Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Since you are probably not going to be driving by our house this Christmas season I want to show you the outside lights we put up each year. This first photo is the large lighted tree shape you see as you approach our farm. Since we live in a fairly flat part of Nebraska you can see the lights from 7-8 miles away. It has become such a tradition to have it up we had people from the area worrying and asking if we were going to put it up this year as John didn't get it done until about a week later than he usually does. The lighted "tree" is actually strings of large lights and a star on the top of the windmill in the yard south of our house. John has continued on the tradition started by his dad many years ago and puts the lights up each Christmas.

John has simplified how he puts them up the last few years to make the task easier and fewer trips climbing up the windmill. He extended the width of the base of the windmill with 2x4 lumber pieces and has wrapped the strings of lights around long ropes then he carries half the strings up to the top and hooks them to the windmill with bungee cords and then climbs back down and hooks them to nails with bungee cords on the lumber at the bottom. This keeps the lights away from the metal windmill supports and makes a wider "tree". With the winds we have here there were always a lot of broken bulbs when they were banged against the legs of the windmill but now if they go out it is because they burned out so that was a good improvement. Most times he can get it all done with three trips up the windmill, one for the star and two for the lights strings.

I took the above photo from the family room window while inside the house and you can't see the star as well as you can when you are driving by on the highway. I put lights and greenery on either side of the sidewalk so those are the lights you see at the bottom of the photo. We have all the lights on timers so they run from dark until about 1 pm then have them turn on again about 5:30 until 8 am so people going to work can enjoy them too.

Last year at the after Christmas sales I purchased a bunch of plastic candy canes with lights inside. They look real pretty all marching down the sidewalk and light the way to our front door. By the way that shine on the sidewalk is ice. Most people come to our back door but I am hoping it will melt before I am forced to try and chop-scoop, what ever to get it off.

As pretty as these candy canes are the wind keeps blowing one or two down occasionally. These two have been laying on the ground for a couple of days. John has been too busy and I just don't want to go out and do it in the cold but need to get them up today again so they will all be looking pretty when our family arrives to celebrate with us. We do have a plan to change how we stand them up next year so hopefully that will solve the problem.

Warm wishes for a safe and happy Christmas where ever you are.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Burrr......It's Cold Out There

I am really getting tired of this cold weather. We have had temps. in the mornings below zero F. and even by afternoon they don't get much above 10 degrees F or so plus the wind has been blowing every day making it feel even colder. I have not had to go out much but I feel bad for John. He has been trying to get fencing up for the cattle plus doing the feeding, etc. so he has to be out a lot. If it would warm up to the 30s it would still be cold but would feel like a heat wave compared to the way it is now.

I opened our front door and took the photo this morning (very quickly I might add as I still was in my PJs.) This is facing east looking at the weaned calves eating at the bunk. Feel sorry for any animals that have to be out in this weather too.

As you can see we have snow covering the ground - not too deep but there is ice on top of the snow. That ice is the problem though. The highway still is about half covered with ice. When driving we keep one tire on the clear pavement so we don't go sliding around.

I really want to sew but don't want to mess up the sewing room this close to Christmas. I know I won't have time to clean it up before our family comes next weekend so just look longingly at my covered sewing machine when I walk by. The sewing room/office used to be my in-laws bedroom when they lived here and it has two doors in it so it is more like a hallway. They didn't want to walk around through the rest of the house to get to their bedroom from the back door - worked for them and it does work great for the sewing room/office for us.

I finished wrapping all our Christmas gifts last night so now all that is left is cleaning the house and making beds. Have the stereo turned up and will be singing while I work. Good thing I have no audience as I really don't have that good a singing voice but it makes the work seem like more fun.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mom and Pop's Aprons

I finished these two aprons for John and I a couple of days ago but couldn't take any photos until I knew John wasn't going to pop into the house and catch me. I still think he doesn't know he is getting a special apron for Christmas like everyone else. It was tricky to sew them too as I had to keep my ear tuned to the back door opening and rush to put them out of sight and pretend to be doing something else when he walked into the sewing room.

I made the frog fabric apron for myself and the UNL Husker one for John. I intend to wrap mine up too - may put a tag on them that they are from Santa. Will act surprised when I open it with everyone else opening theirs.

When the grandsons were here I had on an old apron and wore it to the table one evening. M, who is 3 asked me what I was wearing and told him I wore the apron to help keep my clothes clean when I cooked. He got this sad look on his face and told me he didn't have an apron. Can't wait until he opens his and realizes what it is.

We got ice, rain and snow on Thursday and are still dealing with the ice. Had to make a trip to town yesterday and the highway still only has one track each way that is not ice covered. The sidewalks and garage approach are still covered with ice too so walking can be tricky. Yesterday morning we woke to the sound of wind so besides being cold the wind chill was down really low. It is -3 degrees F here this morning but not as much wind but of course it will still be cold out.

John had to build fence for the cows across the road yesterday and waited until 3:30 pm hoping it would be warmer and less wind then. He was putting in an electric fence so had to push in the small metal posts. Wonder if he had to pound them in with a hammer if the ground was too frozen.

After he gets the posts in he strings out a strong wire that is attached to the posts with an insulator and will have a battery attached to the wire. That is all it takes to keep the cows in - they all respect the electric fence. It gives them a little shock if they touch it so they keep a little distance from the perimeter of the field. Using electric fences around the corn stalk fields is an easy way to clean up any downed corn and makes a cheap way to feed the cows after they come home from the pastures. We move them about every 2 weeks to new fields to keep them well fed. They stay in the stock fields until about 2 weeks before they are to give birth to their new calves in about mid March. At that time they are moved to the lots near the barn and are fed hay and silage (corn that was cut green and packed in a pile where it kind of ferments.) The cows love the taste of silage and it really doesn't smell too bad either.

So much for the "farm report" for today!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Another 4 Aprons Finished

I just finished 4 more of the aprons for my family. I haven't had much time to sew for a few days until today so am glad to have these done. I did get fabric for John and even some cute frog fabric for myself I want to finish today yet too. Think I will wrap mine too and put it under the tree.

So far John has not figured out I am making one for him even though every once in a while he comes over to the sewing machine or pressing board and looks at what I am doing. I got University of Nebraska Husker fabric for him but it is a different print than the one I made for our son in law.

The flowered apron is for our daughter S - she loves bright fabrics and gardening, the John Deer Tractor fabric one is for our son in law J, the blue one with the heave equipment on it is for the 3 yr M, and the one with all the sports balls is for the 6 yr old grandson C.

It has been really foggy and misty all day here. So far we don't have any freezing on the roads but that is predicted for tonight.

We sure had a noisy night around here last night. John weaned the calves and they were bawling in the north lot across from our house and the cows were bawling in the south lot all night long. Thank goodness I had ear plugs to help get a little sleep. This morning I noticed tracks across our lawn and we saw that one of the cows was out. She had jumped through the tank and had been wandering all over during the night. My hope is that when it thaws next spring we don't have cow tracks in the lawn! Guess she was determined to find her calf.

Back to sewing....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Aprons for Christmas - first 4

Here are the first 4 aprons I have made for gifts for Christmas. These 4 are for our oldest daughter, her husband and our two granddaughters.

Have the fabrics all cut out and hems pressed for the rest but have not had a chance to sit down and stitch them yet.

My husband had a convention in Kearney this last week from Wed - Friday and I did finish the rest of my shopping and purchased the fabric for the rest of my aprons. I spent some time in the motel cutting and pressing them to be ready for the sewing machine.

We picked up our two grandsons, C (6 yr) and M (3 yr) on our way home on Friday and kept them for the weekend. I didn't even want to tempt the 3 yr. old as he loves buttons and switches and if I would have tried to sew I am sure he would have helped me. Just playing and getting meals fixed was enough to keep me pretty busy.

The boys left with their parents Sunday afternoon and about 5 minutes later my husband and I hopped into our car and drove 2 1/2 hr. to see our granddaughters church Christmas program. We had wanted to go but didn't know if we would be able too - all depended on what time S & J came to pick up the boys. Our granddaughters were surprised and pleased to see us and that made our long drive worth it. After eating at the pot luck dinner at the church we headed back home. We both were tired today - partly from the long day yesterday and partly from keeping two active little boys.

I fully intended to start sewing first thing this morning but that just didn't happen. Had to make a trip into town to mail a package and to get a new cell phone. My old phone wouldn't stay charged more than a half an hour if I was talking on it, plus the back kept falling off and the battery would fall out. The new one is similar to my old one so I won't have too big a learning curve with it. Had all my numbers transferred over at the store so won't have to spend hours putting them all in - decided that was a good deal.

