Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year with Prayers for Positive Forces in Your Lives

In a few minutes we will be starting another new year.  I consider myself blessed to have already welcomed 56 new years, but I am hoping and praying to see many more.  I have some private goals for my life this coming year, but I have also shared my goal of not purchasing fabric during 2010, while also whittling down my stash by finishing projects, completing quilts from patterns and fabric already purchased, and making scrap quilts for family and friends, and doing more quilts and quilting those that need to know they are loved and in our prayers.

I am going to keep track of how much time I really do spend quilting and just like Mary I am going to keep track of just what I am accomplishing on a monthly basis.  If I have have the quilting energy of the last few weeks, I should really be able to bring my stash under control and bring quilted comfort to many.  I will also keep you posted on a weekly or monthly basis concering the handquilting of my Christmas quilt.

Wishing everyone the opportunities to make many dreams come true and experience many blessings in the New Year.  Lets make it a positive year!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Have NOT Cracked a Whip, But .....



Dad used the embroidery machine and made all the snowmensquares.  He also helped to choose all the fabrics for these quilts.  He has really been enjoying all the sewing activities.  I have one other one that just needs to have the binding hand sewn, another one that is full-size with 12-inch stars that have embroidered medallions in the center, and a queen-sized rail fence out of Christmas fabric that needs to be quilted.  Much of this sewing has taken place since Dad arrived on Dec. 17, thus the title.  This is not a sweat shop and he was not forced into participating.  We roped my husband in to squaring up the blocks.  Evenings have been a mixture of sewing, watching movies, and playing dominoes and Chicken-foot (dominoes).  He and my husband even had time off to play golf and bowl on the Wii and to make six of these clocks with reclaimed oak.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Although it continued to snow, my husband was confident that the roads were clear enough for us to make it to Midnight Mass last night.  The whole ambiance of the church was moving.  We listened to some wondrous traditional hymns played by a small ensemble and sung by our own church choir.  Add in the readings, and the traditions of Midnight Mass and there is something very stirring about starting Christmas by remembering and celebrating the birth of a baby sent to save the world.  Hopefully many of us will remember that special feeling and practice the message all year long.

When we got home, Dad was all keyed up, so he and Kevin played 9 holes of golf on the Wii.  Then we were off for a long winter's sleep.  Slept so sounding that we did not hear any prancing and pawing of hoofs or the jingle of any sleigh bells.  How wonderful to be able to spend Christmas with people that I love.  Prayed that the rest of the family and our friends have a great time with those that they love as well.


Snow is deeper and getting even more so, but it is ever so gorgeous, especially since we have no where to travel today.  After a large breakfast of eggs, smokies, and cinnamon rolls, we cleaned up, put the roast in the crockpot, and had a couple of photo ops in front of the tree.  Then we all sat back and opened our gifts.

I hope that everyone received at least one gift that surprised and delighted them.  Since I am giving up buying fabric for a year, I was delighted to receive not one but 2 gift cards for fabric (which means someone else is buying) and a beautiful blue fabric bundle that I have been eying at work for several months.  There is definitely a quilt in all of this!!! 

To all that follow my blog~~~~~ Merry Christmas and blessings for the new year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Christmas Present

I have the most wonderful husband.  He never complains about anything that I do, with the exception of the teasing that my father-in-law and I do to each other.  lol  I have not had a real job since we moved to the cities in July of 2008, but I have been quilting like it is some kind of addiction.  I have also bought more fabric and tools than any non-quilter would ever understand.  Keeping all of this in mind I decided that after 34 years of teasing, I could probably not change that part, so instead I am giving up buying fabric for a year. 
Don't panic for me!  I have a huge stash that has been calling to me all year.  In order to make this truly work, I am still going to put aside $30/ month for those little bits of fabric that might be needed to create the right look in my scrappy quilts, but I am not going to spend anything that I don't feel is an absolute necessity.  (Would be really great to have lots of new quilts and still have the $360 to spend when the year of scrappy is over!!!!) I already have 5 quilts planned with all the needed fabric on hand, and I have my wonderful Christmas BOM quilt to hand quilt.  Along with that, I have Quilts of Valor to finish quilting, comfort quilts from my strip stash, and lots of books to finish, so I am certain that I can do this.  I will keep a running record of how it is going and share it at the end of the year.

Merry Christmas to all and hope you all have "enough" to sustain you through the year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

We are having fun!

My father-in-law and I have been busy.  Last year I got him started with the embroidery machine.  (I now have 3 sets of snowpeople, 1 set of Santa and the reindeer, an set of the seasons and 1 set of Noah's ark.  Each set has 20 blocks.  I am working quickly to turn them into lap quilts because I know I have more blocks coming.)  While Dad is visiting we decided to teach him some quilting skills.  He has been here 2 1/2 days and we have made one 48x48 lap quilt out of strips that vary in width from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches.  While I was at work today he made another 23 Christmas fabric blocks which will eventually be a another lap quilt measuring 63x63.  He is having fun and I am having some of my stash used.  It is a win-win situation.   He is doing a great job with the 1/4 seams.  When this is finished we will get on the longarm and quilt both of these.  When he heads home I am going to send a sewing machine and a couple of bags of strips.  He said he would take whatever I send him.  Those quilt blocks will be made into charity quilts and donated to people who need to know that someone cares about them.  I highly recommend sharing with your quilting skills with others.  Makes it twice  as much fun!

Friday, December 11, 2009

After Months of Contemplation and Prayer

I am delighted to tell all of you that I am finally feeling much better and ready to get back into the routine of things.  However, I have also had a lot of time to ponder my next moves and have decided that I am going to be making some real changes in my approach to life, including quilting.  I do not plan to start another blog to track what I am planning, but I do know that I will probably be making comments on my new found thinking over the next few months.
What I want you to know here, is that my quilting journey is taking a little bit of a course correction.   Sure I will still finish my Christmas Quilt and put up brag pictures about quilts that I have made.  I still have the passion and the desire to quilt.  I plan to continue sharing what I learn and learning  more about my craft from others, but I am going to do more of my quilting as a gift for those in need.  Also, I will continue to do quilting for other people's quilts and pay taxes on the money I may earn.  However, the big change in my quilting life is that I am going to give more time to making and giving comfort quilts for those in need of warm hugs.
As always, life is a journey with lots of twists and turns.  Who knows what is around the next corner, but if I am not willing to take the next step, I will never know.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snowy, Blowy Day -- Love It!!! Hate Pneumonia


These photos were taken at 7:30 AM.  Although the schools near our house are closed, Minneapolis and St. Paul have not put out that kind of announcement.  Guess that means the conditions are ever changing.  South of us and into Iowa and Wisconsin there is even more snow, but around here, I think the blowing is probably the biggest reason for keeping the kids and buses off the road.  Even so, it is gorgeous from my bay window out to the golf course and the backyard is still pristine and drifted.  If I felt better it might even be a cookie baking day, but maybe not.  lol

Kevin commented that he knew I was still feeling pretty lousy because I was actually watching all these Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel.  I do feel miserable with this pneumonia and nasty cough, but the movies are great company and help me pass the time while I have no energy to do other things.

Even so, yesterday, I did a lot of organizing of end of the year paperwork for my quilting business and all my other quilting activities.  I set up a table and my laptop and went to work.  Felt good to actually do some thinking!  There is a little more to do today, and then I am back to finishing my yo-yo monkey and doing some more hand quilting.  For the morning I am just enjoying Christmas music, but I may turn on those "feel good" Christmas movies after lunch.

For today, I will do the hot lemon water and such along with the medicine and see if I can quiet things a little more.  Supposedly I am supposed to be able to go back to work at the quilt shop tomorrow if I have no fever today.  I am going to give my boss the option because the coughing may just be too annoying and because our customers are a little more senior.  Would hate to scare them off.

Monday, December 7, 2009

After 6 days, I went to the doctor...

I might have H1N1, but they do not do the expensive test unless you land in the hospital.  I do have pneumonia.  What did I do to bring myself to this point?  Who knows!  I seem to be more susceptible than many others.  I am just going to spend a few more days resting and recovering.  Thankfully, I still have hand work to do and several books that are calling out to me.  Besides that, the Christmas shopping was done before Thanksgiving, so I am just going to enjoy the Christmas decorations, music and quiet projects.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Make it 3 days

It is unbelievable that I am still down and out.  I still have a low-grade fever, headache, and a super sore throat.  Only improvements are that my warped since of humor is returning and I am not constantly sleeping or thinking about it.  My little Thanksgiving visitors are still feeling poorly and their parents are snotty and have headaches as well.  How did my husband avoid it? 

Tomorrow is another day.  I have had so many fluids that I am floating - might be why I am not sleeping.  lol  I am just going to keep on doing some hand-quilting and finish my last Jason Bourne book.  I am trying to make lemonade out of the lemons!  I am hoping this is my one and only down time this winter. 

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Getting help from a friend....

Earlier this week, I had a friend over to help me learn more about my HQ16.  We spent the whole day talking, sharing, and trying some new things.  We each have something new to try during the week.  I am going to practice doing pantographs and she is going to do some free-motion quilting.  We will meet again next Tuesday and check in on our progress.

I feel that I will be able to do this, but I have been down hard for two days with some virus.  This afternoon I can finally almost hear, but I still have only a little voice. (Poor Kevin had to put up with being totally ignored last night, simply because I could not hear him and my voice was an inaudible whisper.)  I slept yesterday, but today I have dozed only a little and actually put the ornaments on the big tree.  I am pleased with the results and the memories conquered up as I worked. Usually I do all the decorating while listening to Christmas music, but since I could not really hear it, I did not waste the energy.   In between boxes, I had to rest which seemed weird,  I tried to sleep, but instead I did some hand quilting and read a few chapters.

Tomorrow is another day.  I have fabric mounted in the quilt frame, so I will be able to try some of the pantographs before going to work.  I will share some photos after I have a little practice time.

Hope all of you are enjoying the Advent season and are not letting the "Christmas" frenzy get to you.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Joint Project Completed and Mailed

Dad H and I had a great time doing this project together. Last Spring, he purchased a Decco 340 and has been making wonderful designs with it on a very regular basis. This quilt represents the second set of blocks that we worked on together. The first set is of Noah's Ark ---I had already made some, but Dad finished them up. I have not made the quilt yet, but today I found the perfect piece of fabric to finish it up. Hopefully, the top will be posted for you to see before the end of the week.
As I stated earlier, we both learned about what happens when you pull the fabric a little to tight and in too many directions as you hoop it. There is some pull around the designs, so I decided to force the blocks to fit even though the inner borders are not even in the blocks. Then I cut all the blocks to the same size and pieced them together. Because of the pull, I decided this might be a very challenging quilt to work through on the longarm, so I used high loft batting and I tied the quilt together with white floss, and then I put a double fold binding on it. It will be a fun quilt for snugglingbecause it is lightweight yet warm. I enjoyed my time sitting with it on my lap while I did the hand sewing on the binding. Believe me it says "CHRISTMAS" all over it!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lefse, anyone?

Although I spend a good deal of every day quilting, today we will spend the full evening making our winter's supply of lefse. For the past 34 years, I have partaken in this annual tradition courtesy of my husband's Norwegian heritage. (I only have a little bit of it in me.) At first it was simply eating it at the family gatherings and discussing whether Grandpa or Grammie did the better part of preparing it. While living in Maine, we bought our own lefse grill and were assisted by Mom and Dad with our very first batch. As the kids grew, so did the fun and the flour involved in making it. The folks had been more serious about the process, but I don't take anything to do with food too seriously. The biggest clean up messes of the year involved getting the flour out of all the nooks and crannies and off all the kitchen surfaces. Now it is back to just the two of us, so we make half a batch and share a little with the kids. Jamie has her own grill now.

