Monday, August 23, 2010

My First Quilt

Well, all this discussion about tools for quilting has me thinking about my roots in this art. Like many of you I did not come to quilting early in my life. I am the oldest of ten children so there was much to do. Remember when variety stores, AKA dime stores, AKA five and dimes, carried soft flannel baby garments stamped with embroidery designs? I stitched a lot of those. Being the oldest, I was my mother's right hand girl. Together we made clothing for all, did the laundry, ironing, house cleaning and cooking.

I went on to embroidery, crewel, counted cross stitch, needlepoint and more. In 1961 I married a sailor who looked a lot like the famous young man who came home from the war to get his picture taken kissing a beautiful young woman. Made all the news. That was not us. Our first child was born in 1963. At the baby shower given by friends and family I received a snowy white Baby Pepperil blanket. Oh it was so soft and beautiful. I had no idea how to accomplish this but I decided to applique this blankie with sweet baby animals and embroidered flowers etc. My fabrics were pastel velours attached with blanket stitch. Sweet. I gave her the blanket a few years ago. Perhaps we should encourage her to share it with all of you? Our little boy also slept under that blanket/ quilt.

I continued to stitch, but but knew nothing really about quilts as there were none in my personal history. I attended many needlework shows, a pre-curser I think to quilt shows and once bought a quit magazine. I knew it was for me instantly and hounded a friend of mine to join me in making our first pieced quilts. We both decided to make the Postage stamp pattern above. It was constructed on the machine. Otherwise I am sure I would still be working on it. The year was 1976. I had been entering embroidery and pumpkin pies, etc in the county fair for a lot of years and that year I entered my quilt. I still do not know how it happened to this day, but I won the first Best of Fair award ever offered by the Alameda County Fair. A big ribbon and a silver tray.
It was a joyful time for me.

I had the quilt after that day for only five months. In the early morning hours of a fall night there was a fire in the house where my sister and her family were living. The fire took her baby girl and nearly took the rest of the family. I remember feeling so helpless. I could attend the services, look after her little boys, cook meals, but nothing seemed to make a difference. My husband tried so hard to help me help her, but it did seem meaningless. At one point he suggested I give her the quilt. Almost right away, I knew I was going to do just that. I hugged her and told her I loved her and while I couldn't change anything that I wanted her to have this quilt. I don't know if it made the slightest difference but I have no regret. I think sometimes you do something because your heart will break if you don't.

I believe I came to quilting because there is so much heart in the creation. I hope that while my story is sad at times that you share your first quilts too. warmly, Nadine

Friday, August 20, 2010

Your favorite tools and mine

Well, after the giveaway was over. I found myself with information about your favorite Nancy Halvorson patterns the results of which I will post soon, but for now, lets talk about the tools you love. Be sure that the images you see may not be the brand or color, etc that you actually own, but simply a representation of your choices. The small picture above is of Australian Porcupine quills. It is a recent favorite of mine. The quills have microscopic barbs that do not create fabric runs but they do help with turning corners. Love it!
Now the image above is a favorite of one of you. it is a Diamond Sewing machine. I had to look it up and boy it looks amazing!! It is beautiful and I have a feeling it might even help me cook dinner. Seriously, nice choice.

While I own a wonderful Bernina sewing machine which I won 1994 as a prize for Best In Show at Pacific International Quilt festival for my album quilt. It is my favorite sewing machine, but I own two singer featherweight machines and they are my favorites also. I know, you supposedly can have only one favorite anything by definition, but I can live with my interpretation of favorite things.

The Easy Circle Cut is Marj's favorite tool. I may have to add this to my list as well. Looks like a need to have basic.
Above is representative of surgical scissors, which was Elaine's favorite tool. I know personally many friends who use this tool routinely and recommend them without a doubt. In addition, nine of you weighed in with the opinion that your Gingher scissors were the best tools you own. I cannot blame you as this is my choice as well. I haven't used the surgical scissors so am not choosing one over the other, just simply like what I have.

If you look closely at this ruler you will see a long slot which accommodates the blade of a rotary cutter. This is a Rotary Ruler by Fiskars. Unfortunately, it is no longer made. It looks really good to me and a safe option to using two separate tools.

The above is a Pom Pom Maker. One of you loves this tool.

Two of you mentioned your iron but not the brand. This is mine and I really like it. Dependable steam and I am fond of steam. It heats up so fast, love that. In addition, it is affordable. I have gone back to buying Black and Decker, because it is affordable and long lasting.
One of you mentioned that your favorite is your crochet hook. I love them too and use one very small hook to repair snags in clothing. I found this rainbow of hooks online and thought they were really pretty so am sharing them now. The more I look the more I am tempted. have to rein myself in as I do not need every thing I see. Hmmm, my daughter Kelly crochets and knits, maybe she...... Moving on.

There were several references to seam rippers. One of you called it a "stitch ripper outer" and I like that so much that I think I will add it to own description from now own. It is concise and and more descriptive don't you think? Seriously, though this is something we do not want to do, having a good tool when the dreaded seam ripping is need is I think crucial. Make sure you a seam ripper that is of good quality.

We all know that a variety of marking pencils is a must. Some of you like chalk, I do as well. In addition, I find that sometimes even a permanent marker such as a Pygma pen is the only way to go. There are wonderful mechanical pencils in black, white or colored leads. My advise if wanted is to experiment before committing to anything that will show when you are finished stitching. I will share a sad story. Many years ago, I was teaching an evening class at my local quilt shop. When the phone rang I usually answered because I had young children and would want to know of any emergency . In any case, the woman on the other end of the line was distraught and looking for an answer. She had marked and quilted her first quilt with a pencil labeled as a quilt marker. However, when the quilting was finished, she washed the quilt to remove the markings and nothing happened. Nothing worked and I had no answer for her. This was a time when office supplies were being re purposed and packaged for quilters. So don't be a patsy, it could happen to you as well.

More hooks and some knitting needles this time. You all have the most interesting favorite tools in the sewing rooms you frequent.

Needles are of course a very important part of quilting. Currently, my own favorite are John James brand golden glide needles. I like the Golden glide type in both 11 sharps as well as betweens. I know you all have your own favorite. makes things interesting, don't you think?

I include the porcupine quills again just to compare with the point turner above. I definitely need this one too. it is also a presser.

Rulers. bet you have almost everyone. I confess I do too, but i have my favorite.

When looking for a thimble image for Karen's favorite tool I found this beautiful thimble made in England. Seems to suit Karen, she's a dear friend, in theme and besides it is wonderful. Now, much as I love it, this would probably not work for me as I am a side quilter rather that a top quilter. So, I guess my next question is what kind of a quilter are you???

Freezer paper, my all time favorite medium for template making. I use it for applique images and I use it to make quilting templates so I do not have to mark my quilt tops.

One of you told me that you value your cutting table above all else. It is the right height, width and length. I am also fortunate to have an island style cutting table in my studio. I am sure it is the most used element in the room!

Circle templates. This is an amazing tool. If you like or love to applique circles, you will also love a tool like this.

One of you mentioned your favorite tool is your mothers sewing table. I know this is not the one, but I so love the idea that you have altered your moms table for your own use. I bet you think of her every time you sit down. You must have great memories.

Last but not least is the bias tape maker. This is a real work horse as can be used to simply make bias binding for a quilt, etc, or produce stems. I like a metal bias bar for stems but this method works as well.

I want to thank each and everyone of you for signing in and weighing in on the things in your sewing room, sewing basket, or perhaps you have experienced a sewing room in a Mayflower moving box as I did more than thirty years ago! I cannot say I miss that box, but I do think of it with love......... not!!!!!!!!! Until later.

Monday, August 16, 2010

And The Winner Is!!

I was pretty excited when I woke up this morning. The first think I thought of was that this was the day I would learn who would win my very first give away. I know it will not be my last. I have so enjoyed meeting new friends and touching base again with several constant friends, especially those I "adore." I know that you know who I am speaking to "Pam" Thank you so much for the good laugh. For the rest of you, I will be following your blogs as well.

So, early on this morning, I began watching the comments to make sure that I would not miss a single person. I also spent some time looking for the perfect bowl, basket or any container to do this drawing in. In the end I went back to one of my old favorites. Green depression glass. Today this is the cameo pattern " Ballerina" These dishes are far more valuable than when I collected them, but I use them because I love them. So into the dish with your posts and now I am looking for someone to actually draw the lucky entry.

Well, we were the only ones at home. He wasn't sure he wanted to comb his hair, put on clean shirt, but since Danny's cat, 22 year old Samantha turned me down, he stepped up. The winner is Sherry of Country Wings in Phoenix! So, Sherry send me your address via E-mail ( and I will send the sewing basket with pleasure. Thank you so much for all your kind words and next time I hope you all win too.

And The winner Is

Okay when I wrote this the first time I was sure I had it all together and this would appear at two o'clock today. apparently I was wrong and if it appears twice. I will remove one of the posts as soon as I find it. Computers!!! In any case I began the day excited and looking forward to this moment.
As you can see the entries are in the bowl and ready to be drawn. I looked around for something suitable and finally decided on my favorite green depression glass bowl. This one is Cameo and so pretty.
This pleasant looking guy is my husband of 49 years. he was a little unsure about his role as it involved combing his hair and donning a clean shirt. but he gave in when Dan's 22 year old cat Samantha simply gave me the stink eye when asked to participate. In any case the winner is Sherry of Country Wings in Phoenix!! Congratulations Sherry and and I do hope you enjoy the basket as much as I enjoyed making it. Thanks to all of you who came by and entered my first, but not last giveaway. It has been so much fun. I hope you continue to stop by.

Sherry, send me your address to and I will mail the basket post haste.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sew Wonderful Giveaway

When I decided to do a give away the only problem was selecting a special project that would appeal to a lot of people. I have long been a fan of Art To Heart designs (More about that later) and have one of the newer books so decided I would use one of Nancy Halvorsens patterns for a sewing basket. I had great fabrics to choose from and took my time. The above picture shows a pretty cute pincushion as well as a tiny scissors holder. Please look closely at the small scissors inside as I am including them in the give-away! I am excited about that because not only are small and sweet but they are sharp! There is nothing worse than great looking scissors that are pretty but dull.

The inside of the basket is full of pockets for such things as thread. The thread holders are of varying sizes, so while there only a few, they will hold enough for your current project.

Beginning on the right side, the pink dotted pocket is for large scissors. The pink fabric printed with lovely script will hold a great rotary cutter. Next to that is a green dotted pencil pocket. The rest are for the miscellaneous items we are always looking for in the middle of a great project. Tape measure, needles, pins, seam ripper, etc. Of course I have never needed a seam ripper, but I have heard from reliable sources that they come in handy on occasion.

This was when my basket started to come together. Still a while to go, but starting to look like the end is in sight. It was at this point that I began rethink the give away thing. Just kidding! I have wanted to do this for quite awhile. I just want you to know how much I have enjoyed this journey and am grateful to those of you who join me.

This was my focus fabric. I absolutely fell in love with it and have long moved past the fear of cutting into a fabric. Goodness knows I have more than enough and so now operate on the premise that even if I use all of a favorite, they make more!!

See, look how cute this is. Now the scissors and rotary are mine, but I am sure you can fill these spaces with things of your own. You should know that my rotary cutter is pink. I have a pink cutting mat as well. I am betting that you can find both of those for yourself.

Just a little closer look inside.

This is the cover of Nancy's book "Sew Necessary" and this where I found my project. As you can see I went a different way with fabric but think we both came up with great combinations. One of the things I love with all my heart about being a quilter is the diversity in the choices we make. There is no wrong choice, just your choice or mine.

Okay, done. I love it and hope you do too. If you do, sign in, take advantage of all the ways you can earn a chance and please come back. I am already enjoying this give away thing and hope to do more. Thank you so much for ten thousand visits!!!

I will be drawing a name on Monday, August 16 at 2pm. There are three ways to earn a chance to win this sweet sewing basket.

1. Leave a comment here telling me about your favorite tool. Remember, these are tools, not toys, we need these goodies to do what we do so well.

2. Visit Art to Heart and come back here to leave another comment sharing your favorite Nancy Halvorsen design.

3. Become a follower of my blog then come back here to leave a comment telling me you are following.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A bench mark for my blog

While working on the following post, my counter logged 10,005 hits on my blog! I am so excited. So, to celebrate, I have decided to have a give away. The rules are not in place yet so give me a week or so, but I am going to have a give away. Please note the fabrics above arranged on my window seat. Most are included in the project I plan to give away. I hope you win, but even if you don't, know how much I enjoy your comments or even the prospect that you will check in and read what I have to say. Who knew this would be so much fun for me. There is joy.

A long hot humid summer

Just in case you haven't noticed, the front door is red!I have wanted a red door for some time and so early last month I made the leap and shopped the local home stores and bought primer and paint. The original color was the same as the shutters, a faded teal. Looks really pretty good from this distance don't you think?

This is closer of course and boy the red is really standing out! The color, by the way is Martha Stewart's Lady Bug Red. Hm mm, there is something really familiar about this shade of red.

Oh, my gosh! Of course, it totally matches my husbands car. The jeep!!! Oh well, it is really red and there is nothing I can do about it, or more to the point, there is nothing I am willing to do about it. After one coat of primer and three coats of paint, which is still not enough when viewed close-up, I am done. It was a hot humid day. Each coat taking twice the predicted time to dry. Do I have painter's remorse? Of course. The last time I trusted my own judgement, well I don't remember the last time. So the door is red. Want to make something of it? Just kidding!

I also thought I should share more of what is going on, on the porch, front and back. We moved into this house almost eight years ago and I knew immediately that wicker was going to be the material of choice for outdoor furniture. This swing is on the front porch and when the weather settles, I love to read and swing, drifting an hour or two away.

Lots of chairs needed so these two rest to the right of the front door. haven't decided on a table yet, but will soon. I love the idea of simple outdoor rooms.

Around the corner, a great comfortable rocking chair. This corner is special because in mid-afternoon the sun is blocked by a red-bud tree and a beautiful Japanese maple. It will soon have a light blue green table re purposed from an old rusty milk can. That is where you will find me reading and enjoying my flowers most afternoons. Well, when I am not swinging.

This is my back porch. The furniture represents the first piece purchase almost eight years ago. We arrived here in mid-November. In between days and weeks of unpacking and assimilating ourselves into the community, I would take breaks and place myself in the little rocking chair to read and regroup. One afternoon in particular stands out as pleasurable in a big way. It was November after all, but there was a warm, not hot, not cold summer like rain. The water came down gently and was so soothing. If it wasn't 101* with a heat index of 106*, I might be there even now.
Another angle on that same corner. We have beautiful trees. can you see the park bench we have placed under two of them?
Last is the wicker on the deck. My husband is trying to refinish that deck, but have to wait for cooler weather. The humidity has prevented us from using the deck much. The cushions have lived in storage much of the summer because until a couple of weeks ago, a sunny day would turn into a dark stormy afternoon soaking anything in it's path. I hope you have noticed the cushions as we go. Every two years or so, I have recovered them as that is about as long as the fabric lasts in terms of color. This was one of those replacement years and I hit the lottery when it comes to this year's choice. I love the polka dots. My best find for this ever. If the heat is bad where you are, please take care. Mowing the lawn is not worth heat stroke. You are important to me and I suspect many others. More soon.