Tuesday, August 09, 2011

More from Auntie Irene!

There was MORE to be dug out of the boxes that were hiding under the bed in Auntie Joy’s guestroom!

Some of the items were simply tied flannel baby quilts that were not finished, a few bits and pieces of this and that. Mom took home one really fun dresden plate wall hanging piece, and Joy kept a couple of quilts that could be washed and washed until they didn’t smell anymore, and they were machine quilted so they cold be USED.

The baby quilts and other things that we just simply did not need will find their way to organizations who CAN put them to good use and finish and donate them. ((But off the top of my head I’m thinking of how much they need to be washed to get the smell out before they can be donated to anyone….give a smoky quilt to a baby? Uuhhhh…no.))


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It’s a wooly dresden made out of old suits, skirts, pants and jackets! There is even some cordoroy in here, and something that feels like gabardine---but it could be wool gabardine at that, couldn't it?

This is one I’d love to finish and I love how folksy it looks! She used yarn to do the buttonhole stitch around all the seams.

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I love how Auntie Irene’s mind worked! See that pin? the paper says ROW 3!! In Auntie Irene’s own handwriting. THIS is special to me!

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I also love how she plopped the plates down on the background, but didn’t pay attention to how the center circle was tilted. TOO FUN!! Look at the pic of the full quilt above and you will see what I mean. Several of them are straight, and some, like this one..tilt with a mind all it’s own! Weeeeeeee! This one also has a piece pinned to it stating which row it is. There was some forethought that went into the placement of these blocks. :cD

So what am I thinking of for this one? Ummmm…big fans in big stitch quilting with black pearl cotton? What do you think? Wool batting?

For now, it will stay as is. It is also being aired out, and when I can’t smell it anymore, I’ll probably fold it and display it where I can enjoy its quirkiness every day!

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I am also the lucky recipient of some of Auntie Irene’s crochet and embroidery. These pieces are fairly yellowed with age. Isn’t there a linen or vintage textile soak/cleaner that can help me with these? Something to soak them in? I’d sure like to know what it is and where I can get some, so leave a comment to let me know!

I’m just loving this woolie quilt top!! OH dear, do I feel a trip to the goodwill clearance center coming on, simply to find more sources of WOOL!? As if I don’t have enough cotton stash, now I have to add something else to my addiction hobby?! :cD

Monday, August 08, 2011

Auntie Irene’s Legacy ---

My mom’s mom, my grandmother, was named Verna, and her sister was Irene. Verna and Irene were the daughters of Great Grandma Manuel, and growing up her picture had a prominent place in our home. We simply knew mom's grandma, my great-grandma Manuel as the “White haired lady”. I vaguely remember her from when I was VERY little…..

I only remember meeting Auntie Irene a few times growing up, but once, when my boys were small, She and her daughter Carol ((Mom’s other cousin)) made a visit out to Idaho and I got to know her a lot better then. As Grandma's sister, she was so much like my Grandmother in so many ways, and Grandma had passed away years before.

Auntie Irene was always busy with needlework of some kind. She quilted, she crocheted, she embroidered, she sewed. It’s the way things were always done. Never an idle hand to be seen.

Auntie Irene was married in 1938, and her sewing and handcrafting continued through her life! After her passing, her handworks were distributed amongst family members. Finally, what was “unclaimed” came to reside at Auntie Joy’s house, and I was told that I could “have my pick” of what was left. What treasures were to be found?!

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1930’s butterflies on muslin feedsacks! We believe that the butterflies were embroidered early on in Auntie Irene’s married life, and then set aside until later in her life when she decided to put them together with 1970s calico. The calico is a poly blend, as getting 100% cotton in the 70s was pretty much limited. I’d like to take these apart and re-set them, but at the same time, I know that Auntie Irene did these….so I’m hemming and hawwing on whether to take them apart, or leave them as is as quilt it.

It really REALLY needs washing. It is so smoky from years of living in a smokers home that I can hardly stand to have it in the same room right now. It’s airing out in the garage. And that adds to the dilemma. I don’t want to wash it and have the seams shred. It may be airing out for a LONG TIME! But I just love to see her hand stitches on these cute butterflies!

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I love this orange one! Can you see the cute french knot eyes? There is some yellow staining on the muslin, but that doesn’t bother me as much as the smell.

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I love this purple print too! Several of the prints are ones that I recognize as being “reproductions” more recently, but these are definitely the real deal!

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I love this sweet print too! I can’t believe that no one wanted this top --- but then --- how many would have known how to finish it?

So what do you think I should do? Wash it or not? Quilt it as is? Take it apart, re-set it, quilt it, THEN wash it? Give me your thoughts!

Dear Auntie Irene ---

I am so HAPPY to have part of your quilting legacy live on to brighten my home! I cherish the memories we’ve made over the years, I’ll forever remember you smiling and laughing and think of how you were always so cheerful to be around!

I’ll remember how even at 90 you were often found dancing alone in your living room or kitchen just because your feet couldn’t stand still with that kind of music playing! ((There is a life lesson in that! NEVER STOP DANCING!))

I’ll always remember the time I brought my boys out to meet you at the orchard in Eagle, Idaho --- when we were there to pick peaches and apricots and have a picnic! There were no forks for the potato salad, and you said, never fear! And we all found forked twigs to eat our lunch with. These memories are so special to me!

I love holding the work of your hands in my own hands…and forever in my heart!


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Minnesota Early Mornings

Yes I know, It’s Sunday, and we are on our way to Alaska today! But I need to distribute some posts, just in case we can’t find wifi while out in the AK Wilds! I don’t want to leave you too long without any postings of any kind..when that happens, my inbox fills up with all kinds of “Where are you!?”emails!

Our flight gets into Anchorage about midnight Anchorage time…which is 5am North Carolina Time! It’s going to be a long long travel day….and we’ll sleep until we wake up because we have ZERO places to be or plans on Monday other than to get caught up on sleep and do some exploring.

Then we are heading down toward Seward where DH’s cousin lives and spending a day there. We plan to work our way through scenic areas and fabulous places and wind up near Delta Junction sometime on Wednesday evening. And that’s as far as we’ve planned! We figure the locals will have some ideas for us on things we should see and do.

DH already has plans to GOLF while I am teaching on Friday and Saturday. Knock your socks off, honey, I want you to be happy…..I know we will be! We’ll be up to our ears in a Bricks in the Barnyard workshop and a Love Shack workshop! And there is a lecture on Friday night. I understand a whole group of ladies are coming all the way from Anchorage for the workshop…that’s a 5.5 hour drive ONE WAY! I’m tickled that they want to come.

And here is where the rest of my Minnesota post comes in, just to give you a glimpse of where I’ve been!

I’ve always been an early morning girl. I love that time of the day, and I will even set my alarm while on vacation just to force encourage myself to get up and make the most of it.

There is a wonderful greenbelt area near where my Aunt and Uncle live --- Three rivers trail. And it is just BEAUTIFUL in the summer! This was my early morning Wednesday Walk/Jog:

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This sign cracks me up! Do you see that last line, DH!?? NO GOLFING!! But even funnier is the picture in the center….I understand about cleaning up after a dog, but who scoots along behind the dog trying to catch it on the fly in a plastic bag?! It’s not like the dog is a nerf gun or something! LOL! Maybe poop-catching is a new sport? If you catch it before it hits the ground, do you get extra points? :cD

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The morning light coming through the trees was just iridescent! I don’t suppose you can smell it from the picture, but I bet you can imagine how fresh and clean and beautiful it was to the senses. I had my ipod on shuffle, and my gps running…..I went out 3 miles, and turned around and came back 3 miles.

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One part of the trail revealed a small waterfall at the end of part of the creek. Beautiful!

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There are great maps to show you where you are, and these trails go for miles and miles. One thing I saw a lot of that I don’t near home are people in LONG LONG ski-type roller blades…doing an inline cross country skiing type sport.


I was passed by many people of all ages going like crazy on these long nordic inline skates, using their poles as if they were cross country skiing. It looked like fun!

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I love the wild flowers. I can’t stop taking pictures of them! These little daisy things with the curly petals were so pretty…

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And the yellow daisies with brown centerse….LOVE those. Summer is so beautiful in Minnesota!

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There are sweet little curved bridges that cross the streams and creeks….I saw lots of bunnies hopping around in the early morning light too.

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Upon recommendation from my cousins, Andrew and Bethany, I hit the trail on Friday morning early, and went LEFT instead of RIGHT and discovered new-to-me trails! There are paved trails that go all the way around Rice Lake and Fish Lake. Just take it from me, if you go…do NOT forget the bug spray! I was eaten alive by the time I got back!

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THIS picture is my favorite of all! Doesn’t it look like the clouds are ON the water?? The water was so still that it perfectly mirrored the sky above. Time of the morning? About 6:30am.

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I loved the way the sunlight filtered through the trees and the water sparkled just beyond. Friday was only a 5 mile morning, but we had packing to do and get to the airport to catch our flights! There is something so special in communicating with nature so early in the morning. I can hardly wait to experience the same feeling in Alaska….

Friday, August 05, 2011

Airports, Hellos and Goodbyes!

I’m one of those who can get teary eyed watching OTHER people reunite or say farewell when passing through airports. I love the joyful reunions…my heart wrenches at the tearful goodbyes. I’m even a mess when it comes to seeing people’s dogs in kennels! For me, airports are walking talking hallmark cards waiting to happen!

Before I left Minnesota, we took some time to get the pictures of mom’s reaction to seeing me off of Auntie Joy’s “big girl” Camera -----all I had was my phone camera, so I’m glad that SHE thought of whipping it out and capturing this moment on film. ((Well, not REAL film, but digital..you know....you get me! ))

So here I sit, home again, going through photos and editing them down….


Mom said when she first saw me she thought I was someone who “looked like Bonnie” and it made her miss me. And then I got closer, and she saw it WAS me….and she just crumbled. And so did I!


There is nothing like a mother’s love ---and we held each other up at this point.


I don’t know HOW I thought that I was ever going to get pictures of this on my phone when I was wrapped in her arms, but you can see my phone is on! My lovely cousin Bethany is in the Atlanta hoodie behind us. She was IN on the surprise ;c)


Yep, she came OFF the plane carrying her stitchery in a big ziploc bag…like mother, like daughter!!

And you know the rest of the story…..it was a sweet two days! Now Auntie Joy has followed my mom home to Idaho and will be spending a few days with her there. They are both consummate gardeners, this morning they were out in Joy’s garden filling a suitcase with starts and plants, and I bet they’ve already planted them in MOM’s garden in Idaho!

Joy, of course, will fill up the suitcase with stuff from Mom’s garden and take it back home to Minnesota to plant back in her own garden. I love that these two sisters share this love of the earth together!

Do you want to know how things ended!? Before we rushed out the door I threw together some sandwiches for us to eat on our journeys. My flight was leaving 45 minutes after theirs….and we’d be hungry on our flights. So…sandwiches and carrots it was. And I had a sneaky to stick in there too!

Remember the three “replacement” fortune cookies we asked for the day before? They were in my purse! And as we got to the gate for Mom & Joy’s flight, I pulled them out and said…Okay…it’s time for a re-do! Let’s see what these say now!

And we were QUITE surprised, and VERY pleased!

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Mom’s: As one grows to understand life less and less, one learns to live it more and more!

Joy’s: The best angle from which to approach any problem is the TRYangle!

Mine: Success is a journey…not a destination.

I’d say that’s a triple win, wouldn’t you? But even then…..the three reject fortune cookie messages still make us laugh hysterically!! LOL!

And to end the day on a good note, there had to be just ONE more photo op at the gate:

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Auntie Joy & Mom. Such great smiles!

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Auntie Joy & Me! Oh, we had such a great time and I can’t wait to see them again!

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Mom & Me ---either I’m getting taller, or she keeps getting shorter, and I’m not sure which one it is, but I tend to feel like the amazon queen around her :cD

Things still left to blog about….Uncle Steve and his bunny shed! Oh, and his garden too, it’s fabulous!

I inherited some goodies from Great Auntie Irene! She was my grand mother’s sister, and she was a quilter….

So those posts will be coming up as I can write them. We leave for Alaska on Sunday and I don’t know how the wifi will be up there, or if my wireless aircard will work, so I’ll try to load up the blog with some things to post intermittently just in case it is a couple days before we can get anywhere to post!

Walking Down Memory Lane….

Or that would be, a visit to my childhood home in Minnetonka, Minnesota!

Last evening we drove to my Uncle Steve’s house to spend the evening and enjoy a dinner with them….

You know how it goes? You are invited to dinner, and you want to bring something. One thing lead to another, and we decided to stop at the Great Harvest bread store in Minnetonka! Which is a few blocks up from where I went to Kindergarten, First Grade, and half of second.

I have such vivid memories of this place! First off….the school itself is right next to a cemetery. Creepy, I know! There is nothing like looking out of your first grade classroom window and seeing tomb stones! ((This put my little 6 year old brain in high gear on many occasion)) And it gets a bit funnier.

The name of the school is Groveland. But we called it Graveland because…well…that’s what it was!

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Here I am, 40+ years later….and the school still looks the same!

Have you traveled back to your first school ever? It’s a really strange feeling isn’t it?

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A short drive away, was the first house I remember living in…

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The street is named "The Strand". We moved here when I was about 5 --- and we only stayed a couple years, but I remember it SO vividly. There are places that I lived much longer…..but I remember the names of my childhood friends, and I’ve tried to find them, but haven’t been successful so far.

Mom was with me and we talked about lots of things…”Remember the lily of the valley that grew under that window?” “I remember planting that tree as a little stick, look how big it’s grown!” “That’s the hill I rode my bike down, and didn’t look both ways and almost got hit by that car!” ((And I was grounded from that brand new birthday bike for 2 weeks after that mishap!))

Mom reminded me of the time I caught a salamander and put it in my little purse…and left it to rot in my closet for 3 weeks. :c/

We talked about the time that we banked up the snow around the perimeter of the little concrete patio, and then using a hose from inside the house through the kitchen window to cover the patio with layers of water over ice to freeze and freeze and freeze until we had our own skating rink in our back yard. It seemed huge at the time I was 6 --- it’s just a tiny patio!

I remember the sand box and swing set and I remember the rhubarb that grew and how we would pick it and dip it in sugar to chew on it. My mouth is watering just thinking of it!

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Mom and I at the end of my old driveway, 40+ years later ---My bedroom was the window you can’t see to the far right of the house…it was a corner bedroom and two windows were in the corner…one on the side of the house, and one on the front..and I remember lacy sheer “cross over” kinds of curtains at the window…it was a princess room. I loved it!

Another old memory icon is THIS place:

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When I was little, Snuffy’s was just a little drive in, across the street and down a bit from where it is now. We loved it so much, we named our old black lab dog Snuffy too! This place is always hopping, great burgers, terrific malts and milk shakes, and there is old Minnetonka memorabilia hanging all over the inside….

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It was a great afternoon for hitting just a few of these locations that meant so much to me growing up. Sometimes thinking back to those early years seems like it must have been someone else's life…not mine. And then sometimes I feel like I am still that little 6 yr old girl with the blue rhinestone cat eye glasses and the twin pony tails and the missing teeth riding her new bike down the hill and forgetting to look both ways.

We are leaving for the airport in about 20 minutes so I better end this here and get a move on! I am SO glad I came. This couple of days has really filled my heart with so many things….it’s been priceless!

Cutting Bias Bindings!

The other day I got a comment on my Binding Tutorial that read:

“How can you figure out how much binding/yardage you will need for a quilt when you are making BIAS BINDING? I have seen the chart for straight binding, and that's great, but how do you figure out the measurements when you're cutting bias binding??”

Quilts with curved edges require bias binding so the binding fabric will easily move around the curve without cupping and puckering. And sometimes, a stripe or plaid look BETTER cut on the bias than on the straight for the effect that you want. I’ve also been told that bias binding doesn’t wear out as quickly because the straight of grain is not on the edge of the quilt. It’s stronger.

((This pic is the BACK side of a quilt that is being released in a German magazine coming up, I can't show the front yet!))

This is MY take on the situation and how I choose to work with things, even though there may be other ways, other methods, other books, other tutorials, other charts for cutting squares etc. on the subject. This is just me sharing me....and a bit of why I do what I do and why it works for me.

The challenge with cutting bias binding comes in the calculation -----Usually a square is cut from the fabric, the square cut on the diagonal, and the pieces rotated and joined back together into a parallelogram. Lines are drawn, pieces are offset, and re-sewn into a tube, and then the tube is cut on the line with scissors.

