Friday, May 29, 2015

Bound and determined

Hi all!  How was your week? In just a couple of days it will be June, and you know what that means--it might, just might, be safe to put the long underwear away for a few months.  Not saying anything about the electric blankets. Quilts, of course, stay year-round.

So today I have two finishes to show you, both from tops that I finished up some time ago. These are connected to each other in an interesting way, which I'll get to in a minute. First up is this beauty:

 This is Summer Picnic, and you can read more about it HERE. It was quilted in an allover design with bright green thread and is showing off here at the formal gardens in the park. I love that little gargoyle, which I think is supposed to be a fish. No one was in the formal gardens since they're not in bloom yet, so the quilt got to shine all by itself.

Along with Summer Picnic is the blue and white fields and furrows quilt, which you can read more about HERE:

This lovely quilt --which needs a real name, if you have any suggestions--was quilted in an allover leaves pattern in white thread by my friend Amy.  She has a new long arm and wanted a top to practice on, so I let her use this one.  I think it turned out great!

What "binds" these two finally finished quilts together? Well, these are the first quilts I have EVER bound completely by machine!  I was scared to do it, but I'm so glad I did. It was not without its problems, but it's a great new technique for me.  I stitched the binding to the back and folded it to the front and then edge-stitched it down, which worked so much better than trying to line up everything from the back.

Here was one of my problems:

See how wonky and weird that is, with tucks in the binding? Yeah, that's bad.  I started out with a zipper foot to get close to the edge, and that didn't work so well at all.  I looked through my machine feet (most of which I never use) and was thrilled to find this:

This is an edging foot, and that little white piece guides along the edge so that the needle hits right at the fold.  Doesn't that edge look really good? My stitching got a lot better using this foot.  Of course, I still made just a couple of small errors when I got a little over-confident:

See? Oops. I wobbled off the edge there, but it was easily fixed.  One thing I need to do is go slowly, and I also need to keep my eyes on the edge every single second, at least until I get better at this.

I loved this technique.  It was so fast! I did the blue and white quilt first and it took about 2 hours, from cutting the binding pieces to putting the last stitch in.  I kept stopping every few inches to fold the binding back over and straighten it. Summer Picnic took only about an hour and a quarter, mostly because I had everything set up already.  I also pressed the binding to the front after it was stitched to the quilt so that it was much easier to position.  I've read about glue basting and I might try that on a mini to see how it works.

I am so happy with how these turned out! When I first started quilting, way back in the 90s, there were a bunch of women I met who told me that it wasn't a "real" quilt unless it was hand-quilted. I wonder what they would think of putting the binding on by machine? I can guess, because I already know what they thought of machine quilting. Hint: it wasn't positive in any way.

Anyway, now I've learned something new! And it's useful and I like it! Some more practice and I think I might be doing this on a regular basis. It won't replace hand binding completely, but it's nice to know how to machine bind if I want to.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.  I'll be doing laundry from our vacation and finally putting in some plants! Won't that be happy? I have been waiting a long time for some color and now it's past time for it.

Linking to Confessions of a Fabric Addict and also Finish it up Friday. Come on over and join in!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ladies' day out

Hi all, and welcome to summer! At least, it's supposed to be summer, now that we're past Memorial Day.  Break out the white shoes, ladies, it's officially okay now.  Or the white pants, whatever floats your boat.

Today I have some paper doll blocks to show. These are the dolls in purple dresses, which got made last month and then sat around here without hair.  Poor chicks were bald for weeks. I finally spent part of a lovely afternoon giving them some hairstyles, which is the most time-consuming part of making the dolls. I think they're grateful, because they looked pretty cold to me.

This month, this doll is my favorite:

A sari! Complete with a bindi on her forehead. I love it! And now that I've redrafted the pattern for a floor-length dress, who knows what else might be coming down the road? Even if we don't have a brown month, I think we can throw a special doll or two in there.

Here are two more dolls:

Taken inside because of weather conditions!

And the final three:

Gosh, I love that turquoise print dress.  That was terrific fabric and it looks great again here. 

I tried to get a picture of all the girls just "hanging out" but it turned out pretty washed out.

At least the yard looks good.  Here is a picture taken indoors, where they show up a little better:

I think after I make June's dolls I'll have to pull all of them out and take a family picture all together. It would be a good time to count them, too, and think about how I'm planning to lay out the quilt.

Everybody have a good and productive week. I'm planning to make the green dolls, put some binding on a quilt that's been sitting here forever, and finish writing a paper for a conference in June. Yikes! Maybe I better write that paper first!

Linking to Let's Bee Social and WIP Wednesday, plus Scraphappy Saturday.  Happy sewing!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Terrestrial star

Hello friends! How's everyone?  I have been working really hard this week, on all kinds of things.  I did some work outside, wrote part of a paper, took down some curtains, put up new ones, cleaned like a crazy woman, and also stitched a little bit.  I also sneezed quite a lot and looked like I was crying half the time because the trees have finally all leafed out and are shedding allergens like there is no tomorrow.  This is the latest in the spring for full leaf-out that I can remember, so I'm usually past this by now.  But we are having FROST again tonight, so who knows what's going on.

Since I've been so busy, I have just one thing to show today, but it is super-cool.  At least I think so!  Here it is:

I call this Terrestrial Star, mainly because the colors remind me of the trees and the grass and I see several different stars here. Can you see the green one in the center?  It's my favorite!

If you recall, I made this to use up the brown string triangles that I had originally done to make a different pattern.  This used up all those triangles--not a one left over!--and I like it even better than the original plan. I do have plenty of brown strings left over, though. 

The border on this quilt is my new favorite border treatment. I used it on the Odd Fellow's quilt (which STILL needs a binding) and I loved it. I think it looks great on almost any quilt.  For the narrow brown border here I pulled out the longest and widest strings I could find, then cut them all to 1-1/2 inches and seamed them together. I like it!

This quilt ended up about 64 by 64, which is not a bad lap size, especially when I did this off the top of my head. The giant half-square triangles are 6-1/2 inches each.  It was really weird to work with such big pieces, but I managed to overcome the strangeness and piece them just fine.  The string-pieced brown triangles were pretty stretchy, but I overcame that, too. 

Here is one more terrific part of finishing this project:

An empty project box! (Don't worry, it will be full again soon.)

That was my big project for this week.  Since this is Memorial Day weekend in the US, Best Husband Ever and I are taking a small trip to visit our daughter and enjoy the weekend with her, so I won't have another post until Tuesday.  A small but much-needed vacation!

Hope everyone has a terrific start to summer as well.  Don't skip the parade, and be sure to applaud for the veterans!

Linking to Lorna for Let's Bee Social,  Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and also Amanda Jean at Finish it up Friday.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival--Triangle Surprise

Hi again folks!  This post is my second entry into the Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side, a no-pressure virtual quilt show.  It's my first time doing this, so let's see how it goes!  If you're new to the blog, my name is Mari and I'm a college professor who generally has a stray thread stuck to her all the way through every class.  It can't be helped!

I am entering this quilt in the ROYGBIV category:

This is my quilt Triangle Surprise, which was made from a rainbow of scraps for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge over at soscrappy.

This quilt is made from 6-inch triangle blocks, all set on point, and floating on a black and white background.  See the little triangles for cornerstones?  That's one of my favorite parts of this quilt!  This also could be the first time I completely skipped adding borders and went all modern.  I just never found a border I liked and I didn't want to ruin the floating effect.

Triangle Surprise is backed with a dark gray and quilted with a bright green on both the front and back, in a rope panto. I bound it with a green print, which comes really close to matching the thread used for quilting.  I think it really sets it off!

I finished most of the piecing for this in December, and then it was quilted and off to a new home in March, which is why the pictures I have of it were taken in the snow.  It now lives with my daughter, who loves it almost as much as I loved making it. I understand it lives in her den by the puzzle table.

Thanks for coming by, and I hope you've all enjoyed  Triangle Surprise! I certainly enjoyed making it, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

Happy sewing, everyone!

Blogger's quilt festival--Burgoyne Surrounded

Hello friends!  Today I am taking the plunge and entering a quilt in the Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side.  I've never done this before, so I'm a little nervous about it, but I do love the quilts I'm entering, so it can't be that scary, right?

If this is your first time visiting, welcome! My name is Mari (rhymes with sorry) and I am a college professor who usually has some stray threads stuck to her somewhere, even when I'm in class.  I love sewing of all types (except hemming, really) and generally spend time every day sewing, or at least planning to sew. I love traditional patterns, especially when they're given a modern spin.

Here is my entry for the large quilts category:

I love this quilt! This is Burgoyne Surrounded by Snow, made from a traditional block pattern using my stash of 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 inch solid scraps.

As you can see, I finished this quilt a few months ago when we still had snow on the ground.  My quilt took forever to piece because of the individually cut squares.  The blocks are about 15 inches square, with pieced sashings to complete the pattern.  The whole quilt ended up at about 85 by 85.

Burgoyne Surrounded by Snow was long arm quilted in a traditional feather pattern and I bound it in a solid orange, mainly because I had enough of the solid orange already on hand.  I love the juxtaposition of the traditional pattern and the modern colors. This quilt is now on display in my family room and I can personally attest to its coziness.

Hope you all are enjoying the virtual quilt festival.  Happy sewing, everyone!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Cold but colorful!

How's everyone doing today?  It has been very busy around here, made more complicated by the wind and cold.  Hard to paint the garage doors when it's only 45 degrees and very windy!  I am REALLY ready to start complaining about how warm it is.  You know it's coming. Any minute now. . .

In sewing news, the Kaleidoscope quilt continues to grow, somewhat slowly.  Here is one more section, pinned to the tree with four pins because otherwise it was going to blow into the neighbor's yard to amuse their dog:

It was very overcast and about to rain again when I took this picture, which I think kind of makes the quilt section look like it's neon or something.  Lots of contrast!  Turns out I made the lower star block there too small, but I won't tell if you won't!  Seriously, I think it's going to be okay since all four of those blocks are too small.  I read the pattern wrong, what can I say?

I also put together two more of the center sections, which look like they would be simple to assemble, but clearly we have all overestimated my abilities at the moment:

Billowing out from the wind!

Gosh, I love how the colors look!  These sections aren't sewn together yet. I think I said before that this quilt goes together like a puzzle, not in rows, so there is another small section that attaches to the middle before the section that was pinned to the tree can be added, and then another section on the other side as well.  Then the border is actually added in sections, not as a round.  Somewhere along the way I skipped making another set of (different) stars, so I have to make those before I can finish the assembly.  But I have all the other parts, so it won't be long now.

The largest border of this quilt has applique, and one quirk of this very strange pattern is the directions given for the applique.  Instead of stitching it on before quilting, the instructions say to quilt the quilt first, then stitch the applique on and quilt it using decorative stitches.  Has anyone ever done applique this way? Does it work?  Is there some advantage to this method that I can't fathom?  Let me know, because I'm just planning to do it the way I always have, before quilting.

Thanks for any advice you have! Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. It's going to rain again, so no yard work for me! Looks like a good time for a movie.  Anyone know of any good ones?

Happy weekend, all!  Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and also Finish it up Friday plus the new linkup Crazy Comment Karma at Prairie Sewn Studios.Come on over and join in!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is it May or October?

Hello, all! What a lovely fall day we're having! It's very windy, though. I know the calendar says May, but we have a freeze warning for tonight, so someone better tell the weather to get in line. It's not listening to me, but one of you may have better luck.

