Thursday, November 16, 2017

Starting to Finish

Just about every weekday morning I start out with some sewing to set the pace of my day. If I don’t sew in the morning when I’m not traveling, the day just doesn’t start out right. After about 2 hours at the sewing machine, I take my morning shower and get busy on the computer.

In the evenings I like to relax with tv or an audible book and some hand work.

This little project is pretty much nothin’ but leftovers from my Splendid Sampler quilt project, completed earlier this year. I used the Creative Grids Mini Pineapple tool to turn strips into pineapple blocks. There is more information on this project here.

I debated about the setting for these blocks, then decided to add some pieced sashing and cornerstone units. Separating the pineapple blocks creates a different feeling than sewing the blocks directly to each other. But with only a limited amount of leftovers, and small 6” square blocks, I needed to increase the size of the quilt unless I wanted something doll-sized. So there you have it. Sashing and cornerstones on the scene.

I found the perfect border fabric on one of my last stops in Alaska this summer at a shop in Soldotna. The fabric is covered with moose, in tones of blue and brown to compliment the leftover fabric blocks perfectly. With just a whack of that fabric left, I decided to use it in the backing.

I plan to piece a little bit of bright blue and a lot of the dark brown fabric to each side of the leftover moose print. That’s where I had to leave off yesterday morning. When the backing is ready, the quilt has only to be sandwiched and quilted and it’ll be done. Operative word: ONLY. Ha!

Earlier this week, I finished this quilt top. I started this guy *eons* ago. It’s a Crabapple Hill pattern called Snow Days.

I’s lovely. BUT. I’m not sure what made me think all this detailed backstitch embroidery would be a good idea.

At the time when this pattern was first released, it seemed like a good idea. And it was fun for the first few blocks. But I have to admit, with a lot of starts and stops (who wants to work on a winter quilt in the middle of summer?) it got to be a bit of a drag.

Truly, this is going to be an amazing quilt, but I have to admit that it has lost its sparkle for me.

At 66” square, I think it needs some kind of border. And that stack of fabrics on the stool to the left two photos up are the remnants from the blocks. (I can’t believe that stack of fabrics is still in tact - and even more miraculously that I was able to find them in the far reaches of my stash!)

So now the debate over a border begins. One option is to go right in and sandwich and quilt the dern thing and get ‘er done. But it sure would be a shame to come this far and feel like I short-changed the project just to finish it. What would you do? I'd love your thoughts!

The pattern doesn’t call for another border. But who follows the pattern anyway, right? Says the person who writes patterns for a living.

Before you say it, yes, I have a *thing* for blue and brown together. Can you tell?

Just keeping it real . .

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Flit and Bloom

Yay! It’s my day on the Flit and Bloom Blog hop! Welcome!

A while back Patty Young, a friend and fabric designer for Riley Blake Designs, showed me a little preview of her newest fabric line, Flit and Bloom, and I went nuts!

The colors and designs are bright and cheery. . .

And there are birds, and feathers, and flowers, (did I say birds?) and  . . .


I immediately thought it would make a great pillow with my bonus pillow pattern! Keep scrolling, you’ll have an opportunity to get a copy of that pattern, too!

The pillow project is very easy, you need a few 5” charm squares and a bit of yardage.

Cut some strips, do some flipping and rearranging with those strips . . .

and before you know it, you have strip sets and 9-patches. . .

A little more sewing and the front of the pillow is all done. To make the flaps for the back, I use a strip of fusible web to stabilize the edge of the flap.

Fold the fabric edge over the fusible web and add some topstitching. . .

Then align all the parts and sew everything together envelope style.

Before turning the pillow right side out, snip the corners at an angle to reduce bulk. . .

A little more edge stitching and stitching-in-the-ditch . . . then stuff in a pillow form.

So easy! And so cute with the Flit and Bloom Fabric! Want some Flit and Bloom fabric? Ask for it at you local independent quilt shop. . .

Do you want the pillow pattern? It's a bonus and you can get it right here! Fill in the form below and watch your email for a message that includes a pattern download. 

At the same time, I’ll set you up with another scrappy label pattern as an added bonus and a subscription to my Good Migrations weekly online newsletter. It's fun, filled with quilty (and sometimes not-so-quilty) tips and musings, and it's free!

Sound good?

Gotta run - or should I say Gotta “flit!”

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford
Head Hummingbird
Hummingbird Highway

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Happy Place

I spent last weekend at Quilt Market, the quilt industry trade show in Houston, Texas.

While many families are still displaced because of storm damage from Hurricane Harvey, the areas I visited near the convention center were open for business and recovering well.

My hotel was about a 10-block walk to and from the convention center. Along the way, I noticed that a pigeon must have ignored the ‘stay off the pavement’ signs when this little strip of concrete was curing.

As I got close to the convention center, Avenida Houston—ongoing outdoor festivals and entertainment connecting elements of the downtown area—was in evidence.

To set a creepy Halloween tone, these eerie apparitions swing from the trees.

Each bride-like figure created the perfect atmosphere to set a spooky tone for All Hallow’s Eve.

Colorful streamers decorated several structures in the park and in the street directly in front of the George Brown Convention Center, where Quilt Market was underway.

Just inside the convention center, a look up reveals clouds and birds (!) drifting overhead.

Once inside the convention center. And on the trade show floor, it’s inspiring to see the creative displays at each booth.

Riley Blake had dozens of huge white paper flowers bordering their entire display.

These sponge french fries created a clever display in Christopher Thompson’s (Also Riley Blake) booth.

Oooh, look who’s on the schedule over at the Taunton Press booth! Yep, that would be me. I had a wonderful time chatting with old friends and new ones while signing books and showing off some Versatile Nine Patch projects. . .

Wandering from booth to booth, some vendors stand out. Of course, you know I loved this booth!

I made sure I set time aside to wander into the quilt show. After the close of Quilt Market, the trade show-Quilt Festival-for anyone and everyone, not just members of the quilt industry, begins. The quilt show is a wonderful escape away from the hustle and bustle of the vending booths and displays to quilts submitted from all corners of the world.

This one, Mini V, by Grace Sim of Weston Lakes, Texas, is only about 12-14” square!

It looks like I am touching the quilt, I am not, but I needed something in the picture to show the scale of all those tiny little pieces.

Pinecones by Lenore Crawford of Midland Michigan and it’s red birds in a riot of white and gray tree branches drew me in!

Here’s a close-up of one of the birdies.

Keeping Up Appearances by Jan Reed of Grass Valley, California. is an amazing study of one of my favorite subjects - birds - in this case an ibis preening its feathers. The detail is just fabulous! Batiks, thread, paints, and pencil create this eye-catching quilt!

Continuing along on the bird-inspired quilt theme, Making Amends by Carol Cote of Brights Grove, Ontario, Canada captures one of my favorites - the Atlantic Puffin. On my trip to Alaska this summer, I was able to see circuses of Horned and Tufted Puffins off the Alaskan coast. They are just so fun!

A detail of Making Amends.

These are just a few of the images that captured my soul on this trip to Houston. At the airport, I grabbed a lemonade (Huberts Lemonade) in the airport because I’m not really fond of the fizzy stuff they serve on the plane. Once I was settled into my seat with my travel stitching project in my lap, I noticed the inside of the top had a message for me!

Right-o! I like to think this way about all kinds of quilty endeavors!

Happy Stitching
Joan Ford

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cookie Monster!

In September, Dave and I went on vacation to Gloucester and Maine. In Bar Harbor, Maine, we stayed at a lovely bed and breakfast place, The Atlantean Cottage. While we were there, I got a few ideas about cookies. . . .

You see, each evening, our B&B hosts put out a tray of home-baked cookies in the butler’s pantry.

Typically, we’d be out and about for dinner or whatever, and once we got back to the B&B, we’d grab a decaffeinated hot beverage and a cookie or two and head up to the room to settle in. Yum!

At breakfast, I got into a conversation about the cookies. The chef clued me on a couple of hints, that seem so obvious - you know, one of those, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moments.

He said for starters, most bakers don’t cream the butter and sugar enough when they are mixing the dough. No less than 10-15 minutes, he said. Okay, I can do that.

It’s the next part that was the face-palm moment. He said that he makes up the batter, makes up a small batch for the evening, then drops the rest of the cookies onto a tray covered in waxed paper and freezes them. Once frozen, he drops them into a zip-type storage bag, then bakes the one or two dozen for the evening. Wait, what?

I love baking cookies, but I don’t do it that much, because I really don’t want to have all those cookies around. My sweet tooth is bad enough, but Dave can inhale a double batch of chocolate chip cookies in a few days (Don’t tell him I told you that!) (Notice how I’m 100% blaming him for any extra cookie consumption around here . . . *a-hem!*)

So I decided to put the process to the test. Because who doesn’t like a couple of freshly baked homemade cookies now and again?

I usually make the standard Toll House cookie recipe from the side of the bag. With one exception. To give the cookies a bit more structure I add one cup of flour to the recipe. I also eliminate the salt if I’m using salted butter.

Following Brad’s (the B&B chef) advice, I mixed and mixed the butter and sugar before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Then dropped the cookie dough onto a baking sheet - but only about 12-15 - one sheet full, enough for the evening and lunch the next day.

Mmm. Yum. Fresh cookies. But just enough, not trays and trays.

Then I measured out and dropped the remainder of the batter onto a waxed-paper covered baking sheet.

Then put the whole tray into my freezer. About an hour or so later, I popped them into a zip-bag and put a piece of tape with temperature and cooking time on the resealable bag.

Oh my goodness! Fresh cookies. And just enough for the two of us. Awesome.

Turns out, works just the same for snickerdoodles.

I now have three different kinds of cookies stored in my freezer all ready to defrost and pop into the oven.

Now, let’s hope the power doesn’t go out!

(Or maybe we should hope that it does, but just long enough to defrost the dough, then back on in time to bake the cookies!)

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A-a-a-all Aboard!

Over the weekend, I was guest speaker at the Hope Lutheran Fall Quilt Show in Arcade, New York. My host was Sandy Pirdy and her fabulous crew at Creekside Fabrics, Quilts and Yarn.

Sandy’s must-visit shop is situated exactly adjacent to Clear Creek.

Every time I visit, one step inside the door, and I feel like I am home. The staff is just the best - friendly and helpful - especially when there is glow-in-the-dark fabric to examine (little inside joke there, sorry - couldn’t resist!)

On Friday, I was invited to do some demonstrations at the shop. Here, folks are gathered around to see how I made the pieced fabric buttons for the Button Collection Pillow . . .

The pillow pattern is from ScrapTherapy, The Versatile Nine Patch, using the Mini Scrap Grid interfacing and Quiltsmart Zig Zapps Circles.

Later, we headed over to the Hope Lutheran Church, a few blocks away. Quilts representing a pattern series entitled Women of The Bible were hung in the church sanctuary.

And lots of quilts in the main gathering/lobby area. This one made by Nancy Bush and its bird and bird house theme naturally grabbed my attention!

And of course, a quilter’s gotta eat. Fabulous chicken and biscuit lunch prepared and served by the church members throughout the weekend. Super yum!

After my talk, the quilts were draped over the alter rail in the church sanctuary for closer inspection.

And a little Arcade history: if you visit Arcade you simply *must* visit the Arcade and Attica Railroad! And be prepared to travel back in time.

All you have to do is step foot inside the station and you feel as if you’ve entered another era. The model train above sets the stage appropriately.

Grab some popcorn!  . . .

 . . .  and climb aboard one of several 1920s coaches attached to a vintage locomotive steam engine.

The train runs regularly from June to October with a variety of special-themed events during all four seasons. The train makes two hour trips from Arcade to Curriers.

A sneak peek inside one of the coaches tells me that these folks are in for a fun ride!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take the trip with these fine folks, so I simply must plan to return to Arcade soon!

Many, many thanks to all those who made my trip to Arcade memorable!

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford