Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Backward and forward

Hello again, everyone! I hope you all had a great holiday.  I did almost nothing for the last week, and it was heavenly. My son did a lot of cooking, we ate in a bunch of restaurants, I did almost no laundry or cleaning, and I stayed away from all things shopping related.  I also got to see my family, including my parents and some of my (many) brothers and sisters, plus I went to my niece's basketball game.  Oh, and I also bought a new car and drove it back here from Wisconsin, but my husband had more to do with that than I did.  It's been great!

So, now here we are at the end of 2015 and it's time to look back and see where we've been, and also look forward to see where we're going.  A bunch of bloggers I follow have been doing "best of" posts, but I can never pick a favorite or a "best."  Instead, here's some highlights from the past year:

Burgoyne Surrounded!  Such a fun quilt to make.

Odd Fellow's Gathering!  I know I just said that I can't ever pick a favorite, but this is a quilt that I truly love.

Summer Picnic!  A  UFO for many years, finally finished up and cuddly.

Mutant Elephants, complete with legless bird.  This was a really, really fun quilt to make, and is going to stay at my house forever.

And, of course:

Sewing Lessons!  Now off being quilted, and soon to be ready for snuggling up on the sofa.  I'm pretty proud of the tutorials and directions that I wrote for this project, since I had never done anything like that before, and I hope it turned out well for everyone who tried a block or two.  I learned a lot and I hope you did too.

Of course, there were a lot more quilts and smaller projects throughout the year, and I truly enjoyed (almost) all of them.  The quilts were all great, but the BEST things from this year are the friends I have made and the things I have learned.  I truly appreciate all of you and I am grateful for all the things I have learned from you.  Thanks so much for reaching out, for teaching, and for sharing your talents with all of us.

(I may be tearing up a bit!)

So, that's looking backward!  Looking forward, there are a lot of fun things coming up in 2016, and even more changes for our family.  First, I started a new BOM for RSC16, which I think will be challenging for me and will turn out to be an awesome quilt.

I also have several projects that I'm still working on, including two unfinished quilts from RSC15.  Sometimes I can hear them calling to me from their storage boxes.  First to be finished (I hope) is the Paper Dolls quilt:

Those ladies want to come out to play!  I also need to finish the Framed quilt:

There are only 3 big blocks left to make for this one, and it's just a matter of sitting down and doing it.  Since I already have the stars, they would go pretty quickly, so I'm hoping to knock this one out pretty soon, too.

And then there's the Roman Floors quilt, also partway finished:

This quilt is turning out so great, but I got really, really bored with making half-square triangles, so I put it away for a while.  I think I could pull it out and work on it a little at a time now, though.

In addition to the unfinished projects, I also have three big new projects to work on in the new year.  First, our daughter is getting married in April, and that means a wedding quilt!  I let them choose (from a list I made--I'm not crazy!) and they picked the Eureka quilt in green and aquamarine.  I think it will be striking--and a LOT of work.

Our older daughter has requested a "Paris" quilt.  Her only color direction was "calm."  The biggest thing, of course, is that she would like it to be finished before her sister's wedding quilt, thank you very much.  Sighhh.  Anyone else out there have two daughters who could not be more different?  I'm planning to use the neutrals from the scrap bags to make Bonnie Hunter's Strip Twist pattern.  That should look good and go together fairly fast.

Finally, I am making Lorna's Forest Friends quilt in a baby size for a very special baby.

Picture from Lorna McMahon at Sew Fresh Quilts.  Go there and buy the pattern!

Our son and daughter in law are expecting a baby in February!  We are so excited!  And if you think we're excited, you should see my Dad.  He's ready to burst over his first great-grandchild.  Everyone is doing well, and we're just looking forward to a lot of happiness this spring.

Of course, my big goal for this year is to keep on enjoying stitching and blogging, and to keep on enjoying YOUR stitching and blogging.  It's been great to have a community, and I'm happy to be a part of it.

