Friday, July 31, 2015

Eastward ho!

Hi all! {waving wildly}  Hope you are all having a great day.  I have a very important announcement!  Okay, it's important to me, maybe not so much to you.

What would you do if you were offered a terrific job, much more appealing than your current job, with more money and better working conditions, closer to some family (including your daughters), and the only catch is that you had 4 short weeks to pack up everything, move 900 miles away, and be ready for that new job?  Well, I'll bet you can guess what we've done!  Yep, we are moving. We are thrilled, our family is happy, and we trust that things are going to work out.  It's never a bad thing to choose the bigger life, and that's what we're doing.

Friendship swap blocks that I received last week were the last things on my design wall, which is now only a memory.

There's a reason why "moving" is one of the most dreaded words in the English language.  Everything is a mess!  I've been obsessively making lists, and trying to sort things, and trying to put things in boxes, and trying to use up all our food, and trying to do the paperwork for my new position, and, and, and!

See--a total mess.  No one could work in there!  Everything has since been removed and this room is a bedroom again.

We will miss our home here so much.  We love Wisconsin. It's a beautiful state where we raised our family and lived for a long time. But we trust that our new home in Pennsylvania will be equally wonderful and we will make some great memories there as well.  Here's another wrinkle, though--we are selling the house here and so we will be in rented housing for a while, maybe months! This was never in the plan.  I am really not sure what is going to happen, but again, we're just going to trust that it will be okay.

My quilt books, ready to go!

Of special concern, of course, is packing up the sewing room.  This is when I'm glad I have a small stash, but packing it doesn't seem so small.  I sorted out a bunch of things to be sold, but have no time to sell them right now, so into a separate box they go.

Box o' fat quarters, ready to be loaded up.

The machines are coming with us in the car, of course, and so is some of the fabric.  All of my projects are in their own project boxes, so they are safe and ready to travel.  All of the completed quilts are packed, including my lovely new Odd Fellows.  It made me sad to close up that box, but I'm sure it will be like seeing an old friend when I open it.

So, I will be "off the air" for a couple of weeks while we drive two cars and a trailer to our new place and then carry 45 boxes of books into my new office.  (Yes, you read that right. I was amazed too!)  A tutorial for the new RSC color will post on Tuesday as usual, but after that I'm thinking it will be at least two, and probably three,  weeks before I can get any sewing even started.  Thank goodness I have ongoing projects, so I won't lack for things to do!

While we're in radio silence, I'll be obsessively reading your blogs and living vicariously through you, so be sure to post encouraging pictures!  Maybe I'll find time for some handwork, too.

That's it from here, friends!  Wish us luck, and I'll see you from a new area very soon!

One last look at the formal gardens.

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict  and Finish it up Friday, because this is certainly a finish!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Framed in red

Good morning, all!  I don't know about you, but I think July is going way too fast.  How did this happen?  The winter always seems so long and the summer so fast.  That hardly seems fair to me.  Plus, I went shopping for some sandals (it is July, after all) and found that they were mostly gone, replaced by--are you ready?--boots.  Aaah!  Back-to-school displays have been up for weeks, but I'm hanging on to summer by my fingernails!

Not only am I running out of summer, I'm running out of red!  For today's block, I actually had to purchase a half yard of red.  I had a red kid print in the stash, but I didn't think it would work too well for this block.  Many of the little scraps were also more of a burgundy, but I'm calling them red for this project.

First up, of course, is the red crumb block, brought to us today through the miracle of cropping, since I forgot to take a stand-alone picture of it:

Lots of bits and bobs there.  I basically scrounged every red bit that I could find.  I also used Amanda's "scrap vortex" technique again, which works really well.  There is a reason to save all those little pieces!  It does my heart good to see them going into a quilt.

Then they got made into a star, of course:

Well, that looks festive!

And then, finally, the frame:

I like it!  I think it will play well with the others and add a spark to the quilt.  I am so ready to stitch them together, but I know I'll regret it if I do!  Patience is a virtue, but it's a hard one to practice.

That's all from here for today!  Hope you get some sewing in before it's time to get out the rakes and shovels again!  (I have a BIG announcement coming later this week, so be sure to check back on Friday!)

