Cheri Chatter

Cheri Chatter

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks

This Thanksgiving I'm thankful to the generous people in my life who have donated fabric and other quilting supplies to the sewing circle at Little Earth. (I wrote about the sewing circle last month.) We were thrilled to receive these gifts.

My friend, Nathan, donated yards and yards of beautiful fabric. His gift will be used to create many star quilts that will in turn become gifts to others. Give-away quilts are an important tradition in the Native American community. We're saving these special fabrics for our first star quilt class. (Thank you, Nathan.)

Roy, who lost his wife two years ago, was finally able to part with Betty's stash this summer, a portion of which also went to Little Earth. One little girl is using pieces of Betty's fabric in her first "blanket". We had run out of pretty pastels with little flowers. (I wish you could have seen the joy on her face, Roy.)

When Roy mentioned that Betty liked to buy fabric on their travels but hadn't made all the quilts she wanted, I decided it was time to give back. So with a small collection of batiks that I pulled from her stash, I made a small rail fence quilt. I added fabric from my stash for the borders and binding. I hope this quilt always reminds Roy of his beloved Betty and of his own kindness.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Other Lake Gang

A year ago I wrote about joining a cult . . . of quilters, that is. The cult is becoming my Other Lake Gang. These gals are neighbors and friends of my buddy, Lynne. Most of them live on the shores of Lake Lida outside of Pelican Rapids. I'm getting attached to them.

Last year we got together to learn about color and value in fabric selection. This year the topic was needle turn applique, the kind you do by hand with needle and thread. It's a bit painstaking at first, but with some practice, it gradually gets easier. (So she says.)

We started out by appliqueing hearts to a muslin background. The heart shape gives you the opportunity to stitch an inner point and an outer point. Both are tricky and take extra practice.

After a couple of hours stitching a heart to another piece of fabric, we had lunch.

And then we went to our respective homes (some with headaches, I suspect).

Rome wasn't built in a day, right? Hang in there, girls. Next year we're going to take up hand quilting!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Soon To Be Famous

My sisters aren't the only celebs in the family. The Lake Gang - the group I walk with around Lake Harriet every morning - is going cable!!

I've written about the gang before. (See my entry of December 19, 2008.) We're an accidental bunch of semi-retirees*, but we sure have a good time getting a little exercise together every day.

(*Jim, previously an aeronautics engineer now working funerals; Pat, former teacher turned nanny; me, a has-been government bureaucrat now pushing fabric and quilting notions; and Bob, an ex-cop who now is a Twin Cities tour guide and museum ticket-taker.)

We're not the only regulars at the lake. Another is Jon Balch who (among other things) creates and produces a television show for local cable access (Channel 6) called, Local Flavor. The show features restaurants in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area that offer great American (comfort) food. No chains allowed.

This is where the Lake Gang comes in. Jon recruited us to star in his latest feature for Curran's Family Restaurant. The video shows us dragging Jon off to our favorite restaurant and then sticking him with the bill. We had more fun filming this video than anyone should be allowed to have. And to top it all off, we got a free meal.

Here is the film crew (okay, the cameraman and the producer/ director) with Bob and his Smart Car.

We love this car. You can pick it up and carry it home if it ever runs out of gas. It doubles as a skate board and a toaster oven. The car is an attention-getter. We could have sold a half dozen of them in the time it took to film one scene.

Filming is hard work, let me tell you. All that standing around waiting for your next line and then take after take until you finally get it right. Then more standing around waiting for someone else to get their line right. Whew. A lot of it ended up on the cutting room floor. I know just how Angelina feels.

Don't have access to cable? Don't worry. We're also on (key words: jon balch, curran's). Once there, you ought to see some of his other videos. My favorites are: 50 the movie and Curried Chicken LoMein.

Hey, do you think we'll get discovered?

Monday, November 16, 2009

My SisterS Rock!

A year ago (10/6/08) I wrote about my sister, Linda, the rocker. Now my youngest sister, Nancy, has joined the ranks of Foggy Notion.

I'm so proud of them. Being sisters, their voices blend beautifully. Check out their web site (, pull up their play list and listen to them rock out.

Yes, I can sing, too, but I won't be joining them any time soon. They practice long hours every single week, and I'm not about to sacrifice my quilting time! I'd rather sit back and enjoy their music while I sew little pieces of fabric together.

Foggy Notion's next gig is this coming Saturday at Detour 19 in Loretto, Minnesota. You can find directions on their web site: I'm getting there early to find a good seat and to eat a fabulous grilled burger with the best fries you've ever had.

Hope to see you there, too!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Serenity Slide Show

After piecing a complicated quilt top, I'm ready for something that goes together quickly. I just completed a lap quilt that fits the bill.

It's the second quilt I've made using Japanese-style taupe fabrics from the Serenity line by Cara Collections. I love these fabrics. Thay are soft and elegant in tones of teal, rose, charcoal and cocoa. A great match for the simplicity of the pattern - Slide Show by Terry Atkinson.

Terry's patterns are becoming my "go to" choice for when I need something fun and fast. Her instructions are well written, fat quarter friendly and forgiving. No cut off points! The final results look more time-intensive than they actually are, so the non-quilters in your life won't know the difference.

Serenity Slide Show is now hanging at Glad Creations as a shop sample. It looks even better in person, so go check it out.

I'm now ready for a new and challenging project. Let's see. How about a miniature quilt with 3/4" finished squares?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Life is Good

Four years ago I retired from a 35-year career in local government, It was hard work that was always challenging and often rewarding. Three months later, I landed my dream job - working at Glad Creations Quilt Block.

At Glad's I'm continually surrounded by color and inspiration while getting paid to fondle fabric. In four years of "quilt college" I've learned enough for a bachelor's degree in quiltmaking. As an added bonus, I've gained muscle (aka buns of steel) from schlepping bolts of cotton up and down stairs.

How does it get better than this? I'll tell you. This past spring I started volunteering with a sewing group at Little Earth of United Tribes. Little Earth is a Native American housing development in south Minneapolis that offers a number of on-site services to its community. One of those is the Domestic Abuse Project whose leader, Cindy, started the sewing circle.

We have girls and women of all ages working on various sewing projects from curtains and quilts to beadwork and dance regalia. I couldn't ask for a more interesting and fun group of fellow stitchers.

One of my all-time favorite quilt designs is the Lone Star. Since it is also a favorite (and sacred) design for Native people, we spend a good amount of time perfecting our skill in making Star quilts. As you may know, it isn't the most forgiving pattern what with all the bias edges and inset seams. But practice makes perfect.

Here's the Star quilt Cindy made for her son, Jedidiah, a returning Iraq ogichida (warrior). One of the fabrics includes a Marine Corps insignia. Cindy incorporated small flags and lettering between the star points. Isn't it beautiful?

I've found my element. For three hours each week we share food and laugh hard, learn from and encourage each other, and sew up a storm.

It truly doesn't get any better than that!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Taking Stock

A year ago I decided to get a grip on my burgeoning quilt projects. I organized, categorized, and counted them. I made lists. (I love making lists. Once, I even made a list of lists I'd like to make.)

Most importantly, I listed the quilts I wanted to complete for the year starting 9/1/08. (It kind of coincides with the school year and assumes I'll be in summer school, too.) My To Do list was ambitious: 24 quilts in 12 months. It included a few new, yet-to-be-identified projects I knew would creep into my sewing room. Two quilts a month is not realistic, but I figure if I shoot for the moon, I might hit Omaha.

Instead, I think I hit Dallas. From September '08 to September '09 I completed 13 quilts and made serious progress on half a dozen more. On the flip side, I replaced them with new projects now clamoring for my attention. (I hear them hollering at me from behind the closed - and latched - closet door.)

After taking stock of my accomplishments, I made a new list of the quilts I want to finish by next September. So far there are twenty. Once again, I'm aiming for the moon. This time I hope to hit Mexico City!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Merrittime Kaleidoscope

One of the quilts I completed this past summer is a red, cream, and blue kaleidoscope made of nautical themed fabrics. Most of them were purchased as fat quarters at a little shop in Tillamook, Oregon.

Tillamook is a hop, skip, and a jump from the Pacific coast, so the fabrics were appropo. I filled out the collection with more fat quarters and a background fabric from Glad's. They were perfect complements.

I was so happy when that Tillamook collection worked its way to the top of my "to do" list. I made all 144 blocks at my small quilt group's "Spring Fling" retreat in May. I thought I might have to be put into traction for the next week, but the kinks in my shoulders finally worked their way out. The finished quilt has a great secondary design that could almost make one seasick if one was so prone.

Early in August I brought the finished quilt to my brother and sister-in-law in Missoula, Montana. I think they really liked it. The label is an orphan block provided by one of my favorite Glad's customers. (Thanks, Phyllis!) Jeff and Cathy named the quilt after their boat, the Merrittime.

What is Merrittime, you ask? It's always 5:00 p.m., of course!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Car Appendix

Here's a picture of the car part that we lost from Nathan's car on our way to Montana last month. It belonged inside the wheel well above one of the tires. You can imagine what an awful sound it made as it dragged along the highway beneath us.

Nathan and I have been through worse disasters, so we stayed calm, pulled over and removed the offending car part. Not being litterbugs, we hauled it to the next rest stop and disposed of it in the garbage can. We weren't sure what purpose the lining of a wheel well serves and in the end decided that it is a lot like an appendix.

Appendixes (or is it appendices?) are nice, or at least interesting, to look at but are functionally useless. I know. I've seen my own appendix looking cute as it sat there doing nothing. (Ever had a colonoscopy?)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm Baaack!!

After a lengthy hiatus from blogging, my friends have convinced me (okay, they nagged me mercilessly) to take keyboard in hand and pick up where I left off . . . hand quilting Tria's quilt.

I finished the quilt in what must be record time - 22 days. Two days later her quilt was bound, labeled, and on its way to Vancouver, Washington, to be displayed with its companion quilts at the Clark County Quilter's annual show. I know Tria would have been very proud of her beautiful quilt as well as those of her dear friends in her small quilt group.

Much has happened since then. The Spring Fling quilt retreat in May. I've started doing volunteer work (more about that later). Cabin season has come and almost gone. The Minnesota Quilters show in Duluth. Moved Mom to senior housing. And after two years, Bosca is getting less neurotic. What a relief.

A highlight this summer was a trip to Montana with Nathan. We lost a car part on the way. But that didn't stop us from hitting 17 quilt shops and squeezing in lots of sailing. Plus we just happened to see Air Force One land in Belgrade, MT. Very exciting.

I've started several new quilts over the last few months. Some have even been completed. Wait til you see them!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The Pressure is On

There's nothing like a deadline to get me off the dime. I had no sooner started working on Tria's quilt [see "Celebrating (A) Life" ] when I got a call from Pat, another of Tria's quilting buddies.

Tria belonged to a small quilt group, The Loose Threads. At Tria's request they each agreed to make their own version of the quilt I am finishing for Tria. They planned to tweak the pattern to reflect their ethnic heritage and display the results at the Clark County Quilters guild show in April of 2005 or 2006.

For one reason or another the deadline slipped to 2007 then 2008. I was hoping it would get extended to 2010, and then came Pat's call. It seems that everyone but Pat and I have finished our quilts. Now she and I are both scrambling to get them done in time.

I've always operated best at crunch time, but this is really pushing it. I need to send in a picture and writeup by March 12th. Then the quilt needs to get delivered to the show location on April 1st. (The show is in Vancouver, Washington. I'm in Minneapolis.) That means I need to UPS it to a Loose Thread at least a week before, let's say March 25th.

Can I do it? Will it happen? Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Red Hot Mamas

I'm making progress on my little Lone Star quilt. I've added borders and am now auditioning fabric from my stash for the binding and backing.

The borders were a challenge in that I didn't have enough of either the blue stars or the red chile peppers to avoid piecing the borders. I had enough of the blue inner border, however, to accomodate the width of the quilt center plus one border width.

I decided to add corner pieces fussy cut from the focus fabric and extend the inner border out to the edge by adding another small blue border to one side of each cowgirl corner.

(I know, you're probably scratching your head at this point, so click on either picture for a closeup.)

I assembled the borders for each side and then added them to the quilt center in clockwise fashion. Lucky me, it all worked out. The seams match and everything is lying flat!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Celebrating (A) Life

In 2005 I lost my one and only quilting buddy to cancer shortly after she asked me to handquilt her best quilt ever. For a long time the sight of her last quilt overwhelmed me with grief.

Ironically, losing Tria propelled me to new adventures in quilting. I discovered that quilting helped me process my grief. Finding a position at Glad Creations surrounded me with many passionate quilters who are now my friends.

I can finally work on Tria's quilt with true joy. Here's my friend, Amy, helping me with the hard work of thread-basting while other quilting buddies stopped by to admire Tria's quilt. Isn't it beautiful?

I'm a lucky gal. My life is full. It's true that time is a healer. So much more so are friends and quilting. Working on Tria's quilt now feels like a celebration.

I can't wait to start stitching!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

More Cowgirls

I seem to be on a cowgirl roll.

We got new pin-up cowgirls at Glad Creations, and I just had to make a new pillowcase. The cowgirls look great with a lasso fabric Glad's also has on hand.

For the accent strip I added a zippy bit of red. It brings out the red in the cowgirl's outfits.

I am keeping this pillowcase. I may even need to add a matching Lone Star quilt to my list!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two Birds. One Stone.

I have had a yard of fabric just begging to be the background for a Lone Star quilt. It features pin-up cowgirls, ala 1940's. This little quilt finally worked it's way to the top of my list this week.

I found great prints in my stash for the star points, but next to the cowgirls, the effect was way too busy. So I dove deep in my closet and found a partially completed Lone Star destined to never be finished. The star points were all done, and when I laid them out on my focus fabric . . . wow!

Not only do the colors work, the star points are just the right size. Stored with the star points are fabrics that will work great for borders and maybe even backing.

I lucked out! I'm making good progress on my to do list by killing two birds with one stone.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It Pays to Whine

I'm good at whining. In fact I'm such an expert that I give lessons: Whine Your Way to Success in Four Easy Steps.

So when I fell in love with the Kaffe Fassett fabrics that Nathan picked out for a new quilt, I felt a whine coming on. At each stage in the construction I whined more. I frequently referred to the emerging quilt as mine. I became a pest.

On Valentine's Day Nathan stopped by to sew with me. Before we got started though, he placed in my hands a package that contained . . . you guessed it - my new quilt! I'm still reeling from his generosity.

Doesn't it look terrific on my bed? The name fits perfectly, too. It's called Forever Friends and is one of the latest mystery quilts from Glad Creations.

Now it's Nathan's turn to whine. (Hey, Nathan, need any lessons?)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates . . .

and so is my sister's new quilt. It reminds me of chocolate covered cherries, so that's what we decided to name it.

I took a picture of the new quilt. My sister is lounging on it with the lower half of her body closest to the camera. I rediscovered that objects in the foreground appear larger than they actually are, so that particular view will not appear here.

We'll have to settle for a picture of the label. Or you can find a picture on the cover of the August 2008 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting.

I have pictures of the quilt in progress in previous postings. (See "My Sister Rocks", "When Life Hands You Limes", and "I've Joined a Cult".) Enjoy your new quilt, Linda and Clay!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hubba Hubba

After finishing those fun pillowcases with guys and babes, I got a little jealous. I wanted my own hunky guys.

I'm partial to tool belts. Where two or three tool belts are gathered together, I come a little unglued. Construction sites are a road hazard for me. I have the urge to pull over and hurl a few cat calls in their direction.

So imagine how thrilled I was to receive this tote bag from my friend, Nathan. Now I have a whole construction crew to carry my things around for me.

You, too, can have a tote bag like mine. The fabric is available at Glad Creations, and Nathan shows you how he made my tote on his blog site. His step-by-step instructions are easy to follow and well-illustrated.

Thanks, Nathan!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Going To Pieces

Scrap Basket, a pattern from Glad Creations, is a quilt I've been chomping at the bit to make for some time. I collected fabrics over the last two years - mostly Japanese taupes in shades of plum, pink, and brown. They are gorgeous fabrics and lovely to work with.

This quilt has been inching its way to the top of my massive list.

I probably wouldn't have started it for another year without a push from my friend, Nathan. He wants us to have companion Scrap Baskets in the June '09 Minnesota Quilters Show in Duluth.

Nathan is using 30's repros in his Tisket Tasket Scrap Basket. His top is done, and I've been struggling to catch up. At this point my Scrap Basket is in pieces, but they're all there.

It feels great to have finally gone to pieces!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting Organized - Part Two

Now that my storage closet has been reorganized, I decided that it was time to redo my Top 40 List.

I took all the lists I made of projects, UFOs, and fabric collections and discovered that I have 62. Yup, that's five dozen plus a couple more!

If I do one a month, it will take me five years to get through all of them. I would have to quit buying fabric altogether, and that's just not acceptable. So now what?

I've decided that I need to do an average of two quilt projects per month. I made a new list - actually, two lists. One is for projects I plan to complete by the end of the year. The other is for projects waiting in the wings.

I know that second list is going to grow, but hopefully, if I stay on track with the first list, I may be down to 50 or fewer by the end of the year!

Getting Organized for the New Year

I am so lucky to have an entire room in my house devoted to quilting. My quilting space even includes a walk-in closet for storing lots of stuff.

(No, that's not a picture of my closet.)

Unfortunately, the stuff took over to the point where my closet was a "fall-in" closet. I could not walk into it without moving boxes and bags out of the way.

The other day I had to move so much out of the way in order to find a particular fabric, that I decided to reorganize.

I culled out two boxes of fabric to donate. I repacked the rest more neatly and compactly. I made lists of contents. And I drew up a map of exactly where every project and fabric collection is.

The closet is still almost as full. You would not be able to tell much difference between the before and after. But now I can go straight to whatever I need, thanks to my map. As you can see, I left myself a space for walking in!

Diet Update

If you remember, I put myself on a fabric diet several months ago. I thought I was doing well, but according to my shelf space, my fabric is gaining weight.

I blame it on the half-price fabric at Glad Creations. The shelves there keep getting replenished with fabric I love. I've been able to resist a good deal of it, but some just had to come home with me.

My most recent acquisition is God's Will fabric. It's fabric I love but don't need.

I left this one alone until after the New Year's sale at Glad's. I figured if it survived the sale, it must be God's will for me to have it. It came home with me the next business day.

God's Will fabric is a modification of the second of my two diet rules - the one about I can buy half-price fabric if it's one I've had my eye on when it was full-priced. Now I realize I've had my eye on at least half the bolts in the store.

From now on when a favorite goes into the half-price area, I may need to let it "age" a bit.

Back in the Saddle

Christmas was extra hectic this year. My sewing/quilting projects slid by the wayside, so now I am playing catch up. It's great to be back in the saddle!

I just completed two sets of coordinating pillowcases.

The first set is for a couple of campers. They have an annual family camping trip each summer, so now they have pillowcases to take along with them.

The second pair is for a couple of Montana sailors. (Yes, Montana has lakes - big ones.)

Even though the pillowcases have nothing to do with sailing, they do depict fun topics, cowboys and their Harley.

Now I have to make a pillowcase for myself. Hmmm. Maybe guys in toolbelts?