Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Hi folks! How is everyone? I went out running today and didn't pass out or anything, so I'm doing great! I've been walking for years, about 3 miles every day, and that just isn't enough of a workout for me any more, so a couple friends have convinced me to try running. I have an app that they recommended that gets you into it slowly, and so far it feels pretty great. I'm on week 2 of 9, so I bet it gets harder as I go.

This week, I have a quilty problem that I need your help with. But first, a pretty picture for the top of the post:

Let's hear it for flowers! And spring!

Okay, my problem involves these:

At one point, several years ago, I started to make Bonnie Hunter's Pfeffernusse pattern, which is very good-looking, but oh baby--the strings. It involved both brown string triangles and neutral string triangles, along with red hourglass blocks. It was a LOT of piecing, piecing that is easy but very repetitive. I am sorry to say that I got bored and put it in a project box and there it stayed. I have 54 of those brown triangles, which I think was a heroic effort. They're all brown, after all.

This weekend I decided that it's taking up too much room in the closet and is never going to become the original pattern, so I pulled it out, sorted all the uncut fabric (not that much), and tried to decide what to do with it. I think I have a layout that I like, and it uses the triangles as essentially giant half-square triangles.  My problem: what color do I put with the brown to make the other side of the HST?

I auditioned a few colors, starting with the red which was in the original pattern:

The red is okay, but kind of dark. The beige triangles there are also an audition, but gosh would that be one dull quilt, so they are out. I could use a few of them, but I'd rather not. And I'm not making beige string blocks.

I also tried a green:

I like the green a lot better, especially since I have a bunch of the lighter green scraps, which would be interesting with the brown.

Finally, I tried a blue, which I also like:

Yes, I got a little lazy moving them around and just left the other colors up. I like the blue, but I think I like the green better.

So, what say you, oh wise quilters of the interwebs? What would you do with the brown string triangles? Which color would you put with them? Should I even attempt to use them or just throw them in the trash? (Yikes!)  I need to use that box for another project, so this needs to be decided soon!

Thanks for the help! Hope everyone gets in some stitching time this week. I am also still working on the log cabin blocks for the Kaleidoscope quilt. It's slow, but at least I'm working on it!

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social and WIP Wednesday.

On a completely serious note, my heart and my prayers go out to the people of Nepal and surrounding areas after the massive earthquake this past week. If you are moved to help, try HERE, HERE, or HERE

Friday, April 24, 2015

Mini with a side of crumbs

Hi everyone! How was your week? Ours was wet and cold. We had frost more than once, some sleet, and a tiny bit of snow. Good thing I didn't jump the gun and plant anything yet, though I did move around some perennials. They won't be hurt, but grass seed would never have survived. Hope we're done with the frost thing now because I am ready for some more color.

It has been a very busy week here, so pretty much all I really finished was the last of the minis and a couple of RSC15 blocks. First up is the mini, which came out to about 20 by 22:

 How darling is that? Our house is yellow with red shutters, so this is sort of modeled after ours. This is just a traditional house block with some borders. The house and the roof are string pieced, which I think made this a lot more interesting, plus it let me use up some tiny pieces. I cut the templates from paper with about a half-inch margin around them, then stitched the pieces to the templates and trimmed when they were full. I'm really happy with how it turned out! My favorite part is that tiny blue inner border. I think I have enough of that for a binding, too.

I also finished up the frame for the blue crumb star block for RSC15:

I also had just enough time this week to make up the purple one. It helps that I had all the frame pieces cut and some sections stitched together before I made the crumb star:

Yikes! A lost point! I'll fix that right up!

Gosh, I like how these are turning out!  Here are the four that I have finished, just pinned to the fence:

Wow. I'm going to like this! And I'll be needing a bigger fence to photograph all of it!

That's the update from here! Hope everyone has a fun weekend planned. I am planning to go treat myself to a new pair of gardening gloves. Maybe I'll even get the nifty waterproof ones. It will be almost as good as having a new rotary blade!

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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Wind and rain

Hi all! How is everyone? I am blown away--almost literally! We are having a very windy, wet time. I would show you a picture of the new hairstyle the weather has given me, but it would scare small children at this point.  And we actually had some sleet/snow this morning. Noooo! Go away!

So, I started a new small project. It's not really another mini! I think I got the minis out of my system for a while. Okay, maybe one more, but for now there is this:

This is a little wool and wool felt candle mat kit that I found while cleaning out the dresser in the sewing room. It will make a nice hand project for the evenings.  Seems like it should go fast, too, though it looks like I have to adjust some of those leaves.

