Thursday, March 31, 2011

Favorite Monthly Event

Today was the last Thursday of the month...Breakfast Club Meeting.
Breakfast Club =  Quilters Gathering to Quilt, Share and Eat!
And for anyone whining about the weather in their area not being sunny and warm enough for the Anchorage area it was snowing this morning. The roads were icy, traffic was terrible but we all made it safe and sound. The "new" snow was mostly melted 5 hours later when we left. 

Time for Show and Tell!

I'm starting with Marie and her winning smile. This is the charm size McGuffey from Carrie Nelson's Schnibbles Times Two. Our group tackled that pattern at the January Breakfast Club. Marie's my kind of quilter...batiks are often her palette.

Marie also had this lovely table runner...she does her own quilting on her domestic sewing machine...lovely.

This is Erin's snowman quilt, a work in progress. I guess she hasn't had enough of the snow yet. I didn't remember the cool, swirling background fabric until reviewing the photo.

I managed to get a nice photo of Carol with her completed Kitchen Sink from Kim Bracket's Scrap-Basket Surprises.

Sheila's flimsy of a Judy Niemeyer paper piecing challenge, Drunkard's Wave. She bought this as a kit and it looks like the fabrics Ms. Niemeyer used in her original design. This photo just doesn't do this top justice. Sheila was getting the backing fabric today and then will be sending it off to be quilted. I really want to see the completed quilt.

Here's Sheila with a quilt that is from her scraps. A very fun quilt! You know...just something she threw together!

A baby McGuffey from Cathy. 

Cathy also had this lovely wall hanging.

And finally, another very soft and spring-like wall hanging from Cathy. 

My show and tell will be covered in the next day or two...the advantage of having your own blog...executive control!  Since the sun is shining now and then I might be able to get some detailed photos of my quilting.  

Ooops...I forgot to show our leader's quilt top...

How could I forget this batik beauty? We are tackling this design from Kim Bracket's Scrap-Basket Surprises in April. Our leader, Marcia, used a Zinfandel Bali Pop with one fabric for the background. Love it!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Press N Seal...Great for Quilting

I'm working away on my Nolting Fun Quilter...or as she prefers to be called...Marta. I wanted to name our female Bernese Mountain Dog, Marta, but no one in the family would agree with me and since we knew we were getting a male at some point we went with Jenny and Forrest from Gump fame. But I really like that name for a means lady of the house. Marta Fun Quilter.

Machine quilting...I hardly know where to begin! I don't have the precision like I do with piecing but my eye always likes the end result so I try very hard to get past the part where lines intersect...and not always nicely.

  I am a turner when it comes to working on borders...some folks like to do it all in one pass. Not me. I really enjoy the opportunity to review the quilting about half way through and sometimes I make additions...sometimes I  rip out entire sections! It also gives me a chance to check for tension issues on the backside. But mostly it's a chance to see the quilting without the stretch of the frame and in it's entirety instead of just 18-inch widths.

Lots of fun areas to fill in my quilt design and I thought I would talk about using Press 'N Seal.

First off...I don't draw too well...but I can trace! I wanted a couple of butterflies to add to my quilt so I turned to an internet search for "butterfly clip art free." I found two that I really liked

. It's as easy as it looks. Rip off a piece of Press'N Seal and lay it on the art work, sticky side down. Trace with a Sharpie. I use a fine line Sharpie. I have used the thicker Sharpies which are great for seeing the design but I had a hard time seeing my thread stitched on top of it leaving me frustrated with intersecting lines that didn't match up so well when I pulled the Press'N Seal away. 

Position the Press'N Seal sheet on your quilt top, sticky side down. It's not very sticky at all but it adheres just fine for stitching. Stitch the design. I use very small stitches for maximum perforation and better if making small loops.

Since I wanted to stitch loops around my butterfly I stop with my needle down after stitching the butterfly and ripped the Press'N Seal away. Start from the outside edges and work in when pulling it off the top. 

The final version. I had to do 14 of this particular butterfly so this method enables me some consistency in my design.

Here's the second butterfly. I have four of in each corner.

Things I have learned...sometimes the hard way.
Remove the Press'N Seal from your top as soon as you have stitched it in place. Sometimes the Sharpie ink does leave a residue (very faint) when stitched through...removing the Press'N Seal right away really helps avoid that problem. If you are using a light background go with the lighter color marker than black. I used a blue marker today...on my lavender background I can see no ink residue. 

I usually make the impressions I need as I need them. One time I made 3 dozen ahead of time and it took me another couple of days to get back to the project. I left the impressions stuck to my cutting table took a lot of rubbing alcohol to remove the stickiness from my cutting table top when I finally pulled them up...not a problem at all when used as soon as they are made. 

I also tried gold paper...horrible for completely ripped and disintegrated when stitched to the point of not being able to follow the design after a few stitches. It's expensive and I'm sorry I spent the money on it. I have used regular tissue paper with fine results. It's a little awkward to pin it to the top but it works. 

I work primarily with batiks and some are more tightly woven than others. I have had trouble with skipped stitches when using the Press'N Seal. If this happens go to a bigger needle, smaller stitches and loosen the tautness of the top in the frame. I also slow down. I have just started using titanium needles in Marta and my Bernina...they are like butter when working with batiks!

Time to get back to quilting with Marta.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Design Wall Monday

I've been very busy but haven't had much to share in terms of finishes or interesting photos. 
This week I hope to finish two quilts:

Two sides of the binding to hand sew on my Iditaquilt...I'll tackle that during Dancing with the Stars. Looks like I'm hooked on another season of the show.

I'm loading this top on my quilt frame today and need to have it done in time for my monthly quilt gathering on Thursday. It could happen!

Did a little internet shopping (I had a birthday this month).

A new line of batiks from Holly Taylor at Moda, Dragonfly Summer. Love it. Thinking about a design for it. There is also a line of cotton prints that are very reminiscent of a line from many, many years ago. I didn't get that because I have the previous line of fat quarters that have been decorating the shelves of my sewing room...I think it was called Moose Lake. 

I'm not sure if I have every thing for this particular pattern but since Dragonfly summer looks so similar this might be a  good time to take it to the next step...cutting. Whenever I buy a set of fat quarters I have to look at them as a set for a long time before I can actually take them apart...four or five years! Wow...I can't believe it's possibly been that long. I tried to make my own pattern for this set and never got it worked out so I stopped...

My big dilemma is what project to work on at my monthly quilt gathering on Thursday. The group is doing a very simple stash buster that looks like string blocks. I like the idea but I'm just not feeling the call of that design at this time...

Kim Bracket's new book, "Scrap-Basket Sensations" is calling loudly to me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Swirling Threads

The end is in sight...

14 hours of quilting...I'm so happy with the outcome. Tomorrow...binding.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Words of Warning

Just had to tackle the latest block for the Layer Cake Quilt Along with Moose on the Porch Quilts. It's not as easy as it looks! I did my usual scant 1/4" seam but that was too small...upped it to the full 1/4" on the "E" arms and now my block is 12 3/8 squared instead of 12 1/2" like all the other blocks. I used my seam ripper far too much on this block already and will probably fix this before putting it away.

It is a nice looking block. 

I am now adjourning to my quilting machine. I threw the dogs in their dog run with new bones and told them to get over the lack of a walk today. We have finally started our break-up weather which means lots of icy patches to navigate on dog walks and with a strong, 80-lb dog on the leash I sometimes feel like I'm in a Disney movie where the dog is more like a horse and I'm just holding onto the reins and hoping for a good outcome. You  know what usually happens in those movies...the person usually winds up landing in a pile of poop! I'm trying to avoid that too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I can't believe it's already Wednesday...
Not much quilting going on but lots of dog walking....which is very meditative for me and I have worked out some quilt design issues while walking. I did start quilting my Iditaquilt with the silver toned thread. Good so far. I need to work in my second color and really wanted to do that today but now time is running out...

Still waiting on the mail lady to deliver the third color of thread which is the predominant thread I'm using. I am doubling my batting again. I just love how it makes the quilting pop!

I played bunko on Friday and took a carrot cake. Yummy. It was a recipe I haven't made in 15 years. I have a few carrot cake recipes and each has its own distinctive taste.  This one has crushed pineapple in it. The orange peel in the frosting is another differing ingredient. Altogether a more fruity cake. 

Carrot Cake
4 eggs
½ cup sour cream
1 cup salad oil
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
2 tsps each baking powder and ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
2 cups shredded carrots
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, drained

In a large bowl, beat eggs until blended; add oil and sugar, beating until thoroughly mixed. In another bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to egg mixture, stirring just until blended; the mix in carrots, nuts and pineapple.