Hope you all have a safe New Year celebration, and a happy beginning to 2016!  See you next week!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social, Val's 2016 goals linkup, and also at the Best of 2015 Linky Party at Meadow Mist Designs (great idea!), and the 2016 Planning Linky Party by Yvonne at Quilting Jet Girl. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone!  

May your day be merry and bright!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Intricate Stitches--a new BOM

Hi all!  Things are perking away here for Christmas, and I am finally relaxing.  It feels like I have been tense for months and am finally getting some time to unwind.  It feels great!  The fact that there are cookies involved has nothing to do with it, I'm sure.

We had an unremarkable drive back to Wisconsin and it feels great to be here again. (And the air is so clean!)  On the drive I had a lot of time to think and plan for next year.  It's going to be a big year for us, and there will be several big quilts coming up--including a wedding quilt.  (!!!) There are several other projects waiting in the wings that I'll be sharing soon, including something new I just learned and am really looking forward to getting a lot more practice doing.

For the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, I've finished two of the quilts for this year and still have the Framed quilt and the Paper Dolls quilt to finish up.  They will be done soon enough, and they're both going to be amazing.  I'm also bringing over the string blocks from last year and making more, because I don't have enough for a quilt yet.  And then there's this:

Okay, so I don't draw so well (the car was moving, after all), but you get the idea.  This is a quilt that I am planning as my major project for the rainbow scrap challenge for next year. This quilt will have 12 blocks-- one per month-- surrounding a large multi-colored central block (which I haven't chosen yet). I'm also thinking of making a pieced border for this one, but I'm not sure just yet.

The "working title" of this quilt is Intricate Stitches.  Why "intricate?"  Well, since there is only one block per month, I'm planning to make some traditional pieced blocks that aren't often seen because they have a lot of pieces, some of them very small.  Blocks like these:

Yikes!  I can hear what you're thinking! Why such complicated blocks?  Well. . .these blocks are a part of our quilting heritage, and they aren't in very many modern quilts.  I totally understand why!  Simpler blocks make faster quilts, and any repeated block makes a terrific, striking quilt.  But our lives are different from our grandmothers' and we don't have the same kind of time to repeat these blocks over and over again, so they are often overlooked.  They are gorgeous, though, and deserve to be used.  So, I figure that one of them a month is enough to handle, and together they'll make a wonderful quilt.

For my fabrics, I got the special hand-dyed RSC fabric pack from Vicki Welsh.  These are gorgeous!  (All of her fabric is just beautiful and very high quality.) Check out some of these fabrics:

Pretty!  I also have some other hand-dyed scraps that I'm planning to incorporate as well.  Altogether I think this is going to be a great quilt and I am so looking forward to making it.

If this sounds appealing to you, I am planning to post tutorials for a block each month as a sew-along, just like the Classic Stitches quilt.  I'll put up a new tab for this pretty soon, and the January tutorial will be along in the first week of 2016.  Come on along and join in!  These blocks look really intricate, but once they're broken down, they're just good old half-square triangles, flying geese, strips, and squares.  I'll make it as easy as possible!  Because heaven knows I have less time than I've ever had to sew.

So, that's the intro!  Think about joining in. It's just one block a month, and they're 12-inch blocks, so the pieces aren't *really* tiny.  I may be crazy, but I'm not *that* crazy!  And the blocks look way better in fabric than they do on paper, so you know this quilt will turn out great.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and that all your Christmas wishes come true!

Sharing at  Let's Bee Social and soscrappy for RSC15!  Or 16!

Friday, December 18, 2015


Hi everyone!  How was your week?  Is anyone else having really strange weather?  It's been in the 60s here and yesterday it rained like crazy.  It was like a semi-pleasant, soggy, spring day.  It is still December, isn't it?  Just making sure I didn't somehow skip a whole season while I was in the library.

