Friday, January 30, 2015

Recycling win

Hi everyone, and welcome to the weekend! Hope everyone on the East coast has dug out from the storm. Yesterday someone said "hey, the sun's out," so I grabbed my coat and went out and just stood in the sunshine. It was great! Then I walked over to the library so I didn't look like such an idiot.

I have started on the BOM kit that I pulled out of the closet. (For now I'm calling it the Kaleidoscope quilt, but I'll probably change the name later.) Here's the first block:

Cute, huh? We'll talk more about that quilt later, because that's just here so that there's a pretty picture at the top of the blog. Our real subject today is this:

(I know--the floor needs refinishing. We just pulled up carpet that was covering it, so refinishing is the next step.)

Yes, friends, that is a quilt with the center cut out. Very nicely cut out, but cut just the same. I did not do it! (Sorry for the bleached picture. I was so sure I had a good one that I went ahead and worked on the quilt before I checked them properly. My bad!)

I got this at the quilt shop, believe it or not. There was originally a panel in the center, and whoever made the sample decided that's all of the quilt that she wanted or needed. I didn't get the whole story, but this part of it ended up in the shop's scrap table. So I bought it, extra cheap! (Less than $10, because the scraps are priced by weight!)

After I got it home I had to think hard about what to do with it. There really weren't a lot of choices, and it seemed like a shame to cut it into potholders or something. I really wanted to save as much of the pattern as I could. I decided that the only thing to do with this was to cut it into two long pieces to make a wide table runner. (I took the binding off part of it first.)

I straightened the edges and then butted them up together and zigzagged them together, like you do when piecing together quilt batting. I used a closer zigzag than I use for batting, and also slightly narrower.

Then I made two long strips to cover the stitching on the front and back. Even though the strips weren't cut on the bias, I used a bias tape maker because they fold the edges in so nicely. I stitched these down with a straight stitch using a zipper foot to get very close to the edges:

I fixed the binding and ta da!

The strip is not crooked at the end! It just looks that way in the picture!

A long table runner! I'm happy with this, and it saved that mutilated quilt. I call that a win! This measures about 23 by 60 (which also tells you something about how big that table is.)

I was lucky enough to find enough pieces to match the fabric on the top of the quilt. I even pieced matching lighter pieces at the ends of the strip.

You can barely tell there's a cover strip there.

A plain strip covers the stitches on the back because I didn't have matching fabric, but I don't think it matters.

 What about the other pieces I cut off? A little binding and they'll be 4 placemats! Double win!

So, I'm thrilled with this. It was fast, easy, recycled, and cheap! Plus it looks good finished. What else can you ask for?

Everyone have a great weekend. We are going to visit some relatives this weekend, which is better than it sounds because we genuinely like our relatives and enjoy spending time with them. Hope you have a win or two and maybe some nice time with family. Happy weekend!

Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Amanda Jean at crazy mom quilts and also Angela at soscrappy, because what is this if not blue scraps?

(Just a small reminder that Tuesday is the February installment of the Classic Stitches BOM. Come on and sew along!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New projects

Hi folks! Is everyone snowed in? Oddly, we are not. All of our snow went south and east, which is okay with me, but I know some of you may not be very happy about it. Believe me, I can totally relate to how you're feeling. It's happened to us many times. The only thing to do is make some cocoa and wait for it to be over.

So, this weekend I cleaned my main sewing machine and changed the needle. I swear that I could fill a quilt with the garbage and lint I pulled out of that thing. How does that happen? I got all the buildup out and then oiled the machine and it is now very happy. After I finished that chore, I made these:

Happy blocks, though the blue ones still need squaring up. Some friends and I are doing a swap using this free pattern from Victoriana Quilt Designs. It's a very cute quilt, but the directions were hard to understand. At least I had a hard time wrapping my head around them. Plus, anybody else get really nervous when you're sewing for someone else? I was a wreck! But I think I did okay with it in the end. We'll see when I get everyone else's blocks.

I also pulled this out of the closet to start on it:

Isn't that a great-looking quilt? This is a BOM kit that I bought from someone who no longer wanted it long after 2008, which is the date on the pattern. Okay, maybe I bought it from her in 2010, which is now five years ago, but don't judge me. The whole time that this was in the closet I thought that it was a kit for a wallhanging, but lo and behold it's for a king size quilt! Which would make sense if I had actually paid attention to how much fabric was in there. So now I feel a lot better about paying more than $100 for it, but really dumb because I could have been using it on my bed for years.

I grabbed this block to start with, which is month 2. Don't those fabrics look yummy?

So, that's my new project! I figure if I can do a block a week or something I'll get one more thing out of the closet and have something pretty for the bed. I think there are 12 monthly envelopes. I really should have checked that before I decided to start it, but I was so stunned by the fact that it's a king quilt that I forgot.

One more project that I started this week involves this series of posts from Kimberly. I don't have a big stash, but I did pull everything out of the closet, which is how I got interested in making the new project to begin with. She has some interesting ideas. More on this as I go along!

Hope everyone stays warm and dry and that your power and water stay on. Whatever you are doing, stay safe. And make someone else shovel the driveway while you get some stitching in!

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, and Let's Bee Social.  Be sure to stop by!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter quilt and Blog Hop

Hi all! How is everyone today? I am longing for sunshne. I don't care if it's only 5 degrees as long as the sun is shining. Sadly, it's cloudy again.

Today I am showing off another finished top from the end of last year--the winter quilt!

I think quilts are more tempermental to photograph than children are. Here's another that almost gets the whole quilt:
Where else to photograph a winter quilt but on the snow?

See--totally uncooperative! It was quite windy, so I couldn't really make it stay on any of the benches at the park.

As you may recall, I made this between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a year-long block of the month from Cindy at Quilt Doodle Doodles, but I made it all at once. This was a great quilt to work on at the end of the year. It was a virtually no-stress project for me, which made it perfect for a high-stress time. My quilt finished at about 70 by 82.

This quilt went together so easily. It's based on same-size squares, so there was no real thinking about the cutting. It was a great quilt to work on a little bit at a time.

Yikes! There's snow on my winter quilt!

 I did change a few things from the pattern. Mostly I mixed the colors a little differently and changed some of the spacing between blocks, and also rearranged the rows. I also cut some of the pieces (like the mugs) in one piece instead of using different scraps. I just liked the way it looked a little better, plus it saved fabric. The only problem I had with this quilt was joining some of the rows. All the matching seams!

I think the thing I like best about my quilt is the background fabric. This was the perfect fabric for me, plus it used up a length of old fabric and a couple of odd half-yards. I had just enough to finish the quilt. Barely a thread left! I love that! I also had the border fabric in the closet, and there is very little of it left too.

I plan to quilt this myself, but there's no hurry at all. Don't tell the quilt police, but I bought a flannel sheet (from L.L. Bean) for the back. I think it will make this quilt extra cozy.

Anyone for tea?

So that's my quilt! Great thanks to Cindy for the terrific pattern and inspiration.  Everyone have a great weekend. I really hope someone somewhere is getting some sun. Be sure to visit the other blogs in this hop to see some fantastic and creative quilts and make some new friends. The schedule is below!
As always, linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Amanda Jean at crazy mom quilts

Winter quilt blog hop schedule:

January 24th 
January 25th 
January 26th

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Paper dolls

Hi folks! How is everyone today? I am getting better, but that darned cold is still hanging on and sapping my energy. No choices but to push through, though. Too much work to do!

Today I am playing with another scrap project for RSC15 that promises to be a lot of fun and use up a bunch of scraps, especially some of the weird scraps I have that never get used.  I don't know about you, but I have a bunch of scraps that don't really fit into any "regular" color category or are weird sizes or shapes, like this:

I cut some appliques out of this fabric a few years ago and saved the leftovers because I just can't throw out usable fabric. This is the pattern where I'm finally going to use up scraps like this:

Isn't it a cute pattern (available HERE)? I think it's simple enough to make a few dolls every month with scraps from the RSC15 color of the month. After all, who doesn't love a crazy-looking dress or skirt? All those weird colors and patterns will fit right together, especially if I throw in some solids for balance. I may even cut up an orphan block or two if they'll fit the skirt piece. Plus I'll get to use up a bunch of beige scraps that have also been hanging around here forever.

