Wednesday, August 28, 2013


100 log cabin blocks!

No, it's not bad lighting or your color settings being off - those florescent greens are really that bright! What was I thinking? I was hoping they would give an earthy quilt a little zing. When you look at them closely, they are pretty atrocious, but all together, they look ok.

I spent at least an hour laying out the blocks so no two fabrics would be next to each other, then labeling the blocks and pinning them for the next stage of sewing.

I'm still on target to have all 100 blocks sewn into four-block units by the end of August.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Birch Tree Forest

A few years back I spied this quilted wall hanging on the Tallgrass Prairie Studio blog.  This was right around the time I started reading blogs, we moved into our new house and I finally had a dedicated sewing room.  We have cathedral ceilings in our master bedroom and those tall walls needed some decoration.  As soon as I saw Jacquie’s Night Forest quilt, I knew this was the perfect solution.  I emailed Jacquie and asked her permission to make my own version of her quilt and told her I would be sure to give her credit as the inspiration.  She graciously gave me permission.
So, with no pattern, just pictures of her finished quilt, I set out to make my version.  Jacquie’s Night Forest quilt is strip-pieced “birch tree” trunks on a black background.  I gathered some neutral fabrics, some black fabrics, a “birch bark” fabric and one blue-grey fabric and pieced strips, then cut the strips to 24” long and between 1 ½ and 3 inches wide.  I laid out the strips on my cutting table in more or less the same way as Jacquie’s design.

When it came time to piece the strips with the black background, I had some trouble because I was trying to piece them at angles to look like multi-trunk trees.  It took some trial and error, but eventually I was happy with the way it fit together. 
I quilted lines ½ inch apart only on the black background to make the trunks really stand out.  When it was all finished and bound, I added a label giving credit to Jacquie for the inspiration and noting that she gave me permission to duplicate her quilt, and then I sent her another email with some pictures of the finished product.

Jacquie's version finished at 19" X 41".  Mine finishes at 21" by 54". 

I was really late to the party when it comes to reading blogs but I’m so glad I finally did.  All that internet inspiration helped me to find exactly the right project for our bedroom wall.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nearing the finish line

I can just about see the finish line as far as piecing the log cabin blocks goes!  75 are done, 25 have the first of three rounds done:

24 have been sewn into 4-block units:

I’m going to try to quilt each of the 4-block units individually and then piece them together.  I cut out 24” squares of the backing fabric.  I plan to trim the batting even with the edge of the top when each unit is quilted, then fold back the edge of the backing and sew the units together.  Once they are sewn together, I will overlap one edge of the backing over another, folding under the seam allowance, then I will hand sew the seam allowance down.  If it doesn’t work out too well, I’ll hand sew some ribbon over the seams in the back.  I’ll let you know how it turns out. J 
On another note, Maggie and I were both suffering from our various arthritis pains – my knees were hurting because I did too much and was on my feet too long.  I felt better after putting my feet up and sitting on the screen porch and I’ll be going for Euflexxa shots in both knees today.  Miss Maggie usually keeps me company on her bed in my sewing room, but she couldn’t even make it all the way down the stairs.  She made it to the landing, half-way down, and that’s where she stayed. 

She did make it downstairs to sleep last night, but she had a difficult time coming back up this morning.    She’s been taking prednisone to help with her allergies and the arthritis, but I’ll call the vet and see if there’s something else we can do for her.  Poor old girl.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Trece canastas rosadas (or 13 pink baskets)

Canasta is a finished top!  Oh boy, this one gave me trouble.  I don’t think a single one of my blocks finished at the right size and there was a ton of finagling seems around in order to not chop off any triangle points.  The top right corner does not want to lay flat, but that will quilt out, right?  J

I really want to get this all quilted and bound because it’s going to decorate the wall in my pink sewing room.  But…I have to finish those last 25 log cabin blocks this month and work on a mini quilt for September.  I have it all designed, I just need to find time to work on it!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Lucky Me

The random number generator has been good to me a lot lately.  I’ve been a winner in the Schnibbles parade twice already and last week, I won this from the Fat Quarter Shop:

A fat-quarter bundle of Perfect Pairings by Kim Diehl and two free patterns featuring this fabric!  As far as I know, this isn’t a Christmas line, but there are beautiful red/burgundy, green, and cream fabrics and I think they can be put to good use in a Christmas project.
Thank you to the Fat Quarter Shop for this very generous gift!
I also consider myself lucky to have some of my family close by.  Until three years ago, we used to live on a cul-de-sac of 5 houses.  My sister and her family lived in #1 and we lived in #4.  It was awesome to have her just across the street.  Our husbands have been best friends since they were about 10 years old and our boys are more like brothers than cousins.  Since I don’t have any daughters, my sister gladly shared hers so I could have some “girl time”.  We’re only two miles apart now, but we don’t get to spend as much time together as we used to.  A couple days ago my sister, my niece and I went blueberry picking. 

