Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Finds #3

  I'm not sure what I spent my week doing, but I know I was busy.  Sometimes the time just gets away from me.  So I am pulling in a couple of pins I found a while back.

From Molly Flanders blog
   If you are in need of a different type of border idea, look at this one.  It's from Molly Flanders blog.  There is a good tutorial on creating a spike border that is a no fuss, not precise, very relaxed attitude style.  In other words, anything works, and no worry about the quilt police pointing out your points are not right!  I think it would be great for just about any scrap quilt.

From asquaredw blog

To go along with the spike border, I found another tutorial that will give you a more precise piecing for the border----if you prefer for all things to be the same.  This is from asquaredw blog  .   She refers to them as HRT---half rectangle triangles.  I am no math whiz, but she is it seems!  It's a good tutorial for creating the HRT.

   As always, please visit the original blog posts that are linked in bold print for the information and tutorials.  Pin from the original post--not from here--to have a direct link to the information.  I am only sharing the source not the info.
   And a a daily scan of your computer.  There is so much spam and junk out there right now.  Don't spread it around....scan.  That includes adware scans.  Be safe when browsing.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Working on the blended border

 It's Let's Book It time..... you can find the linky party and info at Vrooman's Quilts.   This is the only sew along I have committed to this year because there is no pressure, only encouragement to create from one of those bookmarked or saved patterns that fill my shelf.  Last year, this kept me motivated and this year I am sticking with it.  I hope you will consider joining in!

   My Let's Book It project began with this here. 

And I continued with details on my this post.  

And now, I am onto the border for the English Garden quilt.

Please ignore my mess!   I am finding this very relaxing and enjoyable........

    I set up a work space to work on small sections for the border of the English Garden quilt.  Rather than do all the reaching and stretching and then having to shift it all to the ironing board, I did this!   I have a small design board that is felt covered and only about 2' by 3', which is a perfect size  for my small worktable.
   I cut the fusible interfacing into 6" strips that are 20" long.  I can easily move the whole set up to the ironing board.....slip the pieces and interfacing off and press.  I am trying to use up a lot of my "stash" of extra 2" squares that have been hanging around for a while......and I have spread them out around me as I work.
I can arrange a few pieces between regular chores and then return and continue.  For this project, it is working well.

And how does it look on the wall?  First section up.......

  Another  section added and I can begin to see the shadows and sunlight play around the edges.

   I have 3 sections up now.  Remember that this will shrink quite a bit as the seams are sewn.  That's what I will do next so I can determine exactly how much I need for this side, which is really the bottom.  Nothing like starting at the bottom and working your way around and up!
Linking to Let's Book It........  
Happy stitching.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A personal Quilt Tale

  I love sharing quilt stories....I call them quilt tales.  These two things  happened recently to me.  It gave me a warm heart to know how my family does feel.

I got this text message and photo from one of the "grandpups"

Dear Grandmom- Thank you for making us lots of quilts.  I'm snuggled in on this cold snowy night.  Mommy keeps trying to make me go out... Please tell her 6" of snow makes that request unreasonable.  Lots of love- Nicolas

  You have to love that cute face.....of course, I think this is just a plea for another quilt!

  Then over the weekend: 
Dan's journey
  When my brother abruptly moved for a job a couple of years ago, we pitched in and did a lot of the packing up.   The weekend he was allotted for the pack up did not make a dent it what had to be done.  Luckily, his house had a storage area off the basement that could hold most of everything he was leaving.  Sir Old Man put a lock on the door and then helped me pack box upon box, and made multiple trips to drop off donation items.

Under the Sea..not quite finished

     Over the weekend, my brother called and said he would be up this week to clear out and take care of the items he left.  I questioned why since his older son is living in the house now.  He replied that there were some things missing....things he said were valuable.  I thought that odd because we did not remember anything of "value" being put in there.
   Then he said, "The quilts.  The quilts are gone.  I looked for them at Christmas.  I was afraid to tell you."
    Shocked, I said,....No, I have the quilts.  We were concerned about mildew or mold and stored the quilts under the bed.  He was relieved--a lot--and I was surprised/pleased to find out he considered them that valuable.   The three photos are part of his collection of quilts.....I can't find photos of the others.  I need to take care of that.

 Moral of the story:   I am reminded of Sally Fields accepting her Oscar many years ago....."You like me. You really, really like me."    Yes, our families do like our quilts.  In fact, they have placed a high value upon them.  Even if they never say so in words, our quilts are valuable to them.  Make more!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Project folio...testing sample

    A couple of weeks ago, I shared a pin I found  for a travel tool case....see it here.    Dana at Stormy Days commented that I might need to add a flap, as the design allowed the tools to slide out.   Ah, good point.....I needed to think about this one before trying it.
  Yesterday afternoon was spent trying a test sample to see where the problems were in the change of design I came up with.  This is not a tutorial, but a look into my creative process including the problems and possible solutions.    You can see my page of notes, and scribbles as I work and change things.

    First, I altered the size.  I wanted to be able to put my 9 1/2" junior ruler and a small mat in the side pockets.   I decided to add/try a double pocket on the left side.  That makes the left edge very thick.....I may not use the double pocket.

   Second, I turned the tool pocket on its side.  It is in the center section.  I also ended up adding an extra strip of  fabric to the bottom because I thought the pocket was too short.  Another problem to solve here....the center tool pockets are too tight.  I need to add a bit of fullness there.  I will change the shape of the pocket when cutting and add about an inch to the top of it.

   Third, a flap closure was added to the right side by making the length longer.  This creates a tri-fold folio style.  It also allows a spot for some wool felt to be stitched down for pins, and a smaller pocket too.

  From the outside, here is the folded folio.  I added a closure with velcro to the right side.    This works, but seems a bit flimsy.  I may need to make it longer to keep things in proportion.
   I also quilted the outer fabric first.  Then I added a layer of Pellon stiffener---thinking it would provide more body to the folio, which it does.  But it introduces a lot of thickness on the I will trim the Pellon next time so that it is about an inch smaller all the way around.

  This sample needs binding to be finished....but that presented a thickness challenge.  I think I have a solution for it.

   I cut the binding as usual and then pinked the edges, so that it is about 1" wide and double folded.  Note those pinking shears.....they belonged to my mother-in-law and are older than me!  They are heavy and stiff, but they are still sharp.
  My objective today is to add a strip of fusible web to one side of the binding.  The pinked edge will be fused to the inside.  Then the folded edge will wrap around to the outside and be top stitched in place.    I am not sure if I will like this, but that's what a sample is for....trying things.

    From the outside, the back is not as nice as it should be.  I do not like  the lines stitched over the quilted fabric very much.  I am debating on only stitching the tool pocket down through the lining fabric and the Pellon stiffener.  This would need to be done before assembly to the outer fabric.      Hummmmm.....Light bulb!  That might give me the option of not using binding on the edge.  I will be thinking this one through again.    That is just part of the creative process.  Hope I gave you a little insight to how mine works.    Feel free to throw some more ideas at me on this.  I might incorporate it into this.   Happy stitching.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

English Garden--ready for the fun part

   On Friday all the rows for the English Garden pattern were joined.  The center was fully assembled and the inner strip border was added.
   While I was adding the final vertical  row, I found a block up side down.  Out came the ripper and luckily it was an easy fix.  But I made sure all the other blocks were in the correct position.  Thank goodness, it was only one block.

  Right now it is a good size throw, about 50 inches by 72 inches.  Yet there is more to come.  The watercolor border  is next, what I consider to be the fun part!

The fusible interfacing strips are cut and waiting for the design fun to begin.   My version is scrappy in comparison to the photo in the book, so the border will also be leftover parts and whatever else I have already cut into 2" squares.

 I took the time to prep a little for some leader/enders that will be used when the sewing begins on the watercolor border.   I chopped up some 2 1/2" scraps strips and short pieces into squares and filled a container with them.  Eventually they will become 4 patches to be used for something.....unknown at this time.