Pour batter into a greased and flour dusted 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350* oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool and invert onto a rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 stick butter (1/2 cup) - softened
1 large block of cream cheese (8oz) - softened
1 box confection sugar (I used most of a 32 oz bag of confection sugar)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated orange peel

In a bowl of an electric mixer, combine cream cheese and butter with orange peel; beat until smooth. Add 1 tsp vanilla. Slowly add confection sugar ½ cup at a time and beat in until smooth. Add at least 2 cups.  (I think I used 3 cups of sugar but kept adding sugar until I determined when the frosting was the right consistency for me).

I didn't think about a photo and of course the cake has long been gone...I need to take my camera every where...right...what kind of blogger am I?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up

The 2011 Iditarod ended today. Heather Siirtola finished 46th out of 47 mushers. There was a storm that she battled the last 12 hours of the trail. My Iditaquilt patiently waits for the mail lady to deliver our thread.

In the mean time...I had a birthday yesterday. I spent it working on Henrietta Whisker blocks, watching DVDs and walking my dogs. A very lovely day. 

Block 2 -I was sew excited to see a pumpkin in this design since I had a lovely piece of orange hand-dyed wool...I'm still thinking about the stars...they might get more attention later.

Block 3 - I think the acorns are just adorable. Batik can be a little challenging with hand applique...the Acorn Lane sign is on a piece of batik that is particularly tightly woven...but it's done!

Here's the first row. Not too late to partake...Click the Henrietta Whiskers button on the top right of my blog and download the free patterns. Very generous of Anne Sutton.

And I also got caught up on the Layer Cake Quilt Along

Block 10...a pretty pattern of a flower...a bit of a challenge with my layer cake made up of cream, blue and brown batiks but it looks recognizable.

And here are all the blocks together. I guess we only have two more to go...very exciting.  I bought a matching set of 2 1/2 strips in the Tonga Treat Coffee Cake colorway to help finish the blocks and I think they will be useful for the final setting and/or border.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dr. Evil Stole My Mojo

Heather is still racing her team to Nome...and I seem to be encountering one obstacle after another when it comes to finishing my quilt!

 First and foremost...I'm not happy with the threads I have on hand...if you are a machine quilter you know how expensive it is to buy a cone of thread...I try to be frugal...really. In my early planning I figured I would use two colors, a light and a medium-to-dark. I ordered two threads that were light because I wasn't sure which one would work. I thought I would go with a medium-to-dark variegated thread which I already had but as I look at my completed top I just have to go darker and I don't have it. 

Can't go to Target and buy it...gotta order it...lucky if I get it next week.

There is one more obstacle...I have not hit on my mojo for quilt designs...totally stumped on some key areas. Intense doodling will hopefully bring some inspiration.

 I think it's time to catch up on some BOMs (Block of the Month)...I'm a couple of months behind on Henrietta Whiskers and there is the Shivery Snowman series I started many years ago. 

I really am disappointed the Iditarod is going to end before I'm done :(

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Are We There Yet?

Iditaquilt topper done


Time to load the quilt frame. Yippee! May the Tension Goddess work with me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Winner

John Baker won the Iditarod yesterday morning...he broke the previous record and now has the fastest time, 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds to travel 1150 miles. The race is far from over as there are still 11 mushers on the trail. My musher, Heather Siirtola, is second from the last in the standings. She has taken some longer breaks than expected but she is still trekking along. Her support staff expect her to finish sometime on Sunday. I planned on having at least 2 weeks to finish my quilt but had the weather been more of a factor the race could have gone as long as 17 days. I think I will make it despite some major obstacles...mostly on the part of my poor planning. 

I ran out of border fabric by a third of a yard...12 inches!

Thankfully, a quilt store in downtown Anchorage, The Quilted Raven, carries the line of dogsled batiks in several colorways. I had visited the store about 2 weeks ago and noted they had two bolts each of the two focus batiks.  Plus yesterday I ran around gathering batting. Why didn't I realize my fabric shortage yesterday? Just too much going husband left for Japan yesterday morning and I had 2 long distance phone calls that were very welcome but ate up my sewing time. 

So the new fabric is in the wash right now and probably ready for the dryer. I have two dogs who are very worried right now that their daily walk has been forgotten.

Jenny and Forrest

Jenny especially looks potty break since 7 am!(She's very stubborn about holding out for the walk!) Don't worry pups...Mom is getting right on it...lets go get the  leashes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The End in Sight

The Iditarod 2011 winner is expected to arrive in Nome this morning. This is likely to be the fastest finish ever. Lovely weather is the key factor. No storms at all this year during the race. My best guess is Thursday will be Heather's finish! I'm sure the mushers are more than happy to have a quick race. So maybe I have until Friday to finish my quilt and say I finished with the's not looking good for me.

