Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Studio Finish!

  Wow! What a summer this was. It was full of drywall dust and contractors day after day. If they were here I was stuck at home all day. If they weren't here in the morning, I was stuck at home waiting for them. Sometimes they came late and sometimes I waited all day for nothing! I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining, because in the end it was worth it. I spent the past month stripping and refinishing several pieces of antique furniture to use as support for my 52" by 82" cutting counter (vintage from Preservation Station) and for storage around the studio. My studio is done, all my furniture, fabrics, and quilt supplies are in place. I'm in quilter's Heaven. :)

  While the studio itself is complete, the french doors are still waiting to be installed. I bought them at Preservation Station, so they are vintage and needed some TLC before use. I stripped, sanded, and painted the outer parts and left the wood framing the 15 lights in its original condition. What's the point of buying antique doors if you paint them and then they look new? I wanted to retain the character, but freshen them up. The old brass hardware was shot and had to be replaced. I bought brushed nickel handles and hinges to match the rest of our doors. They were purchased without the surrounding framework. The carpenter who is going to create the framework and install them came tonight to measure and see what materials that need to be bought. The only problem is, he is working on the outside of two new homes now and can only come here to work after they are finished or it rains. I don't want to pray for rain because the farmers around here need dry weather to harvest their soybeans and corn. I'm a farmer's daughter so I know which is more important. My doors can wait. In the meantime, I've been sewing again! It feels wonderful  and all the time and effort it took are dim memories now. :)

  I'm having a studio open house after Breakfast Club in October. I can't wait to share it. It will be fun to have it full of quilters. Because of the open house, I don't want to post pictures of the studio till then. I hope you understand. I promise to share plenty after the 17th.

  I will share pictures of the recipient of the commissioned quilt I quilted this summer. Remember, it was a gift for a New York attorney from his mother as a 50th birthday present. Happily, he was totally surprised and thrilled with the quilt. I received a phone call  and then an email thanking me. For his privacy, I won't share his identity, but his mother sent me these pictures of the night she gave the quilt to him.
 He looks pleased with it. I'm so relieved. He's a fellow Civil War buff, so I was choosy which pictorial squares to use in the block's centers, only my favorites.
These next two show him really giving it a thorough examination. I'm glad I took my time on that quilting! The outer border is quilted in a vining feather and star motif. I used it on my Civil War Generals quilt and loved the way it looked.

  That's all for tonight. Thanks for waiting so long for a new post. Things should settle into a comfotable routine now. I'll post again soon. Until then, keep stitchin'!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Home from Alabama

  Wow! It's been a hectic time since I last posted. Work progressed rapidly on the studio for 3 weeks. It came to a screeching halt when the man doing the mudding put on a coat and never showed up again. Yep. Not good. Something tells me, drywall finishing isn't his thing. Randy tried his hand at it and did well, but he works long hours and hasn't had time to mud in a week. :( I've got calls out for a mudder and am waiting for calls back. It's frustrating because the ceiling guy and floor guys are on hold till the drywall mudding is finished. I sure hope it's done so I can get moved in before school starts next month. I'll show what it currently looks like anyway.

  Before they finished boxing in around some pipes in my studio, I placed my brochure, business car, and a letter to a future owner who will find it while remodeling. I wonder how many years from now that will be.
 This is the area after the pipes are boxed in. There will be 3 white double door cabinets in this space housing my inventory of Orphans of War patterns for sale on my etsy shop.

 This is the long wall between my studio and the family room, with the opening for my french doors.
   Looking through the french doors into hallway. You have to imagine the doors right now. :)

   I was excited to see the hallway ceiling go up. This was before all the walls were dry-walled. I took this standing on the landing at the bottom of the stairs.

   Last week I traveled to Madison, Alabama with my friend, Kayla. I gave a program for the Madison Station Quilt Guild and others from area guilds on Thursday evening. We arrived Wednesday night and after a good night's sleep at the Hampton Inn, we were escorted to a few local quilt shops. Our hostesses from the guild were Leigh, Virginia, and Mary. We had so much fun with them and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sights in Madison.  We ate lunch at The Jail. It is the original old jailhouse next to the train tracks running through town. The cells are still in place, minus the barred doors, but the barred windows are still in place and you can dine at tables inside the cells if you want. The ladies' room is also in a cell. The food was deliscious, better than the inmates could have hoped for! I had my picture taken in a cell. Before my trip, Randy had purchased and installed a hitch and aluminum "basket" on my car to carry a large storage box with my vending items in it. I had worried about needing reflectors or lights on it and told him, "What if I get to Alabama and Sheriff Bubba arrests me for no reflectors and puts me in jail?" He thought I was foolish, but bought the reflectors to keep IN THE CAR, but not on it, in case I got pulled over. Well, this was too perfect an opportunity to pass up. I had Leigh take my picture in a cell and send it in a text to Randy saying I had been arrested and please send bail money.