One part of this pattern that I needed to go shopping for was fabric for the skin tones. I saw some bundles online, but I really didn't like them, and had nothing acceptable in the closet, so I spent a happy hour at the quilt shop pulling Kona solids to find a range of skin tones for the dolls. It was really hard! I think at one point we had 24 bolts stacked up. Here's the multicultural mix I ended up with:

For anyone who's interested, those are Kona solids in Eggshell, Cream, Flesh (really, Kona?), Khaki, Raffia, Honey, Biscuit, Mocha, and Chestnut (left to right). There are a lot of others that would have worked too, but I like this mix.

Here are the first three dolls made from this pattern:

I think they're adorable! And look--that weird fabric piece is now going into a quilt! It makes an interesting dress. The pattern is super-easy and goes together quickly. The whole thing is given as templates, but most of it is easier and more accurate to cut in strips and then cut down. Only the dress and the background pieces with it really need the templates. Clearly I'm going to have to work on the hairstyles (which aren't in the pattern) but that should be a part of the fun. Maybe I'll even add some jewelry or something too. We'll see!

The other thing I'm working on this week is finishing up the winter quilt. Once I'm done with that I think I'll have a cup of tea and a nice nap. Have to kick this cold once and for all! Hope you all are feeling well and making lots of happy things. Stay warm and healthy!

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, and Let's Bee Social, and also the RSC linkup at soscrappy.  Be sure to stop by!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sickness and health

Hi all! I missed you Tuesday! My fault--I picked up a horrendous bug at my conference in Chicago that had me coughing my lungs out. I went to the doctor and she gave me some prescription cough syrup that took care of the cough but absolutely knocked me to the ground. I mean, I really couldn't do anything but sleep. Which was the best thing for me, after all, but it meant that absolutely nothing got done all week. So now that I can think coherently again, I'm behind on everything!

Once I was able to, I did do a little tiny bit of sewing and finished up these two beauties:

These are the last blocks for the Odd Fellow's quilt. When I laid it out I came up three blocks short. One was the reversed-values block and then these two. I think I was counting on having 12 months of colors and thus 24 blocks, but there were only 11 months. Doesn't matter because they're done now! I'm almost going to miss making these every month.

The other thing I did was make some string blocks, which will be one of my other projects for RSC15:

Yep, some of those strings are tiny! I've got to rethink what I save. These were inspired by Quiltdiva Julie and by the overflowing string bin. (Connie also makes a lot of great projects with strings.) If I can make a few a month I can clean out that bin and make some kind of quilt. No pattern or idea yet--we'll see what comes along. These are 6 1/2 inches right now and still have the paper on the back. (By the way, did you know that you can buy newsprint for paper piecing and strings by the ream for about $6? It's true. I bought some and it's just as great as the expensive stuff!)

The last thing I accomplished was to pull out these pieces for the last row of the winter quilt!

These will be a fun row of mugs with steam coming off them. Next week I will be a part of the blog hop for the finished version of this quilt, so I'd better get to putting those rows together!

Hope everyone stays really healthy this weekend. Wash your hands and drink lots of orange juice. I will be continuing to answer all the email that piled up. (I think I have 56 left to go.) And if you're not feeling great, I highly recommend the cough syrup. And lots of sleep!

Happy sewing!

Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Amanda Jean at crazy mom quilts and also the awesome Angela at soscrappy.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Surrounded by snow

Hi all! Wow, is it cold! Even for Wisconsin, it's really cold. I thought we were supposed to be thawing out by now, but we're not! We're getting a lot of sunshine, though, and I'm loving that after virtually all of December was gray.

So, this week I have a fun finish to show you. I finally, finally put the binding on Burgoyne Surrounded! It's now a finished, snuggly quilt!

This quilt turned out beautiful, but it was so hard to photograph! I don't know what possessed me to try to photograph a white quilt in the snow on a sunny day.

It was really, really hard to get a good picture! It didn't help that it was 4 below zero (-20 C), either. No fussing with placements when it's that cold out! At least it shows off the quilty texture. And it amused some dog-walkers who were out when I was trying to photograph this.


 I love all my quilts (okay, most of my quilts), but I really, really love this one. I think I love it so much because it percolated for so many years. Plus, it used up a ton of solid scraps and 1 1/2 inch squares. Those bins are almost empty for the first time in a long time. And have a look at the binding--orange! I'm surprised too. I was going to use a stripe, but believe me when I tell you that it looked pretty bad. The only solids that I had with enough yardage for binding were orange, blue, or pink. At first I was disappointed that I only had those colors, but now I really love the orange. I think it sets things off perfectly.

About a week ago Bernie at Needle and Foot had a small giveaway to celebrate 51 posts and 51 followers (you go, Bernie!) and I won! Look at the beautiful package I got:

 Tea, candy, and sparkly tissue paper! Thanks Bernie! And congratulations again on your success!

Everyone have a great weekend. I am spending my weekend at a conference in Chicago, right on Lake Michigan. (I am obviously not on the site selection committee. I might have gone with Miami or Phoenix in January, not Chicago.) It's sure to be very educational, and I suspect there will be a stop at a quilt shop on the way home!

Hope you get a few stitches in this weekend. Stay warm!

[At the risk of being a complete downer. . .
On a completely different note, I want to add to my friends reading from France:  Je prie pour les victimes de la tragédie à Paris. Et je prie pour qu'elles reposent en paix, et que le Bon Dieu peut consoler tous ceux qui pleurent leurs morts. Vive la France.]

Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Amanda Jean at crazy mom quilts

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Classic Stitches-- Blue

Hello all! Today starts the Classic Stitches block of the month row quilt. I'm very excited about this whole quilt, and I had a good time making this month's blocks. Thanks for coming along!

(For more information on the BOM, see the tab above.)

Broken Dishes!

January's color is blue, which is fitting because we are freezing here! Actually, we're well below freezing. I tried to go out walking today at -1 degree, but my hair and eyelashes froze from my breath, so I gave up after about 20 minutes. I was plenty warm because I dressed for the weather, but frozen at the same time.It was weird. (And don't get me started on people who don't shovel their sidewalks!)

The block for this month is Broken Dishes, a true classic that is simple to construct, giving us an easy start to the BOM. I chose to make my blocks for this quilt in the 6-inch size, so all of the cutting sizes and photos here are of that size. Cutting directions for 8 inch and 12 inch blocks and some other alternatives are at the end of this post.

A basic Broken Dishes block looks like this:

Yes, both fabrics are dragonflies! Serendipity!

I am calling that version 1. Here is version 2:

Both versions are constructed with half-square triangles (hsts). Version 1 uses 4 hsts that finish at 3 inches each, and version 2 uses 16 hsts that finish at 1 1/2 inches each. These hsts are then combined to make the Broken Dishes pattern.

There are a LOT of different ways to sew half-square triangles. One of my favorite ways to make them is triangle paper. Triangle paper is made by several different manufacturers and some are available free online. Choose the size of paper based on the finished size of the hsts you want to make. You can also draw your own triangle paper using this tutorial (or many others) if you are willing to do the math.

Triangle paper hsts.

There is also the Magic 8 method, which is very popular. There are also a number of methods that involve drawing lines on squares and stitching along those lines, or cutting triangles from squares and then stitching them. If you are new at this, try a number of methods and use the one you like best.

Since I am using scraps of all different sizes, some of which are odd shapes, I have been using the EZ Angle ruler to cut triangles from these scraps to use in the Broken Dishes blocks. This method lets me use every scrap and have a lot of variety in my blocks. You don't have to use this method, but I have found that it's easy and useful. I hate to throw out any useable fabric! (A short video showing how to use this ruler for cutting triangles from strips is HERE.)

Here's how it works: first, grab two scraps of a size that will be large enough for the hst you want to make:

The white one here is a piece I cut out of the back of an applique to avoid bulk. The blue is a cutout from the Drunkard's Path blocks I've been making. I got to use all of these pieces up by making hsts with this method.

Find a grainline in each scrap and straighten the scrap. This will be the bottom of the triangle. Put the two scraps right sides together on a cutting mat with the cut edges aligned. (Here it helps to have a smaller mat to lay on top of the larger one so that the piece is easily turned.)

To determine what size to cut the piece, take the finished measurement of the hst and add 1/2 inch. For the 6-inch Broken Dishes block, the triangles need to finish at 1 1/2 inches, so the cut size is 2 inches. Align the 2 inch mark on the ruler with the bottom of the pieces. Using a rotary cutter, cut along the diagonal edge. You can also cut across the top where the blackened triangle is to remove the dog ear before stitching.

Turn the piece (this is where the extra mat is very helpful) and finish the cut along the other side.

Stitch along the diagonal edge and voila--perfect hsts!

This method works for any scrap as long as the scrap is large enough and you are able to begin with a straight edge. I think it's important to find a grainline to straighten the edge, but many quilters do not. Do whatever makes you most comfortable.

For the 6-inch Broken Dishes blocks, there are two options. To make 6-inch version 1 blocks, make 4 half-square triangles that finish at 3 inches each (that means that they should measure 3 1/2 inches unfinished), then assemble as shown in the picture above. Two of the darker triangles should "kiss" in the center, with the other dark corners pointing outward.

Version 1: Basic 6-inch block with hsts that finish at 3 inches each.

To make 6-inch version 2 blocks, make 16 half-square triangles that finish at 1 1/2 inches (2 inches unfinished). Assemble these in 4 sets of 4 hsts, using the same layout as the version 1 blocks--'kissing' centers and outward corners. Join the 4 smaller blocks together to make one 6 inch block. Refer to the block photos to be sure the triangles all are oriented correctly.

Version 2 units before joining. Be sure to orient the triangles properly.
You should see some secondary patterns in the version 2 blocks, and those patterns get really interesting when the blocks are joined into rows. They really do call to mind a pile of broken china!

For a 60-inch row, make 10 6-inch blocks in either version 1 or version 2, or a mixture of both. Join together into a row that measures about 60 1/2 inches unfinished.


Make 1 1/2 inch finished hsts and assemble them as in version 1, but do not join them into larger blocks. These will make 3-inch blocks with the version 1 layout. Make 20 of these for a 60 inch row, or as many as necessary for the length of the row you intend to make.

Make 12-inch blocks using 16 half-square triangles that finish at 3 inches. Alternatively, make 4 of the 6-inch version 2 blocks above and join them together into a 12-inch block. This will require 64 1-1/2-inch finished hsts. Five 12-inch blocks will make a 60-inch row; 3 will make a 36-inch row.

Another alternative is to make 8-inch blocks using hsts that finish at 2 inches (2 1/2 inches unfinished). Use 16 hsts per block. Seven 8-inch blocks will make a 56-inch row. Cut two pieces each 2 1/2 by 8 1/2 and stitch one on each end of the row to complete a 60-inch row.

One last alternative is to use hsts that finish at 2 inches and assemble them as shown in version 1 above. This will yield 4-inch blocks. Make 15 for a 60-inch row.

For my quilt, I chose to make 10 6-inch blocks in version 2 above, mixing the triangles as randomly as I could:

Mix them up and stir!

I also made one 12-inch block:

This was a long post, but I hope it was educational! I hope you enjoy making these blocks and rows. The next block will be posted on February 3.

Happy sewing!

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, and Let's Bee Social.  Be sure to stop by!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Baby grand

Hello 2015! Happy new year everyone! Guess what I did yesterday to welcome in what is sure to be the best year yet?

I finished a very small version of Bonnie Hunter's Grand Illusion mystery quilt! 

This is just four blocks, and the full quilt is 25, but this used up all the pieces I made as the mystery went along. I knew I couldn't do the whole big quilt at this time of year, but I wanted to play along, so I made a few of each unit. I had fun doing it, plus I ended up with an extremely festive baby quilt. This measures about 40 by 40.

I changed a few things in my quilt. The center of the star in each block is supposed to be a 4-patch, but I chose to use a solid square instead. I think it emphasizes the star better and it gives the eye a place to rest in this very busy quilt. Also, Bonnie's border is pieced, but I never made those units, so I just used up the rest of the yellow I had to make the outer border. It's not the same, but I think it works. I have just enough green left to bind the edge.

It was fun and non-stressful to make just enough to play along and I highly recommend it for the next mystery. It was also a very pleasant way to spend a few hours on New Year's Day while there was nothing else to do but watch football. Or clean, but who wants to do that?

This is all I have leftover!

That was it for this week! This weekend we may get some snow, but we will be taking down the tree and packing up the Christmas decorations. The holidays are always fun, but you still have to clean up when the party's over.

Be sure to come back Tuesday for the start of the Classic Stitches row quilt BOM. I'll be putting a new tab at the top with more information later this weekend.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Happy stitching!

Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Amanda Jean at crazy mom quilts.  Bonnie Hunter is also having a linkup for the Grand Illusion projects--stop by and see some seriously amazing quilts!