Monday, March 31, 2014


My friend Janette, who blogs over at Old Wooden Palette, wrote a great post yesterday about her bargains at a craft store.  She is an incredibly talented painter, has sold several of her works, so you need to check out some of her work.  Reading her post about her Travel Art cases bargains made me want to write a short post about my bust-out-smiling bargains today!

I spent a pleasant hour and a half at Bealls Outlet, taking advantage of the Monday Fabulous Fifty (or whatever it's called) Club for my 15% off everything.  The prices are always fabulous at Bealls Outlet (pronounced Bells as in ding ding) but getting stuff on their Clearance racks is even better, and getting all this stuff for 15% more off?  Divine.

I was mainly looking for pickleball apparel, lol, for both me and for Joe, but I always check out their décor section too.  I scored some great deals in both areas.  Here are my best ones:

So, left to right is
1.  a rayon scarf, Bealls price of $9.99, in clearance at 70% off and then 15% off, ended up 2.57!
2.  Champions zippy for pickleball layering (and it's dryfit too) $12.99 70% off + 15% = $3.31!
3.  my all-time best deal I think ever!  Champions yoga top (I already have a couple of these and they are great) Bealls price $12.99 95% off (yep you read that right) + 15% = 0.55c!!  55 cents!  Too funny.  God I love American sales.

And no, Linda, I'm not planning on layering the yoga top, zippy jacket with the scarf to play pickleball!!  The scarf was me getting sidetracked.  Like that's never happened, I know.

Here is the bill for proof!  I also thought it cool to show the Bealls pricetag...Did you notice the tag in the first picture with the original price of $26.99?!

Got Joe some good deals on shirts too, and a cute outfit (Calvin Klein jeans and long-sleeved skateboarder style t-shirt) for my grandson, all at great prices.

And, I found this for our Mettawas Lane home.
It will go on the table in our front foyer, a perfect lake touch!  It had no price on it, and it was the only one of its kind, so they marked it at $4.99!  Of course I got my 15% off that too!

Between this Bealls shop, and my fabric purchases the other day, I think I've blown my first month's yoga paycheques before I've even gone back to teaching!! Good grief, there are too many exclamation points in these last few sentences.  Period.

Thanks, Janette, for the inspiration for this post.  ;-)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ellie Bag

This is an adorable free tutorial from Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt.  I have no idea how I came across the tutorial. . . clearly, or should I say, muddily, it's from the quilting vortex that I occasionally often find myself in!  I finally finished it this afternoon.  The zipper gave me serious issues.  But I persevered (reverse-sewed a few times) and got 'er done.  And I love it.

I see it as a make-up travel bag.  I had leftover fabric from Seaside Rose, so put it to good use.  On this side I quilted around the one clamshell in the middle of the front.

On this side I quilted a brittle starfish design of Leah Day's.  I used So Fine thread, but I wish I'd used a rayon so it would show up a little more.  Still, I kind of like the subtlety.  I used Sulky Blendables for all the other quilting.

Side view.  I really liked the handle application.  I think I'd make them slightly longer when I make another.  I also do really like the zipper that extends down each side, as it ensures you can easily get to the bottom to retrieve that pesky little eye pencil sharpener you know you popped in there.

Even though it's only 7.5" square, it's 4.5" from side to side, so it actually holds a ton of stuff!  I have a Bath & Bodyworks bodywash in there, a 95g marzipan chocolate bar, and a bunch of my make-up and there is still tons of room. However, it is not for moi, but will be going to a very special friend of mine.

I did get my two charm square quilts washed and dried so they're nice and crinkly.  I hauled them around the 'hood to snap a couple of outdoor mood shots, lol.

Hidden in Plaid Sight
On the cement bench under a spectacular humongous live oak that has shed its leaves and most of its pollen, and is now busting out in new leaves.  I guess they do still have a cycle down here in the tropical south.
Yes, I am reading The Tiger's Wife and am just enthralled by it.  I think I already mentioned that I am so amazed, awed too, that a 25 year-old wrote this incredibly rich in descriptive and narrative detail of a novel.

Winter Night

Not much winter in this picture!  The lily pads are blooming too, so pretty!

Update this evening - duh!
Just remembered this shell from Fort Myers Beach that I had saved with this bag in mind!  My mind works, sometimes just slowly. . . It had a hole in it from Mother Nature herself.  Perfect for a zipper-pull!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Today we took the doggies to Bayside Pet Resort, the BEST pet daycare and kennel facility ever.  Rocco goes in daycare, and he broke my flipflop, no joke, scrabbling to get away from me and into the waiting arms of his pet pal to take him to see his buds.  Naala, as usual, was a little, "Oh, do I HAVE to go?  Really? Okay then."  And off she went.

We went down to Fort Myers, where we met up with 3 other couples who also winter in Florida, and all are from Kingsville.  Two of the couple live on our street!  We are all within a few hours of each other, so we met up, played some pickleball, and then drove to Fort Myers Beach (an island in the Gulf) where we ate at a little hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant that serves their buffet food fresh.  They only make a little at a time and then when it's gone, they make a little more.  The best green beans I have ever tasted.  Yum.  We walked on the beach for a bit afterwards too.  On the way, we crossed the Peace River, a very large, wide inlet of Charlotte Harbor, in the Gulf.  I was musing that it was a very different looking Peace River than the one I'm used to in northern Alberta.  Each has its respective beauty, however.

My niece is leaving in the wee hours of tomorrow morning for Costa Rica (correct Spanish pronunciation btw is Coast-uh, she told me, and she should know!) and so I google-mapped it, and was surprised at how close to the equator it is!  For whatever reason, (menopausal idiocy) I keep putting it in the Caribbean, mixing it up with the Dominican Republic, even though a good friend of mine recently bought a house there, and I checked out the west coast of Costa Rica at that time!  I checked the weather forecast and it will be gorgeous for my niece, low 90s all week.  Costa Rica is very close, relatively speaking, to Panama, which made me think of my dad, and how much he always wanted to go through the Canal. . .

I saw, on my zooming out in googlemaps, Cayman Islands, a place that has always fascinated me since I collected stamps many years ago.  Neighbours, one of whom comes to my yoga classes when they are here, and whose poodle, Ipo, Rocco adores, call the Cayman Islands their main home.  Those islands are just south of Cuba, to the east of Costa Rica.  I SHALL go there one of these days in the imminent future.

The current book I am reading, The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht, just mentioned the Monastery of Ostrog, which is in Montenegro.  So off I went to googlemaps and Wikipedia again!  I KNOW I've seen this monastery in another book, I think perhaps The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (another FABULOUS book, one I'd like to reread).  I had a feeling that the Obreht book was set in the Yugoslavia area, but no country has been mentioned.  So I gazed at Bosnia, and Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, the Adriatic Sea, Greece, Italy, trying to orient them, and wondering at the terrain, the climate (only 47F, high was 61 in Podgorica, Montenegro, today).  By the way, Téa AMAZES me with her writing, her description, her use of language, her characterization - in short, she's an incredibly talented YOUNG (25 when she wrote this!!) author.

I marvelled at the vastness of my beloved Gulf of Mexico today as we crossed the Peace River, as wide as the Manatee River by us, and similar in formation.  We'd driven 1.5 hours at 75 mph and scratched the smallest dint in its eastern border, and yet this Gulf is so much smaller in comparison to, say, the Atlantic Ocean.

And then I thought about how MUCH of our planet is water!!  I was beginning to grasp the enormity of that statement.  It's kind of like trying to think about how our universe never ends. . .  I was awed by the realization of the sheer magnitude of the Gulf, yet even more dumbfounded in the realization that the Indian Ocean, where the Malaysian Airlines jet is thought to have gone down, is even more vast than the Gulf, and no wonder it is proving to be a difficult search.  2400 MILES off the coast of Australia.

So in the space of several hours, my musings went from Fort Myers, the Gulf of Mexico, to Kingsville, Ontario, to San Jose, Costa Rica,  to the Cayman Islands, to Montenegro, and then out to the Indian Ocean.

And at times like this I feel pretty insignificant.  But not in a demeaning way.  I still feel marvelously connected to this wonderful, rich, Earth, and humanity.  Just tiny.  And really, is the fact that that cute bag gave me such issues that I did not finish it for today REALLY that catastrophic?  Um no.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Winter Night

This is "Winter Night", one of three 5" charm square quilts I brought to construct.  I did not ever dream I would have 2 finished and bound, and the third top nearly done this winter!

I wrote a post about its construction here.

I did not pay as much attention to detail in the basting process as I usually do; I thought (mistakenly) that it was only 36.5" and the flannel backing was uber-clingy....  So I simply spread the layers flat, smoothing them all out, pinning around the inner border.  Checked the back, and all looked good.  Started to stitch in the ditch, checked the back. . . uh oh.  Not looking so smooth.  Unpicked quilting stitches, got a little basting spray in there, taped it down this time, smoothed. . . better.  But not perfect, as my quilts usually are (as far as the basting process).

Moral of the story:  always tape down the backing.  Always spray or pin baste carefully.  Never skimp to save time.  Kind of a life lesson here, no?

Still, it turned out quite nicely, all things considered.

Here is the back:

I didn't go crazy (I nearly did, with fanciful meandering feathers planned) because I wanted the piecing to show (I love the interplay of all the darks with a few lights - your eye just zings around the quilt), I was worried some tucks might happen in the backing, and I just wanted it done!  I've been getting carried away, in a good way, with quilting the heck out of all my quilts lately, but once in a while it's good to simplify.

I love the back.  It's "Bear Hugs", a flannel by Henry Glass I picked up on sale from Fat Quarter Shop.  And the good news?  No tucks whatsoever in the backing.  The front has a few puckery spots, however, drat.

Here is my label, once again integrated into the backing fabric, and a part of that strip of leftover quarter-square triangle blocks and flying geese.

The quilt is named "Winter Night" in Another Bite of Schnibbles, and the charm square pack is Winter Rose fabric, so I didn't get creative with the name at all, as it was already perfect.
Trying to get some light on the quilting
I stitched in the ditch along each of the vertical and horizontal rows and cross-hatched through all the quarter-square triangle blocks.  In the flying geese, I swooped from point to point to give a little softness to all the straight lines and angles.

In the borders I decided to incorporate the leaf motif in the purple fabric bought at Alma Sue's to further soften the lines.

The light was fading fast, so I tried to get an angle to show the border.  I did a flowing leafy vine with a few curlicue vine-ish doo-dads here and there.

 Because it's not too tightly quilted, the quilt is nice and soft and cuddly.  I haven't washed this one or "Hidden in Plaid Sight" yet, but I will shortly and post pics of them all crinkled up.

What am I going to do with this baby?  I'd thought of perhaps starting up an Etsy store, and these two might just go up for sale there.  Not sure.  I get so attached to them!  This one also has a "sit-upon" purpose in my mind:  I can take it with me when I teach Yin yoga.  I like to sit on something fairly flat but with a little lift as it helps my knees and my hips open further.

Off to finish a bag I'm making for a special person. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wacky Cake #2

I decided to try Mary's (Sweet Little Bluebird) Lemon Crazy Cake recipe for dessert yesterday.  I am happy to say it turned out even better (SOOO moist) than the Coffee & Kahlua one!

Because good food is meant to be shared, I had to call our friend, John, with his dog, Brandy, to come over.  I was a little nervous that it would be okay, as I'd had to make a fairly major change to the recipe.  However, we had bought some organic vanilla ice cream at Publix, (just excellent! no preservatives and so creamy) so we had that as both a complement to the cake as well as a back-up if the cake wasn't edible.  I needn't have worried.

I iced it with vanilla icing, whipping about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese into the icing.  To die for.

You can find Mary's recipe here.  I had to make a fairly major change:  I had no lemons, so I used orange zest to increase flavour, and I had no lemon extract, so I used 1/2 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of water instead of the 1 cup of water.  It turned out just super.  Lemony, with a hint of orange.

As always, we had a wonderful visit, both humans and canines!

I've written before about the importance I place on my friends, but it's never too many times to repeat that sentiment.  We had a wonderful day away this past Friday, at our dear friends, next-door neighbours, from Kingsville, who also winter in Florida.  The time spent, whether in deep conversation, sharing of a beautiful garden 

and music played by the carilloneur at Bok Tower,

or again, sharing good food (Jude made a fantastic fruit salad which I will make and share the recipe on here with her permission) and good belly laughter, ..... where was I going?!  LOL   Oh yes, no matter the activity, the time spent is always so much more pleasurable when shared with good friends.

We need to remember to tell our friends how much they mean to us, and how much we value the time spent with them.  Funnily enough, Jude has done that very thing with me in the past.  On Friday, she also told me how much her husband enjoys and values Joe as a friend.  It takes courage to do this, as you open yourself to another person, yet it truly is rewarding for both! 

We need and we thrive on this belly-nourishing and heart-nourishing - - veritable soul-nourishing we get from good friends. :-)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hidden in Plaid Sight

He's all done!

Here's how it started:
A gorgeous pack of charm squares plus 2 extra sets of 8, that I bought about 5 years ago at Sew Worth It in Sarasota.  They came in a tin, so cute, along with a pattern for a cute little 12 3/4" square quilt.  This line is "Follow Your Heart" by Kathy Schmitz.

The problem was that I didn't want to have all these pretty fabrics reduced to such a small quilt!  So there they sat, flipped through and admired, pattern looked at, and lid snapped shut again.  In this winter of finish up some of these old projects, I had to face all 3 sets of charm square packs and do something with them.  This one was the second one.  See here for the first.

I am so proud that I designed this lap quilt.  No pattern, just gut instinct and creativity.  It was fun!

What if...
I kept the same colours together, and graduated them from dark to light on the diagonal?  Hmmm...

I liked it, but it wasn't very big.  I had leftover light fabric from "Winter Night", so wondered what would happen if I used rectangles as spacers.  I didn't have enough for light sashing, so decided to go with my stash of Kona black cotton.  Hmmm, again. It just might work.

Laid out a few rows to get the effect
It DID work!

Framed in black.
I had bought the Craftsy class, Dot to Dot Quilting, with Angela Walters, back at the end of November.  Prior to beginning to quilt this quilt, I decided to watch some of the lessons to see if I could use any of the techniques here.  Well, it turned out that this was the perfect quilt on which to try the designs, and techniques to create my own quilting designs!

In the two lower right corner black squares diagonal from each other you see a wedge design, which is basically a quarter of her starburst design, expanded.  Also, in the black with red hearts square and going up diagonally in the other two black blocks is my own dot to dot design, created thanks to the principles learned in class.

In the top row, middle red square, is a nod to Angela's Free Motion Feathers class I took and used extensively on Seaside Rose.  Also I wanted to see what would happen if I combined the wedge designs with their points going inwards.  That example is the red square on the bottom right.  It ended up making a central diamond pattern!

Her diamond design is in the top left tan square, and the others have various combinations of her designs.  The bottom right square is my own design again.

I tried to get some back light on the quilt to show off the quilting.

Here is the border design, showing the corner.  I used the wedge triangle shape combined with half diamond designs.

I used Sulky rayons on the top and The Bottom Line and Gutermann cotton in the bobbin.  I decided to go with the burgundy through the cream and black lattice to emphasize the plaid look. I was a little concerned at first, especially about using it on the cream, but I think it looks good.

A glimpse of the backing.

The label, again as an integral part of the backing.

Against the flowering shrubbery.

Ahh!  Feels good, in more ways than one!
Quilt details:
Name:  Hidden in Plaid Sight
Size:  46 X 51.25"
Pattern:  by moi, Sandra Jane Walker
Fabric:  Moda and Kona cotton, 100% cotton
Backing: Moda "Renewal" by Brannock & Patek (purchased this at Quilts n' More! in Port Charlotte, FL)
Machine-pieced and machine-quilted on my Bernina Artista 180 using Sulky rayons with The Bottom Line and Gutermann cotton in the bobbin

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Attaching a Continuous Binding Tutorial

I have got this stage of making a quilt down to a pretty exact science, gleaning bits and bats of several different instructors' methods over the years to make it my own.  First of all, I have to say, that Christa Watson, whose blog I've followed for the past 6 months recently posted the BEST tutorial I have seen on this, right here.  She does everything exactly as I do, except for the final seam,  However, the difference there is negligible, as in cut a 45 angle first or last.

I have wanted to write this for a long time, because I've seen so many that "mess up" the final seam so the binding is, in effect, NOT continuous.  Also the mitred corners get missed as far as stitching them, too.  Happily, Christa, a quilter of some renown, who has been featured on the cover of and is a regular contributor to "Quilty", is the creator of Colorful Chevrons quilt, does this BEST method.  Yes, I'm on a soapbox.  Okay, cough, I'll get off now.
TONS of pics alert!

Step 1
Tip:  Choose a binding that not only goes with the front of your quilt, but also with the back.  I once had a constructive criticism from a quilt show (and I've only entered that same one a couple of times, so I don't have a lot of experience here) that my binding didn't go with the back of my quilt.  And it didn't.

Measure the length and width of your quilt.  Multiply each side by 2.  This is the perimeter.  Divide this number by 40.  Why 40?  Because most fabric is 42-44" wide and 40 allows for the seams allowances you will need to deduct when sewing the strips together.  And 40 is easy to divide by!  Most likely you will have an uneven number.  Round up.  This is the number of strips you need to cut.  Here is my figuring for "Hidden in Plaid Sight":

Yes, I could have used a calculator on my phone, but head-math makes my brain work, and you know what they say about keeping your brain active.

I like my binding to be double-fold, and a healthy quarter inch wide, so I cut my strips 2 1/4" wide.

Step 2
Join the strips so you end up with one long strip.
With right sides together, lay one strip horizontally, and the other vertically, ensuring they are on a 90 degree angle by using the lines on your mat.

B. Here are two three(!) ways to do the mitre:

I used my 9.5" square with the 45 line on the vertical strip, and the point where the two strips meet.
I drew a line with a chalk pencil.
Alternatively, use your 6X12" ruler, lining up the 45 angle line with the horizontal strip, so the edge of the ruler runs through the point where the two strips intersect.  Draw a line as before.
OR, with the 6X12" ruler, line the 45 angleline with the horizontal strip as in the second method above, BUT put the 1/4" line of the ruler edge so it runs through the point where the two strips intersect.

There is no need to draw a chalk line this way, simply cut with your rotary cutter along the edge.

Pin the just-cut edges, and repeat this until you have all the strips aligned, trimmed and pinned.

C. Stitch, using a 1/4" seam allowance.

Step 3
Fold in half lengthwise and iron. I press the mitred seams to one side.

Step 4
Leaving an 8" or more tail, pin the binding to the right side of the quilt at the point you plan to start sewing it down.  I like to start on one of the sides.  Remember my Aha! Moment Tip #6: run the binding around all 4 edges of the quilt to ensure you do not hit a corner with one of your mitred joins.  Adjust the beginning point if need be, and repeat the process until all 4 corners are join-free.  There is no need to pin the binding after that first starting pin; just line up the edges and sew, using a walking foot (you've got several layers plus batting here) and 1/4" seam.
Tip:  After I've sewed about 8-10", I like to check my healthy 1/4"; that I'm leaving enough to turn over to the back so it will cover all the stitching.
Looking good!

Step 5
When you come to the first corner, stop 1/4" from the edge of the quilt, needle down, and sew into the corner. In the picture below, I've done that and pulled the quilt forward so you can see the 45 degree stitching into the corner.

Fold the binding back on itself, away from the quilt top.  See the 45 degree angle created?

Now fold it back down again, on top of that 45, lining up the binding edges with the second side of the quilt.

Sew, just as if you were starting at that corner, backstitching a couple of stitches if you like, but you've crossed over the previous seam, so if you haven't cut your threads, there isn't a need to.

Repeat this process at all 4 corners.

Step 6
Join the beginning to the end of the binding.
When you get to the side that you started on, stop sewing and backstitch leaving a good 12 inches of the quilt unsewn, and leaving the second tail of the binding free.  It should look like this:

Cut the end of the binding you first started to sew down on a 90-degree angle.

Overlap the two ends of binding, putting the just-cut edge on the bottom.

Using a chalk marker, mark a line on the uncut binding the width of your binding away from the just-cut edge.  My binding is 2 1/4", so I made a mark 2 1/4" away from the just-cut edge, but on the uncut binding.  Lift the uncut edge off the quilt, and carefully cut with a rotary cutter on that chalk mark.
Lay the two edges right sides together, just as you did when joining the strips, one going horizontal, the other vertical.  Draw the 45 angle with a chark marker if you like.  I have a guide on my machine, so I usually use it.  Stitch on that chalk line.

 Trim 1/4" away from the stitched seam.

**Note:  This is where Christa's method differs, and it is a good difference!  She has already cut that first edge of binding on the 45 before she starts to sew the binding onto the quilt.  See her method for how this works.  It gives you the exact same results as mine. 

Step 7
Pop that binding back in line so wrong sides are together and voilà! --- a perfect fit!
 Stitch it down.  No tucked in, bulky, wonky, hand-stitched, or unstitched final joins!  You cannot tell out of all the joins which one is the final one! Mmmm.

Step 8
Turn the binding to the back of your quilt and hand-stitch it down.  Lots of people, Christa, included, as well as myself, love this part.  Sit on the couch, get comfy, cup of tea handy perhaps, and watch a show or a movie, or do as I often do:  pack it along in the car (even on a plane!) and stitch as you travel.  Obviously, not while you drive, LOL!  I have Sunday's episode of "Once Upon A Time" to stream while I stitch, and I might even stitch a while outside on the balcony as it's a perfect temperature, and the light is so good for these eyes of mine.

I like to have the quilt on my lap, the binding away from me, and I come up just at the edge of the binding, stitch directly below where I came out, even a teensy-eensy bit behind where I came up, run my needle just under the quilt backing about a 1/4" go back up into the binding and pull up some of the thread.
I repeat this for about 4-5 stitches and then I will pull ALL the thread through.  I find this puts less stress on the thread, as I'm not constantly pulling it through with each stitch.  I also find that not pulling the entire length of the thread through will ensure my needle stays "caught" on the thread should it happen to fall out while I move the quilt.

I keep hearing about Clover Wonderclips, but I'm still using the previous rage, aka hair clips!  The work fine for me.  I only use 2-3, as they pop off because I haul the quilt around with me since I don't sit still for too long at a stretch, lol.  Maybe Wonderclips have a better grip than these!

Step 9
When you come to a corner, fold the binding down as usual, keeping the next edge of the binding open.
Fold the next edge of binding down, creating a 45 degree (gee, I wish I knew how to put in that degree symbol in Blogger, grr) angle.  Too cool!
Stitch right up to the corner, but do not continue going along the next edge UNTIL you have stitched the fold of these corners down on BOTH front and back.  I was told this by a friend who entered a competition and got dinged points because she hadn't done this.  I LOVE that Christa also has this step in her tutorial!  Use teeny tiny stitches to do this.

Poke the needle through to the front of the quilt and repeat. Once again, poke the needle through to the back, and continue on down the second side of your quilt.

Once you get to the end (or beginning!), tie a knot as per usual, and run the end of the thread under the binding to bury it for about 3".  Flip over your quilt and LOVE the look!!

I was able to use this quilt (it was PERFECT!) to practise the stitches in Angela Walters' "Dot to Dot Quilting" class on Craftsy (yes, think I've mentioned that in a few posts, great class!!).  Once I'm done stitching my binding, I will show you the entire quilt.

Hope this helps put the finishing touch on your quilts!