Sunday, December 18, 2016

More Projects Done Before the Holidays!

A Holiday Mini-Quilt

This small and mini-quilt thing is going well!

To follow on the autumn mini-quilts, I wanted to make some for Christmas.  I saw this cute quilt in the Keepsake Quilting catalogue.  It looked easy to copy, which is one of my favorite ways to learn how to deconstruct a block pattern.  I'd like to give appropriate credit, but the catalog didn't indicate the pattern designer or whether it was a Keepsake original.

I photocopied the picture in the catalog and then blew it up so it was easier to read.  Then I drew grid lines to see how the blocks were created.

The catalogue description indicated the size of the finished quilt (it was a kit), but I knew that I wanted the mini-quilt block to be smaller than it would have been in the kit quilt.  I thought I had it figured out, but was I ever wrong.  So I ended up with an oversize block and now have a small wall hanging in addition to the mini that I completed on the second try.  I still had to do some trimming, resulting in the outer green squares being a little smaller than the inner ones.  Can you see it from the Brooklyn Bridge?  Well, yes.

The block finished at just over 12" square.  None of my Christmas fabrics looked right as a binding, but this firethorn print from an autumn fat quarter collection was just right.

Too bad I forgot to swap out the red bobbin thread.

The hanging sleeve is sewn right in with the binding.   And I'm thrilled with how the mitered corners turned out.

Greta's Christmas Pillowcase

We were visiting friends in Delaware last week and I was forced, entirely against my will (!) to visit a quilt shop.  It was fabulous, wonderful fabrics everywhere (include upstairs).  If you ever have the chance, visit the Serendipity Quilt Shop in Dagsboro, Delaware.  I was determined not to add to my stash until I made more progress on my UFOs, but I couldn't resist a pillowcase kit to make for my granddaughter.

The kit was for making a pillowcase as a tube.  There are lots of videos on the web (a popular one is at Missouri Star Quilt Company, and Serendipity has written instructions on its website,

Since the fabric was already cut (except for the red insert strip), it only takes a few minutes to put together.  Mine took a little longer because I decided to do a French seam on the side.

Another cute find at Serendipity was this bin full of scraps.  Most had been cut to about 9" squares, perfect for a 5" charm and some 2" squares.  And so much variety -- fun!

Last, But Not Least

My daughter sent for a dozen fabric samples before finally deciding on the ones she wants for the Roman shades that I'll be making for her.  Sweet fabrics and only $1 each, but we both hated to waste them.  I sewed around the edges and voila! cocktail napkins!  Quilting started as a thrifty way to make warm bedcovers out of leftover fabrics.  The trend continues...

That's it for now.  Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope Santa is good to you and brings you something quilty!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Just in Time for JJ

My favorite baby quilt pattern is a Disappearing Nine Patch.  It is easy and quick.  So when my niece announced that she was having her first child, I went straight to my stash and dived in.  For once I'd have a quilt ready when the big day arrived.

Once again, I went with primary colors.  I didn't have to buy a thing for the nine-patches, there were lots of choices in my scrap bins.

I used the blue print for the focus fabric, the one square that doesn't get hacked up when you "disappear" the nine-patch.  And what fun -- this was the fabric that I used in the very first quilt I ever made!  It'll be a nice I Spy quilt, with toys and animals and numbers and lots of colors.

Here's the uncut nine-patch.  The squares that I want to keep whole are in the corners.  Cut each block in half vertically and horizontally.  The square in the center will be the smallest unit in the final block. Arrange the smaller blocks as you like.

I tried a couple of different arrangements.  This seemed a little boring to me.

This was better, but still not quite what I wanted.

Ta-da!  That's more like it, more movement, not quite so linear, with the blue squares offset.

This arrangement also has the added benefit that there are NO seams to match until you have the rows all made and you're ready to sew them together.

As I pieced the top, I made more flying geese for the Otsego Lake quilts as leaders and enders.  With any luck, the baby who gets this quilt will be able to sleep under an Otsego Lake quilt by the time he's in high school!  😃

Once the top was pieced, I got a little bit stuck.  I thought about just binding it in red and moving on, but the quilt would have been a little to small.  I debated between blue and yellow for an outer border, but just wasn't sure.  So I posted a photo of the top on The Quilting Board and asked for suggestions.

If you aren't familiar with wonderful group, please do visit the site.  It's a moderated bulletin board with discussion threads and photos of quilts for inspiration.  Members range from total newbies to professionals with decades of experience.  You can sign up for their "Daily Digest" to get an email every day to see the busiest threads.

Anyway, they came through as they always do.  Several people suggested going with green for the border, which I really hadn't considered.  Someone else suggested departing from the primary colors and using a black-and-white binding.  I am so happy with the final result!

The green really frames the pieced center.  It keeps your attention on the blue squares and keeps the quilt brighter than it would have been with the yellow.  I chose a print with swirls, to balance out the geometric blocks.  The center is straight-line quilted in a variegated thread.  It's hard to see now that the quilt has been washed.  The border is free-motion curly cat-tails that echo the swirls in the print (you can barely see it in the photo below).

And check out the border -- zebra stripes!  I just love it!  The back and the binding are both flannel.

The label got sewed on along with the binding, two birds, one stone.  It's my usual label, just a charm square folded over.  I left the top open to include a note to the parents.  Who knows, maybe some day the tooth fairy will be able to use it!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

No Devil's Playground, and a New Year's Resolution

Idle Hands?  I don't think so!

Hi, everyone!   As usual, it's been a while since my last post.  But that's because I've been quilting! 

I've got three finishes (two were minis), a lap quilt sandwiched and ready for quilting, the fireplace quilt laid out, and a sewing project cut and ready to stitch.

This mini-quilt (just about 14" square) was so much fun to make!  It was inspired by Carole at My Carolina Home (p.s., she also has some great recipes).  The fabric all came from my stash: baby quilt, wedding quilt, Civil War block swap, you name it.  It was so fast and easy, I made another one for my daughter (that counts as two finishes, right?)  Now I'm hooked on these little quilts -- I plan to make one for every season.

My New Year's Resolution

It's been many years since I embarked on the fireplace quilt.  I'd enthusiastically cut hundreds of pieces, including the squares that would become half-square triangles (HSTs).  As soon as I started sewing the HSTs, I realized that I hadn't made the squares larger to yield HSTs the same size as the full squares.  ARRGH!  I was so disappointed that I just threw everything in a bin and didn't look at it for a long time.  I finally decided just to use the HSTs and trim down the square units as I went along. Guess I'll need to add an extra border!

A few weeks ago I cleared off the double bed in my sewing room (my design wall is too small) and laid out all the pieces.  It wasn't an easy task, but after several days everything was in place.  Then I picked them up, row by row, and set them aside.  My New Year's resolution for 2017 is to get this quilt finished before next Christmas.  We'll see.

Waiting in the Wings

Last summer I found some wonderful fat quarters at Delphine's, my favorite quilt shop in Gaylord, Michigan.  I bought some yardage from the same fabric line, but didn't get any farther than that.  Now everything's cut and ready to become placemats.   Sorry that the colors didn't come out to well.  The "yellow" in the fabrics on either end is really a bright "safety green."

I couldn't resist this set of beautiful ombre fabrics when they were on sale from Connecting Threads.   The collection was a bit disappointing, in that it included 2 full yards of a rather ugly neutral.  I hear Bonnie Hunter's voice in my ear, "If it's still ugly, you didn't cut it small enough."  The ombres are fat quarters.

One side

The other side

I have no idea what I'm going to do with these.  Anyone have any ideas?  I'm thinking landscape quilt, but that might be an overly-ambitious project for anytime soon, what with everything else that's going on.

The fabric seems to be very nice quality.  And look at these registration dots -- 17 different colors on this one!!

My daughter is doing some serious redecorating of her home.  I promised that I'd make her some Roman shades for her bedroom and the front door.  While she was looking for fabrics, she found two that she loved, but not for shades.  So now I'm on the hook for some pillows too!

How fun is this selvedge?!

Did I mention that there are also two babies on the way.  One will get a quilt, one will get an embroidery.  Which reminds me, the quilt that was just finished?  I'll show that to you next week, after it arrives at its new home.  Until then!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Less is More

Sometimes we quilters just want MORE (fabric! ideas! time!).  But sometimes things get to be a bit too much.  That's when we OCD types decide to get (re)organized.

I have this thread organizer that I like a lot, lots of spindles that hold lots of spools and bobbins.  But when we moved a year ago, I traded the closet door where it was installed for a sliding door that just didn't do it.  It's been kicking around, and the biggest problem is that the bobbins keep unspooling themselves and creating a rat's nest of thread.  Ugh!

(and these are the tidy ones!)

So I did what any intelligent person would do in the 21st century, I Googled for solutions.  Lots of things to BUY (but I'd rather buy fabric, thank you very much). I just wanted something simple.  And I found it!

All you need is some plastic tubing, My husband was headed to Home Depot, so I asked him to pick some up, inner diameter 1/2".   He came back with a 10-foot length.  I think that will last me for a while!

Next, I cut the tubing into little cylinders 1/4" long (cut yours the same length as whatever is the height of the center part of your bobbins).

