Tuesday, August 30, 2016


So...it's August. My nieces were visiting from Philadelphia for a couple of weeks and they were taking up all of my time. I'm not complaining! I love them and they keep me on my toes. But it also kept me from sewing. Here I am. Finally. :)

It's time for Halloween decorating, right? Right?! It's never too early, I say! I'm not a summer fan, not at all. The sooner I can start daydreaming about fall (and then, inevitably, winter), the sooner I can forget about the heat and humidity of July and August. Blech!

My aunt Carol Ann is a marvelous quilter, and she sometimes sends me patterns she thinks I'll love. Most recently it was this Hexed Table Runner from Fons & Porter. She knows I love Halloween, and boy did she hit the ghoul on the head with this one! A couple of years ago, I bought two bundles of Riley Blake's Witch Hazel, and it's probably my all time favorite fabric. It's just so evocative of Halloween and all the fables and rituals associated with it (without getting too ghoulish).  I made this quilt from it...

It's a simple pattern I improvised, because I mostly wanted to showcase those gorgeous prints.

Well, I finally dug into that second bundle of fabric. Don't think I didn't try to talk myself out of it! I love it so much I didn't want to part with it. It was my first time working with hex shapes, but it came together rather quickly.

After I decided on the prints, I took a big gulp and cut them into strips!

Then onto the piecing....

It wasn't long at all before I finished my first hex shape!

Not bad at all, right? The rest was a breeze, and before I knew it I had a pieced top. It took me a bit of time to figure out how I wanted to quilt it. I chose a variegated black and grey thread and did a simple grid of wavy lines that gave the impression of a spider's web. Here's a shot of the back...

And the final product?

I love it! I'd love to keep it out year round and pretend that it's always autumn, but it'll be replaced with a Christmas runner in no time. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy it. :)

Today I'm linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Another UFO Bites the Dust!

About a year ago, at the height of my Farm Girl Vintage frenzy, I was doing projects left and right. It was around this time that I realized my "style" or quilting, so I took advantage and made project after project. No harm there! However, I have a few unfinished projects here and there in my sewing room as a result fo the FGV mania. This weekend, I finally finished one of them.

First up was getting the batting ready. I have so many 6" or 7" wide scraps of batting, most of them leftover from quilts taken to the longer-armer. I can't say it was a real joy to piece them all together, but it did yield enough batting to finish the project.

I butted the pieces up against each other and sewed them together with a wide zig-zag stitch then flipped them over and did the same on the other side. Stitching a second time may not have been necessary but I wanted to be sure they wouldn't come apart. A good pressing with the iron flattened them out nicely.

The main aim was to "git 'er done!" so I opted for a quick straight line quilting job. Easy peasy! Typically, I'm a fan of attaching the binding by machine and then hand-turning it. I love the look of a binding with no visible stitches, but lately I've gotten a lot better at doing the binding completely by machine. That's now my go-to binding method for some projects, mostly quilts that aren't going to end up on a bed or a lap. Within four hours, I had four of these little cuties quilted and bound...

The design was inspired by the Blue Plate Special pattern. This particular placemat is mine; I'm a lefty, so the cutlery pocket is on the left. ;) Although I have a couple projects that I've yet to finish from when I first learned to sew and quilt three years ago (don't judge!), I was happy to tick this year-old project off the list! Not only did I get satisfaction from that, but the patchwork pumpkin design also somewhat sated my desire for autumn. I am not a summer lover, and I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures, shorter days and those comforting foods of fall. These will be on our dining room table for a while.

Lastly, I finished my aunt's quilt - the Jinny Beyer project that scared me half to death and ending up being not so terrible - and mailed it off to her, but I completely forgot to take a photograph of the finished quilt! Ugh. She was kind enough to share a photo of it with me.

I'm happy that she is so happy with it!

I'm linking up again with Sew Fresh Quilts this week. Lorna is so creative and makes beautiful patterns...go give her a visit. Now if you'll pardon me, I have to make a torturous decision - start a fun, new project or tackle a long-idling one. Decisions! Decisions!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Boy, Oh Boy!

Pardon me while I dust off the blog! Achoo!

The past month saw zero quilting projects to completion. ZERO! I barely had the energy to do any sewing as I was battling a really awful and annoying summer cold. Unfortunately my asthma and allergies make colds linger for a lot longer than they normally would, so it lasted about four weeks. Yuck! Nonetheless, I'm back at it...finally.

