Right now, there's just a bare bulb hanging from a wire illuminating the pretty walls. Lovely as you can imagine!  Give me a few days to clean up, install the new light fixture, faucet, etc, and I promise to show you how it's coming along.

Hope you're having a good week.  If you're like me, we're all preparing for Thanksgiving Day, and beginning to think about decorating and shopping. Never a dull moment, huh!

Pam





Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hand Applique by Machine ~ Lesson Three

Sewing the Applique by Machine

Now that your applique is all prepared, we're ready to stitch it in place.  Remember, at this point, you can easily hand-stitch if you'd like to.  Here's how to stitch it using your sewing machine!


Begin by placing the applique exactly where you want it to be on your background fabric.  Holding it in place, lift half of the applique and dot with Roxanne's Glue Baste-It.  (By using Roxanne's, your applique will be tacked to the backgound fabric and you won't have to deal with any pins while sewing.  This is a water soluable product that is very safe for your fabrics.)  Gently press the applique in place.  Repeat for the other half of the applique.

You have some decisions to make regarding the thread you want to use. 

*You should choose a cotton thread, in a color that will match the background fabric, for the bobbin.

*You can choose a cotton thread, in a color that will match your applique, for the top.  Choose a color that closely matches the applique so that it will disappear.  This often means that you will need to change thread colors from piece to piece. 

*Another alternative for the top thread is to use a good quality mono-filament thread.  That way, you don't have to change colors from piece to piece.  Mono-filaments come in two colors: clear and smoke.  Use the clear for light color fabrics and the smoke for medium & dark color fabrics.  The reason for the two colors is to better hide the reflection of the thread against the fabrics.  The reflection of the clear thread will show up more on dark fabrics.  I never ever recommend using a mono-filament in the bobbin.  That's just me!

*It is very, very helpful to use an open-toe foot for this technique.  It allows you to see more of what you're doing!



Once the applique is glued into place, stitch it using the Blind Hem stitch shown above.  You should play with the settings of the length and width. 

The length should be shorter, or closer together, for smaller appliques, and can be longer, or farther apart for larger appliques. 

The width of the tacking stitch should cross over the fabric just enough to jump the fold.  If it is more than that, it will be more noticeable. 

Use your needle-down option and pivot often.



The stitch is ideal when the needle is landing exactly at the right of the fold, and the tack stitch is small enough to catch the fabric, but not so large as to be seen.  Back-tack your stitches when you come to the end.

Sorry this isn't a better photo, but I wanted to show you how the stitching looks from the back. 



Those are the basics of the technique.  I hope this tutorial will help you in some way.  This method has really worked for me and enabled me to make the applique quilts I wanted to make.

Enjoy your weekend!
Pam

P.S.  Sorry for the poor quality photos.  I'm working on taking better ones!  Please bear with me.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hand Applique by Machine ~ Lesson Two

Ready for the next step?  Here we go...

Turning the Seam Allowance
You'll need a few basic tools as shown in the photo above.  Gather the following items:

* A pressing surface.  I use the June Tailor Cut 'N Press because I like to work on the appliques at a counter in my sewing room, but your ironing board will work as well.

* A small container.  A deli container works nicely, or whatever you have handy.

* A can of spray starch.

* A brush.  This should be a natural bristle brush because a nylon brush lets the starch just run out of the bristles.  A natural bristle brush holds the starch, then releases it evenly.  I use a Lowe-Cornell number 8 round brush (which is actually tapered nicely at the tip).  They are about $10 at Michaels.  Use your 40% coupon!  It's worth it!!

* A Clover mini iron.  You may wonder about this iron, but it really is necessary.  You can try to use a regular size iron, but you'll struggle with it and it just doesn't work well.  It's worth the investment.  Your local quilt shop can get this item for you.

* A Stiletto.  Also very necessary.  Don't try to substitute using a seam ripper or bamboo stick.  They just don't work.  Believe me, I've tried and many of my students have tried.  Your quilt shop can get this also.

Five simple items are all you need for this technique.  It's a small investment for the tools, but remember you'll have them for years.  But first....read on to see if you like the technique!

Spray some starch into the container. 


Begin "painting" the starch onto the seam allowance.  It's very important that you try to keep the freezer paper dry.  It's not a tragedy if you wet it some, but try not to.  The freezer paper needs to be dry and stiff so it can form your applique shape.  You can paint as much of the seam allowance as you want.  I generally keep a couple of inches wet ahead of where I'm working.


Using your stiletto in your left hand, bring the seam allowance over the freezer paper.  This will feel weird....all thumbs at first.  Practice a bit.  It becomes second nature in no time!  Promise!


While you're holding the seam securely in place with the stiletto, bring the iron just to the area you've folded.  Hold it there until it's dry.  When dry, the starch will keep the seam folded over.


Continue working around the entire circle, adding gathers in the fabric when needed.  If you get points, peaks, and divots, don't worry!  Just wet them with the starch and use your stiletto to smooth them over, then repress them dry.


 Your applique will look like this when it's finished.

Now, here's the best part!  When you're ready to stitch the applique, remove the freezer paper before stitching it in place!!  Yes, before stitching!  This is why I love this technique.  I don't want to be fooling around with cutting the back of the block/applique after stitching.  I don't want to submerge my work in water to get the paper out!  No need with this technique. 

The seam allowance stays folded.  Now, I can stitch by hand if I prefer, or by machine.  I've done both.  The applique itself is soft and pliable, just like needle-turn would be. 

Stay tuned for the last lesson.  I'll show you how to stitch your applique with your machine so it's barely visible.   Please let me know what you think so far? 

As with any new skill, practice makes perfect.  If you're in the Chicagoland area, I will be teaching this technique in a workshop on March 26, 2011 at The Quilt Merchant in Winfield, IL.  I'd love to have you join us!

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I wanted to answer the question about stabilizer....there is no need for a stablizer as the freezer paper is, in essence, a stabilizer.  The freezer paper is also wonderful in that you can mark your pieces, make notes, arrows, etc, to aid you in assembly.  Remember, too, that if things aren't working out with a particular piece, you can always remove the freezer paper, press your fabric and start over!  I encourage you to try this and practice a bit.  The learning curve isn't bad a all!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hand Applique by Machine ~ Lesson One

Hello everyone!

Blackbird Designs Trick or Treat basket block
Until about a year and half ago, I didn't think I'd ever learn needle-turn applique!  I didn't think I'd have the patience for it....but then, Blackbird Designs book, When The Cold Wind Blows came out and I fell madly in love with the little basket blocks.  I adore basket blocks!  While at a quilt guild function, I had an opportunity to learn needle-turn applique from a fellow guild member, and make one of these basket blocks.  I was smitten!!  I've been making these blocks ever since, and to date, have 66 of the needed 297 blocks finished.  It may take me several years to complete all of the blocks, but that's OK!  I'm thoroughly enjoying the journey.  Still, I don't think that traditional needle-turn will be something I strive at, although I'm happy to have the skills now. 

Many years ago, I learned the following method of applique, which gives the appearance of needle-turn.  It's faster, keeps the applique soft and pliable, gives you the option of hand or machine stitching, and removes the freezer paper from the back before stitching it in place!  It's good to have several  techniques in your stitching arsonal!

As promised, here is the first demo of how I get the look of needle-turn hand applique without the hand work.  Since the Remember Me block is a nice, easy circle, I'll demonstrate with that block, but know that I use this technique for any and all applique shapes and sizes.

Preparing the Applique

Trace the applique shape, including the dotted line, onto the paper side of a piece of freezer paper.   (The dotted line is an added steps for this project only.)  For this method, you don't have to reverse your applique. 

Cut the shape out on the solid line. For this block, cut the applique on the outer line only for now. 


With the waxy side against the fabric, press onto the wrong side of your fabric/block.


Trim the block into a circle, removing the excess fabric.


Lift and separate the freezer paper from from the fabric all around the edges of the circle, keeping it attached in the center.  Cut the freezer paper off on the dotted line.  Repress the freezer paper to the fabric. 

This gives you the 1/4 inch seam allowance, and the block is ready for the next step.

The first solid line of the circle template easily enables you to center the circle more precisely on the block since it extends from edge to edge.  Trimming the freezer paper on the dotted line then allows you to accurately trim a quarter inch seam allowance.  Normally when I use this method for applique, I trace the shape onto the freezer paper, cut it out on the line, iron to the wrong side of the fabric, then give myself a seam allowance when I cut it out. 


Stay tuned for Lesson Two coming soon!
Pam