Wednesday, April 19, 2017

DH Is Very Very Good to Me

I had a birthday recently. My dear husband has been pushing me to get all the big-ticket quilting items I'll ever need before he retires, while he's still bringing in a paycheck. I've been debating getting a die-cutting machine, and some friends recommended the AccuQuilt Studio 2 (no affiliation).  It showed up for my birthday, imagine that!

I selected a handful of the dies I'm likely to use the most, including two sizes of HSTs and the die set for Triangle-in-a-Square (otherwise known as Peaky & Spike to those of us who learned to quilt back when). So to try out my new machine, I made a test block.

Perfect Peaky & Spikes! They went together so easily! I like designing with these units but I've always hated sewing them because they never come out well unless you paper piece them. I forgot to take a picture of the cut pieces, but they're cut off at the corners so the seam allowances line up perfectly. So easy; these went together in no time, chain pieced.

Some corners and a center square, and here's the block.

I chose some of the same fabrics I'm using for my Solstice Challenge blocks so I can just add this one to the mix. Of course, it needs to be the same size as the others; no problem, just a simple frame in the background fabric I'm using for the Solstice project and it'll fit right in.

Right now the Studio cutter is sitting on the work table in my sewing room. It's heavy to lift onto the table and I don't have a good place in the sewing room to keep it, so it will live on a dresser in another room when I'm not using it. DH is building a counter-top surface for the dresser that's wide enough for when the cutter is open as shown above, so the cutter can stay there and be used there all the time. I'm looking forward to using it!

DH is very good to me, don't you think?

Link up: Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, April 17, 2017

Design Wall Monday

Actually, it's Dining Room Floor Monday. 

Recently I pin-basted my Hands2Help Race quilt and the other race quilt I'm making for my SIL for her Alaska friend. Both are too big to pin baste anywhere in my house except on the dining room floor. So we moved the table & chairs into the front room temporarily, to give me lots of floor space for basting.

As long as the furniture is already out, I might as well pin baste another quilt while I can, so here's my Dancing Plus laid out. This top is 66" by 81".

Since I have only sub-floor under the carpet, I can pin directly into & through the carpet to smooth out the backing and the top. Here it's laid out and the backing is pinned around the edges, but the top hasn't been pinned yet. The space works well, but it requires crawling around on the floor, and my knees don't love that so much any more.

Little Murphy doesn't need to go into the dining room for any reason, and I don't want him unsupervised on the carpet, so we keep the barricade up across the doorway all the time. He sits on the hallway side and watches while I'm crawling around in the dining room pinning. 

I need to get this pinned this week so we can get the furniture put back where it belongs. DH is getting very tired of the table & chairs being in the front room. 

How about you - where do you have space to baste? 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Welcome Home, a Quilt for Hands2Help

This is the second of my Hands2Help quilts; scroll down to see the other one.

Some of the fabrics (collection name unknown) were from a guild challenge/swap a few years ago, and since they have a home/neighborhood/park theme, I thought this would be perfect for a child in a family served by the St. Louis International Institute. Since I live in St. Louis, I'm happy to send my Hands2Help quilts to a hometown destination this year.

Although this quilt is a bit smaller than the International Institute's requested twin size, my SIL has a friend who works there and the friend said they can use this size, no problem. I'm glad. This quilt will soon be on its way to its forever home.

Linking up with Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Hands2Help Finish

Vibrant and cheerful! This ought to warm someone's heart. 
Or keep them awake?!!! 

Quilted with organic wavy lines.

Lots of Kaffe Fasset fabrics in this, as well as other prints. 
Even the binding is a Kaffe print, a hard to use bargello, 
but it works perfectly here. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Little Camera Bag

I have a nice camera with a sturdy case, but the case is a bit too big and rigid to fit in my handbag. I take my camera to my CSQ guild and Piecing Group meetings because I take photos for our newsletter. I need a softer, more flexible pouch to protect the camera, one that's small enough to carry easily.

Here's a little zipper pouch that I use to keep all the charger cords in when I travel. Nice size, but with no interfacing or batting it's too flimsy to protect my camera.

So I figured if I made a similar pouch using two layers of batting, and quilted it, it would work for my camera.

I chose a fabric that's light enough in color to show up easily in my handbag but a print that won't look dirty; it sort of looks like mini urban camo in grey and lilac. I roughly measured the red bag and quilted up a 12" x 10" sandwich.

