A Quiet Week

AMH tote bag

AMH tote bag pocket

After the big TaDa! moment of getting Santa and his blocks and his neighborhood all done, it was a quiet week.  No bee blocks.  No quilting.  No sewing, unless you count the samples that I put together to teach my Pleated Tote Bag class on Tuesday night.  Tonight, I finished the bag that I’d used as a teaching sample (above), putting the pieces together, arriving at completion.

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And because I have a quiet week, and I’ve had a chance to reflect on recent events, and because we are approaching the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s time to count my blessings, quilt-wise.  In the photo above, Cindy, of Live A Colorful Life is seated at my dining room table, sewing on my little featherweight.  This was the second year she has come down for our Good Heart Quilters Potluck Event, and I’m so glad she did.  One of the blessing of modern quilting is the internet, the connections we make through Instagram, through blogs and their comments, through emails, and through bees (Cindy organized the Mid-Century Modern Bee, of which I’m a part).

Pho and Flatbread

When she arrived, on Halloween Night, we turned out the lights on the porch and went out for Pho and flatbread from a new restaurant in town.  She was pretty adventurous, even so far as to have the Korean-style flatbread, with kimchi on top.  Later, we came back home and talked and sewed (my husband was out of town, so we had the run of the place).  Cindy’s gift of collecting people and connecting people has greatly blessed my life.

TAble setting

After sewing all day Friday, we set up the tables in my dining room, and hosted the Good Heart Quilters, or about half of them.  It seems it was a very busy weekend, and we were missing a good number of these fine quilters.

Cooked Stuffed Pumpkin

Stuffed Pumpkin_open

This was what I made for my contribution to dinner: stuffed pumpkin (recipe found *here*).

Quilt Night_1a

from l: Carol, Laurel, Janette, Leisa and Tracy

Quilt Night_2a

from l: Simone, Caitlin, Cindy and Lisa

Quilt Night_Laurel

We always start (and usually finish) with Show and Tell.  This is Laurel’s finish–a quilt for her sister.  It’s very tall, so the angle isn’t the best, but as always, Laurel combines piecing with appliqué to create something we all want to sneak off with, into our cars.

Quilt Night_Lisa

Lisa got her borders sewn on tonight–a Hallelujah! moment because she’s been busy getting ready for her daughter’s wedding in about three weeks, and she has sewn her own dress and most of Bridget’s trousseau, amidst working all day.  We were thrilled for her.

Quilt Night_Simone

Simone started coming this spring for the first time, and has her first finish: an apple core quilt done in modern fabrics.  It’s fabulous.

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But she didn’t stop there–she used the scraps to create a table runner.  A clever quilter, wouldn’t you say?  Last year, we ate and then just chatted, but this year we ate and then got to work and everyone made progress on their projects.  Next quilt night is at Simone’s, on Saturday, December 7th, a shift from our usual Fridays (the church Christmas supper snagged that Friday!).  In counting my blessings, this quilt group is one of my big quilty blessings.  Sometimes we’ve been only a few ladies gathered at a house for munchies and sewing, sometimes there’s been a lot of us, but after meeting for sixteen years, roughly 8-10 times a year, we’ve all become close friends, and are always ready to welcome in a new quilter (like Simone and Caitlin).

Hello Kitty on Ceiling

I don’t know if you can see this, but when I went to Arizona to spend time with my daughter and her family while her husband was in Tonga doing free dental work, I got to sleep in her daughter Keagan’s room.  I turned out the light, pulled up the covers and was greeted by a giant pink Hello Kitty and the time, all broadcast to the ceiling.  It made me smile, and count my blessings of having grandchildren who like to know what time it is.  Even if it is in the middle of the night.

Santa Backing

While I was there, Barbara took me to a giant fabric/quilt shop store where they had tons and tons of great quilt fabrics: 35th Avenue Sew and Vac, in Phoenix Arizona, where I found a piece of Ann Kelle’s Christmas trees for no good reason.  Ah, but the very good reason became apparent to me after I finished off the Santa top.  This will be the perfect backing (and I got it on sale!).

Friendship Quilt

And lastly, about fifteen years ago I started this Friendship Quilt. At that time I wanted to remember lots of women in my life who had been my mentors, my friends, my sisters and sisters-in-law, my daughter and daughters-in-law.  Some of these women: two of my aunts, and my mother-in-law have passed away already.  It’s time to get it done.  I have put it on my Finish-A-Long list nearly every month, but hadn’t done much about it.  Recently I laid out the squares in what I thought I remembered as my original design.  Holes in the pattern were apparent.  I realized that I had just enough missing blocks that I could gather my granddaughters’ signatures, as well as the my most recent daughter-in-law.  It’s tempting to keep it going, to add those friends who are close to me now, but I decided some time ago that with the exception of adding those related to me, I would leave it as it was: a snapshot in time.  But because I am counting my quilty blessing on this post, from new friends and far-flung internet friends and old friends both near and far, and all those related to me, I must end by counting these sweet blessings in my life:

Signatures

These were the signatures I collected last week, from the three-year-old Dani to the eldest granddaughter Keagan, and all the others in between.

I am beyond blessed to know these little women.  They make my heart sing.

Cool quilt square from IG

Happy Thanksgiving week, every one.  Don’t let the cooking interfere too much with the sewing (although, judging from what I see on Instagram (photo above), things are proceeding apace! (Nice quilt block, Leanne!)

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Retreating from the World, Quilt-style

Last weekend, along with a ton of other quilters in various locations, countries and states, my small sewing group (named The Good Heart Quilters) had their second annual retreat.  First off, a little game:

Quiltersand Machines

Can you match the quilter to her machine?  Don’t worry, neither can I.

We had thirteen quilters come at some point in the weekend (two didn’t bring their machines), served two lunches, one dinner, snacks, chocolate, laughter, and lots of chatter.  We also did a Polaroid Block Swap.  In no particular order, here are some shots of the weekend, including our Show and Tell quilts, and a couple of WIP quilts.

Clyn

Lia

Of course she can climb on the counters–it’s at her house!  Thanks, Lisa!!

Lrel

Citrus quilt

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ShowTell 11

ShowTell Mirror Ball Dots

Jean’s Mirror Ball Dots quilt.  Now the rest of you, get out those stacks and get busy (like me).

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The interesting thing is that the royal blue is not mirror ball dots fabric; it just makes the quilt pop.

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A prequel quilt to taking Ruth McDowell’s class — Janet just wanted to learn the technique.

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JoDy worked hard on this applique quilt, full of lavender tulips both in the applique and in the fabrics.

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ShowTell5

ShowTell6

(Back of the above)

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Every year Jean heads to Minnesota where she picks up the annual Minnesota fabric.  I usually get this wrong, and call it by the wrong state.
Minnesota/Michigan?  I hope I got it right this time.

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I’m including this picture to show there was someone other than me wearing their “ambulatory boot.”  Mine is light blue.

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Tauni’s quilt is all made of minky–so soft!

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Lisa’s daughter, Leilani, made this for a Young Women project for church, as this is fabric printed with different values: Faith, Knowledge, Integrity and so forth.

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Simone had to pose so she could show her sister she really has finished a quilt top.

Tni

WIP

And Jean was the worker bee, finishing up another project.  I quilted Citrus, Rhonda’s hot pads, ate chocolate, listened, talked, caught up with others, got tired and went home Saturday afternoon where I crashed on the bed and didn’t wake up even when the phone rang (it was my mother, and I called her back).  So, if exhaustion is a barometer–it was a great success!

Citrus

Citrus Front_ quilt

Citrus, 31-1/2″ square, finished July 2013

This is a simple Schnibbles quilt, with rail fence and sawtooth star blocks, in bright citrusy colors.

Citrus back_quilt

The back, with my sister’s gift of a tea towel as part of the backing.

Citrus quilting

As I was at our annual summer retreat, I chose a simple leafy pattern–one I could quilt while we talked about children, grandchildren, hymn-singing at church, marathons, and could-you-please-bring-me-a-piece-of-chocolate sort of conversations.

Citrus quilt Label

I was tired today, after nearly two days at our retreat, so no big fancy quilt labels for this one.  Just handwritten in Micron pen, the title, my name, the place, date and dimensions. Truthfully, this is 31 and three-quarters-inch wide, but just couldn’t face all that, so I’m calling it 31-1/2″ inches square.

Citrus and Village Faire quilts

Here are the last two Schnibbles I’ve made.  I’m thinking that whatever the next pattern is, it needs to be pink.  Or aqua.  Anything but yellow, orange and green.

Sewing on Binding_Citrus quilt

The house was quiet this morning as I sewed on the binding. My husband had not yet returned from his scientific meeting. The weather was cool so I had the windows open, listening to the faraway sounds of traffic, the nearby sounds of insects, birds, a dog barking his good morning.  I could have machine-stitched this binding down, the chunk-chunk of the needle going through so many layers of fabric, but instead, I picked up a needle and thread.

I thought about all the conversations I’d had in the past forty-eight hours at our annual summer retreat.  The topics of conversation varied from books to quilt tops to sewing pillowcases to “how do you make bias binding?” to no conversation at all as we concentrated on our tasks, letting others carry the call and response around us.  There is something so rich and rewarding about being in the thick of this, of feeling surrounded and accepted by all these creative, productive and interesting people.  We have all brought our fabric, thread, and know how to borrow each other’s books for patterns, search Pinterest or the web, or locate what we want in a magazine or on a blog.  We all seem to find the time to begin the quilt or table runner or creamy white blouse or Polaroid blocks and bring them to the communal sewing circle, so we can keep our hands busy while we solve what really is on our mind.  The machines hum a nice alto line while our chorus of soprano voices slip in those concerns and cares that worry us at night, all of us telling a story of being unable to sleep because a friend moving away, or how to find the money to go to another state to meet an adult child’s sweetheart, or how to recover from a foot injury, or recover from a broken heart of a life called away too soon.

The stories are as varied as we are, from new mothers (am I doing this right?) to mothers of teenagers (can I send them to the moon?) to mothers of grown children (everything will work out).  We are young, running marathons.  We are older, with a litany of physical complaints.  We are professionals, earning retirement and benefits, and we are under-employed, wondering how to find medical insurance.  We are so different.

We are the same, with thread and scissors and stars and triangles and squares of cloth.  After days of sewing together, we are tired and head back to our houses with our half-finished projects, our conversations, our new friends, our memories, all packed away until the next time.

All of this is on my mind, as I think about how this is being repeated at every retreat, every sewing circle, all of us being bound together like this quilt I am working on, a stitch at a time.

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This quilt is my first finish on my list of things to do in the Third Quarter of 2013′s Finish-A-Long (FAL).

FinishALong Button

It is #118 on my 200 Quilts List.

Latest Schnibbles is Taking Shape

Schnibbles Lincoln

This is the Schnibbles pattern chosen for this month’s Parade of Schnibbles, hosted by Sherri and Sinta, a design called Lincoln. While I love the red, cream and blue and it is appropriate for July, I had a cute packet of fabrics brought to me by a friend while I was convalescing and it just pushed its way to the front and demanded to be used.  So I did, sewing and ironing with my foot up (it’s quite a feet feat).

Crowded Pin Wall Quilt

Think this real estate is getting crowded?  I didn’t want to take down the quilt on the left, so just folded it over while I put my quilt up on the wall.  In looking at it, I knew the name: Citrus.  What else to call a quilt with lime, lemon and bold orange in it?

Citrus Top

Sewn top.  I cropped it so you wouldn’t have to see my messy pin wall.  But I’ve put a tea towel on the back of every Schnibbles so far, and what to put on this one?  I thought about going by the Citrus Historical Park, where I thought they may have something. Then I looked on the towel rack in my kitchen (the oven door) and there it was–a citrus-themed tea towel!

Back of Citrus quilt with dishtowel

My sister brought it to me because my kitchen is yellow, and maybe because we carried a sack of oranges up to her in the snowy mountain west last February, a ray of sunshine from our home town’s harvest.  But I hope she won’t mind that I put it into service here. I whipped it off the rack, washed up up and bordered it with fabrics from the front.

Batting Seaming

One beauty of making small quilts is that I get to piece my scraps of batting hanging out in my closet and use them in the quilt.  I lay the scraps side-by-side on my  cutting mat, overlapping the sides I want to seam.  Then I take my rotary cutter and make a wavy cut in them–a long, slow wavy cut.  I butt those seams side by side, and using a stitched-zig-zag in a 9.0 width, I zig-zag the seams closed.  It makes a nearly invisible join with no ridges.

Citrus Pinned UP

Citrus is all pinned up.  I’m actually getting some projects ready for our little quilt group (The Good Heart Quilters) is getting together for a retreat this weekend.  I have learned that it’s too busy to do intensive thinking, so it’s better to go prepared with projects I can sew while chatting away.

This coming January, our quilt group will have been going strong for about 15 years.  We generally meet about 7 or 8 times a year, always on the first Friday of every month just after 7 p.m.  When we were all younger, we stayed until 2 and 3 in the morning, but now we’re all packed up and gone by 10:30 p.m.  Here’s some photos from June’s get together:

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We met at Leisa’s house this time; we rotate where’s we’ll meet.

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What I tried to work on–this is when I remembered it’s best not to have too brain-draining of a project to stitch/cut!

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Bridget is a new quilter, but look what she turned out!

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Laurel finished the quilt she started last fall–a combination of piecing and appliqué.

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JoDy showed us her cool round tablecloth, made with a wedge ruler. . .

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. . .then flipped it over and showed us the back!

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She also finished a reversible table runner.

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Caitlyn (L) recently ran a half-marathon with Lisa (R) who is a marathoner.  Lisa showed off their medal. ( That’s a pair of scissors on a magnetized disk on Lisa’s shoulder, not a fancy broach or something!)  Our retreat will be at Lisa’s house–she did one last year and we had such fun, we’re doing it again.

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Of course, we have to have food!

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Deneese is coming along on her Chevron quilt.

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Lisa showed off a newly completed UFO–it was one of the early quilt block exchanges we did, in patriotic colors.

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Lisa G. finished her quilt top–I love that spoon/fork fabric.

Looking forward to this weekend’s retreat!

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Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

WIP new button

September 2012 Quilt Night

The Good Heart Quilters got together the second week of September to teach & learn, catch up and eat, and to hang out.

Lisa showed us the completed Arabic Lattice quilt, everything finished up since our summer get-together.

This is one her daughter Leilani completed–with a horse theme.  Leilani has a horse that occupies a lot of her free time, so she made a quilt to go along with that love of hers.

Caitlin came tonight, showing off her Christmas stockings.  Perfection in a nutshell.  She’s one of our newbies.

Deneese is another quilter new to our group.  Both of these women have small toddlers and babies at home so they can’t always break away, but we’re glad to have them when they come.

Simone’s first night, too.  She likes to ham it up for the camera.  I don’t think I ever got one picture of her with her lovely smile.

Bridget shows off her first quilt.  I believe she participated in the Red and White Sample Swap, but then she made the double-nine-patch blocks to go in between her sampler blocks.

It was held at Carol’s house (in the yellow blouse).  She’s a newbie, too!  Here she is with Karen, and of course, our snack/munchie bar.

Laurel worked on this set of blocks.  Every photo I have of her, her eyes are closed, but she obviously has them open in order to pick such beautiful fabrics.

Karen’s bargello heart.  She is on the quilting now, doing it by hand.

Lisa (Bridget’s Mom) and Caitlyn look through quilt books.  Actually, I think Lisa is working on her half-square triangles, sorting them into colors.

Laying out Simone’s apple core quilt on the guest bedroom bed.  She sent me a snapshot this week, showing that she’d sewn the first row together!

Kelly is another one of our newest quilters.  Although an accomplished sewist, she’d never quilted before.  So she learned to cut with the rulers, stitch a quarter-inch seam, and got working on cranking out a set of blocks.  It’s the end of the night and we’re all tired and walking into walls, but we had a great time.

Because my photos that night were kind of bogus, I asked Lisa to bring her latest quilt top over so I could take a picture of it.  Here’s the close-up.

And here it is in all its glory.  This had genesis in the early days of our group, when four of us began to make “I Spy” quilts: Lisa, Laurel, Leisa and me.  Laurel’s had squares, instead of hexagons.  I don’t know if Leisa finished hers, but I gave all my pieces to Lisa.  She gave me a few back so I could cut them up for my Polaroid blocks, but then she borrowed my templates, cut some more and got it done.  Woo-hoo!

Good Heart Quilters — Summer Fun Day

I’m leading with this shot of a houses quilt, because this was the very first project our group, the Good Heart Quilters, had ever done together.  I designed all the houses on my QuiltPro quilt program, passed them out.  Leisa and I went shopping and bought two fabrics, and we passed them out.  The requirements: make eight houses all alike, using pieces of the two fabrics.  The trees were created by each individual quilter, as well as the setting.  When we met yesterday at Lisa’s house (a different one that the above Leisa), she was busy putting borders on everything and found this first quilt.  I was glad to see it again.

Our group has changed, shrunk, expanded and changed again, but the core members shown in this photo are me (2nd from left), Lisa (in bright green shirt) and Leisa (on far right).  JoDy is in the red-stripey shirt, Jean is next to Leisa on the right and our newest member is Carol, just moved here down from the mountains near our city.  Our first unofficial meeting was when Lisa was pregnant with her daughter when she helped us tie a quilt for my son.  Her daughter is now 15 1/2.

Here’s a slideshow of our day, with lots of finishes.  The blue quilts with all different patches is another one we did together, when we had about 12 members.  Lisa was “headed for the borders” all day long, getting things done.  I didn’t catch a photo of Carol’s finishes, but she was working on flannel rag quilts for charity–the local hospital, and you’ll see Karen working on her bargello quilt.

As usual, WordPress puts in ALL the photos from the post, so you’ll see the above two again as well.

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I brought my Polaroid patches to show and one of Simone’s girls (soon-to-be-added member) asked me “What is a Polaroid?”  Gulp.  How do you explain the magic of what we saw when the picture would develop right before our eyes, rather than having to take film down to the drugstore?  These are young girls of the digital age, and the idea that it would take 5 minutes to get a photo is rather like us having to imagine hand-cranked ringer washers.  But she listened politely, and afterward had fun sorting through all the squares.

You’ll also see Lisa’s collection of EPP rose stars, and the other set of patches laid out is my Summer Treat quilt (click for the tutorial).  I hope to wrap that one up today, as well as work on my last two squares for the Far Flung Bee.  I’m still a little tired from yesterday, but it was a lovely day of quilting: our potluck was delicious (recipes are above under “Good Heart Quilters”), the quilting was fun and the company was divine!

Quilt Night–Fright Night!

Leisa and I hosted Quilt Night again–a fairly regular first-Friday monthly event for our group.  Tonight’s theme: Fright Night! and Leisa had some really fun treats and decorations, like witch’s shoes, caldrons, bubbling-over vases of black flowers (atop the cookie stand) and spider-topped cookies.

She’d put together little favors for us, along with ghost pops and cake pops; I brought the savory in the form of bruschetta and crostini and some pumpkin cake as well.  We quilted and ate and chatted.

The fabulous feathered witch’s hat that arched over everything.

Our favors.  We’d picked up the little jars from the Temecula Quilt Company and Leisa adorned them with ribbons and spiders.

We had two new quilters: Caitlin (on the right) and Deneese (in the middle) who brought licorice caramels that were delicious. Okay, Deneese.  We all want the recipe!  Karen, on the left,  holds Deneese’s new little boy.

Leisa passes around the caramels.

More quilters arrive: Chantal, her mother JoDy (chewing on a caramel?), and Tracy.

We set up the table for our fat quarter exchange, along with the Halloween House handout, plus some flyers.  Yes, that really is a Burger Boss flyer you see there–it’s a yummy gourmet hamburger shop that has opened near us.

Gee, maybe we should get busy and start quilting.  Chantal works on her first quilt (see later in the post for photos).

Leisa’s got some plans for the stack of things she’s working on and no, you can’t ask questions near Christmas time.  We’ll show you later.

JoDy’s working on a Christmas quilt, too.

And Jean continues working her flying geese patches for the quilt shown behind her.

We break for Show N’Tell, and first up is JoDy’s purse, all ruffled and cute.  Many commented on my purse, but you’ve all seen that one.

She’d also finished up this Lakehouse Quilt–I love this quilt! It’s nice and bright and those fabrics really pop.

She’d also finished this Christmas quilt, made from a kit (Jean’s also doing this one).  JoDy said it took her about three years to finish this–she toted the squares wherever she went–and then finished up the quilting on her long-arm machine.

Detail.

Jean went next, showing off a quilt that she’d done in a desert retreat, sponsored by a local quilt shop.  It’s a mystery quilt, and I think it’s beautiful.  She also finished it on her long-arm machine.

Close-up of Jean and her quilt.  The fabric had shoes all over it, and her quilting (hard to see in this photo) also had shoes everywhere.

This is a quilt top that she also did in one of the desert retreats.  I like the interlocking and interplay of the blues and browns.  Another mystery quilt.

Laurel, who insisted that she takes terrible photos (although I disagree because she is lovely through and through) held up her quilt that had its genesis in our dotty fat quarter exchange in January.  It’s a wedding quilt for her son and his wife, and I’d treasure this if I were to receive it!

My daughter Barbara (on the right) arrived just at the beginning of Show and Tell.  She’s here visiting me for the weekend and had to settle her three little children in bed before she could leave them in Grandpa’s care and come over.  It was really fun to have her there–she’s exceptionally talented as well, but not a self-professed quilter, although she has made several.

My clever friend Tracy went next.  And why is she so clever?  She has the most wonderful design for scraps.

One day, wanting to use up her scraps, she cut them into a lot of little pieces and starting sewing them together in nine-patches.  I’d say those nine-patch blocks measure 4 1/2″ across?  I’ll check with her.  Just sew sew sew.  Lights and darks in a traditional nine-patch block.  When she had a billion of them completed, she set about to put them together into a quilt.

She tried nine-patch, with the blocks arranged in a “double-nine-patch” arrangement, but she said it became all “mushy” and you couldn’t see the blocks.  She she worked out this one: four in the middle surrounded by twelve blocks in a contrasting color and/or value.

Detail of her top so far.  Sometimes she uses a contrasting value: like pink with darker reds.  Sometimes it’s a contrasting color, like the blue centers with the golden yellow blocks surrounding that.  I love this quilt! She gave me permission to blog about it.  When I had finished with my colorwash quilt (think 1990s) and had all those teensy 1 1/2″ blocks left stacked up by value in six different pizza boxes, she took them, cut light fabric fabrics in little squares and made a wonderful postage stamp quilt.

Here’s Chantal with her quilt.  Tonight she was working on satin-stitching around the petals of her flowers.

Here’s the full quilt.  Lovely and beautiful and hard to believe it’s her first!

And what did I do, besides eat those sweets and take photos and visit?  Karen and I took some of those Halloween fat quarters and we cut out our Halloween Houses.  At the end of the night, here’s mine:

I fussy-cut the doorway to show off a trick-or-treater from one of the fabrics.  Only three more to go and then I’ll have a Halloween House quilt–hopefully by Halloween!