Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Bloggers Quilt Festival: Christmas Tree

It's time once again for Bloggers Quilt festival, hosted by Amy from Amy's Creative Side.

My first entry is the Christmas Tree hanging I made for my son. It's almost life size, and it's made so that real ornaments can be hung on it.
Christmas Tree Wall Hanging with Real Ornaments

This project came about because my son requested something for the home he shares with two friends, 3 cats, and a two-year-old. They just don't have space for a real Christmas tree.

Quilted Tree with Star Ornament Used as a Topper

This was easy to make, pieced with just triangles and strips.  Great way to use up a variety of green prints and low volume fabrics.
Pieced with 3" Triangles and Strips

I quilted it in the ditch around the triangles and added straight line quilting to the background. To attach the ornaments, I stitched thread loops that the ornaments can hook into at all the triangle intersections. You can see the pickle hooked below, and the star topper in the photo above.
Ornaments Hanging from Thread Loops

Although the photo at top shows this wall hanging attached to a door with magnets, it will actually be hung on a wall. It has two sleeves on the back, top and bottom, and pieces of wood sanded smooth for hanging. By adding an extra sleeve at the bottom, the tree can be firmly attached to the wall so cats and kids can't do too much harm.

This will be an early Christmas gift, to be presented at Thanksgiving, so I made a pillowcase-style bag that the rolled up tree can be stored in which also serves as a gift bag.
Gift Bag / Storage Bag / Dust Cover

For more about this Christmas Tree wall hanging, visit my earlier posts  O Tannenbaum  and the tutorial at  O Tannenbaum Tutorial.

Check out all the other quilty inspiration at Bloggers Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side.

Also linking up with:
Sew Fresh Quilts,
My Quilt Infatuation

Monday, September 18, 2017

Testing, Testing

I have a new project in mind. It will be a long term project, probably a couple blocks a month for a year after I get it planned and some of the cutting and prep done.

As part of the planning, I made a test block. No, these are not the project fabrics, just a leftover partial charm pack I had on hand, and a FQ for background.
Test Block 

What I learned from this test block: 
  1. The finished block size should be 14" so I cut my background 14-1/2" square before making the block. I should make the block oversized, then square up and trim down as needed after the block is finished. This block is a scant 1/8" too small. 
  2. I used the Easy Dresden tool, followed the instructions for the 5" line, and used their pattern for the 3-1/2" center circle. This Dresden looks "chubby" to me. I want longer blades with a smaller center circle for my project so I'll have to adapt accordingly.  
  3. Glue basting worked great; a tiny dot at each point was perfect. The edges are machine stitched down, as is the circle. 
  4. The blades point to 12, 3, 6, and 9 but in my EQ drawing the Vs are at those positions. Does it matter?
  5. My friend Suzanne Marshall, award winning applique artist, recommends cutting away the background behind applique so the batting will fill out all the shapes. I cut away the backing behind the blades and within the circle, leaving seam allowance where the circle was attached. The center looks like it caves in, although that could fill out with batting. Or it may not be an issue with a smaller circle.
With so many concerns about this test block, I needed to make another to get it right before I cut them all for my project. No, these aren't the project fabrics either, just scraps from my scrap drawer and background quadrants cut from stash. 
Test Block #2

  What I learned from test block #2:
  1. Making the background oversized and then trimming down worked much better. I'm planning a scrappy background so assembling the background in quadrants worked well. Bonus, the intersection of the seams at the center was very helpful for centering the wreath.
  2. Still using the Easy Dresden at the 5" line, I extended the length at the narrow end for a total length of 6 inches. When I sewed the blades together and pressed the seams open, the seam allowances overlapped, and the center opening came out too tiny. I think 5-3/4" would work better. 
  3. The center circle here finishes at 2-1/2" diameter, and I like this proportion better. 
  4. The Vs are at 12, 3, 6, and 9. My project will actually have snowballed corners, and I think I'll try adding corner pieces to these two blocks to decide which alignment I like better. 
  5. I trimmed away the background from behind the blades but not from behind the center circle. The layers there seem to give it some dimension. 
  6. Even though this is just a test block, I should pay attention to value contrast. There isn't enough contrast between the blades and the background here. (Contrast won't be a problem in my new project). 

I'm glad I took the time to make test blocks. I have no other purpose for them so they'll go in my "spare parts" drawer for now, but they served their purpose well as tests and learning exercises. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

These Bleeding Reds


I'm planning a project that uses several dark red prints. They'll be combined with ecru/beige/ivory neutrals.

I ran them through a warm water wash & rinse cycle (no detergent) with a color catcher and they bled a lot.  So I did it again.  And again.  Still bleeding.

Does anyone have a recommendation for how to handle this? A product to set the color to keep them from bleeding any more? Overnight soak? Or just more cycles in the washer? Detergent? Any advice or suggestions would be welcome, thanks.

