red flannel pantry

creative pursuits in the kitchen, garden, library and sewing room

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

transportation inspiration

flyin car show 9.283

This weekend my husband and I attended the St. Louis Regional Airport fly-in and car show in Bethalto, Illinois. He got his mechanical geek fix while I found design inspiration everywhere.

flyin car show 9.282

These planes were beauties. I appreciated the keen design aesthetic of their aeronautical engineers and builders. Many were experimental aircraft or refurbished military airplanes.

flyin car show 9.28

The classic cars were gorgeous as well. After looking at my photos, I realize I have a strong penchant for turquoise!

lanyards in production


I am working on making a bunch of lanyards so I will have a stash later for birthday gifts and stocking stuffers. (You can read how I make them here.)


It’s fun playing with my 2 1/2-inch wide scraps. The random piecing process allows experimentation with color and pattern on a small scale. I have been fussy-cutting these cute corgis from Spoonflower and inserting them here and there. The corgi fabric was originally purchased for a special mini-quilt; now I find excuses to tuck the scraps into new projects–they are such charming fellows!

tallying 21


I wanted to make something special but practical for Daughter #1 to commemorate a significant birthday: her 21st.


I have a thing for number quilts (here is another I designed this year but with Roman numerals). This time I designed hash-mark blocks to add up to her age and put them together into a 24-inch square pillow. I made the hash marks kind of wonky so they would resemble handwritten ones.


I finished piecing the front as the sun was setting the other night. I really like how the orange leaps off the tan background.


I backed it with this cool geometric hexagon print, which is right up her graphic design alley.


I quilted it on the diagonal, following the lines on the print–no marking!–I call it being creatively lazy.


I can envision all sorts of design combinations that this hash-mark motif could be used for: gifts to celebrate bar/bat mitzvah (13), significant birthdays (16, 18, 21) or anniversaries–so many possibilities–what fun! I’ll be using it again.

Happy 21st, Gertie! xoxo

I have linked up with Sew Cute Tuesday at Better Off Thread.

lion’s tail


Every spring I visit my favorite nursery, where my friend, Anne, works. As a knowledgeable gardener who enjoys indulging my garden experimentation, she points out a few unfamiliar plants that she promises will deliver. This year she steered me to a plain Jane in the herb section called lion’s tail, Leonotis leonurus. I tended to it all summer, and it has finally rewarded me with these incredible blooms. Its tubular flowers are attracting both butterflies and hummingbirds.


The blooms emerge from these spikey balls. Being a South African native, it is considered an annual here. It’s a member of the mint family and is supposed to have all sorts of medicinal qualities, hence its herbal/pharmacologic classification. Given my fondness for orange, lion’s tail a new favorite. Thanks, Anne!

parallelogram gams


I began this quilt top early this summer, thinking I would simply place the half-square triangles (HSTs)  in rows. (I wrote about it in these posts here and here.)


However, when Daughter #2 and I played with placement, we decided we liked it this way better. The parallelograms look like a danceline, hence the quilt’s name.

It really put a dent in my red stash, which is a good thing. Now it’s time to back and quilt.


374 4-inch finished HSTs (17 x 22)
68″ x 88″

butterfly spotting


I can add another butterfly to my garden’s list: great spangled fritillary. I spied one as I looked out my kitchen window this morning and verified it by checking the Missouri Department of Conservation website. I love the scalloped edges along its wings; they make it look like it’s wearing a shawl. The term “fritillary” is derived from the Latin fritillus, meaning dice box. I now understand the name, given the black dots that run along the wing edges. The silvery-gray bits on the wing undersides resemble sequins–I guess that’s where the descriptor “spangled” came from. The scientist who named and classified this butterfly had some fun!


It wouldn’t rest for more than a moment, so I had a hard time getting a photo. I am enjoying “collecting” my garden’s butterflies via my little point-and-shoot camera.

pucker up, birthday girl


Although the calendar says September, it feels like we are still in the thrall of summer. A friend, whose favorite flavor in the whole world is lemon (as is mine), celebrated a birthday this weekend. To help her extend the celebration, I am going to give her a bottle of limoncello that I brewed this summer (you can read about my brewing and processing of this batch here and here).

I printed a label (2″ x 2 5/8″), stuck it on a shipping tag (4 3/4″ x 2 3/8″), and fastened it with ribbon to the bottle. In the past, I have stuck the labels directly to the bottles, but since the bottles have been in the fridge chilling, the stickers would have puckered and wrinkled if I had put them on the cold, damp glass. I think I prefer this tag-labeling technique, because I can write a personalized message on the tag’s other side.

Happy Birthday, Kathy!

painted ladies and E.O. Wilson


While I replaced nectar in the hummingbird feeders this morning, this little butterfly swooped and circled around me. I looked her up on the Missouri Department of Conservation website and learned that she is a painted lady. She was smaller than a monarch or a swallowtail, and I can’t say I ever noticed this type of butterfly before. I love the googly eyes on her hindwings.


Coincidentally, I recently read about painted ladies. Last week I finished Letters to a Young Scientist by E.O. Wilson, the Pulitzer Prizewinning biologist. In a series of letter-essays, Wilson gives advice to young aspiring scientists as well as recounts his own career trajectory. While living in Washington, DC in the 1930s as a boy, he became fascinated with butterflies, collecting them and visiting the insect collections at the National Museum of Natural History. He writes,

Returning in 1940 with my family to Mobile, I plunged into the rich new fauna of butterflies. The semitropical climate and nearby swamps were a close realization of my earlier dreams. To the red admirals, painted ladies, great spangled fritillaries, and mourning cloaks characteristic of the more northern climes I added snout butterflies, Gulf fritillaries, Brazilian skippers, great purple hair streaks, and several magnificent swallowtails–giant, zebra, spicebush.

Aren’t those wonderfully descriptive names?

I enjoyed reading about Wilson’s path to entomology (his true passion is ants) and his philosophy, distilled from decades as a scientist, researcher, teacher and mentor, as to what makes a good scientist. It’s not being a math whiz (though having some mathematical competence is necessary). Rather, it’s finding what “you are interested in and that stirs passion and promises pleasure from a lifetime of devotion,” being restless and curious, and being willing to try something no one else has ever thought of or dared.

At this point in my life, it’s a little late to begin a career as a scientist! But as a citizen-scientist, I can continue to observe, marvel and learn in my own backyard.

go Cards!


I gave this belated anniversary gift to my husband yesterday. I bought the canvas in 2006, after the Cardinals won the World Series that year. I worked on it for a while, noticed I had made a mistake, and became frustrated because I didn’t want to fix it. I put it aside and forgot it.


Can you see the mistake? The red stitching in the 1926 baseball doesn’t extend to the edge. (I know–what’s the big deal?)


When I cleaned my sewing room in the spring, I came across the belt. With age and perspective (and a mellowing of my perfectionistic standards), I decided it would be silly not to finish it. The thing is, the Cardinals have since won another World Series (in 2011), so I had to squeeze in another baseball. I became determined to get it done before the end of this baseball season because–you never know–they could win another World Series this year, and I wasn’t going to add any more baseballs!

I used #5 DMC perle cotton on the design and two strands of slightly different colored wool to create the tweedy background. Needlepoint Clubhouse did the belt finishing for me.

Last night the Cardinals, who have been struggling and in a slump, won against Cincinnati, rallying in extra innings to a 5-4 win. My husband is now calling it his lucky belt!

corn, sunsets and friendship


This gift, from design idea to final form, has been several years in the making.


Back in 2009, I made this mini-quilt based on a block in a quilt called Noah’s Garden (designed by Stephanie Martin Glennon) that appears in Quilt-Lovers’ Favorites Volume 3 published way back in 2003. (The book is no longer in print, though you can still find it used on Amazon or AbeBooks.)


On completion, I showed it to Mary Kate (mother of my good friend, Kate), who admired it and pointed out how the block is similar to a ceramic tile that hangs in her home. She spoke of how much she likes its orange background.


Actually Mary Kate is quite fond of orange (here she is with husband, Gregg)–note the color of her turtleneck! Her love of orange is not surprising, given her love of sunsets.

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This is Mary Kate’s favorite view: sunset across the pond at her beloved farm.


So as Mary Kate’s birthday approached this year, the corn block came to mind. I found the book, where I still had the pattern templates tucked inside an envelope. I added the green border to make the orange pop and the yellow border to complement the pale yellow of Mary Kate and Gregg’s living room.


I used 1-inch-wide painter’s tape as a quilting guide, and I followed this tutorial for adding the zipper beneath the yellow strip. I get a kick out of how this technique hides the zipper (and any little mistakes made while sewing it in place) and makes the pillow reversible.

So here’s to Mary Kate, dear friend, surrogate grandmother to my children, and kindred spirit–Happy Birthday!

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