The test piece was the best we have ever made, so I guess the weather conditions were just right! The pieces were very crisp almost as soon as they were removed from the grill.

Are you asking what lefse is? Lefse takes the place of bread at our holiday meals. It resembles a tortilla in appearance, but is much thinner if it is done right and is the flour type. There are two types of lefse - flour and potato. Potato lefse is stored in the refrigerator or freezer. We make the flour version because it is family tradition and because it can sit on the shelf in an air tight container for months. It is like a brittle cracker while sitting on the shelf. About an hour before the meal we sprinkle it with water and lay it between the folds of a dish towel, and it becomes pliable like a warn tortilla ---that is when the fun begins.

When we sit to the table we explain to our guests that they may put whatever they want on the lefse, but we generally put a little butter and sugar on ours. When I lift off the lace tablecloth at the end of the meal, I know exactly who chose the sprinked sugar version. Several relatives love to put their potatoes and gravy inside, and sometimes I opt for cranberries. Once you decide what to put on it, you roll it up like a crepe and enjoy. However, folding up a little bit of the end before rolling helps to keep the trimmings inside. Even for those unfamiliar with lefse, I plan 2-3 pieces. One of my brother-in-laws claimed that he was half Norwegian simply because he wanted more of the lefse.

What do we do with the leftovers? Well, I actually make planned-overs and try to hide them until the meal is over. These pieces are made into klings. I layer about 6-10 pieces, covering them with various toppings: butter, jelly, peanut butter, honey, and sugar. Instead of rolling them I cut them into bite sized squares and place them in a small container for later. When my husband was a kid Grammie would make them to take ice fishing. Delicious and decadent!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tops and tops....oh my!

I am trying to set a different kind of goal for myself for the rest of November. I am going to complete all the tops I have actually started and if the body is willing and time allows, I will then see just how many I can also quilt. None of the tops that are actually cut out are spectacular, but they want to be finished just like any ideas in my head. The third one has been in the works for about 5 years, but it is all hand pieced, so....
Yesterday I pieced the first of Dad's embroidered blocks. They are snowpeople. Because he was still very new at using the embroidery machine, he did stretch and distort the fabric some, but they are fun blocks, so I decided to piece them and then use a high loft batting with white floss ties. It should be a fun one for cuddling up.



Today, I am finishing a transportation quilt using blocks that I had made for another project. It will be just right for use in a crib. I have a great piece of transportation fabric to use as backing. I am going to attempt using the wavy ruler to outline the blocks, and then I will add a red binding.


Tomorrow I am going to piece together the hand sewn blocks I made using a pre-cut kit, but use the sewing machine. At one time I was really psyched about the quilt, but then when I started sorting the finishing kit I found that I was short to border strips. Really takes away from the overall look, so I tried to find something that could be substituted. Nothing works, which tells me that I should really finish projects in a more timely fashion. I will just use a different setting. I do know that the backing I have planned is beautiful and still available. It will make a nice cuddle quilt.
There are probably others that I need to uncover, but I am finishing these tops first and then I will search.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TA-DA-TA!!!!!

I have completed the center of my Christmas Quilt Block of the Month. (pattern by Jeana Kimball and published by Oxmoor House, Inc, 1995-1996) It will now be put away until after Christmas. I plan to add 3-5 borders and then hand quilt it. This is not the best photo of the top, but I just want you to see what it looks like. Once I get the borders on, I will take another photo with Kevin's assistance.

Did every seem line up as shown in the diagram? No, but every strip was the right size. With the spacer pieces that were added in the original, I was a little nervous, but all in all it turned out to be something I will treasure for a lifetime. The top was pieced in chunks and then fitted together leaving me to consider y-seams, etc. I was a little anxious with the hourglasses, Santa, the train and Noah's ark, but they actually went together with ease.

Would I do it again? Not certain on that one, but I did learn a lot about different kinds of piecing and color choices. I would switch out some of the colors, if I did it again, but then these are all scraps I have had for years, including some scraps from my mom's stash . I did not purchase one piece of fabric for this during the piecing process, but I have been thinking about this quilt for years and probably stockpiling certain ones.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Block of the Month Quilt

As many of you have read, I have been working on the blocks for this quilt since January, 2009, but I have had the pattern since I purchased the blocks in 1995. My daughter asked how long did it take, but I think she was just asking about the wreath block. That block took about 20 hours. Other blocks did not take an hour, for one but generally those had multiple blocks to make. I would not want to venture an exact amount of time on the blocks but I am going to keep track of how long it takes to hand quilt it. That part will not start until after the holidays, but I am tentatively planning to piece the top by the end of 2009 (if there is enough time left between all the other things I have planned. This is one of the most involved quilts I have ever made. Some of the blocks were challenging because of all the points and pieces. I learned a great deal about turn-turn applique and know that my skills have greatly improved.

Would I ever do another block of the month? Yes, I am starting two different ones. My guild is doing a Fat Quarter Sampler quilt that is scheduled to take until March of 2011, but I think I may work ahead because I get anxious to see the final outcome. I have to choose the 28 fat quarts and 2 border prints this week so that I will have my first 4 blocks done before Dec. 8.

I am also going to do as snowman (non-Christmas colored) family reunion quilt from Pearl Louise Designs. I will be starting that one in December and plan to have it done by December of next year ----- It is basically a single applique block each month, plus a few filler blocks which could be done at anytime on the machine. I want to do more needle-turning so these blocks should be perfect.

Stay tuned for all of these exciting adventures!!

Last....But Not Least!!!!




Saturday, November 14, 2009


I am currently working on the last block for my Christmas BOM quilt. It is almost 1/2 way done, so I should be able to show it before the end of the week. I love the Santa and the row houses, but the Christmas block is one of my favorites. I am not certain that I love all the fabric choices, but I loved putting it together. The saw tooth blocks appear to be easy, but the first set of points were a little bit of a challenge until I realized they were flying geese. This is going to be an amazing quilt---not necessarily a perfect quilt, but one that is perfectly enjoyable to the one who is completing it. I am also certain that my grandchildren will enjoy the finish project next December. I AM SO EXCITED!!!








Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Quilts of Valor

On Veterans' Day it seems appropriate to share something about Quilts of Valor. I am one of the lucky ones. My husband, a military man for over 28 years, has been in several hot spots around the world but has always returned unharmed. As a way of expressing my gratitude, I am quilting a number of Quilts of Valor to recognize the sacrifices of many less fortunate service members and to let each of them know they are appreciated for what they do. To date I have only quilted 5, but I just brought home 6 mores that I intend to quilt before the end of the year. Yes, I will have them done by Dec. 31. I am using a meander design rather than something more complex. We have lots of people who have pieced tops for this group, but the quilting part bogs down. I know the holidays are drawing near, but I will make the time in my schedule simply to say "Thank you" to all those who serve.

***Want to know more about Quilts of Valor, check out the website (It is under reconstruction, but there is still good information on it.) www.qovf.org





What have you done for fun,today?


I just finished serging the last of 70 double-sided napkins made of Christmas fabric. When they are folded they make Christmas trees. The longest part was marking the 14 1/2 inch circle on each of the light fabrics. I have not folded them all, but evenings in front of the TV are made for such tasks. The ones in the photo have only been tentatively pressed to give you an idea. (Quick. easy gifts or simply use to add a little fun to your Christmas gatherings.)


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My New Business Card

Thought I would share the front of my new business card. I uploaded it from Paint. I made two kinds: one opens and has pricing guidelines. The other is just the normal card. What do you think? Should I make changes? Suggestions?

Advertising My Quilting Services

I write mostly about the actual making of the whole quilts rather than focusing on the quilting, but today I am writing about the whole idea of my quilting services business. I have been quilting for people for a few years, but only by word of mouth, which means I have been quilting for friends and family in Texas, Tennessee, and Iowa. I have not done anything for anyone in Minnesota, but then I have not shared what I do very often with those I have met here.



I have written about how I really do appreciate custom and heirloom quilting, but I have also been very clear that the type of quilting I do is more for the quilts that will be loved and used by infants, toddlers, teens, and people in need of a hug. I see my role as helping to make sure that the whole quilt stays together through many washings, tent making, and cuddling on the couch. I have chosen to work with meandering, loops, loops and stars, loops and hearts, and swirls. I will probably branch out in the months and years to come, but I think my versions of these designs have worked well on the quilts I have quilted. I am always practicing to develop my skills with other designs, but I do not aspire to earn "The Best Machine Quilting" awards at large quilting venues. My preference is to help the quilt top maker turn a wonderful top into a quilt that will be loved and used for many years to come.


I have received many positive comments from those of you who have been given a quilt that I have quilted. Even so, I see my role as the background player so that the quilt top maker receives the applause and praise for a beautiful treasure. After all, every quilt begins with the creative thought from the top designer. Without them, there would be nothing for me to quilt.

If you are interested in my rates and services, please contact me through my email: rahempel@gmail.com. Currently, I have only one quilt waiting to be finished, so you could still have your quilt finished before Christmas.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How Does It Happen?

I try to keep my studio semi-organized all the time, but somehow every time I finish a couple of big projects, I not only need to do a quick clean but somehow find myself doing a major overhaul. I understand the need to dust and vacuum on a very regular basis, but what draws me to sort out other fabrics, cut blocks, and, most interestingly, break out the iron? This process always seems to take a couple of days and brings me to the point of having 3 or more new projects in the planning stages. (I generally have 5 or 6 projects brewing already.)

Yesterday morning before work, I cut up my scraps and made 4 1/2 inch blocks, 2 inch and 1 1/2 inch strips, then sorted them into color places for more cousin quilts, etc. or into their light and dark strip boxes. When I got home from work I reorganized my embroidery software and quilting books (did not look inside) and started restocking my thread trays until I got distracted with another idea when I saw a rug pattern which I started thinking about this flannel that I have had for more than 10 years.

I decided that the flannel I still have from my mom's stash would not be used for a quilt back, but rather for a rag rug using a toothbrush handle as my needle (something I have been wanting to make for several years.) So, in the middle of all my cleaning and sorting, I stood in the studio and tore 9 yards of fabric into 2 inch strips. I think it will be one of my non-quilting projects for the winter. The pattern says it will make a 18x36 inch oval rug. I am proud to say that I did nothing more than place the strips, the pattern and toothbrush needles in my travel basket and set it by my chair in the family room. Then I went back to cleaning and organizing.

I have 3 hours before I need to get ready for work, so I am going to head into the studio and see just how much more TROUBLE I can get into before running the vacuum. If I did not have so much fabric or love touching it so much, I would probably be done much sooner, but this is one of those tasks that I love!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Under the Weather, BUT the Sewing Machine Is Working

I have been keeping a very low profile today because of some abdominal upsets, but I have continued to cut and sew. I am not working on a quilt today, but rather I made 31 charity fleece stocking hats and 2 more pairs of mittens for children to donate to a non-profit group in the area. While making them I learned a lot about the different types of fleece. Two of colors are a little stretchy and two are just stable and somewhat fuzzy. I was given the pattern and some verbal instructions but did not really pay attention to the directions. The green hats have pointy tops and are really cute, alas they are probably not the correct version. However, they will still keep heads warm and may be hot items for little girls. The others have rounded tops and went together much more quickly. For less than $20 and a day of sewing, I was able to make 31 hats for kids that would otherwise be cold this winter. Living in Minnesota has given me a greater understanding of the importance of having your head covered on cold days. When I make more I will use the fleece with the stretch so that they will be able to fit more head sizes.

I also played with an old sweatshirt that had already been started toward becoming a cardigan. I learned a lot about doing this and may attempt another down the road. For now it will keep me warm in my studio, but will probably never travel upstairs to become part of my regular wear. I guess that I thought that binding the sweatshirt edge should have been as simple as binding a quilt, but I say it is not anything like it. The miters are not things of beauty!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Swirls- fun little practice project


I had some fabric left after making Henry's baby quilt, so I made a simple little quilt to use for changing diapers on my bed. I wanted to practice doing swirls before working on the quilts for the twins, too, so it was practical to make this little quilt in several ways. The other side is flannel, simply because I had a piece the right size. I tried to photograph with and without a flash so that you could see the colors and the swirls.





Wonderful, Well-Loved Gifts for Small Children



One of the things that I like to make for a baby gift is a flannel comforter. It is great for laying on the floor or for snuggling a baby on the cold walk to the car. Several of these have been mailed to new great nieces and nephews as well as a few grandma friends' grandchildren so these may look familiar to some of you. One of these will be headed to Tennessee in the next week for another friend's baby.

SPECIAL NOTE: I have made a few of these comforters for teenagers and adults, as well. Everyone loves the warm, but light feel of the flannel comforters. You can also tie the comforters with yarn, but after many washings I, personally, think the yarn looks rather matted.




How do I make mine?

  1. Buy 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 yards of flannel or two different pieces of flannel at 2/3 or 3/4 each.

  2. In hot water, wash the fabric using the quick setting without fabric softener(Flannel tends to shrink, so I try to take care of the shrinkage upfront.) and tumble dry.

  3. Fold in half or lay the two pieces together so that the right sides of the fabric face each other.

  4. Square up the fabric. (Let me know if you need me to explain this concept.)

  5. Take a large round template (substitute a dinner plate) and trace around the edge of each corner to get a little bit of a curve and trim off the corner. It is so much nicer for turning and looks good when finished.

  6. After that make a sandwich of the flannel and a piece of high loft poly batting. The batting is laid down first, then add the two pieces of flannel just like they were when you cut them.

  7. Pin the flannel pieces to the batting, leaving about 10 inches unpinned.

  8. Feel free to trim off most of the excess batting, but don't cut right up to the edge.

  9. With the sewing machine, make about a 1 inch seam starting with a few back stitches near the opening. Sew all the way around to the pin on the other side of the opening.

  10. Remove ALL pins (Experience is a great reminder.)

  11. Turn the comforter inside out. You should have the two right sides of the flannel on the outside.

  12. Use a blunt object to help push all the seams out. If you feel more comfortable, you can then pin the edges down before sewing.

  13. Hand sew the opening using a blind stitch.

  14. With the sewing machine, sew around the outside again using the same 1 inch seam. The edge is puffy and adds to the finished look.

  15. Lay the comforter on a hard flat surface, and place safety pins (quilter's pins work well) to mark off the top of the comforter. Pin through all three layers. You can lay out a grid with yarn or simply use a ruler to or measuring square to keep things in line. I generally use a 4 inch grid unless the batting tells me to quilt or tie a smaller distance apart. the tying keeps the batting from shifting and pulling apart from repeated washings.

  16. Use embroidery floss to tie square knots through all 3 layers, and then remove the pins.

  17. Trim the floss to no more than 1 inch in length if giving the comforter to a small child or baby.

  18. Feel free to launder before sending the comforter, but you can also just toss it in the dryer to add to the fluffy look.

  19. After the comforter is made, I recommend that the new owner wash using regular settings and use fabric softener as desired.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Quick Thoughts...or maybe not so Quick

Kevin and I spent the week with the kids and grandbabies. What a wonderful thing to be grandparents. It is also handy that they all live close to each other so our trips are always 2 for 1.

During the first half of the visit, Aleah had to work quite a few hours so while Kevin and Jon painted, pounded, measured, hammered and drilled, I was center-stage with Dean and Bryson. We went full-tilt right up to nap time. However, only the boys had naps. I did some dishes, restoration of the living spaces, and of course a little sewing. The boys are so loving and sweet, but they are also quite opposite in their personalities - Dean's middle name should be "Full Speed Ahead" Bryson's could be "Chilly with my Homies".


On Wednesday we celebrated Zoe's 3rd birthday and Dean's 2nd birthday. How thrilling it is to have them all together at one time. Can't wait for them to reach the age when they can really interact with each other. They are all interested in each other, but there is more observation than interaction.

Our son-in-law was busy helping his friend celebrate his upcoming wedding , so we whisked Jamie and babies off for a long weekend. We went to the AQS Expo in Des Moines, Iowa. We share one room with two beds and the porta-crib. Interesting concept, but I think everyone would have slept better the first night if we had separate rooms. (Second night was much more restful for all of us!!!) We rode a bus to the Expo - a first for Zoe and Henry. Obviously Zoe was much more excited about all of it. The quilt show was fabulous as always and if money were no object, Jamie and I would have purchased more gadgets and fabric than we would ever have time to use. But sensibility won this time. I spent less than $200 and part of that was all of our admissions plus a Sunday present for Jamie. (I will tell you about my purchases in a later post.) Zoe got a measuring tape and was entertained for hours while we walked around. She also loved riding the escalator with Grandpa and then with Grandma and then with Grandpa...... Henry slept in a snuggly sling nestled close to his mommy and away from the well intentioned ooos and awwwws of our fellow quilters. After 6 hours of walking around, riding the escalator, and having lunch, we had another bus ride back to the hotel where Jamie and babies chilled out. Kevin and I took the skywalk(8-10 blocks) back to the show and wandered around for a couple of more hours. We followed that up with pizza in the room. After swimming and chasing around in the pool Zoe had some down time with a little bit of Green Eggs and Ham; Kevin finished a book; I tied a second baby comforter; Henry chilled on the bed; and Jamie tried to get all the blocks trimmed for a friend's wedding quilt.

What a glorious way to spend time. I could not ask for something better than time with family. Throwing fabric and gadgets into the mix just added a little more to the enjoyment. Of course, Kevin and I slept in when we got back home, but neither of us has any complaints about how the time was spent!!!