Linking to Linky Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, and at soscrappy for RSC15.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Odd Fellows at home

Hello everyone!  Today I have a very special quilt to show off--my Odd Fellow's Gathering quilt is finally, finally finished!

It turned out to be a beauty, didn't it?  I know I say this all the time, but I love this quilt!  So much went into it and there are several fabrics that I really loved in it. 

Some of you may remember that this was my major project for the rainbow scrap challenge last year.  I made 2 blocks a month and then made the "odd man out," which is the block there in the upper left which was constructed in reversed colors.  I think that's my favorite block!

How do people get their quilts to drape so nicely?  Mine is uncooperative!

This took forever mainly because I took forever to stitch that binding.  I finally decided on what to use for the binding and cut it, then weeks later finally stitched it to the front of the quilt.  Where it stayed for months while I procrastinated stitching it to the back. I'm sure I'm the only one who's ever done that.  What is wrong with me?  Anyway, I finally just sucked it up, sweated a little, and stitched down that binding. 

The back is a Timeless Treasures wide back print in pale gray and white, which I washed before using it.  It barely shrunk, which was great, but it wrinkled like crazy.  I guess there was a LOT of sizing in it to begin with.  After a good press with some Magic Sizing (97 cents a can--just sayin') it worked great!

I swear it's square, just stuck in the grass!

Odd Fellow's Gathering was quilted in white thread in a design called "wind swirls" by my trusted long armer Diane.  I could not be happier with this quilt!

I took the quilt to the formal gardens to photograph and I love the way the pictures turned out.  Of course, I had to shoo away this interloper:

I guess he just knew a great quilt and wanted his piece of it!

That's my great finish for this week!  Hope all of your sewing is going well.  Have a great weekend, everyone! 

A quilt adds to any setting, doesn't it?

(Interested in making your own Odd Fellow's quilt?  I have a block tutorial HERE.)

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finish it up Friday, and also with Angela at soscrappy for RSC15.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Red hot Saturday

Hi folks!  Hope you are already having a great weekend.  Just another update on the rainbow scrap challenge projects.  It's a hot and stormy day today with a hot and stormy color to show off.

Do you have much red?  I do not.  In fact, I had to really scramble to get any red for my projects at all. I used up most of the actual good reds in the row I made for the row quilt.  I think it's because there are not a lot of good reds any more.  Other people have written about this, and they're so right!  Mostly I have to find reds in the Valentine's or Christmas fabrics, and there's always the danger of snowmen lurking somewhere.  So, I've mostly foregone red and have only one short piece of yardage in the stash, and that's more of a juvenile fabric.

Before the red, though, one last green. I had a weird green floral piece left over from yesterday's project, so this is what I did with it:

I made a skirt for a doll, of course!  I think she's very cute.  The lighter-skinned dolls are very hard to photograph.  They bleach out a lot.  Take my word for it that they do end up looking fairly normal.

Once she was all done, I made her a few sisters:

I love them!  I am so happy to use up that scrap for the doll on the left.  That's been here for a while, but now it makes a great skirt!  And the girl next to her is supposed to be wearing a chemo hat, because survivors need representation too, but I'm not sure how well that comes through. Two of these skirts are more coral than red, but they're what I had.  Where else would you put coral? With orange? Or pink?  I'm never sure.

I also rummaged up enough red strings to make two lonely little red string blocks:

Some of those strings are really tiny, but I managed to get a couple blocks, so I'm calling that a success!  I'm sure they'll fit into the quilt just fine.

That's it from here!  Hope you are making some progress on your projects too!  I do love seeing what everyone else is doing.  I always get so inspired, and then I go crazy because there are just too many projects and not enough days in the week.  I'm sure no one else ever has that problem.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!  Hope the air conditioner is working!  And if you celebrate it, Happy Eid!  Enjoy the feast!

Sharing with Angela at soscrappy for RSC15.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Standing up

Hello everyone!  How was your week?  Thanks to everyone wished our kids well in their new home.  Thanks also for your concerns about the cat.  Don't worry about him--I understand he now rules the household.  He even has his own condo so he can see out the window, so I think he actually got a happy ending.

It has been very, very busy here.  We are doing some home improvements, which makes a horrible mess, and are trying to get ready to go to a wedding and a small vacation several states away.  I bought a dress, but like all dresses I buy, I had to alter it.  The top and bottom never fit the same way.  (What is with the giant armholes?) If you've ever done this, you know that it is not fun sewing, but is very time consuming.  At least it fits correctly now. 

I also carved out a little bit of time to make this:

This is a tablet stand pillow, made from this tutorial at From Pixels to Patchwork. This is a very cute blog with a lot of great tutorials and really good ideas!  The tutorial for this pillow stand is great, with terrific pictures and easy to follow directions. 

I used a fat eighth pack (each fabric is 9 by 22) of fabrics from the Lady Slipper Lodge line from Moda.  These are so pretty!  I didn't use anywhere near all the fabric in the pack, and I tried to mix a bunch of the prints so that the pillow would be more interesting.

My new Olfa Frosted ruler!  I truly love this thing!

I made a few adjustments to the pattern for myself.  First, instead of using interfacing, I used a bit of fusible batting.  Where else would I use it, really? I didn't quilt it, but now I wish I had.  Here's a tip for using the fusible stuff--if you use a Teflon pressing sheet, you can just lay the fabric pieces on the batting, fuse it, and then cut without having to cut shapes before fusing.  It's so much easier that way.

Using my emergency backup iron.  I think the good iron has finally died.

The tutorial gives directions for stitching the triangle sides that include pivoting at the end of the seams.  Instead of doing this, I felt like I had better control by stitching the bottom seam first, then pinning and stitching the side seams.  My points probably aren't as pointy as they could have been, but I think the stitching went a lot better for me. 

That is one ugly lunch bag.

Also, I had very little Polyfil and didn't want to buy more, and I wasn't going to use beads, so I used quilt batting.  For the tablet "shelf" I just stacked about 6 layers and rolled them tightly:

This piece got stitched between the layers of fabric in the shelf, which was the most difficult part of the whole project.  Make use of your zipper foot to stitch that seam!  Also, I didn't realize that the stitching would show, so make sure your thread matches the shelf fabric, if that matters to you. 

To stuff the main pillow, I used all the little pieces of batting that I had.  You know, all those skinny pieces that you cut off the sides and then don't know what to do with because you don't want to sew them together?  Use them to stuff pillows!

Nom, nom, nom!

This worked great.  The pillow took a lot more of these bits than I thought it would, but it ended up stuffed quite firmly.  From now on, I'll save these pieces in a bag to use just for this purpose.

I am really happy with the finished product, and it fits my tablet really well! For size purposes, this is a 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet.

This whole project took about an hour and a half--half an hour or so to cut and fuse, and then about an hour to stitch and stuff.  If I were going to make it again, I would leave out the zipper on the bottom and just leave that seam (or another one) open a bit for turning and stuffing, then close it by hand.  The zipper seems unnecessary to me.  Also, I would extend the tablet shelf a bit so that it goes all the way across the front.  There's nothing wrong with it as is, but  I think it would look better if it were longer.

I plan to use this to watch movies all over the house, not just in the sewing room, but here's a sewing room-specific use for it:

If you look carefully, you can see some of the stitching for the fabric shelf.  I wish I had done this differently.

Pin a pattern to it to keep it right in front of you!  I can't wait to try this!

That's my big finish for the week, and I think I need to go test it right now by laying on the sofa and watching a movie.  I suggest you do this too and call it research for a new sewing project. (Seriously, it's not like this will actually happen, but doesn't it sound like a great idea?)

Thanks to Taryn for a great tutorial, and I hope everyone has a great weekend.  Have fun with your "research" and happy sewing!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and also Finish it up Friday. Stop over and say hi!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cutting, cutting, cutting

Good morning, everyone!  This past weekend was very exciting and tiring for us.  Our son and daughter-in-law finally moved into their new home after everyone put in a LOT of work to make it ready.  If you're selling a house, please clean it before closing.  It's just rude to leave piles of trash in every room for the new owners to deal with.  I'd put up a picture of the trash pile, but it was too ugly.

Also, please take care of your pets!  Here's a story that will break your heart--not only did the former owners leave behind a bunch of garbage, but they also left their cat.  Seriously, they took off his collar and left him outside. Let me say that again--they moved (to another state) and left their cat outside on purpose.  It was so sad--the poor thing was batting at the doors, trying to get into the house.  The neighbors finally explained why.  What an incredibly cruel thing to do! Thankfully, the kids like cats and the cat seems to like them, so I guess he's a bonus that came with the house.

But now that that's finished, back to sewing!  I usually cut things on the weekend, but I used up all that time painting and cleaning carpets, so now I'm catching up.  Look at these great colors for the Roman Floors quilt:

These are brighter than the original floors, but they're not 500 years old.  I also made a sketch to decide how many of each color I needed and how they might be distributed:

The blank blocks are already made, not actually blank in the quilt!

Boy, am I excited to get started on this!  I went back to the quilt shop and bought several more yards of the navy batik so that I have enough for a couple of quilts, because I may or may not have made a sketch of another floor.

Yeah, we'll see what happens with that one.  I bet it would look great in a rose color instead of orange.

I also finished cutting all of the remaining pieces for the Friendship Star swap that I'm doing with friends:

Ziploc bags are a very useful quilting tool!

These are just bagged up and ready to go so that I can make up the stars quickly.  They don't take long, but having the cutting done makes it even faster.

Speaking of swaps. . .I let a friend talk me into another swap where we will swap 50 sets of 50 1-1/2 inch squares for a postage stamp quilt. There are actually about 60 people in the group, so everyone will get different scraps. I am saving 1-1/2 inch squares for a quilt, so. . .

This sounds awful to cut , but it really isn't!  And since I'm clearing out many of the scrap colors that we've already used for the rainbow scrap challenge, some of them had enough to cut 50 squares and will go to people who will appreciate them.  Plus I'll get different fabrics for my own quilt--already cut! And they're out of my bins, so I'm happy!  I have a few more to cut and then will sort them into identical sets.

And finally--I cut apart my Marquette fabric and started cutting pieces for that quilt.

Cutting that apart was hard since I can't get any more of it, but I guess now I've officially started that quilt!  I need to go find some more white on white, though, because I don't think I have enough yardage for the whole thing.

Okay, time to put the rotary cutter down and go sew something together!  It's hot today and will probably rain, so no guilt about not doing something else!

Hope everyone has a great week!

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

Friday, July 10, 2015


Hi all! How is everyone on this summer weekend?  I have some sore muscles.  Our son and daughter-in-law just bought their first house and we have been helping them clean it (and, oh, baby, did the former owners leave it in terrible condition!) and paint, do some landscaping, install new appliances, etc.  There's a reason why younger people do most of this.  We're exhausted!

But not too exhausted to sew!  This week, I finished the Terrestrial Star quilt for a second time. Yes, I took apart a perfectly good finished quilt top and redid some of it when there was nothing even wrong with it.  Sometimes a quilt just tells you that you're not finished with it and refuses to be quilted up until you do something else.  Here is the new version:

By the dawn's early light!

Just for comparison purposes, here is the older version:

Better picture of the colors, at least!

I think the new one is a real improvement!  As you can see, there were several changes.  First, I changed the corners of the center star and replaced them with the light blue fabric.  I love the fabric that I removed, but it just didn't really work.  I like the quilt with the blue much better.  It looks more like a star with a sawtooth border now.  Plus I can use that lovely fabric for something else.  Something small, but something.

The big change was the borders, of course.  I used all of the leftover brown strings I could find to string-piece 4-1/2 inch borders on paper.

It was super-easy, if a little time consuming, and I think it turned out great.  The best part is that the pile of brown strings went from this:

to this:

Imagine how happy I am about this.  And how tired I am of brown strings!

This new version is just barely a rectangle, because I didn't want it to be square, and measures about 70 by 75.  The top and bottom borders are slightly wider than the sides, which I like for some reason. 

Anyway, I like this version much better! I think it's more visually interesting and doesn't look quite so "vanilla."  I know there was nothing wrong with the first version, but I wasn't happy with it and now I am. So now I think it's ready for the longarmer, which is always cause for celebration!

Hope you all have something to celebrate this weekend, even if it's just some good weather.  Remember that winter is always coming, so we have to enjoy the warmth while we can!

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

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Halfway there

Hi all! Hope you had a wonderful 4th of July.  That was a very long celebration this year, wasn't it? The hubs had a 4-day weekend, so we had a mini-vacation of sorts, plus we got a few things done around the house.  It was nice.

Lots of things are happening around here, and today I'm pulling out all of my RSC15 projects at the halfway point of this year.  I decided that I have too many projects.  Somebody remind me next year not to do so much, because I will totally listen to you and scale back on everything.

First up is the row quilt, which is my major RSC project this year:

Wow, I love it!  I swear they are all the same length--it's the fence that's off.  The rows are just pinned here, and I'm planning to use sashing between the rows, so this will be a large-ish quilt.

Next are the 12-inch blocks, which weren't a part of the original plan but are an offshoot of the block tutorials.

A little washed out, but you get the idea. These will make their own quilt, and I just this weekend thought of an interesting setting for them.  It might require me to buy gray fabric.  That will be an interesting shopping trip, because I never buy gray and don't even know what's out there.

Next are the Framed blocks:

Gosh, how can I not love this quilt?  They're a little wrinkly from having been in a project box, but I still think they look great. These are crumb star centers set in Angela's sawtooth stars and then set in large frames made from the Moda Love pattern.  My fingers are itching to stitch these together! I know I should wait, but I'm ready!

Next are the Paper Dolls, which was my original project to use up weird scraps.  The blue and green dolls never got a picture of their own, so here they are:

And here is the whole family:

Once I let these girls outside, they became unruly and didn't want to stay still for their picture. At least no one ran away.

I'm thrilled to pieces with this quilt so far.  The original pattern has 49 dolls, but I think I'll probably end up with 60 or so, based on the number of months left.  It will be a row wider than the original pattern, but I think it will still be okay.

Last but not least, a collection of string blocks:

They look happy in that little pile, don't they?  I have no real plan for these, but they're fun to make and use up a lot of odd pieces of fabric.

So that's my status report!  I think they're looking good, although I'm starting to be worried about having enough scraps to finish.  I've used up the light blues and most of the aqua, and don't have a lot of red or brown.  I guess we;ll have to adapt as necessary.

Happy sewing, everyone!

Linking to Let's Bee SocialWIP Wednesday and Angela at soscrappy.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Classic Stitches--Red

Hi all, and welcome back to the Classic Stitches row quilt!  This month's color is red, a hot and snappy color for a hot and snappy month!

Here is this month's block:

This block has two common names:  Broken Dishes Variation, and The Chinese Block. According to Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia (#2065), the Broken Dishes name dates to 1930.  There is a reason I chose this block for the red month--this is the block that inspired this whole quilt. I hope you'll indulge me while I tell you about it. Look at this example of the block:

This block was made about 80 years ago by my great-grandmother and is one of my most treasured possessions. I keep it in a shadow box out of the sun in my sewing room because the muslin is fragile and I don't want the red to fade. It was hand-pieced with black and white thread and nothing in it is a "standard" size.  It is precious not just because it was made by my great-grandmother and it's lovely, but also because of its flaws.  Every time I start getting upset because my blocks aren't perfect or my seam allowance is off or my (modern electronic) machine is messing up, I try to remember to look at this lovely block and remember that it was cut with scissors, probably from leftovers, stitched by hand, has varying seam allowances, no two pieces are the same size, and yet is treasured so many years later over perfectly-sized, consistent, "accurately-pieced" blocks.  It's a humbling reminder that perfection can be seriously over-rated and a quilt that's loved is more beautiful than one that's technically perfect.

Thanks for indulging my little nostalgic episode.  On to the directions!

Directions are for a 6-inch finished block. Directions for other sizes, including a 12-inch block, are given after the assembly instructions.  There are a lot of pieces here and not a lot of room for simplification, but if you break it down into the steps given, assembly of this block should go fairly quickly. If you are considering making a bigger block for one of your rows, this could be a good month for it.


For a 6-inch finished block, you will need a red and a background color.  My background is white. From the red, cut 2 2-7/8 inch squares (not for hsts, so don't oversize), 4 1-1/2 inch squares, one 2-1/2 inch square, and an additional 8 1-1/2 inch squares.**  From the background, cut one 3-1/4 inch square, 4 1-1/2 by 2-1/2 inch rectangles, and 8 1-1/2 inch squares.**  (**NOTE: These 8 squares are used to make 1-1/2 inch half-square triangles using the method described below. If you prefer to make these differently, use 4 1-7/8 inch squares of each color.)


First, make the half-square triangles.  Each block needs 8 1-1/2 inch hsts that will finish at 1 inch.  Yikes! For half-square triangles this small, I like to make what I call "cheater" hsts.  These waste a tiny little bit of fabric but save a lot of time and fuss.  To make the cheater hsts, take the 8 background squares and 8 of the red squares.  Match them up and then draw a line diagonally from corner to corner of the background square.

Stitch right on that line. Really!  Trim 1/4 inch away from the stitching line, open, and press.  You should be left with 1-1/2 inch half-square triangles.

See that little bit that's wasted? I'm okay with wasting it for this fast, no-trouble method.  (Of course, if you'd rather, make 8 hsts that will finish at 1 inch using any method you want.)

Now that you have the hsts, match them up with the 1-1/2 by 2-1/2 inch rectangles. Lay them out as shown:

Stitch as shown.  Make 4 of these short sides.

To make the longer sides, take 2 of the short sides and the remaining red 1-1/2 inch squares. Lay the short side units and the squares out as shown:

Attach the red squares to make 2 longer sides. Put these aside until we get to the final assembly.

The next step is to make the center square-in-a-square unit.  Take the background 3-1/4 inch square and cut it diagonally twice to make 4 pieces:

Attach these to the sides of the red 2-1/2 inch square.  Finger-press the centers of each piece to make it easier to match up the sides properly.

Trim the dog ears and press well.  Your final unit should look like this and measure 3-3/8 inches:

Note: If you want to simplify the construction of this block, you can simply skip the center red square and begin with a background square that measures 3-3/8 inches.  As long as you complete the next step and add the red triangles to the background square, the general look of the block will be simpler, but the effect will be preserved. Here's what a modified block looks like:

The next step is to cut the remaining 2 red squares (2-7/8 inches) in half from corner to corner. Repeat the square-in-a-square process, attaching the red triangles to the square-in-a-square unit that was just constructed.  Finger-press the triangles to match the centers and stitch.

The completed unit should measure 4-1/2 inches square.

Okay, finally time to assemble the block!  Lay out the pieces as shown:

Stitch together carefully, taking special care with matching the triangle points in the corners to preserve the straight line in the finished block.

And here's a picture that brings tears to my eyes:

Made about 80 years apart!

Anyone else have something in their eyes?

Okay, your block should measure 6-1/2 inches to finish at 6 inches in the quilt. Ten of these blocks will make a 60-inch finished row, and six will make a 36-inch row.


You can always switch the colors for white blocks on a red background.

Try using a different color for the center square and/or the corner squares for a different look.

Larger pieces make this block much simpler. I chose to make 7-1/2 inch blocks. The cutting sizes are a little strange, but they turn out great. For this size, cut one 3-3/4 inch sqaure from background, along with 4 1-3/4 by 3 inch rectangles and 4 2-1/8 inch squares for making hsts.  From red, cut 2 3-3/8 inch squares, one 3-inch square, 4 1-3/4 inch squares, and 4 2-1/8 inch squares for hsts.  Eight 7-1/2 inch blocks make a 60 inch row.

This block looks great in a 12-inch size.  For a 12-inch block, cut one 5-1/4 inch square of background, along with 4 2-1/2 by 4-1/2 inch rectangles and 4 2-7/8 inch squares.  From the red, cut 2 4-7/8 inch squares, 4 2-7/8 inch squares, 4 2-1/2 inch squares, and one 4-1/2 inch center square.

Here are my three sizes--6-inch, 7-1/2 inch, and 12-inch:

And if you are just making a few of each block, here is an idea for a Christmas quilt:

Don't the red and green blocks look great together? 

Thanks for coming along on this emotional sewing experience with me! Enjoy making these blocks and come back on August 4 for our next row!

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