Link up: Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cherie's Block

My friend Cherie saw a block somewhere that she likes, so I helped her figure out how to make it. Here's my version, 15" square.

This was not an easy block to make, mostly because the fabrics are soft shirtings, many times washed, and I didn't use starch. Lots of bias in this block, and very stretchy fabrics!

I don't usually use starch. Fabric is very forgiving of minor seam inconsistencies, etc. if you don't starch the heck out of it. Cherie uses starch a lot, but she works with shirtings a lot too, so now I understand her love of starch. She finds shirtings at local thrift stores and has quite a collection to work from, which is why I made the test block for her in shirtings.

Do you use starch? Any recommendations? Do you use it only for prewashed fabrics that no longer have their original sizing, or do you use it on new fabrics too?

Linking up with Lets Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Friday, September 8, 2017

Emerald Isle Flimsy

Yes, I've decided to keep the name Emerald Isle, and yes, it's a finished flimsy. Here it is on my design wall; I hope to get some better outdoor photos later. I like how the Irish Chain effect continues through the sashing and creates movement, but I also like how the chain is broken up by the alternate blocks - more interesting that way.

This is the fabric I chose for the binding: a tiny geometric which is in one of the blocks and one of the alternate block frames. I like how it contrasts with the sashing but it's still dark.

In other news, I'm whooping it up today because my new washing machine is being delivered this morning. Whoo-hoo!!! The old one is over 25 years old and for a long time now has been giving me trouble. It's been rocking and banging around so much that I have to open it and redistribute the load several times every spin cycle, even though we've worked on leveling it and balancing the drum. Last week it leaked a little onto the floor. Enough already, it lasted longer than the average washer, but the time has come to replace it. We decided to shop for a new one while the stores all had their Labor Day sales. Now I won't have to stay nearby all the time to rebalance the load, and I expect the new one will be a lot quieter. Whoo-hoo!

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict is collecting pillowcases for displaced Hurricane Harvey victims staying in shelters. I made a few:

What I didn't realize is that they wanted them for children. I have almost no juvenile prints in my stash and very few 3/4 yard or larger fabric cuts. I used what I had enough of. I hope some of these pillowcases can go to adults or seniors who are as much in need as kids are.

Most of these fabrics were picked up at the Eleanor Burns tent or warehouse in Paducah over the years. They were originally intended for projects that never happened, or as backings for something else, or merely stash enhancement at the time. Anyway, these have been aging in my stash long enough and it's better to use them for pillowcases now.

So they're on their way to Sarah and should arrive tomorrow. Most of them, that is. Somehow I left two of them out of the package. I found them still in my sewing room when I got home from the post office. Yeesh!

Linking up with Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, September 4, 2017

Belated August Stash Report & Goals Update

Wow, August kind of got away from me. My goals all went by the wayside when I decided to quickly make my ailing brother a quilt. Then we were on vacation for over a week, so no sewing got done on those days.  Let's see if I can catch up.

August Stash Report: 
IN this month: 7-5/8 yards (4 yds backing for Marty's quilt; 1-3/8 yds for Emerald Isle Sashing; 1/4 yd for Emerald Isle cornerstones; 2 yds from Stitchin' Post, Sisters OR)
OUT this month: 12-3/4 yards (Marty's Quilt - 8-1/4 yds for top; 3-3/4 yds for backing; 3/4 yd for binding)
IN YTD: 81-1/8 yards
OUT YTD: 94 yards
YTD Net Change: 12-7/8 yards OUT

Backing for Marty's Quilt

Sashing for Emerald Isle

Still doing well with stash reduction for the year, so no guilt when I acquire some stash enhancements. I plan on some shopping in September at a shop that I only get to once or twice a year.

Goals Update: 

August Recap:
1. Bind, label, add sleeve and photograph KBFG quilt to enter into guild show. Partially done; still need to attach label & sleeve. 
2. Finish making blocks for Emerald Isle. DONE, and also added sashing. 
3. Post Snake Quilt tutorial. DONE
4. Find suitable sashing fabric for Solstice Challenge blocks; cut and kit up sashing pieces for future retreats, etc. Not touched.
5. Make progress on Roman Road UFO. Not touched.
6. Work on WIVSP hand piecing project. Not touched.
7. Keep up with bee blocks. DONE

Other: Started, completely finished, and mailed a comfort quilt for Marty.
Marty's Quilt, 60 x 84", Four Corners from Cut and Shuffle Quilts

OK, so some of August the goals had to fall by the wayside when I dropped everything to make my brother a quilt. He's out of rehab now and staying with one of his daughters for a couple weeks, and doing outpatient PT. He really likes his quilt and he was blown away that I made it for him. Again, it was more about the gesture - no one really needs a quilt in Phoenix in August.