This afternoon was no better - had a funeral for a neighbor then this evening is a local cattlemen's dinner and meeting.

It has been so cold here the last two days. Sunday the temperature was 7 degrees F. when we left home and -3 degrees F. when we got back last night. Think it got as low as -6 and below 10 degrees F. today was the high. Yesterday the cold felt much worse with the high winds which thankfully died down before our trip home last night.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another Santa Sampler

12" x 15"

My older sister J made this Santa Sampler for me in 1995. She paper pieced the different blocks and machine quilted it. Isn't it cute?

I hang it with a white painted dowel and this year it is grouped on the wall with the pieced tree in the hoop.

I have post dated this entry since we have to be gone again for a few days this week. I sure don't want you to forget me! Actually am typing it Tuesday morning to be exact. If you haven't tried this feature you should if you are going to be gone and want to still keep posting entries to your blog. Just click on Post Options on the bottom left of the box where you type your blog. Change the "Post date and time" to suit you - that's it, so easy to do.

Not sure how much time I will have at the computer when we get home as we will be keeping our two grandsons over the weekend. At six and three they keep me pretty busy.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Santa Sampler

Debbie Mumm pattern - 25"x 30" Made in 1993.

This Santa Sampler was one of those quick wall hangings made with fusible and very little machine quilting to hold it together. If it were hanging all the time I would have to do more stitching on it but since it hangs on the wall only about a month each year it is OK the way it is.

Are you catching a theme here? I love Santa's! I have Santa tree ornaments, figurines, fabric Santas, etc. Over the years I have collected quite a few and friends and family have given me more and more. Don't know where to put them all. Thank goodness we have a long mantel over the fireplace as that is where the majority of them get displayed.

Almost a week has gone by since I posted. Guess time has a way of doing that when you are busy.

We did get some of our Christmas shopping done last week while we were in Kearney for a convention and plan to finish this week if possible. I had a brilliant idea while shopping last week to make each of my girls/husbands and grand kids an apron for Christmas. I purchased fabric for 5 of the 8 I need to make and got 4 stitched up yesterday.

It has been fun to make the little aprons for the grand kids and to pick out the fabrics to suit everyones likes. So far the fabrics have chickens, horses, butterflies, sports balls, and Nebraska Cornhusker themes on the fabric. Need to find John Deer fabric for one of my son in laws yet, something wild and bright looking for one daughter and something a 3 yr old boy might like yet.

They go together pretty fast as I am making them one layer and turning the edges under like the one I showed before.

The Christmas party we hosted for my club on Sunday night turned out fun. It is always nice to get together with friends. Everyone brought their husbands along so the guys had a chance to visit too.

The best part about having a Christmas party at our house so early in December is that it forces me to get all my decorating done early. We can have more time to see and enjoy the decorations that are only out once a year. If it weren't for the party I would be decorating for several weeks only to have to put them away shortly afterwards.

The worst part about having a party at my house is the cleaning! I spent several days cleaning the house for company last week. My house doesn't look bad but I always feel I have to put extra effort into cleaning and putting the extra clutter away if I know I am having guests and that takes time. Feels nice now that it is all done but it is work and the older I get the longer it takes me.

We got just a few flurries of snow last night but the wind is blowing awfully hard today. Started around midnight and has kept it up. There is a prediction of some snow today but sure hope that the weather man/woman is wrong! I don't like snow with strong winds as we know it makes piles and piles of snow in places we don't want it. It can close roads, drifts into the yard and cow lots. I usually deal with the sidewalks when John is dealing with all the rest of the snow in the driveway and yards so I get more of a physical workout than he does in the tractor. He does get his share of scooping around the other barns and shops though. Thought our long sidewalk was wonderful when we put it in but not so much when I have to scoop the whole thing. Maybe we will be lucky and not get any or much - keep your fingers crossed!


Thursday, December 4, 2008

North Woods Noel

North Woods Noel ................ 11 1/2" x 12"

Here is another of the Santa wall hangings that I hang each December. I purchased this quilt at the 2001 miniature quilt auction our local quilt guild held. It was made by a member of my quilt guild and I was lucky enough to have the highest bid so it came home to live with me.

I love the branch she used as a hanger and so far have not broken any of it off in storage over the years since I purchased it. P.S. fused the design onto the background then did the buttonhole stitch around the different pieces. She does such nice hand quilting and this piece is no exception. Not that many people do hand quilting anymore so it is a treat to have a piece done by hand.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Santa I & Santa II Wallhangings

Santa I............12" x 15"............Santa II
I made these simple wall hangings in 1993. They are both fused onto the background fabric. The red and green one (Santa I) has hand worked buttonhole stitch around the different pieces. The blue (Santa II) is just marked with fake stitches done with a Pigma Pen.

The year I made these I taught a quick mini workshop at our guild on how to use the fusible to do quick quilts. Not everyone at that time was aware of the products to use and how to do it. Was a simple workshop and everyone took home a Santa to work into quilt of some kind. I made several of these and gave all but two away.
The checked border on Santa I is pieced 1/2" squares. I hand quilted this wall hanging. Santa II is machine quilted.

I am still trying to find places to put all my Christmas decorations. I have way too many. Some I have purchased but a lot were gifts or came from my parents or in-laws decorations that were divided up between all the kids.

It is supposed to be up in the 50s today so hope to get the outside lights and decorations up today too. Missed a nice day last week and didn't want to do it in the extreme cold and windy weather we have had since.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Kaleidoscope Christmas

This Christmas quilt was made in 1992 and I use it mostly as a table topper but do have the sleeves attached in case I want to hang it on a wall. I started it in a class taught by Brenda Groelz many years ago at our guild. We were to purchase 7 pillow panels, stacked 6 of the panels then cut them in the kaleidoscope design then sewed the 6 sections that were alike back together. Very similar to the stack and whack patterns of today. The center block is the 7th uncut panel.
Point to point measurement is 36"

The small borders around each block came from the original pillow panel fabric as did the light colored holly outside border. I machine quilted this piece and have used it somewhere in my home at Christmas time since then.

Two friends and I went to a tour of homes yesterday that the my daughter's church sponsored. The tour included only 3 homes, but wow, what homes they were.

One was right along the Platte river with views of the river from several rooms in the house. One house was built near a lake and the other just behind it. All three large homes were decorated for Christmas and were absolutely beautiful. Not one of the homes had a sewing room though. Our opinion was we would have taken over the balcony in the really large home on the river for our sewing studio as it had a nice view of the river and was very light and cheery and we would have found a nice room in each of the other homes for a sewing space too. It is hard to imagine not having a sewing space in your home as it is a necessity for us. They all had the steam rooms, hot tubs, multiple bathrooms and many TVs but no dedicated sewing rooms that we could see anyway - so sad.

We all agreed the homes were lovely but we would have to definitely make some changes if we lived in any of them.

Was a nice afternoon spent with friends topped off with a quick trip to JoAnns and Dairy Queen for a Blizzard for the trip home.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Decorating for Christmas

We woke up yesterday to our first snow. It wasn't deep and was melted by afternoon but does give the feeling of winter. The temperature wasn't much over 35 degrees F. all day too. Burr - I am not ready for cold weather. I prefer winters with temps in the 40s and 50s but living in Nebraska that just doesn't happen too often.

Now that Thanksgiving is over it is time to get the house decorated for Christmas. Since we have a Christmas party next Sunday at our house it motivates me to get my decorating done early.

Over the years since I started quilting I have made a few quilted pieces I use only during this season. Will be showing them as I get them photographed and posted in the next few weeks.

This first wall piece I made around 1985 - don't have the exact year as I didn't put a label on it. Looking closely at the fabrics they definitely look like the 80s though. There are small prints and pin dots in this quilt.

I hand pieced this entire quilt made up of 2" drunkards path blocks for the funky boarder, and the 1" triangle squares that make the green tree in the center of the quilt. I put the quilt in a large quilting hoop to hang it on the wall. I hand quilted this piece very sparingly. This year I hung an artificial greenery swag over the top of it - like the way it looks so may do that again.

Hoop measures 24" across.

We had a great time this week at family celebrations. Celebrated Thanksgiving with my brother and his family and my mother. My brother and I even re-learned how to play a card game we used to play when we were kids at home. My nieces had never played Pinochle before so after my brother consulted the Internet we found out the rules of the game. My mother had a nice time playing too. She has Parkinson's disease and her right hand and arm shake so much she couldn't hold the cards so I was her official card holder. Was a really pleasant way to spend the afternoon digesting the wonderful dinner.

Yesterday we went to our youngest daughters home and helped them celebrate their youngest child M.'s 3rd birthday. He was so cute - after opening a gift and looking at it he would turn it around and show it around to everyone else. Wasn't sure about blowing the candles out on his cake but got into it after the first candle went out.

The other 3 grandkids all older (6,7,& 8 years old) had fun watching and helping M. play with his new toys too. I just wish we could all be together more often as the kids are growing up so quickly.

I do have a funny story to share about M. A couple of weeks ago he and his family came down to our house for the day. He and I were playing "kick the ball" outside on the sidewalk and later we were walking back to the garage to find something new to do. As we were walking I told him the next time he comes to my house I would have my Christmas tree up. Of course for an almost three year old his favorite response is "why?" He doesn't remember last Christmas so I explained how I put pretty Christmas things around to make the house look nice. After a minute of silence (I could see he was trying to digest what I had told him) he said "Grandma, I am going to be Darth Vader for Christmas what are you going to be?" It was almost more than I could do not to laugh. He was so serious and was thinking of Halloween I am sure. I told him I might just be a reindeer and he said "that would be a good one". You just never know what the little ones are thinking.

Back to decorating....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, even readers in other countries that don't celebrate the American Thanksgiving tradition. I think we all need to have a time whether it is a national holiday or not, to remember all the things and people we are thankful for in our lives. Do you readers from other countries have a special holiday like the American Thanksgiving?

Of course the American Thanksgiving usually revolves around a large dinner of family and friends. Traditionally a roasted turkey is served with all the accompaniments. This year John and I will be going to my brother's home about 3 hours from here for the day. My mother will be there but our girls have other plans for the day.

Also a tradition for our family at least is to help with the dinner by bringing some food. My assignment is to bring a Jello salad. I don't make jello or at least not for a long time, but grew up with a mother that made it frequently so am going to use one of her recipes. The red Jello is mixed with melted red hot candies, shredded apples and chopped celery. It is really pretty tasty and the one of the few Jello salads I like plus pretty simple to make.

Pulled out an old quilted piece I made many, many years ago to show you since it looks kind of Autum like. I use it as a table topper but it could be hung on the wall too.

This quilt was started in a class at the NQA show in Lincoln in 1991. I got the top done right away but had never finished it until our guild had a UFO challenge in 1999-2000. That year we were to bring the UFOs we thought we could finish during that year to our first meeting in August. They photographed us with our UFOs and we had to sign a contract listing the projects we brought. At the May meeting we had to bring back our UFOs and show how many we really got done. I was quite productive and did get a lot finished but not all I had contracted though. (Kind of like putting too much food on your plate - eyes bigger than your stomach kind of thing.)

This class I took in 1991 was by June Ryker of Colorado - her original pattern for this is Designer Logs II. She is a great quilter, designer and happens to be a second cousin of my husband. I loved doing these odd shaped log cabin blocks in her design. You can not see the quilting from the front so the second photo is of the back. My machine quilting was a little wobbly but I do like the design I drew for the blocks.

I drew the designs onto Solvy and pinned it to the quilt top over the blocks, quilted the design then removed as much of the Solvy film as possible before I washed the quilt.

I do remember one thing about this quilt that was not exactly fun....all those corners and Vs to bind.

Until later.....



This is one of the two aprons I made for an auction coming up in December for one of the organization's I belong to here in my home town. It was a simple apron to sew up and I got the pattern by tracing an older apron I wear all the time and love.

It is made with one layer of fabric and the edges of the arms and sides are just turned under twice about 1/4" and stitched. I used the Elmer's School glue (with the tiny tip to get a thin line of glue) on the last fold then pressed it to dry the glue then edge stitched. It was fantastic - no pins!

That worked so well I used the glue to do the top and bottom hems and attached the pocket with it too before stitching. I even did the strings with the glue.

For the strings I pressed under 1/4" on both sides, put a line of glue down on the edge of one side then folded it in half and pressed it dry then edge stitched them. This was a fast way to do the strings so I didn't have to mess with turning a small tube and getting it straight to press.
I even played with one of the stitches on my machine to make a decorative edge to the pocket.

They turned out really cute so hope they bring a nice price at the auction.

The auction will be at our house the second Sunday in December. The members and their husbands all come. We eat snacks and bid on the donated items. Sometimes the bidding gets pretty competitive between some of the men on the homemade Cinnamon rolls. It is a good time and the money we raise goes to educational projects supported by the organization.

Needless to say because I am having all those people at my house in a couple of weeks I will probably start decorating my house for Christmas on Friday. I should be cleaning the visible parts of my house but the last few days I have been trying to organize my sewing room closet, and storage pieces so I can find what I have.

I just purchased two of the taller skinny plastic drawer units. One unit sits where a shorter one was next to my sewing table and the other tall one went in my closet. The short one was moved around to the other side of the sewing table.

I have found things during my cleaning binge that I didn't even know I had. I found things that I have been looking for plus got rid of a lot of junk. Didn't get rid of any good stuff though.

I have a brilliant idea for getting rid of the good stuff that I no longer need or want. I am to do a program in January for our quilt guild and thought I would have everyone that comes sign their name to a slip of paper. After the program I would set these good but unwanted items on the table and draw names and let the gals pick out something if they want when their name is drawn. I think that this is the best idea I have had in a while but my husband says I am just giving my unwanted stuff to someone else to deal with. My argument is - one woman's junk is another's treasure - right? I'm not going to force anyone to take something if they really don't want my offerings, just giving them the opportunity.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Quilt Guild Tonight

I have quilt guild tonight and am looking forward to the meeting and program. One of our members makes fabulous Christmas stockings so she has been asked to do the program for tonight. She plans to show how she makes them plus show us lots of examples. Can't wait for the meeting tonight as it will be fun to get together with other quilters. Have been going crazy sitting here at home.

We are also having what we call a "Jack Block Lottery" tonight too. Everyone that wants to makes a block in the chosen colors and pattern and you get to put your name in the drawing for each block you make. We used to do this a long time ago at our guild but haven't done it for quite a while. The women really liked the one we did last month and wanted to do another this month so the program chairman obliged. The plan originally was to do it only a couple of times this year. The block below is what I made and it is not a hard block and I would sure like to win all the blocks to be able to make a Christmas quilt. The blocks are 12" finished.

This is the first sewing I have done since my surgery and it sure was nice to sit down and sew something. Plan to do a little stitching on a couple of aprons I am making today.

I did finish basting an old small top I had made years ago. I had made it then put it away, then pulled it out to show as an example of how to use the water soluble thread to machine trapunto for a guild program I had to do once. It got put away again after I got 6 of the trapunto motifs all ready. It was sitting in a bag with the backing in my UFOs just waiting to be finished.

Got it out and pressed the wrinkles out of the front and back and decided I would practice my machine quilting on it. I baste all my quilts the way I learned from Sharon Schamber in her free video from her website. To me it is so easy and works really well to hold everything together. Check out her other great free videos oon the site too. As you can tell I am a real fan of Sharon's work and her videos. She also has lots of videos on YouTube too that are very informative.

The photo below is of the quilt partially basted on my table. I have never done a bed sized quilt this way but the two large wall hangings I have done worked great as well as the smaller pieces I have basted.
Maybe if everything goes right we might be done harvesting tomorrow by noon. I sure hope so! This has been the longest we have ever been at the job of getting our crops out of the field since we have been married I believe (37 years). Take that back....there was one other time I guess I forgot. That year we had to deal with snow. Remember having to wait until some of the drifts melted so they could get the combine through the fields. That was a worse situation than this year I guess so we should be thankful we have just had to deal with wet weather not snowy wet weather.

Until later.....

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Another Day, Another Doll Bed

Farmer's Nightmare 2001
10" x 14 1/2"
Now you all might wonder why the name Farmer's Nightmare for such a pretty looking quilt. As I was thinking about this Boyds Bear doll bed that my husband gave me for Christmas one year I wanted to make a quilt that reflected what he does. He is a I thought about crops he grows, cattle he raises, typical dress of a farmer, etc. What I settled on was making a quilt that reflected some of the pests he fights each year.

My original idea was to do a "redwork" inspired quilt with bugs and weeds he has to deal with yearly in the crops he raises so I sat about making a list of possible candidates. I had no problem coming up with lots different weeds and asked him about what bugs he has to fight for his crop health. I had quite a list when he finished telling me but the problem was most of them were in the larva stage and that means they would be fat worms - YUCK! I did not want to put any of those on my quilt so looked only at the weed list and I had enough to make the number of blocks I wanted to make.

It was decided then........... an all weed quilt.

I proceeded to draw simple line drawings of the different weeds then transferred the drawings to Solvy and pinned the Solvy to my white fabric. Using my sewing machine and red thread I stitched the designs. I lowered the feed dogs on my machine and used an embroidery foot. I ended up going around the lines twice to make the lines show up - one line of stitching was not enough for the impact I was looking for.

After the designs were all stitched on over sized squares I trimmed them to size (2 1/2" unfinished) and finished piecing the quilt then machine quilted it in white thread.

Now for the list of weeds.
Row 1. (left to right) cocklebur, dandelion, lambsquarters
Row 2. pigweed, buffalo burr, bindweed
Row 3. shattercane, puncture vine, sunflower
Row 4. velvetleaf, milkweed, black nightshade
Row 5. musk thistle, ragweed, foxtail

I had to laugh when I got this quilt top finished my husband wanted me to print a scan of it. He wanted to take it to the elevator to ask his farming buddies to id. the different weeds. That was a real compliment to me as John hardly ever says anything about my quilting other than - That's Nice!

This quilt won the Pride of Nebraska category at the 2001 Nebraska State Fair. When ever I have given my doll quilt program to audiences where there are men, this is the one they are most fascinated with and want to get a better look at after the program.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another Doll Bed

Tulip Garden - 6 1/2" x 8 1/2'
Made in 1994

Today you get to see another of my doll beds. This was the very first doll bed I ever owned. Bought it because I thought it was so cute and it was only a few dollars on sale. I probably would never have started making miniature doll bed quilts and collecting doll beds if this bed would have come with a pretty bedspread. It was covered with an ugly piece of fabric so after I got it home I wondered if I could make a quilt sort of to scale that would look good on this doll bed.

That started my journey of collecting doll beds and making the tiny quilts that go on them. My friends and relatives have given me many of the ones in my collection over the years but now have put a moratorium on any more for a while at least. I have 30 doll beds that I have made quilts for and probably another 25 that are just waiting. Most of the doll beds are quite small and are the kind that doll house hobbyists use but I do have a few larger ones in my collection as well as some tiny ones.

I don't make the quilts using exact scale but design them to look right to me on the bed. I just don't want to deal with having to use math to figure out the correct scale. I design most of the doll beds on the computer now using the Electric Quilt program but this first one was drawn out by hand on tissue paper and foundation pieced by machine.

The blocks are 1" square and to give you some figures there are 11 pieces in each block and 276 pieces in the entire quilt if I added up everything right. I hand quilted this quilt between the blocks and in the border.

Guess that is all the information on this quilt - stay tuned for more doll beds and quilts revealed later.

Happy Quilting....

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I have a confession to make - I have not been posting since Monday but wrote the last 3 blog entries on Monday and used the "Post Options" to have them posted on the later days. I had some sinus/nose surgery early on Tuesday morning and knew I wouldn't feel up to blogging for a few days at least. I thought I would try changing the post date and time under the post options to see if I could get it to work. This way there wasn't such a long gap between new blogs - didn't want you to think I forgot you. It worked like a charm - will use it again if I know I will be absent for a while.

My surgery went OK and I am in recovery mode now. It has taken more energy out of me than I thought so still not getting much done but resting. This morning however I am going to post photos of another of my doll beds and tell you how I made the quilt for it.

The quilt on this doll bed is called "On The Dot". I made it in 2007 for the Drunkards Path Challenge our guild had that year. The rules of the challenge were: 1. Have at least 8 Drunkards Path blocks in your quilt; 2. Drunkard Path blocks could be made anyway you wanted to make them; 3. Use at least one of the three pre-determined fabrics in the quilt.

I am always looking for a way to make a quilt for another of my doll beds and decided I would use this challenge to make the quilt for this bed. I used two of the challenge fabrics in the quilt. The vine border and the brown corner squares and triangles were all challenge fabrics.

I had always wanted to try to make a Drunkards Path block using poke-a-dot fabric and found this green/gold fabric that would work with the challenge fabrics. The dots are about 1/2" in diameter so the cutting and piecing was a little tricky. I am glad they didn't put a size limitation on the challenge as mine was the smallest and the only one made from poke-a-dot fabric. There are lots of ways to get a Drunkard Path block besides the traditional pieced blocks. Just Google the block and you will find several.

To help with the piecing I did starch my fabric very heavily so the dots would not move or shift when cutting and machine stitching them together. Was a little tricky to get the curves to match at the edges of the design but I was determined! The finished quilt measures 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" and I hand quilted it. It won the hand quilted miniature category at the Nebraska State Fair in 2007 much to my surprise and delight.

Time for another rest I think - my recliner is sure getting a workout this week. TV sure gets boring though so trying to do some reading between naps.

Until later.....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Small Sewing Machine Models

I started collecting sewing machine models or nick knacks or what ever you want to call them when the prices of the toy sewing machines got so high in price. I could find them new in stores and also all kinds at flea markets and antique stores. The prices are usually not very high so makes looking for them more fun. My friends and family also joined in by giving me some for gifts over the years too. I have placed a ruler in the photos so you can see the size of each.
This first one was a gift and is supposed to be a bird feeder. It is made of resin and much too nice to put outside. I keep it on my kitchen counter and keep the drawer filled with hard candies.

The first one in this grouping is a small toy tea set. It is made out of resin and is really a fake tea set as there are no open areas for tea or pouring spouts and was given to me one Christmas.

The next two are music boxes that were gifts. When they are wound up the foot pedal goes up and down and the thread goes round and round. There is a tiny mouse on the top of the thread on the left one.

Third is a very small wind up toy machine. There is no real needle but the needle bar moves up and down.

This metal machine is a clock and was given to me by a good friend.
The girl holding the machine is a magnet and the other is a block of wood made into a stamp with the copper treadle machine on it.

The clear machine is made of glass with a little plastic used for the machine foot and wheel. The light blue one is a ceramic machine.

These two machines are made of resin and are pretty cute!
The small black machine and the treadle that is next are both sold to be used in doll houses. You know the kind of doll houses that are not for play and are usually made and decorated by adults. The next two are just small resin machines.

These two machines are hinged ceramic boxes.

These three are ornaments to by hung on Christmas trees

The first two of these metal sewing machines are pencil sharpeners. The last one looks just like the middle one but is not a pencil sharpener.

I have two of the Renwal sewing machines that were given to me. They are made of plastic and were part of doll house furniture probably made between 1949 and 1955. The furniture was all combinations of the red, yellow and blue. My machines are alike except one has yellow drawers. By lifting a flap in the back allows the machine to fold into the case. One of the machines came with the chair.
Three more machines that were purchased in Hobby Lobby for use in doll houses.
This last one is a toy tea pot. Don't know if it came as a set but keep my eyes open when I am in flea markets or antique stores.

I display these machines all over my house so taking all these photos took a little time to find them all.

Until Later.....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Toy Sewing Machine Reference Books

I have these two reference books on toy sewing machines. They have lots of photos of hundreds of machines, price guide at the time they were published. It is fun to look through them and see all the different machines that were loved by many little girls (or boys) over the years. I always wanted a toy sewing machine when I was growing up and never got one so maybe that is why I like to collect them now as an adult.

Until later....

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Toy Sewing Machine Collecting

I have a few toy sewing machines of varying ages in my collection. This Gateway machine was the very first one I purchased. The interesting thing about this machine is I know a descendant of the manufacture. One of the guys that comes hunting here each fall from the Cincinnati area noticed my machine a couple of years ago. He was surprised to say the least as his family manufactured this toy sewing machine in the 1940s and 1950s and he had never seen any outside his immediate family until he saw mine. I think they manufactured 3 different models.

The two outside machines are the same brand KayandEE Sew Master. The one on the left is missing the tension dial. These are both metal machines and the machines were manufactured from 1943 until 1963. The one one on the right is older than the one on the left.

The red one in the center is a JC Penney machine made in the 1960s-1970s and is made of metal and plastic.
The most expensive machines in my collection are these two Singer hand crank toys. I think the tan one on the right was made in the 1950s and the black one near 1948. They are heavy cast metal machines.

The machine pictured above is a Bell Portable Sewing Machine made in Pennsylvania. I don't know what year it was manufactured but it is not a toy even though it is quite small. It comes with a bobbin and sews a regular stitch not a chain stitch like the rest of the toy machines. I have a case and foot pedal, cords and other accessories stored away. The case that looks like a small suit case doubles as a sewing table when using the machine.

The first pink metal and plastic machine is a Crystal battery operated with a foot pedal machine - date unknown. The second one is a McCalls plastic battery operated machine and this is the most modern of my toy machines - it was manufactured in 1992. The red machine on the end is a Sew Rite machine and was made in the 1950s. I have the original box plus a lot of the original fabrics, patterns, etc. that came with the machine.

I have not added to my collection for many years as the prices for all toy machines has gotten higher than I want to pay. I am not ruling out purchasing any more - who knows if the price is right and I like the machine it might just have to come home with me!



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