Thanks for dropping by to take a look at some of my thoughts and ideals. Hope you will let me know if this has been helpful, useful, inspiring or whatever, and remember to come back soon.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tis the season

Well it's Thanksgiving (Oops!!  I wrote this and then forgot to post it.)  and what better way to be thankful than to pick out someone that needs a little extra love and give it to them!  After all this is the season of giving so why not sew up a "charity" quilt or two to give to the local nursing home, or whatever other worthy cause you want to support.  Maybe you can donate a quilt to be auctioned to provide money for a charity you would like to support.

The local quilt guild got together and decided to sew up some lap quilts for the local nursing home and have them to give for Christmas.  Christmas fabric was donated and the fabric was cut to 3" strips the width of the fabric available.  Now some of the strips were the usual 44-45" and some were 12" and everything in between.  Next the strips were subcut to varying lenghts.  Anywhere from 6" to 18" and everywhere in between and then were sewn end to end to make a very long strip.  Next these long strips were cut into lengths of approximately 60" and then they were sewn together side by side.

The huge variety of prints really go together to make a beautiful
Christmasy throw!
For this particular project we sewed the strips together until they were about 41" in width making the top about 41" x 60".  No borders were added and the quilts were quilted using a simple meandering pattern which is fast and easy.  The binding is added and they are ready to go to their new home. 

It never fails to amaze me that it really doesn't matter what color
the fabric is if the theme is constant.
During this time of "Thanksgiving" stop and think about all the things you are thankful for and how blessed you are and then think about those you aren't as fortunate.  Even when time is short, this is a very quick and easy project and can be loads of fun when you get together with a few of your buddies and you all toss in some fabric scraps.  You can't imagine how much these throws mean to people in the nursing home who have no family nearby to visit during the holiday season.  Think about sharing your love during this season!
Love ya!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I love "Kansas Troubles" fabric by Moda!

I really love the warm rich color palate of the "Kansas Troubles" line by Moda.  These colors just make me feel warm and cozy and they are the kind of fabric I want to just snuggle up in and read a good book.  Recently while talking with my best bud, Peggy she was telling me about finding a sight online that had some great tutorials and patterns.  Well with a recommendation from Peggy, you know I'm going to be looking that sight over for sure and boy was I impressed.  They have great tutorials and show you how to make some really fun quilts and guess what, they aren't hard at all!!  Some of you know that I spent a portion of my life living in Missouri and met some wonderful people there and did a good bit of quilting!  What does that have to do with anything?  Well the name of the website is "Missouri Star Quilts".  If you get the chance be sure to check out some of their tutorials at:   http://tutorialsmissouriquiltco.com/  This is a really neat site.

Now on to the quilt.  This one is for ME!!  This one will not be given away.

Of course I took a picture of a mistake in the quilt.  I wanted to and
attempted to alternate the blocks, dark next to light, but as the
saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men go awray.

At least I know you can see how the warm rich colors play off one another in this spectacular spools pattern.  Now the hard thing to believe is this block is made with 2 contrasting strips, 2 1/2 inches wide and 1 background fabric 4 1/2" wide.  If you cut your strips to the width of the fabric it really works well.  From 3 strips of fabric you will have 2 1/2 finished blocks.  I won't go into the details of how to make the block because you can all see that on the Missouri Quilt site.  I have to tell you though that this quilt goes together very easily and quickly, otherwise it would not be finished in this timely manner.

When I made this one I did some careful measuring before putting
the borders on.
Since this quilt was for me and I had some very specific ideals about what I wanted I was very careful to measure the bed and make the top to fit the bed exactly with the addition of the small burgandy border.  I know that this quilt will be used as a spread on my bed and I didn't want to have a lot of bulky fabric haning off the corners, and I didn't want the quilt to be so long that I would forever be trying to get it pulled up off the floor at the bottom of the bed.  Gee, it looks like I'm picky!  At any rate, I measured exactly what size the drop would be on the sides and foot of the bed.  I bet you could figure out those two numbers were the same.   Then I cut the drops and sewed them to the quilt.  Now I didn't want all of the extra to fold back and up over the pillows.  I'm making pillow shams to go with the quilt to cover the pillows so I don't need the extra fabric at the top of the quilt and it still looks great.  Since I'm not putting the wide green border on the top the only border there is the narrow burgandy border. 