So, this week I didn't have a lot of time to sew because I was grading exams and doing other end-of-semester work.  But I did finally finish and then actually sewed up this lovely thing:

Isn't she a cutie?  Because of yesterday's rain, and the aforementioned job duties, I had to wait until today to get some pictures.  It was still super-wet out, though, so if you see dark spots, it's not dirty, it just got a little damp.

Amazingly, there are three shades of gray in this quilt.  I would never have guessed I would ever make a quilt that was mostly gray.  It was a challenge, but I think I conquered it.  I was afraid it would be too dark and drab, so I included the lighter gray cornerstones.  I tried multicolored ones, but they looked bad. You wouldn't think they would, but they did.I think altogether the grays make the blocks really stand out.

If you remember, these are the 12 inch blocks from the Classic Stitches tutorials and are all scraps.  I didn't start out thinking that I'd make another quilt from those blocks, but it just kind of happened, so I'm calling this quilt Serendipity--a happy accident.

Serendipity is probably my last finish for 2015.  I don't know about you, but this has been a tough few months for me, and right now I'm exhausted.  Plus, we are travelling for Christmas!  We are heading back to Wisconsin and I can't wait.  We will be staying with our son and are hoping for snow.  I don't think that will happen, but it's nice to think about!

Now that two of my RSC15 quilts are done, next week I will post my plan for a new quilt for RSC16.  In case you don't get a chance to stop by, though, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, some time with your families, and some rest.  And if you want it, maybe some time to stitch a few seams, too.

I have to go pack!  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Sharing at  Confessions of a Fabric AddictFinish it up Friday. and soscrappy for RSC15.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Finals week!

Hi everyone!  Yes, it is finals week here at the Academic Quilter.  I even have a final to give today (Saturday)! This means tons of paper instead of tons of fabric!  Not to worry, though--it will all be over soon. And then there are many fun things in store towards the end of the month.

For a low-stress project for this week, I've been working on getting these blocks in order:

These are the 12-inch blocks I made as samples for the Classic Stitches tutorials. I didn't intend to make them when I started out, but they just kind of happened as a part of the tutorials.  So now I'm putting them together into a throw quilt, because who needs a dozen blocks just laying around?  They already look good together, so why not?

I got this fabric to use as a background for the blocks:

Yes, it's gray!  I never buy gray, but I have to tell you that the manufacturers are coming out with some pretty nice grays now.  This is a dark gray from the Good Neighbors line by Amanda Jean of crazy mom quilts.  Isn't it great?  This fabric feels so good.  I liked the print so much that I also got some in orange, plus I may have purchased a few other pieces too.  Hey, a girl's gotta have some pretty things!

I decided to frame the blocks with this light gray polka dot.  I was going to use white, but that was very stark.  The two grays also make the blocks really stand out.  The frames will finish at only 1 inch wide, but I think they add a nice touch.

After I took this picture I started second-guessing myself.  Is the gray frame too light?  I can't decide.

Since the RSC was only 11 months, I also had to add another block to make an even 12. (I like symmetry.)  I chose this orphan Wedding Ring block:

It's all solids, but they were scraps, and I figure that an orphan block is scrappy by definition, so into the quilt it goes.  Why not?

Lots more to come on this quilt, but for now I have some student papers to read. I'll keep working on this off and on between grading sessions, and maybe I'll have something fun by the end of the week.  Plus I have done no Christmas shopping yet!  Ahhh!

Wishing you some stress-free sewing!  When your college student gets home, give them a hug, because I know for sure some of those tests were hard!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC15 and Oh Scrap! on Sunday. Happy sewing!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sewing Lessons

Hi everyone!  How are you today?  I hope you all had a wonderful week and got some stitching time in.  With it being December and the holidays coming, that can be difficult!

Today is a happy day here, because today I am showing off my finished Classic Stitches row quilt!  Here she is:

Sewing Lessons

Whoo-hoo!  I am so, so happy with this quilt.  It turned out slightly differently than I thought it would, but I still think it's quite lovely.  It measures about 71 by 89 , which is a very nice snuggling size.  I've named it "Sewing Lessons" in honor of all the women who taught me this very satisfying craft.

This quilt is the result of the Classic Stitches row quilt that I have been working on as a part of RSC15 all year. The rows--including all of the white on whites--were all constructed from scraps from my scrap bins.  Miraculously, even all of those pieces did not seem to make much of a dent in the scraps!

 Some of you may notice that the brown row is not the way it was planned.  Yeah, I goofed up there, so I just made a simple checker row to give the quilt balance.  It's not perfect, but it's okay.

Poor unfinished brown blocks!
  If you have been quilting along with me, thanks so much for coming along!  I hope you've enjoyed it and are happy with your finished quilts.  If you haven't and would like to make your own (or even a few of the blocks), I put up tutorials for each of the rows once a month, and all of these tutorials are still available under the Classic Stitches tab at the top of the page.  I plan to leave them up for good, so stitch away!

Just to wrap up the row quilt tutorials, I've added finishing instructions here at the end.  The hard part of piecing the rows is already done, so why not finish it off with some nice sashing and a border?

Thanks to everyone who followed along, left a comment, and generally offered encouragement. My heart is truly full! If you've made a quilt or some rows or blocks from the tutorials, I'd love to see some pictures!

I already have a plan for another quilt next year, so be sure to come back for another challenge!

Finishing instructions:

The first step in finishing up this quilt is to gather and measure all of your rows.  If you've made the rows like I did, each of the rows should measure 60-1/2 inches long.  I found that some of the rows were very stretchy because there were so many pieces, so handle and measure carefully.

The next step was the hardest part for me: laying out the rows!   I built my quilt from the center out.  I knew that I wanted the red row to be the center, so I started with that one and then added rows above and below until I liked it and it looked balanced.  It took me several tries until I liked it.

After you've got a layout you like, take a picture!  It's easy to get mixed up.

Next is the sashing.  I used a 1 inch finished sashing, which meant that I cut mine 1-1/2 inches.  I thought that this gave enough space in between the rows and gave the quilt a nice size.  I used many different lengths of white on whites, but if you are using yardage, you could cut 15 1-1/2 inch strips for the sashing.

Someone's going to have to take care of all that mess.

Seam the lengths together and then cut to 60-1/2 inches.  This is very important!  If you don't measure, you could end up with very wonky rows. Use lots of pins! Pin the center and the ends of the sashing and stitch the sashing to the bottom of all rows but the last one.  I found it best to stitch with the row on the bottom and the sashing on top.  This eases in any extra length and makes everything nice and stable.

Join the sashed rows together in the order that you found pleasing.  Again, I found it easiest to build from the center out.


Once you have the center, there are several options for borders.  First, you could be all modern and leave it just as-is (though you'll probably find it easier to quilt if you stitch a very narrow piece to all the edges to stablize all those seams).

You could add borders of any width all around. You could even build a multi-step border of different widths if you'd like.  Any of these options would look fantastic.

If you haven't done enough piecing in making this quilt, you could take any one of the blocks and make it in a smaller size in any color for a border.  Either the Philadelphia block or the True Blue block in black woud be a great border.

For my border, I went very simple in order to emphasize the piecing in the center.  I used my new favorite border, a 3-step border composed of a 2 inch finished white border, a 1 inch finished multicolored border, and another 2 inch finished white border.  I think it adds the perfect finishing touch to this quilt!

However you finish your quilt, I'm sure it will be spectacular!  Thanks again for coming along on this journey with me, and enjoy your finished quilt!


Sharing at  Confessions of a Fabric AddictFinish it up Friday. and soscrappy for RSC15.  Plus I'm trying a new one-- Oh Scrap!  Hope to see you around the interwebs!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Life happens

Hi everyone!  Had enough of the turkey leftovers yet? We have none this year, as we left them all at my daughter's house!  She did a great job with the food and we had a lot of fun.  Except, for some reason we thought that it would be good to drive from Philadelphia to Maine.  It was a good idea on paper.  For those of you in the other parts of the country, did you know that the entire East Coast is essentially one gigantic city?  Zero fun to drive through!

So, today I was planning to post my finished Classic Stitches row quilt, but that has to be delayed until Friday.  Sadness!  What happened?  Well, life happened and I just didn't finish it in time to take pictures and get everything written.  I could have done it, but I chose to spend the time with my family instead.  I think I made the right choice.

I do have some sneak peeks of my quilt, though!

This was me trying to arrange my rows.  Maddening!  So many different ways to arrange things!

I also had to fix a couple of errors.  Even working on it for a year, I made mistakes, mostly in measuring the sashing because I apparently can't divide by 2:

Yep, that's going to be a problem.

But I got those fixed and got *almost* finished, so I'll definitely show it on Friday.  Watch this space!

Now that that's mostly out of my way, I also pulled out this set of fabric and blocks:

Wonder what I'll do with those?

Finally, here is a bonus picture of the hubs with our daughter's cats that our whole family found amusing:

Not only best husband ever, but also best cat perch ever!

Everyone have a great week, and I'll see you all back here on Friday!

Sharing at Linky Tuesday,  Let's Bee Social, and  WIP Wednesday

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Hello everyone! Are you cooking yet?  Thanksgiving is coming really fast, and there is always a ton of stuff to do.  Usually we have a big family dinner at our house, but everything is topsy-turvy this year and we are heading to our older daughter's house in Maine for the holiday. This means she is doing most of the cooking, not me!  This will be a new experience.  Gosh, I hope I can handle it.

Before we leave,  I have a happy little finish to show off.  This is my Confetti quilt:

Doesn't that look cheerful?  The best part of this quilt is that it was made entirely from scraps, including the white on whites.  These were some of the bigger pieces in the scrap bags, which I am happy to say were mostly used up.  And I even found enough of that blue-green to piece together another couple of squares after I messed up the first time.  I don't think anyone can tell I pieced them together, and after it's quilted you'll need a magnifying glass to see it, so I'm happy. (You can't tell, can you?)

This little quilt measures about 54 by 73, which is one row longer than the pattern, because apparently I can't count anymore.  I'm blaming it on the fact that I was cutting so danged many scraps. Just keep cutting, just keep cutting.  Thankfully, I happen to know some tall people who might enjoy this, so it's not a problem.

Better pictures outside, but it was very windy!

Confetti was made from this pattern, still available at Patched Works:

This is a simple, fast quilt to make, and if you make it all in one color it wouldn't take very long at all.  If you're like me, though, you'll want to do a little figuring before you start cutting.  The pattern calls for making the blocks over sized and then cutting them down.  My frugal nature just wouldn't let me waste that much fabric.  (Seriously, it calls for the blocks to be cut down by about an inch and a quarter.)  So I did some math and cut everything the right size to begin with.  It worked well for me.

Wrinkled but festive!

Anyway, that's my finish!  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and you get to squeeze in a stitch or two.  Don't forget to thaw the turkey!  If you're not in the US, I hope you have a wonderful week filled with family and friends as well.

Travel safe, everyone!

Sharing at Let's Bee SocialConfessions of a Fabric Addict,  and Finish it up Friday.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Hi everyone!  How is your week going?  Mine is pretty busy.  You know how you just "lose" days when you go away for a weekend or go on vacation? Yeah, that's what happened with me this week. We went to my friend's wedding, which was lovely, and then came home and no one had miraculously come in to do the laundry or the dishes or my sewing projects.  Where is that fairy godmother when I need her?

Anyway, not a lot of progress here, but I did make these:

These are my contribution to the friendship star swap for this month.  They're a little brighter than anticipated, but I like them.  Somehow I miscounted when I was cutting for them (months ago now) and I ended up putting a blue center in one of them:

I think it looks all right, don't you?  I hope no one will be disappointed with the color combination when they get this one.