I did get the corners worked out and by removing two of the navy mini borders and cutting 7/8" from two of the musher fabrics. I need to add the outer border...

 and then I will trim the setting triangles and be ready for quilting. The batting I ordered is delayed (merchant is back ordered) so I am going to hit the local stores and pay premium prices. The downside of internet shopping!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Trail Obstacles - Design Wall Monday

471 miles to go...
My musher, Heather Siirtola is doing great! 
I am stumbling...fancy border creating havoc.

I got the corners worked out and my width is right on but the length isn't...

Couldn't get back to sleep after a 5:17 a.m. dog break just thinking about it. I'm trying to work it out with the help of EQ7. So close!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oh My Stars!

Heather has officially made it half way through the Iditarod...she checked into the town of Iditarod this afternoon. The place is now a ghost town but in it's heyday it boasted a population of 10,000. It was a gold town. 

Am I half way through my quilt? Maybe. I've been working on mini stars.

These blocks measure 5 1/2". I need 50 for the border. Hmmmm. Isn't Alaska the 49th state? I think I need to use 49 for me. 17 completed...32 to go.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Get're Done

My Iditarod musher, Heather Siirtola, has returned to the trail after her mandatory 24-hour rest with a run starting at 4:30 a.m. She just checked into Takotna after running for almost three hours to cover 25 miles. She will now tackle a particularly desolate 90-mile route. She is expected to rest somewhere along the way. She still has 12 dogs in the race. Lance Mackey who has won the Iditarod the last four years, is down to 9 dogs. He is way up at the front. There are 55 mushers left in the race, Heather is in 49th place, about 23 hours behind the race leaders from what I can tell.

I'm trekking along on my Iditaquilt. I've gotten the tricky musher border with an inner and outer navy band around it. It is too big for the design wall so here's a peek.

I spent a lot of time working with EQ7 to think through my final borders. I'm pulling in some mini star blocks and wanted to lessen the number of those to make so I put them on point.

98 x 110
I didn't want to spend too much time making the musher fabric accurate for the mock-up so pretend that part looks like the actual quilt. Notice the large size. I find this is the perfect size for my king size bed. I lose 2 inches each way once it's quilted.

Yesterday the mail lady brought me the thread I ordered for this project. 

I pretty much work with King Tut on the top and Bottom Line in my bobbin. The smaller spools are coordinating Bottom Line. The bigger spools are Morning Sky on the left which is silver with shades of pale lavender and baby blue...I like it! The other is Baby Moses...soft variegated blues...also gorgeous. No idea what my quilting design will look like so I wanted a couple of thread options. I already have darker shades in my stash. I expect I will use two colors.

I ordered an extra wide Tonga for the backing and have it washed and ready to size but just remembered to order bleached batting a few days ago...hope it comes early next week! Local prices for batting are so high I try to order...especially since I now like to double my battings. Found some on sale...a good thing.

I'm very chatty today...avoiding chores I think.

 My prayers for the Japanese. They are very strong people and will handle this tragedy as well as any nation can.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Much Needed Rest

My musher, Heather Siirtola, is taking her 24-hour rest in McGrath...the luxury layover spot for Iditarod mushers. She can use a coin-operated shower and sleep in a real bed. The town also has a cook on hand to fix her a hot meal any hour of the day and a steaming kettle of hot water available around the clock for fixing dog food. She has completed 401 miles with 730 more to finish the race. 

I'm feeling very crunched for time at this point. Will my family understand if I stop cooking and cleaning for several days to finish my quilt? Will Forrest and Jenny skip their daily walk to give me more time? I'm thinking the cleaning would be the only thing everyone would agree to give up and that's the one that would bother me the most!

I cut my main border fabric this morning.

I still have to work out the inner border...but first...Jazzercise. I never compromise my workout schedule.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Through the Woods

I'm just squeaking in a post today. Lots of sewing but nothing very new to show. It's time to start adding my borders...which means cutting this fabric...

My musher, Heather, is still hanging in there. She has made it through the worst terrain of the race. She started with 16 dogs and is now down to 12. Two of her dogs have already been flown back to Anchorage...they are all okay. Vets are at every check point to look at every dog. These dogs are incredible can't believe how little they are! There are many reasons mushers drop dogs during the race and mostly it's the result on an injury but sometimes they don't get along or have the right know...pack mentality is pretty important. It's all very interesting.

All mushers are required to take one, 24-hour rest period and one, 8-hour rest period. Otherwise they are just grabbing a few hours here and there. Many of the lead mushers are taking one of their major rest periods now...but they aren't staying at the Hilton. The dogs bed down on some straw and the mushers pull up a sleeping bag beside them...on top of the snow covered ground. No tents. Heather is one tough chick! I can't quite get comfortable on my cushy mattress and three firm pillows with my quilts on top of me. 

Speaking of my cushy's calling me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Iditarod Progress

My girl is still in the race!  Two mushers have scratched (dropped out). One musher broke his collar bone and is still in the race. I read details about parts of the trail and they are racing off cliffs. The weather has been absolutely beautiful which is not always so great for dog racing...who knew? The 30 degree temps are too hot for racing so teams are sleeping during the "heat" of the day and racing at night. 

Whomever is writing Heather's updates on the Hardcore Huskies is doing a great job!

Here's my progress...seems pretty tame by mushing standards...

Still have to sew two rows worth of blocks together.

Between sewing rows together I'm working on piecing the mini stars.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Design Wall Monday

 The Iditarod started yesterday and to get in the spirit of the race I'm planning to completely finish my Iditaquilt by the time the last musher me about two weeks. And of course I have a musher I am following which makes it more fun too. Heather Siirtola from Talkeetna. She is racing with 16 dogs. If you are interested in more Iditarod news check out the official Iditarod website and Heather's website, Hardcore Huskies. (Check out the race leaders and their!)

Just like the mushers, I've made as many preparations as possible and I'm off to a great start. Here's were I am at my first check point.

I'm pretty enthused about my progress sew far. These rows will make up the center of the quilt...this gives you an idea of where I'm going...just hope the weather holds out for me because I have sew far to go. The Iditarod  is 1,131 miles...if Heather can do it surely I can get my Iditaquilt done. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Let there be light...

My quilting took a diversion today into color therapy. I started a BOM with Pieceful Kwilter. This was my first version of the block #1.

I just didn't like it. I thought about changing the setting triangles and I took them off and previewed some other fabrics but it just wasn't making me happy. So...I pondered what direction to go. The second month's pattern was released and I still didn't know what I was going to do. The third month's pattern was released and finally things started to click...

The background floral fabric is my inspiration. 

Block #2

Block #3

The blocks are missing the setting triangle blocks but I'm not ready to commit to a plan on those yet.
For now I'll just enjoy thoughts of spring flowers...we don't really get those in Eagle River.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Race Preparations

Sunday will be the start of the 39th running of the Iditarod. It is always a little more fun to follow the race when you pick a musher to follow. This year I'm watching Heather Siirtola from Talkeetna. I met her this summer at the West Rib, a quaint local Talkeetna hangout...she was tending bar, just one of the three jobs she juggles to make ends meet. Her kennel is Hardcore Huskies and yes...she has a website. I believe this is her fourth Iditarod.

I'm working away at my Iditarod quilt....

96 blocks to make for the center design panel. The trimmed corners from my strip components need to be sewn together to make HST...384. If my math is correct I actually need 544 HST to make the smaller star blocks for a

Just like the mushers...I decided I needed to get preparations for this quilt underway well before the start of the race. Heather has dropped all her dog food off for an airlift to preposition food along the route. I'm sure sewing in my warm sewing room will be much easier than her tasks so no more whining. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

UFO Challenge

I am so glad I joined the UFO Challenge with Judy at Patchwork Times.
Here is February's #10 UFO Competed!

"Brief Ma uka Showers" -  54x69
Translation - brief showers near the mountains - that's the frequent weather forecast on the Hawaiian Islands.
This is my Hawaii batik quilt. I bought the sunflower print at one of my favorite quilting Lihue, Kauai...Kapaia Stitchery. If you find yourself in Lihue it's east of the hospital and Wal-mart. 

Here's the pattern I used. Picked this up on a hockey team trip to Colorado Springs. The Denver area is positively packed with lots of wonderful shops. Got this at a place called Ladybug Quilts. So cute. What I loved about this shop were the number of completed quilts in new fabrics that were within hands reach. A great pattern if you can find it. I know the quilt shop is still in Colorado Springs because they have a website. I bought this when my oldest was a PeeWee player...6th grade. He is now a sophomore in years ago!!!

My husband and I have so many great memories of our many trips to I lived there for 3 years...I guess I have to keep this one!

March's UFO - #1

The top is complete...just needs to be quilted...easy! Then why haven't I finished it yet? There's always a story...I'll tell it on April 1st when I share the completed project.