I left the last inch on each side unquilted, trimmed away the batting close to the last line of quilting, and pressed the raw edges under 1/2".

I found a 9" sport zipper in my stash - perfect! I pinned those folded edges around the zipper tape and sewed it in.

I turned it inside out and sewed across the ends, then added extra stitching across the zipper for reinforcement.

Then I boxed the corners, turned it right side out, and voila, I have a quick, convenient little camera bag.

Yes, it has some raw edges on the inside, but we'll just keep that our little secret, OK? Nobody's ever going to see it but me, and I don't care as long as this little bag does its job.

It's an okay fit for the camera - could have been an inch shorter, but I used the 9" zipper I had, so that determined the length (before boxing the corners).

I've already used it and I think it's going to work out well. Problem solved. It probably took longer to take the photos and write this post than it did to actually sew up this little bag!

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, April 10, 2017

Organic Wavy Lines

A sneak peek - I'm almost done with the quilting and I should be able to get my Hands2Help race quilt bound and finished this week.

I like the organic wavy lines quilting - the simplicity of it complements the simplicity of the piecing. The lines are about 1 to 1-1/2 inches apart, close enough to securely hold the quilt together so it will last a long time, but soft enough to allow the  quilt to drape so it'll be snuggly, not stiff.

Before quilting: 

Linking up with: Patchwork Times, Em's Scrapbag, Love Laugh Quilt

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A Little Stash Enhancement

An LQS is having a sale, $5.99 for designer quilting cottons, so I had to check it out. A few pieces came home with me.

I discovered when I was working on Quilts of Valor that my stash is low on blues. So I found these, all from different lines but they coordinate together so well, don't you think? I added in the stripey print with mustard in it to add a light value to the mix, then added the mustard rings just because. Suddenly I have a palette that all works together. The beige stripe on the right is just a good basic to add to my low volume collection.

The shop's minimum cut on their sale fabrics is 1/2 yard and I know I'll be shopping in Paducah later this month, so I limited myself to three yards.

So, April stash numbers so far:
IN: 3 yds
OUT: 3-5/8 yds

Linking up with Patchwork Times & Molli Sparkles

Friday, April 7, 2017

KBFG to the Quilter Today

Whoo-hoo! Finally my long arm quilter, my friend Sandy, is ready for my KBFG quilt. She keeps a waiting list and I put my name on it when she quilted the last quilt for me, about nine months ago. I'll add my name to her list again now, because I'm sure I'll have something that needs to be quilted by the time it comes up.

So what is KBFG? It's a Kaffe & Batik Flying Geese top that I finished a couple summers ago. I still love it. I'm definitely keeping this for me!

Look at this backing - It's all names of colors in 2" high script. I worked for many years as a color specialist in apparel and footwear product development and part of my job was naming colors each season. How cool is that backing!!!

So Sandy and I are getting together for lunch - gyros, yum! - and then she'll take this and perform her magic on it. I can't wait to see it!

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Solstice Challenge Blocks

I've been keeping up with Pat Sloan's Solstice Challenge, making one block a week since December 21st. I've been putting my own spin on them, modifying them to suit myself: no applique, and all blocks 12" instead of various sizes. Here are the first 15, not in order; the pattern for the 16th will be posted later today.

The two most recent: Block 14 was supposed to have teardrop shapes appliqued in in the corners where I have pieced in Peaky & Spike units.

Block 15: Not sure I'm happy with this due to lack of contrast. It looks better in the photo than it does in real life.

I'm this far into the project and I enjoy making one block a week mixed in with my other projects, so I'll keep going. I'll figure out what to do with the blocks when the series is done.

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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Race Quilt for Hands2Help

I recently pulled out an older UFO flimsy which I'll quilt for a gift for an Alaskan recipient. It's a race-style quilt, made somewhat like a jelly-roll race quilt up to a point and then modified. I decided to use the same technique and some stash to make a quilt for Hands2Help.

I pulled some fabrics and started cutting strips. I needed to add some more darks and another light to my palette because everything here looked too much the same value.

My race quilt is modified from the jelly-roll version. I cut my strips 3-1/2" wide so they finished at 3". I only partially sewed them race-style, then I chopped it up into three sections, and sewed the sections together. It finished at 60" x 72".  It took only about 3 hours to complete the flimsy from start to finish including cutting.

Here's a brief tutorial & tips for how I made my modified race quilt. All seams 1/4".

