Fiesta de Azucar – Block 4

July 23rd, 2017

Block 4 of our project is now available! This weeks designer is Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin. I’m sure you’ve seen her logo around so it really was a no brainer to ask her to join our project. How exciting when she said yes! You can check out her story, find out the special meaning behind the eyebrows and see all the places you can download it from right here.

Sugarskull

If you missed the first three blocks…you can still join in the fun! Our facebook group is always available for your inspirational pleasure. Here is the schedule of designers and their block release dates:

July 1st – Block 1 – Terri Sontra, Purple Moose Designs

July 8th – Block 2 – Joanne Hillestad, Fat Quarter Gypsy

July 15th – Block 3 – Vicki Hansen, Cranberry Pie Designs

July 22nd – Block 4 – Cheryl Sleboda, Muppin

July 29th – Block 5 – Penni Domikis, Cabin In The Woods Quilters

August 5th – Block 6 – Tammy Silvers, Tamarinis

August 12th – Block 7 – Kate Colleran, Seams Like A Dream Quilt Designs

August 19th – Block 8 – Susan Emory, Swirly Girls Design

August 26th – Block 9 – Trish Frankland, Persimon Dreams

September 2nd – Border

Fiesta de Azucar – Block 3

July 15th, 2017

Block 3 of our 9 block series is now up and available. This block was created by Vicki Hansen of Cranberry Pie Designs. Vicki is known for her quirky sense of style and her fun embroidery and applique patterns. Her story about making the skull design was delightful. One we can all relate to in some way. Didn’t we all have a grandmother or someone who spoiled us with candy?  I hope to be that grandmother some day!

You can see Vicki’s story and the link to the block here on her blog. Be sure and check out the rest of her sight as well…there’s some cool stuff there! If you want to see the other blocks that have already been posted then head over to our FaceBook group and join in on the fun.

Fiesta de Azucar – Block #2

July 8th, 2017

Block #2 of our series has been created by Joanne Hillestad of the Fat Quarter Gypsy. I’m sure you’ve all heard of Pop-Up’s, right? Joanne is the Queen of Pop-Ups. She even turned her skull into a pop-up! I loved her story about her block. Head on over and check it out, then download the pattern! You’ll get free instructions on how to turn a block or three into a pop-up! Joanne’s blog is here.

 

 

Fiesta de Azucar – Block 1, The Painted Lady

July 1st, 2017

Well, it’s finally here…the start of Fiesta de Azucar. Are you guys ready? Woo Hoo, let’s get this party started!

Dia De Los Muertos is a South American tradition to honor our loved ones who have passed on. As a kid I lived in Mexico for a while and I remember the holiday fondly. We would go to the cemetery for a picnic and tell stories of those that had passed. There would be games to play, brightly colored decorations and lots of sweets. I remember these little cookies with skulls painted on them that were very tasty. The holiday usually falls about the same time as the American Halloween festivities. I think this is why Dia De Los Muertos is so misunderstood in America…skulls around Halloween just seems somewhat sinister to folks who don’t understand. It is anything but sinister. It’s a family affair and couldn’t be more wholesome. Families would decorate skulls in honor of their relatives. The skulls have symbolism that is relevant to that person and they would often have the person’s initials on the forehead.

My skull for this project is to honor my mother-in-law, Marge Sontra, I called her Mom. She was a painter who specialized in line art on porcelain. She would work with brushes that had just a couple of hairs. Way more patience than I have! Here are a few pieces she did that live in my house.

    

She was also an avid (as in DOZENS and DOZENS and DOZENS) collector of tea cups. Tea cups are not really my thing so I don’t have any of hers around. She preferred dainty cups festooned with flowers and greenery. Her favorite colors were lavender, robins egg blue and pink. Being of good English stock she liked her meat cooked to shoe leather and her veggies cooked to a nice uniform gray. She made the best potato salad EVER!

