Monthly Archives: August 2015

Fabri-Quilt New Block Bloghop

As part of the New Bloggers Bloghop that I have been participating in this summer, we are each to design a quilt block using selected fabrics given to us by Fabri-Quilt. We each received fat-eighths of these luscious pieces.

IMG_20150803_3649Our task was to come up with a fun block that finished out at 12 & 1/2″. We were also to develop a tutorial in case anyone would like to make the block. Today is the first day of the hop and there is a great list of quilters that will blog about their block today. The hop continues for another three days (through Thursday) which means loads of block ideas. This week is a huge opportunity to pin upwards of 60 tutorials for fresh, new quilt blocks. Think of the sampler that could be made from this hop! I am so looking forward to seeing what my hive mates came up with. After making our blocks, we sent them to Stephanie at LateNightQuilter. One of the leaders of the New Blogger Bloghop, Stephanie is organizing the construction of several charity quilts from our blocks. These quilts will be gorgeous and will go to a few lucky recipients.

On to my block! I posted earlier that I had been playing with several ideas for a block. I made a modified plus block but didn’t like it in the 12 1/2″ size. It was too “chunky” looking to me.  Then I played with a herringbone block. It was ok but not great. Finally, when I was working on my blocks for my row quilt, I took a stack of HST’s and kept laying them out in different patterns. This is the one I liked most. There are unlimited ways that HST’s can be assembled which is what makes them so much fun to work with.

Creating this block is so simple. Here you go!

Cutting List:

  • (4) 3 & 1/2″ squares of background fabric
  • (4) 4 & 3/8″ squares of background fabric
  • (6) 4 & 3/8″ squares of middle fabric
  • (2) 4 & 3/8″ squares of the center fabric



Start by creating the HST’s. Just in case you are new to quilting, HST is the acronym for a half-square triangle. There are many ways to create a half-square triangle. My favorite way is this:

Place one piece each of the background fabric and the feature fabric right sides together. Place  your 1/4″ seam marker, on the diagonal, corner to corner,  and trace a line along each edge.


This quarter inch seam marker is 1/2″ wide and give you two lines to trace, which you will then use to stitch a seam. (If you don’t have one of these handy little tools, they are very inexpensive. Here is a link.)


Once you have both seams stitched, slice it in half, right down the center of those seams.


This gives you two HST’s. Press them open. (Pressing open or to the side is a matter of personal preference. I usually press open.)


The block will need to be squared up (trimmed to size).  Using a square ruler, trim the block to a finish of 3 & 1/2″.


Repeat this process with each of the half square triangles, giving you 12 HST’s that measure 3 & 1/2″ each. Look at the colors in that stack of trimmings, so pretty!


At this point you can lay your squares out in rows of four.


Assemble the rows and stitch each of the squares together.


Then stitch the rows together.


Ta Da!! Isn’t this the cutest? Double Diamonds!

Think of all of the inspiration to be had with all of these new ideas over the next few days. Be sure to pop in and take a peek. Pin as many as you like for future reference. I plan to! I have a board on Pinterest for quilt block inspiration. Feel free to follow it if you like. Today my blog hop partners are the following:

Host – Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl
Kelly @Quilting it Out
Martha @Once a Wingnut
Irene @Patchwork and Pastry
Cassandra @The (not so) Dramatic Life
Andrea @The Sewing Fools
Silvia @A Stranger View
Wanda @Wanda’s Life Sampler
Sandra @Musings of a Menopausal Melon
Vicki @Orchid Owl Quilts
Jess @Quilty Habit
Diana @Red Delicious Life
Chelsea @Patch the Giraffe
Margo @Shadow Lane Quilts
Renee @Quilts of a Feather

In addition to all of these tutorial posts, there will be several giveways this week for a set of 1/2 yard cuts of the fabrics we used. To enter the giveaway, go visit Quilting Jetgirl. While the colors in this set are lovely, they are very bold and saturated. Were you to win this set, I strongly advise that you prewash with like colors (e.g not red and white together!) and dry them. That way any possible color bleeding or fabric shrinkage will happen before you cut and sew!



A Vintage Finish

Looks like I made it, and with a few days to spare! My ALYOF goal for August was to quilt and bind my vintage double nine patch quilt. Yahoo for setting goals.


I had asked readers to suggest ideas for quilting the vintage quilt and was happy to receive tons of suggestions. Thanks so much for the ideas. I decided to quilt a basic cross-hatch over the main nine-patch blocks. Then I wanted to do something different with each of the three borders. My original thought was to do different cable patterns so I bought a couple of cable stencils.

Alas, it wasn’t entirely successful. I started by doing a basic, single cable on the middle (narrowest) border. I had great help with tracing the stencil. Ian was home for the weekend and kindly traced for me.


Try as I might, I couldn’t relax and just stitch. I wanted to use my walking foot, maybe that was the mistake? The stitching isn’t fluid and I am less than pleased with it. Hoping that a run through the wash (in my NEW washing machine) will make the jitters a bit less obvious.


Because of the issues with the single cable, I lost interest in doing a more complex cable pattern so I put the stencils away in the deepest recesses of my desk drawer. I don’t plan on looking at them for quite some time. Instead, I played with some motifs that Lori Kennedy has posted over at The Inbox Jaunt. I chose her Modern Leaf pattern (which I posted about earlier this week.) Because I am susceptible to this sort of nonsense, I wondered if I should use a motif with the word “Modern” in it when I was really trying to go for a vintage look. Jeez… I need to get over myself already. It worked out fine and was very fun to quilt. Because I did the quilting with cream colored Mettler thread, it is hard to see in the pictures. But I am much happier with it than the single cable. (I love the fabric with those little pins. Really cute.)


For the final, outside border I did basic straight-line quilting which I just eyeballed using the side of the walking foot. Simple and clean. I backed it with a blue print and as you can see, I used one of the cream background fabrics as the binding.


One small concern that came to mind is that I have a six inch gap between stitching lines on the cross-hatch. The batting said I could space the quilting with as much as an eight inch gap. However this is likely the widest I have gone and it seems sketchy to me.  Any input on that? I could still add lines to the body of the quilt if need be. If I split the difference between the existing lines, I would have a three inch gap. Thanks for any ideas you might have.


Overall, I am happy with the finish. This is a more traditional quilt than I normally make but I enjoyed it. My next project is more modern and uses Kaffe Fassett yardage and jelly roll. I am chomping at the bit to get started on it so stay tuned.

Linking to my favorites:  Let’s Bee Social, Finish it up Friday, and Sew Bittersweet Designs.  Take a peek at these sites – there is a lot of great work out there!


I am sitting here waiting for the delivery of my new washing machine.If you could have heard the noise made during the final spin cycle, you would have no trouble imagining my anticipation for this wonderful event. It sounded like jets were leaving the runway. The floor shook as the machine rumbled. The sound grew louder with each load of wash. I called to see about having this fixed, assuming that they could just replace the bad bearing or whatever was failing. But the service technician asked how old the washing machine was (ten years old) and told me that it wasn’t worth fixing it. The average lifespan of a washer is about ten years these days. Planned obsolescence – don’t even get me started. Remembering back, I am fairly certain my mom had one washer for the duration of my childhood.

While shopping for a new machine, I asked the salesperson if there was a washer that would hold up for longer than the estimated ten years. He said, sure – this one over here will last 15 or so. Of course it was expensive enough that I could just buy another one in ten years and still spend the same amount. Irritating. So, I am just waiting for the delivery guys to show up and heave that beast up the two flights of stairs on my deck and install it. I have a pile of laundry waiting right here with me. Exciting times, right?

Over the weekend (since I wasn’t doing laundry) I practiced my FMQ. I wanted a larger fabric sandwich to practice on as I was doing a leafy border motif and wanted to figure out how to turn the corner. For me, it is really a challenge to plan the motif and be at the right point in the design to make that turn. I cannot visualize things like that in my head, yet I prefer to quilt without tracing a design. When I stitch over a tracing of a design, my stitches wobble. Don’t ask me why. If I had to make a supposition, it would be that my mind becomes focused on that dang traced line. Without the line, my stitches flow much better. This corner isn’t great. I don’t like that harsh right angle on the vine. But the leaves worked out ok.

IMG_20150822_3694I do like the motif. I found this Modern Leaf tutorial via Lori Kennedy’s incredible website, The Inbox Jaunt. I have mentioned her before, but really, if you are working on your FMQ skills, I cannot recommend her enough. Her site offers tons of tutorials and many, many different motifs. It is definitely worth taking a peek at all she has to offer.

Lori is a huge proponent of doodling and drawing the motif before actually stitching it. I did several pages of practice drawings. (Drawing is not my forte, not in the slightest.) However, the practice of making those hand motions using pencil and paper definitely transfers to an increased muscle memory of that pattern. It helps!


