Friday, February 28, 2014


One of the (many!) block of the month projects I've started this year is Pat Sloan's Globetrotting.  In January we made the center block which was to represent Washington, D.C.  In honor of that central block and our country . . . and because I don't have nearly enough red, white, and blue quilts . . . I thought I'd try a red, white, and blue color palette.  I posted a photo of that central block back in January.

For February, Pat Sloan's block was to represent Venice.  Here's my interpretation of the theme:

The darker blue represents the water that surrounds Venice, and the blue corner squares are the sky where it meets the water.  I thought I'd bring some golden brown into the palette, and that represents the stairs and walkways of the city.  The center red square represents the public squares and the Italian tiles.

Here are the first two blocks together.

The next world city block will be revealed on Saturday.  I wonder what Pat has planned for us next?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

For Those of You With Scraps . . .

Have you seen Pat Sloan's Scrap Happy Sew Along?  She has some fantastic-looking shoo-fly blocks she's making this month from scraps.  Here's a photo to entice you:

I love the way she's used a mix of black and white prints for the backgrounds with vivid colors for the shoo-fly triangles, don't you?  Of course, there are many other color combinations/options you could use if you prefer a different style.  Click HERE to visit her blog and see the whole post with a link to the pattern.  One of the things I like about the pattern is that she's using leftover 5" charm squares from other projects--and those of us who participate in the monthly Schnibbles projects over at Sinta's and Sherri's blogs know there are ALWAYS leftover charm squares, right?  What a great way to use them!

If you haven't joined me in Scrap Basket Sunday in the past, maybe Pat Sloan's idea will give you incentive to join me one of these weekends.  Check out her post and take a look in your scrap basket.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Busy Week

I'm looking at a busy week ahead with not too much time to sew or blog about sewing, so I thought I'd post the only other thing I have to show you--the star centers of the Star Light, Star Bright quilt along.  This is the one where we get weekly tasks.  Yes, it's the same quilt along where I had to make 512 half square triangles and get them all trimmed up--remember me whining about that last week?  Well, now we start enjoying the payoff of having made all those HSTs.  Here are my star blocks--please excuse the shiny bags that I photographed through, but I need to keep the rest of the "parts" for each block all together or I'd be lost!

And although having those HSTs already made helped with assembling these centers, making 16 of these blocks still took some time--I spent much of the weekend working on them.

On Wednesday we'll get the next step--which I think might be making the side sections of the blocks, but I'm not positive because I haven't looked back at the schedule to check.  Truth to tell, though, I sort of cheated with the first block I made--I made all the sections to see how a block would look when it finally goes together.  But I didn't get a photograph of that block laid out, so I can't share it with you, but I'm kind of excited to see how these turn out.

I was hesitant about using the black background to start with but it's turning out much like I imagined it would, at least so far!  And I like it!  It's really nice when things turn out the way you see them in your mind, isn't it?  But I'm not all done yet, so stay tuned!

Monday, February 24, 2014

February Block - Controlled Scrappy

On Sunday, I dug through my scrap bins and pulled out a few scraps to use in the February block of the Quilt Doodle BOM, Cozy Cabin, as well as a little fabric from my stash.  I actually made the cabin section of the block twice, before I was reasonably satisfied with the way this block looked.

The designer's pattern has the cabin made up of scrappy brown squares, but I couldn't settle on any particular combination of fabrics, so my first attempt used a single fabric, a brown with cream polka dot.  It looked kind of plain and I felt the roof would look better with a little overhang, so when I re-made the body of the cabin, I brought the sides in an inch on the right and the left.  I appliqued the door and window rather than piecing them in, and I added a few details, like the window shutters.  I kind of think the original scrappy pieced block design of the cabin made it look a little less plain, but I didn't want to make a third cabin, so I'll leave it as it is for now.  I might tinker with this one a little more as time goes by, but I'll wait to see what the designer has in store for us with the next blocks first.  You may remember that our January "block" was a row of snowman heads.  I think this will grow into a really cute quilt by the time we finish!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Scrap Basket Sunday--Thinking About Something New

Yes, I'm thinking about doing something new.  Of course, I usually am, and it's usually much, much more than I'll ever have time to accomplish in this lifetime!  But seriously, I've been thinking about the next scrap project.  I've thought about doing something with strings for awhile now, and then I saw this quilt in a book--

I really love the way designer Cheryl Wall combined the string blocks with homespun and applique, don't you?  So I'm thinking about doing something like this.  By the way, the pattern is from the book At Home with Country Quilts--

And yes, I ordered the book today though Amazon.  I don't know if I'll make the exact same string quilt idea, but there are plenty of other quilts in the book that I liked . . . a lot!

In the meantime, I'm continuing to quilt the Pie in the Sky quilt and I'll put in a little time on that project today.  Are you working on anything scrappy?  If so, link up so we can see what you've been doing!

Happy stitching!

Monday, February 17, 2014


That's how many half square triangles I've made for the Star Light, Star Bright quilt along. As I got to the last two sets, I decided to do the math.

You may recall that this project can be tailored to the quilter's preference as to the number of blocks and block size, and I decided I would make 16 blocks. So I figured out on my second to last set of half square triangles that each block requires 32 HSTs. Multiplied by 16 blocks.  Five hundred and twelve HSTs.  That's a lot, right?

And I calculated somewhere around the 12th set that it was taking me about an hour to make the HSTs I needed for each block. Well, actually what took the biggest chunk of time was trimming them down to size. So that's about 16 hours I've spent in the last few days making HSTs. This better be a very, very excellent quilt! But I think it will be. I think I'm going to like it a lot.  Want to see my HSTs?

You know what else? This will be the first time I'll have finished the weekly "task" before the deadline.  Not too bad!  Our next assignment will be to make the star centers of the blocks.  I figure that will be a piece of cake after this week's assignment!

Now that's done, I wonder which of my many other projects I should work on next?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Little "Housecleaning"

I've been debating how I wanted to quilt the Pie in the Sky quilt, and I finally decided to use a particular stencil design in each block, so I spent part of my Saturday transferring the design onto some of the blocks--I think I probably stenciled the first 25 blocks or so.  Before quilting, though, I thought I should give the old Juki a little clean.  Well, a "little clean" led to unscrewing and removing the bottom of the machine--and BOY WAS IT NASTY IN THERE!  I brushed out all the dust bunnies and wiped out the bottom tray, and although it's not all bright and shiny new by any means, I am confident that it's a much happier machine now.  After putting the bottom back on, I wiped down the outside and gave it a little machine oil, and I do think it's working quite nicely!

After Ms. Juki got her little spa treatment, I started quilting the first few blocks while watching the Olympics.  I plan to keep working on the quilting on Sunday, especially since it's Scrap Basket Sunday and this is my scrappy quilt project.  What are you working on?  If you have a scrappy project to share, please post a photo or two on your blog and link up below.

Happy stitching!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Country Homecoming . . . The Beginning

Today marks the reveal of the first two Country Homecoming blocks.  It's not too late to join us if you've been thinking about making this quilt.  As a reminder, here's what the finished quilt will look like:

It's a pattern from the book Primitive Gatherings--

The last time I checked Amazon, these books were getting a little pricey, but one of the quilters who is making this quilt with us, Sheryn, told me a quilt shop near her home carries the book if any of you want to join us--Countryside Quilts (click on the link for contact info).  [UPDATE:  THEY ARE SOLD OUT--PLEASE EMAIL ME IF YOU KNOW OF ANOTHER SOURCE THAT'S SELLING THE BOOK AT THE LIST PRICE AND I'LL PASS THE INFO ON.]

So, here's what we've done so far--and a couple of the quilters in our group don't have blogs, so I'll share their photos with you each month.  We're trying to make two blocks a month for six months--at least that's what we'll do if we're making the full quilt, although some quilters may wish to make a smaller version.

Here are Tina's first two blocks:

And Sheryn's first two blocks:

Next are Imelda's first two blocks:

And, finally, my own first two blocks:

Besides the four of us whose houses are pictured here, there are four more quilters who will be participating.  I've learned, though, that two of us aren't quite ready to reveal the first two blocks yet.  However, two more should have photos posted sometime this weekend:  Nancie Anne and Tanya.  You can visit them by clicking on their names.

The piecing of these houses is very quick and easy.  The pattern gives several different types of doors and windows, and the quilter picks whatever combination she (or he) likes, which means we can "build" personalized houses with no two ending up the same--very fun!  If you want to join us next month, please email me--you can easily catch up, I suspect, since our construction project is just beginning!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Continuing as I Began . . . Late!

Yes, I'm talking about the Star Light, Star Bright quilt along.  I finished making a gaggle of geese--they were supposed to be done by Wednesday, so I'm two days late!  Ah, well, maybe I can catch up before next Wednesday when we have to complete our half square triangles.  Here are my geese:

So far, so good . . . just late.  But then if you asked anyone who knows me, they'd tell you that's standard operating procedure for me.  And speaking of late . . . it's time for bed.

Thanks for stopping by to visit.  I hope you're having a happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

And The Other One . . .

Here's the other little Buttermilk Basin project I finished this past weekend.

This one is from the block of the month line called "Sew" Simple, which features pieced backgrounds with applique.  The finished blocks from this line are 6-1/2" and would have fit the small standing frame I showed you yesterday, but I elected to add a simple border so I could hang it in one of my larger stands.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Little Love . . .

This weekend, I took time to work on a couple of small projects for February.  Both were Buttermilk Basin patterns, but I've only taken a photo of one of them so far.

This is from the Live Simply block of the month line and there's a background these can be attached to each month, but I haven't made the background--and I'm not sure if I will since I have a number of stands I can hang this sort of thing on.

I've decided to use wool for these on a woven cotton background; I have March's project prepared but not stitched so far.  I think Buttermilk Basin has some of the best little projects, don't you?  And little projects sure go a long way to satisfy a quilter's need for the occasional "instant gratification"!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

At the Quilt Show . . .

On Saturday, several friends and I went to the Folsom quilt show--it's always a favorite, and since it's the first quilt show after the holiday season in our area, quilters seem anxious to see some quilts and visit some vendors.

Oddly enough, I was talking to a fiber embellishment vendor, and when she gave me her business card, I realized she had been my law office administrator about 30 years ago--needless to say, we've both changed a bit since that time!  It seems that every now and then, things happen to remind us what a small world we live in!

I took some photos of quilts to share with you.  The lighting wasn't great because it was a rainy, gloomy day out, but I think you can see these well enough.

First up is an applique quilt that the quilt-maker titled Birds in the Garden.  Do any of you recognize this pattern?  [ADDENDUM:  It's Birdsong by Jan Patek.]  My friends and I are interested in making this one, but when I did an online search last night, nothing turned up.  I suspect it's from a book since I didn't turn up a stand-alone pattern, but I have no idea, really, where it came from.

I had to take a photo of this "friend" since I spent some time appliqueing this same Bunny Hill pattern, Merry, Merry Snowmen, last year.  It's nice to see one completed!

And another old, familiar friend!  Shabby Fabric's Country Cottages free BOM from 2012.  The quilt-maker used a lot of beads and embroidery as embellishment and it looked terrific! [ADDENDUM:  After writing this, I learned the same quilt maker made the Merry, Merry Snowmen quilt too.]

Following along the same monthly BOM type of layout was this  wonderful cat quilt--the blocks for March, April, and October are particularly fun, aren't they?  [ADDENDUM:  This quilt is called 9 Lives Plus 3.]

 This feathered star quilt caught my eye from across the room.  When I got closer, I noticed that all of the stars' "feathers" are actually machine embroidery rather than pieced triangles.

I always particularly admire the hand-embroidered quilts.  This pattern is by Crabapple Hill and is called Snowmen A to Zzzz.  (Crabapple Hill has a sale going on until February 14th--25% off!)

I'm not much of an art quilter myself, but I can appreciate the beauty of some of the designs people come up with and execute, and this is one that I thought was pretty excellent.

And as far as the quilting itself is concerned?  Take a look at this masterpiece!  Another woman was admiring this one when I walked up, and she told me she had placed one of her quilts with this quilter, and now she's very excited to see how it turns out.  I agree; I'd be excited too!

And here's something for my scrappy peeps!  A beautiful basket quilt with a bit of applique added--but not too much.  Mostly this quilt relies on the scrappy baskets.

Speaking of scrappy quilts, at quilt shows, there's often a stack of second hand magazines and books for sale, and this was no exception.  I came home with about a dozen older magazines that I paged through last night.  The cover quilt below caught my attention as a good idea for a scrappy quilt, and I'm going to keep the pattern with my other scrappy ideas.

Today, of course, is Scrap Basket Sunday--if you've been working on a scrappy project and are ready to share it with us on your blog, please link up below.  I think I'll spend part of the day quilting my Pie in the Sky quilt that I pinned last Sunday.  How about you?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Monuments Men

I saw it.  I loved it.  Go see it this weekend.  You'll be grateful to me.  If you want my address to send me thank you gifts afterward, let me know.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Day Late . . .

I believe the saying is "a day late, and a dollar short."  But in my case, I'm a day late, and I have many fewer dollars as the result of joining yet another . . . perhaps one too many?! . . . quilt-a-long.

When I asked you, my extremely knowledgeable readers, about any BOM-type projects you had found, a couple days after my initial inquiry--and my commitment to two of them--Janet brought another one to my attention--Happy Quilting's Star Light, Star Bright project.  And when I looked, I knew I was doomed!  For one thing, I've always been a sucker for stars.  And for another thing, this is a fairly quick project in that it doesn't extend for a whole year--we are supposed to finish by April 2nd.  And there's a third thing I'll tell you about, but first, here's a picture of the quilt idea.

So the third thing . . . the thing that really hooked me . . . is that this is a quilt that can be made several different finished sizes using several different block sizes.  You can make it with anywhere from 1 block to 16!  For mine, I thought I'd like a finished size around 72", so I decided to make 16 blocks, which requires 16 fat quarters plus several yards of background fabric.  (I'm mostly using fabrics from my stash except the background fabric, and THAT's why I'm many dollars poorer!)

Each Wednesday, that week's assignment is given, and for the first week, we were to cut our fabrics.  Those of us who posted a photo of our cut fabrics by the end of the day Tuesday would be entered to win a prize in a random drawing.  I finished on Wednesday--of course!  A day late, and already behind at the start of the quilt-a-long!  So no prize opportunity for me--not this week.  But I thought I'd show you my pile of fabrics anyway.

My background fabric is the grunge black, and the other fabrics are the bright pastels.  I wavered a little before cutting the black, thinking maybe I should go with the safer choice of white, but I'm going to stick to my original thought and see where it leads.  Besides, I didn't have enough white fabric in my stash and I didn't want to get even FURTHER behind by having to go to a quilt shop or order more on line.

Are any of you doing this one?  If so, what size and number of blocks did you chose?  By the way, if you hadn't seen this one before, it's not too late to join.  This week, we'll be making flying geese.  I guess I should get busy!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Country Homecoming

Thanks for all of your kind comments on my Jersey Rose quilt.  Did you click over to the parade on Sinta's and Sherri's blogs?  It was so interesting to see all the different quilts!  It's a very simple pattern, but there was a great deal of variety in color placement, sashing treatment, etc.  Looking at the different outcomes is a good lesson for us--with all the quilts together in one place, we can see how the fabrics we pick and the little changes we make lead to such different end results.  I love the parades for that very reason!

I wanted to let you know that I'm putting together a group of bloggers and "no-bloggers" who are interested in making the Country Homecoming quilt.  You may remember I talked about it HERE.  We're planning to make and show our first two blocks by mid-February, but it's not too late to join if you're interested.  Would you like to join us?  And speaking of how different quilts can look . . . .  Well, here's Anna's quilt that I showed you before:

And here's one I played around with and showed awhile back:

I had decided I wanted a brighter, more contemporary version, but then after I got started, I decided I didn't like where I was going with the four house blocks I'd made, so I just made a small quilt with them and thought I'd make a "country homespun" version at some other time.  Well, now is the time, so I've assembled a bunch of plaids and such, and I'm about ready to start.  My point, though, is that if homespun isn't your style, you can still join us and make one with fabric you like better.  The pattern is in this book:

If you think you might like to join us, please email me and I'll add you to the list and answer any questions you might have.  And if you want to make the quilt but aren't ready to commit now?  Think about it a little.  You can join later and catch up fairly quickly because the blocks are fast(ish) and our goal is only two a month for six months, followed by two months to complete the border.

It'll be fun.  You'll see!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Applique . . . the Fast Way!

I finished quilting Jersey Rose today and even got it bound.  Want to see it?

I just did a simple meander in the background and outlined the "leaves" and rose "petals."  Sinta and Sherri will have the Schnibbles parade for Jersey Girl sometime today and you can see all of them if you click over to the two blogs--clicking on their names will take you there.   I mentioned to you the other day, though, that I hadn't hand appliqued the roses, and I thought this was a good time to show you my "secret."  Now and then, depending on what I'm appliqueing and how I'll later use the quilt, I'll prep my applique pieces as I would for hand applique by turning the raw edges under and using starch to hold the crease; I then lightly glue the pieces to the background with applique glue.  But then, instead of hand stitching them down, I'll stitch them on the machine while simultaneously doing the quilting.

Here, in the photo below, you can see I've quilted the outline of the leaves and now I'm doing the same for the rose . . . but I'm also actually stitching the rose down at the same time.  In this close up, you can see edges of the rose where it's not stitched down, right?

Another photo of my progress--I stitch very close to the edge, as you can see.

After I outlined the rose, I kept going around and around, stitching along some of the seams of the rose, although I didn't stitch every one; I just wanted to give a little definition to the shape and the suggestion that the petals go around and around.  You may be able to click into the first photo and see some of that detail.

So, where these large appliqued roses would have taken me a few hours to hand stitch--and then would have needed to be quilted anyway--I saved myself a lot of time by taking a little shortcut.  Simple, right?  I'm always looking for ways to streamline the process, just as long as it doesn't detract from the quality of the end product.

Happy stitching!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Rose By Any Other Name . . . .

Diane of Butterfly Threads suggested in a comment that I could make another rose and use it for a pillow.  So I did . . . but now I'm considering a tablerunner for Valentine's Day, so I might need to make two more, I think.  Wouldn't that be cute?  Roses for Valentine's Day?  Yep!

Anyway, I made a rose so I could demonstrate my method for you.  By way of background, some years ago, I came up with the idea when I made this quilt (which is currently on the bed in the Wild Child's former bedroom):

And to recap what I'm going to show you, here's a close up of one of the roses on Jersey Rose, the quilt I posted a photo of yesterday:

Much of my demo for you will be photos with minimal explanations of what I'm doing.  This isn't a precise thing and there are no real measurements.  You may find you've made a mistake, and if that happens, just place another strip or triangle over the error, sew, and cut away what's underneath.  Mostly you'll just need to remember when you whack off pieces of fabric to add to your rose, you'll need to cut at least 1" deep so you don't lose the whole thing in the seam allowance, but there's really no right or wrong.  Also?  You're going to like some of your roses better than others.  Just like nature, right?  So let's get started.

First, you'll need fabric.  I decided this rose will be all reds, but I could have mixed in some orange or yellow or pink--just think about the variegated roses you see in nature.  The key is to pick different shades of color, which will mimic the shadows and varieties we find in our gardens.  So here are the scraps I gathered.  Some are chunks and some are strips.  There are different shades and different patterns, although it's best to keep the patterns small.

I like to begin with a darker color for the very center, and that's the piece on the top side of the photo below.  I cut a triangle of that and then three more triangles, one for each side of the center.  I usually cut two of one fabric and then introduce a third.

Here I've placed the first side on the top of the center triangle, right sides together.  I'm probably going to want that center triangle a little smaller, because I've found small center pieces tend to look better, so I haven't quite lined up the edges of the fabric.

The first seam is sewn.  But there's a little fabric hanging out from underneath . . .

So I trim it off . . . 

And press open the fabrics, pressing the seam to the outside.

Now for the next piece.  I decided to use the third color, but there was no rhyme or reason for my choice.

Sew, trim, and press open.

Now the last of the initial triangles.  I've checked the center triangle to see how big it is and placed this third triangle where I want it.

Voila!  The center of the rose is done.

Now we're ready to add more "petals," so I've cut more fabric.  Two more triangles in that third fabric, and a strip of a darker fabric is selected--see the contrast?  That will make the "petals" show up better.

Again, place a triangle on what you've already sewn.  This will overlap parts of the first two triangles.  The most important thing is to cover the ends of the seam so there are no holes or gaps when you press it back.

Turn, and add another triangle, . . .

. . . trimming with each addition . . .

And pressing open.  I've used the same fabric pieces to encircle part of the rose center.  Take a look at that rose at the beginning and you'll see I often continue the pattern around, fooling the eye into seeing the petals of a rose.

Now, instead of triangles, I cut . . . well, I don't remember the name of this geometric shape, do you?  Rhombus maybe?  Anyway, instead of a point on one corner of a triangle, it's flat.  And the pieces now start getting a little wider and a little bigger. 

I keep overlapping with the longer end of the shape sewn into the seam and the piece positioned between the two underneath.

It's okay if one end of the piece doesn't overlap the underneath layer completely--see in the photo below how one corner starts a little way into the bottom pieces?  But by doing that, I will lose some of the width of that under piece later, because I can't leave a raw edge or hole in the next layer.  Just something to keep in mind.  Now I start overlapping in a circular fashion, but I don't worry much if I'm sewing right between the two underneath pieces any more--I'll get there eventually.

Just to mix it up a little, I've decided to use some of that strip fabric.  It's not as wide as the red star fabric, but that's okay.

So I cut pieces of that strip into the same shape . . .

And start adding them to the rose . . .

. . . making sure I'm overlapping any gaps between the underneath pieces.

See the contrast between the different layers of petals?  Through trial and error, I've found I like a little bit of a striped fabric in these, but I want to keep the stripes going straight.  It gives the rose movement and interest, I think!  So I've cut some shapes from the striped fabric.

And I add some of those in, alternating a few with that earlier dotted fabric in between.  Don't be concerned if in trimming, it looks like you're losing part of the rose.

That piece on the right was added after the photo above, and it rounds out the shape again.  In fact, it's looking pretty much like a rose, isn't it?

I decided I wanted some polka dots.  Now the pieces are getting even longer, because they have to span a larger area.

After adding a nice row of polka dots,  I thought it was about time to add the final petals.  Now it's back to cutting triangles--fairly large ones.

And adding them around here and there, but not all the way around.

Now it's time to stop sewing and start cutting.  Normally I just pick up my scissors and cut, but I thought I'd draw the outline to show you what my mind is seeing as the shape of this rose.  Can you see the white line?

I bring the shape in at the seams and out for the petals.  Does it look like a rose to you?  If you're not happy with your rose at this point, just add more petals and overlap the parts you don't like--start from there and work out again, trimming away underneath.  But don't be too critical.  You'll be surprised when you've gone away and come back later and suddenly your rose looks a lot better to you than you first thought--I did the same thing with Jersey Rose.

 I thought you'd like to see what the under side looks like--

And another thing--you've been sewing a lot of bias edges, so your rose might not lay perfectly flat and your seams may not be perfectly pressed open.  Really, it's fine.  If your rose is so wavy it looks like there's a small animal underneath it, you might need to start over, but a little wave isn't a problem.

Next I basted the edge under about a quarter inch, but it's not an exact thing.  Taking less of a "hem" means it will ripple less but don't take so little that the raw edges pop out along the edge.

Once it was basted all around, I pressed it.

And then I starched it, although I don't have a photo of that here--the only difference is that the edge was nice and flat, and I could remove the basting thread and it would still stay turned under.  Some of you asked if I hand appliqued the roses.  No, I didn't.  Jersey Rose, as I showed it yesterday, had roses that were only lightly glued down with applique glue.  But that's a secret, so don't tell anyone.  I'll show you what I'm going to do with that a little later.  In the meantime, I still have this pile of leftover fabric.  Plenty for a couple more roses, right?