Modern Sunbonnet Sue's Musings

Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue:

November 2011 - Posts

Sue's Sunday Musings

The week-end festivities are over and everything appears to be back to normal. Although, until after the Christmas holidays, I doubt everything will be normal. There are leftovers in the fridge and the scale indicates I gained about 3 pounds. I need to at least get back to my normal eating pattern.

I am beginning to plan a Christmas letter to mail out to family & friends. However, every year I accumulate leftover cards and stationary and I feel as though I need to use them up. My thought was to design a special card that I can print on my computer and enclose a picture of the family. Photos always provide a current view of our family to those that are far away and do not see us often. I enjoy receiving photos, as well.

Today, I am also stitching together a Christmas ornament. Ever year, my local Kiltie Quilter group holds a Christmas party at our first meeting in December. We have a gift exchange, in which everyone brings a handmade ornament. The gifts are numbered and we draw to determine who gets to select first, and so on, among the wrapped packages. A fat quarter is also acceptable, if someone does not have time to make an ornament. I am making a wool felt Matryoshaka from a Holiday Crafts magazine put out by BH&G this year.

Did some shopping this afternoon. Picked up some wool felt to make a Christmas stocking for my granddaughter. I plan to put butterflies and flowers onto it, along with her name. I picked up a McCalls pattern last year that has a stocking and ornaments that have embroidery embellishments that look "Old World". I plan to add wool felt pieces instead of the embroidery stitches, but will add stitching around the edges of the wool pieces. I may decide to do them in a blanket stitch with black perle cotton. I haven't decided yet. I also picked up some fleece at 50% off to make a hat, scarf and mitten set for my daughter. I'd rather make a set than buy them. Just hope I haven't put too many projects on my list to finish before the big day.

I do have a few projects completed. I made an e-Reader cover for one gift. And, I plan to use the same pattern to make a grocery shopping list cover that holds a pad of paper, pencil and coupons.


This is an Atkinson's Design pattern that I purchased at a Groovy Girls meeting.

There was a little excitement in the neighborhood this afternoon. I noticed a police car at the neighbors. Later, the officer knocked at our door. Turns out that the neighbors across the street were broken into last evening. With our poor economy and the holidays around the corner, we must all be careful to protect ourselves. Here's hoping you have a safe holiday season!

Posted Sun, Nov 27 2011 7:37 PM by Pamela | 3 comment(s)

Thanksgiving: A Day for Family

Thanksgiving is certainly a day to be thankful for our families. It's not about the turkey & cranberry sauce, but the time we can spend together. My family gets together at my older sister's house. This has been tradition since our mother passed away, many years ago at a young age - 47. Which means that I am still young! Family includes both of my sisters and their now grown children. We are also starting to have additions with grandchildren, so that the house is full. Besides sharing and reminiscing over the meal, and after while we wash up my sister's china, we take time to call our younger brothers that both live out-of-state.

Since our Grandma Smith passed away this year, we no longer have any parents or grandparents involved in the holiday. I envy those who have an elderly relation that can tell stories of the past. So, we are continuing to make those traditions for our children and grandchildren. One of those traditions is the art of sewing. Tomorrow, my sisters and I will get together for what has become an annual sewing day. None of us enjoys the Black Friday crowds in the stores. Instead, we prefer to make many of our gifts. I will be stitching up flannel PJs for some great-nieces, while my sisters have their own holiday projects.

Sewing was passed along to us by our Grandma Smith. She stitched together lots of dresses for us and our cousins when we were younger. Check out this photo from the late 60's.

Grandma Smith made us matching dresses. I'm the one in the front on the left. My older sister is behind me to the left, while my younger sister is the smallest one, in the front on the right.

Although Grandma sewed, our Mother didn't do much more than mending. But, she put us into 4-H, where we learned to sew clothes. We each made many of our own clothes growing up. My older sister was the best seamstress of the three of us. I continued to sew clothes for my own children. However, I picked up the quilting bug early and began making quilts even before I had children. Now, I have gotten my sisters involved in making quilts, as well as, other crafty items.

Speaking of my Grandma Smith, I promised to show pictures of the sewing machine I acquired from her estate. She had purchased a Singer Athena 2000 sewing machine in a cabinet back in 1977. Check out my original blog post about the machine, when I purchased it from my Uncle, who bought the contents of the house from the estate. He gave me a deal, since I was family.

Here is the machine in the original cabinet.


This closeup shows the many fancy stitches on the machine that were a first of it's kind for an electronic sewing machine. I used the machine to sew a 4-patch Veteran's quilt. The straight stitch works well. I do need to have it looked at and see if it needs any kind of a tuneup. The plan is to use the machine whenever my sisters & I get together to sew at my house.

Wishing all of you had the best Thanksgiving Day!


Posted Thu, Nov 24 2011 12:57 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

Mystery Quilt V completed

I finished putting together my Mystery Quilt V the other day. I was finally able to post a picture, last Friday, to the Discussion section for the group for voting. But, my "older" computer continued to give me fits when I repeatedly tried, on several different days, to upload media, until I finally gave up. Today, I decided to take time to try it again. I am saving to purchase an iPad, but that may take awhile.

I digress. This blog is titled Mystery Quilt... and I'm sure most of you are interested in seeing the completed top. I took several pics to get different angles. I also took pics at work during the day to obtain better lighting. I hope that the following give a good idea of how the quilt top actually appears.

 This is the pic I posted in for the Viewer's Choice voting, along with the following closeup of a corner with the piano key border and a couple blocks.


I really enjoyed making this quilt and plan to give it to my daughter for a baby gift. She's pregnant with her second child and due in March.


Posted Wed, Nov 23 2011 8:21 AM by Pamela | 4 comment(s)

Deer Hunter's Widow

Here I sit at my computer typing a blog post, while my husband has ventured a little further north and west to a family hunting ground. There, he will spend the next few days sitting in the woods and anticipating a chance at shooting a buck. I don't much like having him away, but I will survive. The cat will keep me company.

While he is away, I can accomplish a few sewing tasks. Not that I wouldn't do them while he was home, but I won't feel so guilty working on them. Any given evening, you will find me in my sewing room listening to the radio, while my hubby is in the living room clicking the remote from one show and back to another. Yes, there are activities that we do together. The colder months give us an opportunity to enjoy our hottub. We DVR shows that we watch together. We go for walks in the summer. When it's time for bed, we head upstairs together, where I generally read, while he catches the end of a sports event or DVR show. Just our routine.

My plan, in his absence, is to complete my MQ V quilt top. I put the blocks together this week-end using my black background fabric for the sashing. I started the borders, but I am not doing just a simple border. I decided to make a piano key border. If you are not familiar with this type of border treatment, check out this website for instructions on how to make a PK Border.

Here's an example of a PK border on a Crazy Quilt.


2004 Road to California Quilt Show - 1st Place, Traditional Wall Quilt by Melanie Murphy, Westlake Village, CA

This is how I have seen it done, although, I found this free pattern for Piano Keys, that is slightly different. Either treatment is a great way to use up the quilt scraps, while adding interest to the quilt top. Check back later in the week, when I publish a pic of my completed quilt top, for the Viewer's Choice voting in the MQ V Discussion Group.


Posted Mon, Nov 14 2011 8:39 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

Antique Shopping

Anyone who loves quilts, likely loves antiques. I have my favorite shops that I like to peruse for the latest find. It's located next door to a GFS Marketplace that my husband visits every two weeks for business supplies. I tag along to spend time in the antique shop. Two weeks ago, we ventured into Mt. Pleasant for the business shopping. We parted in the parking lot, him toward the Marketplace and myself toward the Antique shop.

Sometimes, I have items in mind for which I am searching. This time, I thought I would just browse. I let the booth contents draw me in, and I look for unassuming items. The first booth had beaded jewelry, but further back was a bowl filled with carded buttons. Some of the buttons had been stapled to pieces of cardboard, while others were on their original cards. Sure enough, I found some antique Mother-of-Pearl. I picked up some buttons, as well as, a packet of needles. The needles were in a folder that had advertisement from a stamp program. If you are old enough, you remember the stamp programs that stores promoted. You received so many stamps for purchasing store products. My mom collected S&H green stamps at the local Spartan store and turned them in for some gift. It took lots of stamp to recieve any kind of gift and I don't recollect anything specific that my mother recieved for all the stamps we licked and placed into the books. The folder of needles was $3 and contained all but a couple of needles. They were sharps in four sizes with gold eyes and were in like new condition. Perfect for a hand stitcher.

Further down, I stopped at a favorite booth that has linens, hankerchiefs and the like. Nothing new to look at here. Another booth, further down the aisle, had revealed a few unique items in the past, so I browed through the shelves. As I turned to walk back out of the booth, a ziploc bag tucked behind a glass item caught my eye. There were several pieces of folded muslin pieces peeking out of the top of the bag. I unfolded each item to discover an assortment of embroidery panels. Some were the type found in dime stores in sets. Two others were elaborate pictures often used to make pillows. One, in particular, caught my attention. It was a linen cross-hatched design from Paragon Needlecraft with a fawn and bunny sniffing flowers that reminded me of Bambi & Thumper. The flower centers had open space to embroidery new baby information: name, born, weight. I couldn't pass this one up, since I am expecting two grandbabies in the Spring. A friend suggested that I copy the pattern onto another piece of muslin and make two, so each new grandbaby has one.

I have evolved into the quilter that finishes other stitcher's projects. I cannot see these items remaining UFO's, although, I certainly have a UFO stash of my own. This project is one I hope to finish during the long, cold, Michigan winter nights by the fireplace. The other pieces will likely find their way into my own UFO pile. National Paragon Corporation was a top needlecraft company since 1929 until it sold to Dale Burdett in 1987. A little searching online, and I discovered that my embroidery design is actually from a 1960s Bambi and Thumper Disney Cross Stitch Birth Record Kit. I found a vintage kit for sale online at Etsy, so I now know how the pattern was originally meant to be stitched. Check it out.


I glanced through a few more booths, before ending up at a booth of quilts folded on bookcase shelves. I had been through this booth many times and never found anything worth purchasing. However, a quilt caught my eye. I didn't recall seeing this before, so I unfolded it to check the size. It was a lap size Rail Fence pattern sewn in nine patches. Several fabrics repeated across the quilt and the fabrics had a silky feel. The backing was a satin which elicited a pause, as I wondered whether this was handmade or a store bought item. Closer inspection revealed hand stitching to put together the strips, while one long end of the quilt had been hand stitched closed with a line of quilting. It appears that the maker stitched the three sides together from the wrong sides, then turned the quilt inside out and hand stitched the opening closed. There was no filling in the quilt, indicating a summer throw. Since the fabrics appeared to be mostly silks, it was likely used in a parlor as a decorative piece.


Scrap quilts are some of my favorite. They display a lot of color and a mix of so many fabrics. Closer inspection of this quilt, by a quilt friend and myself, and we determined that it was likely made from silk ties. There are varying widths of strips that could have been cut from the slimmer sections of the ties. As well, there are pieces that show seams like a tie. The pieces are hand stitched and the entire quilt is tied. Here is a close-up of a section from the quilt.

Without having this quilt appraised, the quilt's history is just a guess. Since silk was difficult to produce in America, with few manufacturers during the 1800's, most silk was imported. Due to the expense, it was generally used by the more wealthy in east coast cities. The Victorian Age had a resurgence of quilting with the advent of the Crazy Quilt. But, I would venture that this quilt is more modern using a collection of purchased or saved silk ties. Something to think about using a colletion of silk ties I have in my stash.


Posted Sat, Nov 12 2011 7:33 AM by Pamela | 2 comment(s)

Folk-Art Heart Block

I had quite a time getting this blog post entered. My computer is old and sometimes runs slow, depending on the web traffic. I had ongoing issues last night trying to insert the media and saving the post. I had also deleted one picture and renamed the picture I used to that name. For some reason, the picture that would load was the one I deleted. After multiple tries with lockups and error screens, I ran a cleanup on my computer. Then, I experienced more trouble. I gave up frustrated after about two hours with a message that stated I had an error whenever I tried to load the QCA site. This morning was no different. I began to think that the problem was unfixable, until a QCA maintenance message appeared. Interestingly, I was able to get into my blog from a backdoor by searching for my blog name. I could type the blog post, but still couldn't insert media. Finally, after lunch, I could log in. So, here is Sue's Musings written yesterday, but for your entertainment today.

I haven’t completed a block for the Applique Club in quite some time. I had done blocks ahead to show members what to expect, should they join the club. Then, a couple of the blocks were only partially completed, so that they could be used as teaching samples.

For those that are new to my blog, I started an Applique Club at my local quilt guild with sign-up in September. The response was over-whelming with the first Club meeting held in October. The pattern selected for the group to make is Heart Sampler by Laurene Sinema from her 1992 book Applique, Applique, Applique. Some members chose to purchase a secondhand book, since it is out-of-print. Others are making their own heart patterns. Each month, a new appliqué technique is introduced.

I am making two quilts to show the traditional style block and a folk-art style rendition of the pattern. The current blocks that the members are stitching, for November, are the Buttonhole Stitch Heart and the Decorative Running Stitch Heart. In a previous post, Folk-art style heart, the folk-art style blocks were shown. Here is the completed Decorative Running Stitch Heart block.

I used a flannel stripe for the background heart and added wool hearts on top. Since I was using a flannel, I decided to tack stitch the background heart, to avoid raveling. Then, I applied the decorative stitches with a black, #12 perle cotton thread. I also altered the heart layout from the original pattern.

This month, the group will be completing a stained glass heart and a Celtic heart. They are both made with bias strips. The traditional blocks were in previous posts. The folk-art style blocks are prepared, for me to use as teaching samples. Look to see the finished blocks some time in December.

Posted Fri, Nov 11 2011 1:12 PM by Pamela | 1 comment(s)

Sue's Sunday Musings

Daylight Savings Time is here. Sue slept in late today, although, she did wake up at the usual time for rising. That makes up for the 4 AM rising last Wednesday when Sue couldn't sleep. So, here Sue sits sipping chocolate, raspberry flavored coffee and writing in her blog, while the sun comes streaming through the window. What a lovely, Fall Sunday.

Last week was full of activity, beginning with Halloween on Monday. My granddaughter was an adorable Snow White. We had 238 children/teens trick or treating past our house. That's a lot of candy. As a dietitian, I prefer to give out healthy snacks, but it gets too expensive anymore. We passed out the traditional stuff, tootsie rolls, dum dum suckers, Smarties, and the like. Of course, I made sure my granddaughter received something special. Her personal pumpkin had lots of her favorites: Veggie Tale fruit snacks, Goldfish crackers, bananas, and a storybook.


Here's lovely Snow White with Grandpa.

Sew, Sue says, it's time to talk about the sewing. Every week seems to be busy with some type of sewing or quilting activity. Thursday was Kiltie Quilters, where I catch up with my friends and show & tell the latest projects. Many of the ladies were doing embroidery blocks for quilts. One of the ladies is a longarmer and returned a gorgeous quilt of embroidered snowmen done in black with orange noses. The pattern was from a free download at Bunny Hill Designs. The current free pattern is  , a pieced and appliqued project.

Saturday was a trip to Common Threads for Groovy Girls Club. The latest patterns are pillows with extras for making additional embellishments. Atkinson Designs truly captures current trends with their patterns. For long-time stitchers, the techniques are just reintroductions to past techniques used in a new format i.e. zippered pillow backs using a technique for attaching the zipper in a manner used in dressmaking back in the 60's & 70's. Lots of show & tell by club members. One of my Michigan Quilt Network friends attends Groovy Girls and I shared with her the mystery quilt pattern I am planning for our Region group beginning in January.

Speaking of mysteries, I completed all my MQ V Group Media blocks. They are posted in the media section of the group, but, for those that are not members of QCA, here they are for your viewing.


The blocks will be trimmed square. I plan to use the black background fabric for 1-1/2" sashing. This should cause the block patterns to float. I will be searcing for a cheery, bright border fabric. I haven't thought too much about the quilting, yet. I will likely do something different in the block sections, matching threads with the block colors, then use black quilting in the block backgrounds and sashing. The plan is to give this to my daughter for a baby quilt. Two grandbabies expected in the Spring, so I have twice as much quilting to finish.

Have a wonderful Sunday! Enjoy!

Posted Sun, Nov 6 2011 8:30 AM by Pamela | 2 comment(s)

Elm Creek Quilts Newest Book

I am excited to hear that the latest Elm Creek Quilts book was released on Tuesday, November 1, 2011. In fact, I also found out that the author, Jennifer Chiaverini, is signing autographs at Schuler's Books in Lansing, Michigan, tonight. Here's a peak at the book. Check out Jennifer's website and blog to read more and join her Reader's Circle.

I already have three autographed books. I would have gotten an autographed book, since I work in Lansing, but didn't want to wait around for three hours just to get it. Instead, I have hinted heavily to my daughter, that lives in Lansing, that she could pick up the book for my Christmas present. Besides, I have a quilt meeting tonight with my Kiltie Quilters friends in Alma. Since I had met Jennifer before and received several autographs, it wasn't as important to me to be the one to get it.

 If I get it for Christmas, I won't be able to read it for awhile. I finished The Aloha Quilt earlier this year and really enjoyed it. The first Elm Creeks Quilt book I read was The Runaway Quilt and it remains one of my favorites. I really like the historical aspect of novels and find the stories that intertwine the past and the present the most interesting. I enjoyed The Sugar Camp Quilt, telling a story of the Underground Railroad, which was first referred to in The Runaway Quilt and continued with the story of Dorthea. The Lost Quilter also provided historical insight into the Civil War period and followed the runaway slave, from the previous mentioned book, after her encounter at Elm Creek.

Are you an Elm Creek Quilts Book fan? What is your favorite book? If you haven't read any of Jennifer's books, check her out. She's been on the New York Times bestseller's list several times.


Posted Thu, Nov 3 2011 6:35 PM by Pamela | 6 comment(s)