Thursday, September 25, 2014

Heading off to another retreat

Yes, it's Camp Blanding retreat time again!!!!!  The car is packed with all of my sewing supplies, projects and sale room goodies.  Next on the list is shower, pack my clothes and snacks, stop at Mickey D's for a large Diet Coke in a styrofoam cup and hit the road!!!  My radio station is pre-selected, so I am good to go.  Can't wait - a weekend of sewing with friends and of course some good food.  Tonight is our traditonal retreat weekend kick-off - dinner at Sonny's - wings and mac & cheese!!!

I'll be finishing the scrappy star quilt I shared with you.  It's all row-labeled and ready to go.  Then it's on to Longarm Quilting by Lynn Graham for their magic!  That's the last of the new Fall Market quilts.  And as soon as we have names, I will share them with you.  The names are the biggest challenge!!

I did want to remind you that tomorrow is week 9/block 9 of the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along.  This week you will meet Lisa Shepard Stewart, Marketing Manager of Marcus Fabrics.  In addition to her many jobs, Lisa authors the Marcus Mentions blog.  Block 9 is the last of the blocks for the quilt and next week is the "reveal" and the instructions for finishing your quilt top - I'm on deck for that one.  If you've been keeping up with us, then you should be good to go on finishing your quilt.  I'll also share photos of the prizes for 2 lucky winners!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Louisville Bound

Tomorrow Peter and I are heading off to visit daughter #1 in Louisville, KY - the home of Churchill Downs and The Kentucky Derby, bourbon, mint juleps, duck fat popcorn and wonderful restaurants (sensing a theme here)!  I don't think I've ever visited anywhere that has so many wonderful places to eat and drink.  The biggest problem is not getting to go back to some of the great places we've been because there are so many other ones she wants us to try!!  I'm looking forward to a wonderful weekend - and oh yeah, it's cooler there than it is here in hot humid St. Pete!  That alone will make the trip worthwhile!!

I've been working hard all week on the last of the new quilts for Market.  I shared a photo of the pile of "star points" and I have successfully completed 42 of the 61 blocks that need those star points.  No name yet, but I do love the scrappiness of this one.  This isn't the actual setting, but you'll get a feel for the colors - warm and cozy!  The rest of the blocks will be finished when I get back next week and this one will probably go to the retreat with me for the final piecing.

Just a reminder that tomorrow is Week 8/block 8 of the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along.  I can't believe we are already on week 8!! Only 2 more weeks and you will have a finished top.  From your comments, it sounds like many of you are sewing right along with us.  That's fantastic!! This week head on over to Homestead Hearth and meet Dolores Smith.  She has a great block for you to piece.  Dolores and Sarah Maxwell are partners and they own Homestead Hearth in Mexico, Missouri.  They have designed some gorgeous quilts, so check out their website and see what catches your fancy.

The scrappy blocks are calling my name - I have time to get just a few more done tonight.  I'm packed and ready to go for tomorrow, so I think I'll do a little sewing.  I wonder what's on TV, maybe an episode of Fixer Upper!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Monday, September 15, 2014

Congratulations to our winners 2!!

Week #7 of the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along is over and we would like to thank all of you for your wonderful comments.  You really make all of us feel so good - thank you!!! It's hard to believe that we have completed 7 weeks and from your comments some of you have completed 7 blocks!  Way to go people!!!  I'm seeing finished quilts in your future.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on block exchanges.  I think the key word from all of the comments was "trust" - you just have to trust that your fellow exchangers will follow the rules (if the group provided them), they all understand and can achieve a 1/4" seam, and they will use good 100% cotton quilt store quality fabric!  All good ideas!!  And I was most impressed with no horror stories!!!

This week's 3 lucky winners will each receive one of our favorite patterns, A Quilt for Alice, and 5 fat quarters from Paula's new collection, Olde Townhouse from Marcus Fabrics.  Old Townhouse is featured in our re-do of A Quilt for Alice that you can see in the picture.

Rosemary Youngs: " I love Block exchanges that are simple, I also really like them when there are no specific rules and that it doesn't matter whether you handpiece, machine piece or foundation pieced the Block together.
I really love doing different blocks of the month, they are just addicting and It is just so much fun to do them with friends

Sheila S: " I have only participated in one block exchange-and maybe it wasn't a "real" block exchange. All the ladies in our quilting group made the same size square of their choosing out of Patriotic fabrics and then our leader sewed them together and made a quilt of them to give to a Veteran. This made me feel warm and good inside knowing that one of the brave soldiers who fight for our country will have a good quilt to keep them warm and comforted.
I really like your block. The blue cross in the center really speaks to me!

Cammi: " Don't believe I have ever participated in a block exchange! But if I did, I would want it to be organized, and with specific guidelines. I am really enjoying this Sew Along, can't wait to see what the finished quilt design will be!"

Winners:  Please send an email with your address information to:
Also - will Jeannette - one of our winners from week 2 please contact us with your address information.

My question about exchanges was sparked by my need to complete my blocks for an upcoming Churn Dash exchange and I have good news - I AM DONE!!!!  All blocks are completed, bagged, labeled and ready for distribution at our next Camp Blanding retreat (end of September).  Now I hope you are all impressed with my completion and the fact that there are 2 weeks before they are actually due!!  The emails and texts about everyone's blocks have been flying around all week.  The list of "Done" people is growing.  The comment that probably got the most laughs and comments - "If we are all making these blocks in the 2 weeks before they are due, why do we give ourselves a year to work on them.  Why not just give ourselves 2 weeks!" Personally, I need the full year - 11 months and 2 weeks to think and plan and 2 weeks to get 'er done!!

Part of my reason for not waiting until the absolute last minute was an upcoming visit to Louisville to see our daughter and another Market quilt that needed to be made.  I started on the new quilt Saturday and here's the pile of star points from this weekend's sewing!  Before I started on the last of my Churn Dash blocks, I finished our 2 color quilt for Market.  It's off to the quilters for their magic.

I just love this quilt!!
It's hard to believe that seven weeks of our Sew-Along are done and this week is block 8 from Dolores Smith of Homestead Hearth. Be sure to visit their blog on Friday, September 19.  I promise you are going to love this one too;  it's another beauty!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Friday, September 12, 2014

Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along - Week 7

Welcome to week #7 - block #7 on our Sew-Along!  We hope you are enjoying yourselves.  We have enjoyed reading your comments and want to tell you how much we all appreciate your kind words - big self-esteem boosters!!

I am so pleased to introduce myself to you.  Many of you know me through this blog, but for the "newbies", I am Mary Ellen Robison, the other half of the Red Crinoline Quilts team. (You met Paula back in week 2).  Now the moment I have been waiting for - the chance to tell you a little bit about me!!  I am the proud wife, mother, mother-in-law and grandmother of: Peter (husband), Megan, Brett and Caitlin (children), Meredith (dil) and Sydney and Julianne (granddaughters). Peter and I are both retired from our original careers (research and elementary school librarian) and now live in St.Petersburg, FL.  We actually built our house next door to the home where Peter grew up.  For the 1st time in our married lives we live near family and we love it!!

I began quilting way back in 1975, but have sewn since I was in junior high - my clothes, my childrens' clothes, curtains, etc.  An employment move brought Peter, Caitlin and I  to Houston in 1998 and we just so happened to move into the same neighborhood as Paula.  I began taking Paula's classes at the local quilt shop.  A friendship, a love of reproduction fabrics, and complimentary skills and the rest is history.  We began as Bonnie Blue Quilts in 2005 as an online quilt store specializing in reproduction fabrics, kits and patterns.  In 2011 we changed our name to Red Crinoline Quilts and changed the business focus - no more fabric by the yard on the website and no more traveling and vending at quilt shows.

Paula and I are co-owners of Red Crinoline Quilts and it is a match made in heaven.  We each have numerous daily jobs, but the business highlights our skills - Paula designs the quilts and the fabric and I make the quilts!  Even though we are states apart (Texas and Florida), technology and occasional retreats, help us bridge the gap!  I think one of the best parts of this friendship/partnership is that we make each other laugh and we both truly enjoy doing what we are doing.  It may get hectic, but in the long run we love it and wouldn't want to be doing anything else.  We've traveled (quilt shows, cruises) and met some of our best friends through this adventure. Plus, I've gotten to see my name in print in some of the top quilting magazines; something I never expected to happen in my wildest dreams!!

Let's get you started on block #7.  Here are the directions for my block: 
Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along - Block #7-
 Mary Ellen's Block
Cutting Instructions:
  Light print -
      Cut (2) 3" squares
      Cut (8) 2 1/2" squares

  Black print - 
      Cut (2) 3" squares

  Green print - 
      Cut (4) 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles

  Cheddar print -
      Cut (4) 1 1/2" squares

  Blue print -
      Cut (1) 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle
      Cut (2) 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangles

      1. Sew (2) cheddar 1 1/2" squares to (1) blue print 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangles.
          Press to the blue.  Repeat with remaining (2) cheddar squares and (1) 1 1/2" x 2 1/2"
          blue rectangle.

      2. Piece the center unit using the diagram.  Press to the 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" blue rectangle.

      3. Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the (8) light 2 1/2" squares.

      4. Constructing the flying geese units: Place 1 light square on a green 2 1/2" x 4 1/2"
          rectangles.  Sew on the pencil line.  Repeat with all of the 4 green rectangles.

      5. Press the light square to the green rectangle.  (You many trim the excess away if you like.)

      6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 and add a cream 2 1/2" square to the other corner of the green
          rectangles. The flying geese unit measures 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" unfinished.

      7. Draw a pencil line on the wrong side of the (2) light 3" squares.
          Pair each with a 3"black square.

      8. Sew 1/4" on each side of the pencil line.
          Cut along the pencil line.

      9. Press to the dark and trim to 2 1/2" x 2 1/2".

    10. Arrange the block units as shown.  Sew together into row.
          Press to the flying geese units.

    11. Sew rows together. Press seams away from center row.
          Your block should measure 8 1/2" unfinished.

Seven blocks done!! Are you keeping up with us or saving this for another day.  If you are like me, you probably have a few projects in line waiting for their turn at the sewing machine.  Right now I working on some quilts for Fall Market, but also trying to finish my blocks for a Churn Dash exchange.  As the time draws near for these blocks to be completed and exchanged I began to question myself about exchanges - why do I join them, why do I put myself under this stress and pressure, what was I thinking?  But then I finish them and I'm ready to sign up for the next one!!  Remember we are giving away prizes to 3 people that comment on this post, so let's hear your thoughts on exchanges:  do you like them, do you participate, do they make you nervous, do you prefer exchanges with rules or those with an anything goes attitude.  Any horror stories you are comfortable sharing?  Winners will be announced on Monday, September 15th.  Looking forward to reading your comments.

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cruising update

Well, you know how much Paula and I love to cruise and I believe I mentioned our upcoming cruise for 2015, but now I can share Paula's projects with you.  We are cruising on the Carnival Magic with Rose Ann Cook (owner of Quilters Emporium in Stafford, TX) on February 1-8, 2015.  The ship departs from Galveston and we stop in Key West, FL and Nassau and Freeport in The Bahamas.  The time frame on this cruise is just perfect - these 3 wonderful ports in February!!  The weather should be glorious!  Think about joining us - I can guarantee you will have a great time - food, friends and fabric = FUN!!!  Click here for the brochure with all of the pertinent details!

Now let's check out Paula's projects:  both of the machine classes will be minis (Country Spools and Primitive Doll Quilt).  This means you could probably go home with finished projects - don't you just love that.  The third class will be on the latest rage - English Paper Piecing.  Paula will teach her method and share the latest projects - Lucy Boston's Patchwork of the Crosses, 6-pointed Star (Sheryl Johnson's Fussy Friday quilt, and Grandmother's Flower Garden hexagons.
Country Spools
Primitive Doll Quilt

Lucy Boston block, 6-pointed stars, hexagons and jewel stars

If you can't join us on the cruise, but would love to get started on some English Paper Piecing, check out our website for the  Lucy Boston Starter Kit and the 6-pointed Star Starter kit.  If you are on Facebook, check out the page "I've Been Hexed and I Like It" to see what everyone is talking about and for some inspiration!

After my venture into baby quilts on Sunday, I decided to continue and try some clothing sewing.  Now this is something I did years ago for myself and my children and I have all sorts of fabrics I've purchased over the past 6 years for cute dresses, etc for my granddaughters, but I never seem to find the time.  I figure I had better get going on it before they are too old for "grandma-made" clothing.  I bought this beautiful fabric as a backing for my niece's t-shirt quilt and it was just calling my name to be skirts for the little girls.  They needed tutu's also, so I placed my order for tutu's (they came from China!!) and Tuesday was skirt day.  I hope you don't think I'm bragging, but  I have to say I think they are absolutely adorable!  I made one each for my 2 granddaughters and 1 for Paula's granddaughter (she's always appliqueing something for me).

And today it is back to Market quilt sewing. I'm working on the 2-color quilt.  I finally have all of the components for the blocks done and I can start putting the blocks together - YAY!!!

If today is Thursday, then tomorrow must be Friday and Week 6 of the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along.  Nancy Rink of Nancy Rink Designs will be presenting block 6 and I think you are going to love it.  We thank you for your wonderful comments and are so glad you are enjoying this program.  Remember you can join us at any time.  All of the instructions for the previous blocks are available in downloadable/printable form on the designer's blog.  You can use your own fabric and at the end of the program we will ask you to share pictures of your completed quilt tops (no pressure here) or you can purchase a kit from us.  There's 4 left, so hurry and get one!!

The sewing machine and the 2-color blocks are calling my name!  Time to turn on Netflix to Season 2 of Breaking Bad and get some sewing done!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen