Wednesday, November 27, 2013


 November 27, 2013 - Tie One On DayTie One On Day November 27th
TOOD or Tie One On Day is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.  Make an apron and a loaf of bread or a goodie to give to someone in need or anyone you want to surprize with a gift.    Just one more day, so get sewing.  ;o)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Silence is...

When the leaves start to change and the air starts to feel a chill,  head to a serene place to find peace and tranquility to ponder and dream.  When it's silent, the mind has a chance to think and wonder.  For an artist this is a valuable time.  A needed space in a hectic lifestyle.  Distancing oneself from all the noises and distractions in life is the best thing to do for a flood of inspiration.  Just don't forget your camera.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

R2D2 meets Andy Warhol

My son has wanted a movie inspired quilt for his room since he was in high school (which has been over 12 years).  All this time I've been thinking about it, searching for patterns or inspiration, and wanted to make sure it didn't look cartoony or kid-like.   He's always liked the Star Wars saga and loved to build with legos so when I found the free Legos Star Wars patterns at the Craftsy web site, I got right to it.  The designer put up several characters like C3PO, R2D2, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Chewy, Yoda, etc... but my son's favorite character is R2D2 and I thought this would be perfect to repeat.  

Paper-piecing is a technique I am very familiar with, remember my orange slices runner?  It's not quite done yet, still deciding on the machine quilting to do.  But it is in my pile to be completed, I will be tackling with that this fall.  If you're a beginner, you may find this block to be challenging due to the small sections to sew, but my advice is do some planning, take your time and relax and have fun!  Practice with some scraps you don't really care about and if they work out the first time, put them in your orphan block basket to use at another time.   If they don't turn out right, no problem, they were just scraps anyway.   
Andy Warhol kept coming to mind when I was in the planning stages of this quilt.  You know, the soup cans and Marilyn Monroe prints he is famous for.  The colors he used in each frame are vibrant and unusual which is very striking.  So, I wanted to incorporate this concept.  
 The wall space my son has is limited, so instead of changing the size of the block (the pieces are very small to begin with), I only did 6 blocks instead of 9 which would have made the quilt square. 
The machine quilting was done simply by free motion technique using smoke monopoly thread sold by Superior Threads.  It is heat resistant and will not melt or become brittle with age like nylon thread.  I put a simple label on the reverse side.  Now, fingers crossed, he will like it.  ;o)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Kansas Twister Quilt

Have you bought those cute charm packs of 5" squares, got them home and didn't quite know what to do with them?  My answer was to make a twister quilt.  The "Little Twister" template can be purchased at quilt shops and online.  I used 2 packs of charm squares as I wanted my quilt to be square.  Lay them out 9 across X 9 rows down - a total of 81 squares.   Be sure they are placed the way you want them as you can not switch them around later.  Ideally, you want a contrasting color difference on each side.   Choose a border fabric.  I chose a light bali print and a dark print for the final border and binding.  Sew the squares together using 1/4" seam allowance across each row, then sew the rows together.  Keep them in their order.  Add the light border and iron all seams.  The final border is added AFTER the squares are resewn.   Now you have a nice looking plain quilt top with a border around the edges.  The fun begins!  Take the twister template and place it on the lines indicated so that the corner of the top left square has 2 sides of border included in the square.  You will move across the top, marking and cutting the squares.  Follow the diagrams included in the template directions.   Keep the pieces in order and sew together one row at a time.  Mark each row or pin to your design board in order.  Resew all rows together and add the final border fabric to all edges.  Sandwich, quilt and bind.  Don't forget to add the label! 

Labels are more than just dating the quilt.  You want to take credit for all the hard work you've put into your quilts, so don't let someone else steel your work.  Include your full name, where you live, who it is for, the date completed, the name of your quilt or pattern name, a short dedication, optional information like fiber contents of all the elements used in the quilt.  I've added this information to some of my art pieces.  Labels can be plain or have elements added from the theme or pattern used in the quilt.   I make my labels by hand, but they can be eaisly printed onto treated fabric placed through your printer.  Don't forget to heat set whether you use a printer or hand paint them.  One last word about labels; sew them securely to the back (or front) of the quilt and if possible, put them on before the quilting so that the stitching is incorporated into the label.  I've heard stories of quilts being stolen and  labels removed.  If the quilting is throughout the label, this would be a difficult task.   Have fun ;o)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

York - Anytime of year

Once you enter York, make your way near Bootham bar on St. Leonard's Pl. and go into the  (i) Information Visit York store. Pick up a free pocket map of York.  There are some great items and information leaflets on all the attractions to see in York.  There is also a video presentation in a separate room here. 

On my latest visit to York, I roamed the streets and found some good foodie spots.  You can't miss sights like the York Minster, the York wheel, the museums or walking on the city walls.  After a day's touring you will be delighted to find all sorts of good food places to go.  If you've picked up the food guide to York or a pub guide from the i store, use it to find all the great places. 
My favorite is Betty's.  I can't resist a good cup of tea and a fruit tart. 
This is called a Fat Rascal and has a sweet citrusy flavor with currents and almonds.  It has the texture of a scone or biscuit and is great with a cup of tea or coffee.  Betty's is celebrating its 30th Anniversary of the Fat Rascal this year. 
If you're craving pub food, there are several in the center of York.  My choice for traditional pub food with atmosphere is The Golden Fleece which has a ghostly reputation as well as being the oldest pub in York.  Along the way stop by one of the Chocolate shops or find out York's Sweet Story.
The market in the Shambles is always a good place to find fresh fruit and vegetables, house wares, clothing, meats and even craft items at reasonable prices.

The National Railway Museum is free and open everyday.
Maybe you'll want to do an evening ghost tour of the city.  These are popular and there are several to choose from.   Don't forget to go to the Quilt Museum.    Here's one more link to get you started.  ;o)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rhodie show - June in Bloom

On entering Harlow Carr gardens, you are immediately greeted by splashes of color and drama.   I couldn't resist these beautiful Alliums or purple koosh ball flowers (as I call them). 
Onward through the kitchen garden, past the wildflower meadow, resisting the urge for a coffee in the garden tea room. 
No, my mission was to see the Rhodies in full bloom.

Last but not least, I saw this one but didn't see a Horti-tag on it and have no idea what it is.  If you know, please leave a comment.  Isn't it beautiful, though.  They look like little umbrellas.
I hope you enjoyed my Rhodie show.  Let's see what's in bloom in the next couple months.  

YoYo Quilt - Use up your scraps

My scrap bag has gotten out of hand.  It is enormous and one sure way to use up those scraps is to make a scrappy quilt.  One patch patterns are not only beautiful, but easy.  I've decided on making a YoYo quilt or coverlet. You don't have to calculate or even guess how many yoyo's you need for this type of quilt.   No need to go to the fabric store and find yards of fabric that all matches and spend hundreds of dollars.  Just pour through your scrap bag(s), cut some circles and start sewing.   One of the easiest quilts to make is a yoyo quilt.  It involves just one simple shape, a circle, any size you want.  However, once you've decided on a size, cut all your circles the same.  Using a quarter inch seam and a running stitch, sew around the raw edge whilst pulling tightly.  You don't need to purchase the clover yoyo maker either.  I have to say, I bought 2 different sizes of this gadget.  They work fine, but the better gadget to buy is the multi-sized acrylic circles.  These make marking or rotary cutting fast and easy.    After you've made about a thousand of these or more,  join them together where they touch each edge until you've used them all up or it has grown to the size you require.  There's no backing, no wadding or batting, no binding, and no quilting.    I dare say, it's really NOT a quilt at all.   Maybe you love to sew or keep your hands busy, but have never made a quilt before.  This is easy enough for the very basic beginner.   Give it a try, make a few and join them together to make a table runner or some mug mats to see if you like them.  You can find books on YoYo's and what to make with them.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I have an affinity for meatloaf.  Not the rock singer, although I do like his music.  Meatloaf, to me, is the penultimate of down home comfort food.  A nice thick slice of meatloaf and a dollop of garlic mash potato and various greens is my idea of the perfect dinner.   This is what Wikipedia says about meatloaf:  The meatloaf has European origins; meatloaf of minced meat was mentioned in the famous Roman cookery collection Apicius as early as the 5th century.[2] Meatloaf is a traditional German and Belgian dish, and it is a cousin to the Dutch meatball. American meatloaf[3] has its origins in scrapple, a mixture of ground pork and cornmeal served by German-Americans in Pennsylvania since Colonial times.[3] However, meatloaf in the contemporary American sense did not appear in cookbooks until the late 19th century. 

My mother used to make meatloaf.  I remember it as being too mushy with green pepper, onions, eggs, white soft bread crumbs and cheap minced beef.  I don't remember it being very flavorful, however I am sure she added salt and ground pepper.  It was mushy in that it never set and would fall apart when you sliced it.  It was tolerable, and certainly better than the other meals she prepared like stuffed overcooked cabbage, stuffed green peppers, or mushy butternut squash.  Shortly after I married my DH, I had to try and make my own meatloaf.  I tried many recipes for meatloaf, but I wanted to make it my own.  So, after many years of practice, I have to say this is my best meatloaf and I'd like to share it with you here.   Bon Appetit  :o)

Sandy's Meatloaf
1 lb. minced (ground) lean beef or ground turkey breast
1 lb. minced (ground) pork
1/4 cup minced dried white onion
2 TBSP. Worcestershire sauce
2 TBSP. Tomato paste
1 egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs or crushed unflavored croutons
2 cloves crushed garlic or 1 tsp. garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. Italian herb seasoning (no salt added)
1/3 - 1/2 cup ketsup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
In a mixing bowl, combine all but the ketsup.  Mix together until just combined.  Don't over mix as this will cause the meat to become tough.   Place in a glass loaf pan.  Evenly spread ketsup over the top of the loaf.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 55-65 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil for about 10 minutes.  Carefully slice the meat just over 1/4" thick.  Cover leftovers tightly with foil and refrigerate for no longer than 4 days.   Slice cold meatloaf thinly and place between bread slices for lunch the next day. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Hold

Yes, I've put everything on hold while we are getting ourselves geared up for moving house.   We've crammed every room with boxes and have started the process.  The house we are moving to is very nice and maybe a tiny bit smaller, but just the fact that it is a detatched house is enough for me.  Privacy and quiet is what we've always wanted and had until the new neighbors moved in 2 months ago.   So, we're leaving the semi-detatched and will no longer share walls with anyone!  Hoorah!  
I'm looking way back here and posting pictures of finished quilts that I promised to show.  I love this quilt.  It was so easy and fun.  Taken from the book "Tile Revival", you can find it at 
I find this one so adorable.  It's a charming adaptation from the book "Pink Lemonade and Other Delights".   I loved working with all the pinks and yellows in this cheerful quilt.
Did I show a close-up of this tumbling block before?  Can't remember, so here it is.  The machine quilting on this was extremely easy!  I used a roll of paper quilting designs called "Quilting Made Easy".  I purchased the rose patterned roll from Keepsake Quilting.   No marking is involved, all you do is measure the width of your top, cut the pattern and peel the tape from the top and bottom and stick it to the middle of your quilt sandwich.  This was a continuous line design, so no stopping or matching lines, just start off in the center as you normally would.  Sew to the end of the width, tie off and come back to the center and work out to the other side.   Keep adding rows until you've completed the quilt sandwich.  The mug mats I did also used one of the roses on the paper pattern sheet.   Paper piecing is easy as well.  No marking involved, and you can use pieces or strips from your scrap bag.  It may be a little messy with paper to tear off, but it is precise.   There are a number of websites with free paper patterns available.   Enough of a break, it's back to packing boxes for me.  Have a great day :o)