Civil War Blocks – Update!

Civil War Blocks - Set 1
Civil War Blocks – Set 1

Here’s a quick peek at some of the 55 blocks I’ve completed for my Civil War sampler quilt.  These are 8″ blocks that I’ve been sewing in my monthly “Civil Sewing Circle.”  It was nice to spread them all out to get a better idea of how much has been accomplished with this project for the past year.

Civil War Blocks - Set 2
Civil War Blocks – Set 2

In addition, I am rededicating myself to the Building Houses from Scraps challenge.  The idea is to sew one scrappy house block a day – right now I have 17.  On June 1st, I started sewing 2 a day (and plan to for the rest of the year), so there will be 365 blocks by Dec 31.  As of June 1, I am only 6 blocks behind (as in, I still haven’t started sewing on them 🙂 ).

Civil War Blocks - Set 3
Civil War Blocks – Set 3

Any tips for how to better organize your time?  I’m sure all of us could use some time management advice.  I’ve tried various ways to get on a sewing (and blogging) schedule, but it seems something always comes up that is more important.  Right now, my focus is on finishing projects since so many are close to being done.  By the end of June, there should be quite a dent in the UFO pile (fingers crossed).

Keep it thimble!

Barcelona Day 2 – Gaudi and the Zoo

I figured Sunday in Barcelona would be relatively quiet and it might be hard to find things to do.  Was I wrong!   The fountain in the above picture was near my hotel – Barcelona is a city full of fountains, parks, circles, and other places where you can meet up and enjoy the fresh air.

La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia

The day started with a trip to a famous cathedral designed by Gaudi called La Sagrada Familia.  This is huge church that began construction in 1882 and is not expected to be finished for another 30 years.  It is a MUST SEE if you go to Barcelona.  The original architect died in 1927 and other people have worked on it, so you can see an interesting mixture of old and new architecture.  The picture doesn’t do it justice.

Casa Mila

Gaudi has designed a fair number of buildings in the city that showcase his distinctive expressionistic and organic style.  What’s interesting about his buildings, is that most of them are still being used the way they were originally intended.  I passed another one of his buildings called Casa Mila which was designed to be multi-family housing and is now a hotel in the upscale retail district.

Park Guell

One of the other jewels that Gaudi designed for Barcelona is Park Guell, which can best be described as a garden city.  It is located high up in the hills (so be prepared to walk up hill for about 20 minutes to get there).  Once you are there you can walk to the very top (marked by a stone cross) and see a breathtaking panoramic view of the city.

Park Guell - Cross at the top

From this view you can also clearly see La Sagrada Familia in the distance and see how large and dominant it is to its surroundings.

View of La Sagrada Familia from Park Guell

You can also walk down to the park entrance where you will see a magnificent entrance with two smaller buildings designed by Gaudi and a double staircase.

Park Guell Entrance

The entrance is presided over by the famous Gaudi Dragon.  Visitors to the park rub the dragon’s head for luck.

Park Guell - Dragon

Muro is another famous architect from Barcelona, so after spending some time at Park Guell I headed over to Parc Joan Muro.  This is a very large park with a playground, tennis courts, and a reflecting pool that is dominated by a Muro sculpture.  The perfect place to hang out, eat a quick bite, and rest my feet!

Parc Joan Muro

The next big event was the Barcelona Zoo.  On the way to the zoo I had to walk through the Arc de Triomf and to my surprise, I caught the tail end of the Barcelona marathon.  The runners were on the last leg of the race and there was a large crowd cheering them on.  I’m sure seeing the Arc provided enough inspiration to make it to the end.

Arc De Triomf - with Marathon

The zoo was spectacular!!  I love going to the zoo, and the Barcelona one is beautiful and well worth the trip.  You can get really close to most of the animals, which is always fun.  My two favorites this time were the giant anteater and the komodo dragon.  I couldn’t get a good picture of the anteater since he was hanging out in the back of his enclosure.  The komodo dragon was very entertaining.  He put on quick a show for us and I could have watched him all day.

Komodo Dragon

Speaking of entertainment, the chimps were in fine form!  A group of them started begging for food by raising their arms up in the air, throwing up their hands, and pleading for someone to throw them some small morsel.

Chimps begging for food!

The giant turtle was also pretty amazing.   They always seem so peaceful and harmless to me, even though they are so large.

