Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our homes to yours.

Mary Ellen and Paula
Red Crinoline Quilts

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Craziness

Have you finished your shopping?  Are the presents all wrapped? Did you finish all the gifts you planned to make?  Is the decorating done?  Have you finished the baking? Christmas cards done?  Are you wishing you had another week in December?  If you are like me, these are questions that are running through your mind everyday!  My answers: yes (I think), no, yes, no, no, almost and yes!  Caitlin and I and Copper the dog, are driving to Louisville tomorrow to meet Peter at our daughter's home for Christmas.  I've shipped most of the gifts there, so I will be doing my usual wrapping - Christmas Eve day. Decorating - didn't do any this year because we were gone for week and then will be gone again next week - feels very weird!  A special thank you to those of you that have shared your decorating on Instagram, Facebook, blog posts, etc. I really appreciated seeing all of it.  It helped me with not doing any decorating here. Projects - Monday and Tuesday were Minkie day - 3 Minkie quilts for Brett's family (can I tell you how much lint those things produce!) Baking - hopefully we'll do some in Louisville, but it's not my thing any way. I even managed to plan and organize our Christmas cards and hopefully they will be delivered to Louisville, where I will finish the process - address, stamp and ship!  Extra week - I would love one in every month!!! 

Do you watch Downton Abbey?  If so, then you have seen the commercial for Viking River Cruises.  Peter and I were on one of their newest ships - Eistla - last week for our Danube River cruise.  We had a fabulous time and I have to say, I love river cruising.  The ship was beautiful and I don't think I ever felt it move - quite incredible.  And it had the part of cruising I love the most - every day you wake up in a new city and you didn't have to haul your luggage around or ride on a bus!  We started in Nuremburg and ended in Budapest with stops in Regensburg, Passau, Melk, and Vienna.  There are excursions planned for you each day - usually a bus and walking tour of the city - and then optional tours.  Each city had at least one Christmas Market to see, so I did a little shopping too.  Here are a couple of photos just to show you some of the highlights.
Viking Eistla
Nuremburg Christmas Market at night.

Christmas tree at Market in Regensburg.  That's me dressed for the cold!

Passau, Germany
Church at the Melk Abbey

Matthais Church in Budapest
Castle on the Danube River in Wachau Valley

Schoenbrunn Palace - Home of Maria Theresa - Vienna

Parliament Building in Budapest

Let's take a moment and try to think past all of the holiday craziness and think about 2015 - it's just around the corner and if you're like me, it's filling up fast.  Have you started making plans for workshops you'd like to take, quilts you want to make, vacations you want to take?  Any of these would make great gift ideas for your family.  I've got one that you just might want to add to your list.  Our good friend Ronda Stockton has just opened a new quilt retreat in LaPorte, TX.  If you follow her blog (And Sew It Began), you've had a chance to see her transform this old house she bought into a beautiful retreat that sleeps 16.  Paula and Gloria (Olde Green Cupboard) are teaming up to offer a weekend of fun projects.  Mark the dates on your calendar - February 12-15, 2015 at Ronda's retreat house, Pieceful Stitches.  Here's the link with all of the info: Special Event Opening. Sign up now, there's only space for 16.  I thought a little enticement might get you psyched, so here's the pictures of the projects.

Paula's pieced framed wallhanging
Gloria's armchair sewing cozy

Gloria's pincushion basket
I'll let you get back to your own personal craziness.  Up next here is packing.  Caitlin just called to remind me that winter clothes take up more room in the suitcase!  Sweatshirts, sweaters and turtlenecks - not my usual wardrobe for Florida!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along Photos

Now I know that I did promise that I would post the SAL pictures about 2 weeks ago, but it seems that life has gotten in the way of my blogging again - go figure!!  I honestly thought that I would have nothing to do the weekend before my family descended on me for Thanksgiving besides blogging, but I must have been ill, feverish, delusional, or just plain nuts!  Everyone was here (oldest daughter from Louisville and boyfriend; son, daughter-in-law and 2 granddaughters from upstate NY; and youngest daughter - who just happens to live in town) - that's a total of 7 additional family in our house that usually holds 2.  And all I can say about it is - it was wonderful!!  They are all back home again and the house is so quiet.  I have managed to finish all of the wash, remake the beds, and put the towels away.  

But without further ado, let me share the pictures of the Sew-Along.  I only have 7 for now, but if you finish later, please send me the picture and I will share it at a later date.  The comments from these 7 ladies were wonderful and so kind.  We are all so glad that you enjoyed our very first Sew-Along.  The pictures are the exact pictures that were sent to me - I didn't crop, edit or touch up in any way.  Congratulations to the ladies who submitted their pictures - your quilts are beautiful.  I love how so many people choose their own fabrics also - little stash reduction I'm guessing! Enjoy!
Barbara Leyland from New Zealand

Marja Veldthuis-Kluy from The Netherlands

Heather Gunter

Kathy Wagner of Ontario, Canada - waiting to add 2 borders

Kris Searle

Susan Gilbert

Ursula Yeo

I don't think I've touched a piece of quilting fabric since my last post.  I did a quick repair on leggings for my daughter-in-law and hemmed a couple of pants for myself, but basically it was family time.  Today I organized some stitchery - 6-pointed star blocks, tea towel to be embroidered, and Santa cross stitch to take on our 2 very long flights tomorrow and next Thursday.  Peter and I are going on a Viking River Cruise on the Danube River. We start in Nuremburg, Germany and finish 7 days later in Budapest, Hungary.  We love cruising, but it is usually on ocean-going vessels; this is our first time on a river cruise.  The highlight of this cruise is the opportunity to shop at the Christmas Markets that are set up in the towns we visit.  I'm so excited!! I'll share details and pictures when I return, but right now it's time to go pack!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Market/Festival 2014 and Beyond

International Quilt Market and Festival 2014 are over and we can check that off our To Do list!  It was great to be in Houston - good friends, good food, good fabric, good times!!  Market and Festival can best be compared to a high school reunion - good friends stopping by the booth all day to say hello and spend a moment with you! If you were one of the many people that dropped by for a quick hello and a hug - thank you, you made our day.

Now I talked about food before I left and I have to say I did manage to check off almost all of the restaurants I hoped to get to - Ninfa's, Lupe's, Macaroni House, Red Oak Grill, to name a few.  I definitely got my Tex-Mex fix!!!  Queso and margaritas - yum!!  And now it's back to the real world!   Here's a sample of just one of my fabulous meals - mac and cheese from the Macaroni House!

Good fabric - well I finally got to see some of the new lines Paula has been working on.  She always shares pictures, but you know how we just have to get our hands on it and play with it.  We are over the moon excited about her collection that we shared at Market - Paula's Border Companions.  Five border stripes, each in three different colorways - can you say heavenly! They coordinate beautifully with her Companions collection too.  Besides all the beautiful quilts  you will be able to make with these, they are also perfect for your Lucy Boston and 6-pointed star blocks!  We've got some great things planned for this collection!

This year we set up the booth for Market with the intention of keeping it the same for Festival.  We moved a few things (we always do), but basically it was an easy shift from one show to the other.  Here are some pictures of the booth for Market.  I don't know what happened, but I somehow never got a chance to take pictures of the Festival booth.
Soldier's Waltz hanging in the center.

Quilts from left to right- Bonnie Blue, Hanover Stars, Parker's Crossing, Foursquare and Lancaster on the table.
Quilts from left to right - James River Red, Hampton, New Market, Lily, Cumberland Valley (cheddar).

All of the new patterns and kits are now available on our website.  We sold out of some kits, but we making new ones as we speak.  Look for them to be available after Thanksgiving.

This year was the 40th anniversary of International Quilt Festival - the Ruby Jubilee.  And it was celebrated in style with red everywhere.  The red and white quilt display was beautiful and very similar to the show in New York a couple of years ago.  The tote bags were red and white, but the insulated glasses were the best - they were blinged!!!  Needless to say we had to buy two of them.

We were directly across from the Marcus Fabrics booth and that is always so nice.  They had so many new collections and quilts to share.  Check out Marcus Mentions for some great pictures of the Marcus booth.  Pam Buda of Heartspun Quilts introduced her new program: Prairie Gatherings Quilt of the Quarter featuring her new Prairie Gatherings collection.  If you love red (and who doesn't), then this is the program for you.  Sign up with your local quilt shop.  They even put  her to work writing up a sale.  Check her out with Indra and Rosie of Scarlet Today/Redworks Plus (looks like Rosie will have the program).
Prairie Gatherings Quilt-of-the-Quarter and additional projects.
Indra, Pam and Rosie

We did a lot of driving around Houston and Katy while I was there and I was amazed to see all the changes in the Katy area.  I've only been gone for 4 years, but they have been busy.  New home construction is booming and they've completed a lot of the 99/Grand Parkway in that area.  Only in Houston do you see roadways that look like spaghetti noodles piled on top of each other!

And my last picture of Market/Festival - what the George R Brown Convention Center looks like on Sunday night as everyone is leaving!

I've been back home for a couple of weeks and there really is life after Market/Festival - it's called pre-Spring Market!  I've already started on a new quilt, but we will actually debut it at the Dallas Quilt Show (March 13-15, 2015) and we will have kits also.  Here are the fabrics for the blocks and the border will be one of the new Border Companions (waiting on that to arrive). I've also worked on some personal sewing, but it's mostly Christmas gifts, so I can't share them yet. 

 I did get the house decorated - for Fall, not Christmas.  I am a firm believer in giving Thanksgiving its day!  The whole family will be here and I can't wait.  All the Northerners are hoping for warm weather, but at this point I think they will be happy with the predicted 70's - definitely warmer than the 20's and 30's they are currently experiencing!  It's been cooler here, but we managed to get to the beach for a sunset and fruity drinks!

I did say I would post pictures of the completed Sew-Along quilts after Festival and that will be the next blog, so here's your last chance - get your photos to me this week and I will post them this weekend.

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Houston Bound

Yes, it is finally here - time to leave for Market and Festival.  I've talked about it so much that it feels like I should have come and gone already!!!  Market set-up starts on Thursday, but there's a few last minute things to finish up and of course we have to pack the trailer.  Peter is flying over on Monday also, but then heading to Corpus Christi for a couple of days.  He'll be back on Wednesday to help with loading and unloading on Thursday - thank heavens!!  We haven't set up for a show since last Fall Market and Festival and I can already feel my body crying out in pain!  Guess I should pre-Aleve!!

I'm all packed - probably way too many clothes, but I'll be gone for 16 days!!!  I need nice clothes for Market and Festival and then everyday/work clothes for loading, unloading and setting up! Fortunately the weather in Houston will be very similar to St. Pete, so I don't need to bring anything warm!

So, do you want to see our new Market quilts????  I've shared some "in progress" pictures, but now I can share pictures of the actual patterns. 

Soldier's Waltz is made with Paula's collection Landon Creek and I have to admit that it's probably my favorite.  The reds, blacks, cheddar and 1 shirting just make it a WOW quilt!!  My prediction - this will be the big seller.

Bonnie Blue is our 2 color quilt and it features 2 new fabrics from Paula's Companions collection.  I love it in the blue and cream, but think it would also be spectacular in red and white, black and cream or just about any 2 color combination.  I think this one is Paula's favorite, but that's just a guess!
I love when Paula "shops" in the warehouse and pulls fabric for a new scrappy quilt.  I am always amazed that she can look at all of that fabric and pull out just what she needs to make a beautiful quilt - true talent.  Well she's done it twice this time!!

New Market is an "inventory", scrappy quilt, but just in blues, browns and blacks.  Love this one and it is sooo easy!!!  It also has a nice masculine feel to it.  I think it would make a great holiday gift or graduation gift for some man in your life!!

Hanover Stars is our 2nd scrappy quilt and it features 46 "darks" in reds, browns, blacks and blues and 1 light! Can you say "yummy"?  This is probably my second favorite, but not by much.
We will have kits available for all of these quilts and should have them on the website after Festival. International Quilt Festival is in the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston and the dates are Thursday, October 30th- Sunday, November 2nd.  Preview night is Wednesday, October 29th.  We are in booth #1805, so stop by for a visit, check out all of our new patterns and kits or just say hello!!  We love to meet our blog followers!

Next thing on my list is to start my list of restaurants that I want to visit - Lupe's, Las Mananitas (can you tell I'm a little anxious for some good Tex-Mex - the body is craving some good queso), Texas Roadhouse, Rita's, Menchie's, Macaroni House, and Whataburger just to name a few!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Playing Grandma

Well, yes indeed there does seem to be life after Sew-Along!!!  We still have a few things to do for Market, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!!

Thank you again to everyone that participated in the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along.  I have already received pictures of 3 beautiful quilt tops - are the rest of you feeling a little pressure now?  Keep sending them and I will post them after I return home from International Quilt Festival (around November 5th).

The quilts are all finished for Market and now it's time to finish up the paperwork - patterns, brochures, order forms, etc.  I head to Houston on Monday and we begin packing the trailer for Market and Festival.  First we will head to our favorite mani/pedi place and I can't wait.  Nothing beats Model Nails when it comes to a mani/pedi - it almost makes packing the trailer a pleasant experience (really - not)!

Today I am writing from Ballston Lake, NY (near Albany and Schenectady).  Peter and I are playing Grandma and Grandpa for a few days while my son and daughter-in-law are in Las Vegas  for a conference.  It is so nice to be able to help them and to spend some time with our 2 beautiful granddaughters - Sydney (6) and Julianne (4). We are having a fantastic time and the weather has been glorious!

Saturday was a birthday party and time at a nearby playground for swings and a mini-hike.  Sunday was our big day and the weather cooperated - warm and sunny all day.  Now, you will probably recall that I spent 8 days with Peter in July as he did the Erie Canal Bike Ride, but apparently I "missed" a few things and he had some things he wanted to share with the girls.  We started the day at St. John the Evangelist Church in Schenectady.  This is the church where Brett and Meredith were married and all I can say is "WOW"!!  Did you see the movie Beyond the Pines with Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper?  This is the church that was in that movie.  It was built in the early 1900's and is probably about 5-6 stories high.  Best statement ever to describe the seating was made by my brother-in-law when he walked in for the wedding - "Wow, stadium seating!!".The pews are all the original wood.  The entire front of the church and altar is marble. I'll share some pictures, but trust me, my little iPhone pictures don't do it justice.

We spent the afternoon driving around and looking at sections of the Erie Canal near Albany.  Cohoes Fall illicted an "awesome" from Sydney (guess we'll have to take them to Niagara Falls next)!  We stopped in Waterford (where the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers meet) and checked out the current lock and part of the original old lock system.  Thank you New York State Canal System for the Activity Book we picked up there.  It has all the words to "The Erie Canal" song that we had started to teach them this summer.  Julianne entertained us this morning with a rendition of almost the entire song herself - won't mommy and daddy be pleased with what they learned!!!
Cohoes Fall
Waterford, NY

The girls love that Grandma has to get her glasses every time I need to read something.  Last night they decided to wear them - fortunately I travel with 2 pairs!!!  Seeing them in my glasses made me think of being a librarian - it's in their genes (grandma and great-grandma were both elementary school librarians!)  Future  Librarians of America - here come 2 new members!
And that's The Erie Canal book they are holding!
We decided to take it easy on Monday and our big event was an outing to Friendly's.  I don't know who enjoys it more - me or the girls!!! Granddaughters and a Happy Ending sundae - my life is complete!!
Today was a school day for Sydney and we decided to keep Julianne's day care schedule (and Grandpa and I each had work to do), so we got up early for a regular Tuesday. Both girls decided (on their own, no coaching from Grandma) to wear the skirts I made for them.  They were so cute in them and want me to make more - pink butterflies for Julianne and blue hearts for Sydney. I think I should be able to find some of those fabrics at Festival - like I need an excuse to shop!!

We sadly have to head home on Friday.  We'll miss the girls and the weather - still warm in St. Pete and Houston - but everyone is coming to visit for Thanksgiving. YAY!!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen


Monday, October 6, 2014

Congratulations to our winners!!

Well you've dazzled us again with all of your positive comments and feedback, so without further ado (drum roll in the background), here are our randomly selected winners:
     Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along quilt:
   Mary Ann
      "The finished quilt is stunning. Although I do not participate in many mystery quilt-a-longs, I knew this would be beautiful. All of the designers are known for making beautiful quilts. Each designer put their own spin on the blocks and I'm very happy I participated. Thanks to everyone for this amazing quilt and the opportunity to win prizes each week."

    Basket of Goodies:
"No worries that I wouldn't like this mystery! From the fabric choices to seeing Pam's first block it's been great! Hope you do this again next summer! Thanks so much!"

Mary Ann and Lori, if you would please contact me at  with your address, I will arrange to have your prizes shipped to you.

Thank you again to everyone that participated and commented.  We enjoyed bringing the Sew-Along to you and it was so nice to read all of your positive and encouraging comments and we hope you will join us on our next one!  Now I will look forward to seeing your completed quilts in the photos you are going to send me!! Any pictures I receive by November 2nd will be posted in the weeks following.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming, no blogging!!  I'm sure if you asked any of the designers that participated in the Sew- Along what they were currently working on, it would be quilts for Fall Market!!  It is our current obsession.  Market is October 25-27 in Houston, TX and we are all doing that last minute push - piece, bind, photograph, and write!!  Personally, up until Thursday I went to bed every night thinking about Market and woke up ready to start another day working on Market quilts. I finished our last quilt on Thursday and now it is in the hands of the quilter and binder, but now it's time to concentrate on names and the actual patterns. Now would we have it any other way - of course not!!  We love what we are doing!!

Fall came to St. Pete yesterday - 65 degrees Saturday night!!!  Can you say "heaven"???  We had the doors and windows open all day yesterday!  Temps in the low 70's and best of all, no humidity!!  Will it last?  Probably not, but we are enjoying it for the time being.  Friday, Peter and I head to upstate NY for some much needed granddaughter time.  Also looking forward to Fall colors, temps and maybe even some apple picking!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along Week #10

Welcome to week 10 of our Sew-Along!  Ta da - you made it!!  Now it's time to share our finished quilt and show you how you are going to put all of those beautiful blocks into your own finished quilt top. We hope you think it is as beautiful as we do!!

Let's get started on piecing the alternate blocks (there's 16 of them) and finishing up the quilt.

Cutting Instructions: Alternate blocks
   Cream print -
       Cut (2) - 5 1/2" x WOF
       Cut (2) - 2 1/2" x WOF
       Cut (2) - 2" x WOF
       Cut (32) - 2" x 5 1/2" rectangles

   Black print -
       Cut (8) - 2" x WOF
       Cut (1) - 2 1/2" x WOF

   1. Sew (1) cream print 2 1/2" x WOF strip and (2) black print 2" x WOF strips together.
       Press to the dark.  Width of the pieced strip unit measures 5 1/2" unfinished.
       Repeat with remaining cream print 2 1/2" x WOF strip and (2) black print 2" x WOF strips.

   2. Cut pieced strip units into (32) 2" x 5 1/2" rectangles.

   3. Sew (1) black print 2 1/2" x WOF strip and (2) cream print 2" x WOF strips together.
       Press to the dark.  Width of the pieced strip unit measures 5 1/2" unfinished.

   4. Cut pieced strip unit into (16) 2 1/2" x 5 1/2" rectangles.

   5. Using the picture, piece the center 9 patch unit. Press to the outer rows.
       Repeat to complete (16) center 9 patch units. Each unit measures 5 1/2" unfinished.

   6. Sew (1) cream print 5 1/2" x WOF strip and (2) black print 2" x WOF strips together.
       Press to the dark. Width of the pieced strip unit measures 8 1/2" unfinished.
       Repeat with remaining cream print 5 1/2" x WOF strip and (2) black print 2" x WOF strips.

   7. Cut pieced strip units into (32) 2" x 8 1/2" rectangles.

   8. Using the picture, piece the alternate blocks. Press away from the center 9 patch unit.
       Repeat to complete (16) alternate blocks.  Each alternate block measures 8 1/2" unfinished.

Assembling the quilt top

Cutting instructions: Finishing kit
   Green print - set-in side triangles and corner triangles
       Cut (3) - 12 5/8" squares - cut in quarters diagonally
       Cut (2) - 6 5/8" squares - cut in half diagonally

   Black print - inner border and binding
        Cut (5) - 2" x WOF - sew end to end
            Cut (2) - 2" x 45 1/2" - side inner borders
            Cut (2) - 2" x 48 1/2" - top and bottom inner border
        Cut (6) - 2" x WOF - sew end to end for binding (You have enough fabric if you prefer to cut a 2 1/2" wide binding)

   Red print - outer border and binding
        Cut (2) - 6 1/2" x 48 1/2" - lengthwise - side outer borders
        Cut (2) - 6 1/2" x 60 1/2" - lengthwise - top and bottom outer borders

    1. Arrange the pieced blocks, alternate blocks and set -in side triangles according to the numbered diagram.  Each number represents the week the block was presented.
       Add 4 corner triangles last.The quilt top should measure 45 1/2"x45 1/2" square.

    2. Add the black print strips for the inner border.

    3. Add the red print strips for the outer border.
        The quilt top should measure 60 1/2" x 60 1/2" square.

    4. Quilt as desired.  Add binding. ENJOY!!!

Click here for a downloadable/printable version.

And there it is!! Hopefully you've been sewing right along with us, and now it's just a matter of putting it altogether. And now here's your chance to win one of our 2 final prizes - the completed quilt or this great basket of goodies from the designers. 

Leave a comment on this blog only to be eligible and on Monday, 2 winners will be randomly selected. (Remember, your comment must be on this blog only.) This was a mystery quilt - tell us what you think about mystery quilts or our Sew-Along.  Did you enjoy this, would you rather have known what the quilt looked like right from the beginning, or did you just trust that we would provide you with a beautiful quilt?

Many of you selected your own fabric or perhaps you used your own arrangement for our blocks - please send us a photo when you have completed your quilt top (  I will give you some time to complete your top, so any pictures sent to me by November 2nd will be shared on this blog after that. 

Thank you for joining us on our 1st ever Sew-Along. I would like to thank the Marcus Fabrics designers for their beautiful blocks, Lynn Graham and Cathy Peters for the fantastic quilting job and Gloria Parsons for binding the quilt. 

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen