Friday, December 28, 2012

An idea, an invitation to adventure

I am on a "vacation" of sorts so not posting much this week. However, I had an idea and wanted to tell you all as soon as possible so you have time to think about it.
In April (15-18) there is a great opportunity. Two of the Gee's Bend quilters will be having a workshop that is very affordable.
This is the same camp where I have taken art classes in the past. I love the location which is in the woods away from the hustle and bustle. It is a bit rustic there but it is also a lot of fun.
So, I am inviting you to join me if you can. We will sew, laugh sing and just have a great time.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Here are two of my favorite contemporary Christmas songs, done by the songwriters themselves.

Merry Christmas you you all!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The World Didn't End

For anyone who was worried about the Mayan calendar that ended at the stroke of midnight last night - the world did NOT end.  Hopefully we are moving into a new era of happiness and prosperity.  I suppose we will just have to live one day at a time and see what happens. -But then, isn't that the way it has always been?

If you are looking for a project for the upcoming year, I have a little something to share with you.  (disclaimer - I know several of  you have seen this already.)  However, on the odd chance that you didn't or were too busy to follow up, here it is on my blog.

Fons and Porter has an e-book that is all about Log Cabin Quilts.  I was asked to review it for my lovely readers.  I am happy to do this today.

I found this book to be very interesting even though I have (gasp!) never made a log cabin quilt.  I was surprised to see how really versatile the simple block can be. I was also happy to see one of my favorite "rock star" quilters, Ricky Tims, has a quilt in the book.  It just happens that he used a clever mix of blocks to spice up this log cabin. He used the Bear Paw block in with the log cabin block to make 'Bears in Bertie's Log Cabin.'    I love it.  There are also instructions for other techniques such as trapunto and bobbin work.
Other quilts in the book show more of the versatility of the block.  There is even a Modern Design made by shifting the color scheme. Many of them do not look like log cabin quilts unless you isolate the block.  So if you have resisted making this traditional design (like I have) this book may help you find excitement in trying it.

Reading this e-book can jump start the "idea factory" for using this versatile block.

Be sure to download your copy at Fons & Porter even if you are "too busy" at the moment.  Just leave it sitting on your desktop for that time when you are having the after the holiday blahs. It will get you going!

Oh my, Connie at Freemotion by the River has a post on Log Cabin placemats.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Busy busy busy

Whew,  why is it that the holidays turn into a whirlwind of activity?  There seems to be so much to do and never enough time to get it all done.
I haven't had a lot of time for sewing but I did whip out a few Christmas presents for some work friends on our team.
I know that I already showed you the quilted trivets for my boss.  She is getting two.  Several other co-workers are getting just one.  Two of them will get almost identical ones (on either side) and the other will get the one I made of a giant half square triangle block.  Then there is that little kindle cover in the back.  Let me show you a better picture of it. - or maybe two.  It is a different kind of thing because my kindle cover was admired profusely by the recipient. (yes I think I can take a hint!)
 Here is the back of it.  It is in a camouflage fabric because the recipient likes camo.
Then inside it has elastic straps to hold the kindle in place.
I can't show the front of it because of privacy issues. She has problems with having her name put "out there" LOL... Not me, my name is all over the internet.  But I respect her privacy.
Are you ready for Christmas?  I wish I could say that I am - but I am sure I have forgotten something!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Angel Quilts and Winners

Saturday December 15th was the day to deliver the Quilts from the Quilt Angels.  We loaded up the trunk of the car with an amazing bunch of quilts from our Angels.
Then we went to Ogden House, a shelter for teens in need.  Some of the teens helped us unload the trunk and carry the quilts into the facility.
The quilts were placed on the big table so that they would be easy to see and find the one that spoke to them.

It was fun to watch them caress the quilts while they were picking their very own quilt from the table. I heard one of the guys say "Mine is from Texas!"
A few of the teens were willing to pose with their quilt, faces concealed of course for privacy and safety.