An hour’s worth of picking resulted in 6 pounds of blueberries!! 

I gently washed all the berries and laid them out on paper towels on cookie sheets to dry.  When they were dry, the cookie sheets went into the freezer overnight.  In the morning, I bagged up the frozen berries into individual serving sizes and made a blueberry sour cream pound cake with the rest.  Yum!!
After I was done with the blueberries, I was able to turn this:

into this:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More bitty basket blocks

At 5 inches, these Canasta basket blocks aren’t as small as the little 2-inch cakestand basket blocks from the July challenge, but they’re still pretty small. I really like these fabrics and the way these blocks turned out.

Monday, August 12, 2013

25 down, 25 to go

I sped through piecing the 2 outer rows on the 25 log cabin blocks I had in progress.  Once each complete row of two lights and two darks is added I trim the blocks to size before adding the next set of strips.
Adding these 25 completed blocks to the 50 I completed last year, I am up to 75 completed blocks.  That means I have 25 more to go!  I need to get the piecing all finished in August so I can get this one quilted in September and to be on target to have this all finished in time for Anne’s early October birthday.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pink Geese

Cutting the fabrics and trimming took longer than sewing these 26 pink flying geese units.  I didn’t have the suggested Mini Fit to Be Geese ruler so I made do with the Fit to Be Quarter 6.5 ruler.  I’m not sure if the trimming would have been easier with the mini geese ruler, but I’ve found so many uses for that Fit to Be Quarter ruler.  I wish it came in a 12.5” size. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Pile of Pink 4-Patch Blocks

Aren't they pretty? 

I hope your having a great week.  It's still fairly cool for August in Upstate New York.  This is my kind of weather!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Stocking up on supplies

Although I didn’t do much sewing during the month of July, I was busy planning for new projects and buying all the supplies I’ll need.

For Christmas 2011, I received the pattern to make Amy Butler’s Weekender Bag.  I’m finally ready to make it.  I’ll be sewing both the Weekend Bag and the Fig Tree’s One Piece Bag using the same two fabrics – both are from Happy Go Lucky by Bonnie and Camille.  I’ll be using the navy/multi-colored banner print as the main outer fabric and the lime penny fabric for the linings, handles, and piping.  This will be my first time making and using piping – I’m a little anxious about how it will turn out, but also excited to learn a new skill.  I even bought a special piping foot for my sewing machine.

While we were visiting Inlet this summer, I saw a really pretty sun hat in an Adirondack outfitters store.  It was reversible, made by a top outdoor outfitter brand, fairly expensive, and way too big for my head, so needless to say, I didn’t buy it.  Then I saw this free pattern on the Craftsy website and decided I can make a similar hat for a fraction of the price and I can make it to fit!  This pattern isn’t reversible, but that’s okay.  I’ll be using the black gingham as the outer fabric and the other as the lining.  Total cost: $6.10.  Now that’s a bargain!

For the August Schnibbles, Canasta, I decided to make the smaller, 13-block version.  I’ve wanted to make a small wall hanging for my pink sewing room so I’ll be using these fabrics to make a scrappy version.  Three are from my stash, the rest were new purchases.  I’m looking forward to a less busy month and logging some serious time in my sewing room!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy - but not much sewing

Well, I only finished those six lonely itty bitty basket blocks.  But…I do still have all the pieces cut out and I can work on them over time.  Last weekend, I only managed an hour of sewing and I used that to finish my Saratoga wall hanging.  Instead of sewing, I’ve been busy enjoying summer.  Mr. Urban usually works weekends but he was off last weekend and our son, Jay, surprised us with a visit too. 
Last Friday, we went to the Adirondack Greek Festival with my sister, Anne, and her husband, Joe.  Our husbands have been best friends since they were 10 and 11 years old, so we always have a great time together.  At the Greek festival, we enjoyed gyros, souvlaki, and spanikopita, great desserts and enjoyed watching the Greek dancing.  I was so impressed with the teenage dancers.  It’s wonderful to see that in today’s world where there is so much bullying, that these kids weren’t afraid to connect with their cultural heritage. 
On Saturday we went on another 18 mile bike ride – this time on the Zim Smith trail from Ballston Spa, NY to Halfmoon, NY.  This was a great, easy ride.  The trail was flat, except for one place where it crossed over the Northway.  The trail is a little over 9 miles in each direction; the six miles from Ballston Spa to just past Round Lake are paved and the last three miles are hard-packed gravel.  It was a nice, scenic ride.
Sunday found us downstate in Dutchess County.  First up was the Walkway Over the Hudson, a paved trail over a former railroad bridge, 212 feet above the Hudson River.  Yikes!!  I am afraid of heights, but not so afraid that I won’t at least try to overcome my fears.  We started out on the Poughkeepsie side and for the whole way across the river I wouldn’t let Mr. Urban get more than a couple inches away from me.  I had to keep my eyes straight ahead and not look to either side.  I kept feeling vertigo, but was determined to get across.  The walkway is 1.28 miles each direction. On the way back, I was a little more relaxed and was able to take a couple pictures – as long as I stayed in the center of the bridge and did not go near the railings!!  Afterwards, Jay told me I was “power walking” – I guess I really just wanted to get across and not dilly dally, but at least I did it!  I figure if I cross the bridge another 5 or 6 times, I might not be afraid any more, but that’s not going to happen, cuz I’m crossing that bridge off the bucket list!!  The picture below shows the Mid-Hudson Bridge as seen from the middle of the Walkway bridge.