And hey, I actually worked on some of my projects! Okay, one project, the Kaleidoscope quilt. Now that I've been away from it for a couple weeks I'm a little excited about it again. The first thing I did was work on these:

These are the large flying geese for the outer edges of the quilt.  I made 52 of them. And now I don't have to make any more! I used the Easy Angle and Companion Angle rulers and they went pretty fast.

I also finished up the first cutting for the log cabin blocks:

Whoo-hoo! There are a LOT of those strips. The red and white pieces are the centers. The directions want me to stitch each new log onto an uncut strip of the next color, then trim it after stitching and use the next part of the strip on the next round, etc.  Anyone ever made log cabins that way? It seems to me that it would be better to measure, cut, and then stitch. (Easier, too.) Too many things to go wrong the other way. I know I could figure out how long to cut each piece if I sat down with it, but I think I'll just make one and write down the measurements as I go so I can measure and cut for all the others.

Finally, because Deborah asked to see my sewing space, here it is:

Yeah, not very impressive. An old kitchen table, an old desk chair (that seems to be marking up the wall--oops), and some sewing implements. The little plastic container there is what I use for threads and bits and pieces that get cut off.  Then it can all be emptied into the trash at once. The Ott light is essential, as are the glasses.

Here's the cutting area:

It's not very impressive either! This is just one of those craft tables that you can get at many places. It actually has another leaf this same size that folds out, but that was too big for me and I ended up just piling things on it. This works. And I finally took down the curtains, which gives me so much more light. It's actually a great space to work on. 

Now that I see it in pictures, I have this urge to repaint and redo this whole room. I better go sit down with some tea and chocolate until this feeling passes, because it could really get me into trouble!

Hope you get some sewing done this week!

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social and WIP Wednesday.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Purple reign

Hi everyone, and happy weekend to you! We are currently being blessed with great sunshine and I hope you are too.

Does it seem to anyone else that purple is suddenly everywhere? Everywhere I look, there's something purple. Clothes, jewelry, accessories, fabrics, shoes, flowers--you name it, I've been seeing it in purple. I even considered buying an eggplant before I came to my senses.

Turns out I have tons of purple fat quarters and purple scraps, so I made up another mini using mostly purples:

Outdoor photo!

When I was in school, I had an art teacher who nearly scared me away from purple forever. She had a real bee in her bonnet about mixing blue purples with red purples. I'm pretty sure I would have failed if this was one of her assignments. Amazing how something like that can affect us years later, isn't it?

I didn't have 42 different purples, which I really wanted, so I added in some pinks, but I think they look okay.  I also obsessed over the arrangement of the blocks. I must have rearranged them a dozen times. Anybody else ever do that?  This turned out a bit bigger than anticipated, about 24 by 28. Still a mini in my book.

Indoor picture!

 I don't know what's with me, but I'm really liking the minis. They're just the right size for me right now, and they don't take a million years to finish. They might end up as place mats, but they're fun.

I also made up some purple string blocks:

I'm always amazed at how great these turn out. Seems like little bitty pieces like that would turn into a mess, but they don't. I'm getting a pretty nice pile of string blocks:

Still no specific plan for these, but they're helping empty out the bins. I'm looking forward to the paper-removing party at the end, too. I still have the paper dolls to make with the purple, but I pulled out a few pieces to use for those dresses, so the bin should be very low by the end of this month.

Finally, here is a happy outdoor photo to take us all into the weekend:

Whoo-hoo!  This is the front flower bed, full of puschkinia flowers. I love these little things, even if they have jumped out of the bed and invaded the lawn. I should kill off the ones in the grass, but I just can't bring myself to--they're so pretty after a crummy winter! There's a tulip coming up there, too, and those stick-like things are the perennial geranium, which is also greening up.

Everybody have a great weekend! We will be working outside and then helping our son and daughter-in-law with some house hunting.  I'd forgotten how exhausting that can be!

Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Angela at soscrappyhttp://superscrappy.blogspot.com, and also Finish it up Friday. Happy sewing!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Parts and pieces

Hi everyone! How have you been? I feel like it's been weeks since we talked! I always feel that way when I've been especially busy.  Congratulations to Barb and Viridian, who won the anniversary giveaway. Your prizes are on the way!

