Thursday, December 31, 2009

Brrrrrr it's cold in Kansas

This is the view out of my back door on Christmas Day.

This is the INSIDE of our screened in porch.  The snow is gone from inside the porch now but not from the yard, driveway or street.  So this New Years Eve will be spent in my cozy warm house -- sewing!  (It's about 15 degrees F right now. . .yikes!)  When it turns cold like this I get a nesting instinct and wrap up in quilts and sweaters and nap in my recliner.  Ahhhhh, no sense coming out until Spring!!

My yellow lab Rockie loves opening packages, even when they are not for him.  Notice how well he can help open an envelope with outh missing a beat!  This is one package eating dog!!

So I guess I will warm up a bowl of soup, grab a trashy novel and a quilt, and commence to curling up.  Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Midnight Posies Block 12 -- Tulip Garden Block

I am so pleased to share block 12 with you in the Midnight Posies series!  I hope you have had a blast making these simple but totally bright and fun blocks, and built your quilting confidence in the process.
This last block in the series had four gorgeous red tulips dancing around a green and purple garden.  The block looks complicated, but as always the techniques make it easy!

This pattern is no longer available for free but can be purchased on my web site or at my Etsy shope. [Click here to go to my ETSY shop]
I am working on a brand new Free BOM which will start in January!  No peaking for the moment, but I will share a few hints in upcoming posts.

And you thought Christmas was over!!  Silly you.

Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Presents of the Quilty Kind

I am not good at getting things done on time.  Ask anyone I swap with, they will tell you I am last minute Lulu.  So it should be no suprise that I am packing up boxes for out of town family members with Christmas goodies.  Two went in the mail today and one will go tomorrow.  I hear people say how they did all their holiday shopping in October, have everything wrapped in November and shipped out by December 1.  Yea right!!  I think they must be lying.  Its just not possible.  Even when I try to shop early I still can't bring myself to assemble all the wrapping items in one room until at least the 20th of December.  Its a rule!  Ok, more like a guideline, or perhaps a suggestion.  Sheesh, why can't I get things done ahead of time? 

I blame it mostly on being a teacher and waiting until school "breaks" to get real work done.  I suspect that is just a lame excuse for a far more significant and dangerous condition.  If I didn't procrastinate, I tell myself, what would I have to look forward to???  So anyway, Christmas is almost a day away and I am just getting gifts finished and wrapped and shipped.  So big deal.  LOL

So if you are a member of my family, don't read any further cuz one of these items might be for you.  Everone else can read on!  In early November at retreat I made some fun table runners using striped fabrics and a 60 degree triangle ruler.  These were totally fun and addicting.  This week I got them quilted and bound. 

This poinsettia runner is one of those floral border stripes.  The outer edge looks black but it is really a dark green.  I quilted a feather in the center after marking it in pencil.  I did this one on my Bernina.  I stitched around each of the poinsettias in gold thread and then did the curved feather border in gold as well.  I am getting better with my free motion quilting, but still need a lot more practice.  I think the feather in the center came out best of all .  Here is a closeup.

This is the smaller of two runners I made using this fabric.  The other is about 76" long and has the tan center like this one but also has tan on the outside as well.  Of course I packed it up without taking a picture of it but you can see a picture of it before I quilted it here.  DUH.  I quilted that one on my HQ16 using a panto called "Pheonix" from Urban Elementz.  It is a bit big for the runner and I should have used a slightly smaller design, but I think it looks ok given the size of the runner.  Both of these are for my sister.  So shhhh don't say anything until she gets them and has time to open them.  The pattern for these is called the Easy Striped Table Runner by Karen Montgomery and it is soooo simple.  Even I can do it, and ahead of schedule at that! 

The binding on this runner is Nan Binding.  that is binding sewn on completely by machine.  Nan D taught me how to make this so of course it is named in her honor.  [Ever notice how quilters name things after the person who taught them how to do it?]  It is sewn onto the back of the quilt -- instead of the front -- and stitched down on the front with a blind hem stitch and matching thread.  I love Nan binding!!!

