Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hip, Hip, Hoorah!

Grades are in!  The semester is over.  The naked tree in my living room will finally be adorned.  I will once again cross the threshold of my sewing room.  Ahhhh!

Until I actually get to said sewing though, here’s some photos of some really lovely miniatures Michele of Michele’s Craft Gallery made from Miniatures in Minutes.  She’ll be teaching a class at Quilting Adventures on Feb. 26, 2010.  I just love the beautiful colors!




The mini quilts use the Trip Around the World variation of the 13-Square foundation (6 1/2" square for the pieced section), the 4-Star variation of  the Pyramid Triangle foundation (7" by 8"), and the Medallion variation on the Tumbler foundation(7" by 7").  Very, very pretty. 

I was a lucky girl myself during the giveaway and won this very cute cupcake fabric from Red Fish Circle.  I can’t wait to come up with some cool projects for this!  Thank you, Amy. 


Meanwhile, I’ve been doing more walking (still on my fitness kick and ever so slo-o-o-o-w-ly losing weight) and decided that I need a smarter way to carry the dog treats other than my coat pocket (which is now very crummy).  I’m going to be playing with a little dog treat bag to carry with me.  If it works out to be something useful, I’ll be sure and post a tutorial.

Speaking of grading: One of the fun parts is the occasional inadvertent humor a student injects into a paper.  Here’s my two favorites from the latest grading binge – one student warned that it is really important to be on top of certain problems before they get worse.  Yes, indeed, he warned, best to make sure they are “nipped in the butt.” 

And another student, bless him, loved the way Benjamin Franklin filled Poor Richard’s Almanac with so many entertaining “antic dotes.”  (You have to watch out for those dotes.  They simply have no self control).  That, I do believe, is one of the best ever. 

Enough now.  Time to go be merry and bright.  And if I don’t get back before Christmas, here’s wishing everyone the best celebrating whichever traditions belong to you and yours.   Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

It’s snowing.  The temperature is 3 degrees and  kindly informs me that it feels like –11.  I’m sitting in my office having a Dr. Zhivago moment – beautiful intricate frost designs cover the windows top to bottom.  The only place I can see out is a little bit of top corner.  Brrrrr!

Trudy at Sewing with Trudy won the basket giveaway and since I don’t want to go outside, I’m sending my son to the post office.  He’s young.  He’s hardy.  He’s male.  Young men thrive on pitting their manly selves against the elements, right?  Now, if it was me, I’d just whimper all the way there and back. 

Meanwhile, I’ve also been making some string blocks for a block swap.  I love the fabrics – purples and green.  They make me think of my lilac bushes when they come into bloom.  Think Spring.  Right on.

Oddly enough (given how much foundation piecing I do), my sewing machine did not like sewing these blocks.  I don’t think it liked the thicker paper or the texture on it or something.  We had a few arguments about stitch length and sewing a straight line – I won most of those discussions but, sadly, not all.  Still – such a forgiving pattern, you can’t tell. 

And despite all, I love the effect off all these scrappy strips. If I ever have time (ho, ho, ho), I might have to make one of these up. 

Coming up next: one of my son’s friends is going to have a baby (technically speaking, his wife is).  My son is going to help sew the baby quilt – and oh, yeah, I’m going to want to document that with photos. 

Isn’t it something to see these young men who you knew when they were boys (and getting into all kind of boy trouble) grow up into adults with children of their own?  How the time does fly . . .

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December Project

This little quilt uses the Square-in-a-Square foundation from Miniatures in Minutes.  You can find a pdf file for the directions on the projects page of my website.  The finished quilt measures 11 3/4" square.  

Once again, this project adds only two triangles to the “block” rather than four.  So this block:

2 corner k

Becomes this block:

2 corner l

And the Square-in-a-Square foundation:

2 corner m

Can be used to make this design:

2 corner n

Here is the foundation with all of the center fabrics added:

To create the template shape, lay a ruler on the quarter inch line of the foundation and draw two lines on opposite sides of the center square. 


When I create the template (I use heavy duty template plastic), I add the name of the patch for future reference.


I decided to try something different with this foundation.  Normally, I add only one “sew line” of triangles at a time.  I’ve always done it this way on the theory that if I added all the triangles at once, some of them might be likely to fold over or fall off while working on the entire foundation.  But, hey, what the heck, right?  This time I added all the triangles at once.

Here’s a close-up which might make things  a bit clearer:

I was pleased to discover that all the little triangles behaved quite well as I was sewing.  There were only a couple that even thought about folding over.  Fortunately, I was able to feel those as I was moving the foundation across the sewing machine bed and got them straightened back out before sewing.

I liked this approach enough to continue to use it in the future.  I thought it was just a little bit faster (and I am all about this Miniatures in Minutes business). 

Sidenote: Linda saw my demonstration on The Quilt Show and sent me an email with this great tip.  Instead of using Iron-Cleaner to clean off the mini-iron, use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  I tried it and have to say, it worked like a dream.  Thanks, Linda!

Here’s the foundation with all the triangles ironed down:

And here’s the top after all those little “blocks” have been joined using the Fold and Sew technique and the paper has been removed:

The Square-in-a-Square foundation remains one of my all time favorites for design flexibility.  And this particular project gets extra brownie points for being even faster than the 3 hours noted in the book.  Since this foundation only needs to be sewn across once (instead of twice), the sewing time gets cut down significantly.  I didn’t think to time myself – I’m guessing it took between 2 hours and 2 hrs 20 min to prepare the foundation, cut the fabric, sew the foundation, remove the paper, iron the “block.”  Works for me! 

I found the border motif in one of the EQ Quiltmaker Quilt Designs add-on libraries.  I don’t always look for an exact line up.  For instance, with this design, I overlapped the block design a little knowing that I wasn’t going to use part of it (the extra diamonds crowding the corners).  The lower-left corner shows what I was aiming for:

eq border stencil

So when I drew it onto Golden Threads tissue paper, it looked like this (notice the red diagonal lines in the corners that I use to help orient the stencil when I trace it onto the paper):

Easy peasy.  I love how simple EQ makes it to size the quilt motifs to exactly the size I want.  

And here’s a picture of the back.  The pretty reproduction fabric was passed onto me by a quilting friend.  The triangles are used to hang the quilt (just insert a small dowel). 

One last note:  I’ll announce the winner of the giveaway tomorrow.  Hope everyone has been enjoying the grand blog tour across the world wide web!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway

Love these giveaways! To earn a chance at this basket simply leave a comment on this blog entry. I’ll hold the drawing on Sunday, Dec. 7.

This basket is made using the basket pattern from Pink Penguin and the 13-Square foundation from Miniatures in Minutes. You can find a pdf file on how to adapt the foundation to this basket and a link to Pink Penguin’s blog site and directions on how to make the basket on the projects page of my website.

To find a listing of all the wonderful giveaways, click on the giveway icon:


Here’s a photo of the December project in process. It will be finished up and posted this weekend:

For those who were following, my ending NaNoWriMo word count: 58, 574


Well, I wanted to redeem myself for not finishing when I attempted last year, so right now I’m feeling pretty good about myself! The novel is still in progress. Perhaps I’ll finish up a full draft by the end of December . . .