On a much happier note, I've finished just about everything that has an immediate deadline, and the weather has been crummy, so I had a little time to sew so far this week. Here's what I started with:
This is what I'm calling the green crumb block. Turns out that I have very few actual scraps of dark green, though I do have many fat quarters and half yards.  Why cut those up to make "scraps?" So I used what I had, which was pieces that are not exactly strings, but not crumbs, either. I'm calling this a tile block. I was much more comfortable with this than with actual crumb blocks, so I bet we'll be seeing this style again really soon.

Of course, the tile block then became a star block:

Pinned to the tree!

Okay, I think that looks great! Since I had some time, I kept going and the star block became a framed block:

Lilacs in the background!
This looks a little fuzzy, but it isn't out of focus, that's just the fabric. I think it looks fabulous.  I am really liking these blocks.

Of course, I had to get a "family picture" of all these blocks, too:

This was as good as it got with all the wind. I think they look wonderful together. Can't hardly wait to start putting them together!

Finally, I have to tell everyone about the major score I made this past weekend. My friend Renee and I went to Nancy's Notions warehouse sale, which is always a great time. We had a blast! In the clearance area they had "grab bags" that were marked down to $1.49, so I grabbed five of them.  Here's what was inside:

More than 7 yards of fabric! Those big pieces are all at least a quarter yard, with most bigger. One of them is more than half a yard.  This kind of thing never happens to me, so I just had to share!

Hope everyone has a good and productive week, and I hope the weather is better where you are!

Linking to Let's Bee Social and WIP Wednesday, plus Scraphappy Saturday.

Friday, May 8, 2015

A new use for old triangles

Hi folks! Hope everyone has had a very good and productive week. This was my week: read a paper, grade an exam, read a paper, grade an exam, read a paper. . .repeat over and over. But the end is definitely in sight!

Even with all those papers to read, I managed to sneak in a few stitches. Here is what I've come up with for those brown string triangles:

Not all bad, but I have to stay out of direct sunlight.  The lighter triangles there are really a light Kona blue, not white. I like the colors together, though! The half-square triangles finish at 6-1/2 inches each, so this is just about 39 inches square right now.

And hey--the return of the clothesline!

It was very, very windy, so this quilt center eventually got pinned to the fence for a better picture. But the important part is that the clothesline is back out, and I even washed some sweaters and put them out to dry on the line before they get packed away for the summer. This was an extremely happy occurrence, and to celebrate I read another paper.

What you see here is the center of this quilt. See that print in the very center? I have a 4-inch by 42-inch strip of it, and nothing more. I really, really want to use the rest of it in the quilt, but I'm not sure how.  I'm thinking on it. I also have plenty of blue and green left, and 24 of the brown triangles. I think I'm going to make one more "round" on this quilt, maybe pairing the browns with blue for the outside round. That would use up the rest of the triangles (hurray!) and probably look good. I have been having fun playing with it, that's for sure.

As long as I don't have to make any more of these dark brown string blocks, I think it will be fine!

Here's the other big thing that happened here this week: 

Leaves and flowers at last! Our reward for all the rain we had this week.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  I'll be finishing up those papers and then my friend Renee and I are heading to Nancy's Notions warehouse sale! It will be very exciting and very dangerous for the pocketbook. Nancy won't be there this year--take a look at her note HERE for the reason. We've met her at the sale before, and she has always been very gracious and giving, so spare a good thought for her if you can. 

Happy sewing, all!  Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and also Finish it up Friday

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Classic Stitches-- Green

Hi all, and welcome back to the Classic Stitches row quilt! Our color for this month is green, a great color for spring. Here is the row block for this month:

This is Crosses and Losses, a block pattern that dates from before 1895.  Some sources say that this block takes its name from a saying of Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanack: "After crosses and losses, men grow humbler and wiser."  Others say that this block is one of the many that draws its name from the Bible. Wherever the name came from, this versatile little block has several variations and names, including Old Maid's Puzzle, Schoolgirl's Puzzle, Rambler, Bouncing Betty, and Fox and Geese.

Whatever name you want to give it, here are the instructions for a 6-inch block. Cutting instructions for other sizes, including a 12-inch block, are given at the end of the construction directions.

NOTE: This block can be simplified significantly by replacing the pieced triangle unit with a half-square triangle. The resulting block looks very similar, but is less complicated to construct, so if you are wanting something a little quicker and less "piecey," (but just as cute!) this could be a good option for you. Here's what this option would look like:

Not stitched together, but you get the idea!


For each 6-inch block, cut 1 3-7/8 inch square plus 3 2-3/8 inch squares from the green.  From the background color (shown here in white), cut 5 2-3/8 inch squares and 4 2-inch squares.

(If you are making a simplified block, you will only need 2 2-3/8 inch green squares and 2 2-3/8 inch white squares. You will also need to cut one 3-7/8 inch square each of green and white.)


Start with the 4-patch units. Take 3 of the white 2-3/8 inch squares and mark them to stitch half-square triangles, then pair them with the green 2-3/8 inch squares. Cut the remaining white 2-3/8 inch squares in half once diagonally.

Stitch, cut, and press the white/green pairs to make half-square triangles. You should have 6 2-inch hsts. (If making the simpler block, you should only have 4 hsts.) Take 4 of the hsts and pair them with the 2-inch white squares to make a 4-patch unit. Arrange the hsts so that the points of the green triangles "kiss" in the center of the unit:

Stitch and press. These units should measure 3-1/2 inches square.

(NOTE: If making the simpler block, skip the next steps and instead use the 3-7/8 inch green and white squares to make two half-square triangles that will be 3-1/2 inches square.)

Next is the pieced triangle unit. Take one of the remaining half-square triangles and pair it with a white triangle, arranging them as shown:

Stitch, then press to the white triangle. Don't worry about the little dog ear that forms. You can clip it now or wait until the second triangle is added. (I always wait.)

Add the second triangle to the other side of the hst as shown:

Stitch and press, then trim the dog ears. Make sure that you have a 1/4 inch seam allowance remaining so that the point of the green triangle isn't lost.

Cut the 3-7/8 inch green square in half once diagonally, then match those two halves to the units that were just pieced:

This will give you this unit, which should measure 3-1/2 inches:

All that's left to do is lay out the block units and assemble! Lay out your four units as shown, paying attention to the direction of the triangles in the 4-patch units:

Stitch and press, and enjoy your block!

Ten blocks will make one 60-inch row of the quilt, and six blocks will make a 36-inch row. Or just make a few and mix them up with some others for a lovely sampler-style quilt.


Switch the colors so that green is the background color.

Use a lighter green or a different color for the small hsts in the corner units.

For a 4-inch block, cut 5 1-7/8 inch white squares, 4 1-1/2 inch white squares, and 1 2-7/8 inch green square and 3 1-7/8 inch green squares and assemble as above.

For an 9-inch block, cut  5 3-1/8 inch white squares, 4 2-3/4 inch white squares, 1 5-3/8 inch green square, and 3 3-1/8 inch green squares and assemble as above.

For a 12-inch block, cut 5 3-7/8 inch and 4 3-1/2 inch white squares, and 1 6-7/8 and 3 3-7/8 inch green squares. Assemble as above.

You can also make a 12-inch block using 4 6-inch blocks, which gives you an opportunity for some interesting patterns, like this:

Or this:

I chose this layout for my 12-inch block:

For my row, I chose to make 6-inch blocks. Here is my row among the green leaves:

Enjoy making the Crosses and Losses row, and come back  June 2 for the next row of the quilt.  Happy sewing, everyone!

Linking to Linky Tuesday and soscrappy for RSC15, and also to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.