Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A New Look for a New Year!

Hello everyone! Christmas was, and still is, an amazing and very special time for me. Yes, I know it is now December 28th, but the spirit and the ambiance of the season will last in this house a lot longer!  We spent time with family and friends, did lots of visiting, ate (too much) wonderful food, and celebrated Christmas in many ways. When there were some quiet times, I did head to my sewing corner to piece a few seams and read a few blogs. And some extra special treats awaited me at the post office even before Christmas- several giveaway prizes I had won in December managed to arrive before Santa!

But before I tell you about that, did you notice my new look?  I absolutely adore what my creative genius (aka Madame Samm) did for my blog. Do you recognize the background?  It's from The Wooden Quilt.  Madame Samm doesn't ask for public accolades, but I am so thrilled with the new design, that I just have to thank her again within the lines of this post. Hasn't she chosen a wonderful way to tell you about me- a quilter who loves to make cuddle quilts and even loves to cuddle up with a quilt?  I Believe...that every chair and sofa needs a cuddle quilt on it! 

And I even have my own button!  It's located on the sidebar and you can take it with you to your blog!  Madame Samm, you are amazing.  And for those of you who don't know Madame Samm yet, she has an extraordinary blog which is all about quilters and for quilters called Sew We Quilt!   Check it out here!  It is a blog overflowing with guest hosts and tutorials that will keep your sewing machines whirring and your fingers quilting! And don't forget to visit Madame Samm's own blog at Sew I Quilt to see what she does in her spare time(chuckle!).

Now to thank some other wonderful and generous folks who held giveaways that I was so fortunate enough to win!  Since I'm too organized for my own good, I'll number them:

1) My new Go! Baby Fabric Cutter arrived last week, complete with three dies and three cutting mats.  

This was the grand prize in a giveaway hosted by Jacque at Lilypad Quilting and sponsored by Accuquilt.  All of this was in addition to a Moda Layer Cake, Chemistry Cosmo Cricket, that I already received from Green Fairy QuiltsI'll share the completed project that I made with some of the fabric next year!  

So of course I had to try out the Go! Baby. I found it to be so much fun, easy to use, and slightly addictive. All I want to do is cut out tumblers! Within a short time, I had cut all the tumblers I needed for a small quilt that I will call "The Delft China Quilt".

And of course I had to see how well the tumblers would sew off I went to the machine and started chain piecing:

And then I just had to sew a few rows together to see how it would look:

have seven more rows to add and then the borders.  I think I'll hand quilt this one. I just love it and will show you the finished year! 

2) I was also the winner of a copy of Amanda Murphy's Bejewelled pattern sponsored by Laurie Wisbrun.  It's a really interesting pattern that is modern, trendy, and uses yoyo's...can't wait to make this one! Laurie is a very talented fabric designer for Robert Kaufman and her designs are amazing!  She is also one amazing lady, because she didn't just send me the pattern, she asked me to pick some fabrics from her shop, and this is what I received from Laurie, a huge supply of bright, bold, and stunning fat quarters, all her own design!

Make sure you visit her Etsy shop'll see her selection of fabrics and some finished projects that are just beautiful!

3) Kaaren, of The Painted Quilt, held a giveaway of a book and autumn-themed fat quarters, and I was the lucky winner of that giveaway! I have followed Kaaren's blog since I started following blogs earlier this year.  I just love her blog...she is multi-talented, a whiz at decorating her beautiful home with her creations and the creations of others, and loves to share! Her First Friday Freebie Free Patterns are wonderful!  I have done several already and particularly love the stitchery designs.  She also has an Etsy shop ...make sure you drop by to check it out.  Kaaren is just so creative and sweet. So when the giveaway package arrived, I was thrilled anyway.  But inside the package was not only the book, "Fig Tree Quilts Fresh Vintage Sewing" by Joanna Figueroa, (another favorite blogger) and a wonderful selection of fabric, but a special needle case "custom-made" by Kaaren, just for me! I love the way she used the selvages and have already started saving mine. 

Her accompanying card once again proved to me that real and genuine friendships can be developed through this quilt blog community. I've been very fortunate to have met many, many wonderful, caring people who share the same interests in quilting and fabrics as I do. 

So all these wonderful things happened in a week, in and around Christmas, my most favorite time of the year.  I am so grateful for all that I, friends, and of course fabrics. What a wonderful life!