Peaceful Turtle

The caimans (relatives of gators) were obviously up to no good.  I have no idea what they were smiling at, but I was glad to have a thick piece of glass protecting me!

Smiling Caimans

Last but not least, I saw a real live teddy bear!  The brown bear was curled up in a nice patch of sun and snoozed away most of the day.  There were a bunch of other animals, but unfortunately there is not enough room to put up all 67 pictures I took!  Trust me, you need to visit this zoo if you go to Spain.

Real Teddy Bear

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my trip!  Hopefully I will get to travel someplace exciting again.  Keep It Thimble!

Barcelona Day 1 – Quilt Shop Tour and Other Sites

Samples in Dona Quilt Shop

I’m back from my trip to…. Barcelona!  Work was the primary reason for going, but I managed to have two whole days of sightseeing.  I walked from one end of the city to the other and had a great time looking at all the beautiful parks, buildings, churches, and quilt shops!  Yes, that’s right, Barcelona is home to at least 12 quilt shops (more if you count stores outside the city center) and my plan was to visit all of them.  This website – – lists quilt shops in Europe and I used this to generate an itinerary.  Since I have so much to tell about my trip, I will split this into two posts – one today and one tomorrow, so be sure to check back!

Mouth-watering Gelato!

First, a brief word about the food, specifically the treats!  I am not a huge foodie, but I do love cakes, candy, and ice cream.  Barcelona does not disappoint, you can find some type of candy store, gelato parlor, or bakery on every corner!  The treats are arranged in eye catching ways and you can’t wake by too many of them without eventually being tempted to stop and indulge.

Bakery Near Hotel
Bakery Near Hotel

This bakery was next to my hotel and I stopped in each evening to pick up a little something to enjoy before going to bed.  Meringue is very popular there and it is usually dipped in chocolate or flavored with some type of fruit.

Delicious Candy!

My first chance at sightseeing was on Friday night.  I was done with my business and had an evening to my self.  I wandered around the Gothic and Las Ramblas districts since they were close to my hotel.  I stumbled upon a chamber orchestra practicing Vivaldi’s Four Season in a beautiful cathedral.  They were giving a proper concert later that night, but the rehearsal was open and it sounded as beautiful as an actual concert.

Concert rehearsal in cathedral

When I walked out of the cathedral, I found myself in the middle of festive processional.  The procession was headed by these large figurines – they are basically large puppets and someone gets inside the base and navigates the figure.  A children’s band plays music and they throw out candy to the spectators! I followed them for a few minutes and then headed back to the hotel for the night.

Festive Procession in Gothic Quarter

Saturday was the day earmarked for the whirlwind quiltshop tour.  Unfortunately, due to jet lag I didn’t start until about 11am, which was a problem since on Saturdays many of these shops close at 2pm!  I did manage to visit a few shops – Nunoya, Fet a Ma, and Lola Botona, but not see as many as I would have liked.

Lola Botona Quilt Shop

I am most disappointed I didn’t get to go inside Dona as this was the largest by far and the display windows (see picture above) were packed with projects and ideas.

Dona Storefront

This picture on BCN Patchwork’s gate is adorable.  Too bad this is the only thing I could see!

BCN Patchwork Storefront

However, from the few shops I visited, it was obvious that things were way out of my price range.  Basically, these shops have the same fabric available in the states – Moda, Robert Kaufman, Batiks, etc. but it is $25 a yard, versus the $10 – $12 a yard!  They also have the same books — but again, these are priced at least double.  There was a very simple pincushion pattern that would sell for $5 here, but cost $20.   The shops had lots of attractive samples and I got a few ideas (you can’t take pictures in the shops so I have to rely on my memory).  So for all my friends who wanted me to get you some fabric while on my trip, I am sorry to say I came back empty handed.  However how about we hit up the local quilt shops and buy it for half price :)?

Baghangers Barcelona - House Purse

I did find one unexpected surprise, a purse shop called “Baghangers Barcelona.”  This was a small shop packed with lots of novelty purse made out of leather.  They had a pumpkin, tomato, Noah’s Ark, porcupine, and tons of other clever purses.

Porcupine and Owl Purses

Since I didn’t buy any fabric, I splurged and purchased a Mushroom House purse.  I couldn’t resist how cute and colorful it was!

Mushroom Purse from Baghangers Barcelona

Well, that’s the end of Day One!  Check back tomorrow for Day Two which features my trip to the Zoo!

Keep it thimble!

Sewing Bowl Sunday!

This Sunday, instead of watching the Pats and Giants in the Super Bowl – why don’t you plan on having a Sewing Bowl?  You can still have all the great snacks and watch the new commercials on Hulu!  This is a great excuse to get your sewing buddies together and get caught up on some of your unfinished projects.  I will be spending some time with my Civil Sewing Circle and working on the blocks for my civil war quilt.

Here’s a recipe for some delicious Smores bars that will be great for whatever you plan to do on Sunday. They are easy to make and easy to eat!  Just don’t get crumbs on your fabric.

Smore's Bars - Family Fun Magazine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup crushed graham crackers
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 (1.55-ounce) chocolate bars
  • 1 (7-ounce) jar of marshmallow creme


  1. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Add the crushed graham crackers, flour, salt, and baking powder and beat until well mixed, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  3. Spoon half the dough into the pan and spread evenly with your fingertips. Break the chocolate into pieces and arrange over the dough. Spread a layer of marshmallow creme over the chocolate. Flatten the remaining dough into pancakes and lay them over the marshmallow.
  4. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let the bars cool before serving. Makes 16 bars.
    Nutritional Information
    Per serving (1 bar): Calories 200 ● Total Fat 9 g ● Saturated Fat 5 g ● Cholesterol 30 mg ● Sodium 145 mg ● Total Carbohydrate 28 g ● Fiber .5 g ● Sugars 17 g ● Protein 2 g

    Originally published in Family Fun magazine.

Happy New Year and Poll Results

Happy New Year! I look forward to all the fun we are going to have at Keep It Thimble this year.  Last year, I posted my 2011 Goals for KIT and accomplished about 25% of them.  So instead of writing up another list of goals for 2012, I will actually do them, and you’ll just have to be surprised!

Here are the results of the poll I conducted just before the holidays.  Thanks to everyone who participated.  This information will be used to make Keep It Thimble a more useful resource for you.

What content interests you?

  • Flea Market Finds 23%
  • Tutorials 21%
  • Book Reviews 17%
  • Recipes 15%
  • Tool Reviews 9%
  • Giveaways 8%
  • Guest Bloggers 4%

What styles interest you?

  • Vintage 33%
  • Classic 25%
  • Modern 19%
  • Prim 11%
  • Civil War 11%

What projects interest you?

  • Quilts 26%
  • Home Decor 15%
  • Totes 13%
  • Holiday Decor 13%
  • Toys 11%
  • Accessories 11%
  • Clothing 9%
  • Crafts 2%

What activities interest you?

  • Quilting 26%
  • Wool Applique 24%
  • Embroidery 21%
  • General Sewing 19%
  • Making Clothes 7%
  • Machine Embroidery 2%

I was surprised that Flea Market Finds was so popular!  That’s good information to know and you can be sure there will be more finds posted in the future. 

Building Houses from Scraps

Finally, here’s a fun new project to start for the new year – building houses from scraps.  Jeanneke is a quilter from the Netherlands who has organized a virtual quilting group.  The goals is to create one 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ house block each day.  The fun part is that you will use your scraps!  Thus, the name of group is “Building Houses from Scraps“.  Check out the link for more information on how to participate.  It is free to join, and has been so popular that she has extended “official” registration until Jan 16th.  I don’t know if I can make 365 of these blocks this year, but it sure will be fun to try.

Keep it Thimble!

National Sewing Month!!

In case you missed the press release, September is National Sewing Month!  I guess this is a good time to celebrate sewing since summer is over, the kids are back in school, and you have more time to sew (plus you have to start working on your Christmas gifts).

To celebrate national sewing month, I am going to finish a few projects that have been sitting around for awhile.  I have a list of UFOs that keeps getting longer and longer and it’s time to take them more seriously!  I also started a new Civil War sewing bee and we have to make 4 blocks a month!  So in addition to the pattern design I am supposed to be doing, I am also trying to find some time for “fun” sewing.

What are your plans for National Sewing Month?  This is the perfect time to introduce a friend or relative to sewing – we need more converts!  This is also a great time to splurge on that fancy new machine you need (notice I said “need” not “want”).

Also, check out the Moda Country Fair blog hop.  It started yesterday and features projects from some of my favorite designers.  It’s a lot of fun to visit all these blogs and get some new project to eventually put into your UFO pile.