Mom died of breast cancer in 1999.  The doctors said she wouldn’t make it to the birth of my baby but she managed to hang on almost to Moosette’s 1st birthday. In turn Moosette did everything early – walking, talking, potty training…just so Grandma Marge could see her do it. Those two were a treasure to each other. I remember once when we popped in for a visit. Mom was getting ready to go somewhere and had put on a wig for the occasion. Moosette wanted nothing to do with her. Once Mom took the wig off then Moosette was ever so grateful for the rescue from that “stranger” who had tried to hug and kiss her. Her Grandma was bald and that woman was not – therefore she must be an impostor. One can never be too careful around strangers! The picture at the top is this moment. Moosette looks like she’s really nervous. She started bawling right after the photo.

It seemed fitting that Moosette and I would design our skull together. Our Marge skull has palette eyes, paintbrush eyebrows, pretty flowers (the Aster on the forehead was Mom’s birth month flower) and, of course, little tea cups on the chin. There is a heart for love as well as swirls and flowers that were often on her tea cups. And I’m sure you noticed that she’s bald…we wouldn’t have it any other way!

You can find full instructions and templates on my Craftsy page. All this awesomeness for a mere $3…can you even buy coffee for that anymore? Check out the next stops in the blog hop for more blocks. We’ll also have two different border options at the end. Make any project with at least one of our skull blocks, post a photo on our FaceBook group page and you get a shot at some great prizes. It’s really just that simple…

Timeline:

Beginning on July 1st through August 26th 2017 each designer will release their skull design. On September 2nd and September 9th there will be two border designs released. Here’s the schedule along with the participants and their blogs.

July 1st – Block 1 – Terri Sontra, Purple Moose Designs

July 8th – Block 2 – Joanne Hillestad, Fat Quarter Gypsy

July 15th – Block 3 – Vicki Hansen, Cranberry Pie Designs

July 22nd – Block 4 – Cheryl Sleboda, Muppin

July 29th – Block 5 – Penni Domikis, Cabin In The Woods Quilters

August 5th – Block 6 – Tammy Silvers, Tamarinis

August 12th – Block 7 – Kate Colleran, Seams Like A Dream Quilt Designs

August 19th – Block 8 – Susan Emory, Swirly Girls Design

August 26th – Block 9 – Trish Frankland, Persimon Dreams

September 2nd – Border Option #1 – Tammy Silvers, Tamarinis

September 9th – Border Option #2 – Terri Sontra, Purple Moose Designs

October 30th – Prize winner announcements

 

Russian Piping Tips

June 9th, 2017

Not quilting but I thought I would share a little kitchen tool review. A few months ago I got a set of Russian Piping Tips and hadn’t gotten around to trying them out. Moosette and I made a date tonight and gave them a whirl. What’s a Russian Piping Tip you ask? They’re similar to regular piping tips just much larger. Here are a few of them next to a regular tip.

I watched several videos where the folks make it look really easy and you can decorate a cupcake in just a few seconds (well, these tips are huge…duh!) The set came with a buttercream icing recipe (which we followed) and several hints for success (which we also followed). Here’s the guide for which tips make which flowers. Don’t their cupcakes look pretty?

So, how did we do? Well…some were ok…we did have a little trouble controlling the temperature of the icing. They suggested putting the icing in the freezer for a few minutes to stiffen it up. We found that the outer icing in the bag would then get too hard and the inner portion was still too soft. One video showed making a flat spread of icing and placing a second color down the middle. Then you roll it all up and put it in the tip. Easy enough and the results were promising…well, except for the soft icing issue. Moosette thought this one looked like a hot dog on a flat bun.

We did have some semi-successes…

 

  

And several failures…

 

And we made a huge mess…

We did learn that the failures taste just as good as the pretty ones. It was great to spend an evening trying something new with my favorite daughter. We both decided that we need a little more practice and we’ll definitely be trying them out again…but first I have to run a marathon to work off all this buttercream frosting…

Fiesta de Azucar

June 7th, 2017

No automatic alt text available.