From the workshop:
  This is progress, really it is.  It's the leg sets for the bed and all the slats....sanded smooth and planed to the perfect size.  The mortises have been cleaned up and everything fits smoothly.  Sir Old Man has worked very hard on these, and is now almost ready to get all the pieces fumed.   But we will talk about that another day.  

Happy stitching.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Finds

   From this week's pins. Please visit these blogs to see the complete post and details.  I am sure they would love some company!

From Chasing Cottons
 Pop Flower Coasters......a little smaller version of a mug rug..... I found this at Chasing Cottons blog.  She has a good tutorial for construction and the pattern pieces are there too.   I love the op-art style flowers---they remind me of the 60's style art.  Wouldn't they be cute for a border, on a tote bag, or even for a table runner?

must try this technique: A Guide to Board Basting | RIght Sides Together
From Right Sides Together blog

  I have not tried this yet...but I am thinking I need to find some long boards.  I may need to "shop" for them in the workshop.

Board Basting from Right Sides Together
   This technique allows you to pin baste/spray baste / thread baste your quilt top while comfortably sitting at the kitchen table by using long boards for rolling your quilt.   There is a detailed tutorial on this technique, as well as the original by Sharon Schamber.  I thought this handy guide that she provided was worth a mention.

Quilt labels

  Labels----printable and a tutorial.  I use computer printed labels for my quilts with graphics from a greeting card program.  So when I spotted this freebie, I thought it would be a good idea to share them.   There is a good tutorial on printing them.  You can  edit the pdf  with your personal info for printing, or just print and write on them with a pen.

  If you find a really great "pin", send it to me.  Thanks, and happy stitching.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Try a doodle

  I had a little craft project in mind when Sir Old Man said he was hitting the Big Box store.  I asked him to bring me home a few---a handful--- of the paint chip/sample cards.  I had already visited one of the local paint stores and was surprised to end up with not the usual sample cards.  When did the paint companies change to these things?    Wavy edges, cut out holes, short and squat......I will  just have to trim them up.   I really need to get to more places than just fabric stores, don't I!

Here's what I had in mind.....idea stolen from make some bookmarks.  The ones I saw were done with stamps....but I never got into the paper crafting or scrap booking.  So I resorted to the basic doodling.  I pulled out all my markers and pens to try.  The results....
   Pigma pens do not dry and smear.
Sharpie pens are the same....smear.

  The best was the cheapest $ store variety.  A metallic gel pen that I dug out of the Christmas gift tag box!  And of course the real Sharpie marker with the ultra fine tip worked perfectly.
I spent a pleasant time just doodling and drawing dots and swirls, and a few feathers.   It's a nice way to practice those doodles for free motion quilting, too.

 Once everything was dry, I trimmed the sample cards to 2" wide with a rotary cutter----the oldest one I have that is set aside for cutting/trimming any paper product.

  I used a regular hole punch, then I dug into my bag of saved ribbon and cordings....for the final touch.  A few book marks with that personal statement.  A cute creative expression of what I do!
Now I am set for marking articles and projects for this year's Let's Book It!....or marking recipes, or reading a book, or sharing with a friend.   Take some time and try a doodle.  Then happy stitching.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Joining rows for English Garden

  Joining the rows for the English Garden quilt is a little unnerving for me.   First, almost every row in this quilt is different!  The staggered drop is the villain that causes this to happen.
Second, in the quilt world,  those perfectly matched seams are so prized, and expected of someone with experience.  Ha!  In this quilt layout, I find only a few spots to match a seam with long stretches of nothingness to guide and reassure me.

   I have 3 vertical rows joined here.  Two wide ones and one narrow one on the left side.   I have a few more vertical rows sewn that are just pinned to the wall, too.  The first 2 rows were a breeze.....then the third one came along.
  The top row of the first block in the third row--confused yet?----needs to align with bottom row of the first block in the first row.  Giggle/grin/sigh.....I know, that is exactly how I felt.

  This close up should help you see why I was a bit unnerved.  I got to the third row and found little to match.  The staggered blocks are a blessing---ease of sewing---and a curse---nothing to register with.
   So out came the pins....those long, pointy things with knobs on the top  that leave pricks along the way.  I pinned the places that need to align....and hoped for the best.

  Actually, the rows are going together well....just a bit slower sewing than normal.  Since each one is different, I am slowing down in an attempt to avoid mistakes  in joining pieces.  I sure would hate to have to return to the store and buy more fabric!
  One other little trick I used while piecing the vertical rows for this one.....I used a sticky note on the layout photo in the book to mark which row I was piecing.  Example......when I finished up the third row, I moved the piece on to the fourth row----lining up the edge of the  sticky note with the row in the book.  It helped keep the confusion down.

  I also got one donation quilt pinned.
  This is a guild quilt for Habitat for Humanity that I was volunteered to quilt.  LOL.....wait till I show the's a doozy.   I am pinning a table topper/runner right now too.  I am just stacking them up for Hot Legs.
Happy stitching.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


  My plan was to just pick up some interfacing and white muslin.  When I returned home I sent Sir Old Man a text that I knew I was in trouble because I bought bolts!  He knew what I meant and replied that was OK, I was just playing catch up!  I am so blessed that he is understanding about my fabric habit.  And I get those coupons that I just hate to waste......

   While I did purchase a bolt of muslin, I also picked up a bolt of light weight interfacing.  It seems that Pellon is no longer producing the 2" gridded interfacing that I extol and use.  Yikes!  I searched the internet sources and found 2 other products at $6/yard!  Yikes, yikes!!   The fabric in the photo purchased with coupons was less than that a yard.   Instead I purchased the plain light weight fusible interfacing--99 cents/yard/ 49 cents with coupon!--- that I will use by simply marking some grid lines myself.
   I updated the Watercolor Tutorial page with the information and suggest using the 1" gold line gridded product instead.....if you don't want to fuss with marking a few lines to use as a guide/reference point.
  Back to the bolts.....this is from an old post and explains my mini-bolt system.

Tip for storing fabric:
  My large collection of floral fabrics are usually folded and stored in bins on  shelves in my stash closet.  Mainly those fabric cuts are small and less than a yard.  But what about the larger yardage cuts for borders and backings especially?   

  About 4 years ago, I began using the mini-bolts for storage.  When I first  began this, I was using a thin plastic insert.  Later I switched  to using  foam core board.  The foam core  can be purchased at the Dollar Store in the 2 foot by 3 foot size usually.  I cut the size-- that works best for me-- 11" to 12" high by 8" wide.    It's easy to cut with a craft knife.  I often end up with smaller sections of the boards and they work great for shorter cuts--- those under a yard. 

  Today, I am even more frugal.....I use old  yard campaign signs or yard signs of any kind that I house for sale, or other advertising.  They get knocked down or the wires rust out.  I collect them, wash them up, and cut  to the size I like.    I'm saving the land fill (if they would ever make it there) and keeping my dollars for fabric and thread.  

 Fabric is folded just like it comes off the bolt.  Then one more fold---bringing the folded side over to match the selvedge edge.  Roll it up and pin the end.  
     The mini-bolts make it easy to see what I have to work with.  I am  known to be pretty messy and scattered, so this really helps me neater.   And what fun to shop your own fabric store in your stash closet.

Happy stitching!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday---free finds!

   I usually just "pin" to Pinterest the things I see or run across online----especially the free tutorials or patterns.  I realize not everyone follows Pinterest or checks to see if I found something good.   So in the spirit of share it all, I will try to remember to post some free finds on Fridays this year.
Sew Perfect from All People Quilt
It's call SewPerfect and is from All People Quilt.....a small gift or personal project.  And the pattern is available for download as a free PDF. I like the folio style and the side slide in pocket, as well as the pocket slots for accessories that we all use.  While I am not a hand stitcher any longer, there are times I need to grab a few tools for marking diagonals, or applique pieces.  This is great for that, too.
I may make a couple of adjustments to fit my small mat and ruler....and eliminate the ties.  I would use a loop and button if I need a closure.  Grab the pattern for future use!

From Moda Bakeshop

  I thought this was too cute!  A play mat for baby done in cathedral window pattern.  There's a really good free tutorial there on this circle technique.
  You can finish this up by machine instead of hand stitching.   I  have also seen this done with old jeans and scraps....and leave the edges raw even.  That would be perfect for a college student to lug around.

    Check out the new site for Quiltshopgal---formerly SewCalGal.    Creative Goodness is a linky party every Friday.....with the intent to share and inspire.  Old and new posts can be shared, and some weeks there are themes.   Hop on over and give Darlene some company!

 Have fun with these.....happy stitching.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Small gifts

  When we went for haircuts last week, the first thing Michelle said to me was that her husband stole her mug rug!  I had to giggle....a husband who purloins mug rugs!  Like me, she has a tile counter top in the kitchen, and it quickly chills your morning coffee.  So it seems the husband figured that out and snitched the small gift.  So I made a couple more rugs to share.....they should cool his jets or sticky fingers.

  And what did I get in the mail this week?  Treasures!
I was so excited when I open a small package from Janet at Rogue Quilter.   She is not only a wonderful quilter of quilts and minis, but she makes soap in her spare time!  The herbal soap smells just divine.....and so pretty.  Maybe luscious is a better word to describe them.   And the little ornament is a very special treasure.  Janet used scraps of her mother's floral fabrics----she did water colors too!----to make this tiny basket block.  I just marvel at the tiny pieces because tiny is not my forte at all.  Thank you, Janet, and I am so glad you kept the bunny!!  I need to add that  I got this little package for having been the first to find the duplicate fabric in one of her minis.  She can be sneaky that way...unannounced giveways and such. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Beginning English Garden quilt --the layout

   Last year Deb at a simple life quilts and I discussed doing a Year of Floral quilts.  Life intervened and we never got to the planning stage.  I am starting my year off with a floral quilt, and have plans for a couple more that I will share with  my variations.

 In my last post I showed the block I was using for the English Garden quilt.  It is a variation of a log cabin.....and you need to pay attention to the assembly and add logs to the proper side.  Ask me how I know.....I had a few that had the light and dark small square switched and they had to be ripped.

   So I teased you with the layout description.   Here's the photo from the book of the layout.    Note: the original pattern was made with 1 1/2" strips....I am using 2".
   The layout for the English garden quilt is a little different than most quilts. The rows need to be assembled vertically since the blocks are staggered.   I had to study the diagram to see that each row lines up differently than the previous one.

   Here's the book photo of the quilt....can you see the twisted ribbon effect?  Again this would be a great two color pattern, or done in batiks.

 After making the blocks, I was overly anxious to see what a few blocks would look like.  So a layout test came next with just a few blocks and a couple of strips that will be part of the vertical sash.    This photo also gives you a chance to see the fabrics I am using.
  I also made an adjustment  to my fabric selection for the background....I'll share that when I get it cut......which is my next step for today.
   There's a forecast for freezing rain tonight....and also in the morning.  I may miss the Bible study group if the forecast is correct----you can't get down our hill or across the bridge safely with that slick stuff around.  Bad weather = more sewing time.
   Before I hit the rotary cutter, I want to say thanks for the support for my change in focus.  I had so many extra emails about it that I was quite surprised.  Many expressed the need for blogs with details and instructions rather than just photos of finishes, which are so great to me for inspiration.  These are young and older quilters that don't have access to a local shop or instructor.  Some are just plugging along, lost in trying to figure things out for themselves.   So sharing the wealth of knowledge and experience in our heads and hands  might be just what they need.   Renew your process pledge and pay it forward!  Happy stitching.   

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Changing focus here and new project

 I am back on my feet again, and able to keep food down.....that was an ugly virus.  Anyway, it gave me pause and time to think about my plans.

   In the last couple of years I have done a lot of quantity, and gained a vast improvement in quilting skills.   I am not going to even count the number of quilts, much less small projects.  I guess I thought I was in a race, and had to have the numbers to get there.  I had made plans for about 15 quilted projects for this year along with a couple of challenges.  That is about to change.

   I want to take a slightly different direction here and put my focus on the design process.  I hope to bring out options, inspirations, and put some design ideas  into what I share.  A lot more content and focus on quality---how did I get there--- rather than the quantity.  I need time to quilt more donation quilts, so my finishes will number less I am sure.   I hope you will stick around, ask questions and come along for the journey.

   Last month  I started prepping this project for the new year.   I chose the English Garden quilt from the book Watercolor Log Cabin Quilts by the Palouse Patchers.   The book is out of print, but can still be found occasionally on different sites.  The block was described as a rectangular log cabin block that  is flipped and staggered across the quilt and becomes a twisted ribbon on the diagonal.    Something a little different I thought.   Right off I realized it was not quite a log cabin, but rather a variation at best.

Rectangular block for English Garden
    I did a mock up in EQ7 to show what I mean.  Strips are 2 " and you create a dark and a light side.  I caught myself adding the first light strip to the right instead of opposite the first dark a log cabin.  I went back to the book and checked  arrangement again.....this is correct.
    A setting strip will be added when the vertical piecing begins that will actually complete the log cabin look.   Not there I won't confuse the issue before hand.

    I went ahead and put in the cutting size measurements for reference in this photo that I used.     A block can "grow" and warp by strip piecing....
 ( butting one section to another against a long strip, sew,  and then cut) .   So I do cut the strips into the correct length before piecing to  be sure that the block is the correct will finish at 4 1/2" by 6".

   I am using floral fabrics....what else would you expect.  But I think this one would be a good design to play with in batiks or scraps---- as long as you pay attention to the value and get a dark and a light side.  And the proportions could be easily made larger or smaller according to the strip size you want to work with.
  Meanwhile, I have some blocks to piece and setting lengths to cut......and next time I will show the actual layout.  Happy stitching.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Colorful cover for machine

  I had a few  string blocks tucked away.  They were odd sized.....4" by 6"....and I had no memory of why I made them.  It must have just been a little play time after seeing something similar somewhere.   So if I stole the idea from you.....let me know!
   So what to do with them?   Six in a row for a runner, two by two for a narrow banner?   I slept on it and came up with a 3 by 3 arrangement for a new throw cover for my sewing machine.

   My Janome has a wide end and a narrow end and the arm that stands above it for threading.....which makes a traditional slip cover awkward.  I settle for a throw type cover with string ties to keep the extra dust bunnies from nesting there.

    I turned the 6 string blocks into spool blocks by adding strips on either side.  Then by adding a black strip to the top and bottom, the blocks finish off at 6" by 9".   A few spacer strips in leftover black and white prints---remember Easy Street Mystery from 2 years ago---were put in the center.   They cover the wide top of the machine and allowing the spools to be seen completely from the front or back.

  I love the color, I love the theme, I love a finished project that is useful!  So what have you got tucked away that needs to be used?  It's time to clean out some things.    And take a chocolate reward on a completed goal!  Happy stitching.

Monday, January 5, 2015

From the Inside Out

  I began this watercolor in September of last year.  The design is a little more graphic than I usually work with, and it is just starting to take shape here.
   My inspiration was a few lines of a  song heard at church.  I immediately saw the darkest parts of the heart being touched by light and turned into something of beauty.  So I needed a very  dark area to begin and allow it turn into a beautiful border area to surround the center.

 I worked from the center outward, which is seldom how I work.  Usually, I begin with the light area and that is rarely placed in the exact center.  Then I will establish a dark edge and merge the two values.  Creating the opposing corners on this one was different and a little more of a challenge for me.  That is why this one has been hanging around on the design wall for a while.  Yet a new year looming was a good reason to commit to it and get it done.

   It is quilted in the center with larger swirls and then large meandering in the border.   Those seam intersections are quite thick, so I really try to avoid them if possible.

  From the Inside Out
34 inches by 34 inches

First finish for 2015, first floral, too!  Let the new projects start.  Happy stitching.

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