After the walk, we headed north to Hyde Park and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Home and Museum.  We’re all history buffs so we really enjoyed the tour of the house and spent a lot of time in the Presidential Library and museum. 

We continued on northward to Rhinebeck, NY where we enjoyed great food at Foster’s Coach House Tavern.  Jay and I had the special – filet mignon, and a wonderful tomato bisque soup.  Mr. Urban enjoyed the fried seafood platter.  Unfortunately, we arrived in Rhinebeck late in the day on Sunday and all the shops were closed, but we definitely want to go back another time to stroll around the village and visit a few more of the historic homes in the area (the Vanderbilt Mansion and Val-Kill – Eleanor Roosevelt’s get-away cottage).
As far as I know, I’ll be alone this weekend and will be back in the sewing room!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Saratoga - The August Place to Be

It’s summer, it’s August, the place to be is Saratoga Springs, NY.  There’s so much happening in and around Saratoga any time of year, but especially in summer, and even more so in August.
The slogan for Saratoga is “Health, History, Horses”. 
The naturally occurring mineral springs originally drew the local Native Americans to this area.  They felt the spring water had healing properties.  After the Native Americans introduced the English settlers to the springs, the area became a resort town for folks looking to “take the cure”.  Tourists drank and bathed in the mineral waters.  Today, there are about 20 springs located around town.  In my opinion, most of the mineral spring water is not fit for drinking – it’s naturally carbonated, smells like sulfur, and is heavy with minerals – many of the springs are identified as being a “cathartic” – meaning that drinking the water will make you “go”, if you know what I mean.  But don’t take my word for it, you have to try it for yourself.  There is the State Seal spring located in Saratoga Spa State Park that is just plain, great, clear, spring water.  A couple hundred yards away is the Geyser Island Spouter mineral spring.  This spring is located in the middle of Kaydeross Creek, which runs through the center of the park.  The Geyser is one of only a few springs that actually shoots up in the air.  Years and years of mineral deposits have formed the “island” that surrounds the spring.
If you remember your American History, then you should know that Saratoga is the “Turning Point of the Revolutionary War”.  It was after the Battles of Saratoga (September 19 and October 7, 1777) that British General John Burgoyne surrendered to the Continental Army.  Today, you can visit the location of those battles, Freeman’s Farm, and the Battle of Bemis Heights, at the Saratoga National Historical Park.  In addition to the battlefield, you can also visit General Philip Schuyler’s house and the Saratoga Monument.  You can also visit Grant’s Cottage, the last home of former U.S. President, Ulysses S. Grant.
Today, most people associate Saratoga with horse racing, particularly thoroughbred racing at the Saratoga Race Course, the oldest continuously-operating race course in America.  This year, the race course is celebrating its 150th year.  The summer meet currently runs for six weeks from late July to Labor Day.   If you enjoy horses, people watching, and being surrounded by history in a beautiful setting, then a day at the races might be for you. 
If you haven’t had enough horse racing during the day, you can also visit the Saratoga Casino and Raceway in the evening for harness racing and to play the slots.  Or, if polo’s more your thing, you can watch a polo match hosted by the Saratoga Polo Association.
So Much More
In addition to health, history, and horses, the Saratoga area has many other attractions and reasons to visit.  The Saratoga Performing Arts Center features an outdoor, covered amphitheatre and is the summer home to the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as numerous other country and contemporary recording artists. 
If you like museums, Saratoga has the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and the Saratoga Automobile Museum. 
Can you tell I love this area of Upstate NY?  I’ve only scratched the surface of all that Saratoga has to offer, but, if after reading all of this you still aren’t convinced that a visit to Saratoga should be on your itinerary, you should know there are 5 quilt shops and 2 Joann Fabrics within a 15-20 minute drive of downtown Saratoga!!  When you come to Saratoga, you should plan to visit each of the following local quilt shops – each features something different than the others:
Saratoga Springs: KC Framing and Fabrics
Ballston Spa: Almost One of a Kind
Queensbury and Clifton Park: Joann’s Fabrics
Now – how did I make the Saratoga quilt?  For the text and the horse, I used June Tailor Colorfast fabric sheets and printed these off my computer.  For the Saratoga Monument, I drew the monument with a Pigma Micron pen.  I used watercolor pencils to draw, then “paint” the Geyser Island Spouter.