NOTE: On the way to and from seeing the kids I worked on several quilting projects, but I have a lot more sewing on the last applique block for my Christmas quilt. I am way ahead of schedule though, so................ Now I need to get my hand quilting skills upgraded from extremely rusty to at least much improved. That is how I am going to quilt the Christmas Quilt.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Special Quilts




Although I do not know all the facts or have any real memories of being a twin, my mom was very clear that I was and that my twin passed away before our first birthday. I was told that the hospital/nursing home where I was born in Kansas burned down and that all the records were destroyed. Mom said that they chose to omit the twin information when they resubmitted the application for the birth certificate because it was just too painful to always be reminded. I have always wondered why I don't know more, but I guess that was a choice my parents made and an acceptable way to do things in the 1950s. The reason for sharing the fact that I am a twin has to do with the quilts that I have just mailed to my twin great-nieces. The quilts are similar in appearance with subtle differences. The large pinwheels were made to represent the individual whose name is on the quilt. The small pinwheels are there to help them to always remember the other twin. I want these girls to be independent thinkers yet always remember that they are a part of something unique.....twinship!


Don't misunderstand by thinking that my other great-nieces and -nephews are less loved, it is just that I feel some different connection because of my own experience or more accurately non-experience with being a twin.
******Each quilt has its own pillow case. As many know, it is not good to store quilts in plastic or up against wood. The pillow case can be used for a pillow now and a storage bag later.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I am quilting

About 3 weeks ago I sneezed and twisted a rib. Did anyone know that it could happen? What was I doing at the time? ---using the long arm. Was the long arm to blame, NO! It was a powerful sneeze. I have been to the doctor and seen a chiropractor 4 times. (Never saw a chiroprator before, but his efforts are helping!) I am feeling much better but am not 1oo%. For those that know me, they are aware that I am accident prone, but that the accidents don't seem to happening doing anything of a daredevil nature. Also, they are aware that things tend to happen in threes for me. I have had my three, so hopefully I will have a few years of relative calm.

I did not give up on the quilting while I was hurting (still am-- a little), but I only did a few small projects at the long arm. Instead, I was piecing and refreshing my hand-quilting techniques. Today, I decided I needed to begin a large quilt so that I could get it in the mail by Monday. I worked on it for about an hour and am now taking just a few minutes to blog. This design is free-hand loops and double hearts. I have done it a few times and really like how it looks. I vary the size and the shape of the hearts simply because I know that love comes in all forms. It is more labor intensive than many of my designs, but certain quilts just seem to fit it. This quilt is one made with blocks created by my "Quilting Frog" group, several other friends, and my own little tadpole, Jamie. I am always amazed at how differently we piece the tops even when we have the same initial blocks. When I finish I will put photos of this one up along with the one that I pieced for myself. For now, I am just going to work through the design and say some prayers for my friend that will eventually be napping under it.
It is wonderful that there are so many different aspects of quilting so that I am always able to do something with fabric. A day without fabric better include grandkids!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pieced and Quilted with Love and Prayers!

I have some strong feelings about my own quilts and how they are quilted. I never knew that I felt so strongly about it until this week. I believe that every quilt I make is made to be used and loved. Each one contains a part of me. When I make a quilt it is sewn with love and most are sew with prayers for the recipient, as well. If I can not feel the love and joy, I will actually stop and try to figure out what I can do with what I have, or just bag it and hope that I will figure out what to do with all the pieces. I have only bagged 3 in my life and they are all still bagged. Someday Jamie will have to wonder about why I left these "treasures".

In several discussions this week, I found myself saying that I think the most important part of my quilts is the piecing and the quilting is something that adds a little to it. Others believe that the quilting is as important or more important than the quilt top. Don't get me wrong--When I start up the HQ, I work to make my quilting be a positive addition to the quilt. I plan out what I am going to do and take the time to pick out any areas that I feel detract from the look, but I do not showcase my quilting over and above the actual piecing.

I love to go to the big quilt shows and see the prize winning quilts. I admire the work and the overall beauty of each whole quilt. I know that these quilts are works of art and so does everyone else. I will be in DesMoines at the end of the month to see some of the fabulous works of art simply because I appreciate beauty.

However, my personal feelings tell me that the true beauty of my kind of quilting is offering warm hugs and prayers to those in need. How many of these award winning quilts ever get to be wrapped around someone who is in pain, feeling blue, or just wanting a hug? How many will every be used to cuddle a baby or be made into a tent for a toddler? I think that there are different types and uses for every kind of quilt. I have chosen to make mine and the ones that I quilt for others be ones that are used, loved, and frequently washed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Baby, its getting cold up here!


This morning, I did something a little different. I sewed mittens for homeless children. I used a pattern from Hancock, and leftover fleece from several projects and parts of new, cozy, cuddly blankets that had already been cut up for other projects. I cut them out a week ago, but I did most of the sewing today. I had enough fabric to make 46 pairs. (I have 14 pairs left to sew.) Hope that when they are added to the rest made by the guild that they will make a difference for all the little people in the soon to be cold Midwest. Quick, easy way to help someone else feel a little warmer this coming winter season.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Do you know...

I belong to a quilting guild that does some charitable sewing projects for a few non-profit groups. We work on Quilts of Valor and quilts for The Home of the Brave. We also sew pillow cases for homeless. I have not been a member of the guild for a long time, but I am working on finding the names and needs of a few groups that could use our assistance. I am not promising anything, but I would like to hear about organizations that you think are worthwhile yet maybe not well known to many. Just send me the name of the organization, who they serve, and the contact name in an email, and I will follow up. We are located in Minnesota which is in the United States.
rahempel@gmail.com Thanks for your assistance.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I have been busy!

Many of you already know that on Sept. 23 I became a grandma again for the 4th time and I was there to be the grandma-in-charge of Zoe for a couple of days. Each time has been as special as the first, and each grandchild has been unique. Like so many have said, if I had known being a grandma was so wonderful, I would have skipped kids and gone right in to the grandparent business. Love Jon and Jamie, but there is something so very special about Zoe, Dean, Bryson and Henry.

Since I have been home, I finished up quilting two more quilts for friends, completed a couple of bindings, and made the October Christmas BOM blocks + am working on the second one for November. I also bought a new gizmo to help me see some of the quilting when I am working on similar colored fabrics. Kind of scary, huh? Even so, it is soooooo easy to use and can be dimmed or even very focused, so I will continue to use it in the privacy of my studio. Are you laughing, yet? Maybe I should not have shared this.



My favorite quilting project of the month is creating two quilts for my twin great-nieces. (The first quilt attempts for them did not go as planned and I canned them or actually bagged them to be given away to some unsuspecting daughter or anyone who wants to play around with curves.) Now I am nearly done creating the blocks and will be laying out the tops this week. The quilts are similar, but each has a little bit different appearance since their mommy wants to allow for their own personalities to shine through. Watch for an update in a couple of weeks if not sooner.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Impressed with Myself

I have so much that I need to do during the month of October that I decided to dedicate time yesterday and first thing this morning to making blocks so that I would not be rushing at the last minute to finish this month's blocks. I am also working on an applique of Santa and his reindeer, but I am going to be able to count it in next month's groups, so..... All of these blocks are fairly well trimmed at this point. The Ohio Star blocks are 6" finished. The Welcome Star is 12" finished. The 4 hourglass blocks are each 3" finished. The odd stockings block is 7 1/2 x 10 1/2" finished. Not really wild about the stockings, but I did learn quite a bit about myself when I made the block. ---- I am much more accurate with a rotary cutter than with a scissors. Pointy stockings kind of bug my senses, and I would not make the block again without making some real modifications.

Just 5 more kinds of blocks to go. Then I will piece the top and start hand-quilting it. By Christmas 2010, I plan to be able to lay this quilt (finished) on my bed. Having set monthly goals for the different types of blocks got me this far, so that is what I am going to do once I see just how big the quilt will be. I have only hand quilted two other quilts so if it takes a year, I can deal with it. Any hand quilting tips are welcome.......

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Christmas BOM for September

I just finished the last of this month's blocks. I thought I only had to do two in order to be on track, but the recount showed that I needed all three. Tonight, I had to make three different sets of nine-patch block sets. The blocks are 3x3 inches. They go in several different places on the quilt. (The colors are not accurate, but I think it has something to do with where I chose to photograph them.) The train took quite a bit of time and will be 6x21. When I finished appliqueing the required parts I felt that the engine still needed some trim so I added the red pieces. Jamie and I have discussed adding some red trim to the top of the middle car, but I have not committed to it yet. Any opinions? The Santa block has lots of pieces and is not foundation pieced so I was a little concerned with making it come out to be the right size, but it is right on the mark, 8x12. In the photo, there is a bend in the fabric near the top of the hat, but I checked to make sure it was really okay. There are no facial features because it is done in what was referred to as the "Amish" style. I love it when a plan comes together!!!!

Forgot to Share the End Product



Back in June I decided that I needed to get crack-a-lacking and make a special quilt for my soon to be born grandson. I fell in love with another curved quilt that I had made and decided that I wanted to make one for the baby, as well. I pieced it and added a new border that I dreamt up one night. Jamie asked for a flannel back, and I had just the right piece for the back, so I was in business. Then I put it aside to get ready for quilt camp and lots of other things. Suddenly, it was time to give it to her and I still had not decided how to quilt it. As I paged through lots of design books, I realized that many would think this was an inappropriate pattern because the center is also known as the "drunkard's path" layout, but I don't hold much with what others choose for names. I call this one "Hisnibs" because the kids were not willing to share the baby's name until he arrived. Guess what, he has arrived and just like my way of thinking my new grandson's name does not match his quilt's name. His name is Henry.
For those that want to know how I finally decided to quilt the quilt, I used my regular machine and simply quilted it diagonally through each block using navy thread. I did not do any quilting in the border. Because I used "Warm and Natural" as my batting I did not need to quilt it too closely. The binding is attached by machine so that is how the outer edge is anchored. I really love this little quilt, and apparently so do my friends because they have used the borders on their own versions of the quilt. If you need some details on making the border, just let me know.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Couple of Random Thoughts

Have you every cut out a quilt and decided that it was just not something that you would ever be willing to make or give to someone? I tried very hard to love not one but two such projects, but I just could not. I like the design and I like most of the fabric, but neither one of them said "Baby Quilt" to me. Even so, I am going to bag the parts and let myself stew over them for awhile and see if I can figure out how to best use the fabric. (Quilters do not tend to throw out perfectly good fabric, thus we all have stashes! - Wonder if Jamie wants to inherit these now or in the distant future????) That being decided, you should see what I am doing now. It is going to be a fun surprised for the babies and their parents. I will show you when I am done creating.


Second thought: A few weeks ago I shared my version of "Canyon Waves" and told you I would share Jamie's when she finished. With mere days to spare, she finished hers for my soon to be born grandson.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Better Than Flowers and Filled with Prayers!

One of my very dear teaching friends in Missouri has a daughter going through treatment for breast cancer. I personally have never met this young woman, but I feel as if I have known her for years because mommas talk, right? Based on her current blog about this experience , I know she has had some tough times, but she has been so upbeat and an inspiration for me. She is a woman of strong faith and will find her way through it. She has a very supportive family, as well. All of them can use more prayers.
When I make comfort quilts that is exactly what I do as I sew. I count each stitch as a pray for her and her family and anyone else that is going through a similar illness. This particular comfort quilt has all kinds of different fabrics and one message. The purpose of this comfort quilt is two-fold: to help keep her warm while she is going through treatment and to give her something hopefully make her smile and distract her during tough times.
The beginnings of this pattern came from http://blog.maryquilts.com/. Mary explained how to make heartstring quilts. After I had all the blocks made, my husband and I rearranged several times and decided this would be a fun version. Bright, colorful, and made with love and prayers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Klutz, I am!

Over the past few weeks I have been working with a splint on my right wrist. I am known to be a bit of a klutz(Can you hear my family laughing at that understatement?) and have goofy accidents about every three years. This one timed out just like clockwork. I was helping my husband with a woodworking project and got clobbered by a piece of lumber. No break, just excessive swelling that did not want to go away. I thought that I would just ignore it, but after a week of not being able to do much sewing, I went to the doctor. Several sets of x-rays and an orthopaedic visit later, I was sporting a lovely black brace because I voted down the cast (Hate the smell!). Makes it easier to get my sewing up and running again, but.............

To add insult to injury, I decided it was really time to work on my physical self and got really involved with the WiiFit. I love doing the step segment. I am a klutz without rhythm, though. I pulled a muscle in the side of my knee and was told not to do too many stairs for a few weeks and to avoid walking the hills. GREAT excuse not to exercise, but I was not looking for one. I am going to start doing water exercises next week. (I can swim, so I feel I can save myself! lol)

Despite the injuries, I have managed to quilt 5 tops, bind 3 of them, make a comfort quilt for a friend's daughter, make 3 tied flannel baby comforters, help Dad H create a quilt design for his newest embroidery efforts, finished the 3 blocks for my Christmas BOM, and cut out several baby quilts. Progress is not what it normally would be, but it is still progress. I have also managed to read several books, prepare and serve dinner for 10, and entertain a few grandbabies.

Life is good! Pollyanna and I can always play the "Glad Game" if we start to feel down. I am glad that I have the ability to adjust, but I am even more glad that I have a wonderful husband who is always available to cheer me on and help with whatever needs doing!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Canyon Waves


It is finished! I had a hard time deciding how to quilt this one. I thought about doing it on my regular machine and echoing the curves, but instead I did a smaller meander in the curved areas and left the other areas unquilted. It appears to be a little 3-D that way. Fits the quilt's title because it seems a little like waves and creates a fun textural feel. I enjoyed learning how to make the curves and discovering that they went together without making me rip every time. Best part of making this quilt was that I took the class with my daughter and had such a good time. So nice to share a common interest with one that I love! Jamie thinks she is going to quilt hers this weekend when they visit. I will add a photo when it is done.

Monday, August 31, 2009

8 Months of Christmas Blocks of the Month

I thought I would give you another tour of my blocks for the Christmas Block of the Month Quilt that I have been working on since January, 2009. I have 4 more months and 12 more types of blocks to make before I can begin piecing it all together, but I am impressed with myself for staying focused and reaching my goal each month. I have enjoyed making each block, but have discovered that I am not a perfectionist with certain types of piecing. My needle turn applique gets better with each piece. I also love choosing my own fabrics for each block type. This will be a treasure for me every year when I display it at Christmas, but I am not so certain that I will let people use it just for cuddling. Time will tell.

video

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Does Not Belong, but........

Zoe came to visit this weekend. While her parents and other grandparents went to the game. Kevin and I had the pleasure of playing with the little sweetheart. This baseball toy is something I bought with Dean in mind, but all kids see m to play with it. Think it is all the different sounds it makes. Anyway, I had been saying that I wished the camera was close by so I could take pictures of Zoe hitting the ball and running the bases. I did not want to disturb her because then it would have been over. Found the camera a few minutes later, and started shooting. I did encourage her a little, but most of it was what she had been doing for 20 minutes already.
video
I cut the video at the last moment afraid I make her cry because I was laughing or she would start crying because she hit her foot. Neither happened. But the three of us did run lots of bases after that. The applause were deafening. (We did so much better that the Twins!) Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ta-Da-Ta! My Part is Completed!!!!!.....for this round


It is official. All of the Cousin Quilts that needed to be sent on have been mailed I finished these and the extra one over the weekend. Zoe, almost 3, was here while I was working on one of them, and we had a lengthy discussion about all the blocks that are the same as on her quilt. She told me that she wished she had one of the squares on hers, but maybe her new baby brother would have it on his. There is nothing fancy about these quilts, but I believe that they have been some of my favorites to make. I have had feedback about 3 others that have already been received by the next generation of cousins, and it seems to me that the quilts are fulfilling my dream of making each child feel loved and connected to each other. WARM FUZZIES to all who have played a role in this ongoing project. The next round of piecing can begin whenever the nieces and sisters are ready. I have lots of squares cut, already!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cousin Quilts

As Zoe says, "Ta-da-ta!" I mailed off four more quilts to have the binding edge hand stitched by willing volunteers. I finished the machine part of attaching the double fold binding for all 15 quilts, but have 3 left to do the hand sewing. No complaints from me. I love to do the binding, so I am glad to have 3 to finish off myself. Two of these are headed for South Dakota before the end of the month, and the other one is going into storage for safe keeping until another baby is announced. As cooler weather appears, I will start asking if any of the nieces or my sisters want to have a bundle of squares sent to them for piecing, but I would love to have another quilting weekend, so......

Instead of having to cut all those squares at once, I have been very diligent about cutting up the leftover backing and making squares or binding strips for the next ones. I have the squares categorized by color or theme, so later the sorting will be just as easy as it was this time. Will every bit of the fabric make it back into more cousin quilts? NO! I have been taking a few 1 1/2" and 2" strips from each to add to my strings and log cabin quilts stash. I am going to work on a couple of each of those blocks every week until I have enough blocks for several of each type - lap quilt and bed quilts. They are what I consider to be mindless sewing tasks for when I want to touch fabric but don't have the brains left to really concentrate.

However, today I have to get started on quilting projects for clients. I have everything scheduled and should be able to reach my goals without any trouble now that I will be working less hours at the quilt shop - Minnesota Shop Hop is almost finished! Fun and friendly experience to work, but glad I am not a shop owner or in charge of organizing it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What did I do on a 10+ hour drive?

This morning we drove Kevin's dad back to Lennox, SD. I sat in the back and completed this applique. Stitching was not too bad, but I did prick myself once. The red hat is rather odd, but it is what it is. I really like this block, especially with the background fabric I have chosen.
I need to complete one more type of block for the month of August, but I have two picked out. I might just do both types. Time will tell. Watch for the unveiling sometime before the end of the month.