No fairy godmother showed up this weekend, but the mailman did.  Look what he brought me:

I finally broke down and got new rulers.  I also got a new large cutting mat.  Yeah, I know.  When I was packing up, I was thinking that I could get along okay with just a few smaller rulers and a small mat.  That's what I used to do, right?  Well, I can't do it any more.  Not sure what I'll do with the older ones once they come out of storage, but that's a problem for another day.

Hope you're having a great week!  If you know how to call out some helpful mice or singing bunnies to do my housework, be sure to let me know!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social, and  WIP Wednesday.

And once again, I have to add this sad note: Je prie pour le peuple de Paris et tout le peuple de France. Nous sommes avec vous dans votre chagrin. Vive le France.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Bright spots

Hi all! Well, this week I looked at the calendar and realized that it's the middle of November.  How in the world did that happen?  Seriously, isn't it still September? 

This week I actually finished two small projects.  Yay me!  Here is the first one, a green crumb star for my RSC 15 project:

I don't have a ton of lime green, so I was going to mix the light greens and limes.  Don't do it!  You wouldn't believe how bad the light greens look next to the brighter greens.  They really look gray.  The crumb block is the last one I need for this year's Framed project.  Yay!  I do need to go purchase a small bit of lime for the frame in order to finish off that quilt.  Gosh, shopping for fabric.  Doesn't that sound awful?

Don't know why it looks a little gray on the tree, except that it was raining when I took the picture.  This photo shows the colors a lot better:

I tried for this crumb block to be somewhat "log cabiny" and I think it worked out.
Since I wasn't thinking when we were packing things up in a big hurry, all of our coasters are in storage. What was I thinking?  We still have furniture to protect! So, I also made up these coasters from a treasured Mary Engelbreit scrap:

I really did not plot out the storage thing very well.  There are so many small things that I wish I had, but they're all in boxes.  But at least these little things will be a spot of brightness in the living room at the condo.  That fabric makes me happy every time I look at it.

Hope everyone has a great weekend.  We are going to my best friend's wedding.  She is my age and has never been married, and we are all so happy that she has finally found someone to share her life with.  It will be like a reunion for us, so it should be a lot of fun!

Happy sewing!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addictsoscrappy, and Finish it up Friday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Hi everyone!  How are you today?  It is raining, raining, raining here, which is okay because there hasn't really been a lot of rain recently.  It makes things pretty gloomy, but it's fairly cheerful inside.  I bet if I made some brownies it would be even *more* cheerful.  That's a theory I may just have to test out.

So, today I was going to show the progress I've made on the Confetti quilt, which I thought was about half-finished.  Here it is:

See the problem? Short rows with pieces missing!

Okay, so this is what happens when you make a row or two and then come back the next day and make another row without checking the pattern. At least it's a very colorful picture with all those leaves outside.  I think a cloudy day is perfect for getting the colors right. It's a little wrinkly and damp, but colorful!

So really, this mistake is not that bad. It could be worse! I did find enough scraps of most of the fabrics to make the pieces I missed:

I can strip those in to their rows pretty easily.  Well, all except for the blue-green row.  All I have left of that fabric is this:

Eeep! Not sure what I'll do there.  I do have a couple of bags I haven't sorted out yet, so maybe there is another small piece in there somewhere.  If not, this row may end up on the back, or maybe I'll just stick a couple other blue-green pieces into that row.  It's a scrap quilt, right?  How bad could it look?

And I do have a couple of rows still in progress:

I admit I wasn't paying attention with that row, either, but at least it isn't put together yet.  In spite of my mistakes, I think it's going to be quite happy when I'm done with it!

Other than that, I've been cutting up the danged scraps.  Feels like I've barely made a dent, but I think I might actually be one bag down very soon.  Cut up, that is, not actually used! Don't ask how many are still left.

Hope you all are having a great week!  The temperatures have dropped here, so it definitely feels like fall, which feels great.  I fear that I really am a cold-weather person.  Oh, dear.

Sharing at Let's Bee Social, and  WIP Wednesday.