When I was putting the fabric sandwich together, I didn’t want to waste a large scrap of batting. I have a whole drawer full of many straggly lengths (often from trimming the edges off of a project after quilting it).  I have taken to stitching these pieces together (frankenbatting style). Have you tried this? I have never had any issue with it. Mainly I do it for smaller projects, but I have read posts from many quilters who have done it to gain larger sizes as well.

IMG_20150822_3693I use a fairly wide zig zag stitch with only a hint of overlap of the two lengths of batting. To avoid a lump along that line of stitching, it is best to just hold the two lengths as close together as possible without much of an overlap.  This is a great way to use up those piles of batting scraps.

Today I plan to finish up the quilting on the vintage double nine patch. I have one border left and I will use this leaf motif. My binding strips are ready to go. Looks like I will have a finish this week!!

How about you? Working on anything fun this week??  Ever pieced your batting scraps? Do tell. 🙂

Linking to Freemotion by the River, Sew Cute Tuesday, Freemotion Mavericks, and Confessions of a Fabric Addict (who by the way is having a giveaway to celebrate her 1,000,000 VIEW!!  That is worthy of celebrating!! The giveaway is open until Thursday of this week.)


Playing with Fabric this Week

We are almost to the weekend! Lots of sewing this week but not a lot of pictures to share.  I had three custom orders on Etsy which are always fun. I like when a customer just wants a certain color or size. It is easy to make what they want and they get just the right thing.

I did squeeze in a bit of selfish sewing time though. The red fabric that I posted about earlier this week was calling to me in the worst way. After a bit of thinking, I decided to make a tablecloth with it. The colors are perfect for my dining room. See what you think.


The print on this piece is so bold and has great detail so I really hesitated cutting it up. Using it as a tablecloth is the perfect way to show off this fabric. However, the fabric was only 46″ wide which wasn’t nearly wide enough. Because there is a gorgeous green and gold border on the fabric, and because I had six yards of fabric, I decided to double up on the border to gain the width.


First I cut the length of fabric in half. Following that, I cut the border off of both sides of one of the lengths. I included about five inches of the red when I cut the border. It took no time to sew each of those borders to the length of the fabric, giving me the length you see above. Then I only had to hem under all of the edges.

The only issue I had was that in my excitement to make the tablecloth, I didn’t prewash the fabric. I know, I know… silly mistake. Once it was all done, I threw it in the wash. Luckily, I didn’t put it in the dryer. Even on a cold water cycle, it shrunk a fair amount. If I had washed it first, I would have left a larger border on each side. It fits the table reasonably but it would be perfect were there two more inches hanging on either side. Ah, what can you do? It still looks lovely.



Best part of this is that I still have three yards of the center of the fabric, right? This huge piece that I sliced the borders from is sitting in the sewing room, begging me to make something with it! Life is good.  🙂

Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts, Let’s Bee Social, and TGIFF.  Links to all of these are located at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

The Kindness of Others

This week I had one of those moments that reminds you that there are so many nice people in the world. Here you go.

You might remember that last December I did a custom order for a woman from New York. (Story posted here.) This was my first custom order and it was really fun to work with this particular customer. She was so friendly within the confines of our email conversations about her order.  For the first time, I used a wax print, Ankara fabric to make her Chemex cozy. We chatted a bit and I told her how much I liked this gorgeous fabric. She told me she buys wax prints at an open market in New York.

Time passed. (Lots of time, seven months!) Last month, she emailed me and said she would be going to the marketplace soon and would I like her to pick up some fabric for me. It is really a good price there. I had looked on-line to buy some and wasn’t thrilled with the pricing. I have to be fairly careful with what I spend on fabric for my Etsy shop or my already meager profits become even less.  All about the profit margin, right.  😉  I jumped at her offer.

When she got to the shop, she texted me pictures of about seven or eight pieces she thought I might like. Jamie explained I would have to buy them in three yard pieces as they are pre-cut to this length. It was a tough choice but I settled on two. It was amazingly easy to be texting with this virtual friend and picking fabrics out based on a few quick iPhone photos.

As I wrote her a check and popped it in the mail it came to me that some might consider this a bit of a risk. I didn’t have any hesitation about sending the money. I knew the fabric would show up. It appeared that she didn’t have any hesitation purchasing the fabric for me and she even mailed it prior to receiving any sort of payment from me.

I received the fabric a few days ago. It is so gorgeous. Made by Vlisco, these wax prints are manufactured both in Holland and in Ghana. The company was founded in 1846 and has served a vast African market over the years. Their process reportedly consists of twenty-seven steps to achieve these prints and is a highly guarded secret. Because many textile companies attempt to create counterfeit Vlisco fabric, they are quite bold with printing their name along the selvedge and putting these (nearly impossible to remove) adhesive labels on the fabric.


If you look closely at the label, you might notice that this piece was actually six yards, not three.  Both pieces are huge, six yards each. Jamie was mistaken when she told me she was sending three yards of each. At $20 per piece, this was a steal.


This blue and purple piece has more of an African look to the pattern. It is really bold. I chose it because I want to utilize the curve of those spirals when I cut the curve of the Chemex covers. But now that I have six yards of it, I need to think of another project to use some of it!  The fabric is 48″ wide. Lots of fabric here.


This red piece is my favorite. I love the birds. Do they look like a peacock? I think so but I’m not sure. It has a green border running the length of the piece. It is just gorgeous. I have several ideas for projects to use this piece for so I need to make some decisions.


What most impressed me was that this was just an act of kindness. She had no compelling reason to do this, other than to be a nice person.  Yep, there are so many really kind people out there and she is certainly one of them.

Linking to this week’s Sunday Stash.


Gorgeous Grays

Yikes. I think it has been a week since I wrote a post. My routine got all turned around and all of a sudden a week passed by. (Were you sitting and waiting anxiously for another amazing read on Needle and Foot? My apologies for the wait!)

As things often do, one project led right into another. I have been making blocks for the eighth row of the Classic Stitches BOM (led by Mari over at Academic Quilter). The color for this month is either indigo blue or gray. I went with gray. We have already done two rows in shades of blue and I didn’t want to add a third. I am loving this gray row. For August, Mari wrote a tutorial for a quick block called “True Blue”. She explained that it was a block which dated back to the Civil War years (on the Union side, hence the name True Blue.) It is a really simple block utlizing four patch squares and HST’s. I chose to make the blocks in the 7 1/2″ size. This is the second row of 7 1/2″ blocks for the quilt, the rest are 6″ blocks.

I don’t know how everyone else does it but I am sort of ADD when I am making blocks. I cut for a while, piece a whole block, cut some more, piece a few more. It is really inefficient and makes me crazy. I end up cutting more than I need of one fabric and not enough of another. (I know, It is so silly. I highly doubt that my methodology is taught in any of the billions of quilting books out there, due to the inefficiency of it.) I vowed to make a change with this project! For these eight blocks, I cut the pieces for all of the blocks, stacking them in nice orderly piles. Then I made the four patch blocks. (I used strip piecing, sewing long strips and sub-cutting them into pairs, which were then joined into four patch blocks.) Next came the HST’s. Doing it in this amazingly organized manner, I had my HST’s all prepared. It was so much better – the best part of piecing is putting the actual block together, right? Once all of the tedium was done, those blocks went together in  a snap. It was much better than my usual “a little of this, a little of that” method.

Plus, when I had that stack of HST’s, I started playing with them. I spent some time laying them out in different patterns, which is pretty fun with HST’s. (It’s kind of like playing with Tangrams.) I found a design that I really liked and decided that is what I would use for my New Blogger Block Hop project. (Remember, I posted last week about having to make a block with a tutorial for the project sponsored by Fabri-Quilt?) This made me so happy. I have been playing with fabric and mocking up blocks (a version of a Herringbone block and a version of a Plus block, neither of which I liked.) Seeing this simple little pattern (which, as far as I know, isn’t some really common pattern?) was the perfect inspiration.

Back to the row of True Blue blocks. Take a look. Here they are before sewing them into the row. I enjoy playing with them and getting an idea of how the blocks would look as a quilt of their own. These blocks are fairly busy. I don’t think I would do a whole quilt with only these. It makes my eyes go a little crazy. 😉



And now a row of True Blue blocks (that are gray instead of blue!)  The pasture behind the blocks is looking a might dry, right?


I hung a few of the other rows with this newest member of the family. They all look great together.




It is amazing that eight rows of this project are complete. Summer is ending, fall is on its way.  This is very apparent in our garden these days. The squirrels are making a huge mess each day, eating the pinecones and dropping the pieces all over the deck. The apples on our tree are growing and it looks like, for the first time, we will have apples. The tree is about three or four years old and hasn’t really produced any apples yet. These look great though.


I have mentioned before that we didn’t put in a vegetable garden this year due to the drought in California. We had a volunteer plant come up though and Ray couldn’t resist watering it just a little. We were very negligent and only gave it a drink every now and then. The foilage looked like squash and it was in a bin where we had spaghetti squash last year. We figured that was what it would be. What a surprise to see these growing on it.


In the next bin over, we had planted decorative gourds last year. They were so much fun and we had tons of them. Apparently there was some cross-pollination going on and we now have a plant bearing some weird combination of spaghetti squash and decorative gourd. They are hard, bumpy and dry, like a gourd, They have that cool coloring of a gourd, but the shape and larger size of the spaghetti squash.  We had so much fun trying to figure out what they would be. (Doesn’t take much to amuse us.) I am fairly sure they are not edible but they look pretty.

IMG_20150810_3670Finally, I leave you with this gorgeous picture of our front lawn in all of its droughty glory. (I know… I made that word up.) It is criminal to waste water on growing green grass so we are only giving it enough that it doesn’t totally die on us. This is the year though, right? Rain all winter long. (Please?)


Linking to a new linky party over at What a Hoot as well as Freemotion by the River, Let’s Bee Social, and Crazy Mom Quilts. Links to the last three sites are available at the top of the page, under Link Ups.


August, really?

August is here. That’s crazy. Summer is buzzing by and we are trying to cram as much as possible into these last few weeks.

With the new month, I am looking at what I want to create and complete for August. The list is long, maybe too long?

The main goal is to finish the vintage nine patch quilt. I have the quilt top and backing ready to go. I ordered batting on-line because I don’t feel like the 75 miles (round trip) to Jo-Anns. I won’t buy batting at the local store, it’s too expensive. Anyway, it should be here this week and then I can get the quilt pin basted and start quilting it. That is the goal I am submitting for August for ALYOF.

I also have a project that came my way via the New Quilt Bloggers Bloghop. Fabri-Quilt has sponsored an activity for the group. We are each to work with a set of solids and create a block that is of our own design.

IMG_20150803_3649These are the fat eighths that I received this week. I have been cutting and sewing mock ups and so far don’t have exactly what I want. It needs to be original. What exactly does that mean? I can’t really think of a block that hasn’t been used in some way by someone else. Truly, there are only so many ways I can visualize HST’s, squares, triangles and rectangles. So, I am trying to take a regular block and put my own spin on it. That is about as original as my brain gets.  At any rate, this is certainly forcing me to work beyond my comfort zone. In addition to making the block, we will all be writing tutorials for the blocks. That part will be fun and I am really curious to see everyone’s block tutorials. Could be a fun project to make a selection of the blocks and come up with a sampler quilt or wall hanging. Stay tuned for more on this.

IMG_20150803_3646Next on the list, as always, is my RSC15 row quilt.  Last month I veered from the Classic Stitches block but this month I plan to go back to Mari’s monthly block. She wrote up an easy block for this month and the color is indigo, black or gray. I need to look at the quilt so far and choose either indigo or gray, either of which I have plenty of scraps to choose from.

Lastly, if I get around to it, I am going to start making two twin quilts for the beds up at Downieville.  Ray saw me looking at comforters on-line and raised those eyebrows of his – like, really? You are always looking for a reason to sew and you want to buy two comforters?  I shook my head and came back to reality. I painted the room a pale sage green. There are cute curtains (that I thrifted) with a floral pattern of green and violet on a tan background. (Sorry, I don’t have a picture for some reason.) I was at the store last week and they had  a deal where if you bought the end of the bolt, it was 40% off. The tan bolt (I think it was a Bella Solid) was perfect so I bought the remaining six yards. Then I bought a piece of violet and a print.

IMG_20150804_3653It is a good starting point. I don’t know exactly the design yet, but I do know I want it to be big, oversized blocks. I started a board on Pinterest for inspiration. I think with big chunky blocks, both quilts will come together reasonably fast. My hope for this month is to settle on a design and get the pieces cut.

The bedroom will look much better with normal bedding. Right now there is a hodge-podge of linens that I had stashed away. Not exactly pretty. I really love this little hummingbird print. It is called “Windsor Woods”.

IMG_20150804_3654Somewhere in all of this, I need to start working on Etsy items. The holiday season will be here soon. I hope to have plenty of items posted by fall. Last year I was new to the game (actually, I still am!)  I didn’t have enough items listed and sold out quickly. Hope to boost the quantity this year.

Lots of the list. I better get to work!

Linking to Sew Cute Tuesday, Freemotion by the River and Let’s Bee Social. Links to all of these sites are available at the top of the page, under Link Ups.