  • 1. Cut 36 WOF strips at 3-1/2" wide, plus one additional half-WOF by 3-1/2" strip. (12 fabrics, 3 strips per fabric plus the extra half-WOF strip)
  • 2. Cut off the selvages and sew the strips together end-to-end, with the half-WOF piece at one end. Make sure this is not the same print as at the other end.
  • 3. Press seams open; as you press, fold the long strip into a shoebox being careful to layer it with no twists. 
  • 4. Turn the folded stack in the shoebox onto its side with both fabric ends sticking out so you can place them right sides together. Place the shoebox on the floor near the sewing machine.
  • 5. Place ends right sides together and sew the strip lengthwise, a very long seam. As you sew, the fabric will feed out of the shoebox without any twists. When you come to the end, cut across the strip. 
  • 6. Press seam open and refold the long strip back into the shoebox. 
  • 7. Repeat step 5; you now have 4 pieces of fabric sewn together (12-1/2" wide). 
  • 8. Repeat step 6. 
  • 9. Repeat step 5 again; your project is now 8 strips wide (24-1/2"). Press seam open. 
  • 10. Your strip set is now at least 180" long. Fold it in half crosswise so it's a little more than 90" long. Lay this out on a flat surface such as a hallway floor. 
  • 11. Square up the cut ends (slide a cutting mat under the project on the floor). Measure from the cut edge to the fold to confirm your length. 
  • 12. Multiply your length times 2 and divide the result by 3. For example, if you have 93", you would calculate 93" x 2 = 186". 186" divided by 3 = 61".
  • 13. Measure this distance from the cut edge and cut across the width of the strip set through both layers. In this example, measure 61" from the cut edge and cut there. 
  • 14. The folded remainder of the strip set should now also measure the same length as the other pieces. Each piece is 1/3 of the quilt top.
  • 15. Arrange the three sections so you like the placement of fabrics next to each other as much as possible, and sew them together. Press seams open.
Your completed flimsy should measure 72-1/2" long by your cut width, in this example 61".

Sheesh, it took almost as long to explain how to do this as it did to make this flimsy! 

I hope you're inspired to make a modified race quilt for Hands2Help. Bonus: this flimsy uses 3-5/8 yards of stash! 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

March Stash Report & Goals Update

When I left off, I said I was going to take a few days off from blogging. My "few days" turned into half of March. Oh, well... life happens. (No worries, it's all good). So let's see how the stash report looks and how I did with my goals.

March Stash Report:

IN this month: 3/4 yard (STLMQG free table)
OUT this month: nothing I can count, although I used fabric for Solstice Challenge blocks and for Snake blocks with the Cave Quilters.

IN YTD: 20 yards
OUT YTD: 35-1/4 yards
Net change YTD: 15-1/4 yards OUT  -  No guilt when I indulge in some stash enhancement in Paducah!

Goals Update:

March recap:
1. Keep up with Solstice Challenge blocks. DONE, with modifications to make the blocks more to my liking.
2. Start a Hands2Help donation quilt. Started; fabrics pulled, plan in place, partially cut. 
3. Start planning a 12 Days of Christmas in July project requested by my son. Not done. 
4. Make progress on Roman Road WIP. Not touched… This WIP is on its way to becoming a UFO.
5. Make progress hand piecing my WIVSP Piecing Group project. Yes, I did a lot - for me - of hand sewing on this project this month. 
6. Keep up with bee blocks. DONE.

Other: My sister-in-law requested a gift quilt for a recipient in a northern Alaska village. We found a suitable UFO, ordered backing & batting, and I have the quilting plan in mind.

April Goals:
1. Finish Hands2Help quilt. See fabrics below.
2. Quilt Alaska gift quilt for Jackie.
3. Keep up with Solstice Challenge blocks.
4. Start planning a Christmas in July project requested by my son.
5. Make progress hand piecing my WIVSP Piecing Group project.
6. Keep up with bee blocks.

Note: I'm not putting Roman Road on the list for April because I have deadline projects that take priority. I'll have to come back to Roman Road later. Sigh... this is how WIPs become UFOs. But I really like this quilt and I want to finish it.

So here's the UFO that I'll quilt for the Alaska gift:

And since race-style quilts are fast, I've decided that my Hands2Help quilt will be a race quilt using some fabrics from stash. I need to pull a couple more lights and a couple more darks; most of these fabrics are too much the same value.

Hopefully I can do better at my April goals than I did in March. I'm sure I'll do quite well at stash enhancement, at least!

Linking up with Patchwork Times

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Progress Continues...

All the rows here are finally pressed. What a job that was!

If you look carefully, you can see that there's a black border at the top. The border is two rows of the same size triangles as the black triangles between the hexies. Yes, they are all hand-pieced together, black on black.

I am currently in the process of sewing together a row of black triangles and the last row of colored pieces. Then a second row of all black triangles will be added to complete the border, same as at the top. The rows I'm working on will go at the bottom in the photo above and will complete the half-hexies you can see in the lowest row.

My hands are doing relatively well now, so I'm going to continue working on this project while I can. I do limit the hand-sewing to not more than 30 minutes a day even on good days, so it's very slow going.

This is hand piecing, not EPP. In hand piecing, all the seams are left to float free, so they can be pressed in the best direction afterwards.

Sewing black to black is the hardest. Thank goodness I have a very bright Ott light (no affiliation). It has a bendable neck and I have it placed about 8" above my work, aimed directly on it.

In addition to completing the bottom border, I need to get the half-rows on the wall joined together at the centers. Then I can take this project off the wall and free up the wall for something else. All that hand sewing will take me awhile!

               ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I'm going to take a little time off from blogging for a few days. Progress on this project is so slow, I don't need to photograph and blog about every stitch. Other projects are in holding patterns or boring stages that aren't blog-worthy, so I'm going to take a few days off and not worry about having something to share. I'll be back when I have something to show or a story to tell. Meanwhile, happy quilting.

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, March 13, 2017

An Old UFO with a New Purpose

A couple weeks ago my sister-in-law Jackie came to me with a request for a quilt to give as a gift.

Jackie, her husband, and a group from their church go to a remote village in Alaska for missionary work every summer. They've been doing this for about 20 years, same village. They basically take Vacation Bible School to the village.

After 20 years, Jackie has become very close to some of the people from the village, including a young woman she's watched grow up, go to college in the Lower 48, and visit here in St. Louis. The young woman is now about to be married. Jackie is attending the wedding, in another village above the Arctic Circle, in July, where it will still be daylight at midnight.

Jackie wants to give her friend a quilt as a wedding gift. We talked about what's needed and looked through my available finished quilts and UFOs. We had to nix the ones with a lot of white in them, too difficult to keep white in the village. That left one finished quilt in blues, and this UFO in browns:

Jackie chose this one because she likes the native feel of it. I asked if that would be offensive in any way, and she said no. She also thinks the colors are good choices for the remote village environment.

This is a race-style quilt from before my blogging days, probably a stash-busting project because it uses fabrics left over from tumblers quilts I made as gifts in 2010 and 2011. It's constructed like a Jelly Roll Race quilt up to a point, then chopped into sections and assembled. The strips finish at 3" and the overall dimensions are 60 x 72".

We ordered backing and batting, and I'll quilt this with vertical organic wavy lines. Jackie needs it by the end of June, so I have plenty of time to get it done. I've also committed to making a Hands2Help quilt, so I'll get that done first because the deadline is sooner, then finish this one.

Linking up with Patchwork Times, Em's Scrapbag, Love Laugh Quilt

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Stash Report 3/12/17: QOV Backing

My friend Marie has such a generous heart! She reads my blog and knows the Cave Quilters are making a Quilt of Valor. Yesterday at STLMQG she gave me a four-yard cut of fabric for backing for our QOV. Thanks, Marie!

I'm not actually counting it into or out of my stash because it's designated for QOV. If the Cave Quilters can't use it for the snake quilt, I'll pass it along to Dar for the QOV Quilters of  Eastern Missouri. She has lots of tops from the block drive that need backings.

In other stash news, I picked up some small pieces from the free table at guild, about 3/4 yard worth.
So, 3/4 yard in this week and nothing out.

Linking up with Judy at Patchwork Times

Friday, March 10, 2017

Jake's Quilt & Boomerang Patches

Ten years ago I made this quilt for my then-pregnant niece's baby shower. She and her husband didn't want to know the baby's sex ahead of time, they wanted to be surprised, so I had to make a gender-neutral quilt. Turquoise, lime and coral would do nicely. I gathered fabrics, cut lots of squares - lots! - and made lots of tiny 4-patches.

My friend Sandy quilted it; she was just starting her long-arm business and I didn't have any FMQ skills at all. It has a meander in the center and feathers in the borders. After all these years and many washings, this quilt is soft and crinkly. I was pleased to see that the label held up well, printed on my ink-jet printer.  The wind was helping me take photos this morning. 

The baby turned out to be a boy, and now Jake is a handsome and charming young man who's about to turn 10. His mom lent me his quilt for these photos and for a guild Show & Tell coming up.

Apparently there were a lot of leftover parts after I made Jake's quilt. I must have donated them to a guild destashing event, and someone must have taken them. Fast-forward a few years; my friend Cherie visited the estate sale of a quilter who had passed away and whose daughters were clearing out their mother's stuff. Cherie came away with a partially completed baby quilt top and the rest of the fabrics to go with it. She finished the top and there were still squares left over, so she put them in our guild's Orphan Adoption Event last October.

I noticed the little clamshell of cute 4-patches and I liked the colors, so I adopted it. When I got it home and spread them out, the strangest, most surreal feeling washed over me. OMG, these are my scraps! I had totally forgotten about them and hadn't seen Jake's quilt in years so I didn't recognize them in the box.

Since I adopted that box of patches, I couldn't let them go to waste. I found more of some of those fabrics in my stash, added a couple new fabrics including the green stripe, and the Boomerang Patches quilt was born.

Cherie and I are going to show these quilts and hers at guild Show & Tell later this month. Then Jake's quilt will be returned and Boomerang Patches will be donated.  There are a few leftover patches and they're going to the free table at STLMQG tomorrow. I still love the colors, but I think I'm finally done with these patches.

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Another Fun Day at the Quilt Cave

Last time the Cave Quilters got together, we made several snake blocks for a QOV and this is where we left off, 14 blocks complete.
Snake Blocks

We got together for another fun day recently, and in between conversation and laughter, we got a lot more work done.
Dar, Kevin & Cherie Working on Blocks

Our day was definitely not all work and no play. There was plenty of play involved, including some scrap diving. 
Cherie & Me with Scraps

We had a great time together, and we really did accomplish a lot. In the afternoon we had enough blocks on the wall to play with layouts a bit. If you turn some of the blocks, they make closed loops or circles. 
Layout Option at the Right

We ended the day with 26 of 48 blocks done; we only need 14 more. We're leaning toward the traditional layout where all the blocks go the same way, creating diagonal "snakes." Even though it's the same block over and over, the fabric variety and the movement created by the wavy diagonals give it a lot of interest. 
26 Blocks, Straight Layout 

I love that we have so much variety in the fabrics even though it's a very controlled color palette. There are several white-on-white backgrounds, dozens of reds, and many dozens of blues. Pulling from four quilters' stashes really helped! 
Fabric Variety

Several people have asked me for the pattern. I don't know if there's a published pattern for this block or not. If I find one I'll let you know. If anyone knows of one, please tell me in the comments. If I don't find an existing pattern, I'll post a tutorial about how to draft it and make the templates. 

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

Monday, March 6, 2017


*Work In Glacially Slow Progress

On my wall 3/6/17

This is my Piecing Group project, a hand-piecing bee project that's been in work since 2008. It's been through seven go-rounds when it was my turn to hand out, and a total of 30 people have now worked on it, since people have left the group and others have joined over that time. It won't be handed out in Piecing Group any more because it's now in too few parts to go around.

It's currently in rows and half-rows. There are two rows of black triangles at the top, then three rows of pieced units that form hexies, and these rows are all sewn together and pressed. After that there are half-rows joined in pairs; these were returned after the last piecing go round. Everything down to the horizontal gap has been pressed.

Pressed rows

My friends in Piecing Group know I have arthritis etc. in my hands and hand sewing has become much more difficult than it was when this project was started. Several of the girls got together and joined up the sections they were working on. Everything below the gap on the wall is completely sewn together. I'm very grateful to them for doing so much extra work on my project. The big section they put together is not pressed yet; it will be a tedious job to press it so that's my goal for this week.
Unpressed section

Not on the wall yet are three more rows that form hexies. Then after that there will be two more rows of black triangles for the bottom border. 

It will be awhile - a very long time - until this is a finished top. One of my friends has offered to continue helping me with it, and I appreciate her help very much. When it's finished this will be a queen size quilt and I'm definitely keeping this one for me. I still love the luminous effect of all those sparkling colors against the black.

Linking up with Patchwork Times, Em's Scrapbag, Love Laugh Quilt