It's a great day for quilting!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas to All

With Christmas day less than a week away, it's time for me to change my focus from family, friends, and fabrics, to just family and friends! My sewing machine is now ready for a rest. It has done its duty and now will have plenty of time to  rejuvenate its engines and be ready for me to put the pedal to the medal in the new year.

By now you know how much I love Christmas, everything about it! I love the anticipation, the planning, and the spirit of the season. I love the visits from family and friends, love the phone calls to keep in touch with those that can't make it home, and particularly love all the hugs! (I am a hugger and proud of it!).   

The Christmas music is playing, the baking is being done, the gifts are being wrapped, and the visiting of family and friends has begun. 

And of course you know I love Santas! Years ago, even while still quilting, I was also a pretty busy tole painter. I would register for classes offered in the community and Woodworker Hubby would cut the shapes and make the furniture for me to paint. I tole painted trays, clocks, shelves, ornaments, cabinets and more. But my favorite items were always the Santas.  So I share some of them here with you.  

I think my computer will also take a rest for the next week or so.  So at this time, I wish you all the Merriest of Christmases and hope that you will enjoy the comfort of friends and family during this most precious of times.  

It's a great day for quilting!
Santa Hugs,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Handmade Challenge

Our house is like Santa's workshop at Christmas! My sewing machine is on full tilt, my fingers are busy quilting and stitching, and I love it!  Even Woodworker Hubby joins in with the excitement. Every Christmas, he creates a wonderful surprise for me, made of oak, pine, or something in between. On Christmas morning, I have been surprised and have been overcome with his custom-made gifts of hutches, shelves, tables, quilt hangers, frames and more! In preparation,  he hides away in his workshop for the month of December and tells me I am not allowed in. And because the laundry room is accessed through his workshop, he does the laundry every December (to be honest, he does the laundry most of the time!) Mmm, I hear those machines whirring...

But I digress.  A huge part of Christmas spirit for me is actually in the sewing of the Christmas projects, whether being made for friends, family, or just little ole me! Sometimes the projects are ready in time for this Christmas, and sometimes they'll be ready for next Christmas, but I'm OK with that!  

I've just finished a couple of projects and have decided to enter them in the December Stitch and Share Challenge hosted by the mother-daughter team of Linda and Chrissy at Sew Lux Fabrics and Gifts.  They have a challenge every month and December's theme is "Handmade Holiday".  A random winner will be chosen from the entries which are posted at their site to win a $20 gift certificate from their shop.  Come along and join the fun!  I know a lot of you have been sewing up a storm, and if you win, I know you will be impressed by the wonderful personal service and gift-wrapped packages! 

I'm entering two projects for the December challenge.  The first is a little Christmas embroidery number that hangs on my table stand.   I purchased the stitchery pattern from Cedarberry Stitches
and used it as the centre of the block pattern, "Snow Much Fun" by  This and That Patterns.  

Here's a little close-up. Isn't he a cutie! 

This is the second block I've done for the table stand. My first was "Mr. Ho Ho Ho" and you can see him in my last post.

My second project is a pillow I just finished stuffing.  "Woodland Santa" is a favorite with me already.  The stitchery pattern was  a free pattern designed by Kaaren and posted on her blog, The Painted Quilt, as a First Friday Freebie. Her blog and patterns are amazing and you'll find there's something for everyone in her freebie tutorials. 

I hope you're enjoying these pre-Christmas days and you'll remember to check out the challenge at Sew Lux and link up with your entries.  

I still plan to do a little more sewing before Christmas, especially with all the inspiration I'm getting on a daily basis from the wonderful tutorials that are being offered by guest hosts of Madame Samm at Sew We Quilt. Every day of the month, there are new guests, with Christmas project tutorials that can be made quickly and easily. I have lots of fabric waiting in my sewing corner, and I still have ten more days 'till Christmas, so I'm definitely checking out those projects! 

Thanks for dropping by today.  I know your days are really busy at this time of year, and when you take a minute to visit me and read my blog, I get such a warm, cuddly feeling!  

It's a great day for quilting!
Santa Hugs to all,

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Show and Tell from the Christmas Quiltalong!

Today is Christmas project Show and Tell for me and everyone else who participated in the 2011 Christmas Quiltalong.  I was a little late starting, and only joined hosts Sue, at Quilt Sue and Cathi, at Shakerwood Quilts, in September.  Since then, I've joined them and quilters across the blog community on the second Saturday of the month to work on a Christmas project.  

Because I was late starting, instead of trying to catch up by making the Scatty Christmas Stars quilt that some of the quilters were working on, I decided to work on Christmas-themed projects of my own choosing. This quiltalong was a perfect fit for me, 'cause I love Christmas and every year I sew and quilt a few new Christmas items.

And today is the day of our quilt show: the day that we all show you the quilts we worked on.  Some will be finished, and some may still be a work in progress.  So have a peek at my quilts below, and make sure you head on over to visit Sue's and Cathi's blogs when you're done.  There you'll see links to all the participants' blogs so you'll be able to visit them all and see the quilt show, a great way to celebrate the season! 

Drum roll please...and apologies to my loyal followers, friends, and family who may have already seen some of these quilts.

1. Bennington:  a Schnibbles quilt designed by Carrie Nelson.  I chose Countdown to Christmas charm packs by Moda and just finished quilting it by hand this week.

2.  Hot Cross:  a Schnibbles quilt designed by Carrie Nelson.  I chose Jovial by Basic Grey charm packs by Moda and plan to hand quilt it over the holidays. 

3 and 4.  Sew Happy Me Christmas Sew Along Banner, designed by Lesley Boost.  This was an eight-week sew-along.  Each week we received a new stitchery pattern, and on the eighth and final week we received the instructions to put it together in a banner. Since I don't have a mantle, I decided to make two projects:  a three-block table runner, and a four-block wall hanging.

5.  Mr. Ho Ho Ho:   I adapted a pattern designed by Sherri Falls, of This and That, by using one of Lesley's embroidery patterns as the centre of the block.  Mr. Ho Ho Ho was stitched on linen, framed with piano keys piecing, and now sits in my living room hanging from a  cute little table screen. This project didn't call for much fabric, so I was able to dig into my Christmas stash and use what was available.

So this brings you pretty well up to date, except for the Christmas projects I'll be working on today.  Perhaps they'll be ready for Christmas 2012!  Here's what's in the works: 

a) A gorgeous "Woodland Santa:, a First Friday Freebie pattern by Kaaren at The Painted Quilt.  He is a wonderful Santa, and once I realised I needed to use magnifying glasses while doing the backstitch, he started to look much better in my hoop! 

b) I'm quilting the Bows and Boughs wall hanging, a pattern by McCalls Quilting.  And to make it more festive (and also quicker to quilt),  I'm using red perle cotton thread to make longer stitches.  I love it!

c) And I  can't forget my version of a Wonky Christmas house block!  (I guess you'd have to say that it was designed by me since there can't be another one quite like it!) I still have to sew on  the star and tree buttons, bind it, and hand quilt it.

d)  Last, but not least, a little mug rug using the linen again for the stitchery of the tree and some stamped fabric.  A little hand quilting, a few inches of binding, and that will be it!

Thanks so much for dropping by.  Hope you enjoyed the quilt show! 

And some great news is that there will be another Christmas Quiltalong for 2012, with some guest hosts helping out Sue and Cathi.  Another drum roll please.  I will be one of the guest hosts in the new year.  So please plan on joining us.  It's never too late to get a head start on Christmas 2012 and keep the spirit of Christmas alive in our sewing rooms for the whole year. 

It's a great day for quilting.
Cheers and Santa Hugs,

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Wonky Christmas House

Another day, another quilting challenge.  And this is the kind of challenge I can't wait to do!   I'm going to participate in the 2012 Wonky House Block Swap hosted by Jane at Jane's Fabrics and Quilts. It sounds like so much fun and a bit out of the box for a traditional quilter like myself.  All the more reason to try it, right?  And I love Jane's wonky house button, Bring it Home.    

Use the button on the sidebar to register or get more information. 
For the swap, I have to make 12 wonky house blocks.  I keep one block for myself and mail the rest to Jane, who coordinates the swap. Jane only has room in the swap for 60 people, and it's filling up fast, so make sure you visit her blog and register soon.  We'll be divided into groups of twelve, and all blocks have to be in Jane's hands by March 1.  Then she mails eleven blocks back to us, so I'll have a total of twelve blocks to make a Wonky House quilt. This is going to be fun!

So what did I do today?  I decided to practise making a wonky house before the exchange.  After all, my blocks have to be good enough so that eleven other people will be happy when they arrive! 

First, I did my research.  I googled "wonky houses" and found a couple of great tutorials that had been posted in the past by fellow quilters.  

Next I chose some Christmas fabrics of reds and greens.  Ok, I realise these colors are very traditional, and a genuine wonky house probably wouldn't use traditional colors, but for a  practise wonky house block, I figured it would be alright.  

I used the tutorials to get on track, and quickly realized that every wonky house becomes quite unique!  With a tilt to the windows and a slant to the door, I was on a roll to wonkiness.   Then I got a little more creative and stamped the outer border.  I see and hear that stamping on fabric is going to be big this year, so I just had to try it out.

And then I just had to embellish the block with a star, house number, and a few trees! I plan to sandwich the block, hand quilt it with red perle cotton thread, and use it as a mini-table topper or a giant mug rug! 

Now the question for you... is my Christmas  house block wonky enough?  Is there a way to improve wonkiness?  Is wonkiness even a word? (chuckle, chuckle)

Before I leave you, I want to share a few pictures of some beautiful quilts done by a very good friend of mine. Last weekend, a quilt sale and display was held at the local museum.  My friend had several quilts there and was kind enough to allow me to take some pictures so that I could share them with you. 

Each block has a fussy-cut centre.

As you can see, my good friend is a very talented quilter, quite an inspiration to me when some days I struggle to sew a 1/4 inch seam!

It's a great day for quilting.
Cheers and Santa Hugs,

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Wooden Quilt

Here is the story of My Wooden Quilt.

Once upon a time, on an island in a far off land (Cape Breton, Nova Scotia), two hockey moms met every weekend in cold hockey rinks to watch their children play hockey.  These two moms had much in common.  Their children were the same age, their children played on the same hockey team, and their children went to the same school.  The two moms loved watching their children play hockey and would often drink coffee together, especially flavored coffee!

These two moms soon found out that they had something more in common.   They both  loved Christmas, and in particular, they loved Santas!   They both collected Santas long before everyone else started to collect Santas. And when they found out they both loved Christmas and collected Santas, they became even better friends.

Every year since they became friends, they would meet before Christmas to exchange Christmas presents with each other.  The Christmas presents were always special, and hubbies and children would laugh in glee at the excitement and antics of these two moms as they opened their treasures.

One mom was called Quilter Mom, and would  surprise the other mom with Santas that were small and chubby

long and skinny,

or even embroidered! 

Sometimes, Quilter Mom would make  a Christmas tree

and sometimes, she would just make something cosy!

The other mom, Shopper Mom, would scour the globe to find the most special and unique Santas to give to Quilter Mom for her growing collection of Santas.  Over the years, Shopper Mom gave all kinds of Santas to Quilter Mom, including a tall, skinny Santa,

a fireman Santa, 

a Santa wearing funny long underwear,

and an elf Santa. 

One Christmas,  Shopper Mom gave Quilter Mom a Santa to hang a stocking from.  

And the next year, she gave her a stocking with a beautiful wool Santa on it!

Now on this island of Cape Breton lived Woodworker Lady who was famous  for creating wooden Santas.  In fact, Woodworker Lady had created so many wonderful Santas that an author decided to write a special Christmas story using her wooden Santas in the book.

Woodworker Lady had made many Santas over the years for   Shopper Mom, but Quilter Mom used all her extra money for quilting fabrics and had no money left to buy a wooden Santa.

So one Christmas, as the two moms were exchanging presents, Quilter Mom opened a special Santa box from Shopper Mom. 

In the box was $3.85 and a hand-written note.  The note said, "This money is the first payment towards the cost of a wooden Santa.   If  you save $3.85 each week, you will have enough money to buy a wood Santa."  Quilter Mom was so happy!  She knew she could save this money every week and that someday she too would own a wooden Santa.  

So for 52 weeks, Quilter Mom saved $3.85 each week and put it in the special Santa box. At the end of the year, Quilter Mom and Shopper Mom went for a trip to visit Woodworker Lady.   

Woodworker Lady asked Quilter Mom, "What do you want your Santa to look like?"  Quilter Mom showed Woodworker Lady a picture of a Christmas cuddle quilt that she had just finished making, made of cosy flannels in shades of red and green. 

She asked Woodworker Lady if Santa could have a quilt like the one she had just made.   And before you could say "Merry Christmas", Woodworker Lady had carved the Santa, with a quilt! 

This was no ordinary Santa.  This was Santa, standing in front of a Christmas tree, with his bag of toys and his hand on a quilt rack.  And carved on the quilt rack was a perfect copy of Quilter Mom's quilt.  She was so happy she cried!  

And this is the story of "My Wooden Quilt".

The End.

With many apologies to accomplished authors everywhere!

Hope you enjoyed the story.  It's a true story, and every year, a smile comes on my face when I unpack this special Santa.  I unpacked him today and wanted to share the story with you.  My flannel quilt is my favorite cuddle quilt, well used, year round!

And of course, Quilter Mom and Shopper Mom will once again meet in the next few weeks to again exchange their annual Christmas gifts 

It's a great day for quilting!
Cheers and Hugs, 
Quilter Mom  (aka Lesley)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Starts Early!

Christmas started early for me!  I received an email the other day from Snoodles at Lily Pad Quilting to say that I was the winner of their giveaway! I'm still blushing and am so humbled by this quilt blog community that is so very generous.  What did I win?  A  a Go! Baby Accuquilt fabric cutter and three dies of my choice to use with the cutter, sponsored by Accuquilt

And to go along with the cutter is a layer cake of gorgeous fabric called "Chemistry" sponsored by Green Fairy Quilts. I peeked through the layer cake fabrics online...luscious shades of pinks and browns...reminds me of the colors of  cherries and chocolates...sounds like good chemistry to me!

I have been intrigued by these fabric cutters for awhile so can't wait to try it out.  Huge thanks to the host of the giveaway, Snoodles at Lily Pad Quilting and to the sponsors, Accuquilt and Green Fairy Quilts.   I am a lucky lady! 

Did I mention I love Christmas!  I love every kind of Santa you can imagine,  I love Christmas trees (pine or fabric!),  I love listening to Christmas music from sun-up `till sun down,  and I love the general feeling of well-being that comes this month. Family, friends, and fabric continue to make me smile on a daily basis, but the month of December is even more special.

To celebrate the season, you'll notice that I have a new blog banner, thanks to a precious and special blog guru who is amazing!  Don't you just love the way my title, The Cuddle Quilter, is wrapped in a ribbon? Again, I am a lucky lady. This creative genius knows me so you can see, my love of Santas is very obvious, from the vintage old-world Santa who is peeking through the banner, to the quilted skinny Santas that adorn the sidebars.  Thank you, Ms. Creative Genious!

The skinny Santa is one of my entries in the SewCalGal's 2011 Christmas Quilt Show.  Make sure you visit the show.  The quilts are stunning!   And try to pop over to the show to vote for your favorite quilt on Saturday and Sunday.

So, it`s December 1st and what do I have to show for it?  I have a Christmas table runner and wall hanging that I just finished.   The project was a result of the Sew Happy Christmas Sew Along that was hosted by Lesley Boost at Sew Happy Me.

Although the Christmas-themed embroidery blocks were designed to use as a banner for a mantel, since I don't have a mantel, I decided to use them in a different way to make two projects!  I used a richly colored burgundy fabric as sashing, and used the same fabric for the binding.

I even managed to do some hand quilting on my Christmas Schnibbles quilt this week.  Remember this small quilt, called Bennington, from the book "Schnibbles Times Two" by Carrie Nelson at Miss Rosie's Quilt Company? I love to do my hand quilting in the early morning when the sun is just coming up, drinking my flavored coffee, and watching a romantic comedy on DVD while the rest of the house is asleep! 

But what I am really excited about today is that I have started "Ornamentally Fun", a table runner from the book, "My Runners" by Disa Designs.  I'm using some greens, reds, and roses from the line of Nancy Halvorsen fabrics.  Here is just a tease showing one end of the runner.
Pretty modern for me!

I will be sandwiching the runner and using my sewing machine to do a blanket stitch using matching thread.  I can't wait to get it ready and then put the pedal to the metal! Will keep you posted

December 1 is also the start of Madame Samm's December tutorials.  We are going to learn so much!  And there will be days when the house is quiet, the gifts are wrapped, the cookies are baked, and we'll want to treat ourselves with an hour in the sewing room.  Click on the Comfort and Joy link on my sidebar and you'll find yourself in a wonderful place!

And another wonderful thing just happened: The Fabric Cupboard posted a picture of my Courageous Quilt on their blog. An exciting day for this quilter. 
It's a great day for quilting!
Cheers and Hugs,