Spring is popping up all over here. We did some more outdoor cleanup this weekend, and some inside, too.  Look what came up in the yard:

Okay, not the greatest picture, but I nearly ran outside in my pajamas when I saw these from the front window. I was so excited--flowers! 

Sewing-wise, I have been working on putting together left over parts and pieces that I've saved. I have a bin full of extra hsts, flying geese, and random triangles and such that were left over from other projects. I can't be the only one who saves these, can I?

See, full of stuff. For anyone who wants to know, I keep scraps in these, sorted by color. They are Gladware entree-size containers that cost about $1.50 apiece. I think I bought mine in packages of 5 or so at Target. (I'm not telling how many I have.) They work great, and they stack on shelves for easy storage. This one is stuffed with parts like these:

 Lots of possibilities in those parts and pieces! The first thing I made was some note cards:

This idea was blatantly stolen from Julie, who is making something really similar for RSC15. This is a good place to eke a little more function out of those needles that won't work on fabrics any more, plus I got to use up some of those tiny pink and green triangles.

I also made these two blocks from left over hsts:

These hsts look pretty "muddy" to me, which is probably why they weren't used up in a quilt.  These are 10 inches each, so they may get made up into place mats if I find some fabric in the closet that will coordinate.

I also made two more scrap blocks:

These were some left over triangles from a friend. I wouldn't let her throw them out, and I got a 6-inch block in return. I feel like this could be a sawtooth star center if there is an aqua month this year.

Then there is this block, made from the cutoff left overs from the little mini I showed on Friday:

And that's what I've got out of the bin so far! I want to empty out that bin, so I'll have to come up with some more block ideas and keep playing around. I also have to finish making up some more blocks for a Christmas swap I'm doing with friends:

Never really done a swap before, and it's making me a little crazy trying to be "perfect." My quilt might be a little bigger than some because I keep rejecting blocks as "not good enough" and keeping them. They're good enough for me, but maybe not for others.  (True fact: I almost called this blog "The Good-Enough Quilter." Pretty glad that I didn't!)

Hope you have some fun sewing to do this week! Playing with parts like this is good for the soul. Plus, it opens up more storage room for new things! Not that I'll need that or anything.

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social and WIP Wednesday.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mini Friday

Hi folks! First, thanks so much for all of the wonderful comments and emails about my blog anniversary. I'm happy to still be here too! There's still time to enter the giveaway on the last post if you're interested, too.

This has been a very busy week for me. Lots and lots to do, much of it very tedious. It's that time of the year. I still managed to sew, though! Priorities, you know.

I managed to make up a couple of minis this week. I know I should be working on the bigger quilts, but I really needed some instant gratification! Here is the first little mini:

It has been raining like crazy here all week, so I just managed to dash outside between the raindrops and take this picture. This was the only semi-dry spot. The fence was way too wet and the bench was soaked too. I don't mind the rain, except that it makes taking pictures more difficult. You don't have to shovel the rain, after all.

This little quilt is made from some of the leftover fabric from the abandoned Loyal Union sampler quilt, and it only measures about 16 by 20. After I quilt it up, I plan to add some buttons in the center of those squares. The pattern came from this book:

This is a great book if you're looking for a small project. I think the biggest one in here is 40 by 40. There are a lot of smaller projects, too, many of which can be made with scraps. What's not to love?

The other mini was this little beauty:

Yes, that's a walrus. His name is Paul.

This is, of course, the great state of Wisconsin, only 9 inches square. This was paper pieced and I am amazed at how it came out! The pattern was really good and very detailed. Look, it even has the details of the Door County Peninsula and the shoreline of Lake Superior!  I got the pattern from the Patchwork and Pastry Craftsy store (available HERE) where Irene has patterns for all 50 states, plus a bunch of other very cute things.

Wouldn't this make a great quilt label? I also want to make it in red and white. It's the Badger State, after all.

Outside on a very wet boulder!

I made the background here blue for our two Great Lakes, Michigan and Superior, and our thousands of inland lakes (more than Minnesota!). The state itself is a green batik, representing all our trees, foliage, and forests, including the Chequamegon National Forest. This really is a beautiful place. If you haven't ever visited, come on along! Give me a call when you get here and we'll go fabric shopping!

Everybody have a great weekend. I'm definitely getting some fabric shopping in, plus we'll probably end up having dinner out once. I love it when that happens!

Linking to Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and also Finish it up Friday. And Lorna is hosting TGIFF this week, so let's meet up over there too!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

It's a celebration!

