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September 2012
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November 2012

October 2012

Inspired by Fabric!

Fabri-Quilt design team button
Here's a real 'which came first' question ... are you inspired by the fabric or inspired by the pattern? Well it looks like Fabri-Quilt is thinking that it'll be their new Inspired by Fabric Blogging Design Ring who will be the inspiration for your next quilting project!

Side Dish

Side dish kits
Some of you know that I have a friendly relationship with Fabri-Quilt and Paintbrush Studios. They helped me pull together all the fabric for Side Dish ... my project that was in American Patchwork & Quilting last year. I love that quilt! The fabric was the perfect choice for an Autumn quilt.

And then last Spring, I was able to take a peek inside their factory and learn more about their business. You can read it on my blog from last May. Since then, they've launched a blog called Inspired by Fabric and a Facebook page as well. They've been busy!! Go check them out.

And now they're announcing the start of a design team!  The designers will be bringing you new projects and posting them on their blog. The team consists of Jackie from Canton Village Quiltworks, Rebecca of Our Busy Little Bunch, Christina from 2 Little Hooligans, and me. I'm pleased to have been asked to join in! So in the next few weeks you'll begin to see new projects appearing ... usually one every other week. It's challenging having to create something new so often but I'm sure that with Fabri-Quilt's help, the fabric will be my inspiration for the pattern!


Cruisin' and quiltin' along the Great River Road!

I don't know if it's because the Mississippi River starts in Minnesota but I've always had this love affair with it. I never get tired of reading about it or looking at it. So when my friend Melisa told me she was coming for a visit ... in Fall no less ... I knew I had to take her on one of my favorite drives down Highway 61 along the Mississippi where it divides Minnesota from Wisconsin. Mother Nature was in a fabulous mood and provided us with one breathtaking scene after another. Cliffs and prairies covered in color. It was unbelievable!!

I had an agenda ... to visit quilt shops along the river ... and a backseat driver who shouted "stop ... there's that store that wasn't open the last time we came through"! I had forgotten that the Fresh Art Fall Tour was going on but was delighted because then we were able to stop at Cultural Cloth. Cultural Cloth sell personal and home accessories made by women's groups around the world. There's a woman's story behind every piece ... handmade ... supporting a family or a village. This is the kind of store you go to when you have time to really look at the textiles or artwork and read more about the person who created them. There's so much more to say about this store than I can possibly fit here. They had to drag me out of the shop! You need to go and experience it yourself.






One of the things about traveling along the Mississippi is that most of the things you want to see are on both sides of the river and there are only a few bridges. Lots of driving up and down and across. Melisa counted ... we crossed the river seven times and it felt different on either side.

We crossed at Wabasha and then went back upstream to get to Lake City and Pumpkinberry Stitches. I love Lisa's store because of it's cool folk art look and interesting building features. Almost to the back is a wall with two windows that open into a classroom on the other side. Who knows why this feature and the door were built into the inside of the building but I totally love it!




I forgot ... before we drove across the river to Wabasha we stopped in Stockholm WI and had breakfast at the Stockholm Pie Company ... then shopped around town. Worth the drive for breakfast .... they open at ten ... or any meal for that matter. 033


Back across the Wabasha bridge and continuing south on Hwy 35 we finally got to Alma and the Burlington Hotel and Quilt Shop. Kathi is renovating the old hotel and will have a quilt shop on the bottom and a retreat center on top. The store is cute and she holds classes with some pretty important people!



Our ultimate goal for the day was to make it to Onalaska WI so we could visit Olive Juice ... a 2012 Fall Quilt Sampler shop. Melisa's store is also a Sampler shop so I thought she should see Diane's store. The link is to a blog I did about Olive Juice a year ago. I love this store!


I can't think of a better way to spend the day than driving along the Mississippi. The entire trip to the La Crosse area is only about three hours from the Twin Cities ... more if you cross the river seven or eight times!



Tula Pink Sew Along ~ Shattered Glass


How fun to be invited by Sara from Sew Sweetness to take part in the Tula Pink Sew Along!  You can see who else is taking part here and see the great projects you've missed. If you're not familiar with Tula Pink and the fabric and the patterns ... you can catch up on the Tula Pink website.

I chose to make Shattered Glass from the book Quilts from the House of Tula Pink. When I saw Shattered Glass, the image of how ice looks when you're skating on the lake in Minnesota popped into my head. The randomness of the blocks was very intriguing. I've been saving the blue toile fabric from the Quilt Minnesota Shop Hop a few years ago with the hope of making a blue and white quilt someday. Someday finally arrived!

It was hard limiting the fabric selection to 10! Or maybe I can't count because I had a lot more than that in my stack. But I wanted that range in color you get with ice ... white to gray to blue. I spent part of a day cutting the pieces so that when I had time to sit down and sew I wouldn't have to stop. Glad I did because it was a lot easier to mix and match the pieces ... great advice for when you want a very random look ... have everything ready to go. It's too easy to get very matchy otherwise.

Corner flip tool
I couldn't have made this project without the help of the Folded Corner Clipper! We just got them in to the store and they are such a time saver. Every piece of background in this quilt has at least three corner flips on it. I'm not great at marking a line diagonally and sewing next to it. To use the tool, you line up your fabric square with the corner of the background fabric ... match up the tool lines according to the size of the square ... then slice off the corner with your rotary cutter. It has the 1/4" seam allowance built in. You can see how to use it here ... scroll down a little bit to the middle of the blog post.

If you don't have this tool, you can  line up the raw edges of your square with your background fabric ... right sides together of course ... and then draw a digaonal line on the square. I used a Frixxion pen to do that because it'll iron out. Next ... lay your rotary ruler so that the 1/4" line lies on top of the line you just drew. Cut along that edge and you have your seam allowance and a clean cut ... ready to head to the sewing machine!

Chain piecing ... another time saver! Set your machine in the 'needle down' position so that you can keep feeding that fabric through. I worked in segments for each block and would do the piecing in that group and then assemble that section. It seemed easier to me to organize myself this way.

The construction of this quilt takes a little getting used to.  However ... it just takes making a block or two to get the hang of it. I kept my book open to the right page, though, because I was usually making a block and then running off to do something else. Also ... so that I wouldn't waste time trying to arrange the blocks perfectly, as soon as I completed one, I joined it to the next block. I didn't want it to look planned ... I kept thinking about how broken ice looks.

One thing about the book ... it was well organized with lots of technique intructions. I liked that she took her graph pad sketches and used them for the layout of the blocks. There's quilting advice for the projects, too ... I found that helpful because like anyone else ... I want my project to look just like the picture!

I hate to waste fabric so sewed up all of the cut off corners. There's enough to make pillows or a table topper. Many of them I sewed as leaders and enders when I started and finished chain piecing a section of the quilt. A lot easier to do them at one time than to try to find the time to get to the stack later!

The blocks are massive ... I stopped at six ... the book calls for nine blocks for a lap quilt. If I stop now, I'll make this into a table quilt ... but it would also work as a baby quilt. However ... I'm thinking of making the last row the pattern called for ... then adding one more row along the side and bottom to make it bigger. I'm toying with die cutting some snowflakes and raw-edge stitching them when it's quilted. I haven't decided if I'll attempt to quilt it myself on my Sashiko machine or send it out. I'd like to see some cracking and snowflakes in the quilting design, too. Decisions decisions! I need to decide now though because Winter's coming soon and I want to use it!

I love how wintery this quilt looks ... it's exactly how I hoped it would turn out!



There's something about the SPAM Museum that makes me happy. Is it the cheerful colors? The fact that everyone jokes about SPAM? Maybe its because I tricked two of my friends into visiting it! They had no idea what my plans were when I opted to stay in Austin, Minnesota on a weekend trip. My pal Melisa was visiting me from Georgia and I figured we'd never find a more perfect time to go to the museum. I love that she was delighted when I pulled up to the gate ... she got right in the groove of things!

It's pretty obvious when you pull up to the museum that pork is a primary ingredient at Hormel. Right before we got to the museum I'd been on Twitter with some of my friends and one guy asked if I'd get him some vegan SPAM. Geez!

The first thing you see when you walk through the doors is the amazingly cheerful hostess who points out the features and tells you how to move through the museum.  The second thing you see is the wall of SPAM ... over thirty-one hundred cans!



If you grew up in the 1950s or so the graphics and the historical aspects really take you back!

You have to go to the SPAM theater first to get in the mood ... all great commecials that you'll know the words to.

Someone really had the foresight to keep all of the cool things in the museum ... photos, crates, letters ... its a walk through modern history.





George Hormel was lucky to have a business ... he discovered an associate imbellezed over $1M ... which is probably the equivalent of $10M or something today ... but his bankers lent him the money to cover the loss on a handshake. Does anyone do business like this any more?

The graphics are incredible. Every little piece of SPAM history is documented. So much information!




Ike likes SPAM! Heck ... all GIs like SPAM. Don't they?


When I was in the Army I don't remember eating any SPAM but we ate a lot of things out of cans and carried our own little can opener on our key chains. I still do. Ask to see it! Now days they get MREs ... Meals Ready to Eat ... and the Hormel brand besides!


It's amazing to think this one product made in Minnesota is put on dinner tables throughout the world.

We thought this would be a great quilting tool ... for those who love to run their OLFAs over their hands.

Good thing we paid attention ... there was a quiz at the end! And then there was shopping. Yay!