Saturday, June 28, 2014

Busy Week

Busy week, to say the least!!  Peter has been off teaching in Ticonderoga, NY and I've been working through my very long "To Do" list so we can get ready to leave for a 3 week visit to New York on Sunday.  I'm looking forward to days of family, fun and hopefully cool and low humidity days!!  Between my traveling and Peter's traveling, it will be the longest we've been together in months!  This could prove to be very interesting.

Paula and I had a fabulous time at the Country Sampler in Spring Green, Wisconsin.  Paula was invited to teach as part of Jeanne Horton's "Grand Old Flag Gathering". Carol Hopkins of Civil War Legacies and Linda from Chessie and Me were also there as teachers and I was there as "tag-along." Click on the Gathering link for Jeanne's blog and more info and photos.
The shop is downstairs and upstairs is a retreat center that is available for visitors.

Personally, I was absolutely blown away by both Jeanne and her store.  She has an incredible flair for color, style, decorating,etc. and on top of it, she's a fantastic person.  I could have just taken up residence in her home (yes, we got to stay there!!) or her shop.  And thanks to both Paula and Jeanne, I am now watching "Fixer Upper" on HGTV!  Just what I need, another show to add to my DVR list!  I also think it would be in HGTV's best interest if they did a series with Paula and Jeanne - just saying!  Here's a couple of pictures of the inside of the store. No captions needed here, just this beautiful store!  In case you are wondering, yes a couple of the kits and decorating items you see in the pictures did make it home in the two big boxes that Paula and I shipped from Spring Green.  Thank heavens for UPS!!

We both arrived in Madison on Saturday so we would have time to do a little quilt shop sightseeing.  Our shopping focus was fabric for our Lucy Boston blocks.  Needless to say, we came home with a lot of great stripes!  Saturday afternoon we spent some time in JJ Stitches in Sun Prairie.  Unfortunately owner Julie was away at a quilt show, but we did visit with the lovely ladies in the shop.  And of course, I did forget to take a picture!!  And as luck would have it, right across the street from our hotel was a Texas Roadhouse - our go-to place for dinner.

Sunday found us visiting Life's A Stitch in Janesville.  Pat Riley, the owner, was there, so we got to spend some time chatting with her and checking out her great store that is in an old farmhouse.  We added to our pile of potential Lucy Boston fabric too. Then it was on to Spring Green for set-up for The Gathering.

Tuesday or Wednesday (honestly can't remember), Connie and Mary Baker from Country Threads (Iowa) stopped by on their way to the International Quilt Festival in Chicago.  They were vending there.  Wish I could have gone just so I could hang out in their booth for awhile.  Probably would have meant at least another big box or two being shipped home!! 

One of the ladies attending (of course I didn't get her name - so sorry) shared the quilt she made this past year using the pattern (Second Hand Clothes) she got as a door prize from Paula and the bundle she got from Jeanne at last year's Gathering.  It's a beauty and luckily she put it away or it would have ended up in my big box!!!  I think Second Hand Clothes is one of my favorite patterns.  I am always amazed how beautiful it looks in any fabric - complete collection, scrappy, batiks, baby, anything!!

Just a reminder about the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along.  Check on the link for complete details.  We have already taken a number of orders for the kits, so if you are interested check out our website. Kits are available as just fabric for the quilt top or with the backing also. The "out of stock" note that was on one of the kits has been fixed - all kits are available!!  I was able to ship just a few kits before I leave, but the remainder will ship out the week of July 21st.  You will have them way before the first blog posting (August 1st)And in case you were wondering, we will not run your PayPal charge until we actually ship the kit!!

Well the car is packed - sewing machine, sewing table, sewing projects, golf clubs, Peter's bike (did I forget to tell you one of the weeks is the Erie Canal Bike Ride from Buffalo to Albany), and of course, clothes.  In case you were wondering, there is no way I will be riding any bike. I am Peter's driver, so I get to follow along the route the riders are taking and participate in any tours or visits they make along the way.  I will also be participating in my own visits - quilt stores, outlet centers, to name a few!!  I'm there in case he needs a ride!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Friends and Companions

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Are you ready to try something new with us?  Paula and I would like to invite you to participate in the first Marcus Fabrics designer sew-along. "Friends and Companions" will feature nine original blocks from some of the very talented Marcus designers, both in the New York office and across the country.

The "Friends and Companions" Sew-Along begins Friday, August 1st and will run for 10 consecutive weeks.  Each Friday you will visit one of the designer blogs and receive the instructions for their block.  Rumor has it there are going to be prizes throughout the program and something extra special at the end!!
                                  Marcus Friends and Companions Sew-A-Long Kit with backing
The quilt features selected prints from Paula Barnes' Companions.  If you would like your quilt to look just like ours, then you are in luck.  We will have a limited number of kits available for ordering from now until July 7th or until we are sold out!!  You can order you kit with backing (click here) or without backing, (click here) and it will take you directly to our website.  Kits will ship beginning July 21st, so you will have them in hand to begin on August 1st.

Feel free to choose your own fabrics.  Here's the yardage requirements for the whole program, so that you may begin gathering you fabrics:
    For Blocks:
     ¼ yard cheddar print
    ½ yard light print #1
    1/6 yard red print #1
    1/4 yd black print
    1/6 yard blue print
    ⅓ yard olive green print

   For Quilt Setting and Borders:
    1¾ yards red print #2 for outside border
    1¼ yards black print for alternate block, inside border and binding.
    1⅛ yards light print #2 for alternate block
    1 yard olive green print for setting corners and triangles.

   4 yards for backing
   Quilt size:  60" x 60"
   Block size: 8" finished

The "Friends and Companions" sew-along kicks off on Friday, August 1st with a visit to Pam Buda of Heartspun Quilts.  Here's the designer and blog schedule.  Be sure to save the dates and please pass this news along to all of your friends:

8/1     Pam Buda - Heartspun Quilts                 
8/8     Paula Barnes - Red Crinoline Quilts       
8/15  Sarah Maxwell - Homestead Hearth       
8/22  Pati Violick - Marcus Fabrics                  
8/29  Gloria Parsons - Olde Green Cupboard   
9/5    Nancy Rink - Nancy Rink Designs          
9/12  Mary Ellen Robison - Red Crinoline Quilts
9/19  Dolores Smith - Homestead Hearth       
9/26  Lisa Shepard - Marcus Fabrics              
10/3  Red Crinoline Quilts - Quilt Revealed     

It's not too early to get started!!  Visit each blog now, enter your email address in the "Follow by Email" icon and get your sewing machines ready (when was the last time you cleaned the lint of that machine)!!!  We hope you will join us in our first ever Sew-Along.  We're excited and we hope you are too.

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

PS - To "Follow by Email", you will receive an email from each designer to verify your blog subscription.  You must click the link given in the email to complete the process.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Are you addicted yet???

Addicted you ask?  Have you been bitten by the English paper piecing bug yet?  Do you find yourself rummaging through your scraps for just the right size piece of fabric for a hexie, a honeycomb or a star?  If you have answered yes, then you are addicted!!

I started with just making 3/4" hexagons for some kind of Grandmother's Flower Garden and then Sheryl Johnson of Temecula Quilt Company began her Fussy Friday posts on her blog and the next thing I knew I was fussy cutting fabric for 6 pointed star blocks.  And then it grew some more when Paula came back from teaching in Atlanta with everything (honeycombs and squares) we needed to do the Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses blocks!

And thank you Pat Sloan for sharing the Vera Bradley media case (on Instagram) that you transformed into a sewing kit.  I now have 3 of those - complete with needle threader, thread, applique pins, and scissors -  one for each of my 3 paper piecing addictions. I found mine at a Vera Bradley outlet and on eBay.


I mentioned in previous posts that I wanted to share something with you and this was it. I was waiting for our supplies to come in so we could post kits on our website.

I know you are all familiar with Grandmother's Flower Garden, but the 6 pointed star block and the Lucy Boston Block take paper piecing to a new level.  Check out Sheryl's blog for some of her Fussy Friday blocks, but here are some of mine.  I think I probably enjoy making these the most because they are so fast - 6 pieces and you are done.  The fun part is picking the fabric and then deciding what you want to fussy cut.  Check out the kits for these blocks - plastic diamond template and diamond paper pieces.

These 5 are all made in Paula's collections
6 pointed star starter kit

The Lucy Boston block is something else.  Google "Lucy Boston block" and click on "Images" - you will be amazed by  what some of people have created.  They are works of art!  Again, playing with the fabric is the best part of this block.  Check your scraps for stripes, florals, large prints, small prints, etc.  Here are a couple of my attempts and a link to our website for a starter kit that includes a honeycomb template, a square template, honeycomb and square paper pieces, Lucy Boston: Patchwork of the Crosses book, and a piece of fabric to get you started.
Paula made this one.
I made this one, but Paula picked these fabrics. 

Lucy Boston starter kit

Paula and I like to travel with our paper pieces (usually get them all in one sewing case) and we've demo-ed them on the past two cruises.  It seems that when you share these, you bring another person into the addiction. Here are some blocks made by some new members to the cult.  We'll be taking them to Wisconsin with us too, so we'll see how many more we add to the group!
Katie made this one on the Freedom of the Seas cruise - love her center!
Sarabeth made these on the Galveston cruise.

Gloria made this one. Another great center and good colors.
Did you notice the Hampton Ridge stripe that was used differently in both the 6 pointed star block and the Lucy Boston block? Hmmm.
Until next time, happy quilting (or paper piecing!),
Mary Ellen

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Life after cruise!!

Yes, there is life after cruise, but it often can be a very busy life - unpacking, laundry, catching up with family, friends, and the social media world, and of course post-cruise readjustment!!  It would probably be in our own best interest to slowly wean ourselves from cruising life before we actually get off the ship.  Maybe make our own bed or just eat pizza for lunch and dinner; you know get back to reality a little sooner!!!  Then again, take advantage of it while you have it!!

The cruise was fantastic!!  Thank you Gloria and Vicky (Olde Green Cupboard designs) for planning such a great trip.  We were on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas and we went to St. Thomas and St. Maarten.  We were supposed to make a stop at Coco Cay (RCCL's private beach in the Bahamas), but you don't actually dock there and the seas were a little too rough for the tender boats - thank you Captain for considering our safety!! We toured St. Thomas and did a little jewelry shopping and hit Orient Beach on St. Maarten for a day of sun and fun.

The group was small, so we really got to know our fellow quilting cruisers - some old friends and some new friends.  Three teachers, three days of teaching and three different techniques - quilting, rug hooking, and wool applique! There was also 3 different Make and Take projects.  Gloria and Vicky dazzled us with some wonderful gifts and prizes too -all coordinating with their "Getting Ready for Christmas" theme.

Let me share some photos with you.  The captions should tell it all!!
Here's almost the whole group in The Crypt - cocktail party on the last night
Saw a lot of these iguanas near Magan's Bay on St. Thomas
Magan's Bay from Mountaintop in St. Thomas
ME, Vicky, Lynn, Gloria, and Angie enjoying our free banana daiquiri's at Mountaintop  
Our tour bus on St. Thomas.  Open air = air conditioned  

Orient Beach on St. Maarten.  Water was heavenly!!
Orient Beach - spent some time relaxing in these chairs!!
Teachers and their projects - Gloria and Vicky (on each end) and wool applique, Paula and Glory Bound quilt and Katie Puckett and snowman rug hooking

Gloria's Make and Take - Christmas tea towel
ME, Katie and Gloria and Katie's Make and Take It - a wool poinsetta pin - yes I actually made it!! 
Let's just say a good time was had by all and now it's time to get ready for another trip!  Paula is teaching at Country Sampler's (Spring Green, WI) Grand Old Flag Gathering this weekend and I'm going along to have some fun.  Of course the sewing machine is going with me, but I heard I need to consider an extra suitcase for all of the wonderful things I'm going to want to buy at Jeanne's store!  It's also Wisconsin Statewide Shop Hop, so we're going to do a little shopping on Saturday and Sunday before Paula has to start teaching. I'm also looking forward to some low/no humidity weather!

Until next time, happy quilting!
Mary Ellen