  His reply? "Sorry. You're on your own. Write me a letter when you can." He didn't recognize her phone number and thought it was a scam! Note to self, if I'm ever really arrested, make sure the sheriff uses my cell phone or no bail for me. :)

  Here are some pictures I snapped at lunch. Kayla is smiling at Mary telling a story.

   This is Mary taken candidly. :)

   You'd hardly believe you were in a jail, it was decorated so nicely. See the cell in the backgound?

   I had the best time listening to Mary talk with her heavy southern drawl. She can make any one syllable  word into three and it took some effort to figure out what she said. I mee.a. een, really! We passed a roadside stand selling peaches and I asked her how she said , peaches, expecting it would be at least 4-6 syllables. She said, Peaches! I couldn't believe it, mean gets 3 syllables and peaches got two. She took a lot of good natured ribbing from me about her accent. What a fun day. By the time of my program that evening I felt like I had friends in the audience. As the audience arrived, a lady came up and introduced herself. She has been a long time Follower of my blog and came to meet me in person. It was so fun to meet a Follower face to face. Here is a picture of Follower, Barb Black with me before the program.

   I wanted to make sure I didn't get overheated in Alabama, so I wanted a light-weight dress. I went online and bought a silk dress from I Do Declare, very reasonably priced. It was plain except for a wide ruffled hemline and a wide black sash at the waist. I bought black lace, black antique-looking buttons, and supplies for a new matching bonnet. With the studio in progress, I only finished it the day before we left!  I also bought a new 5-hoop underskirt for it. I liked how it all turned out. Kayla took a few pictures that night and I'll share a couple.

  The Madison Station Quilters meet at the Madison Court House in the court room. We weren't allowed in to set up until court recessed for the night! I spoke in front of the judge's platform. That was a new experience for me. I usually speak at churches, auditoriums, or gymnasium's.

  It took Kayla and I 12 hours (with breaks) to get to Madison and 3 days to get home! We took the "scenic route" with quilt shops in Tennessee, Indiana, and Illinois. :) I'm a "fly by the seat of my pants" type of traveler. Lucky for me , Kayla is a planner. She had several spreadsheets of quilt shops to visit with addresses, what they specialized in, how many bolts, how long to get there, AND she had called to talk to the owners to make sure they had Civil War fabric.  She also is fearless in traffic and enjoys driving in big cities. I only drove the first 3 hours of the entire trip! Did I say she is my very dear friend? I wanted to take pictures of all the shops to share on my blog. After negative comments from a couple owners about copyrights, (I only wanted to take general pictures to show the "flavor" of a shop NOT closeups of books or patterns!) I have only one shop to tell you about. The ones who were overly worried about privacy won't get a mention from me. The best one we visited and the one I plan to return to when I can was, The Village Mercantile, in Booneville, Indiana. The owner Betty Cummings was gracious and loved the idea of appearing in my blog. Her shop is fabulous and full of eye candy appealing to a wide range of quilters. She has tons of samples hanging thruout her shop and antiques, especially sewing machines, to set the mood. She was a kindred spirit as she loves all things Civil War like me. She and her husband travel to Eldon, Iowa every year, on horse related business. That is only 35-40 miles west of here and they have to go right past or through Mt. Pleasant on the way. I told her she could just stay with me while her husband attends to business in Eldon. I hope she takes me up on it. Her shop is in an old 2 story brick building with a loft area for classes and SALE fabrics. I found two bolts up there that I finished off for her. :) These pictures don't do it justice. Please, visit in person to see it's bountiful treasure. You won't be disappointed.

  The first thing you see inside the front door is a collection of children's antique sewing machines. NOT FOR SALE. I asked. ;-0

    My favorite...the Civil War fabrics and patterns of course! She has tons. I loved the feathered star sample in the foreground (bought the pattern), the poison green and cream large star sample, (bought the pattern) but will make mine in blue and gray. I won't tell you how many yards of CW fabric I bought, but I'll tell you she had some I'd never seen and some old favorites I was out of, and some at amazing prices. Let's just say I left HAPPY.

  This is the view from the upstairs loft. Yummidy, right? I loved her stencilling on the brick walls.
  A cozy corner in the Civil War area.

   Meet Betty Cummings, the friendly and gracious owner of the Village Mercantile, about to cut my second or was it third batch of fabric? She assured me what happens at the Mercantile stays at the Mercantile. Thank Heavens.  She is petite and stood on a stool for this picture. :) Betty, I told you I'd tell them that!   
   Here are a few more pictures to tempt you to plan  a road trip to Booneville.

  So that's what I've been up to! Hopefully I''l have finished studio pictures to share soon. Until then, Keep Stitchin!


Monday, June 15, 2015

Studio Progress!

  It's been an exciting week. The friends who are helping us finish our basement are a father/son team. The son had a high school baseball game everyday but Friday. They still came in and worked 3-4 hours everyday. I had to force myself not to be downstairs the whole time watching the progress. I knew I'd be in the way and bug them, so I was good. They would holler up the stairs to tell me of any milestones in the progress so I could go down and take a picture. Here they are...

The first sheet of drywall going up!

  The first long wall almost done...

 Beginning the west wall...

 West wall done...

North wall done!

   So all the outer walls are finished. Tomorrow they will drywall the stairway. Tuesday bright and early the lumber will be delivered and they will begin building the stud walls to divide the area into the rooms. Today I went to Menard's and Lowes to look for trim, baseboard, and lighting. I found 22" round LED ceiling fixtures that I loved. They put out 2400 lumens of light each! I want really good lighting and I think they will be the ones I get.

  My trip to Mankato, MN went well, although it rained from the time I left home all the way to Mankato, sometimes very heavy. The Deep Valley Quilt Guild ladies were a fun group, about 100 in attendance. Shirley, the Program Chair, arrived just in time for my program. Her 18 yr. old daughter broke her wrist in 2 places on Monday and she had surgery the day I arrived. After talking and emailing for months, I was looking forward to meeting her. I'm glad she made it. She's a great lady and I pray her daughter heals quickly. On the way home I stopped at an antique store and bought two oak  library cabinets. One is a filing drawer and the other is a two drawer card catalog. I love these things and buy them whenever I can get them at a good price. They make wonderful storage for quilting tools, patterns, or FQ's. I haven't taken pictures of them yet, but they will definitely go in my studio. Today I went to a flea market and bought a wonderful cupboard top. It is 35" wide by11" deep by 21" tall with two doors with white porcelain knobs. One door hides a 12- 4"x4"cubbyholes. The other is divided into 3 vertical areas, perfect for storing quilt books. The space between the doors is open and has 2 shelves. It is nicely aged and has imperfections that prove it's been used well, just the way I like my antiques! The best part is, I have a bottom cubbyhole cabinet that it fits on perfectly. It will be moved from the back entry to the studio so it can hold the "new" top cupboard.

  Until next time, keep stitchin'.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Building of a Quilt Studio

  After building our home and moving in in the fall of 2013, we're finally ready to build my quilt studio. Randy is more interested in the adjacent family room/media room/man cave, of course. As long as I get a finished studio I'll be tremendously pleased and content. The studio gets built first as per our prior agreement. :) I've been using the space, but it was wide open unfinished space. I've never shared pictures of it for that reason. It was "no frills" work space and not very photogenic. Everything had to be packed up again to make room for the carpenters. They were very understanding and agreed to work around all my cabinetry as long as it all got shoved to the center and covered with plastic to give them space to work. The finished room will be 20' x 27'. Here are the "before" pictures.

  This is the view standing at the landing at the bottom of the stairs looking towards my studio. the triple blue lines mark where my french doors will be. The blue line on the right is the wall leading to the family room. There will be a hallway/anteroom (7'x12') from the stair landing before going into my studio or the family room. The low plastic covered object is my cutting station which will be located between the two red columns. It's 50"x84".
 This shows the 27' length of the studio. The windows face west.
The view from my space back towards the hallway and stairs.
  A closer look at the west wall. The space between the windows will be my design wall. If you're wondering, the stripes on the walls is an insulating/stud wall system we installed instead of having to build wood stud walls and insulate the cement walls of the basement. It was expensive, but very toasty and sound proof. Now the only stud walls the carpenters need to build are the interior ones separating the space into rooms. All the electrical outlets are installed in the outer walls. A good thing since now our electrician is in the hospital with pneumonia and won't be working anytime soon.
  All my cabinets are under the plastic between the columns. I'm hoping to have the columns enclosed since shiny red steel columns aren't very decorative.

  The building materials will be delivered tomorrow and the work will begin. I'll take photos of the work in progress to share with you all. I am so excited. I can't believe a 40 year dream is about to be realized. I may disappear into the studio and never come out! Who am I kidding? Randy would come looking for me when he got hungry enough or ran out of clean clothes! :)

  One down side, I discovered I'm allergic to drywall dust when a friend was building a house and I helped sweep the mess. I missed 2 days of work with bronchitis type symptoms. I've bought masks for me to wear for this project. I can't afford to get sick. I've got 3 programs coming up. I'm presenting "Christian Staffinger: the Story of a Soldier and his Quilt" to the Deep Valley Quilt Guild, Mankato, Minnesota this Thursday. I travel to Madison, Alabama July 8th to present "The Importance of Quilts and Textiles During the Civil War" to the Madison Station Quilters on July 9th. In August I'm presenting the same program at a regional Questers meeting in Burlington, Iowa, where the Hawkeye Questers are hosting 4 other Quester groups. It's going to be a busy and exciting summer.

  One other thing. Before I had to pack up my sewing machine and fabric for the build, I had to hustle and piece a 56" square version of my Civil War Images quilt.  A lady from South Carolina commissioned me to make it for her son's 50th birthday. He's a Civil War enthusiast like me and it will be a surprise for him to hang on a wall in his office. He's an attorney in New York City. Here is the quilt in process and finally basted for me to hand quilt while my studio is being built.

  Cutting the pieces...
   The first four blocks...

Planning the rows...

Basting the finished top. My kitchen island works nicely for this.
  Keep stitchin'

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Snow, No, Make that a Sew Day!

  What a lovely surprise. I got a text at 6 AM saying we had a 2 hour delay. I went back to bed till 7AM and took my shower, got another text...NO SCHOOL! Of course, I'm quilting. What would any self respecting quilter do on a snow day, but quilt? Actually it is an ice day, as in freezing rain. Randy slid all the way down our steep driveway leaving for work. I don't plan on leaving the house all day.

  I thought I should post before getting too involved in quilting. On February 24th, Ann's one month anniversary, I gave her the wedding quilt I told you about in the last post. I walked into her office singing  a Happy Anniversary song in my less than melodic voice and gave her the bag. She was thrilled. I don't think you could fake that smile, do you?

  She said new hubby Rick loved it too and it's to be hung in the guest room. They appreciated the biking theme and said it would always remind them of how they reunited after all these years. May they have a very long and happy life together.

  I had several quilts, besides Ann's, to show at Breakfast Club last month. Nancy has a huge flannel wall on a tripod frame to display large quilts for photographing. It is much easier to take quilt photos there than at home. I can't step back far enough here to get the entire quilt in the picture.

  This is my Civil War Generals quilt. As you can see, I started with the 2 panels of Union and Confederate generals and made it in the medallion style using Civil War toiles and specialty fabrics. Most are out of print now. I should have taken a closeup to show the hand-quilting. I did a lot of 1" crosshatching, 1/4" outlining to feature details, and the border is crosshatched behind a rambling feather motif. To see that, check out an earlier post on November 17th.

  Here are the Generals. It's necessary for my quilt to feature both the North and the South since I have 47 ancestors who fought for the Union and 92 ancestors who fought for the Confederacy. No surprise since the Lillards were heavily concentrated in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia at the time. Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky were divided in their loyalties and my family was no exception. I descend from a Jeremiah Lillard who was a minister that moved his family from Kentucky and settled in Missouri after the war, breaking ties with the South.

  I'm very happy to finally show you the quilt I made for Dante. He graduates in May and I'll present it to him then. Until then,"Shhh! It's a surprise." I call it Appamatox Courthouse Steps. I used tons of scraps from my Civil War toiles and specialty fabrics.  There are glimpses of flags, soldiers, cannons, maps, horses, etc. in every block. I can't wait to see his reaction. Kym Ward of Reds Threads did the machine quilting for me.

This is the quilt I made for his brother, Blake, so he wouldn't feel left out. He will receive it when he graduates from college in another year. 

   It's made in the Crazy quilt style, but each block is built around a featured Civil War fabric piece. So, maybe a not so crazy, crazy quilt. It's also machine quilted by Kym Ward. I call it Civil War Crazy. Unlike Dante, Blake never asked me to make him a quilt, so I really hope he enjoys receiving it.

  Ok, now I'm heading for my studio to lose myself for hours and hours. Randy has a meeting tonight after work, so I don't even have to cook supper!

 Keep stitching!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Long Break... Too long!

   I've been incognito for 3 months. Hard to believe, but true. Family issues which started at Thanksgiving when Mom said she was interested in moving into assisted living and would I help ( which took all of December to research, visit, and decide on placement); then she ended the month in the hospital for a week with pneumonia (the very week we were moving her into Sunnybrook!), and lastly, Randy got sick with a terrible upper respitory infection which he naturally shared with me ( I ended up with bronchitis and missed a full week of work.) We both are still left with a cough, but feeling a little better everyday. During the few good days, I quilted and finished "Civil War Generals". Kym Ward finished machine-quilting Dante's and Blake's quilts for me and I picked them up at January Breakfast Club at Inspirations. I have finishing binding all 3 and attached labels, but haven't taken good pictures yet. I'll share them when I do.

  A couple biking friends of Randy's ( I also work with her) became engaged at Christmas with plans of a July wedding. I immediately thought to make them a quilt for a wedding gift. They surprised everybody when they eloped January 24th! They decided at their age, why wait. I hadn't even started the quilt! I downsized the idea to a wall-sized quilt, found an antique bicycle toile to base the pattern on and set to work. I finished it last Thursday, but will wait to give it to them on February 24th, their one month anniversary. Plus, Breakfast Club is this coming Saturday and I want to share it at show n tell along with the other 3 large quilts I recently finished. :) It's been awhile since I had quilts to share.

   This is the Antique Bicycles wedding quilt. It finished at 27" square. The logs are in Civil War repro fabrics of double pinks, poison greens, and blacks. They live in a large Victorian home dating to the 1880's, so the fabrics should go well. Colors are not as dull as the pictures show.

 Back with label...
  I had President's Day off so I spent the day quilting on a small wall quilt for my boss (Media Specialist), Jessica, as a "Thank You" for working double duty the week I was out sick so I didn't have to ask for a sub. I hope to get it done before Saturday too! I'll have to be diligent about quilting everyday after work.

  I hope you had a day off too. Keep stittching!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sure Signs of Winter: Snow & a Quilt in the Frame!

   Ugh! Winter is here in SE Iowa. I hate it more every year.  We had our first snow on Thursday, more on Friday. Temps are in the 20's and 30's for daytime high. Yes, I know I'm whining. Sorry. This is about 6-8 weeks ahead of when I expect or want snow, usually Christmas day is about time for me.

   I like two things about winter though. The first is sweaters. I love the feel and warmth of sweaters and own quite a few. The second and best thing I like/love about winter is a quilt in the frame. Nothing better on a cold winter's day than to be sitting at the quilt frame watching the snow outside. I put my Civil War Generals quilt in the frame on October 28th and have been hand-quilting on it every moment I can since. I rolled it 4 turns last Sunday, the 9th, and am ready to roll it again tonight or tomorrow, so I'm making good progress. It always gives me a great deal of satisfaction to roll a quilt. My frame was custom made for me by my Uncle Jack about 30 years ago. It has a reach of 20", just what I can reach to quilt from one side of the frame. I like it because it takes up less room and I usually tuck it up to the back of the couch in the family room so I can quilt and watch TV with Randy at the same time. I have two sets of poles, one for up to 104" wide quilts and one for up to 60" wide, which is perfect for the 54" square baby quilts I like to make. I never make any quilt wider than 92" though, which is fits our queen-size bed.

  Civil War Generals on the frame ready to begin hand-quilting.
 My favorite tools for marking and hand-quilting.

  Some closeup pictures of the first quilting...

I bought a Civil War Era Bear's Paw quilt from the Jean S. Lyle booth at Des Moines Quilt Expo this year. It was in pristine conditiion, except for a few small brown spots on the back.

  Here's a closeup of a block with a madder plaid.

  I had my yearly physical this morning, so I took the morning off. I had some time before I had to go in to work, just enough time to write a little post. Now I'm off to school. I hope you have a wonderful winter's day quilting. I plan on spending a few hours at the frame to night.

Keep Stitching!