Saturday, October 31, 2009

Christmas Blocks for Kimmie

Here are the blocks I made up for the October Bee Pieceful block swap.  Kimmie asked for traditional blocks in any size to be made up in her fabrics.  Here’s the four I came up with:





I’m actually getting used to working with bigger sized patches again.  My traditional piecing skills are still a bit rusty, but they are, fortunately, starting to come back to me.  Those intersections don’t all meet quite as precisely as I would like, but, all in all, not too bad. 

I still have to decide what fabrics I’m going to send out when it’s my turn (come June) to have blocks made for me.  I’m waiting for that perfect fabric line to come out and snag me sometime between now and then.  Given all the lovely fabrics that just keep coming, I suspect I won’t have all that much trouble!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pink Blocks and a Pretty Placemat

A little alliteration is good for the soul, I think.  So, progress on the pink quilt is slow (midterm grading, I’m sad to say).  Still, here we have a pink strip set:

That became little pink blocks:

That have the first set of rows added:

Very pretty!

And lucky me, I received this absolutely gorgeous placemat from Julie in a placemat swap:

Isn’t it just wonderful?  Beautiful fabrics and a luscious design!  The photo doesn’t show it off as well as I would like, but the quilting is fabulous.  All wonderful free flowing swirls.  She also sent a bunch of goodies along with.  Pretty cards, a gorgeous fabric, and (dear to my heart) chocolate!

I haven’t actually started the placemat for Julie yet, I’m embarrassed to admit.  I have doodled and doodled but none of my ideas were thrilling me.  But then last night I woke  up in the middle of the night with an idea in my head, knew the design I wanted (simple but I hope it will work) and even the quilting style I wanted to use.  So, since it is definitely time for me to be working on this, I’ll have teaser photos to show in the next day or two.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

All Cut Up

Some quilters like to cut fabric.  I have a friend who does.  It gives her satisfaction. (To which I say, huh.)  I’m not like that.  For someone who loves quilting, it’s a bit amazing how many parts I find a little tedious (sometimes a lot tedious).  So, I’m not big on cutting.  One of the things I love about all my miniatures?  Not so much on the slice and dice!  But here is the fabric for Jeff’s quilt, all cut up:

Pretty fabrics in strips of color: black, brown, burgundy, pink, and cream.  Quite lovely, really.  The whole quilt is built off of 2 1/2” strips.  It promises to be easy to assemble, so we’ll see. 

This is very much a “not me” kind of quilt.  With my bigger quilt projects, I tend towards heavily scrappy quilts with a whole lot of different fabrics and, more often than not, a whole lot of shades and colors as well.  Even my minis tend toward that style for the most part.  So a quilt like this?  Definitely outside my box.  Which, actually, I rather enjoy.

How about you?  Do you enjoy lots of scrappy or something more restrained and controlled such as this?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pretty in Pink

My husband doesn’t ask me to make a quilt very often, so when he does – as long as it’s one I think I’m liable to finish in this lifetime – I say yes.  Which is how this latest project came home with me.  Last week we were in a quilt shop when he saw a lap quilt, stopped, and gazed yearningly. 

DB (for Dearly Beloved): I really like that.

Me:  You do?

DB:  Oh, yeah.  I really like the colors.

Me (clearing throat):  But, honey, it’s got pink in it.

DB:  I know.

Me: You don’t like pink.

DB:  I like it in this.  I think it would look good in our living room.

Me (clearing throat) (again): Our living room walls are orange.

DB:  It will blend.  I really like the way the colors go together in this.

Okay, then.  One pink quilt coming up. 

The fabrics really are lovely together, aren’t they?  (There are times a kit makes life so much easier).

One of the things I love about having been married for so long is how my own true love can still surprise me.  A pink quilt.  Who knew?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

More Fun – Trivets and Bookmarks

So, what exactly is the difference between a trivet and a hot pad?  My husband asked and I don’t know.  Are these trivets or hot pads?  Inquiring minds want to know.

In either case, these were a bit of a learning process.  I made the two circles and decided they weren’t quite interesting enough with just the monochromatic thing going: I cut them up and interchanged circles.  Seemed like a good idea at the time, only I hadn’t added the decorative stitching yet.  (Oops, the First).  Fused them onto another piece of batiste and then stitched.  Then did the satin stitching on the center circles.  Hmmm.  Wishing I had chosen another color thread, but not awful, so moving on.

I wanted to add a layer of Insul-Brite to these and that meant I couldn’t manage quite as simple a Fast2Fuse iron and hold.  Got a little off in my stacking and needed to trim which is why the bottom one pictured looks like it’s about to get a flat.  (Oops, the Second).

So, what I learned: it’s best to layer them all and then stitch just inside the outer edge of the top layer, then trim the under layers (bottom fabric, Fast2Fuse, Insul-Brite) to match – which is why the shape on the top one is better.

In either case, these are very pretty, but I’m not in love.  What I would do differently: I don’t think I’d do those cut out circles that then need to be satin-stitched together.  Instead, I’d see what would happen if I just use the fabric snippets to create a design.  Since I had a bunch of little pieces left over after making the trivets (and/or hot pads – inquiring minds, remember), I went ahead and made another set of bookmarks. 

I used the snippets to create a wave of color and I really, really love how these came out.  I wish the color in the photo was better (I really did try) because, even though it isn’t at all modest of me, I’m just going to say – these are really gorgeous up close and personal.

Meanwhile, I really need to get a life and do some other things.  But these have been so much fun, and I keep getting ideas for other applications.  So right now I’m thinking that this might be a cool technique to try with Pink Penguin’s basket pattern (the one that I have a Miniatures in Minutes version of on my projects page).  And after all, Christmas is coming up.  I already have plans that require creating more bookmarks. 

And, for anyone that’s just joining in, I have tutorials on making the bookmarks and a set of coasters in previous blog entries.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fun and Easy Coasters – A Tutorial

I really love how the bookmarks came out that I made just a couple days ago, and it occurred to me that I could use the same technique to make coasters.  So, here it is (the pattern makes up six at a time):


  • 16 different fabrics: 3" by 4 1/2"
  • Backing fabric: 8 1/2" by 12 1/4"
  • Light weight fabric cut 8 1/2" by 12 1/4" (I used batiste, but a lightweight muslin would also work)
  • Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite: 16 pieces cut 3" by 4 1/2"
  • Fast2Fuse (a stiff double-sided fusible interfacing: 8 1/4" by 12"
  • Decorative thread


  1. Fuse the Steam-a-Seam onto the backs of the sixteen fabric rectangles.
  2. Peel off the paper and slice the rectangle into little pieces. (Tip: I used my rotary cutter and did them one by one with the fusible side up).
  3. When you have a pile of little pieces, begin to randomly position them, fusible side facing down, on the lightweight 8 1/2"  by 12 1/4"  fabric.
  4. Keep going until the entire underlying fabric is covered. Tip: Hold it up in front of a light source to find "holes" you may have missed.
  5. Press.
  6. Using a decorative thread, stitch the fused pieces down using random swirling stitch lines.
  7. Iron both the fused section and the backing fabric onto the Fast2Fuse. (It's okay if the front and back fabrics slightly overlap the interfacing).
  8. Trim to 7 1/2" by 11 1/4".
  9. Slice in half to create two 3 3/4” by 11 1/4” rectangles.
  10. Cut three 3 3/4” squares from each of the rectangles.
  11. I use a quarter to slightly round off the corners.
  12. Satin stitch the edges.  (Tip: Using an overlock foot – a #2 for my Bernina 1530 – creates a nice, clean edge).

And that’s it!  All done!  I’m afraid I had a terrible time with color in these photos (the actual colors are yellow, orange, and a deep pink/fuchsia – no purple), and I have to say, they look much cooler in person.

Meanwhile, I’m loving the effect I’m getting with this technique – and Christmas is coming up.  I think my next take using this technique will be to make a trivet.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fun and Easy Bookmarks – Tutorial

I always have books piled everywhere and, well, you can never have too many bookmarks!  I made these up using scraps and I see a lot more in my future: they’ll make great stocking stuffers.

Fabric Bookmarks


  • 16 different fabrics: 3" by 4 1/2"
  • Backing fabric: 9" by 11"
  • Light weight fabric cut 9" by 11" (I used batiste, but a lightweight muslin would also work)
  • Steam-a-Seam Lite 2: 16 pieces cut 3" by 4 1/2"
  • Fast2Fuse (a stiff double-sided fusible interfacing): 8 3/4" by 10 3/4"
  • Ribbon
  • Dritz Fray Check
  • Decorative thread

1. Lightly press to fuse the Steam-a-Seam onto the backs of the sixteen fabric rectangles

2. Peel off the paper and slice the rectangle into little pieces. (Tip: I used my rotary cutter and sliced them one by one with the fusible side up). 

3. When you have a pile of little pieces, begin to randomly position them, fusible side facing down, on the lightweight 9" by 11" fabric.

4. Keep going until the entire underlying fabric is covered. (Tip: Hold it up in front of a light source to find "holes" you may have missed).

5. Press to set all the little pieces in place.

6. Using a decorative thread, stitch the fused pieces down using random swirling stitch lines.

7. Iron both the fused section and the backing fabric onto the Fast2Fuse. (The front and back fabrics will slightly overlap the interfacing).

8. Trim to 8" by 10".

9. Cut to create 5 bookmarks, each 2" by 8".

10. Create ribbon holders for the bookmarks. I cut my ribbons between 17 and 20 inches each. Slice the ends on the diagonal and apply a little Fray Check to keep the ribbon ends from unraveling.

11. Peel a little of the backing fabric away from the Fast2Fuse. Fold the ribbon in half and place inside the opening. Press to close again. (Tip: If the fabric resists peeling away, you can also open up the Fast2Fuse itself).

12. Satin stitch the edges. You can leave the edges squared off or, what I prefer, slightly round them since that makes it easier to turn the corners. (Tip: Using an Overlock foot – a  #2 on my 1530 Bernina – helps create a smooth edge).

And that’s it!  Time to make up a cup of tea and settle in for a good read . . .

Sunday, October 4, 2009

iPod Case Tutorial

When I couldn’t find an iPod case that gave me what I wanted, I decided to come up with my own.  I wanted to be able to attach it to a purse or belt, wanted to be able to access the controls, and wanted a neat way to stash the ear buds when they weren’t in use.  Here’s what I came up with, an easy pattern that is a good way to use up fabric scraps. 

This pattern is also available to download as a PDF from the projects page of my website.

A word about sizing: This pattern fits a 30g Classic iPod.  You may need to adjust sizes if your iPod is a 60g (which is deeper) or another version.  If you change the dimensions, sewing up a muslin mockup to check out your changes would be a good idea.

Here it is from the front:

From the back with the cord wrapped:

And from the top:

Cutting Directions

Outer fabric:

1 piece 3 1/2" by 4 3/4" (back)

1 piece 3 1/2" by 8 3/4" (front)

Lining fabric:

2 pieces cut the same as above

Tab for D ring:

1 piece 2" by 4"


1 piece 4" by 13"

Fast 2 Fuse (a stiff, double-sided fusible interfacing):

2 pieces cut to the same specifications as the outer and lining fabrics

Other Supplies:

1" D ring

Swivel hook

template plastic (4" by 5 1/2")

clear plastic for protection (optional)

Permanent markers for drawing on template

Decorative thread

Create Tab and Strap

  1. Fold strap in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press.  Fold tab in half so that it measures 2" by 2".  Press.
  2. Open up.  Fold the halves into the middle and press.
  3. Fold in half and topstitch along each side.
  4. Loop the flap through the D ring.  Stitch along edge to hold closed.
  5. Loop the end of the flap through the swivel hook.  Fold under the the raw edge and stitch an X inside a box to close.  (Note: the other end of the strap will be attached to the D ring after assembling the body of the iPod case).

Create an iPod template

  1. Draw a rectangle 3 1/2" by 4 3/4" on the template plastic.
  2. Draw a second line 1/2" from the bottom and both sides.  (I used a dashed line for clarity).
  3. Lay the template over your iPod.  (The inner lines should match up with the edges of the iPod).  Trace the rectangular window and circular control button onto the template.
  4. Cut out the rectangle and the circle.  (Tip: to make this easier, I sliced a small X in the center of each with my rotary cutter to create easy access for my scissors).

Create the Case Sections

  1. Fuse the outer and lining fabrics to the front and back of the  Fast2Fuse. 
  2. Line up the template at the bottom of the front piece (3 1/2" by 8 3/4").  The outer lines of the template line up with the edges.
  3. Trace the template shapes and cut out the shapes.  (Once again, using the rotary cutter to cut an X in the center of each shape made it easier to maneuver the scissors).  Be sure to lay your piece over your iPod and check to see if you need to enlarge the cut outs.
  4. Set your ruler 4 3/4" up from the bottom of the front piece.  Draw a line 1 3/8" in from the left side and another line 1 1/8" in from the right.  Then, extend these lines straight up to the top.
  5. Round off the top edge.  I used a quarter.
  6. Lightly round off the two inner corners.
  7. Cut out the side pieces.
  8. Attach a 3/4" square of Velcro to the top edge on the lining side.
  9. For the back piece, attach a 3/4" square of Velcro to the outer side with the top left corner of the Velcro 1 1/4" from the left and 2" down from the top.
  10. Satin stitch the cut outs and the top edge of both the front and back pieces.  Tip: using an Overlock foot (a #2 on my 1530 Bernina) helps create a smooth edge. 
  11. Attach the  D ring to the back piece on the lining side.  Place it 1" down from the top left edge and overlap a scant 1/4".

Final Steps

  1. Line up the front and back pieces, lining sides together.  Sew together, using a quarter-inch seam, along the sides and bottom.  Slip your iPod inside.  It should be a snug fit with the windows over the appropriate controls. If it is loose or misplaced, resew the side seams to adjust.
  2. Lightly trim the bottom edges to create a slight curve.  Satin stitch the raw edges (sides and bottom).
  3. Loop the remaining strap end through the D ring.  Once again, fold over and stitch an X in a box to secure.
  4. If you want, you can cut a piece of clear plastic to slide in the front of the iPod case to protect the controls.