Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bits and Pieces

School has begun: quizzes are in; reading responses are piling up; class preparation is chewing up time as it always does.  Which means, only a little to show.  Still, having less time to sew just makes the time I do spend sewing all the more precious.  (I tell myself).  First, finally getting to week three of the Barbara Brackman Civil War Sampler.

Okay.  I admit.  This week was supposed to be Seven Sisters, as in seven appliqued five pointed stars.  I’ve probably admitted several dozen times here that I am not a hand sewer.  Fusible applique is a good buddy of mine, but I thought I would stick to traditional(ish) methods on this one (because if I paper-piece, it’s just our little secret).  Anyway, I did give the applique a wee start . . . a tentative “let’s see how bad this is gonna be” kind of start.  Yes.  Well.  It was awful.  I may do some applique for this quilt but starting out with a great heaping pile of sharp points?   

I woosed.  I caved.  I made a single sister (see above).  I’m thinking she’s the lazy sister; she’s the one hanging out on the fainting couch reading a romance novel.  The other six sisters, dutiful, hard-workers that they are, are in the kitchen.  That’s why you can’t see them.  Which is just fine.  It’s fun hanging out with the lazy sister in the living room – we’ve broken into the merlot. 

The fourth block was another challenge.  Not impossible but this required some careful sewing.  I love how it came out though.  I like how this quilt is such a great excuse to go rifling through my reproduction stash.  That purple print that forms the T’s goes way back.  It’s one of RJR’s Rising Sun Smithsonian fabrics.  Pretty pretty. 

And, last, a spider web block for a block swap.  We got the center butterfly fabrics and some of the strippies.  We were asked to fill in with some other bits of fabric from our own stash.

I’ve been having fun with the spider web block.  I’ve been playing in EQ designing a miniature paper-pieced variation.  Once I catch up on grading (that’s actually a joke – I won’t catch up on grading until it’s May and the end of the semester . . . ), I’ll have a mini to show, I think. 

I’ve also been maintaining my intention to keep working on the circles quilt.  I’ve got the center section pieced together.  Now I just need to get the borders added.  Pictures coming soon.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Terrie Takes Flight

That’s the name my swap partner gave to this incredibly darling little quilt.

I really, really wish I knew how to get a better picture of this.  It is so PERFECT!  The fabric for the cows and the chickens.  The tree fabric and then the shadows as well.  Here’s a close up of the bi-plane.

The propellers are three-D and have the cutest little black button.  I don’t know if you can see the yellow scarf but it has a “T” at the end of it. 

There are really no words for how much I love this little guy.  For one, I love bi-planes.  They are just so beautiful and elegant.  (I love the movie High Road to China, and I think all the beautiful shots of the planes in the air has a lot to do with it.  Well, okay, Tom Selleck has something to do with it, too.) 

And, along with the “Flight” theme for this swap, she included fabric with images of things that fly and the two cutest pins to bling up my pincushion.  How cute are these guys? 

You know, I always appreciate the quilts that I get in the swaps.  It’s so fun to have the diversity.  But some, I have to admit, are real stand-outs.  This is certainly one of them. 

I love it!!

Meanwhile, I am making progress on my little “Flight” swap quilt but I can’t show pictures yet.  I can show the progress I’m making on the circle quilt.

The blocks are ready to sew together.

The semester started this week.  That means – so sad to say – that the sewing fun is definitely going to slow down.  Drastically.  Still, there are rituals to be observed, and one of them is that I start a new semester with a clean office.  It doesn’t stay that way long.  In fact, my office already no longer looks this good, and I only took the photo two days ago!  But there it is.  For one brief shining moment, clean surfaces, clean floor, dusted. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011


It’s always so much fun starting a project.  I have to admit it’s a bit addictive – which certainly explains why I have so many quilts in process.  I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say it’s my goal this year not to do that (because that’s just asking for trouble), but I am trying to keep in mind that finishing a big project is also very rewarding!

I’m hoping that means I’m going to just keep right on going with this one.  Let’s call it an intention

No miniatures here.  These blocks will finish at 7 1/2" square.

That second block really allowed me to play the Gidget and Gadget game.  First, I cut out circles with the AccuQuilt.

I bought a yard of this stuff at a guild meeting quite some time ago, and now I really wish I knew what the name of the product is!  It’s a water soluble fiber, so it has nice stiffness at this stage of the game but will turn to mush and mostly just disappear once the quilt is washed.

I cut slightly larger circles using the Olfa Circle Cutter.  So easy!

Then I used glue stick on the dissolvable fiber and folded over the fabric edges.  After I pressed it nice and flat, I added the little dots of Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It which makes it easy to adhere to the block before stitching it down. 

My  own true love isn’t wild about the fabric choices but so far I really love them.  They are very glow-ey in person.

With any luck, I’ll have more to show tomorrow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Go! Round Flower Wall Hanging

It was so much fun playing with the Round Flower die for this one!  The shading in the photo is a little off.  The sun was behind the tree branches and I had shadows falling across the quilt.  Still, the general idea is here.

One of the things I vowed when I got the AccuQuilt is that I would justify the expense of it by putting it to work on my stash.  So, for this project, I just pulled out a bunch of taupes and started running them through the two inch die and the Round Flower die (with Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 already added to the fabric, of course).  Oh, and the 5 1/2" die, too, for the applique backgrounds.

My first project with all those little bits was the Pink Chalk Studio Mail Sack, which I love and use all the time.

[Mail Sack Round Flower 2[3].jpg]

I also made up the Round Flower Coasters (which you can see here). 

I knew I wanted a wall hanging, too.  Obviously, I could just make up the flower itself and I did make up some of those. 

But there were all these other pieces.  So, there’s the weave block.  For this one, I drew chalk lines through the middle of the block and then 1/2" in from all of the sides, letting those lines guide the placement of the circles.  Then I just wove the stems in around them.

[taupe round flower circle grid process[3].jpg]

And I just love the effect on this next one.  It reminds me of garden pinwheels.  For these blocks, I drew diagonal lines in an X across the block and additional markings 1/2" at the corners .  I placed the leaf tips at the corner marks. 

[taupe round flower spin[3].jpg]

There’s no way I would have either the skill or the patience to cut out so many little circles by hand, but given that the Go! took care of all that, they sure were fun to play with.

So, yes, this was a very fun wall hanging to put together.  Now I have to decide how to quilt it.  Not quite sure yet how to approach it.  Any ideas?

But, hey, speaking of quilting, look at this!

There it is.  Hand quilting on the Civil War Crossing mini quilt.  Not great quilting, mind you, but I’m impressed I’m doing it at all.

Speaking of what’s next (were we speaking of what’s next?), I’ve got these pieces lined up and ready to begin putting together tomorrow.  I love how the olive green and teal play against the white.  (I’m hoping I’ll still love it once the blocks are assembled).

And, yes, I did use the 2 inch die again for all those little squares.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Queensland Flood Relief Auction

Like everyone else, I’ve been reading about the flooding in Queensland and feeling so saddened by the terrible struggles the people there are facing. It is simply lovely that Toni from Make it Perfect is organizing a Queensland Flood Appeal Auction. She’s asked bloggers to put up products they’ve made for auction.


On Monday, she will have a master list up at her blog of people who are running auctions. The auction will run through January 24 to allow plenty of time for bidding. Each blog participating runs its own auction, so if you are interested in my auction, you will bid here.

Here’s how it works:

1. Bidding will start at $25.
2. You can place a bid by leaving a comment on this blog post with your bid amount and email address. Please make sure that your bid is higher than the previous bidder.
3. Your bid must be in whole dollar increments.
4. This auction is open to everyone. I will cover postage.
5. The auction begins NOW and will END at midnight on Monday 24th January 2011.
6. At the close of the auction, I will contact the winner (please make sure your bid comment includes your email address or that it is published in your profile so that I can contact you). The winner will pay the winning amount directly into the Premier's Flood Relief Appeal and send me proof of payment via email. Once proof of payment has been received, I will post your book and mini quilt.

I am auctioning a copy of my book, Miniatures in Minutes, along with a quilt from the book.

You can choose either of the two following quilts. Simply tell me which one you prefer.

The first option is “Mittens and Bows.” It measures 12 3/4" by 12 3/4".

Or, if you prefer a reproduction style, you could choose “Dargate Ribbons” (11" by 12 1/2").

Thank you for participating and happy bidding!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Civil War Crossing Patches Giveaway

The cutting method I used for making the Civil War Crossing quilt top (described in the first tutorial) gave me three sets of patches. One I used in the quilt below. Another I have reserved for making a matching quilt for a friend. The third is fair game.

If you are interested in having the leftover patches (shown here),

as well as the foundations to make up the twelve blocks (if you’re interested in trying this method),

just leave a comment below. If there is more than one person interested, I’ll do a drawing next Sunday night.

Yesterday I said I would take a picture of the larger quilt I made using this same pattern and colorway. Here it is. Why is it that as soon as you spread a quilt on the floor, the dog immediately comes up and lays on it? Every dog we’ve ever had responds to a quilt on the floor like it’s a magnet and they’re metal filings. Here’s Cooper being helpful.

Here it is sans dog.

This quilt has haunted me for years. Once I got the top made up I decided I didn’t really like that white sashing. I never had the heart to completely tear it out though. And I originally thought that I should hand quilt this (back when I felt more guilt in that direction) but just couldn’t bring myself to do it when I wasn’t really happy with the quilt as a whole. (That I have to say was a wise decision. Life it too short to spend that much time on a project simply out of guilt!)

Now? Well, I really liked finishing the Ascent quilt just in time for the new year. I’d like to finish more of my bigger projects that are taking up space in the closet and my conscience. I think I’m going to say, “Hey, it’s good enough!” and send it off to be quilted. Am I wrong?

I also finished the latest Barbara Brackman Civil War sampler block. Easy enough, a North Star. (Well, I’ve always called it a Sawtooth Star, but I have to say, North Star sounds nicer).

I’m really happy with this block. One, I really liked how I was able to showcase the very cool fabric in the center square. Two, even better, it measures 8 1/2" square. Exactly. (Ah!)

And, lest you think I’ve lost myself in the nineteenth century and don’t know how to find my way out, I worked on the taupe Round Flower wall quilt today as well. I’m mostly happy with where it is at the moment, though not entirely convinced. Tomorrow I’ll work on the borders and post some pictures. We’ll see.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Civil War Crossing Quilt Tutorial, Part Four

Putting the Quilt Together: The pieced section of this quilt (not counting the borders) measures 8" by 10 1/2".  The blocks are 2" finished.  The sashing is 1/2" finished.

Sashing cutting directions:

  • Cut sixteen 1" by 2 1/2" rectangles
  • Cut four 1" by 5 1/2" rectangles (for sashing cornerstones)
  • Cut three 2 1/2" by 5 1/2" rectangles

Sew the rectangles with the 5 1/2" measurement together in strips as shown.

Cut the pieced strips into five 1" widths.  (Sorry I forgot to take a picture here but you’ll see them laid out in just a couple steps).  Press the cornerstones (brown strips) towards the wider (white) fabric. 

Cut the border fabric:

  • Cut two 3" by 8 1/2" rectangles
  • Cut two 3" by 16" rectangles
  • Note that since I was using a directional fabric, I cut the strips so that the directions would remain consistent when added to the quilt.

Top Assembly:

1) Sew the 1" by 2 1/2" rectangles to the sides of the blocks creating strips.  Press the seams towards the sashing.  (Another forgotten photo that will be clear in the next step).

2) Layout the strips with the cornerstones.

3)  Join together.

4)  Add the top and bottom borders.

5)  Add the side borders.

Now, normally, I avoid hand work whenever possible, but I’m thinking I might try and get into the spirit of things and actually hand quilt this one.  No promises though.  I might hand quilt all of three inches, turnaround and say, “You know what?  Machine stitching is good enough!”

And I did just a little play in EQ with this pattern.  So, in red and white:

Civil War Crossing Red and White

Or a little bit of Amish:

Civil War Crossing Amish

And, of course, you can make more blocks and omit the sashing entirely:

Civil War Crossing Unsashed

This has always been one of my favorite blocks.  Very bold and dramatic and beautiful in either reproduction or contemporary fabrics.  I have a full size quilt top that is done up in the same colors.  I have my reservations about it though.  I’ll take a picture and post it tomorrow.  For now, I’m off for a glass of pinot noir.  Honestly, typing up these directions took way longer than I anticipated!  I’m a tuckered pup.

Civil War Crossing Quilt Tutorial, Part Three

Sewing the Block

First Off, Useful Tools:

1)  Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It. 

It allows you to place a very small dab of glue exactly where you want it.  This is a great accessory not only for making Miniatures in Minutes but for any number of times in the sewing room where “a little dab will do ya.”  (Sorry.  I couldn’t resist.  Though making that allusion indicates my age and, if you get it, probably indicates yours as well!)

2) Clover Mini-Iron.  This allows you to iron very precisely exactly where you need.  It helps save scorched finger tips and smeared printer ink!

3)  Freezer paper.  I always iron a square of freezer paper onto my ironing surface.  As you iron the foundation, ink can rub off.  Better it be onto easily removable freezer paper than your cloth ironing cover.

Sewing the Foundation: 

It is important to place the glue dots where indicated, most particularly if you are using printer paper.  Placing them as shown means that you will not need to wet the foundation later in order to remove the paper.

1)  Place the foundation printed side face down.  (If you are using printer paper, place it over a light source so that you can see through to the printed side markings).

Place glue dots as indicated.  I used blue dots to generally indicate where the glue goes.  Note that all of them are outside the dashed lines that indicate the outer edges of the seam allowances.  You should use very little tiny dots of glue – just enough to adhere the fabric to the paper.

2)  Place your first set of fabrics right side up.  Use the inner printed/dotted and red drawn seam allowance lines as your guide for placement.

3).  Place glue dots as indicated by the green dots.  (If you look carefully at the above photo you can see that I had already placed glue dots on it.  See how tiny they are?)

4)  Place the next set of patches face down (right sides together) over the first set.  (Sorry about the shift in block fabric). 

5) Flip over to the printed side of the foundation and sew down the seam line, top to bottom without stopping, sewing through the seam allowances.  (I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of this, but it’s an easy step).  Be sure to shorten your stitch length a little. 

Then, flip back over to the fabric side and once again add glue dots as indicated by the green dots. 

6).  Using your Clover Mini-Iron, iron the second set of patches open.  Then, once again, apply glue dots as indicated.  (TIP: The reason you drew that second seam allowance line is so that you know where the fabric placement should go.  If your fabric patches are either short of or past the red line, use the red line as your placement guide.)

7).  Reapeat the steps: Place the next set of patches, right sides together.  Flip over to the printed side of the foundation and sew the sew line.  Flip back over to the fabric side and place glue dots as indicated. 

8)  Iron open. 

9)  Now comes the magic part.  Fold one section over onto the next, fabric sides together.  Sew down the seam line.

To make life a little easier, sew out a little beyond the edge of the seam allowance. 

10)  Open and finger press.

11)  Repeat with the other open section.  See how sweetly all those seam intersections perfectly line up?

12)  Flip over to the paper side of the foundation.  Fold back one of the seams.  Place your ruler at the quarter-inch mark along the seam line and trim off the excess paper.  Repeat for the other seam.

13.  Now place your ruler at the edges of the block and trim off the excess paper and fabric, squaring off the block.  Be sure not to trim off the seam allowance!

14.  Remove the paper and press.  Sit back and admire how perfectly your block came out and how easy it was to accomplish.

That may all sound like a lot of steps, but once you understand the sequence, it goes very quickly.  Fast, easy, and accurate.  That’s why I love Fold and Sew. 

Make up a total of  twelve pretty little blocks.  (Well, actually, make up how ever many your heart desires).