Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas quilts, family and fun

This quilt was first started in 1987 as a Christmas block exchange between my daughter (then 8 years old) and some of her girlfriends and their moms. For 3 years they made blocks and exchanged them at Christmas. I made her some, she made some, her grandmother made her one, two of my girlfriends (one who has since passed away) and my daughter's very first girl friend at age one and few more friends pieced her blocks.
 I remember how excited the girls were to find Micky mouse quilt fabrics and used Artex paints to sign their names!
Well, the blocks remained unfinished for about 12 years and then my friend and I spent a few days piecing her daughters and my daughters blocks into quilt tops.
Another 18 years pass, it was time to have the top quilted!
After 30 years the quilt was finished, signed, dated, wrapped and tucked under the tree for my daughter on Christmas morning! She had no idea it was made into a quilt.
Two of her other young girlfriend quilts were finished, the one, who's mother had passed away, finished piecing the quilt and had it quilted herself, and my girlfriend who secretly finished her daughters!  What beautiful memory quilts for us all.

This is it sitting in front of my girlfriend's beautiful Christmas tree with her
appliqued quilt hanging over the balcony.

Well, I'm still exchanging friendship blocks with my friends at Christmas,
and I still treasure them.
This is a group from one of my bees. Star blocks to go with our snowmen blocks we began 3 years ago. 

A 3D pinwheel 

My friend who hosted the party made us all quilted star candy dishes with her fancy embroidery sewing machine!
Thank you Jamie 

One friend had this cute snowflake ornament on our package,
I love the saying "wish upon a snowflake". 

They will be added to all the other snowmen blocks in another year or two. First another star block exchange next year. 

In my other bee we had a Autumn" block exchange. The long pieced block will have a wool pumpkin appliqued in the middle.
The 7 small blocks along the left and bottom side are friendship blocks made at a retreat in 1998, some of the same friends made them! (Deb Hardman do you recognize these?) They will be added with the new blocks once this bee is done with this Christmas exchange.

I made a few little quilted snowmen wall hangings/ pot holders for Christmas visitors. 

A couple for my daughter.

Our son had us all over Christmas Eve, he put up my parents original  1960's aluminum Christmas tree
with the spinning color wheel.

With my cute grandsons.

or green!
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season
and I hope I can be with you more often in 2018!
After the holidays are over I'm out in the dye studio seeing what color (if any) I can coax out of my red poinsettia!
I'll let you know.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Quilt Retreat on Lake Michigan

Off I went last week on my Bee's annual quilt retreat. This year we rented one a these cute cottages on Lake Michigan. A little shorted than usual (usually 10 days) but still 5 days of wonderful friendship, laughing, great food and quilting.

The color was inspirational.

                          A short walk to the beach for more inspiration.

    By the end of the week a cold north wind blew in. The waves were beautiful.

The following are a few of the projects we worked on.  I made this little Thanksgiving wall hanging. The photo is a reproduction antique postcard printed on cloth.

                      I added borders and a little machine quilting to it.

Deb C. made a wall hanging with her post card pieces. She now has it finished.

And she pieced this one too. Now finished.

My big project I worked on was putting together my Sun/moon quilt. I'm going to cut and piece the left over dark blue wool strips together and sew it on for the borders.

I needed one more block for the quilt so this "autumn" wool became...

a harvest moon.

I made a couple winter flannel pillow cases.

                       Kay pieced a graduation quilt for her grandson.

His favorite sports and memories of Grand Haven as the accent blocks.

Deb C.  pieced this wonderful vintage truck lap quilt with cute peppermint pinwheels.

I have to tell you the story behind this quilt Mary pieced.
Mary's good friend loved black and white fabrics/quilts.
A couple of weeks before ours, Mary and her other bee went on a quilt retreat. Her friend also went even as she was fighting cancer in the last days of her life. She made it a couple of the days and then went home to weak to stay and passed away a short time later. The black and whites of hers were gifted to Mary.  

Mary added her own soft green fabric and pieced this memory quilt.
The green doesn't show up to well in this picture.
The name of this pattern is disappearing 9 patch.

At night while watching Hallmark Christmas movies lots of hand stitching was done. Deb C. started a new hexie quilt which will be full size, all hand pieced and hand quilted. Each individual hexie piece is 1/2 inch in size!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Dyeing with Michigan leaves

Last weekend my husband and son went hunting, I was a "deer hunters widow". I filled my weekend with everything textile!  I began the weekend collecting maple, oak, purple plum and eucalyptus leaves.
Rolled them up in pre mordanted wool and steamed them for a couple of hours. I left them in the pot over night, the next morning I took the string off and loosened up the roll, lightly securing each roll with pins.
I brewed up a batch of madder root, then simmered the wool rolls in it a couple hours, pouring some of the dye down the middle of the roll.
Left it over night to soak.
This is the results after washing. Looks just like "Autumn in Michigan".

I especially love this one, the eucalyptus leaves look like little pumpkins.
Can't wait to start hand stitching on it!

Purple plum leaves take center stage in this piece.

Red maple leaves give a beautiful blue/green.

I also played around with commercial Halloween fabrics, making some fun holiday table runners.
You start with 1 1/2 yards of boarder stripe fabric and cut a few 60 degree angles, then sew a few rows together and can end up 3 or more table runners. If you Google "60 degree boarder stripe table runner" there are videos to walk you through it. This fabric I bought after the "weekend" for next year:) Love the vintage look with the moons.

This years runner with fun funky witches boots with dancing cats.
Once it's cut its very easy to piece. I machine quilted it.

One for my daughter.

I started this table runner a couple of years ago, (commercial pattern). Wool pumpkins and stars on a black cotton pieced background. I machine quilted it, just have to finish the hand work on the binding.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


As many of you know I'm very busy taking care of my elderly parents, working and helping with our grandsons. A few weeks ago "the stars all lined up" and my husband and I took our RV and headed West starting with the Bad Lands.

We love the rugged land. Desolate but beautiful in it's own way.

Driving through the Bad Lands you encounter all types of wildlife, in this picture we have prong horn antelope and of course, prairie dogs.


This was the view from our campsite at sunset.

Traveling in the Fall is such a wonderful time (if you don't have children), it's cooler, way less crowded so you get the best camping spots and no lines any where!

Camp set up, dinner finished and I'm enjoy the view while hand quilting on my solar eclipse block.

Two days later as we head out of the park I collect dye plants along the road. Wild sunflowers,

rabbit bush, and sage.

Next stop the Black Hills, our campsite on a mountain lake.

Spent a couple days here, I loved, loved the peacefulness of it all!
Hand quilting on my wool flower dyed quilt.

Lots of mica in the Black Hills,

I collected some to use as embellishments on wall hangings.

Dye plants ready, sage, juniper branch, aspen branch, rabbit bush and sun flowers.

I brought my dye pot along, soaked the wool in the mountain water over night,

laid out the plants,

rolled them up and steamed them for a couple hours. Then left them to set a couple of days in the pot.

Next day we left and went to Spearfish Canyon.
It's the most beautiful canyon I've ever seen. The road goes through the canyon following a mountain stream.

So beautiful, parts of Dancing with the Wolves movie was filmed there.

This cliff was at the end of the movie in the winter scene.

Our campsite,

with a creek running through it.

A short hike to rock cliffs to photograph my block,

filling the moon in with lots of "moon texture", mountains, craters and lunar rover tracks left from man's first visit!

Next morning time to wash out the wool, in a stream with a waterfall, oh my gosh I love it here, I was not ready to go home.

On the way home is this huge sculpture of a Native American women with a morning star shawl.
The average person comes up to about the tops of her moccasins.

It's located at a rest stop on the top off a hill. At night it's light up with LED lights on all of the star points.

My favorite souvenir, the wool cloth printed with a aspen branch with leaves.

Thank you Sandy for showing us this area in 1996, we've been back several times and still love it just as much as we did then!

  • Deb Hardman
  • Allie Aller
  • Jenny Bowker Cairo