Hi all {waving wildly}! Today is a very happy day here at The Academic Quilter. Yesterday was my 112th post and my one-year blogging anniversary! Plus, spring is popping up all over. Flowers are on the way! On top of that, we had Opening Day for the Milwaukee Brewers. Looking forward to going to the stadium soon. Add in some leftover Easter chocolate and we can really call this a party!

Mary's Linens

So much has happened in the last year, almost all of it good. I have learned so much and done a lot of things I never thought I would. Most importantly, I have made some good friends, and wouldn't you know--they all like talking about fabric, thread, color, and quilting!

Vin du Jour

Happy things from this year:

** The incredible creative people I've met and learned from.

** My sewing in general has become more organized and more focused. Planning for blog posts tends to focus the brain on what needs to be finished!

** Discovering new blogs from all over the world through link-ups and seeing projects from many different perspectives.

** The comments I've gotten, most of them very positive and encouraging. Thanks everyone!

** New pattern designs I would never have heard of without blogs.

** Same with fabric! Plus, I've found out about many great new places to shop for this fabulous fabric.

**Trying new things, like crumb blocks and walking-foot quilting.

**Inspiration and motivation from the quilting community every day.

**The quilts! (All photos in this post are quilts from the past year.)

Afternoon on the Porch

And some challenges:

** Photos. This has been the biggest challenge for me in writing this blog. A new camera might help (mine is from 2004), but in reality I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to photos.  Happy to take any advice!

**Spam commenters. Go away!

** The whole 'no-reply' thing and other computer issues. I thought I was pretty computer savvy, but some things have truly stumped me.

** Hmmm, I can't really think of anything else that's negative!

Fiesta Pinwheels

So, let me say thank you to everyone for stopping by to read this little blog, leaving comments, and making me feel like cutting up fabric, playing with color, sewing every day, and having strange threads on all my clothes is totally normal and even something to be encouraged. I can't even tell you what that's meant to me. You've made my day!

As a more tangible thank you, how about a fun giveaway?  I have these to give away to TWO lucky winners:

Sorry, this giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to Barb and Viridian!

Aren't these gorgeous? This is two different sets of 6 fat quarters of Paradiso by Kate Spain for Moda, so TWO winners! (Let's keep the sets just as shown, one on top and one on the bottom.)  I am willing to send these pretty much anywhere in the world. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post (and only this post) with your best blog tip or photo tip.  If you don't have a tip, how about a suggestion for something to do in the next year of this blog? No need to be a follower or anything--everyone is welcome to enter.  I will use the random number gadget thingy (that's its technical name) to draw TWO names on Sunday, April 12, around noonish Central time. Remember to leave an email if you are no-reply so I can notify you.

Again, thanks to everyone for this past year. I've been both humbled and gratified since I first pressed that "publish" button a year ago, and I certainly plan on continuing for a while. (And we'll remain a 'non-profit,' too! No ads!)

Happy sewing everyone!

Linking with Let's Bee Social and WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Classic Stitches--Purple

Hello friends, and welcome to another block in the Classic Stitches row quilt! This month's block is one of the oldest around, dating to before 1895. This is the Delectable Mountains block:

It looks like mountains, doesn't it? A row of mountains is going to give some lovely movement to our row quilt. This block takes its name from the Christian allegory Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, published in the late 17th century.  It is also sometimes known as a Pilgrim's Progress block and is #210 in the Ladies Art Company catalog from 1898. (When I say classic, I mean classic!)

There are a lot of ways to make this block. The method below uses strips that will yield a block that finishes at 6 inches by 12 inches. This is really two blocks, one "uphill" and one "downhill," but I found it much easier (and less confusing) to make them in pairs. This way you don't end up with too many uphills and not enough downhills!

The 6 by 12 finished blocks are shown below. Cutting sizes for other finished block sizes are given at the end of the construction directions.


These blocks are constructed from 2-inch strips. (All of the pieces for a 6 by 12 block pair can be cut from one width-of-fabric strip if you have strips pre-cut or are using yardage.) From the purple, cut 2 inch strips** into the following lengths: 2 each at 2-1/2 inches, 4 inches, 4-3/4 inches, and 6-1/4 inches. You should have 8 strips.

Cut the same sizes from a background fabric (shown here in white).

**If you are very nervous about having your strips turn out perfectly after stitching, go ahead and cut your strips at 2-1/8 inches wide and trim to 2 inches after stitching. This will not affect the slope of the mountains.

That is all the cutting for this block!


Patience and attention to the way the pieces are arranged are the keys to making this block work. First, match up your cut pieces:

Put the shortest purples with the tallest whites, and the shortest whites with the tallest purples. The 4-inch whites should be matched up with the 4-3/4 inch purples, and vice versa. Pay attention to the sizes of the middle pieces as they are easy to confuse. I ended up marking the longer pieces with a pin.

Take two pairs of the same size and designate one "left" and the other "right." Lay both purple pieces on your cutting mat. Here it might help to align the top corners of the purple pieces with lines on the mat so that the corner is obvious. Lay the white pieces across the top of the purple pieces with right sides together, perpendicular to them, with the extra length of the background piece to the left on the left purple piece and the right on the right purple piece.

Draw a diagonal line as shown on each background piece, from the upper corner of the purple strip. Pay careful attention to the direction as you will be cutting away the excess after stitching. A line in the wrong direction will mean a strip cut the wrong way. (Ask me how I know.)

Here's a picture in a different fabric that shows the line a little better:

If you are nervous about locating the corner accurately, measure 2 inches (2-1/8 if you have cut your strips wider) from the end of the strip and make a small mark, then align this mark with the corner of the purple strip. Another option is to press a line in the background piece 2 inches from the end of the strip and then align the pressed edge with the edge of the purple strip.

Stitch on the drawn line.

Unfold the fabric and check the alignment of your strips for accuracy before trimming 1/4-inch from the stitched seam.

The stitched piece should unfold into a straight strip, with edges aligned. You can decide for yourself if you are willing to be off a little bit or not. Press toward the purple.

You should now have one uphill piece (left) and one downhill piece (right). As long as you always keep the purple strips on the bottom, you will end up with the correct pieces for the block.

Repeat for all of the remaining pairs. I had a very hard time getting each strip to turn out at exactly 6-1/2 inches, so the measurements given above may result in a slightly longer strip. Trim these to 6-1/2 inches before stitching them together. I took my 6-1/2 inch measurement from the bottom of each purple strip.

Arrange your pieces as shown and stitch 4 sections together along the long edges.  Press each toward the taller purple piece.

If needed, square up each 4-section piece to 6-1/2 by 6-1/2 inches. Join the two smaller sections together to make a 6-1/2 by 12-1/2 block that will be 6 by 12 in the finished quilt. Be sure to match the center mountain seams.

Five double blocks make a 60-inch row, and 3 will make a 36-inch row. Now would be a good time to check and be sure your rows are measuring 60-1/2 inches before they are put together.

These blocks are easier to make than to describe! Here is my finished row of Delectable Mountains blocks:

Those trees need some leaves!

Very festive, aren't they?  Here are the completed rows so far:

As I've said before, the row arrangement for my quilt will come at the end, and I urge you to wait until the end to arrange yours as well.


Try making graded mountains by using dark purples for the tallest peaks, with lighter ones for each shorter peak.

Mix some greens or browns in with your purple mountains.

You can vary the heights of your mountains by adding or subtracting quarter inches from the purple strips, keeping the finished length at 6-1/2 inches. Try varying your heights from "Himalayas" to "foothills."

The colors for this block can be reversed by simply flipping the blocks upside down:

The sizes of the finished blocks are easily changed by using strips of different widths. One and a half-inch strips will yield a double block 4 inches by 8 inches finished. Use 2-1/2 inch strips for 8 by 16 double blocks, 3 inch strips for 10 by 20 inch double blocks, and 3-1/2 inch strips for 12 by 24 inch finished double blocks. Adjust the lengths accordingly.

For a 12-inch by 12-inch block, make 2 sets of the 6 by 12-inch double blocks and arrange them into a 12 by 12 block. This gives you several design possibilities, such as simple straight rows:

Or straight rows another way:

Or this, which is sometimes called sunlight and shadows:

I chose to use this setting, which is sometimes called a Chinese Lantern block:

I like this arrangement so much that I might want to make a whole quilt from these blocks!

I also made a mini Delectable Mountains block from a different one that I messed up the cutting on. Here it is with some other mini blocks:

Have fun with your progress toward the Delectable Mountains! I will see you back here for the next row on Tuesday, May 5.

Happy sewing!

Linking to Linky Tuesday and soscrappy for RSC15. If you;re reading this on the weekend, there is a giveway on this post, which you might want to check out!