Tuesday, August 4, 2015


 This post is just thoughts I need to put down into words.

  I get several emails each week that touch my heart in different ways.  When I am anxious, or burdened about something, along comes a note in my inbox that encourages me.  It may just be a follower checking up on me.  Several times I have been beset with doubts about what I do here on the blog, in the sewing room, or life in general.  Again, a note arrives that lifts my spirit, makes my day, and lets me know that all of this does make a difference to someone, somewhere.
  I save those notes.   Because each one represents a connection to another quilter that has gained something through my effort.  Each one is a treasure to me.  I gain strength from them.   I gain focus and inspiration.

  And then there are emails that touch me in a different way.  They are the ones that choke me up and bring tears.  They take me to my knees in prayer.

   About 6 weeks ago, Mrs. Claus in Nebraska sent me a note that she probably would not get to finish up her final 2 quilts.  Would I complete them?    Her cancer monster had returned with a vengeance.  She had made the decision to discontinue the chemo treatments.
   Today, her note was to let me know the last quilts are in the mail.  She struggled to get them in the mail and to send a note as she is unable to be up more than an hour at a time.
   I am thankful that she is not in any pain, yet praying for healing mercy.   I am so thankful I got to know her as a devoted Mrs. Claus for the last few years, yet not wanting to let go.  I admire her......the strength it takes to go through this situation, to make the painful decision,  and face what is to come.    Prayers and hugs to Mrs. Claus in Nebraska.

   Life is relationships......like fabric and thread.  People come together in different ways and form bonds.....like a quilt pattern.   The importance of our life is not what we look like, or what we have, or how good we are at something.  It is the relationships we build with  others.  It is the sharing.......giving of ourselves to improve their life.    And the profound effect is how much we gain in the process.   Mrs. Claus, you have taught me much.  Thank you.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

A feather wreath?

  The blank space on the Hot Dish table runner was a good area to try a feather wreath.   something a little different for me.
   I needed a circle.....you have to look really close to see the faint pencil marks.  I used a bobbin ring for the shape.   I was not sure if I could follow the circle  with out having a lot of wiggles.

  I began in the center of the ring and lined it with plumes.  The start was good....making the end of the inner ring was not good. My plumes got too skinny at the end.  It is going to take practice.

  Then I moved to the outside and adding the feather plumes all around the outside.  Much easier to do.  I could extend them to fill in a lot of area.

One down and two more wreaths to do.

  •   I had to stitch slowly to stay on the faint drawn line.
  • I had a slight tension imbalance and the light gray bobbin thread shows in the spots where I paused.   A  quick wash will probably hide them.
  •  There was a lot of stopping to shift the runner around so I could see where I needed to be.....I would not do this on a large quilt!  
  • Getting plumes to match at the end needs work.....my angle got a bit to severe at the end.  More practice required!

 I am not sure how the rest of it will get quilted yet.....hoping for inspiration.    I may stipple the rest of the light areas around the wreath.  There are also some light areas on the edges which I will put in my usual style of feathers....like this one.  

   Don't expect first time feathers like this one.....it took me a year of practice to figure this one out.  Even three wreaths of feathers is only dipping my toes in the water of formal style feathers......I am just not sure if they are my "style" but I tried just to see.  And this small project was just the thing to experiment on.   What a way to start the week.....happy stitching.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

July wrap-up

  July is a wrap......with some finishes!  That's a good thing.

   The small block Carolina Chain was done in floral fabrics with batik accent squares.  The border was any leftover small pieces framed with a dark batik.  I love the striking effect it created along with the center shimmer.

  The rail fence variation was pieced and bordered...finally.  It's up for quilting next month.

  The other finish is on the bottom row in the center.  This is a bargello done in floral fabrics.  It was a Let's Book It project that has been hanging around for a couple of month.  Quilted in July and finished!

  The other 2 photos are small projects......mug rugs and snack mats.  It was that December holiday in July here.  I had vowed to not wait to the last minute this year, and decided on mug rugs as my "gift" items.  It was good I had a few on hand this past week to share with visiting family as mementos!

   I have two table runners pieced and ready for quilting, also.  And that is all I am committing to for August......as I am sure it will fly by.  I would rather  get more done than planned than to miss the mark.   Time to get Hot Legs oiled up and ready to go to work.    Happy stitching.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Picking binding

   I had a question about how I chose fabrics to bind a quilt from Linda. And what was I going to use on the latest scrappy quilt.   A flood of things came to mind.  Along the way I have  learned a few things....mainly to follow my instinct at the end.     I know some quilters plan ahead and cut binding strips as they cut pieces and borders.  I don't always think about binding fabrics until I get to that stage.   It is just a matter of preference and what effect you want.

   So I will share my thought process and let you find your own way and inspiration.  Please remember, my quilts are for use....on the walls, on the sofa or bed....not for big exhibition quilt show.  If I was looking to win a big show, of course,  I would need to change some of my ways. Judges look for things like hand stitched bindings, and bindings cut on the bias.  Needless to say, mine usually are not.  I'm not doing tutorials or "how tos".....there are plenty of those elsewhere.  Just check Pinterest.

  I see the binding as the final frame.   Think of a picture frame  and how it finishes off the print or painting.
   So for a quilt.....It might look best to blend with the border fabric.  Most of my small wall hangings have a binding that blends with the outer border.  I want the center to be the focus.  In this case, I used the same fabric.  If I am short on fabric, I would just look for a very similar fabric to use.

  Small watercolor quilts that have a solid border also get a binding that matches.  There is so much going on in the center that a contrasting binding would be a distraction.  If the border is a print or batik, I would also match as close as possible to it.

    Other times,  a contrasting binding accents the colors or fabrics in the center piecing.  It might tend to lead the eye back to the center.  For this baby quilt, the Mom wanted pink and green colors......so I made sure there was a bight pink binding for the finish.  It's unexpected and fun in this case.  And I got to use up a lot of that bright pink.

   Another contrast binding to accent the color and pull all the blue/purple out to the edge.  There was quite of bit of blue and purple in the body of the quilt and the border strip and binding just made it all pop.

  Yet my favorite binding is mixed.....whatever strip is leftover from the center gets added to the binding.  I simply string them all together until I have enough length to go around.  You might note that I am guilty here of joining some fabrics bluntly rather than a diagonal join.  I probably was short on fabric and needed every inch.

  The diagonal join is the best method to use to distribute the bulk.   Here's a good tutorial on joining binding strips.  It is the technique I use.

     One more.......This quilt had a very busy border, so it was easy to use up any leftover floral strip for binding.  It was mixed floral strips  and yet blended into the border without distracting from it.
  The  question about the latest scrappy rail quilt.....its binding will be  an assortment of whatever leftovers I find.  It is just that kind of quilt.
  Maybe a few of my ideas will spark your creativity to experiment with your binding choice.  Match it, mix it up, or find a bold contrast.  As long as you like it, it is good.
Happy stitching.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Let's Book It / July

  Time to report in for the Let's Book It Project.  Needless to say, I got distracted this month and did not get finished on my quick and simple project.  I decided to make a table runner from the Minnesota Hot Dish pattern.  Easy enough.  Yet my brain fog set in, and  my math skills disappeared, which lead to being short on the required cut pieces.  This lead to the detour of developing a Project Cutting List.   Rough month, right?
   From a great little booklet on Minnesota Hot Dish styles......you can create 2 different looks from the placement of your fabrics.


  One version creates a pinwheel effect, and the second develops into a chain.  Guess you know which one I like.   I chose fabrics from the scrap pile in an assortment of blue, purple, and green tones.

  My runner of three large units got pieced--finally--and pinned.  Thankfully, finishing is not required for the Let's Book It project!  Sharon is just enabling us to begin something from our stash of patterns/books/want to dos.  It's a great way to experiment with some new ideas.

  Quilting on this one will happen in August. Did I really say August.....already?
I may not get much else done as there are a couple of family visits and a trip on the schedule.    A few small projects will probably get thrown in again.
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Revised Project Cutting List

Project Cutting List  Rev. 2

  I noticed a huge surge in stats yesterday that seemed to be coming from Facebook.   I thought over 1,000 views was a little bit odd for my blog!
Sure enough,  the Project Cutting List had been shared there.....which is fine.
  One of the comments suggested an added column to check off  when  completed.  I liked that, so a little revision was needed.
  If you are seeing this for the first time.....I put together this chart to help me when cutting a block with multiple sizes of pieces.  I had a minor mistake occur on a recent project and ended up short on two different size pieces for each block!  I print this on card stock and have plenty of space on the back for notes.  And I have a handy reference if I decide to repeat the block or project later.

 Here is Rev 2 of the Project Cutting List.      The original can still be printed from the original post.     

  More scraps turned in to snack mats and mug rugs.  The small ones were done with no binding.  I figured out how do the simple "birthing" without having to hand stitch the turning spot closed on the edge.  I used 2 pieces for the backing...leaving the opening for turning in the seam for the backing.  It was such an obvious thing to do, and yet all this time I missed it!
Keep learning new tricks.....happy stitching.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rail Fence flimsy surprise

  The leader/ender project that had been on the design wall gave me a little surprise.  Hanging on the design wall, it was colorful, and a little bit plain.  So I knew a border of some sort was required.

  Shopping in the stash closet----- I was looking for something to bring it all together.   I had enough of the cream rail fabric for the outer border...which would help float the design.  Yet I wanted a narrower inner border to frame it.   A large print just made it busier.  A small  print looked alike dots and was distracting to me.  Black was  under whelming.  Various blue fabrics were uninspiring.  My green collection is getting sparse.

   Then I went to the red section.

  I have had this mottled fabric for several years.....won as a door prize.  It's not really red.....one of those that are difficult to classify.  Some goldish orange that blends into a red purple tone...as a large piece it is ugly.   Yet, cut into strips  as an inner border, it not only stops the design, it enhances the gold and red fabrics in the mix.

   Once the borders were added, I was surprised to see how well it worked for this rail fence variation.  A little unexpected use of some ugly fabric adds a spark to a very simple pattern.
   Now it is on to the backing and quilting.  Maybe you will discover a surprise in your stash!

  Happy stitching.    
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