Nick is Home for Christmas!

Nick has spent the last year at Island Quilters located on Hilton Head Island. He evidently traveled with Owner Beth to several quilt shows and talks, though he hasn’t said much about that. I must thank Beth for giving me the pattern and many of the supplies. Fusing is not my favorite thing to do, but he was fun to make.

After lots of measuring and engineering, Peter got Nick hung in the great room! It is so fun to come into the room and see his funny self. I’m not sure the reason, but this is the first time we have ever hung a quilt over the fireplace. Next year I have several quilts that can rotate in this area.

Let the celebrations begin!

The Finish of Nick & Two Tips!

 

Peter came in one day to check on Nick and started laughing. I was sitting at my desk area and asked what was so funny. He replied that I had better watch out for his crotch area… Of course everything would be trimmed when I completed the fusing, but it was funny nonetheless. You can see that I was auditioning two sets of eyes and wondering how bright should his nose be.

I fiddled around for a week or so and here is his final face…

Nick is very large (about 40″x40″) and he hung over the edges of the office table that I use in the studio to work on. To do the final fusing and cut him out, I used the dining room table. Here he is cut out and ready to glue (!) on the background fabric.

Marking lines for machine quilting was no picnic! Every resourceful quilter knows to tape rulers together to get the lengths they need. (Tip #1) – I very much like the washable blue marker, but it was a mistake in this case. I was not able to immerse the quilt in water and I spritzed and spritzed with water to get the blue out. I did it so much that the red fabrics started to bleed!

I have mentioned this tool before, but it bears repeating! (Tip #2) – here I am quilting straight lines using my Sweet 16. I have practised holding a ruler with my left hand and moving the fabric with my right and inevitably the ruler shifts and I go off track. Jenny of QuiltSkipper recommended this Line Tamer Template by FourPawsQuilting, and it works so well.

Here is Nick on the wall of Island Quilters, next to his relative, Ebba.

I took Nick’s portrait before I sent him off to Island Quilters. I am looking forward to seeing him hang over our mantlepiece next December!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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The Very Wonderful Nick!

As I have mentioned often, my friend Beth now owns Island Quilters on Hilton Head Island. We became friends when we were both posted in Singapore with our husbands. We shared so many common interests and I helped her learn how to quilt. In January I went to the store to talk with the customers about my great passion for hexagons, specifically English Paper Pieced ones. I was wandering around the store the day before and she asked if I had heard of Laura Heine. I said no and she said, I have a pattern of hers that I think you would like, and she handed me Nick. We both love Santas and as we were oooohing and aaaahing over him I blurted out “Shall I make a store sample for you?”. She immediately said “yes!”. I have been wondering ever since if I was set up, but no matter, I was delighted to have that assignment.

I have done some fused quilts over the years, but Nick is made using a collage technique. The pattern is basically a coloring book page – Nick is an outline – and the quilter is free to fill him in as desired. Laura Heine evidently came up with this technique to use up some of the many floral fabrics that she had in her store. I used to buy florals, but now they are not the fabrics I gravitate to. Kaffe Fassett’s fabrics are perfect for this technique and I did snag some of Beth’s scraps.

Because I knew I wanted to share Nick with you and because I suspected Beth would like me to talk with her customers about Nick, I took a lot of pictures. I hope you will enjoy seeing him emerge.

Fusible web works much like double stick tape. You peel one side off and iron it on the fabric. You peel the other side off when you are feeling ready to place the piece. (The fabrics in the photos that are curled still have the backing on.) Fusibles have improved a lot over the years and now they are more like Colorforms and can be moved around a lot before permanently fusing them to the background. I started with his face and I did some auditions…

If you look at this picture, you can see that there are 5 areas of white – the hat trim, his eyebrows, his mustache and his beard. I worked hard to make them different. The hat trim is creamy with a small red and green print. His eyebrows have a white newsprint fabric, his mustache is a very white and black print and his beard is an assortment of creamy prints. I even found a white poinsettia print in a quilt store that worked in his beard and on his face.

Then I started to fill in, up and down and up and down. It’s hard to decide when to stop.

This is what the studio looked like for several weeks! It is very hard to be neat and tidy and it’s one of many reasons I am grateful to have my own space.

 

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I did a little talk/demo at Island Quilters recently. I told the ladies to take one of my business cards and e-mail me their Nick, done or in progress, for the next blog post. Ladies, I am waiting! We all want to see your wonderful version of Nick.

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Gift Ideas For…

…your cat. Last year I found the Buttercup bed in an expensive catalog. I waited for the inevitable 20% off and free shipping offer and ordered one. Our cats loved it! Gizmo slept in it during the day and Jasmine did at night. This year when I got the bed out, Jasmine immediately jumped in it. Gizmo stood there, looking disgruntled and so it went. I Googled Bowsers Buttercup bed and found many sellers on Amazon, including several for Amazon Prime (yippee!). Both cats are now happy to have their own beds. It comes in several sizes and is made for small dogs… You can see that there is a drawstring to adjust. The cats love it no matter how we have it adjusted. It washes well, though cat owners will have to pick out the fuzz.

…your husband. I can’t remember where I came across this website, but it has fun/ny things for men. If you have been married a long time, you know how difficult it is to find something for your DH. As well as gifts, Man Crates carries advent calendars. This one is called The Strike Before Christmas and has a funny verse behind each door and a jerky or candy treat! (I also found a lot of great “man” gifts” on The Grommet.)

… the crafty person. I have known about Spoonflower for some years; it’s a web-based company that makes fabrics from a design that you send them, or you can purchase other people’s designs. This Fall I got a catalog from them and discovered that they print not only fabrics but wallpaper and wrapping paper. The catalog is full of fun ideas. I was particularly taken by this page full of dish towels. Every December, one of my grandmothers would buy a calendar dish towel, use it and then make it into an apron the following year. Spoonflower has loads of calendar dish towels. (They suggest making them into pillows after the year is over!) I ordered several fat quarters, which evidently will include one design repeat. The towels will need to be hemmed, but they will be fun small and last-minute gifts.

…stocking stuffers. When I was little there were Decembers that my family (and often some cousins), would board the train in Trenton New Jersey and head for Christmas with my grandparents in Florida. An overnight train ride was super fun and our families had several rooms in a row on the sleeper car. Before we went to bed, my parents would give us each a surprise ball. Tiny toys and gifts are wrapped in crepe paper and what a treat it is to unwrap them! If you Google surprise ball, lots of sellers come up. I bet the hand-made Etsy ones would be really wonderful.

I really enjoy shopping for the special people in my life. Inquiring minds want to know – what unusual things have you found this year?

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Christmas Counted Cross Stitch

“Christmas in July” as a sales pitch made by quilting and needlework stores does not appeal to me; I work on Christmas projects in December when I am in the mood. Consequently they take several years to complete! This cross stitch project is a mash-up that I started it in 2015 . As you can see from the photo below, the patterns are by Birds of a Feather, who no longer do counted cross stitch patterns.

When I bought these patterns, I envisioned the designs being combined into one picture. I do not make or collect Christmas stockings…I adore the knitted ones my mother made for me {at birth} and Peter {when we got engaged}. I also hang another knitted one that a dear friend made decades ago. I came up with the mash-up idea so that I “could” buy the patterns. ;-D

The fabric is cotton and 18 squares per inch – my favorite size to work on. Nowadays, I require good light and my readers, because of the size and the dark fabric. My design plan is to stitch the sledding elves to the bottom right of the snowman and Santa will be dancing in the top right. I’m not sure whether the reindeer will make the cut – perhaps he can be in the top left jumping towards Santa. I have a lot of stitching to go until that decision needs to be made.

I work on this one night and then I hand quilt on my quilt along project the next evening.

{Should you want to find some of the delightful Birds of a Feather patterns, 123stitch still has some stock.}

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Dreaming of Christmas

Me and MLW

A Florida Christmas many, many moons ago!

Here I am hanging the wonderful (Vogue Knitting) stocking that my mother made and my cousin with her “Florida stocking”! My grandparents wintered not far from Disney World and each year sent money to their daughters for a trip to Florida – or to put in the savings account. The two of us, the youngest of all the cousins, loved the (overnight) trip down on the train, from Trenton, New Jersey. Seeing poinsettia growing in the ground, having molded ice cream every night for dessert at the clubhouse and generally being spoiled by all the older people in the neighborhood was our idea of great fun.

Hope you all have a special Christmas…

Gingerbread House Fun!

Finding a Christmas Tree by Julie Bauman

Finding a Christmas Tree by Julie Bauman

 

Year of the Rooster by Gail Oliver

Year of the Rooster by Gail Oliver

 

Poinsettiaville by Glenda Tant

Poinsettiaville by Glenda Tant

These fun gingerbread constructions are the prize winners in The National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn, located in Asheville, NC. The Inn is the perfect place to visit in December and was bustling with guests and those of us who came for dinner and to see the houses. Below is the grand prize winner! Beatris is from Ontario Canada and I have been wondering ever since, how she got her lovely creation to North Carolina!

Dream House by Beatriz Muller

Dream House by Beatriz Muller

Aren’t they great?

A Tour of Christmas in Philadelphia

The Santa bits and I arrived safely in Pennsylvania for a long weekend and on Friday, after some stuffing and painting, we drove downtown and went on a seasonal tour of Philadelphia. I really like the city, but except for going in and out of the airport, I rarely get there these days. When my niece suggested we do this tour, I thought it was a great idea! We ate lunch at the amazing Reading Terminal Market. It was jammed with all of us eating and people shopping for wonderful food to take home and cook. It’s been around since 1892 and certainly is a great spot to indulge in any food craving.

Reading Terminal Market

The Center City Holiday Tour involved a lot of walking! I really don’t know the geography at all well; I just followed the guide around, gawking like the tourist I was! One of the first stops was the Wanamaker’s Christmas Show… And like any native, I call it that despite the fact that it’s been Macy’s for many years! When I was little, our annual Christmas trip to Philadelphia included the show at Wanamaker’s and the window displays at Lit Brothers! The guide had many interesting facts to tell us about John Wanamaker, the only thing I knew for sure about him was that he was a Quaker and the store has an amazing organ. There’s a brass eagle ( a very large one!) in the center of the store and people would say (before cell phones!) “Meet me at the eagle”.

Wanamaker's light show

We spent some time admiring and hearing all about Philadelphia City Hall. It has William Penn on the top and up until 1973, I think, no building could be taller than Billy’s hat! I found the clearest shot I could, but from any other angle the poor man is surrounded…

Philadelphia City Hall

The last show on the tour was at the Comcast building. Philadelphia has a 1% for art law, and Comcast built this amazing lobby. What you are looking at is called the Video Wall. Look carefully at the picture below and you can see the concierge desk and the entrances to the elevators. This was the beginning of the Christmas show.

Comcast lobby

Here is a short video of the Nutcracker! Isn’t he clarity astounding? The guide said that you can go in there practically any time of day and see something. When we arrived the wall was showing a silvery forest of trees.

Philadelphia is really a wonderful old city, full of history with lots going on!