Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No Text Tuesday - Early Spring in VA

Yogi finally was able to stand long enough to be groomed!

The only flowers out yet are the daffodils.

Pear trees are beautiful -full and white!
My deck is covered with petals!

Forsythia bushes are bright yellow everywhere!

Cherry trees are just budding out front!

Yogi keeping watch out for bunnies in the yard...

The same cherry trees are in Washington D.C.
which is 15 miles away!

Hope your spring is pretty, too!
God Bless, Polly :-)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Long Ago and Far Away...

I moved to northern Virginia in the fall of 1998 from Coral Springs, Florida- a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale. I had been teaching in Broward county then for 20 years and had a craft business down in Florida for about the last 5 years. I made dolls and stuffed critters as well as hand painted wooden decor items. I also sold patterns of my original dolls. My business name then was- guess what? Yes, it was called "Aunt Polly's Porch" and I had quite a following at the local craft fairs. I advertised my creations in the previously published Country Marketplace magazine, and entered and won several of their contests throughout the years. Only some of the dolls and critters in my last post were my own designs, but I did make all of them.
It's funny, but I really LOVED making those dolls and heaven only knows how many of them I made during those years and sold at fairs and through the magazine. I never thought I would tire of making them.
When my husband was transferred to D.C. in 1998, we moved up here and I got a job teaching in Fairfax county. In Florida, I taught handicapped kids in a special education center. My kids were self contained and I did not have allot of work to take home, so I was able to do my craft business in the evenings and summers.

But up here, I taught handicapped kids in a regular school in an inclusion setting, and I had lots of work to take home each night. So, there was no time to continue the business. So, I still sewed clothes and home decor stuff, but missed the therapy of my dedicated sewing. So, as I'd always wanted to learn to quilt, I joined the local guild and got hooked on quilting.

Last year, I wanted to make the quilt shop owner I worked for on the weekends a gift for the store. I saw a pattern for a doll of three connected quilters and thought she might like that as the shop was chock full of quilts already. I figured, making this doll will tell me one of two things... either making it will feel like "coming home"...meaning I had missed making dolls. Or, it will be drudgery and I will know once and for all I made the right decision to end my business. Well, guess what? It was torture and I just wanted to finish it to give it away and knew my doll making days were gladly over! But it was a happy ending anyway, as Sheri liked the gift and it is still in the shop on display. Here's a photo of it!

The dolls in my last post are just my spring ones. I can't wait to show you my dolls for other seasons....especially my Halloween ones, as that is SOOOOOO my favorite holiday! As a native Floridian who never experienced seasons until I moved to VA, I do so enjoy the fall leaves! So, what's your favorite holiday to decorate for?? God Bless! Polly :-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No Text Tuesday - Spring Dolls

Front Door Welcome Bunny

Tiny Easter Bunny

Antique Hanky Flutterby with Old Quilt Wings

Victorian Bear

Country bunny with shoes!

Ceramic Heads Bunny Couple

Big Bunny and Little Bunny Visiting

Beulah Bunny with Garden Tools and Sack

Daisy Kingdom Kit Bunnies

Bee Skep Bear

TeaTime Ballet Angel

Daisy Kingdom Kit Bunny

Bear and Bunny Visiting on Our Bedroom Garden Bench

Mrs. Cottontail and Peeking Peter

Hoping Spring has arrived at your door! God Bless! Polly :-)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cute Cowboy Quilt

I went to the Cabin Branch & Stone House Quilter's Quilt Show today in Manassas, VA. It was a small but lively show. My bee friend Linda and I went and we were done in 90 minutes....so you know it was small!! I found some lovely fabrics.
One of my favorite shops, Nutmeg Lodge, had an adorable little cowboy quilt. The centers of the 12 blocks are cut from a panel with very vintage looking cowboy prints in them. The sashing is a rope print on beige and the pieced borders are blue and red bandana prints.

It will be the perfect present for my sister Sally. She is such a horse gal. She has a farm in northern Florida and way back in the day when we were small we used to love to watch Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and Trigger save the day. Now that's really dating me!! :-) Isn't this a cute one? YEE HAW!
Well, Happy Trails to You!! God Bless, Polly :-)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Finally Finished and On The Wall!

Ever since I put away my winter snowmen and got out my spring decor, my kitchen wall has been bare! YIKES! So, I've made a wall hanging just for spring! You can tell what designers have influenced my creation...Pat Sloan, if you are reading this- I mean you!!

I LOVE coneflowers, so they have to be included. I also really love the garden themed border fabric...it is sooooo old...been in my stash for years and years....and I've used it in allot of projects. I am still trying to use up my stash as much as possible rather than buy more fabric. That was one of my New Years resolutions this year. I even had that cool nest fabric!! :-)

I drew the flowers, stems, leaves, nest, eggs and vase on the paper side of fusible, ironed the pieces onto the chosen fabrics and then cut them out and ironed them onto the pieced background. I made the quilt sandwich with batting and backing- pinned together. Then I straight-stitched around all the edges of the appliques first, then did the quilting free-motion. The inner background was just curlicues and the border is done in leaves and vines. I just can't seem to quilt without adding some leaves in there... What's you favorite quilting motif?

I really love that quilt hanger. It's neat because the two branches have holes drilled into the ends and you just cut a dowel to the size of your quilt and stick them on it and hang it up! I bought it online at McKenna Ryan's web site http://www.pineneedles.com/ .

I thought first about doing a rabbit and eggs and such...but then figured flowers were not Easter specific and could stay up longer. I like the way it turned out and it took me only 2 hours to quilt it. But those 2 hours did make my recovering shoulder ache...but worth it to have my kitchen wall decorated!! YEA!!! No on to the next project! God Bless! Polly :-)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

No Text Tuesday!!

Spring flowers arrive!
Spring decor!
Does he look comfy or what?

Froggy and bunnies galore!

My sweet Yogi snorring away! Chasing bunnies in his dreams...
Happy Spring! God Bless! Polly :-)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Do You Use Tweeners?

You probably do use them, but just don't know my pet name for them! When I have leftover little pieces of binding from projects, I cut them into small pieces... about 1 1/2" or so long and keep a pile of them next to my machine.

Have you ever started sewing a seam and the thread tangles at the beginning and you end up with an ugly bird's nest of tangled thread on the bottom? I HATE that, don't you? So, I use these little pieces of folded binding to start the seams and between seams when needed and at the end of seams and leaving the needle down in it, ready for the next seam to sew.

I call them "tweeners" and not only do they stop the bird's nest at the beginning of seams, it saves you all the thread tails you have at the beginning and end of every seam... over time, that is actually allot of thread!

I always like to tell the gals in my classes at the quilt shop about using tweeners and they seem to love using them as much as I do. So, what's your favorite quilting tip? Leave me a comment and share your clever ideas to save time , money and aggravation while quilting! We can all use good tips! God Bless! Polly

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My First Quilt

What was the first quilt you ever made? And more importantly, where is it? In the closet? In the rag bag? On the wall? In your son's room? In the landfill? On your bed? Who taught you how to quilt? Your mother? An aunt? Granny? Did you learn through home ec class back in high school... or at the local quilt shop? Or, maybe, like me, you are self taught. As a teacher by profession, I am used to learning through books. My first quilt was a rail fence quilt featured in Alex Anderson's "Learn to Quilt" book. I have been sewing since I was five years old, but only garments and later dolls and home decor. I remember the first time I saw Alex on HGTV's Simply Quilts. I was home from teaching for 6 weeks after my hysterectomy. I was laying on the couch after a week in the hospital and was watching HGTV and Simply Quilts came on. I was immediately hooked. This was waaaay before TIVO, so as a full time teacher up until then, I was never home during the day and had never seen it before! I loved that show and have probably seen every episode several times... and even recorded some on the old VCR tapes to keep. My first quilt was a small rail fence with no batting inside because I was making it for a table cloth, not a blanket. It is in my living room on a table with family photos on it. My sense color value was my biggest problem. But, it was my starting point and I love to look at it and realize I have learned allot since then.

My next quilt was a watercolor quilt. Talk about learning allot....WOW! The process took awhile for me to "get". I hung a big piece of flannel on the dining room wall and arranged the 2" squares and was able to walk through the doorway into the kitchen and see it from a distance. It looks great and is hanging on the wall in my living room over the couch. But DON'T flip it over and look at the back! YIKES!! More pleats than a parochial school uniform skirt! I made it before I learned about using a walking foot. What a discovery!! Thank goodness!! No more pleats!

I've finally finished cutting and fusing all the zillion tiny pieces in the "Thyme for Stu" wall hanging. I've got a blister on my cutting finger!! It looks great, but will definitely take a while to quilt. Mckenna Ryan suggests you use clear thread and make the quilt sandwich and stitch down the edges of all the zillion fused pieces so it is quilted as you do that. I'll work on that on Saturday when bee is at my house. Still pondering what to make for lunch for bee... any suggestions? Leave me a comment and share your first quilt stories! God Bless! Polly

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Feels Like Spring

I spent all day Saturday putting away my many snowmen that I put out for decoration in January and cleaning the house. I have big plastic tubs in the basement to store all the seasons of decorations... so the snowmen are back down in the basement and all my bunnies and spring things are out!

I have always loved bunnies and garden decor. But lets make this really clear- I love garden things...wind chimes, flowers, watering cans, birdhouses...but HATE the chore of gardening and weeding. The most I like to do is transplant annuals into pots for my deck and front steps....NO WEEDING!! With my weak knees, the squatting or kneeling is next to impossible. And I hate dirt under my nails! But I do love the look of a wild English cottage garden. This was the front of our home a few years ago in spring. It looks quite different now!

I am a Florida girl- lived there all my life until I moved up here to northern Virginia 10 years ago. So seasons were all new for me. When I first moved here, and the weather warmed up in March /April, I would run out and buy a bunch of beautiful flowers and pot them on my deck and then a cold front would come back and freeze them to death!! ACK!!! So, now I wait until Mother's Day before I do my spring potting.

Anyhoo, Saturday was taken up with these mundane chores, so no sewing! :-( But this afternoon, I finally settled in to sew! YEA!!!! I made up the shop purse from the latest "Quilts and More Magazine". This is now the second shop purse I've made straight from a pattern that is so much smaller in size than the photo makes it seem. This is disappointing... but I guess some gals like small purses. The fabric line is "Pineapple Baroque" by Heather Bailey from Westminster Fabrics. It's very bright and springy!

I am putting finishing the crooked cabin quilt on hold for the time being. Next I am making a quilted wall hanging for over the mantel in our family room. I'm making one of the blocks in the Mckenna Ryan "In Full Bloom" quilt. The block is called "Thyme for Stu". I'm making the colors pretty much as they are in hers, except the background is shaded differently. There is a ton of cutting and fusing and then stitching the edges with clear polyester thread. Want to get it done and up on the wall ASAP!

Then I have my bare kitchen wall again where the snowman wall hanging that I posted last month was hanging, so I then need to make something springy for that space! Any suggestions for a spring or bunny wall hangings? The space is only about 20" wide but can be real long. Let me know your favs!! God Bless! Polly :-)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Addicted to Color

In a previous post, I mentioned that I'd taken a class 2 years ago at The Artful Quilter quilt shop here in Centreville, Virginia. The class was with Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy called "Square Clamshell" from his museum quilt book.

The range of colors we students brought to class were so unique to each other. I brought all blues with a bit of greens, purples and few hot pinks. I LOVE those colors. It was such fun to be with the two of them all day.

Kaffe was quite handsome with clear blue eyes and white hair. He was quite charming and a tad full of himself....who wouldn't be with a room full of women playing with gorgeous fabrics he designed!! Liza was insightful and down to earth. I liked them both!

While he was in town, he had a lecture and trunk show and we got to ogle and later touch the gorgeous quilts from his many books. He signed any of his books we brought to class and he cheerfully signed the embroidered label I made before class for the back of my quilt!

Well, the temperature was unseasonably warm today and almost all of the snow we got last week has now melted. The daffodils in my yard are starting to peek out of the dirt.

The robins are out digging worms in the still brown grass and I can already see tiny birds flying into my backyard birdhouse with twigs and pierces of dried grass for their nests.

Tomorrow night we "spring forward" into daylight savings time. Now it will be dark again going to work in the mornings, but will be light much later in the evenings. I am not ready to lose an hour of sleep, but I am ready for spring! Are you? God Bless! Polly

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A New Leaf!! For Quilting!

When I'm quilting a bigger quilt than a wall hanging, I do it on my dining room table... which is rarely used for eating except at holidays. About 5 years ago, my husband bought me a Juki TL98Q. It's an awesome straight stitch only high speed quilting machine. I learned to free motion quilt on it.

But quilting on a machine sitting up on a table is really tiring with your shoulders hunched up... but the space on that dining room table was large and open, which I liked. So I decided to adapt it for my needs.

I measured the length and width of the leaf in the table and I bought a piece of plastic coated shelving at Home Depot and cut it to that exact size and added a 1" X 2" wood strip on the short edges to keep the leaf from sliding off the table.

I measured the circumference of the machine base of both my Juki and my Bernina and cut the hole with my band saw to work for both. I used that piece I cut out of the leaf for the bottom of the box that the machine would sit down in. I added 3 sides to it- leaving the whole front of it open for my knee lift and the cords. I used "L" brackets to attach the box below the hole. My Bernina base was deeper than my Juki so, I made a wooden stand to place in the box for my Juki to sit on to bring the bed of it exactly level with the top of the table.

You must remember to measure how far out of the front of your machine that the knee lift extends and move the location of the hole you cut further back to accommodate this measurement. Leaving the front open helps with this, too. I love quilting on my table now, with the sewing machine level with the table top and all the space to manipulate the quilt as it's stitched. The lighting is pretty good there , too, with that chandelier above. I also bought a plastic white PVC brace to put under the box as it is a heavy machine..and better safe than sorry!! And creating this special leaf for quilting also allows me to have the dining room back to normal for actually dining by just sticking this leaf in a closet and putting the regular leaf back in the table! Voila! Time to dine!! :-)
I've not had my Juki set up in the dining room since before Christmas. I've only done a very little quilting on a wall hanging and 2 purses since my shoulder surgery, but I am doing really well with my physical therapy and have less pain, so hope to do some quilting on the flannel quilt I just posted yesterday! It will, no doubt, take me longer than before, but that's OK as long as I get back to how it was before my injury someday! My doctor told me it can take up to a year to get 100% back and it's only been about 9 weeks. Wish me luck! God Bless! Polly :-)