Wednesday, October 31, 2018

A very green Halloween

Hi everyone, and happy Halloween! Our tiny grandson (who is not so tiny any more) went trick or treating for the first time this year.  Through the miracle of video apps, we were able to watch, and it really was the cutest thing ever.  The twins had festive t-shirts, but since they still struggle with bananas and green beans, no candy for them this year.

My Halloween is very, very green this year.  I have finished off the quilt top with the Steps to the Garden blocks I pulled out last week:

Yay! This one is a double win-- a finished top and a UFO out of the closet.  If you recall, these blocks were part of a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project from last year.  For some reason, I got behind on making the blocks and put them away, to be lost in the sewing room closet for months.  I pulled them out and expanded the quilt top with some alternate blocks, which were very easy to make and really added something good to the quilt.

I'm calling this one Garden Path.  It measures about 66 by 78 because I went ahead and added the last row to use up the garden blocks.  I thought it would bother me because it isn't really balanced, but I barely notice it.  I may cut the border a little smaller after it's quilted, but I'm not sure.  I mostly wanted the border to keep the edges all nice and straight and clean, so I didn't give the width very much thought. 

I'm not sure I've ever had a quilt with a green background before, so this one is kind of a little different for me.  I think I like it, but what I like most is that it's not in the closet any more and is well on it's way to becoming a cozy quilt.  And here's what else I like about it-- it's the last thing I have to put together using my emergency backup machine, because this weekend a sweet new-to-me machine came to live at my house:

Meet Miss Rosie! This is a Husqvarna Viking Rose edition machine, and I got her from a very kind and generous quilter named Dot who lives about 45 minutes from me.  This was a backup machine and was very lightly used, so she works just great.  Dot was very generous and gave me all kinds of accessories and feet to go with the machine, plus the embroidery unit and a whole lot of other stuff that I haven't fully unpacked yet. I played with the machine for quite some time and tried out a bunch of the features and I'm just crazy about her.  Then I got nervous about using it without having it serviced, so I got lucky and was able to get her into the machine spa right away.  I took her in yesterday and should have her back on Friday, so you know what I'll be doing all next weekend!

Folks, there are a lot of very reasonably priced used machines out there that need love, so if you are looking for one, please consider a used one.  If you're looking for something older, there are many free ones out there, too.  And a HUGE thank you to Dot!  I love the machine, and she will get lots of love and attention here.

Hope you're all having a great week!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social, Finished or Not Friday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Straight away finish

(For anyone interested, the last scrap giveaway of the year is at the end of this post!)

Hi everyone, and happy weekend! Ours is wet and windy, but that's good weather for doing lots of things, like stitching away.  I have a friend who thinks rainy weekend days are "perfect for meal prepping!" To which I can only say, "what?" And the hubs is convinced they're perfect for watching various athletes doing things, but that's pretty much every weekend, rain or shine.

Today I"m just showing off one of the quilt tops I made from my 15-inch Squared Away blocks:

Okay, I took these photos outside and it was cloudy, so I'm not sure why they're so bleached out.  I will seriously work on taking better pictures starting as soon as this semester is over.  If you recall, each month this year I've made two of the blocks in a 15-inch size, which will give me enough bigger blocks for two quilts, and this is the first one.  The second isn't done quite yet.

This quilt has 15-inch blocks with 2-inch sashing and no cornerstones, so the blocks look like they're floating.  It's a nice effect overall.  The blue is just Kona Nightfall, which is a lovely navy blue.  The border is 3 inches wide, and I'm guessing that I'll quilt this up in blue thread. 

Altogether, I'm happy with how this came out.  It was simple to make because the blocks were all done, and it took less than an afternoon to  put together.  For now it's going into the "to be quilted" pile, which is getting very tall.  Time to do something about that!

 And now it's time for the last scrap giveaway!  I don't have green scraps to give away, but I am cleaning out the last of the bins:

This is from two bins, one for dots and stripes and the other for novelty fabrics and fun things that don't fit anywhere else.  Most of these are smaller pieces, but there are a few larger ones as well.  See the brown dots? That's about a quarter of a yard.  There's a bunch of fun fussy cuts here, too, including the penguins.

This giveaway is now closed! Thanks to all for helping me clean out some old pieces!

If you would like to have these scraps at no charge, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post.  Really! I will send this package to one lucky person anywhere in the US or Canada, and I'll pull the winner using the random number generator on Monday evening, October 29.  Please, please-- if you are a no-reply person, leave a way to contact you.  If I can't get in touch with you, you can't win!

Hope you all are having a good weekend! On Sunday I am going to look at a machine that I will probably bring home, so I may have a new-to-me machine before the weekend is out.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Return to the garden

Hello all!  Well, it's another week here in paradise, and for once it really feels like it. We are having tons of sunshine, decent temperatures, and no rain.  This week will be the longest stretch we have not had rain since March.  Really, March! It's been wonderful so far.  I'm hoping it really does last all week.

This past weekend I pulled out a number of project boxes to assess those projects.  I was afraid to do this, but I'm happy to tell you that there are not very many unfinished projects in there at all.  I guess I've been working through them without paying all that much attention.  Yay me! I found three projects in the closet that are almost finished, so I think it's really time to get those done, don't you?

All three of these are very close to being finished--or I can redefine them as finished--so I just closed my eyes and picked one.  It turned out to be these lovely blocks:

These are Steps to the Garden blocks that I was making as a Rainbow Scrap Challenge project from 2017.  I'm not sure why I stopped making them.  I think I got busy one month, then got behind, then just didn't pick them up again.  You know how that goes, right? I ended up with 16 blocks, which is almost 6 months worth.

So I threw the blocks up onto the design wall and here's what they looked like:

Friends, I really hated this.  I just really don't like the look of it at all.  It looked like a really good idea on paper, but here it's just too dark and too busy.  I think it would have looked a lot better with different background colors, but that ship has sailed now.  What to do?

I decided to pull out two of the purple blocks and one red block, then space them out with some alternate blocks:

Gosh, that's better.  It's still dark, but it keeps the stepping stones theme, and it's not nearly as busy.  As a bonus, the chain blocks are super easy to make and go really fast.  Some strip piecing and they're pretty much finished.  I cut the pieces for the last four blocks already and I'll make them up one afternoon this week.  My only real question about this quilt top is whether I should add two of those blocks back in for a last row.  It would have to be two Garden blocks and three alternate blocks, and I'm not sure that I'd like having the quilt be unbalanced.   Heck, I might not even notice, and it would use up those blocks. What do you think?

So there's one project re-thought and almost done! In addition to this project, I'm having to take on another one-- finding a new sewing machine.  Yeah, my main machine has given up the ghost:

Sadness!  I bought this machine new in 2007 over the objections of the owner of the sewing machine store, who warned me that this was a machine for "occasional sewers" and would never last a year if I used it every day.  Guess I showed her, huh?  Alas, the machine started having power issues, in that it wouldn't stay on for more than a few stitches at a time, and then it refused to turn on at all.  I could have it fixed, but there are other issues as well, so it's definitely not worth putting money into.  So now I'm using the emergency backup machine:

Yes, I need to make the list of must-haves and start shopping around really quick, because this will just not do! I'm really looking for a used machine, but I'll look at some new ones, too, even though they're probably really too expensive for me.  What features would you consider "must have" in a new machine?  Help me make my list!

Hope you're all having a good week with no machine issues and lots of sunshine!

Sharing at Let's Bee Social.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Squared Away Finishing Instructions

Hello quilters, and welcome to the end of the Squared Away quilt project!  All that's left to do is put the blocks together into finished tops.  Last week, Angela gave finishing instructions for straight settings, and today I'm giving instructions for on-point settings.  I made my quilt in an on point setting with sashing but no cornerstones. There are a couple of on-point options given here, so be sure to read all the way to the end before you cut anything. This is a loooong post, so I divided this into sections marked by bold type to make it a little bit easier to find what you want.

Let's make some quilts!

Bonus block

An on-point setting will require 32 blocks, and we have made 30 so far.   You could make a couple more of any of the blocks that we've done so far, but if you want more variety, or you didn't like one of the blocks or skipped it for any reason, here is a bonus block:

This is Rolling 9-Patch, a block from Aunt Kate's Quilting Bee magazine from the early 1960s.  Instead of a tutorial, all I'm giving today is a piecing diagram, but the block is really easy and I'm sure you can handle it:

All of the squares are cut 2-1/2 inches. If you're making the flying geese using the 4 at a time method, use a 5-1/4 inch square of the color fabric and 2-7/8 inch squares of the background fabric.  (Oversize if desired!)  You could also use two 2-1/2 inch hsts instead of making geese.

On point setting with no sashing

This is the easiest of the on-point settings, with no extra pieces to worry about, just blocks and setting triangles.  You will have to match every seam in every block, but that's not difficult, just tedious.  As a reference, this is the setting I used for the Falling Stars quilt, so you get an idea of how it looks when finished:

This quilt looks out of square, but it's just pinned to the design wall a little unevenly.  I swear that it's square!

The quilt shown above used a 1-1/2 inch cut for the inner border (1 inch finished) and a 3-1/2 inch cut for the outer border (3 inch finished), plus 32 10-inch blocks.  The top finished at 65-1/2 by 80-1/2 before quilting. 

To make this layout, take 32 10-inch blocks and lay them out with four blocks across the top and bottom and five blocks along the sides:

Fill in the center of the quilt, and fuss with the blocks until you like the arrangement.  At this point it might be helpful to you to take a picture just in case the blocks get messed up.  I know that I've started doing this for a little insurance. 

To cut the setting triangles, you'll need to begin by cutting larger squares.

For this size block:    Cut 4 squares this size:    And two squares this size:

      5 inch                              8-3/8                                       4-1/2
       7-1/2                               11-7/8                                      6-1/4
       10                                     15-1/2                                     8
       15                                     22-1/2                                     11-1/2

Important note: I always oversize these squares and triangles to give myself some wiggle room.  For my 10-inch blocks, I cut the squares 16 inches and 8-1/2 inches. 

Cut the 4 larger squares into four triangles by cutting them in half twice from corner to corner:

These are the triangles for the sides.  You will use 14 of them and have two left over.

Cut the smaller squares into two smaller triangles by cutting them in half from corner to corner once.  These are for the corners, and you'll need all four.

Fill in the sides to square up the quilt center, then add the corners. 

These are my blocks, but not my setting triangle fabric.  I chose this just for visibility!

Press well, then add whatever borders you would like and your quilt top will be finished!

Pro tip:  some people get confused by on-point layouts.  You can lay your quilt out in straight rows and add the setting triangles, then join the rows:

Make two halves, leaving off the corners.  Join the two halves at the longest seam, add the corners, and press well.  Done!

On point setting with sashing

If you don't want to match every seam, or you just like the look of sashing,  you can add sashing to your blocks.  The width of the sashing is up to you, and here I'm only giving the instructions for the one size that I used for my 10-inch blocks.  I cut the sashing at 2 inches to finish at 1-1/2 inches in the quilt. 

Sashing with cornerstones:

For this setting, layout all the blocks as above, and then add sashing to the sides of the blocks.  You will need 80 10-1/2 inch pieces of sashing and 49 cornerstones for this layout.

Sashing without cornerstones:

Cornerstones are not required! If you leave out the cornerstones, you'll simply need to make some of the sashing pieces longer to make up for the lost cornerstone pieces. For this setting, you'll need 40 pieces of sashing 2 by 10-1/2 inches and 40 pieces 2 by 12 inches. 

The sashing alters the size of the setting triangles, so here are the sizes you'll need if you're using the sashing size above (cut 2 inches wide):

For the setting triangles, cut 4 squares 19-3/4 inches square and cut from corner to corner twice, and cut two squares 10-1/8 and cut in half once for the corners.  As noted above, I always oversize these and trim down later!


Borders are not required, but if you'd like to have some, add as many as you'd like in any width you think is pretty! To measure for borders, smooth out your quilt and measure the length with a  long tape.  Cut two pieces this length and mark the centers and quarters.  Mark the centers and quarters of the sides of the quilt as well, then pin the borders to the quilt, matching the centers and quarters.  Stitch and press, then repeat for the borders at the top and bottom.  Repeat for as many borders as you desire.

What if I didn't finish all the blocks?