I did a quick project for a fundraiser. One of my cousins was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and the family put on a fundraiser for her which included several auction items. One of my aunts asked if I'd be willing to do the quilting and binding on a top she sewed 46 or 47 years ago so that it could be donated to the auction. It's the first time I worked on an old top (EDIT: no, it's not - I did the binding on a quilt my great grandmother hand-sewed sometime in the 1950's), but it was a small baby quilt so it wasn't difficult at all.

The picture isn't the greatest quality, but this is the near 50-year-old quilt top.

I think these were poly/cotton blends, but it didn't cause any issues. It was a good way to ease back into some sewing. The good news is that the auction raised over $3,000 to help cover her medical costs!

The sectional in my living room is in need of some new pillows, so I sat down last week to sew some blocks for a new pillow. I again used Lori Holt's Farm Girl Vintage book (along with a supplemental pattern) for the blocks, and the end result is really lovely!

I used an envelope style backing so that I could fill it with a pillow form or use it as a table runner. Now that it's in place on the living room console, I'm having a hard time putting it to use on the couch. I'm really in love with using solid colors as the background fabric lately. The block designs can sometimes blend into the background with whites, and this is a great way to show off the color and design of the blocks.

There are a ton of half-finished projects in my sewing room, and I'm bound and determined to get to them rather than starting any new projects. With Halloween and Christmas approaching that commitment may be easier said than done.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Great Granny Squared and Done!

Sixty-four squares later, I have a quilt top! The 6" blocks were done in just a couple of days, and before adding the borders, I settled on an arrangement for the blocks and pieced them together.

Not too shabby, eh? Or IS it shabby...intentionally?! :) It's 48" square at this point.

I waffled between half a dozen border ideas before settling on flying geese, using the mango solid as the background. I wanted to get these flying geese done quickly, with little waste and still be scrappy, so I consulted my handy dandy All-In-One Quilter's Rererence Tool for the cutting sizes to do four flying geese at once. As much as I like the snowballing method of making them, this is a more efficient method for making a large stack of them. I spent an evening cutting, sewing and piecing them and used 24 different prints for the wings.

I love all the color! The part I tend to get the fussiest and most obsessive about is sewing the blocks together, because I don't want too much of the same color near each other. And if I somehow allowed the same prints to butt against each other? Lord, help me.

I'm not exaggerating when I say it took me an hour to settle on the above configuration before sewing them together. Ay yi yi. What a nut.

And there's the completed top! I'll quilt this one myself on my sewing machine. I've yet to use the Janome for quilting, so I'm excited to give it a go.

I also got a start on another new project, more on this one next time...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

She Done Bloomed!

Ummmm...has it really been almost a month since I blogged? Ay yi yi! Truth is, I didn't have much in the way of quilting to share, so it potentially would have been a full page of "Ummm" and "Huh" and "I don't know." Nonetheless, I've got some bidness to discuss now!

The Bloom Sew-Along is my first sew-along. While it's been rewarding, it's also been a lesson in patience. I tend to dive right into projects and go, go, go till I'm done. I finished the actual blocks for the sew-along about two weeks ahead of time and did the block and row layout in order of completion. I wasn't too sure about this approach, as I'm definitely a newb to the applique game. My fear was that it would go from disaster at block one to pretty darn good by block twenty. But, that wasn't the case. They all came out, at the very least, good!

Don't you love my design wall? It looks remarkably like one's living room floor. Upper left is the first block, and lower right is the last. Not too bad, right? After sewing together the rows, I decided on a bright border print.

So bright and cheery! I've got one quilt at the long-armer right now, and once that one is done I'll take this one in for quilting. I don't mind doing the quilting myself, but this one's a little out of my size comfort zone. Like I said, doing one block a week was a real test of my patience and made the payoff feel like it was never going to happen. But it did...in spades!

After that project, I wanted something relatively quick, so I opened up this book...

...and revisited some of the projects inside. I'd previously made a few pillows from it but never an actual quilt.

That's one of the pillow tops I made (minus the pillow form, obviously), and it's now on one of my armchairs with a coordinating one.

Tim was away this weekend, and that meant I was a pseudo-bachelor for a few days. And boy oh boy did I get wild while he was out! I quilted like a madman! Typically when I'm in a quilting zone, I go into survival mode, meaning I eat as quickly as I can so I can get back to piecing and cutting. I ate more than a few PB&J's during the weekend. With the steady chatter of Investigation Discovery playing in the background (I'm an addict), I was a workhorse! What did all that activity net me?

Sixy-four 6.5" great granny squares! I love the mango Robert Kaufman Kona Solids background color.

Those are a couple of my favorites, with fabrics from Ellis & Higgs, Lori Holt, Lecien and others I love. There's a whole lot of color in there, and I love it all.

The picture isn't the greatest quality, but I've sewn them together in quadrants and will piece them together tonight. I tossed around so many ideas on the border and, I must admit, most of them were borders that would be quick and easy. When I want it done, I want it done quickly. Ultimately I decided that I want even more colors, so I'm going to border it with scrappy four-patches. This one, I'll quilt myself; at a finished size of 56" square, it's easily manageable.

This week, I'm again linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts so check out all her quilty goodies!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Picnic Quilt

Yesterday was kind of a dull day, just a monotonous Tuesday morning. That is, until 9:45 when I got one of my favorite calls. "Hi, Dan. This is Millie P's, and we're calling to let you know that your quilt is ready to be picked up."


Then my day wasn't so boring, but I found it hard to focus, because all I wanted to do was get out the door and get my quilt so I could get it home and bind that baby! I handed it over to them four weeks ago and was eager to get the job done.

That's the quilt top pre-quilting. I went with an all-over feather pattern.

There are a couple of close-up pictures of the quilting. They did a great job (as usual)! I didn't waste anytime once I got home; I picked out a fabric for the binding, a little yellow chick pattern from Lori Holt's Calico Days line, and got to cuttin'.

Here they are all cut, joined and pressed. Aren't they just precious? I decided to do this one completely by machine. When I'm making a quilt for somebody else, I attached it by machine and then hand-turn the binding to the back. I need to brush up my machine-binding skills and this one is staying in-house, so I wouldn't mind a few mistakes by completely machine-binding it.

Now that she's all done, I just have to run it through the wash and snuggle with it in the basement.

I love how colorful it is, and the layout made it really fun to piece the blocks together.

Now that I've ticked another one off the to-do list, I can move onto the next! :)

Today, I'm linking up to Lorna's Sew Fresh Quilts Let's Bee Social.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Bloomin' Away

I'm getting back into the swing of things, and taking care of some projects in various stages of completion. Today, I'll gift a quilt that I finished about a year ago and haven't had a chance to mail (translation: the post office feels so far away!). The good news is that I'll be able to give the gift in person, so that'll be fun. There's always the anxiety of "What if they don't like it?" but I'm smashing that as much as I can. I'm sure it'll be loved!

This weekend, I finished block sixteen of Lori Holt's Bloom Sew Along.

This one was a fun one to piece. As I said in my previous post, I'm really (finally!) learning to use the point turner to smooth out the curved pieces when they're not as rounded as they should be. I wish I took more care to do it when I started the project. Oh, well! You live you learn.

These are the other three blocks that will make up the row. I really love the block in the lower left. Those heart shaped templates make for great flower petals! I can't wait to finish these blocks, piece them into rows, sew on the borders and move onto the next projects! After that, I should finally finish up the Christmas quilt top I finished in December 2014; I'll post of photograph of that later tonight when I get home.

Speaking of Lori Holt - she's full of ideas that appeal to me - she mentioned a great gift idea on Instagram that I loved so much I took to the sewing machine straight away and churned one out.

It's a little 5" x 7" block, created from her Sew Simple Shapes. I'll head to Michael's tonight to see if I can find a frame suitable enough for containing its cuteness. Don't you just wanna pinch its little cheeks? Adorable!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Paisley Hiatus - Quilting Odds & Ends

Paisley Park - Chanhassen, MN

Ay yi yi. What a week it's been. An emotional up and down. I wouldn't dare make a ridiculous statement indicating that I'm the biggest Prince fan, but I'm one of many dedicated Prince fans. There are tons. I've seen him eight times and associated Paisley acts too many times to count. I have friends who've seen him dozens - even hundreds - of times live, and his music has gifted me with a tight circle of friends. Though his death has been tough, it's been beyond helpful and therapeutic the past week to spend time with friends, reminiscing about live shows, bootlegs, favorite performances and Paisley Park memories. I saw him there only one (Prince was a night owl, I am not) but he wasn't performing. Standing in back, dancing and having a good time as Morris Day and The Time performed. His death is painful, but the music will always be there and I'm thankful for it. One of my fave extended videos below.

So, onto some sewing bidness...

Since much of the last week was spent with friends I haven't had much time to quilt, and that's a major drag. The best cure to grief is getting back to a routine, and that is precisely what I'm doing! I've been working on Lori Holt's Bloom Sew Along and having fun with it. It's been a great way to sharpen my newbie applique skills.

These are the three newest blocks I'm completing. I've still got to add the borders.

If nothing else, this has been a great way to improve my curved edges when doing applique, using a point turner to slightly stretch those muthas into place when the curve isn't sewn as good as I'd like! I've been hesitant to piece the blocks together as I go, because my fear is that it will read as a hot mess at the beginning and a glorious masterpiece by the end. We shall see. Look at those curves. Aren't they brilliant? Not really, I know, but it's good and certainly better than when I started. Apologies for the darker pictures; I didn't have time to correct the white balance.

Next up for me are the beautiful blocks in this book. I need to sharpen my paper piecing skills, so I've printed out a selection of blocks from this sampler.

They're all beautiful, and they're all on the ever growing to-do list. :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

When Does Stash-Building Become Hoarding?

I have a thing with fabric. A big thing. While I wouldn't say that it's completely out of control (yet), I do have much more fabric than I can use anytime in the near future. It is not uncommon amongst quilters and sewers, but that's not excuse. I need to scale it back some, but that proves exceptionally difficult when there is always new fabric hitting the market. Apparently, I relish the opportunity to go, "Oh, for cute!" and then hit the ADD TO CART button, because it happens all too often.

Take for instance this morning. I was happily avoiding work and my web browser accidentally went to The Fat Quarter Shop (I just hate when that accidentally happens!). That's when I saw these...

They spoke to me, and then I did some speaking to my wallet. We had a disagreement, but I won. It's too easy to make purchases like that online, so I try not to make a habit out of it. A few weeks ago, I made a trip to S.R. Harris, a great fabric outlet that sells all their quilting cottons at 50% off retail, and midway through the trip my cart was already starting to fill up.

There were sixteen bolts in there when I took this photograph. By the time I made it to the cutting table, there were twenty-five! The most ridiculous part of that trip? Most of those fabrics on the right are from a great Riley Blake collection called Happy Harvest. It is a collection I already own, as a fat quarter bundle and some additional yardage. "Why then were they in your cart?" you might ask. Because I was afraid I would run out...before I even used them! And because issues. Madness. Luckily, I came to my senses and left with only 7 pieces of fabric.

I do take some amount of comfort in knowing that I'm not alone in this affliction. About a year ago, a well-written and researched article was making the rounds in quilting circles, Quiltanomics: The Real Cost of Quilts. There was a ton of good information in it, but the number that blew my mind was this one:

[Quilters'] buying power each year is $3.76 billion – with “dedicated quilters” spending over $3,200. What I found jaw-dropping was the statistic that dedicated quilters typically own $13,000 in tools and supplies, and their fabric stash is worth close to $6,000.

SIX. THOUSAND.DOLLARS. That's just fabric! That doesn't include the sewing machine, the tools, the furniture or the time (one of the biggest expenses). I keep that number in the back of my mind to make me feel like I'm in control. Some call that denial; I call it...well, that's probably what I would call it, too.

It's time for me to put a moratorium on fabric purchases. I'll take a few months off and give my finances a big break. Except for maybe a bundle of Halloween fabric. And maybe Lori Holt's Cozy Christmas bundle when it's released next month. Oh, and I need a few solids, too. Dammit!

Know who's sensible? Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts. Give her blog a visit, would you?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Berry Cherry Potholder

I've finished two quilt tops in the last few weeks, so I'm taking a wee bit of a break from big projects at the moment. I almost took the weekend off from doing any sewing at all but decided yesterday to break my boredom with a bit of time in the sewing room. I thought about doing yet another small project from Lori Holt's Farm Girl Vintage book, but I've already done approximately 1,305,211 projects from that to date. I can't help myself! And then I saw Lori's Bloom Templates when I was digging through the drawer on my sewing table.

Why not do a block from Farm Girl Vintage using the templates? Easy peasy! I need to keep brushing up on my applique skills anyway. I would only need two of them: A-3 and A-11.

I picked out a few fabrics...

...and a few tools, and I was on my way. That little Clover 1/4" bias tape maker has come in handy lately, and I also really like using lightweight sew-in Pellon as backing for the applique pieces. One of these days I'll give a go at hand-turned applique, but for now this is my comfort zone and it makes for good results.

I went with this guy  at first, because I love the little Scotties, but in the end it was too close in hue to the other red I was using and went with a pink print instead.

In virtually no time at all, I had a little cherry block! I'd been wanting to try the Fat Quarter Shop's tutorial (their video tutorial is at the end of this post) for using the backing fabric as the binding to see how I liked it, so after a quick quilting job...

...I attached the backing fabric, and cut and pressed it according to their directions.

Then it was time to sew the binding to the front of the block. It's only an 8" square, so binding only took a half an hour or so to get the job.

And there's the finished product. Cute as a li'l button! I'm not sure how much I love the backing/binding method. The corners look good not great. Perhaps it's just a matter of getting the method down, but it certainly was more than adequate for a first time, and I have another adorable little nugget to use in the kitchen.