The problem with this is that if you are "offsetting" your lines, aligning the top line with the line 2” below it --- your bias binding is not really on the “TRUE” bias. And you have to cut all that bias by hand with scissors after your tube is sewn together. To me the process is awkward.

And sometimes it doesn’t WORK for me to cut a big honking square of fabric! What if I want to bind a quilt that says that I need a 29” x 29” square? And I only have 1/2 a yard that measures 18” X 42”? Can’t I make better use of the fabric that way?

First off, you need to know the perimeter measurement of your quilt. Side + Side + Top + Bottom. And just to be safe, I add another 12” to that measurement. I need to figure the excess I need to miter corners and join the binding ends within that measurement.

And it also helps to think of standard quilt sizes when planning binding. That way I can figure out in my head based on the following what I’ll need:

Inches required for STRAIGHT EDGED QUILTS ((Curved and scalloped edge quilts will require more, plan accordingly))

Twin: 68” X 90”. Perimeter measurement + additional 12” = 328” 0f binding needed.

Double: 80” X 90”. Perimeter measurement + additional 12” = 352” of binding needed.

Queen: 90” X 108”. Perimeter measurement + additional 12” = 408” of binding needed.

King: 110” X 110”. Perimeter measurement + additional 12” = 452” of binding needed.

So these are my ball park figures that help me decide what size of fabric yardage to start with.

The more narrow the bias binding, the easier it hugs the curves and the better it looks in my opinion, so I tend to cut my bias at 2” for a binding that finishes at a snug 1/4”. I know some people like 3/8” binding and want to cut it at 2 1/4”. Just do a small recalculation using the following formula and it should work for you!

So here we go! Are you ready? ((Click HERE for Printer Friendly Version!))

1.) Measure the perimeter of your quilt and add 12". Divide this number by 42 (assuming about 42" of usable width on 44/45" wide yardage) and round up to the next even number.

2.) Multiply this number by your desired cut strip width . This final number is the length of the rectangle needed to make your continuous bias binding strip.

For example:

  • Quilt measures 71" x 90"
  • Perimeter = 71+90+71+90 = 322 and add 12" for a total of 334"
  • 334 divided by 42 = 7.95 Round this up to 8
  • 8 x 2 (for 2” binding strip width) = 16
  • You'll need a 16" x 42" piece of fabric for the binding

So I can get that bias binding out of a 1/2 yard of fabric instead of having to cut a 29” square!! That’s a much better use of the fabric, don’t you think?

You can use your own measurements in the formula above for figuring out your OWN needed size! Try it, it’s easy!


This is my drawn piece of yardage!

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This is my actual piece of yardage! Fold one end of the rectangle over and align the edge like this:


I leave the fabric folded, and use my scissors to cut along the fold like this:

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This is my TRUE bias. You can see I’ve placed a couple of pins away from the fold to keep things from shifting as I cut….And yes, there is a piece of green fabric tied to my scissors to warn any family members that these are FABRIC SCISSORS ONLY!


Move the cut off triangle to the other end of the rectangle, and sew the selvage edges together. Press this seam open.

Here it is on MY fabric:

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Yes, I was making LOTS of purple bias binding! I was binding scallops, so I had to calculate in extra length. This is a fairly LARGE cut of fabric for that reason, but the method is the same!


At this point, to keep the true bias, I just cut strips the width that I need from the bias edge of the parallelogram. You CAN do the drawing all the lines 2” apart, and sew the whole thing into a tube by offsetting it one line, and then cut with scissors on the lines to have it all in one length, but remember….it’s just “THAT MUCH” off the true bias if you do. And I find that the ability to fold the piece, use my rotary cutter to quickly cut strips, and seam them end to end is actually a faster process for me.

If you want to view the “tube” method with squares, go HERE.

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My 12.5” ruler isn’t long enough…I like this 14” one with it’s easy to read big numbers!

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When joining the strips end to end, be sure to overlap and leave dog ears at each end. Your stitching should come out right at the “V” in between the two pieces of fabric. Press seams open!

Applying the binding to straight edges is the same as with straight cut binding. You can visit my Binding Hints page to see how I apply binding, miter corners, and join ends.

I plan on doing a curved binding tutorial when time allows! I know I’ll need to have one in place when the quilt I have in the German Magazine is released…so be watching for it!