Fiesta de Azucar is just about to start…are you ready? (that’s Sugar Party for the non-spanish speakers!) We have assembled 9 of the best quilt designers to each design one block with a sugar skull theme. There will also be two border options available. You can make a fun wall hanging with all nine blocks or maybe just choose 3 for a table runner. Did I mention that there will be prizes? Here’s how it works…

 

Timeline:

Beginning on July 1st through August 26th 2017 each designer will release their skull design. On September 2nd and September 9th there will be two border designs released. Here’s the schedule along with the participants and their blogs.

July 1st – Block 1 – Terri Sontra, Purple Moose Designs

July 8th – Block 2 – Joanne Hillestad, Fat Quarter Gypsy

July 15th – Block 3 – Vicki Hansen, Cranberry Pie Designs

July 22nd – Block 4 – Cheryl Sleboda, Muppin

July 29th – Block 5 – Penni Domikis, Cabin In The Woods Quilters

August 5th – Block 6 – Tammy Silvers, Tamarinis

August 12th – Block 7 – Kate Colleran, Seams Like A Dream Quilt Designs

August 19th – Block 8 – Susan Emory, Swirly Girls Design

August 26th – Block 9 – Trish Frankland, Persimon Dreams

September 2nd – Border Option #1 – Tammy Silvers, Tamarinis

September 9th – Border Option #2 – Terri Sontra, Purple Moose Designs

October 30th – Prize winner announcements

 

The Blocks:

Each block will be a 9″ X 12″ (9.5″ X 12.5″ unfinished) design with a sugar skull motif. Traditionally sugar skulls are made to honor a loved one who has passed and incorporate things relevant to that person. Some of the designers have chosen to do that, others just made cool skulls. You’ll be able to read each designers story about their skull during their week. Some are already giving sneak peaks on their blogs! Each block and border will be available for download on the specified day. There will be a nominal fee of $3.00 for each download.

 

The Sponsors:

Each designer was provided with a palette of fabrics from the Island Batiks Basics line to make their blocks with. They were also given a whole lot of 12wt spools from Aurifil to use for embellishing.

photo credit, Vicki Hansen, Cranberry Pie Designs

We have extras too! That’s your first clue about prizes…

 

Prizes:

Did someone say prizes? Yup! Simply complete a project using at least one of the sugar skull designs and post a photo on our Facebook group page for a chance to win some great prizes. So far we have a collection of 12wt Aurifil spools and a stack of fat quarters from Island Batik. We’ll be posting more prizes as we get them in. We will draw for prizes on October 30, 2017, the day before Dia De Los Muertos begins.

 

Intrigued? Questions?

Head on over to the Facebook group and join in on the fun. You can ask any questions you may have or just check out what everyone else has been working on. I can’t wait to see what you all do with our designs. The fun is about to begin…don’t you want to join in?

Spring Quilt Market 2017 – Part 2

May 24th, 2017

Here’s the second installment of my trip to Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis. The actual Market is three days. Shop owners get to peruse the booths of fabric companies, notions vendors, pattern designers and a few vendors who sell other items that may interest them. Since I was pretty much by myself in my booth I had a short leash and couldn’t roam around while the show floor was open.

I did see a lot of butterflies in several booths. You’ll be seeing those in your local shops soon no doubt!

The larger companies really go all out with decorations for their booths. Aren’t those cute spool stools?

I loved this chair! In the close up of the seat you can see it’s rolled up wool.

This was my neighbor Amy Walsh of Blue Underground Studios (best neighbor EVER!) and Jackie Kunkel of Canton Village Quiltworks booth. I ran into Jackie every 20 minutes just about every day!

Had a little fun in the Swirly Girls booth with some of Susan Emory’s new fabric line, Hello! Can’t wait to get my hands on some of that!

Market also has a small display of spectacular quilts. This was one of my favorites, Old Denim Square by Noriko Nozawa of Chiba City Japan. I’m sure it weighed a ton!

Another favorite quilt was After The Storm by Ruth Powers. I loved the touch of metallic thread for the lightning!

I sampled some great food too. Tried the Gooey Butter Cake which is a St. Louis specialty. Super sugary, perfect for that afternoon pick-me-up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did get to do some roaming around the city a little in the evenings. I saw some great architecture. Some of the details would make neat quilting ideas.

I saw cool plants and more quilting ideas.

I had great dinner companions, saw the arch at night and more quilting ideas (do you see the boo-boo in the floor tile?)

And yes, even got to see the arch during the day. It was under construction and this is as close as we could get… Also saw horses!

I saw these all around the city…not sure what they recycle cigarette butts into…

Loved this photo in my hotel. The close-up shows it’s a book!

My flight home got delayed so I had a chance to roam around the airport. Found a bathroom for service dogs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a final look at the arch before heading home…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yeah…I sold some stuff too…

Spring Quilt Market 2017 – Part 1

May 23rd, 2017

I just got back from Spring Quilt Market and thought I would share some of what I saw with you guys. I have lots of photos so I’ll do it in two blog posts. For those that don’t know…Market is held twice a year, Houston in the fall and changing cities in the spring. This year was St. Louis and next spring is in Portland OR. This is a trade show for quilting businesses. Quilt shops come to see what is the newest and latest items from fabric companies, notion peddlers and pattern designers. It’s sort of like a large (VERY large!) quilt show but on steroids. This show was held in a convention center that was four blocks long. My hotel was at one end and my booth at the other…I got lots and lots of walking done! There were 32 aisles of vendors. I was in aisle 29 right next to the networking lounge. Here’s what my booth looked like when I arrived and the finished product.

 

My booth was a little skimpy compared to most of the others because everything I needed had to fit into the two suitcases that I flew with and they couldn’t weigh more than 50 lbs. It was an engineering feat.  I had to bring carpet, drapes, quilts, patterns, lots of flyers, table cover, chair cover, decorations, etc. I also had to squeeze some clothes in there somewhere…and deodorant, everyone was glad I could fit the deodorant! It was also a little skimpy because I’m not a large corporation with deep pockets…

 

The first day is set-up of the booth areas. There are dozens of fork-lifts whizzing around, huge crates in the aisles, litter and debris from unpacking everywhere…it’s controlled chaos. Very exciting. This poor lift driver had to maneuver through our aisle. Once all the fork-lift work is complete then they lay the red carpet in the aisles. It’s amazing how everything gets done.

Day two is Schoolhouse all day and Sample Spree at night. Schoolhouse is 15-30 minute classes all day. You get the program in the morning and have to choose your classes. Each time slot has about a dozen classes to choose from. Here are all the shop owners looking over their schedules waiting for the first classes to start. Some of the classes are companies or designers showing off their newest items, others are how-to classes for all the business things we need to know.

I helped out a few friends during their schoolhouse sessions. Here’s Tammy Silvers of Tamarini’s showing off quilts made with her new line Batiks Go Retro from Island Batik. Also a shot of her booth on the Market floor. The purple and orange bag on the floor is one I made in her fabrics!

Here’s Ebony Love showing off her new block of the month program made with her new line Sakura, also by Island Batik. Also a shot of her booth on the Market floor.

 

Here’s my friend Penni Domikis of Cabin In The Woods Quilters showing off her new EPP templates along with her Vanna White Kelly Ann Richardson of Kelly Ann’s Quilting. I’m very excited that Penni will be a special guest celebrity in my booth during Maine Quilts in July! You’ll get to see her in action and check out her really cool new EPP templates.

Sample Spree is two hours of madness. Think day-after-Thanksgiving shopping for quilters but you only get two hours. Some of the tables are piled high with thread, fabric, pattern kits…all kinds of stuff. The shop owners swarm in and start grabbing.

   Tomorrow I’ll share some photos of the Market floor and some sights around the city.

Binding Tips

March 10th, 2017

I was putting the binding on a quilt the other day and thought of a couple of tips to pass along to make it a little easier!

Binding Tip #1

Once you’ve attached your binding to the quilt by machine, the next step is to flip it to the back and hand stitch it down (unless you do it all by machine but that’s another blog post!) Take a few moments and press the binding in the correct direction first. It’s kind of like pressing a seam to one side, pressing the binding away from the quilt top. It will make it much easier to flip around to the back during the hand stitching part. You will also get a more uniform appearance on the front of the quilt.

Press Your Binding

Binding Tip #2

Save all the extra binding pieces. I put all mine in a big glass jar. That way they’re a pretty decoration until I’m in need of a scrappy binding. Sew ’em all together and it’s like free fabric!

Binding Collection

Binding Tip #3

Start the hand sewing portion with a new needle. Just like machine needles, hand needles don’t last forever. They can bend, get burrs and get their points worn down from use. The price of an individual needle is not all that much, get a new one. My favorite for doing binding work is the John James Milliners needles. They are long and thin and I can get a good bit of stitches on before having to pull up the thread. The less I have to pull up the thread, the less it may tangle. The come in various sizes and also have the option of the Gold ‘n Glide coating. I love Gold ‘n Glide! The needles are dipped in a magic solution that makes it glide through the fabric with ease. The eye is also dipped in gold to make it easier to see. Seriously, who are they kidding…I still can’t see it…a needle threader is a must!

John James Milliners

Do you have a binding tip that you can share?

Retreats are…

February 12th, 2017

Have you ever been on a retreat? Ever wonder what really goes on at one? I have run retreats and/or been entertainment at them for years now but had only been a complete guest once before (no business obligations at all)…and it was a very long time ago. I recently had the pleasure of being a complete guest and it was such a wonderful time. Can’t wait to do it all again!

 

Retreats come in all shapes and sizes. They can have guest teachers or just do-your-own-thing, guests can know each other previously or not, there can be lots of people or just a few, catered food or cook your own…you get the idea. There is bound to be a retreat out there that fits the bill for what you want. If not, make up your own rules and host one! Our retreat was held at Sew-clusion Retreats in Sebago Maine with our Hostess Patty Sawyer. If you need a place to have a retreat I highly recommend Patty’s place. It’s right on a lake, beautiful scenery, shopping nearby (quilty and otherwise), our rooms were well appointed (I had the purple room!) and everything was comfy cozy. The photos above are the views in the summertime and winter. Below is a view looking back from the beach during the summertime.

Why so few pictures from my visit? Well, ya know…ya get to relaxing and forget to take pictures… My fellow retreaters were equally relaxed. They snapped a couple of photos on their way there and then that was that. Here they are picking up some quilting wine at the store.

 

That would be, from left to right, Kris Poor of Poorhouse Quilt Designs, Penni Domikis of Cabin In The Woods Quilters, Susan Emory of Swirly Girls Design and Joanne Hillestad of The Fat Quarter Gypsy. Our hostess Patty is from Maine (obviously), Kris and I are both from New Hampshire and the other three flew in from their corners of the country. Kris had chauffeur duty to and from the airport. Ask a group of quilters to pack a car while leaving room for 4 people and they will get it done!

Our retreat was a cook-your-own-meals arrangement and we had all worked out ahead of time what we were going to fix, making sure our fly-ins didn’t have to fill their suitcases with food. So how much food does it take to feed 6 ladies for a long weekend? Apparently a lot!

 And this didn’t include what I brought. We did have a well stocked bar too…not that any of us drank any of it… no really, quilters don’t drink! That’s the rumor at least…I never listen to rumors…

  

So what did we all work on? Well, I can’t give you specifics or show you pictures (whew…’cause I didn’t take any!) but we all worked on new patterns coming out later this year, did some marketing strategy, shared insights and generally had a great time. We stayed up late, got up early, ate meals at odd times…there’s something to be said for spending time with people who understand the ins and outs of your particular business. More so since we all tend to work alone the majority of the time. A sounding board is a wonderful thing.

It wasn’t all business though. I did have the pleasure of escorting Penni out onto the ice. She had never been on a frozen lake before. Penni walked on water! We got a ways out and the lake made a gurgle…then there were lots of gurgles…did I mention we were standing near a fishing hole cut into the ice? That was followed by words not fit for print and some name calling directed towards lil ‘ol me. She still loves me though…I think…

 

I think everyone should have the retreat experience. Look around for one that looks good to you. You can start right here and check out the retreats I offer! Not to brag but I hear that I put on a pretty fun time at my retreats…