Friday, November 30, 2012

Orphan blocks

After I finished the two 12 1/2 inch house blocks I started to clean up and put things away. Improv piecing sure makes a mess; I had a lot of boxes down from the shelves.
While I was searching for just the right inhabitants for my houses I came across some orphan blocks and some partly finished demo blocks from when I was presenting a block of the month for our church group. The first year we did the BOM I made my blocks  quilt with Christmas colors and I finished that  "sampler" quilt. The second time I just used different fabrics that I had and some of the blocks I made into something with one or two blocks. I saw a lot of those things on Thanksgiving when I was at our daughter's house. She loves the fall colors and I used fall  colors for a number of things that I made with the blocks. Then there were the blocks that just got put away in a box. some were finished, some were too small, some were partly finished to show the steps in construction.

These are 9 blocks that I am going to send to Beth at Love Laugh Quilt with my houses. I am not sure how in the world she can fit those 2 Snails Trail blocks in with other orphans but if anyone can she can. I hope she is not overwhelmed with orphan blocks.

These 2 blocks were made to demo 3 piece triangle components and the one on the right was also to demo partial seam piecing. the bright one was only 8 1/2 inches so I added  2 1/2 inch strips to make it big enough.

I made this butterfly block over 10 years ago. I saw it on Simply Quilts and the guest quilter was showing easy blocks for sewing with kids. I wish I could tell you her name. My great nieces came over to quilt and the 9 year old made a block like this one. I had made up so kits with  squares and rectangles already cut. They picked out the kits with the fabrics they liked. She really loved making it and could hardly get through lunch because she was in a hurry to get back to her sewing. She finished it up and layered it and quilted it on the machine. It was a really fun day for me too.
These were 4 little  pinwheel blocks  the  I sewed  together to make an 8 1/2 inch block and then I added 2 1/2 inch strips to make it big enough. I had made these to demo some of the many things you could do with half square triangle components. I really like this block and think it would make a nice scrappy quilt with 12 inch blocks like this each a different fabric. However, this one will be going to Beth too. I work up a quilt with it in EQ7 and when/if I get around to it I will know how to make it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I decided to take a break from sewing the black and white triangle patches together. It is tedious and exacting with lots of points that I want to come together perfectly... well, yes perfectly. It is going well but slowly.
Beth at Laugh Love Quilt is having a neighborhood block party and I am joining again for the 3rd year. Depending on the number of people who join there will  be some winners for  sets of 9 -12 blocks.
I have not been very fast at this either but it has been fun sewing. Any time I do something improvisational I agonize over every piece of fabric and of course second guess myself at the end. I start out thinking every house block has to  have green grass and a light blue sky looking fabric for the sky and some shade of green trees. Every house has to have a chimney and a door and at least one window. I like to have inhabitants in my houses too. This time it didn't take me half a dozen houses to break some of my own rules.
These two 12 inch blocks took two days. I did have interruptions and stops and starts while I tended to other things (like baking a cake, going out shopping and a trip with Jack for routine follow up with the eye doctor). I think that was a good thing because when I came back to work on the houses I changed some things that bothered me.
I will be sending these off to Beth soon. I will a so send along  a few 12 1/2 inch orphan blocks that she will use in a quilt for some one in need, as Beth says, after Sandy there are lots of people in need.
Maybe you would like to send Beth
a couple of house block and some orphans.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Quilt Show

The Christmas Quilt Show is here stop over at Quilting Tutorials and have a look.

This little quilt is my entry; when it comes to Christmas I am pretty traditional. It is 26 inches square and the log cabin blocks are 5 1/2 inches. I bought a panel with 3 inch square motifs and all the fabrics at the NQA show in Columbus 2 or 3 years ago. There was a little quilt made up in the booth but no pattern (or at least I didn't  buy one) by the time I got home I couldn't remember how it was made so I made up my own setting. There are 16  little motif centers, all different and there may have been some others that were different as well. It will hang in my sewing room on the bulletin board when I get all the Christmas quilts out and around.

I am not sure how many of the little squares I had left but I made a bunch of small things and gave them away. The only 2 things I still have are this  cover for my neck pillow and the 5 x 11 mini quilt below which I think will go in the narrow space between a small wall cabinet and a shelf inside my front door. I wanted to use up all of the left over pieces  and I think I came close.
 I usually get out my Christmas dishes and all my quilts the week end after Thanksgiving; they stay out until New Years Day. I am a little behind this year but I will catch up soon.
 I guess this could be considered a winter quilt but to me it is Christmas. In January I have snowmen and that is winter!
Click here  and here to see some of my other Christmas Quilts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Back to work on the Challenge

I finished up the place mats and with the smallish leftover pieces I made 2 potholders.  They turned out pretty good but I forgot to take a picture before I wrapped them for a shower gift.
Yesterday I had some of my family here for dinner so everything is all cleaned up and my sewing room is all clean and tidy. When there are going to be kids playing in the sewing room I get everything cleaned up and put away. So.... this morning I got back to some sewing on the black and white and red challenge.
I am amazed at how easily the 60 degree triangles go together:those little dog ears really help to line everything up and make nice sharp  points. I am getting nice points without having to pin and stitch and rip and re pin and restitch and rip etc. I have half the top stitched together and have only had to fix a couple of places. I am definitely going to do this again.

This has been a good learning experience. Next time I will use setting triangles on the ends instead of stitching many triangles together when I could have used one solid piece. I think I will buy a ruler that cuts diamonds as well as triangles; there are many more whole diamonds that I could have cut instead of sewing 2 triangles together. I am not a gadget person and I always try to figure out how to use my basic rulers for everything I can but when there are angles other than right angles or 45 degree angles a special  ruler is usually worthwhile.

Friday, November 23, 2012


We had our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday around 5 o'clock at our daughter's. She didn't have to work after all so I only had to help with a few things. My son in law and I peeled potatoes and I made the gravy which is my usual job. There were 17 of us and it was a very nice day.

It was also great granddaughter Grace's 9th birthday. Here we are together; she is licking frosting off her finger. Grace has shed her sweater, as usual. She is one of those warm kids who never seems to be cold. She used to take her clothes/coat of anywhere and everywhere. and we would have to go looking for them. We used to babysit all day every Tuesday with Gracie and her brotherand we almost always went to the Farmpark or one of the other metro parks. The minute we were in the door she would drop her coat on the floor.She was great grandpa's girl back then and I always played second fiddle. We both played second fiddle to grandma and grandpa (my daughter and son in law) and we still do.

This photo was taken at her brothers birthday party when she was almost 2. Her great grandpa Jack, who is looking very pleased with himself, first showed her how to snitch some frosting from the cake. Her maternal grandpa is in the background.
This is the next year at her brothers 4th birthday party and she is holding her new baby cousin and feeling very responsible. They sure grow up fast.                                                   


Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I stopped in the quilt shop on Monday and picked up fabric to make another set of Christmas Take 4 placemats. I was having a little  problem with vertigo that started when I was  getting a haircut earlier. I knew I would not have another chance this week to shop so with Jack driving I decided  to go ahead and get my fabric. Beth, the owner at Cotton Pickers quilt shop was  so nice. I told her what I wanted and she brought out a stack of half yards that she had been cutting and then looked for  green fabric for me and I got what I needed.
Jack had his cataract surgery yesterday (he cancelled last Tuesday when they moved him back to late in the day). The surgery went well yesterday and we were home before 10AM. We had planned to stay in the rest of the day and all I needed to do was put drops in Jacks's eyes every 2 hours. It was a good time to do some simple sewing.
This is a nice quick pattern and I was able to get started on the place mats. This morning before Jack's follow up visit with the eye doctor I layered them up and got one of them quilted.
This is the front of the one that I have quilted so far. It is simple in the ditch and then horizontal lines 1 inch apart. I only quilted in the ditch on either side of the narrow light strip and the vertical inset strip. I am planning on quilting the rest of them this evening.