You can see more Nan binding on this little placemat I made for my great (or is it grand?) nephew, Dominic.  This was totally fun to make and quilted up so fast.  And of course, with Nan binding it finishes fast too.  I quilted on all the black lines around each border and stippled the blue background to make the white center puff up.  I love the way that all the "pie slices" fit together even though they don't match up.  This really is a fun and easy pattern.

Well after I got these runners made, well really it was the other way around.  I made the stockings first!  I made Christmas stockings for all my great (or is it grand) nieces and nephews.  Six new ones just this year!!!  On my husband's side of the family there was Brooklyn, Delaney, and Molly.  On my side of the family there was Clark, Jack and Tessa (who is not yet born but will be coming along very shortly).  Here is Jack's stocking.

And here is Tessa's stocking.

It was such fun to quilt these.  I lined the fronts and backs of each stocking with batting between the layers.  The I quilted the backs with cross-hatching and quilted the fronts outlineing all the elements on the preprinted stocking panels.  I bought these panels last year when I made stockings for Michael and Dominic.  I am glad I bought plenty of fabric at the time cuz who knew I would need to make 6 more this year????

Finally I made some placemat sets for my other nephew and his wife.  These were made with the figgy pudding line of fabric by Moda.

I posted instructions for this pattern I designed on my blog earlier and you can go back and find the instructions here.  If you make some of these please send me a picture.  I would love to see what yours look like.  Ok, I have blathered on enough for one night.  Hope you enjoy the pictures and the quilts.  I am going to go get a glass of wine, put my feet up and read a good book!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Free Christmas Project - Broderie Perse Table Runner

I just can't make enough table runners it seems.  Here is one I designed for a class and it turned out so easy to make that I have made several.  The pattern is adaptable to any seasonal fabric so you could make one for valentines day, easter, oh heck, just about anything.  It relies on using seasonal fabrics with at least one having large floral or seasonal motifs which you can cut out and fuse on.  This really is a quilt-in-a-day project (with apologies to Eleanor Burns) because you can complete it from cutting to quilting in one day.

Yea yea, I know I took a lot of heat about my 4-hour bag.  But I can make it in 4 hours!  But that's another story.  Here is the Holiday Table Runner.

What could be easier?  The center section is cut the size of your ruler!  LOL  I love easy stuff like that.  My ruler is 6.5" x 24.5".  The borders are added next and then the flowers are cut out of great fabric and fused onto the corners of the table runner.   Here is the pattern.

At this point I layer the top, batting and backing and use basting spray to hold it together.  I stitch in the ditch around each border to stabilize the quilt top then the fun begins.

The fun part of this pattern is the quilting.  I did double cross hatching 1" apart with gold thread on the center section.  It reminds me of a frosted glass window in a big wooden front door panel.

Next I used gold thread (rayon thread with a nice sheen) to blanket stitch around the flowers.  I did each petal to make it look more like applique.  That is what makes it look less like a cut out from fabric and more like real applique.  I love shortcuts like that.

Then I used a curved feather stencil to mark the quilting lines for the plain corners and sides.  I quilted those in gold thread as well.  In addition I did a double row of straight lines 1/4" inside of the edge of the large border.  On the outside of the feathered curved lines I did micro stippling.

In the white speaces between the flowers I did some MacTavishing in gold thread.  I did all the quilting on my domestic Bernina.

Oh and I almost forgot.  I did a strip of red piping around the binding.  I love the Piping Hot Binding Tool by Susan Cleveland, and I use it on table runners all the time.  It makes binding so easy to do.  Altho I have to say that the key to success for me is the Bernina zipper foot.  Yup, that's right.  I tried the Bernina piping foot and it works ok, but it is not as good. . .to me at least. . . as the invisible zipper foot, which has a tight groove for the zipper to ride in.  The groove fits the thin nylon cording exactly and holds it in place both when you make the piping and when you attach the piping to the quilt top.  The Bernina Piping foot is good when attaching the binding over the piping, however.  So both feet are a good investment.  Enjoy the free pattern!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shop Girl Bag Challenge

I teach classes at Quilting Bits and Pieces quilt shop in Eudora, KS.  The gals in the shop came up with a fun holiday project.  All the "shop girls" who work or teach there are invited to make a bag using a shop pattern and fabric.  I chose the Harmony Handag by Studio Kat designs.  I thought it looked fast and easy.   YEA RIGHT! 

Ok, back to the story. . . On December 5 the shop is having their annual Christmas sale and everyone who comes in and brings a canned good or food item (for the Eudora food pantry) gets to vote on their favorite bag.  The shop girl with the bag with the most votes gets a shop gift certificate!

Being competitive, I was all over the Shop Girl Bag Challenge, and picked out a great bag (or so I thought) and some wonderful new batik fab with ducks and cat tails.  Then I opened the pattern envelope.  GULP!  Thankfully there were illustrations in the pattern because it was so hard to follow that I had to read each step about 6 times.  Then all the pieces have patterns and notches and interfacing, and fusible fleece, and peltex and zippers and ties, and flaps, and. . . .more like a prom dress than a quilt bag.  I can usually whip up a bag in a few hours, but it took me a day to cut everything out and 2 days to stitch this baby up.  It came out just as pictured, but not without a good bit of "unsewing" on my part and a few choice words directed at no one in particular.

So. . ta da. . here is my version of the Harmony Handbag!  Instead of a button in the front I found this cool old buckle from the 40's.  I made two lined rectangles and threaded them thru the buckle to create a bow ornament.  I thought it contrasted well with the fabric, and made the lining color sparkle a bit.  I stitched it on invisibly from the inside and liked the way it looks with the pink inset in the front.

The pink lining shows in the front inset and in both sides where the ties are located.

So now I need all my friends to go to the shop on December 5 and vote for my bag.  It may not be the best looking but it sure was the most difficult!  LOL  Thanks for checking out my baggy saga!

Midnight Posies Block 11 – Pinwheel Posies

I can hardly believe the year is almost gone and the Midnight Posies quilt is nearly complete.  Yes there is still one more block to go after this as well as the sashing and borders.  pinwheel posey The Pinwheel Posies block is a bit more challenging, and brings into play the skills you have learned in the preceding 10 blocks.  It is made up of combinations of simple units: half square triangles, quarter square triangles, and flying geese.  The center section of the block is made like a 4-patch, and the rest of the block is assembled like a 9-patch
The challenges with this block is to get all 8 seams coming together in the center to lay nice and flat (pressing seams open will help) and getting the point of the flying geese block to match the points of the pinwheel.  Making each unit slightly larger than needed and cutting them down to size really helps increase your accuracy when matching seams and aligning points.
Now, what have I been working on in the meantime??  Yipes, I have completed 2 t-shirt quilts, and did five more blocks in my Sylvia’s Bridal Sampler quilt.  I just completed the first three rows and joined them with sashing.  Here is what part of them look like.IMGP3180
I am also working on a bag, which has to be the most difficult bag I have ever sewn.  When I get it to a point that it looks like a bag I will take a picture and post it.  For now, it looks like “parts”.  I like to think of myself as an accomplished sewer, but this one is really kicking my butt!!  hehe
So, what are you working on?

Monday, November 16, 2009

You Said WHAT!?!?!?! or How Quilters Communicate

Quilters I need your help!!

I am working on a new guild lecture that combines my experience as a teacher, lecturer and guild member with my 30+ years as a professor of communication studies.  I wanted to find out what kind of experiences quilters have with each other, so I developed a survey to gather some data about what good and bad experiences quilters have in their relationships with each other.

I would love to know what you think.  Would you please take my simple online survey?  It is only 10 questions and all results are completely anonymous and confidential.  If you are interested in the results, I will post a brief summary of the results after the first of the year.  That will allow plenty of time to gather a variety of responses. 
Take our Online Survey

Thanks so much for helping out.  Quilters are the best!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Holiday Quilts

I just love making and seeing holiday quilts. I thought I would share a Holiday Traditions Quilt Contestfew of mine. I just entered two of them in Quilting Gallery’s Holiday Traditions quilt Contest.  I hope you will vote for my quilts. . .or at least go look and enjoy all the wonderful Holiday Quilts!
Here are a few of my quilts for Falls.
This is a table runner called Autumn Spice I found in a magazine a few years ago.  I just loved it and have made several of these.Autumn Spice
I love Halloween and this table runner was a kit I purchased from a shop in Council Grove, KS.  I think the shop was sold and moved to Emporia, KS but Tony, the lady who designed this pattern, does wonderfully creative holiday designs.
Spooky Runner This big Halloween sampler quilt was the result of a block swap I did a few years ago on my Yahoo Group – Sew Many Swaps. We swapped Halloween blocks and then they sat in a bag in my sewing room for a while until the next BOB swap came around.  If you read my blog you know what a BOB is. (Note:  BOB stands for Bag O Blocks, and a BOB swap is when someone else puts together a top using your BOB, and of course you do the same for them).Jeannies Spooktacular
Jeannie Welch pieced this incredible top for me and even made up the multli-color binding from all the sashing fabrics!  I just love this quilt and this year we took it camping with us over Halloween!  It sure kept us warm in the trailer!
Thanksgiving SamplerEarly in my quilting career I made this great Turkey quilt!  I fell in love with this pattern and made two of them at the same time!  I kept one for my door and gave the other one to our guild for our annual mini quilt auction.  A friend bought it and now we both hang up our matching quilts on our front doors at Thanksgiving time.  I just put mine up today!
These are a few of the Christmas quilts I have made over the years.  This is the first one.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought this pattern at a quilt shop in Branson, MO, but the quilt was hanging up and I just thought it was gorgeous.  Little did I know that when I opened the package there would be –100 PAGES – of printed foundation patterns!!!Poinsettia BasketI worked for weeks paper piecing this thing and finally when the sections started going together and I got a glimpse of how the finished quilt would look I was just thrilled.  My friend Brenda Weien, an incredible long arm machine quilter, did the quilting for me.  The radiating lines of quilting really make the composition stand out.  And that whole white background is crazy pieced!!  I had 8 or 10 white on white fabrics for that background alone.  Sheesh.  I loved making the quilt but I don’t think I will tackle something that big again.  The finished quilt is 40 x 72”!!!!!
I learned how to use the Christmas Treesquare-in-a-square ruler a few years ago and went wild making storm at sea quilts and Christmas tree quilts.  Here is one that I kept. Brenda quilted this one for me too, and the background has pine branches and there are gifts quilted in under the tree.  She did the whole thing in gold metallic thread on her long arm.  Wow, she deserved a medal for that alone!
This Santa quilt was another BOB.  Becky in North Dakota pieced the top for me from these Santa blocks that were part of a SMS block swap.  I just love the setting she chose for these blocks.  Kathi in Lawrence quilted it for me.You Better Watch Out
Nina in Wisconsin gave me this pattern and I have made several of these Santa quilts called “Midnight Trip”.  It is a trip around the world pattern with a Santa worked into the piecing.  I just that that was such a clever Holiday themed pattern!Santas Midnight Trip
I changed the stars in this quilt from 8-pointed stars to friendship stars just to make it easier to piece.  You know me, if I can change a pattern to make it easier, I’ll do it!  hehehe
This last quilt is my Charming Botanicals December Poinsettia and Holly quilt.  The pattern for this quilt is available on my website and on ETSY.  It has probably been my best selling pattern so far and when my local quilt shop kitted it, they sold out of the kits very quickly!December quiltHope you have enjoyed my Holiday Quilt Tour!!  Well, yes, there are more, but I will save those for the next post.  In the mean time, be sure and go vote for your favorite holiday quilts. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

As If Quilting isn’t Enough – Another Collection

Yes, I started collecting when I was very young.  I am sure it started with pretty rocks.  Then I started amassing tea pots, and then anything that looked like corn.  I love those old Mc Coy corn dishes.  Jewelry, especially old costume jewelry, has always been a passion and I collected that for a long time – um, well I guess I still do.  Then I collected china that looked like cottages.  That was quite a long phase and still have many lovely old pieces.  Perhaps my biggest collecting passion was beaded purses. . . those lovely old Victorian, art nuveau and art deco bags with exquisite floral motifs, pictures, or designs in beads that shimmer.  Others are made of metal mesh.  I have most of them packed away but the other day I dug out a few of my old favorites.  I really must do something with this collection.  Here are a few of the ones I unearthed.  There are about 200 more still packed away. 
PB090251PB090252 PB090253 PB090254 PB090255 PB090257
Quilters never tire of beautiful things.  These lovely old pieces of the past have always been an inspiration to me to continue creating beautiful things. What do you collect?  How do they inspire you?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Midnight Posies – Block 10

The Teal Tulip is block number 10 in the Midnight Posies Quilt. turquoise posey It was time to add a new color to the quilt just to keep thing lively. A bright teal or aqua really adds some zing. As we begin row 4 the block become a bit more challenging, but the directions will get you through them with ease.

Download pdf file here.

I know I love having my patterns in color and I think it really makes it easier to see them and understand the various units of these more complex blocks. I hope you enjoy them too. My publisher told me that this pattern would be too expensive to print in full color, so you really are getting a treat if you are printing out these patterns. At the end of the year when I publish this pattern, there will not be near as much color!

When you make this block – all squares and half square triangles – be sure to keep your color straight! And if you would prefer to use a different color scheme in this block. . how about pink or salmon or peach?

In the center of this block where 8 seams come together, press the seam open. Use steam and get it real flat. It was lay nicely if you distribute the bulk of the center seam in both directions.

I would love to see pictures of your blocks. Everyone who sends me a picture of their block or blocks from this series will receive a chance to win a free pattern!!! Send your pics to reezehanson [at] I will select the winning submission at random on November 15 and post all the submissions. I can’t wait! Thanks!!!

Fall Retreat – Winslow, Arkansas

How I love to go to retreat. I seem to get more work done there than at home. Ok, so its not really work. . . its fun to finish projects, start new ones and pal around with my quilting buddies. It gets my creative juices flowing. Here are a few of the projects I did at retreat.

  1. This round robin is a project i procrastinated on and finally IMGP3066finished. Someone else was supposed to complete this border and didn’t have time, so I took over the task. I had the whole thing together, and realized it didn’t fit perfectly, so I took it all out, remade it, and just as I was to put it back together I got distracted and never touched it again for a year! (really red face for being so bad!) At least this time the outer border fits and I gave her enough of the purple fabric to do the binding.
  2. In addition to finishing my Sweet Pea table runner, I started IMGP3096 on my March Daffodil table runner. It really is going to be bright and cheerful. Here is sneak peak of some of the blocks. These daffodil blocks dance down the middle of the quilt. Don’t you love the rick rack for the trumpet ruffles? hehe
  3. Then I had fun playing with the Easy Striped Table Runner pattern by Karen Montgomery (see Timeless Treasures website for the pattern). Wow, do these ever make up quick. Here are a few of the tops I whipped up with this pattern:

I also purchased an incredible basket from the art co-op across the street from the place where we stay. And the view from the windows of our retreat is spectacular. My pictures are through a screen but you can still see the incredible Arkansas Boston Mountains.PA240218Now that I am back to Kansas, and the cold, wind, and rain. . . I so wish I was back in the sunshine and warm weather of Arkansas. So, what have you been up to?