I tried cutting the tubing with scissors, knives, and other implements without success.  But never fear, I did find a tool that would do the job. Poultry cutters!  Voila!  Bwaak!  If they can crack the breastbone of a chicken, they can do this!

They worked perfectly.  I marked 1/4" increments along a length of tubing and cut at the marks.  After I had about two dozen pieces, I clipped each of them on one side to create a slit.

Pull the end of the thread in close to the bobbin and snap a piece of tubing around it.  You don't have to leave an end sticking out (as is shown here).  It will come loose when you remove the little bobbin collar.

These are so nice.  Cheap and easy to make, and you can see the thread color easily.  No more bobbins tumbling to the floor and unwinding as they go when you pick up a spool of thread.

Thank you to Toni at Stitch & Pink (formerly Sugar Tart Crafts) for this excellent idea.  You can see her original post here.

Coming up...

Babies!  Both of my nieces and the daughter of my best friend are expecting in the next couple of months.  So guess what I'll be working on?  One quilt is already sandwiched and ready for quilting, the most prepared I've been in ages.  I'm looking forward to picking out patterns and fabrics for the other two (one boy, one girl).  I *plan* to seriously shop my stash for these.  But I'm at my summer cabin in Michigan, so I do need to go into town and visit Delphine's Quilt Shop, my favorite stash-building shop.  A girl's just gotta shop local, you know?  :-D

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Another finish! This one for Greta

  Crayon Scribbles

I'm so happy to have another quilt finished and off to its new owner.  This is a quilt that I started making for my granddaughter, Greta, even before she was born -- May 20, 2014.  What with the broken legs incident and the hassles of selling one house and buying another, that's pretty good, I think.  I have plenty of UFOs way older than that!

  Unfortunately, it seems that I neglected to take a photo of the completed quilt top.  And then so much time passed before I got it quilted that I forgot had hadn't taken pics!  Arrgh!

This was from when the blocks were on my "design wall" (the bedroom curtains).

You might remember that I used a disappearing wheel block from a Missouri Star Quilt Co. tutorial (

I changed up the colors and added sashing to make the blocks stand out more.

The blocks remind me of those fat, flat-sided crayons that they make for toddlers.  So I decided that the name of the quilt would have something to do with crayons.

Then the quilt top sat, and sat, and sat.  With Greta's second (!) birthday looming, it was time to get back to work!

After stitching in the ditch to secure the quilt sandwich, I quilted parallel lines around each "crayon."
One more row of stitching to anchor the interior white rectangles.

The sashing turned out to be too wide (in my opinion), and there is just SO MUCH WHITE.  (But, as my son said, "not for long!").  Well, what would a toddler do with an expanse of white and a box of crayons?  Yep, she'd scribble all over it.  So that's what I did on the sashing.

I just zigged and zagged down the sashing in variegated thread.  Curvy lines would have looked better, more scribble-y, but I hadn't done any free-motion quilting in a while, and I didn't think it would turn out very well.  This was OK, and it helped to break up all the white.

With all those pretty colors on the top, what would I use for binding?  I still had some 10" squares from the original layer cake package.  I cut them into strips and made a pieced binding.  I really like how it turned out!

I also know that this puppy can stand up to washing.  I hadn't prewashed the layer cake, and when the quilt was washed, of course ONE RED fabric bled.  And bled.  It took four washes with ten Color Catchers to get rid of the excess dye.

Of course, since I'd forgotten to photograph the front of the quilt, I didn't have pics of the back, either.  It's flannel with a whimsical farm theme.  Sheep, cows, a puppy, and some (upside-down) chickens at the bottom.

I'd make this quilt again, but I would make it smaller.  The idea was for Greta to have a playing and crawling surface that could be washed.  But she was out of the crawling phase before I could turn around!  Maybe it will make a nice cover for her first Big Girl bed.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Shhh....  It's a coverup!

So, I was staring at my pile of UFOs and feeling stuck in that place where you just don't know where to start.  So I did what any normal person would do -- I decided to make something else entirely.

I almost never cover my sewing machine (I know, I know...).  The plastic cover it came with just seems like too much.  It takes up precious floor space when not in use, so I put it in the closet and then forget about it.  I ran across a pattern for a sewing machine cover that used charm squares.  Perfect, a small, quick project that would actually be useful.

After rooting through my stash of 5" squares (some actual charm packs, some [pre]cut by me at the end of a project), I didn't find anything I wanted to use.  But at the bottom of the bin, I found a layer cake that would do.  The 10" squares were in two colorways, neutral and blue.  I could see using the blue in a quilt, but the neutral not so much.  So I cut it into 5" squares and the cover was on its way.

The trouble with pre-cuts is they so often wonky.  Most of the ones I used were off, some almost 1/4".  Can you see it?

Here's a closer view.

 Oh, well, it's just a sewing machine cover.  At least my machine is happier!  I don't know what kind of machine the blogger has who made up this pattern, but it must be a lot bigger than mine.  I had to take out half the squares!  Part of the reason was probably because I have my machine in a table, machine bed flush with the table top.  But it cover was also waaaay too long.  I guess she must have a machine with an oversize harp space.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Quilting for Exercise!

Happy National Quilting Month!

I am so bummed.  I will be away for the next two weeks, so will be unable to do any quilting during National Quilting Month.  Boo!  The upside (I guess) is that I will drop off my machine for a much-needed cleaning etc. while I'm gone.  (Well, there's also the upside that I'll be visiting people I love in Florida!).  I'll have a few posts, but still.

So here's my Tip for the Day:

I recently got a Fitbit.  I like it -- low-end, but it does remind me that I need to keep moving.  It's amazing how many steps you can get in by putting your ironing board in a different room than your sewing machine.  But today was an eye-opener.

Today I walked for a couple of miles, then settled in to do some machine quilting.  That part didn't go so well, so I ended up doing a lot of seam-ripping of some decorative stitching that didn't turn out the way I'd hoped.  I was just sitting there, whacking away at those stitches, when my FitBit buzzed that I'd met my step goal.  Cool!  Except that I was just ripping out seams.  Maybe I was bouncing up and down in frustration, too, but I don't think so.

So keep this in mind.  If you need a few extra steps to meet your fitness goal, go ahead and unstitch those sub-par seams!  Frog stitching works!  Rippit, rippit.

'Til next time.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Barrister's Blocks FINISHED!

Four Years Later...

The Barrister's Block Sow-Along started on February 2, 2012.  Sixty-six blocks later, yesterday I finished the last block.  Wahoo!

This project really has been a quilter's path.  I've learned how much more difficult it is to accurately sew tiny units and small blocks.  One little wiggle and everything is off.  I've learned from experience that value is sometimes more important than color.  I've learned flying geese and HSTs go much better with a big can of spray starch nearby!

Here are the final blocks, completed since my last post 2 weeks ago:

Cactus Pot
No particular memories associated with these scraps, but I loved the golden-brown fabric -- it just screams "basket"!

Basket (yep, that what it's called)
This one was a disaster.  None of the blocks had any directions, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to complete the piecing without a Y-seam.  I ultimately ended up hand-stitching the remaining seam, and not very well at that.  Argh!

I was dubious about my choice of fabrics here, but I think the paisley makes the block!  All the others came from the bed runner that I made last winter for Beth and Stephen.  :-D

Rail Fence Variation

On the other hand, these fabrics looked good at first -- the aqua and black-and-white are from Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street mystery.  But although the colors work, the fabrics just don't go together.  I might end up making another version.

Leaf Block
The neutral is the background fabric from my niece Molly's quilt

Basket (again)
There was a basket thing going on here toward the end.  The green flowers are actually cabbages!

Jack in the Pulpit
Here I used the same color scheme as Randy did, happy to get rid of some pinks that I have never liked.  Can't say it really does anything for me.  But the background fabric was from the little wall hanging for my dear friend, Annie.  And that's a happy memory!

Sawtooth Star Variation
There are tiny red flowers in the black print.  It really comes together in person.  Used up some civil war reproduction fabrics, too.  The enchantment has worn off.

Streak of Lightning
I love the colors here -- blues from Easy Street and Molly's quilt -- but the block is a bit (!!) wonky.  Another do-over?

Double X
Maybe my favorite in the group.  Although the effect was unplanned, the brown squares on the corners of the center give the appearance of an overlay.

Dove in the Window
Usually when I do a "controlled scrappy," I keep the background fabric pretty much the same throughout and mix up the colors (as in all the other blocks here).  This time I did the reverse, and I like it.  I love how the dark blues just pull you in.

When we moved last  summer, my design wall bit the big one.  Now I really need one so I can figure out what to do with all these blocks.  My husband had a great (I think) idea.  I put the "loops" side of a strip of Velcro along an edge of a piece of flannel, and will put the "hooks" side on the top edge of the trim on the closet door in my sewing room.  I can hang up the design "wall" whenever I need it, and just fold it up and tuck it away when it's not in use.  Yea!

The last eleven blocks and the first nine.
The very first block (4th one down on the left) used the same little red star print that's in the center 4-patch in one of the very last ones (3rd one down on the right)!  Black sashing, maybe?  Or dark brown??