. This is the back of the quilted mat. I bought a yard and a half of the red fabric for the backs and the bindings. I bought half yards of the 4 fabrics for the fronts and I was  going to make 2 sets and get a different  back for the second set. I  decided to use the other 4 fat quarters for the backs instead because I get bored making a second anything of the same fabric. I use use the red for another set of Christmas placemats with different fabric or make something else with the red fabric that is left after make the binding for these.
Jack is seeing very well with his new lens implant and he will completely happy next week  when he gets new glasses and a new correction for his other eye. Right now his glasses are not right for either eye.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


We are going out to our daughter's for Thanksgiving dinner but she has to work until 3:30 so her husband is cooking the turkey and everyone is bringing something. When several family members work in hospitals and some live out of town it is not easy to work out holiday times when everyone can get together.  I said I will come out to their house early so I can help so of course I need a new apron.

I was surprised to see that I have at least 3 apron patterns. I chose this one because it looks easy.  It was easy and the main part of the apron only takes one  23 inch square of fabric for the front and one 25 1/4 inch square for the lining or inside. You cut 2 1/2 inch strips for the bottom contrast and 3 inch strips for the ties and neck strap. After sewing the contrast fabric on the bottom, you layer the front and back squares with right sides together and the ties on the inside, pinned in place and sew all around leaving an opening for turning. . After turning it right side out you turn the corner down at the top and attach the neck strap to fit. Oh, I forgot to mention the pocket; I  think next time I might skip the pocket.

The pattern says this is figure flattering. To maintain that illusion I will not show a photo of me wearing it. It was east, fast, and will serve it's purpose of protecting my clothes while I cook. What more can I ask of an apron? I do not expect a new silhouette. Maybe if I sew cute buttons on the pocket and top flap it will look cuter and draw attention away from my unflattered figure.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Finish

I decided to switch gears and finish up the second tree skirt. I was getting bored with sewing the triangle/diamond rows together. I am finished with the tree skirt and toward the end I was getting a little bored with quilting in the ditch on that with all the stops and starts as I quilted each blade.
This is the one I just finished.
I decided to use red for the backing on this one; I used white on the first one. I fiddled about with the placement of the red patches a little more on the second on but I don't think in the end it makes any difference at all. I am keeping the first one and gifting the second one but not sure yet who will be the recipient. Below is the first one.

I bought a jelly roll of the same fabric (Moda Blitzen) when I got the second set of 4 charm packs. I will be using that for the 2nd annual Jellyroll race with the Basement Divas in January. They were on sale for 1/2 price and Blitzen was the only one left with both Jellyroll and Charm packs. I might have used something else but who can argue with 1/2 price, especially when you really like it.
I had some thoughts that there were some things I would do different when I layered it and quilted it but in the end I did it the same as the first one with the exception of layering the top with the batting and pinning it and then layering that with the backing. After that I turned it, just as I did the first one. I had some issues with smoothing the whole thing out after I turned it to the right side the first time and this time it went easier. Once again, in the end I am not sure it made any difference.  I am happy with both of them.
I don't think I will be making more any time soon. Who knows, if everyone in my family thinks they should have one I might make more. It won't be this year and it won't be the same fabrics. It might even be a different pattern although I love this one which I got from Annie's tutorial at Freezeframe.

I think before I get back to the black and white challenge I am got to clean up a bit and then make somehouse to send to Beth at Love Laugh quilt for her 3rd Annual Neighhood Block Party. I really like to make houses.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sewing at a snails pace

Nothing has been moving along very fast here in my sewing room. Lots of routine doctor appointments and the like have all fallen around the same time; add to that a decision for Jack to finally have his cataract surgery (today) and there is not much time for getting anything done.

 It is probably a good thing that I have not been going full speed ahead (which isn't very fast anyway for me). I am learning a lot about sewing 60 degree triangles together. First I learned that it is best to work in diagonal rows when doing the sewing. then I found out how easy it is to get mixed up and turn something around. I started by sewing diamonds in each row then sewing the diamonds together in that row, completing each row as I went along. I had started on one end so the rows across on the diagonal were short which saved me from a lot more ripping of seams.I sewed about 4 rows before I came to the conclusion that I needed to sew all the triangles into diamonds in all the rows and put them back up on the wall before I started to sew the rows. I made one or more mistakes in every row up to that point.


Top row - sewed into diamonds
Middle row - whole row sewed
Bottom row- nothing sewed yet.
It is difficult almost impossible for me to line up the rows that have been sewed with the rows that  not been sewed at all and the rows that have been sewed into diamonds. Maybe you can see in the photo above how much different there is in the lengths. This is not an even symmetrical pattern that has an easy point of reference. It was just too easy to get something in the wrong place or oriented in the wrong direction. Still the construction is easy when my seam allowance is a good 1/4 inch and my seams are lining up. I am liking this enough to think I will do this again. I know what the pitfalls are so next time it will be easier. Right?

I am also making progress on the second tree skirt. I finally got out and bought fabric for the backing. I got the prairie points made and stitched on,  I am starting to move ahead.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Black and white and other stuff

I have been playing in EQ7 with my black and white challenge and after totaling up about 37 different designs I started eliminating and I finally started cutting triangles. After a while all that playing on the computer gets confusing.
Here is my stack of triangles. I didn't use some of the fabrics I was certain I was going to use after all. I did get the design up and my design wall and have fiddled with it for a couple of days on and off.
I discovered that I need to orient certain of the fabrics with the grain line perpendicular or they looked like they were not lined up right. Unless that is the look you are going for, it is not desirable. The white dots on a black background stood out like a sore thumb when the bias edges were not on the straight line on the bottom or top; it was the same with the black with the white squares. Some of the other prints do not matter but I decided that I will orient all the triangles so the bias edges are on the sides and that will make the straight grain on the top and bottom of the quilt and on the sides as well when the outside triangles are trimmed back. I started to sew it together and I learned the hard way that the best way (for me) is to sew it in diagonal rows. All this would have been much more clear to begin with if I had read the book before I started instead of just looking at the pictures .
 I have decided that I am only going to show a few small areas that I am working with on my blog and wait until I have the whole thing finished to show it here. It will take a while so don't hold your breath.

Sunday I went to a quilt show put on by one of the local quilt guilds.  Most of the Basement Diva group belong to the guild and I was eager to see their challenge quilts. I almost missed going because although I knew the date it just got here before I realized it. How did it get to be November so soon?
It is a good thing I went because my friend gave me this little zentangle inspired quiltlet that she made. It is about 4 1/2 inches square. Her challenge piece was zentangle inspired.

If you want to see her piece and more of the Diva's quilts and the rest of the challenge quilts they are on the Basement Divas Blog.



Friday, November 2, 2012

Black and White Challenge

Tuesday our Internet,TV and phone service was out due to Sandy. We did have power so we didn't have much to complain about but we didn't really know what was going on in the world. We were able to get in touch with our family thanks to cell phones so after  ascertaining that everyone was OK we relaxed a little. We went out for breakfast but every place we went was either closed without power or they were crowded and short of help so we had breakfast at home.
I wanted to go to the quilt shop to pick up some black and white fabric but I had to wait until Thursday because they were closed because of no power. I finally got to the shop and bought some fabric to fill in the gaps in my black and white fabrics. This is the full range of fabrics I have decided to use. I sorted them by value just by habit. It is interesting to me that the black fabric with a little bit of red and some tiny gray dots doesn't fit in well in the value range no matter where I place it. No matter, this will not be a color wash design. I won't be using all of these but  I will choose from this group.

At the right is a close up of the dark values. I looked for fabrics that were different in the shapes of the pattern and slightly different in density but not too different in scale.

Below is closer shot of the light values and the red. these will be used for the background fabrics. the darker fabrics in this group may or may not work. Before I went shopping for fabric I scanned all  the ones from my stash that I thought I would  use and those worked  out well in the EQ version. I have not scanned what I brought home yesterday and I don't think I will. I have a basic idea of what I intend to do now but I know that from here on my decisions have to be made up on the design wall.

I had a hard time deciding what size I wanted to cut my triangles. I wanted them large enough so I can cut from strip sets if I want to without having them too big. In the end I just cut some 4 inch triangles from the fabric I intend to use for one of the backgrounds and I am going to go with that size. I  am happy to see that the background fabric doesn't appear that it will look all chopped up when triangles of  the same fabric are sewn together . This is as far as I have gone today, so far. I am going to cut a few more fabrics before I decide on which of the EQ designs I will go with.

I thought that I would never come up with an idea for this challenge because of the rule that it had to come from a book or tool that we had for a while but never used. My mind kept going back to things I had already done. After seeing what the other Basement Divas were doing, I got out of that rut. It really pays to hang out with other quilters.