Wool Applique

Saturday at quilt guild we had a wonderful trunk show and talk on working with wool by Susan Ralyea of The B C Woolery. She did a great job explaining the different types of wool blends and what works best for applique.

wool applique

Susan taught a workshop after the regular guild meeting and I acutally finished my project today! This is one basket from the “Geranium Baskets” pattern by Primitive Gatherings. The original pattern is for a table mat or candle mat that has 8 of these delightful baskets in a circle with a scalloped edge. This was a great workshop because it taught the basics without being overwhelming. Now all I have to do is find a suitable frame for this cute little basket!

I will definitely look for Susan and B C Woolery at future quilt shows. Right now she is just vending at shows, but she will be set up eventually so that people will be able to come schedule an appointment to go to her home shop to purchase supplies.

Things that make me smile:

  • Hand stitching – I actually find hand work very soothing. It also takes away the guild of sitting and watching t.v.
  • Finishing a project less than a week from when I started it!
  • Cookies and milk

Let’s go spread some sunshine!


Mardi Gras Embroidered Wall-Hanging

A few years ago the theme for our annual guild challenge was “Carnival.” As usual, there were lots of great entries. Immediately, my mind went to “Mardi Gras”.

Mardi Gras 4

I started by making a couple masks and embellishing them with various trims and glitz. The black on dots that you see on the black mask above are actually black swarovski crystal glitz.

Mardi Gras 7

I quilted the background in the center of the piece with some wavy lines to accentuate the wavy vibe of the fabric.

I hand stitched fireworks on the black border using shiny embroidery thread and beads.


Mardi Gras 6 I used the embroidery machinge to make 3-D flowers and to applique some cocktail drinks onto the piece.

I attached a few Mardi Gras beaded necklace by hand.

Since I was working on this into the wee hours of the morning on the day the challenge was due, I ran out of time to do a proper binding. So, I pulled out the serger and the metallic thread and  finished the edge of the whole piece with using a serged edge. Oddly enough, I think it worked out better than the solid black traditional fabric binding I had planned. Here is the finished piece.

Mardi Gras wall-hanging by Melanie Watson

Mardi Gras wall-hanging by Melanie Watson

The photo just doesn’t do it justice. The colors are much more vibrant in person. You can see the colors a little better in the close-up of this flower.Mardi Gras 5

For the center of the flower, I used a bead that I took took off an old purse that I bought at a church rummage sale. I think I paid 75 cents for the purse..

Vintage Beaded Purse


The whole purse was covered in beads. Yes, I did cut every bead off, one by one.  Well, not every bead. The handle was made of 2  metal stringers that the beads were threaded on. I left the handles intact. You never know when you will want a beaded handle to accessorize a homemade purse!



Things that make me smile:

  • Pretty beads at a bargain price!
  • Meeting fellow quilters, in person and online.
  • Checking out great blogs. Most recently, www.quilterinmotion.net and www.theinboxjaunt.com.
  • Paula’s donuts! They are the best in Western New York! They even made BuzzFeed’s list of “33 Doughnuts You Have to Try Before You Die.” BuzzFeed mentioned their Frosted Angel Cream. My personal favorite is the Strawberry Shortcake, which combines the angel cream filling with strawberry jelly in one donut!

Let’s go spread some sunshine!


Free-Motion Quilting Valentines Style!

Valentine Table TopperHappy St. Valentine’s Day!

I found a fat quarter of this gorgeous fabric in my stash. I thought it was too beautiful to cut into smaller pieces, so I made 2 table toppers out of it. The large one I made as a rectangle, but decided to cut off the corners to make it a little more interesting.

I useValentine Table Topper close upd the design to practice my free-motion quilting. By stitching on the lines, the design of the fabric is really shown off instead of broken up by thread criss-crossing over the pattern. This fabric provided the perfect opportunity to get some practice while not wasting precious time or fabric.
small Valentine runner

I also made a small table runner for a little table as well.

I used a shiny, polyester, magenta, machine embroidery thread for the quilting. I don’t follow the supposed “cotton thread only” rule. When I started quilting over 15 years ago my first teacher taught that cotton thread was the only way to go if you were using cotton fabric. Since then, I’ve seen quilts done using many types of thread. I do like cotton thread best when I am quilting a bed sized quilt, but if I want a high sheen, I reach for the embroidery thread, which is rarely cotton.

Leah Day, on her 365 Days of Free-Motion Quilting blog and website talks about how the only way to get better doing free-motion quilting is to free-motion quilt. She doesn’t say we should “practice”. She says we should quilt. You may be thinking, well, isn’t that what you’d be doing, practicing your quilting? On the one hand yes, on the other hand, practice implies that we are not making anything. Leah wants to inspire us to keep creating even though we may not have the designs down perfectly. Table toppers, table runners, place mats, and other small items are great because you get experience and have a finished project in a relatively short amount of time.

By following the lines in the design printed on the fabric, you don’t even have to draw a design. You can even do this with a backing! If you want to stitch an all over design on a quilt, but are tired of the basic meandering stipple, stitch along some (or all) of the lines in your backing fabric. People will think that you marked a whole complicated pattern on the top when you really just stitched on the lines. And remember, any time you stitch off the lines, no one looking at the front will know unless they look at the back.

This project gave me plenty of practice “travel stitching” too. That’s when you have to stitch over an area that you already stitched in order to get back to an area that needs stitching.There are lots of flaws in both of these pieces, but they gave me much needed experience and dressed up my home for the upcoming St. Valentine’s Day.

Things that make me smile:

  • Any time I spend free-motion quilting
  • Sponge candy (I’m still trying to finish the Christmas present candy. I had to pace myself).
  • Buying a beautiful locally hand-made piece of artwork at a local school fundraiser

Seyler's tray

This is actually a serving tray, but it is too beautiful to set food on. The design is woodburned. The picture just doesn’t do it justice (especially since I couldn’t bear to take it out of the cellophone for fear of getting it dirty.) There are 2 holes in the back so that it can be hung on a wall to display. It’s made by Seyler’s Rustic Furniture in North Tonawanda, NY. He also does charcoal artwork on moose antlers and makes furniture out of wood and antlers.

Let’s go spread some sunshine!

– Melanie

Museum Quilt Guild Challenge – Mom’s Bloomin’ Frogs

"Bloomin' Frogs" by Mary Ann Watson

“Bloomin’ Frogs” by Mary Ann Watson

This is the entry my mom made for our guild’s annual challenge. She named it “Bloomin’ Frogs”. The challenge is entitled “Show Us Your Best Blooms”. She used the required challenge fabric for the frogs and the border. I love the dragonfly buttons that she added as embellishments!

Frogs and Flowers by Camille Remme

Frogs and Flowers by Camille Remme

The pattern is from the book “Frogs and Flowers: Impressions of Ponds and Gardens made into Quilts” by Camille Remme. It’s a really cool book because it is designed to teach you to make the blocks in a variety of sizes that you can combine any way you wish. This is great if you are the kind of quilter who likes things less structured.

If, however, you are new to quilting, (or you are a seasoned quilter looking for a straight forward, no-thinking required pattern) this might not be the best pattern book for you.

Personally, I like a list of what to cut from each fabric so I can do all my planning and cutting first, then just sit and sew. This is not that kind of book.They don’t give you a list of exactly what to cut for each quilt or wall-hanging. Instead, for the flowers, they tell you to cut strips in a variety of colors. You decide which colors go in which places one step at a time as you sew. The patterns are designed to give you the freedom to make choices as you go. You are encouraged to make more or less of each block so you can make the size quilt you want in a unique layout.

American Made Brand Fabric

American Made Brand Fabric

The solid fabric in mom’s wall-hanging are American Made Brand Fabric. It’s a newer line of fabric that was released last year that is made completely in the United States. Ask your local quilt shop to carry it if they don’t already. If you check out their website, www.americanmadebrand.com you can click on link to find a local retailer near you. The shops that are listed as being within 100 miles of Buffalo, NY are:

  1. Mt. Pleasant Quilting Company, York, NY
  2. Creekside Fabrics and Quilts, Arcade, NY
  3. Chestnut Bay, Caledonia, NY
  4. Ivy Thimble, Victor, NY

Don’t forget that you can see all the entries in the challenge including “Bloomin’ Frogs”  on display at the Richmond Library in Batavia, NY during the month of February. The quilts will be on display until from February 2nd through March.

Things that make me smile:

  • All things American Made! Especially American Made Fabric!
  • Coming home from work to find my mom has taught herself a completely new quilting technique from a book.
  • The Buffalo Philiharmonic Orchestra… with Alan Parsons! My boyfriend won tickets on the radio, and it included a meet and greet with Alan Parsons afterward! I didn’t realize just how much of his music I knew, nor did I know his history as an engineer involved with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon or the Beatles at the Abbey Road studio. They put on an incredible show! Thank you 97 Rock!

Let’s go spread some sunshine!


Museum Quilt Guild Challenge

“Fuchsias in Bloom”

Every January the quilt guild I belong to has a challenge. The challenge this year was called “Show Us Your Best Blooms”. All the participants were given a piece of the same fabric which had to be used somewhere in the quilt. In my wall-hanging it is the white fabric with the small blue flowers that is in the body of the pieced basket.

The pattern I chose is from a book entitled Grandmother’s Garden Quilt by Eleanor Burns and her sister, Patricia Knoechel. It has over a dozen different flower blocks with directions for both flat applique as well as 3-D applique methods for making the flowers. I remember buying it shortly after I had begun learning to quilt 15 years ago. I was mesmerized by the various flowers and all the different techniques to make each one. As fascinated as I was with the 3-D flowers in this book, I never made any of them until this challenge.


The pink parts are made of tubes of fabric sewn right sides together, flipped right side out, folded in half, and tucked underneath the purple tops.



The purple tops of the flowers are made by sewing 2 pieces of fabric right sides together, cutting a hole in the middle of the back, flipping it right side out, and stuffing with a small amount of cotton. The green stems and black pistals are hand stitched using DMC #5 Pearl Cotton


I really enjoyed doing the quilting on this piece. I originally thought I would just do free-motion leaves all over the whole block, but when I finished the piecing and applique, I didn’t think that would add anything to the wall-hanging. The quilts that I like the most have quilting that enhances the piecing or applique. For a bed quilt, the quilting serves to keep the batting from clumping when you wash it, so it is functional as well as being an opportunity to add another artistic element. However, a small art quilt won’t get washed very often, so the quilting is purely artistic.

You can see “Fuchsias in Bloom” as well as all the entries in the challenge on display at the Richmond Library in Batavia, NY during the month of February. The quilts are being put up on February 2nd and will remain on display until March. I was unable to attend our monthly meeting this month to see the entries when they were turned in, so I am looking forward to going to see the display at the library myself.

For those of you who are pondering the quote from the last post, it’s from the television show The Honeymooners. “Pins and needles, needles and pins. A happy man is a man that grins.” is a phrase that Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) is supposed to say to calm himself. If memory serves me, he has trouble getting it right and I’m not sure it had the calming effect that was intended.

Things that make me smile:

  • Participating in a challenge. I’m always amazed to see how different all the entries are.
  • Finishing a project more than 24 hours before it is due! This is the first time in 4 years that I didn’t take a vacation day (or two) to finish a challenge. On more than 1 occasion someone else has had to drive so that I could stitch the label on a project in the car. I know I’m not alone in the last minute crunch.
  • A day in the country!


Let’s go spread some sunshine!