September Goals:
1. Finish Emerald Isle flimsy
2. Make pillowcases for Harvey victims (Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict is collecting them)
3. Find suitable sashing fabric for Solstice Challenge blocks; cut and kit up sashing pieces for future retreats, etc.
4. Assemble QOV top
5. Work on WIVSP hand piecing project.
6. Plan and prep projects for retreat in October
7. Keep up with bee blocks.
8. Stretch Goal: plan &/or work on improv project from Jean Wells's book Intuitive Color & Design

When we were in Oregon I was able to visit the Stitchin' Post in Sisters. What a beautiful shop! Lots of books and patterns not carried at my local shops, and gorgeous fabrics, including some collections I hadn't seen yet. I got the license plate as a souvenir. I also got this wonderful book by shop owner Jean Wells. Many of the photos in it are local to her area and remind me of our trip, with scenes of the Oregon coast and central Oregon. I picked up a couple of prints because I like the deep russet and bronze colors.

If you know me or you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I'm pretty precise in my piecing, and improv or string piecing are so not my thing. Set in my ways? Inflexible? Rigid? In a rut?  Yes, yes, and yes...

I'm going to try some of the assignments in Jean Wells's book to force myself to loosen up. I'll try them on a small scale, maybe 12" square, so it won't be too overwhelming. Some of the exercises are about journaling and that'll be new to me, but if it's inspirational, I'll give it a go. So I've added a stretch goal to my September goals to start working on this, and I plan to continue in future months. Wish me luck!

Link-ups: Small Quilts and Doll Quilts, Em's Scrapbag, Love Laugh Quilt

Friday, September 1, 2017

Emerald Isle Progress

Coming along... It's been nice to get back into the sewing room this week after travelling last week.

All the blocks have sashing and this is the final layout. By this time next week they'll all be sewn together into a finished flimsy.

The navy sashing enhances the Irish chain effect nicely.

Now to choose binding... I have to buy something because I have nothing suitable in my stash. I'll be at the LQS that hosted this BOM tomorrow and there are a couple of prints I like that were in the BOM kits. The shop should still have enough yardage left of one or another of them that I can pick up enough for binding. Even though I have no immediate plans for this quilt, and haven't thought about backing and quilting yet, I want to get the binding fabric and put it away with the project so I'll have it when I need it.

The shop's name for this BOM series is Emerald Isle, but I see a blue quilt more than a green quilt. Does this quilt need a new name? Any suggestions? Or should I just keep it Emerald Isle due to the history of the project?

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Oregon Vacation

Not much sewing has been happening around here lately. In fact, none at all for over a week. Why? Because my husband and I were vacationing in Oregon. We live in Missouri so there was lots of new and different sights to see and things to do there.
Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach OR, 8/19/17

We spent a couple days at Cannon Beach and were there on eclipse day. The totality there was 98.4% and we got lucky, no fog where we were.
Tide Pool, Cannon Beach, 8/19/17

The Yachats area was one of our favorite parts of the trip. We played around on the rocks and poked in the tide pools at Cape Perpetua. 
Cape Perpetua, near Yachats, 8/22/17

Tide Pool with Starfish, Cape Perpetua, 8/22/17
There were no starfish at Cannon Beach; they've experienced a 95% die-off there.  It was a relief to see some starfish at Cape Perpetua to know that they're not all gone everywhere. 

Heceta Head Light House, 8/23/17
We visited Heceta Head light house but due to maintenance issues the tower is closed to visitors. Volunteers give a short talk about the history of the light house and the lifestyle of the keepers, and answer visitors' questions. It's still an operational light, now fully electrified and automated. 

Crater Lake, 8/24/17
Although seeing Crater Lake was supposed to be the highlight of our trip, smoke from the nearby wildfires prevented us from actually seeing the lake. The camera captured more in this photo than we could actually see. Everywhere we went in central Oregon there were firefighters, some from as far away as Flagstaff. 

McMenamins Old St. Francis School Hotel, Bend OR 8/24/17
In Bend we stayed at McMenamins Old St. Francis School Hotel, which has several secret rooms and hidden passages.  McMenamins properties are unique, very cool, and filled with offbeat artwork. This secret space has metal sculpture, metal and blown-glass ornaments, and decorative painting, including glow-in-the-dark. 

Near Bend is Newberry Volcanic National Monument, which has a lava tube cave you can walk in, almost a mile deep, and huge surface lava flows which include obsidian and pumice rocks.
Lava Tube Cave, 8/25/17

Obsidian Lava Flow at Newberry Volcanic National Monument, 8/25/17

Of course we had to stop in Sisters, but I was too interested in shopping at The Stitchin' Post to take pictures. More about that in another post. 

We wrapped up our trip with a stay at McMenamins Edgefield, near Portland, where we enjoyed the wine tasting and later a lovely dinner in the gardens. 
Winery, McMenamins Edgefield, 8/26/17

Now that I'm home I'm looking forward to getting back in the sewing room. But laundry and neglected household stuff has to come first. Meanwhile, I'm linking up with Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sashing for Emerald Isle

A few weeks ago I had some of the Emerald Isle blocks made and I was auditioning sashing on my design wall. I definitely want it to continue the Irish chain effect.

Wanda from Exuberant Color, whose color sense I admire greatly, suggested a light sashing with the white cornerstones. I tried to find something that would work, but nothing was working for me. I like the contrast of a dark shade better, leaning toward navy. I asked my friends who are also doing this BOM at our LQS for their opinions, and they were in agreement that a dark color would be better. I found this and they all concurred.

I can fussy cut the sashing pieces I need from those vertical stripes. The stripey repeat is about 3/16" wider than I need, so I can cut my strips and trim away the extra darkest part.

This is tedious. I need 71 of these pieces and I'm afraid to stack and cut in case the stripey print is crooked. So I'm cutting one strip at a time....

If I add a sashing strip to one side of each block, I can lay the blocks out and determine which blocks need strips on the other side.

Sewing the strips onto the blocks is going to take awhile, and I have some non-quilty things going on, so I don't know how quickly I'll get the sashing done. I'll just keep plugging away at it as I get a chance.

Linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

More Emerald Isle Progress

The alternate blocks are coming along, I've made a few more towards the 15 I need. I just stuck them onto the wall over the main blocks.

A couple weeks ago I was concerned about the chartreuse in some of the blocks, but now that more main blocks and alternate blocks are made and more of them have that yellow-green in them, I'm not concerned, I think it'll be fine.

The frames for the alternate blocks are from the BOM alternate block kits, and they're supposed to be blue-green-blue. That one with the teal frame bugs me, too green. There's a main block that should have a green outer frame and its frame reads blue, so I think I'll fix that one, too. Here are the two that bug me:

Much better:

So, back to making alternate blocks...  Here are all 15, completed.

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, August 21, 2017

Back to Emerald Isle

Now that Marty's quilt is finished and shipped off, I can get back to one of the projects I had planned to work on this month, Emerald Isle.

This is where I left off, with most of the main blocks and a few of the alternate blocks completed:

Since then I've been able to finish the main blocks, the ones with pieced blocks in the center. I'm planning a 5 x 6 block layout, so I need 15 each of the main blocks and the alternates.

12 of these blocks were main blocks from a BOM series at my LQS. The centers of three of them were also from the BOM series, but they were supposed to be alternate blocks. I made them main blocks by adding my own frames from stash, green-blue-green.

Instead of pieced alternate blocks I'm using a constant fabric for the centers, and framing them with blue-green-blue strips from the BOM alternate block kits.

Time to dig into my stash and find some more blue and green prints I can use to frame a few more blocks.

Linking up with Small Quilts and Doll Quilts, Em's Scrapbag, and Love Laugh Quilt

Friday, August 18, 2017

Marty's Quilt

A couple weeks ago I started a quilt for my brother who's going through some health issues and is stuck in a rehab center until after Labor Day.

Using the Block Mama method and the Four Corners block from my book Cut and Shuffle Quilts, I made nearly 30 blocks. The palette of russet, tan, dark blue and light grey is nice and masculine, and all the fabrics came from my stash.

The palette needed brightening so I added light orange to the mix, inspired by the backing fabric. Here are some of the blocks on my design wall before I finalized the layout.

After making a few more blocks I ended up with a 5 x 7 block layout, 60" x 84". Then Murphy helped me pin-baste the layers together.

I quilted a simple allover meander, about the extent of my FMQ skills. The quilting was accomplished within one day and the quilt remained soft and drapey. I used Aurifil 50 wt, in a medium grey #2610.

I finished it off with machine binding in the darkest brown, with a label tucked into the binding seam. Now Marty's quilt is not only finished, it 's already on its way to him in Arizona.

The fabrics are all from stash except for the backing, which was purchased with Marty and this quilt in mind.

Some quilts look better in real life than they do in photos, and this is one of them. All the prints have a lot of texture or small scale pattern going on, but you can't really see the some of the prints in the whole quilt photo. Here you can see the texture created by the quilting.

In the photo below you can see some of the small scale prints. The light orange is Grunge. This blue print is the largest, boldest print in the whole quilt. The two russets were purchased several years ago in Texas when DH wanted me to make him a cowboy quilt. 

So Marty's quilt is on its way to him, in care of his daughter who will take it to him in the rehab center. It should arrive next week. I hope he likes it.

This is by far the fastest I've ever made a quilt from start to finish. I don't remember what day I started working on it, but it was definitely after the first of August. He doesn't need a quilt in Arizona in August, but he can sure use a quilty hug, so this one's on its way to him.

Linking up with Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict