Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Excuse Us, We're Feeling a Bit Giddy

Those of you in or around Michigan know about this.  Some of you sports fans have possibly heard about it.  The rest of you.....please excuse us for just a minute.

We're a bit giddy with the excitement.  Those of you who have followed us awhile know that we have posted about Jim Harbaugh in the past.  He is a lifelong friend of Polly, her husband and her sons.  I even babysat for the guy.  All I can tell you is that he is exactly as he has always has been, dedicated, charming, and driven.  And today we can add Michigan Head coach to that list.
Jim and his youngest son Jack

You wouldn't know it by some of the faces he makes on the sidelines - but he is funny.
Have I mentioned the fact that people have been excited about this announcement?
Oh, and that guy over on the right - that's Jim Minick who is now Head of Football Operations.    We're pretty excited about his new job too.

Okay, we're done now......

And now for a little quilt business.  Those of you who have been getting our Austin Bluebird Sampler Block of the Month packages - you probably got Month 7 today (or maybe tomorrow).  You will see a note inside that one of the fabrics was on order and will be shipped shortly.  Well, it's here and I'll be mailing it out tomorrow.
So, there is only a couple days delay.  So sorry.  

Happy New Year everyone!



Monday, December 29, 2014

Year End News

We hope your holidays are going splendidly.

They are for us.  I am finishing up some projects and starting some new ones....

I sewed on the binding to this oldie, but goodie - the Blue Nantucket
It's now in Polly's studio.  The loveseat expands into guest bed - and it needed an appropriate blue quilt.

Now it is all ready for visiting grandchildren.

I am planning on a new scrap quilt and have made piles of fabric to audition.  I'm pretty happy with these - all Minick and Simpson scraps except for one which is a Cabbages and Roses floral from Moda Fabrics.

My mind is running wild with possibilities.

And now for a little GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS to end the year.  First the bad news.  We will have to stop all of the download sales in our Etsy store.  So today, tomorrow and early on New Years Eve - that will be the end of downloads.   All of our patterns will be available in paper patterns mailed to you the old fashioned way after January 1st, 2015.  On New Year's Eve I will take the downloads off the site.  Until then - it's a SALE!!! If you want to purchase any download -Just use the coupon code - ETSYFAIL.  All downloads are 30% off.

Yeah, its ETSYFAIL.  

That's because of a convoluted problem facing small business owners, VAT, The European Union, taxes, virtual goods, and places like Etsy - the solution to this problem is NO SOLUTION.

I have no problem paying the taxes I owe.  Just tell me how, where and how much.  No one is helping, particularly venues like Etsy (which I LOVE, otherwise).  C'mon Etsy - try to help us and not hinder us.  

Ok, I got that off my chest.

Now for the good news.  I have no idea what it is - it's just a feeling that is going around Ann Arbor.  A buzz. Some good energy, indeed.   



Monday, December 22, 2014

Thank you all for sharing your lovely Holiday memories.  Polly and I loved them all and were pleasantly surprised to hear so many that recalled downtown Hudson's in Detroit.

The winner of the Christmas bundle of fabric.....

is Hiyacinth

Hiyacinth has already been emailed.  Have a wonderful holiday everyone!

Just a little reminder...... For all of you in Texas, I will be at Happiness Is Quilting in McKinney Texas on January 9th at 10am for a Bed Turning/Trunk Show of some of my quilts.  I can't wait!!



Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Remember coin purses? Remember when most of your financial liquidity was in coins and all your worldly cash was carried in a coin purse? Remember when your daily purchases consisted of candy bars, bubble gum, or comic books? Me too! I had a little nostalgia this week when I made these....

They were fun to make and easy too.  I looked at the diagrams in my Japanese book and figured it out.  Hmmm, I wouldn't be surprised if we might offer little coin purse kits in the future. 

 I promise to have directions in English (they may or may not be easier to follow than the Japanese directions - Hah!)

Polly found something to be nostalgic about too.  When cleaning out a closet, she came upon some fat quarters of some long gone fabric collections.  Most of these are from Winter - one of our Christmas fabric collections.  I also spy some pieces from Coming Home and Prairie Paisley.

Would you like these to come live at your house? Just comment here about something you remember about the holidays from days gone by - and comment before midnight Sunday December 21st and these will be yours.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Restocked - Refreshed

Polly and I took a little respite and had some Holiday fun. I'll post a couple of pictures below, but first I want to tell you that we have restocked some hand quilting tools in our Etsy store.

We have more hoops, thread kits and Tulip Hiroshima needles.  We also have added some new things.

Whenever I show something I hand quilt - we have questions about how to mark.  Here are some of my favorite tools....

While I love the Sewline Mechanical pencils for marking piecing lines and quilting lines, I love this pencil when you need to mark a white line.  Sometimes nothing but a white line will do and these chalk pencils from General are my favorite.  They mark easily on fabric so a light hand is all you need.  Chalk pencils, of all kinds, are rather fragile so try not to drop them.  A hand held sharpener is all you need to keep them sharp.  If you like these - you will want a lot of them.  We are selling them in the box - so you will get one dozen pencils.  I think they will ship better that way and you will never want for a white chalk pencil.  You can find them HERE in our Etsy store.

We are also stocking the Hera marker.
This guy is great!  If you want to mark straight lines on your quilt - this is the way to go.  It looks like a butter knife, doesn't it?  It is used with an acrylic ruler and you run this along the side of the ruler much like a rotary cutter.  What is does is leave a sharp crease as your quilting line.  No chalk, no pencil marks - nothing to wash out.  The creases naturally fall out in a couple of days with no one the wiser.  Originally these were Japanese tailoring tools.  It is brilliant in it's simplicity.  Everyone needs one.

I am itching to use these and all my other tools.  I am mourning the completion of Mrs. Billings and I need a new insane, long commitment project.  I think I'm going to try to design one of my own.

In the meantime - here are some photos of Polly's and my 2 day excursion to New York City.
This awful photo is the best I could do in a speeding cab zipping through Central Park. One of the iconic horse drawn carriages.

If one must stop shopping and get a much needed caffeine break - the new best place is Ralph's. By Ralph Lauren, of course.

Holiday windows are tough to photograph.  There is a whole lot going on and there is the problem of the glare from the glass.  Just know that the windows at Bergdorf's are practically worth the trip to New York themselves. Each window was a tribute to a specific art - this one is architecture - and each window was a color. Blue of course, for this one.  They were stunning and inspiring.

A trip to NYC in December is not complete without watching all the tourists taking horrible falls on the rink at Rockefeller Center.  We were spared the chill and the injuries by just watching while having lunch with a friend.

Well, it's not Moda fabric, but it's the iconic Liberty of London fabric all lined up in pretty rows at Purl-Soho.  Inspiring all the same.

The store was selling clothing.  For young people. But who cares when they have the sense to decorate so sublimely.

This is one of Polly's and my favorite guilty pleasures in New York.  The Kinokuniya Bookstore across from Bryant Park.  Books, of course - many of those fabulous Japanese craft books that I am entranced by. But that isn't all that is here, beautiful stationary and the most amazing stash of Japanese office/art supplies you will ever see.  Pink and blue polka dot mechanical pencils? They got you covered.  Washi tape - aisles of it.  You cannot leave here uninspired.

This was my craft book purchase (like I need another one). Not one word in English, but lots of great diagrams.  Coin purses in every possible way.  Oh my.



Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mrs. Billings is Finished

That kind of sounds like an Agatha Christie title doesn't it?  It's not.  This title is a bit more joyous than that.
I finished sewing the binding onto Mrs. Billings Coverlet last night.  Bill asked me how long it took to make.  It's hard to say.  I started it 2 years ago, but I have made over a dozen quilts in between.  If I wasn't making those other quilts - I was stitching on this.  

Besides the background fabric (a tan on cream print from Indigo Crossing), I used my scrap box exclusively.  It is about 99% Minick and Simpson scraps.  A few others found their way in also.  There is a toile that I picked up in Paris.  There are a couple of 3 Sisters pinks, a couple of tiny bits of Japanese taupes, and a black print from Brannock and Patek.

The superb acrylic templates made by Karen Styles from Somerset Patchwork made this a joy.  I could rotary cut out every shape and mark a dot on every seam intersection.  This allowed me to hand piece at my leisure.  There are hexagons too, and I learned a bit about those on this quilt - a new way to baste both by stitching and by glue.  

I hand quilted it using my 12" hoop, size 12 between needles, and the Request weight cotton batt from Dream Batting.  Most of the quilting was unmarked as I used the pieces themselves to guide me, but I occasionally marked and I used both a Sewline mechanical pencil and a blue washout marker.  All the markings, from what I can see - came out.

I threw it in the washing machine this morning (always a leap of faith no matter how much you rely on good tools and supplies).  I tossed in 4 Color Catcher sheets.  None of the fabric were pre-washed, but since they were 99.9% Moda fabrics - I knew from experience that I was going to get good results.  I did.  The Color Catcher sheets came out a bit gray, but no color ran anywhere.  The "gray" could be the result of it sitting in my lap, and being handled by me for 2 years.  It also spent time on the floor, on tables, and a certain dog cuddled up on it occasionally.

We've sold a few Mrs. Billings pattern sets and kits since I started posting about this quilt.  I hope you all have as much fun as I did.  What I can recommend, if you don't already have one, is that you get a turntable cutting mat and a rotary cutter with a small head.  Rotary cutting around these small templates without the turntable can be frustrating.  I couldn't believe how much faster and easier it was once I got mine.

I am actually looking forward to my next long term project.
This is the best photo of the whole thing.  It was still a bit damp when I hung it up and I didn't want to leave it this way, as it would dry a bit wonky.

She is finishing drying on the dining room table.  Eventually she will be hung on the wall, but she travels to a trunk show before that.  

Thanks to you all for putting up with my obsession the pasts 2 years.  Now on to something else!



Sunday, November 30, 2014

The L-Tryptophan Aftermath

A lot of us   cooked a turkey this week. We probably ate some too. (Sorry, all you people on the other side of the world. You might have missed the feast).  These were the herbs I used when I made the stuffing.  Did L-Tryptophan have you drowsy and non-productive?  Not here.  It's been very productive here.  Lots of shipping, boxing up, and such.  Trunk shows are being shipped and lots and lots of you took advantage of our sale at Etsy.

This sale is still on for another 24 hours - Just use the coupon code HOLIDAY20 for a 20% discount on everything.

Did you venture out on Black Friday?  Can't say I did - but I did do some damage online.

I received my Nightingale quilt back from France.  It's in the current issue of Quiltmania Magazine. Sadly, I haven't gotten my issue in the mail yet.  Fingers crossed it arrives tomorrow.  One day of snuggling with it and it is back out on a trunk show... My quilts travel more than me.

I hand quilted it with Big Stitch hand quilting using Aurifil 12wt thread and Tulip Hiroshima milliner needles.

My week doesn't get any slower.  I hope to start binding Mrs. Billings in a day or so!!!!! I'll have pictures of that next week. Before that,  Polly and I are off on a little adventure next weekend.  We'll keep you posted.

Oh, and for all of you doing the Austin Bluebird Sampler Block of the Month - and all of you who will soon start it - I'm going to do a little tutorial on each month starting in January.  Tutorial probably isn't the best description. Maybe just a few tips, some interesting facts, and whatnots along with pictures of some of the construction.  We'll soon be getting in a few kits in December - as will many of your favorite online and brick and mortar shops.  By the end of December it won't be hard to find.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Pre-Holiday Prep

Like most of you, this week has been spent doing many, many things.  I've been prepping for the big feast - and catching up on projects.  
 I made some pinwheels for a surprise future project.
I cut lots of fabric for our Austin Bluebird Sampler Block of The Month.  I will be mailing out Month 6 tomorrow.  Most of you will get on Saturday, but a few of you will receive it on Monday.  The mailman takes a holiday too.

 Here are the kits being prepped for mailing.  I needed to get these done today because we have plans for this large dining table on Thursday.

We've had some questions about The Austin Bluebird Sampler and how to sign up.  Our very limited subscription is full and is in the 6th month.  BUT - it is being made available for everyone else!  Moda Fabrics will start shipping this fabric next month and that means you can get this kit - or BOM from many, many shops.  Check out your favorite local shop and see if they are doing it.  You can sign up for the 12 installment Block of the Month - or just buy it all at once in a kit.

We will have the kits on our website as soon as they ship - probably late December or early January.  Some shops have a sign up list right now - again just google it or call your local shop.
Hopefully by the time they are here - we will have a new website.  Fingers crossed!

In anticipation of the coming Austin Bluebird kits, the new website, and of course - holiday shopping...we are having a sale in our Etsy store right now and it will run until midnight on Cyber Monday - December 1st.  Just click on our Etsy store and when in the checkout put in


for a 20% discount on everything in the shop.  This is our little holiday gift to you.  Thanks, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.



Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Few WIP's For Wednesday

It's seems like bad form to keep apologizing every time I make a blog post, but I'm doing it again.  It has been too long.

There has been a lot of catching up on projects, planning new ones, and basically just getting all my ducks in a row...

My drafting table has been getting a work out and I have some fun new projects planned when our new fabric lands on our doorstep.  Whee!

Here is how I have been spending my evenings after all the "work" has been done....

The end to Mrs. Billings is fast approaching.  I have half of the last border done.  

This is exactly how I left it last night before I went to bed.  No cleaning up work areas to take pictures! No, not me! This is the real world.  Notice the polka dotted quilt over the sofa so doggie nails don't puncture the leather.  I'm very anxious to get Mrs. Billings finished, yet and I am very sad to see this journey end.  It's been great fun.

I put on the border to the Love Letters quilt and it's ready to go to Kari to baste it for me.  I'll have another hand quilting project for these winter evenings.  Let me tell ya - there may not be a better enticement to hand quilt a quilt than the polar vortex.

This quilt was designed by our colleagues Barb and Alma of Blackbird Designs.  The pattern is in the book When The Cold Wind Blows.  Pretty fitting.  These sad photos are by me on this cold, snowy day.

I used a black fabric from our Bar Harbor line and some turkey reds from the Howard Marcus collection Friendship. I also used some other turkey reds, blues and yellows from a long gone Windham Fabrics collection.  I just need to piece the back.  This quilt is pretty big.

Also - We are going to be having a sale in our Etsy Store on Cyber Sunday and Monday.  Everything there will be 20% off for those 2 days.  It might be nice to stock up on hoops, needles, and patterns before the next snow storm.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Because Of The Brave

Debbie is the winner of the Because Of The Brave Fat Eighth Bundle. Debbie said  "I am planning on making a quilt for my son to mark his retirement from the Army and his 20 years of service. Thanks for the opportunity."  Debbie has already been emailed.  Thanks everyone!

I hope all of you have seen the art installation at the Tower Of London.  Here are some pictures....

In honor of Remembrance Day in England, artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper made over 888,000 ceramic poppies and installed them at the Tower of London. Each poppy represents a British or Commonwealth soldier lost in WWI.  Today is the last day of the installation.  What a beautiful and incredibly moving display.

We hope you remember those who have served today.

In another little nod to Veterans Day here in the U.S. - I can recommend a book that I am listening to. It's called Monuments Men by Robert Edsel.  It was also a movie recently.  The movie was pretty good - but should have been better.  The book is fascinating.  I usually don't read non-fiction, but I'm glad I did this time.  It tells the story of a small regiment of soldiers deployed late in WWII.  They were all specialists of one kind or another, museum directors, artists, architects, and such.  Their mission was to find, rescue, and take back monuments and works of art plundered by the Nazi's.  I give it a big Minick and Simpson Thumbs UP!



Blog Archive