This quilt is not an assignment, so you can make a quilt any size you want! You can also combine these blocks with 12 inch blocks that you might have left over from something else by using sashing on the 10-inch blocks.  Cut the sashing 1-1/2 inches wide for the 10-inch blocks and don't use any sashing on the 12-inch blocks and they'll fit together just fine.  You could also add wider sashing to smaller blocks and mix them in with your 10-inch blocks. Another option is to use 10-inch squares of any fabric or fabrics you like.  Leftovers from a layer cake would work well. 

And that winds up our Squared Away quilt project! I'm so looking forward to seeing your finished quilts!  I'll show you mine right back here on November 3, but in the meantime, be sure to link up any finishes over at Angela's on Saturdays.  And if you have any questions, ask away in the comments, or you can email me and I'll definitely get back to you!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18

Friday, October 19, 2018

Fall abloom

Hi everyone, and happy fall weekend! Fall has finally arrived here, with much cooler temperatures and lots of wind.  No really colorful leaves yet, though.  I think they mainly just gave up and dried out from all the heat that we've had, then turned brown and fell.  It's kind of weird that there is still so much green around.  Some of my flowers are also still blooming, though many of them are done.  I still have a pink geranium, some roses, and a few petunias with flowers on them.  Curious to see how long they last, really.

Here is something else I have with flowers on it-- I've finished the fall flowers quilt top:

Whoo-hoo!  I am happy to have this one done and ready to quilt up, and I think it turned out well.  Can you see all of the different fall flowers in the top? I wanted this to look like flowers at the end of the season, with mums, asters, goldenrod, and other fall flowers.  I chose beige sashing because I thought a fall quilt really called for beige. The inner border is a dark green, and the outer border is a darker beige with some interesting flecks in it.  I've had those beiges for a long time, and it's nice to see them used.

Oooh, artsy!

If you recall, this is the project I made from the bundle of fabrics I chose for Bernie's online fabric shop.  (She still has a few bundles left, and you can get one HERE.)  I challenged myself to use most of the fabrics in the bundle, with as little added fabric as feasible.  I think I did okay.  I added a cream background, a piece of green that was about a third of a yard, and a few other small pieces to accent the fabrics in the bundle.  I managed to eke out 15 blocks from the bundle, which I think is really great.  Here's all I have left:

That's a win! There's really not much there, just enough to cut into a handful of squares.  I do love the yellow fabric, so I may get some more of that, and maybe the green, too.  They're so pretty, and I can see using them in another project.

I had planned to make this a little larger and use blocks of the leaves throughout the quilt.  It looked really bad.  Really, those leaves need to be their own quilt.  Since I needed 16 blocks to make mine square, I managed to make two 6-inch flower blocks (I may or may not have stitched some of those scraps together to make it work) and paired them up with two of the leaves to make a 12-inch block to finish the top. 

Instead of having leaf blocks, I think I'll have this longarmed in a leaf pattern.  That way, I get flowers plus leaves in a pretty quilt.  Have my cake and eat it, too!  (Mmmm, cake.)

So there's another top finished!  Now it's on to finishing off the black stars quilt top, and then there are a few other things I want to get working on before the year is out.  (It scares me just to type that sentence!)

Hope everyone has a great weekend!  I'm planning on curling up with a book while it rains, and maybe searching through the project closet for a project I can finish off quick.  There's a bunch of stuff in there; I really should figure out what it all is!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, and TGIFF.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Looking for motivation

Hi all!  Just checking in because it's Friday and I haven't posted all week, probably because I've done nothing exciting sewing-wise all week.  I'm in a little bit of a slump, where I just can't get motivated to work on things.  What can I say?  Sometimes you've got it, sometimes it's got you.  I'm sure this will not last too long and I'll be back at it soon.

All I have for now are a few updates on current projects, and just so we have a fun picture at the top of the blog, here is one of the autumn leaves that I actually managed to finish this week:

These leaves will be part of the alternate blocks for the fall flowers quilt that I'm slowly working on.  Here are the flower blocks at this point:

If you remember, I had a couple of orange squash blossom blocks that I ultimately decided didn't work in the quilt, so I took them apart and made the mum block (with some odd accents because I just reused the block parts instead of cutting new) and also another block that is something like an aster.  I'm much happier with these.

I have three more blocks cut out and they will just about use up all of the fat quarter bundle.  To make the quilt big enough to use as a lap quilt, I'm making some leaves to put together into alternate blocks to fill in between the flower blocks.  Got a bit of a way to go yet, but pretty soon it will be ready for  assembly.  And I do really like the leaves with the flowers.  The leaves that have fallen into my flower beds are not nearly as festive and colorful.

I also made a few more of the black blocks:

I have another dozen of these cut out, but I just haven't stitched them up yet.  I was thinking about a pieced sashing, but looking at this I think the cornerstones will be enough.  It will certainly make a nice secondary pattern across the quilt.

I did make a start on quilting the t-shirt quilt, which was no problem at all until I looked on the back:

Apparently the basting came out of this part of the quilt, and I got a big wrinkle in the backing.  Thankfully, it was really close to an edge so I could pick it out, smooth it all down and straight, and then re-baste it.  Not a huge problem, but just plain annoying.  (The rest of the back is fine!)

Finally, last weekend the hubs and I went to the AQS show in Virginia Beach to see my quilt hanging:

It was very exciting and a real thrill for me.  Plus, the very first quilt I saw when I went into the show was Julie's free-pieced barns:

So many great details to look at!  There were so many beautiful quilts that it was a little overwhelming.  It was too hard to pick a favorite, but I really loved this quilt:

Improv Village, by Marva Beaver

This was Improv Village by Marva Beaver of Urbana, Ohio.  It was such a happy-looking quilt in person and had such great colors.  The picture really does not do it justice.  Once I saw all the quilts, I may or may not have purchased some hand-dyed fabrics and a bunch of new brands of thread.  I did get to meet Vicki Welsh, which was also a real thrill.  She had a booth full of gorgeous fabrics and was very, very nice.

After the show, we stayed in Virginia Beach because it was not only a quilt show, but also our anniversary and mid-semester break.  We had great weather and didn't want to leave the beach at all, which was surprising because we're not really "beach people."  It was just a wonderful, perfect short vacation, even if I came away with a small sunburn.  I'll take it, because the sunshine was terrific.  Pretty sure I soaked up enough vitamin D for a month.

Neptune Statue at Virginia Beach

Here's hoping you all have the same kind of weekend this week!  I will be searching for my motivation and cleaning out a closet.  Not the same as relaxing on the beach, but life is all ups and downs, right?

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Finished or Not Friday.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Squared Away Block 10

Hello all, and welcome back to the Squared Away quilt project.  This is our last block, can you believe it? This has been a fun project.  It was designed by me and Angela of soscrappy and I think a lot of people have participated and had fun with it.  If you have just discovered this quilt project, it's never too late to start! All of the block instructions will still be available on a tab at the top of this page and on a tab at Angela's page.

Here is our last block:

Dewey Dream block, Orange Judd Farmer magazine, 1899

This is the Dewey Dream block, from the 1899 edition of the Orange Judd Farmer, an agricultural publication.  Quilt blocks show up in the strangest places!  This block is very easy and you should have your last blocks finished off in no time.

For the last time for this project, let's make some blocks!

Cutting for a 10-inch block:

From the background, cut:

2 2-7/8 inch squares*  OR 1 4-1/4 inch square (to make hsts; can oversize)
12 2-1/2 inch squares

From the green, cut:

2 2-7/8 inch squares* OR 1 4-1/4 inch square (to make hsts, can oversize)
5 2-1/2 inch squares
 4  2-1/2 by 6-1/2 inch rectangles


First, use 4 of the background 2-1/2 inch squares and all 5 of the green squares to make a 9-patch block by joining the squares into rows and the rows into a small block:

Your 9-patch should measure 6-1/2 inches square.

Next, use the 2-7/8 inch squares of the background and the green to make 4 2-1/2 inch hsts in the "old school" manner: draw a line from corner to corner on the back of each background square, layer it with a green square, then stitch 1/4 inch on both sides of the line.  Cut apart, press, and trim to 2-1/2 inches.  OR use the 4-1/4 inch squares of the green and background to make 4 at a time hsts.  These should measure 2-1/2 inches square.

The last component of the block is a unit made with stitch and flip corners.  Constructing the pieces this way will save you eight seams per block.  (An alternate method follows these directions.)

Take the remaining 8 background squares and draw a line from corner to corner on the back of each one.  Place one marked square at each end of a 2-1/2 by 6-1/2 inch rectangle as shown:

Carefully note the directions of the lines.  You want the finished pieces to look like hsts that are oriented in opposite directions.  Stitch on the lines, trim, and press the resulting triangle upward. Make 4.

Alternate method for these units: make 8 green/ background hsts that measure 2-1/2 inches.  Use these and  4 2-1/2 inch green squares to construct a unit that looks like these.

The only real difference in the methods is the seams; either method will look the same in the finished block.


Lay out all of the pieces as shown.  Pay special attention to the orientation of the rectangular pieces:

Join the units into rows and the rows into a finished block.  Give it a good press, stand back, and admire!

As always, I made three blocks for this month:

And here are my 15-inch blocks for a separate project:

And that is our last block for this quilt!  At this point, you can gather your blocks and lay them out any way you choose, with or without sashing.  Angela and I will be giving finishing instructions on Saturdays throughout October so that anyone who wants to be finished for Christmas can get a really good start. I will have complete directions for on-point settings (with and without sashing) on Saturday, October 20.  The directions include all of the measurements and instructions for assembling the quilt, as well as yardages and tips for cutting the setting triangles and finishing.  There is also a piecing diagram for a bonus block, since an on-point layout requires 32 blocks.  Be sure to come back and check that out!  I will show off my finished quilt on November 3.

Thanks so much to all for coming along on this quilty adventure! I'm almost sad that it's finished, but we'll get cozy quilts from it, right?  Hope to see you back here for some fun finishing ideas!

Sharing at soscrappy for RSC18.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Expecto quiltonum!

Happy Friday, everybody!  Hope you have had a good week.  This week we had something stunning happen-- there was sunshine for four whole days! Okay, it rained at night, but there was some sunshine during the day, which was super-exciting.  It was also really warm and humid, so even though the calendar says it's fall, I'm not sure that the weather got the message.

I have a fun finish this week, right out of the pages of a book.  Here we go-- swish and flick--

Yay!  It's the quilted and bound Harry Potter quilt that I made for my daughter.  She bought me the pattern, which is from Pieces by Polly and is available HERE.  I finished the top in July and just finished off the quilting this week.

This quilt was fairly easy to assemble, though I did deviate from the pattern a bit.  I'm pretty much incapable of following a pattern exactly.  The only hard part was keeping all the lint and threads off the black fabric.  The black is just a solid black Kona, and let me tell you that it attracts every stray bit of thread and lots of fuzz from the batting.

I quilted this myself, mostly using a walking foot to stitch a quarter inch on each side of the squares.  I changed the thread color for each section, which is one of the perks of doing your own quilts, so the quilting pretty much disappears into the background.  It took forever, really, but it looks good.  There are a few wobbles, but not a single tuck or wrinkle.  Yay me!

I free-motion quilted the crest in the center last, again using matching threads and just doing a small meander.  Janine at Quilts From the Little House does a tiny meander all the time, and I am filled with admiration, because that was really tedious.  I also free-motioned loops in the colorful small border and also added a small surprise in the corner:

That's just red thread on the black border, so it kind of blends and you have to look for it. I chalked in the two circles for the glasses and stitched over them, then just connected them with a little arch.  The lightning bolt was also chalked in because I couldn't wrap my mind around free-handing it.  The rest of the border is just a triple pinstripe.  All of the straight stitching gives it a nice texture on the back:

The backing is a Timeless Treasures map of London print, which is great for a Harry Potter quilt, and the thread colors blend on it pretty well.  Overall, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out, and I hope my daughter loves it. 

We will be delivering this quilt to our daughter on our way home this Sunday. This weekend we are heading out to the AQS show in Virginia Beach to see my Misfit Toys quilt hanging.  I'm very excited!  If anyone else is going to  the show on Saturday and would like to meet up for some lunch or just to walk around, drop me an email and we can get together!

Everyone have a great weekend! Hope it's restful, sunny, and dry!

Sharing at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finished or Not Friday, TGIFF, and crazymomquilts.