As you can see, it is bare under the tree.  I understand there is a Christmas party for them on Tuesday night. I really wish I could go.
Even the staff commented on how lovely the quilts are. I totally agree.  There were some big smiles on some faces when we left.  And I don't mean just mine.  Of course I was smiling too - some of the guys had gone back to playing cards and one of them had his quilt wrapped around him.  It was clear that he loved it.
Yeah, I may have had the biggest smile.

Oh...I almost forgot.  There was a drawing for prizes for people who contributed quilts.  We had teens do the drawing (yes these were the bravest for the camera even though their backs were to the camera.
I am thinking my back should have been to the camera too.  LOL.   We left in the "bloopers" mainly because I was tired when I was editing the video.

So the winners are:
Pat "OogleBloops" McN. $50 gift certificate choice of stores
Beth  $50 gift certificate choice of stores
Teresa  $50 gift certificate to IHAN
and Marjorie $15 gift certificate to Petite Design Co
The winners have been notified. Thanks to everyone that contributed to this effort.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Delivery Day

Today is the day we go to deliver the quilts to Ogden House teen shelter.
We have the trunk packed.   We have 18 wonderful quilts and they are all just lovely.

Thanks to everyone who made this possible.
Tomorrow I hope to have video and pictures from the delivery of the quilts.
Thanks Angels!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

We Have a WINNER!

Today is the conclusion of my giveaway for The Big Little Book of Die Cutting Tips.   I printed out all of the comments and cut them into strips.   We put them in a bag.

Then I had a co-worker draw one of the slips.

Sorry that picture is so blurry, but c'est la vie!
And the winner is:
Can you believe the FIRST comment was the winner?  Yes sometimes the first one does indeed win!
Can we give a big congratulations to Jackie?  
And those of you who did NOT win the book - you are still winners in my eyes!
Jackie, please email me with a mailing address.  I will be waiting to hear from you!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Working on Gifts

I am working on last minute Christmas gifts.  At the same time I am trying to learn to use a new software program.
In other words - I am busy!

For one co-worker I made these hot pads. She likes to have a big hot pad to put things on when she places them on the table.  I happen to know that the colors are perfect!
I got a rather simple digitizing program.  It basically does auto-digitizing  for machine embroidery. Right now I am really just using the "free trial" but it lets me save designs so that is a real plus.
Hopefully in a day or two I can show you something I made with it.

How are you coming along with your holiday gifts?  Are you making hand-made items?

I have added this to Link A Finish Friday

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Quilter's Christmas Party TODAY!

Today is the day SewCalGal is hosting the Quilter's Christmas Party.  So, I am supposed to tell you more about me.  I feel like I tell you people more than I tell the people I see every day.  But that is probably just in my head.  I do filter what I post. Ha ha.

Since this is a Christmas party, let me tell you about some of my Christmas "traditions."
I am an Episcopalian at this point in my life but I have attended and been a member in many other denominations.  I have really covered a LOT of the spectrum.  So, for me Christmas is about the greatest gift ever given. The gifts we give each other are representative of that gift.
On Christmas eve, you will find me at church in a choir robe. Usually, I am already tired when we  sing. That is okay.  To me singing is a true joy. (I wish I was better at it - when I hear myself I am very critical)  Still, I am there singing with all my heart and trying to stay on the written harmony when we are singing 'parts.'  So far I don't have any solo parts, but that has changed as late as just before the service. Ha ha.  That is better for me as I won't be worrying about it for long. And the church is always standing room only on Christmas Eve.  (nothing like "playing to a packed house" to have the adrenaline flowing.)
Normally, I only attend the "midnight" service which starts at 10pm and is over just after midnight.  This year I will be going to the early service also (sigh- no nap time!)

I also spend time with my family on Christmas. We laugh and joke and enjoy some good food and fellowship.  We exchange small gifts - mine are often things I make.  I started making presents as a pre-teen. I remember the year I gave my sister's boyfriend a crocheted ear-warmer and had to explain what it was. Then my sister opened her present - a case for her glasses - and said "Thanks but my nose isn't that long" as she held the case over her nose.  I laughed with her on that one. (we do have some big noses in my family)

And last year I started a new tradition, The Quilt Angels!  Some of you know about this already. Several have sent quilts and a few are still on the way.  A friend asked me to make quilts for a shelter (by Christmas) last November, I think it was.  When he told me how many I needed to make, I said "I just can't do that." But the seed was there in my head.   I thought of all the amazing quilters I know and remember how generous many of them are.  So I put out a call, even though it was late to be asking.
The response was outstanding.
Since the population of the shelter changes, we are doing it again this year.   This is a great way to give, by giving to someone who can't give anything in return you find a greater joy in the giving.

And to end a a less serious note, let me tell you about the first Christmas present I remember.
I was three years old and decided that I wanted a baby doll. Not just any doll either, I wanted one the "bee-d"  My dad was NOT happy.  He said there was no way I was getting a doll.  He wanted me to have toys fit for a boy.  His mother, my grandmother Birdie, said "If you don't buy it for him, I will!" and she meant it.  I have no idea who bought it - it came from Santa.  I was thrilled with it. Mostly I just loved to put water in its bottle and make it "bee."  Later on, I did want toy trucks and cap guns. Dad was very happy to get those for me.

Oh yes, my giveaway on the Die Cutting tip book is still going! Click HERE

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Are your bobbins scattered?

Do you have bobbins with different colored threads on them laying all over your sewing table? This can be something that happens to me.  But one day last week I had an epiphany (revelation, discovery)
I used just a little thread from a leftover bobbin to sew on a piece of a Barbie dress.  To do that I didn't take the spool off the machine, but rather, I used that 'second' spool holder that my machine has. Probably some of you have machines with that feature also.

A lightbulb moment!  Hey!
I grabbed the loose bobbins (after I finished sewing of course) and put them here:

I have since removed the spool of thread from the lower spool holder so it is empty at the moment. I do use the nice cone holder on the back of my machine for lots of my piecing and quilting.
Back to the subject! See all those bobbins lined up there.  They are in my line of sight so I know what  thread I already have on bobbins. And if I need "just a bit" to sew something where only the top thread shows, I can just pull from there and do it. (okay it is a bit full, but If I take off a couple of them it works.
Many times I also have an empty bobbin sitting on the bobbin winder ready to be filled - or sometimes I have a full one there, especially when I am doing free motion quilting!

I hope you find some use in my little bobbin tips.  And I hope you have a very piece-ful and peaceful weekend.
Happy sewing! giveaway on the Die Cutting tip book is still going! Click HERE

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Fabric News and What I have been doing

I have some interesting fabric news that I think is pretty cool.   I have been the inspiration for a palette of hand dyed fabrics!  Vicki Welsh at Field Trips in Fiber and I talked through email for a bit and she has used one of my paintings as the inspiration for  a palette in her hand dyed fabric.  The painting is my all time favorite that I have painted. The title of the painting is Transcend.
Here is the painting:

Vicki took the painting and pulled colors from the paint palette and translated them into fabric.    Wait until  you see it!

Field Trips in Fiber - Announcing the Transcend Palette

I am thrilled.  I am getting some but I don't know that I will ever be able to cut into it. Ha ha.

Now I am sure you are wondering what I have been doing the last days.  My great-niece is turning FIVE this next week.  So her birthday party is this Saturday.  I bought a present, but I heard that she wants some Barbie clothes.  Those things are ridiculously expensive!  (but I think I have learned why! ha ha)

I have managed to make three Barbie dresses in the last three nights.  Be glad you weren't here the first night, I might have burned your ears a teeny bit.
Finally I found a simple pattern at Craftiness is Not an Option.  So I made two of those.
 Then I tried the Ball Gown......and it isn't too bad.

I think the little Princess will be happy.   And now I have to put the Ballerina Barbie back in the box so she can be a Christmas surprise!
i am linking up the doll dresses with Richard and Tanya's Link a Finish Friday

Monday, December 03, 2012

Quilt Angels Update

Hi,  the Quilt Angels project for 2012 is drawing to a close. The quilts are due on December 12th.  We have set a delivery date of December 15th so that we don't interfere with other things at the facility.
Several of the promised quilts have arrived. I have tried to send an email to each sender as the quilt was received.   I thank you sincerely for your generosity.
I am still hoping to hear from a number of you that promised to send a quilt.  If you have hit a snag and simply can't send a quilt this year, please let me know.  I know that two are "on the way."

Hopefully the drawing for the prizes will be done at the facility and I can get the emails sent that evening. (yaay! Thanks to the sponsors: Anonymous,  IHAN and Petite Design Company.)

Wishing you a delightful December!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Die Cutting -and a Giveaway

NOW CLOSED! Winner to be announced Soon.(12/12/12) 

Many of you know that I participated in the blog hop for The Big Little Book of Die Cutting Tips.

 If you missed the hop, or just didn't get to all the posts, I am posting the list here:

As I was at the end of the blog hop, I didn't post the list with my review. I decided it would be great to share it with you now. I am still working on a project that I can't show. (sorry)  So how about a giveaway?  
I have an extra copy of the The Big Little Book of Die Cutting Tips  that I would love to share with one of you. 
So here is my idea. Go! to my YouTube channel and watch some of my die cutting videos.  Tell me which of my videos is your favorite and why and tell me why you want the book (in one comment) This is required to qualify to win. 
For a second chance (after qualifying) you can like my page on Facebook - leave a second comment. 
This will close on December 12th and I will choose a winner. If I can't contact you, you can't win.  If your email is not available on your blogger account, please leave it in the comments. 
I usually reply to all comments, but I may not reply to those on this post. 
Good luck!

Monday, November 26, 2012


Hi there,   when I was showing my booth for the sale I had in early November several people asked about purchasing notecards.
The cards are now listed in my Etsy Shop "Creations by Gene Black"
The cards sell as a set of six for $7.00  You get to choose which ones you want in your set.
If you are interested go over to my Etsy Shop and check them out.

I hope you are having a great week.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sewing a Mystery

I have had a wonderful holiday time the past couple of days.  On Friday afternoon, I started work on a new quilt.  I can't show you much, but I suppose some simple blocks won't spoil the surprise if the recipient is reading my blog.
Here is a picture of a 4-patch block and a plus block that I made as part of the quilt.

Since I have been enjoying family and friends for the holiday that is all I have to show.  I made several other blocks but I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise by showing the ones that would give too many clues.

I am also entering the Christmas Quilt Show 2012 with a wall quilt that I made for my supervisor at work. This was made in 2011. The triangles for the trees were die cut the stars and presents under the tree were cut free hand with scissors and/or rotary cutter. This was hanging loosely when I took the photo.  In reality it is square.
Go visit the show and see some other fun Christmas quilts.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Being Thankful

In the USA today is Thanksgiving.  Yesterday I mentioned being thankful for small things like the color yellow.  (But is that a small thing?)
Today I want to tell you a few things that I am thankful for.
I am thankful for:

  • little birds singing outside my windows;
  • that I have windows and a home; 
  • those bits of thread that I keep picking up off the carpet, they remind me that I have things like a sewing machine, needles, electricity, fabric and a creative mind to sew;
  • colors - there are so many shades, tones and hues of color to enrich my life. I am blessed to be able to use them in paint, fabric and other forms. I am blessed to be able to see color. 
  • food - I have food to eat and can usually be picky enough to eat only foods that I really like.
  • computers - they allow me another form of creativity.  They allow me to write this blog and share videos with wonderful people around the globe. 
  • coffee - I confess that I don't like to start a single day without a cup of black coffee. I realize it is a luxury not a necessity. I enjoy the warm cup in my hand as well as the intricate flavor of the brew. 
  • And of course, I am thankful for YOU.  Without readers and followers, (and commenters) writing a blog would be less fulfilling. Thank you for reading. 
Those are a few of the things for which I am thankful. 

