Challenge Project - Entries

I just posted the last video in the Challenge Project Series. This time, we take a look at all ten entries that were made! What an amazing body of work was created for this Challenge! We all started with the same kit of fabrics and embellishments, but the resulting projects were each beautifully and creatively unique!

The ladies that participated in this challenge (in addition to myself) were:

Sue Weeks

Nicki Lee Seavey

Lydia Aguayo Talton

Wilma van Wagensveld

Mary Anne Polovich Griffin

Maureen Greeson

Shirlee Fassell

Betty Fikes Pillsbury

Allie Aller

What a treat to spend three days in the company of these talented women as well as the other ten ladies present at the retreat!  It was a splendid time!

Thanks so much for watching!  As I write this post, my YouTube channel is up to 380 subscribers!  Thank you so much!


Winner of the Favorite CQ Stitch Poll!

The overwhelming winner of the Favorite CQ Stitch Poll was Feather Stitch with half of the votes submitted!  I have to admit that it is probably my favorite stitch as well!  

Feather Stitch - 10
Herringbone - 4
Cretan Stitch - 3
Chevron Stitch - 2
Chain Stitch - 1
Buttonhole - 0
Fly Stitch - 0

I was a bit surprised to see that two of the basic stitches received no votes whatsoever!  

When working on a project, I try to include all of the basic stitches as I feel the variety adds interest.  Here are examples of some of my favorites of each of these basic crazy quilt stitches.

Let's start with the least favorites.  What's not to love about Fly Stitch?  It offers so many possibilities!  
Fly Stitch (on the bottom).  Also note the stacked Chevron Stitch above as well as the glimpse of chevron stitch to the right.

Layered Fly Stitch (on the left)

Buttonhole is another great stitch with so much to offer!  It makes a fantastic foundation stitch to layer other stitches with.  It probably is the stitch I use the least, but when I move beyond the basics, I love this stitch!
Buttonhole Stitch on a curve.

Buttonhole layered with other stitches.

A slightly more traditional buttonhole stitch pattern.

vine and leaves 2
My all time favorite way to use Buttonhole Stitch is with these little leaves!

I was surprised that Chain Stitch was not more popular.  It's such a great versatile stitch that can be easily substituted for stem/outline stitch.  See the photo above for one example of how chain stitch was used in a serpentine pattern.
Here an alternating or zig-zag Chain Stitch is used to secure down the rick-rac.

Chain Stitch made great stems for this seam.

Chain stitch was the perfect stitch to emphasize these interlacing scallops!

Chevron is one of the first stitches that I got excited about when I first learned to crazy quilt.  Nearly any thing you can do with Herringbone, you can also do with Chevron.  And that little bar at the top and bottom of each triangle offers so many possibilities!
finished bluebird 00
The first ever Chevron Stitch that I stitched, sitting on top of the lace.

Chevron combined with silk ribbon embroidery

Yet another Chevron Stitch example.  Also note the buttonhole stitch "hills"on the left under the flowers.  And on the upper right is a great example of detached fly stitch.

Cretan Stitch is a kissing cousin to both buttonhole and feather stitch.  As such, it is wonderfully versatile and no wonder its a favorite of many!
A stacked Cretan Stitch. Love the honeycomb shape you can get with it!

Here it is used to hold a piece of rick-rac in place.

2009 Feb 22_1151
A simple, but elegant Cretan Stitch seam.

Herringbone Stitch came in second and that doesn't surprise me at all!
Cardinal 3
Herringbone stitch all around the white patch on this CD pincushion.

A bold take on a herringbone border.

Herringbone is such a fun seam to work with!

This curved Herringbone is possibly the most favorite seam I have ever stitched using Herringbone ~ and also the most difficult!  But worth the fuss as it is spectacular!

And finally, a look at the favorite - Feather Stitch!  With so many great variations on a basic stitch, it's no wonder it came in first.

Scissor pouch
It's beautiful in it's most simple form.

With just a little bit of embellishment, it can be quite lovely.

With so many subtle variations, the possibilities are endless.

I'm guessing that at least half of my seam stitching is some variation of Feather Stitch.

So, so many possibilities!

Featherstitch Ferns
It can go from the simplest seam possible to one of the most complex!

I hope this glimpse into a variety of the basic seam stitches will inspire you to consider doing more seam stitching on your crazy quilts!  If you need more inspiration, In the coming weeks, I will be featuring each basic stitch and showing how to expand it into a fancier seam on my YouTube Channel.  Stay tuned!  


Assembling the Challenge Project

CP assembly details-18
I've just posted the last YouTube video about the creating of my Challenge Project for the 2019 Windsor Retreat!  You can find it here: Challenge Project Central Block  Since I was under a time crunch at the end, I did not film the final assembly of the project, but I did take some photos along the way, so I thought I would share a little bit about how I put it together here.  

CP assembly details-15
The first step was laying out all the layers of the project.  There are three primary layers in this project.  The front crazy quilted piece (I count the backing fabric and the pieced and embellished front as one layer at this point); a layer of batting - I used a piece of white 100 % cotton flannel, which is my favorite batting/interlining for crazy quilts; and the backing with a hanging sleeve pre-sewn onto it.  I'll show how to do that at a later date.

Once the layers were assembled and pinned in place so they would not shift, I squared the project using a combination of both a 12" square and a 6" x 24" Omni-grid ruler.  I marked the squared perimeter on the back using a purple disappearing ink pen.

CP assembly details-14
Next, I trimmed away all but ¼" of the backing fabric and flannel batting.  I did find it helpful to mark this line as well.  As you can see my inner line was already fading, but that wasn't a problem as I knew that once the front was folded around to create a binding on the back side, the project would remain square if my initial measurements were correct. 

CP assembly details-12
Then I folded and pressed the front fabric edge towards the back with a ¼" fold. Note that when I make the second fold, the backing fabric and lining will not get folded into the binding.  This helps it to lay nice and flat. 

CP assembly details-5
If I didn't take care, this is what it would look like before making the second fold.  There would be a lot of extra bulk in the binding and it would make it hard to mitre the corners. 

CP assembly details-6
With lots of space, things will stay nice and flat!  

CP assembly details-13
Fold again, slightly more that ¼" and pin up to the backing, keeping it as smooth and flat as possible. 

CP assembly details-11
Mitre the corners.  This view also shows the edge of the hanging sleeve that I had attached to the backing prior to assembly.

CP assembly details-9
I left the backing pinned through the front to keep everything positioned properly while I stitched the binding.  

CP assembly details-7
I choose thread to match the binding fabric, got out a needle and my scissors.  

CP assembly details-3
I stitched the binding to the backing with a tiny whip stitch, being sure to go through the flannel as well to help hold everything in place.  

CP assembly details-2
This is the entire back once completed.  The blue rectangle at the top is the hanging sleeve.  I do this on all my crazy quilt pieces that will be wall hangings.  If I need to hang it with thumbtacks, which is what I do for most of my small projects, then the tacks can go through the sleeve and not impact the actual piece at all.  Or I have the option of suspending it from a sashing rod.  It's good to have options!  

The last thing I did was to write my name across the bottom.  I usually create a quilt label for my projects, but since I was under a time crunch to get this one completed, I did not get it done before I finished it.  So writing on the backing worked well.  I used a Pigma Micron Pen to do this.  

I like the effect of the reverse binding on this particular project.  It finished it off nicely and meant that I didn't have to count the backing fabric in my additions to the Challenge Project.  If it had shown on the front, I would have needed to include it in my count and I would have had to leave something else out.  

On a larger project, I would have added some basting between the layers and possibly some tacking through to the back side to distribute the weight.  This was pretty light weight, so I wasn't worried about it distorting too much.    


An October Blessing!


This little guy arrived a few weeks early!  It was such a privilege to be present for his birth and to have spent much time with him and his family; my daughter and her husband this past couple of weeks!  He is my 5th grandchild (the 2 granddaughters both turned 3 recently), and the 3rd grandson born this year!  What an incredibly blessed year this has been!  

I'm a little behind on getting the next round of YouTube videos uploaded as a result, but there is one coming today on adding beads to embroidered seams!  Hope you'll enjoy it!  Challenge Project - Beaded Seams, Episode 10

I'm planning on a new series of videos about creating expanded embroidered seams.  I'd love to know what your favorite basic seam stitch is! If your favorite is not on the list, let me know in the comment section below!  I'll let you know what the winning stitch is on October 23rd!     


Oyster Stitch

On my latest YouTube video, I stitched little rosebuds using Oyster Stitch.  Here is a diagram of how to do the stitch. 

On the left, I marked three points to indicate where the needle pierces the fabric.  I do not usually mark this stitch but included this simply to illustrate the stitch in this instance.

Step 1: Come up at the upper right point, then going down at the upper left point and bring the needle up at the lower point, wrapping the thread as shown.. Pull snug, but not too tight.  The ends should cross one another creating a fish shape.  

Step 2: Bring the needle and thread around to the right, threading the needle under the  the first "tail" of the initial stitch.  Pull thread so it sits next to the first stitch. 

Step 3: Continue working in a counter clockwise direction, wrapping the thread around the previous stitch, taking the needle down in the space between the first and second stitch, coming up at the lowest point. Pull thread so it sits next to the first stitch. 

Step 4: Secure the stitches by taking the needle back down at the lowest point, just adjacent to where the needle and thread came up.  Make a knot on the reverse side. 

This stitch works well with heavier threads or doubled pearl cotton so that it stands out more.  Use it anywhere you want a flower such as a tulip or rosebud, where you want a flower petal, or for leaves.  

Here are a few examples of how I have used Oyster Stitch in the past.  

As flowers on the feather stitch that crossed the photo.  Using 3 strands of variegated embroidery floss.

As the white blooms with this stylized vine. Using 2 strands of pearl cotton size 8

As the center of the "flowers on this motif. Using 2 strands of pearl cotton size 12


As tulips next to the ric-rac, using 2 strands of variegated pearl cotton size 12


Where Did Summer Go?

I has been a somewhat difficult summer.  In many ways, I feel like I missed much of it.  I spent the better part of July and August on a no allergy diet in order to determine if some of my health issues were allergy related.  In September, I started adding foods back in, and so far, it appears that I'm allergic to corn and dairy products, and possibly sensitive to wheat.  So since most meat is corn fed, I've also gone mostly "Whole Food/Plant Based" for the time being.  Overall, I've managed to lose a few pounds, though not nearly as much as I'd hoped. 

Mid August, I came down with a pretty hefty cold.  Then at the beginning of September, it morphed into bronchitis, and I'm just now starting to feel like I'm recovered from that, just in time for my big ragweed allergy season to hit!  Crazy!   

Kitzy Cat
Kitzy Cat 2005(+/-) - Sept 18, 2019

Kitzy Cat started losing weight in March.  Though she did manage to catch a mouse in the house (yikes!) and had much fun playing with her toys, by early September it was obvious that she was not  her usual self.  I made an appointment at the Vet, and on discovering that she had lost over half her weight in addition to the fact that she had stopped eating several days before, we made the difficult decision to let her go.  My Mom and Dad adopted her in early 2008.  When my daughter Jessie moved in with them, she really became Jessie's kitty.   She was always a little bit temperamental, and  was sort of a high/special needs kitty.  She had seizures, and some residual issues from her first owners that never went away.  Moving her to my home after my parents passed away was not easy. She spent a couple years as a near recluse.  It wasn't until after Mollie Kitter passed in 2015 that she really started to adjust. She became a real sweetheart and for the last few years, my evenings were spent with both her and Thomas in my lap.  She is definitely missed.  

Kitzy's loss has been made harder by the fact that Thomas kitty isn't doing well either.  At 18 years old, he's done remarkably well until the last couple months, when things started to go downhill.  He's been diagnosed with Pancreatitis and that has resulted in diabetes.  He has some digestive upset and eats only sporadically, so its been pretty tough to manage.  The week that Kitzy passed away, I though we were going to have to say goodbye to Thomas too, though he seems to have rallied somewhat.  Sadly, I think he will be joining Kitzy Cat in the near future.  It will be an unbearably difficult loss as he has probably shown more unconditional love toward me than any other creature/person has in my entire life.  So, it's a time of preparation for that upcoming loss.  

Baby Quilt
Despite all the other things going on, I have been spending some time creating things, though I wasn't able to share any of them until now! My daughter Jessie is expecting a little boy at the end of October, so I made her this quilt using darling bunny fabric that I found in quilt shops across Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois when I went to the O'Fallon CQ retreat in early July!  

Burp Cloths
I also made her a number of flannel & Terry cloth burp cloths.  

Baby Shower Gifts
To go with the quilt, there was a cute little bedtime storybook, which I put together.  I filled this little cart with changing table necessities for them.  

My two little granddaughters each turned 3 (one in August and one in September) so I made them  each a colorful painting/cooking apron and a bag to match that I filled with art supplies. One of our favorite things to do together is to have a morning painting together!  And with Holidays arriving soon, we'll be spending a day or two baking cookies as well!  Hopefully I'll be able to get photos of them in the near future! 

Woodland Themed goodies
With a baby on the way, there was a baby shower to plan and prepare for as well.  We went with a woodland theme and I made most of the goodies!  It was fun coming up with lots of different little snacks, from hedgehog donut holes to little chocolate/peanut butter cookie acorns!

Mushroom cupcakes
I also made a large batch of mushroom cupcakes! 

Woodland Refreshments
It all looked so cute spread out on the table!  

Mother & Daughter
Jessie and I at her baby shower! 

I've been trying to get out and walk regularly.  I discovered this lovely spot just a little over a mile away from my home.  

Theres a lovely sandstone bluff and a small pond that is frequented by a Great Blue Heron.  

The walking path traverses what used to be farm fields.  The path joins up with the bike path that goes all the way along St. Vrain Creek as it meanders across Longmont.  It's several miles long and makes for a nice walk as well as a bike ride! 

Jane Hunt demonstration
At the beginning of September, I had the opportunity to take a workshop with the incomparable Jane Hunt.  She's an amazing painter, and it turns out, a fabulous instructor as well.  We spent 4 days in and around Longmont painting.  

Lovely view at Sawhill Ponds
One of our stops was at Sawhill Ponds near Boulder.  It was a bit rainy all afternoon, and we were grateful for the shelter to paint from!  But as the day came to an end, the clouds broke apart and we were treated to this lovely view!  

My Workshop Paintings
These are 4 of my paintings from the workshop.  We had a lot of focus on water, which was really helpful for me.  None of them are masterpieces, as they were really exercises in learning.  I definitely felt that I came away with new skills and new ways of thinking about what and how I'm painting, as well as tips for using the water mixable oils that I've been struggling with.  What I'd really like, is to be able to take the same workshop a year from now, just to see how far I've come and how well I've been able to put what I learned into practice.  

Lily Ridge Trail
After the past two months of not feeling well, I was sorely in need of rejuvenation.   I took advantage of a beautiful Colorado autumn day earlier this week and headed for the mountains for a short hike on the Lily Ridge and Lily Lake trail in Rocky Mountain National Park.  

Lily Lake with Meeker & Longs Peaks
The peaks beyond the lake are Mt. Meeker on the left and Longs Peak on the right.  

Lily Ridge & Lily Lake
The Lily Ridge trail went along just under the rocky outcrops in the photo above, then wraps around to the Lily Lake trail below.  Such a pretty spot!  

Lily Ridge & Lily Lake

Estes Cone, Lily Lake
The trail around Lily Lake is handicap and wheelchair accessible, which makes for easy walking.  It's a little off the main tourist routes in Rocky Mountain National Park, though it is on one of the major roads coming out of Estes Park.  I find more locals here than out of town visitors.  The outcrop of rock on the right hill above is known as Estes Cone and is a great little, but somewhat steep hike to the top.  I did that hike when I was in Girl Scouts, many, many years ago!  

Turning Leaves
The leaves were just starting to really change on the shrubbery around the lake.  So beautiful! 

Fall Colors
And a few of the Aspen were changing as well, though mostly at much higher altitudes.  So I headed into the main part of the park and took a drive up Old Fall River Road.  

Below Cascade Falls
I stopped at this small falls and just sat and enjoyed the clear tumbling water.  

Aspen Gold
Up high, there were a few spectacularly golden aspen!  Always such a delightful sight to see against the backdrop of deep pine green.  

Top of Old Fall River Road
The grasses and shrubbery on the tundra are changing too, and it made this area, which is a favorite spot of mine, look more colorful than I think I've ever seen it!  A lovely end to a beautiful drive!