If you like, tell me one thing that you are thankful for today. But please, regardless of where you live, take time to be thankful today. 

Here is some "color" for which I am thankful:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Another Hand Stitched Work

I suppose I should say that this is machine AND hand stitched.  I have been working on this piece off and on for quite some time. I believe that I started it in August of  this year (2012.)   It is now near completion.  Last night I thought it was completed...but in the strong morning light, I found places that need tweaking.
If you have been reading my blog long enough,  you may remember that this is fabric that I hand-dyed.  The light part in the center is not as "glaring" in person.  There is also a lot of texture from the quilting.
This was quilted over the last two nights while I watched the conclusion of a mini-series and a movie. The quilting is rather dense.  I would love to quilt an entire quilt this way, but it would take seemingly forever.  Ha ha, I am typically not that patient.
In the USA, this is the week of Thanksgiving.  Tonight or tomorrow morning I will be making a couple of dishes to take to the gathering at my mother's house. I will also be going early to help her finish things Last night I was there wrestling with the turkey - I hope it finished thawing properly and is ready for her to cook today.  
I realize that I have many things to be thankful for and if you are reading this, you do also.  For you see, you have vision, access to the internet, and electricity in some form.  There are so many things to be thankful for. Driving this morning I saw a glorious yellow tree.   I thought "The color yellow is reason enough to be thankful and to celebrate." Think about the things you pass every day that are reason to be thankful and to celebrate.  Rejoice in those things and you fill find that your life is suddenly better and more fulfilling.
Peace be with you,

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Finish and a Plan

On Saturday, I finally got the mojo to sit at the sewing machine after the less than spectacular sales at the show.  So I took leftover pieces of binding strips from various other projects and made a fun scrappy binding for the baby quilt.  I am beginning to think that I really like scrappy bindings.  There are four different fabrics in this bias binding.
I sewed this binding to the back with the walking foot first. Then I ironed it to the front. I sewed it to the front using the walking foot also. It is really so much faster that way.

Now I have a plan for Mom's Christmas present.  I have mentioned before that I am making a quilted cover for her headboard. I plan to add three tabs at the top to to attach it to the headboard.
Friday night I took pictures of fabric and sat with Electric Quilt 7 and played.  I imported my less than great pictures into EQ7 and used them to help design it.
Here is a picture exported from EQ7:
The floral fabric is (I think) a Samoan print. I will (attempt to) fussy cut the floral pattern so it joins into one nice ribbon of flowers. I am using the burgundy because it is a color she mentioned that would look good with the room. (and I concur.) The other is a rich yellow/gold with colored squares on it. Yellow is Mom's favorite color, so it was an easy choice.  Plus it looks great next to the other fabrics. (Yes, better than this picture. LOL)
I plan to use Floriani Stitch N Shape as the "batting" for this. It has a firm texture and holds its shape nicely.  The roll I bought has fusible on one side. So I will fuse the front onto it.  It also stitches nicely. I have used it for a couple of other projects and I really love it.  It comes in non-fusible, with fusible on one side or with fusible on both sides. I wish I had bought the roll with fusible on both sides.  Mom always said "Live and learn."  I hope this goes well, I am pretty sure she will love it.

FYI  Kelly at IHAN has Stitch N Shape with fusible on both sides . She also has the non-fusible Stitch N Shape.

Okay...surprise!  The plan is nearly a finish too.  I worked on it a lot on Saturday and all I have to do is sneak in and do a "fitting" to be sure it will hang right.  Then I can attach the hangers and buttons.
Wanna see?  Of course you do.