Since I didn't want the extra at the bottom corners of the quilt I decided to cut them out so the corners would fit straight down giving a very boxy tailored look.  These edges fasten together with button and loop on the back side of the quilt.  The look is very tailored and neat which is just what I wanted.  Now don't ask me why I wanted that particular look, because nothing else in the house is even close!  At any rate the quilt is finished and the shams are completed yet, but soon.

I hope everyone has a great day.  Have fun quilting and make something that is what you want in every detail!  It's fun to make something just for me occassionally.  Love ya!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New Tees and things

Well, I've been at it again.  I love to make memory quilts with tees and people's clothes they wore and loved.  I just want to put a little more love in and then it goes to someone who will love it even more because of all the memories.  I typically get calls on the average of once a month asking for a memory quilt to be made and I really love doing them.  Unfortunately it takes me a while to get it all together.  I like to make them different, and use different techniques to make each one a unique work of art that will be cherished for many years to come.  I believe striving to make a very special item for each person is the reason I get so many calls for more.

Here is a quilt I made for a girl and the tee's belonged to her father.  She had many different tee's and all of these things demonstrate that her father loved his outdoor sports activities.  She also brought several shirts that he wore and I have used these to make the stripping between the blocks.  This is a little of the process I go through when making a memory quilt.

First I have to get the logos trimmed out and the fuseable
put on and then lay out the shirts.
This part is actually very time consuming.  Much more so than you may think.  I have to get the shirts laid out on my cutting table and I have to make sure I leave ample room around the outside of the logo for any trimming or squaring.  I also try to make a habit of cutting the logos out using a whole inch measurement.  Whether it's 6 or 14 doesn't matter but I don't want to do any 6 1/2 or 14 1/4.  That just confuses the issue when I start doing the stripping!  This is something I've learned the hard way over time.  After the logos are cut out I have to go the the ironing board to add the fuseable and I do use the woven most of the time.  This just seems to work better as far as I am concerned and there is less stretch.  Next I retrim the logos to remove rough edges,  and then I lay them out to see how it is going to look.

At this point I haven't done anything about the stripping.
Once I've laid the shirts out on the bed in the way I think I want them to go, taking into consideration the size and the colors then I can start thinking about the finish trimming.  This is where I have to make sure that all the shirts in a row are the same width.  If I can trim all the shirts in a row to a particular width, say 12" then I don't have to add any extra strips down the side.  If I can't then I will add a strip of shashing down one side to keep the sizes consistent. 

If you look at the bottom of this picture you will see where I have
added an extra strip of sashing to increase the width of that tee.
After doing the final trimming I can then add my sashing forming rows either vertically or horizonally to put the quilt top together.  Next I will put the finishing trims on the top.  In this case it is logos from hats that have been cut out and are satin stitched down before the quilting is done and then I do the quilting and binding being sure to add a rod pocket at the top because many of these quilts are hung.

These memory quilts are wonderful projects and I love doing them and seeing what new ideals I can come up with to make each quilt a very special one of a kind keepsake.

I hope you all have a great day and decide to one day try your hand at making a memory quilt as a keepsake to remember someone who has passed away, or to commemorate an event, like graduating from high school or college or getting married or having a baby.  Whatever the occasion these quilts are a lot of fun and guaranteed to make you stretch your brain to recall all of that math you had when you were in school!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm Back

Gee this summer has been so busy that I've really had to take some weeks off to keep my sanity.  At least I think I am still sane, but then you need to ask someone who knows me and they may tell you different! 

At any rate, it seems that I always have people asking me about what size a quilt needs to be for what size bed.  What do I consider a baby quilt and what do I consider a twin quilt.  Well I happened to find a chart and I just wanted to take a minute to just write about sizes and post one list that I have found.  Now one thing I have to say is you will find many charts and they all seem to vary a little either in width or length.  Here is the list I found.

Standard Bed Sizes
Bed Size
Twin39"x 76"
Double54"x 76"
Queen60"x 80"
King72"x 80"
Dual King78"x 80"
Quilt Size
Twin68"x 90"
Double80"x 90"
Queen90"x 108"
King110"x 110"
Dual King120"x 120"

Now in addition to the above sizes which are standard bed sizes there are lap quilts and baby quilts.  Most baby quilts will be around 36" x 45" or slightly larger.  Lap size quilts are slightly larger than the baby quilt in that they are typically around 45" x 56" or slightly larger.  In addition to that you have a twin long bed which you will find in most college dorms.  And if all of this isn't confusing enough you will have standard answers to questions like how large should my quilt be to fit my double bed.  The standard answer is you should have a drop of at least 8" on each side of the bed and the foot.  Note the measurements on this chart the twin bed mattress size is 39".  If you have a drop of 8" on each side your quilt would need to be 55" wide and for a 76" length you would need a quilt 84" long.  55 x 84 is not on that chart. Instead we have 60" x 90" which would give a drop of 12" on each side and 14" at the foot of the bed.  Wouldn't you at least think the side drop and the bottom drop should be the same?  If you do the math you will note that the same thing happens with the other quilt sizes without a standard drop for most of the sizes listed.  What's a body to do?

In addition to all of this confusion you also have personal preferences, and in addition to that you have to take into consideration the size of the people who will be using the quilt.  Now if Mr. Heart is going to get the quilt and he sleeps on a twin bed, but he weights in at about 300 lbs, you may want to give him a little more drop room.  Eight inches on each side may mean the quilt will not cover him.  If he sleeps on his side the quilt will not cover him in front and back!!!  As for me since we have a queen bed we need a queen quilt, but then my husband is not small, over 200 lbs and I'm no light weight myself.  In addition my baby Frenchie sleeps with me and she sleeps on top of the cover between me and my husband so that means we need more width to our quilts than the normal person would need.  Otherwise somebody winds up with no quilt during the night!

My suggestion is make your quilt top without the borders and make sure that fits the top of your bed, then add the amount of drop that you want on your quilt and use that as your standard for that size bed  If your top without the borders fits the bed then the borders will be your drop whether they are 3 borders making a total drop of 10" or 1 border of 14".  Quilts are individual works of art and the size depends on the person making the quilt.  Remember the charts are just guidelines.  There is no absolutes.

Remember quilts are gifts of love.  Everytime someone wraps up in a quilt you made them they will think of you!  Put your love in each seam and that love will shine for generations.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I'm Back with my bestest bud!

Well it's been an interesting few weeks and I have been so busy with gardening that I didn't even have time to do any quilting!!  God has given us an abundance of fresh veggies this year and this busy little squirrel has been storing up for the winter.  Interesting fact, scientist say the squirrel will only find about 10% of what he stores for the winter.  I hope I find more!!  Oh well on to quilting.

I did finally get started back with some quilting and the first set of quilts I had to complete came from my bud, Peggy.  Some time ago we were at a quilting shop, I think in Knoxville, and Peggy found some fabric that was just sooooo Peggy.  She loves a truly good cup of coffee, and many early mornings in nice weather Peggy and her husband Mel will go out and sit on the poarch in the swing and just spend some quality time together, just sipping their coffee and discussing life and their hopes and dreams and plans as the sun comes up.  Doesn't this sound so loving and relaxing?  I always thought so.  At any rate when Peggy found this fabric which was a panel of squares dedicated to coffee lovers it was perfect for her.  Then we started picking out coordinating fabrics because Peggy didn't want just a panel with the squares and borders.  Peggy worked out her pattern, after we purchased the fabric, which is backwards, but the way Peggy and I often work.  When she made the plans for her pattern the quilt became a tad bit larger than what we had originally planned when we were purchasing the material so then the borders became a little more difficult.  After much soul searching and figuring and measuring this is the quilt she completed.

I really loved the way she took the blocks from the panel and then added a border around those to enlarge them and then she had a variety of different blocks she could have used.  The overall look of the block she chose is great with the Irish Chain effect going on with the placement of the fabric.

This close up picture shows the border around the squares more clearly and the Irish Chain pattern.  I think her fabric choices were wonderful.  It was a sort of back to basics when picking the fabrics.  First we had the panel of squares, then the large print being the border fabric, then the geometric being the border around the panel blocks with large circles, the small print in the same color family as the large print is the one with the coffee cups used in the Irish Chain, and the contrasting fabric is the blue, which also happens to be a geometric that reads like a solid, and then the light fabric is the beige which also reads as a solid.  Peggy found one other fabric that was a light medium print that she also loved and she picked up some of that also.  When you really don't know what you are going to do, it's nice to be able to pick up a little extra fabric in case the final plan expands as this one did!

The large print was one with the writing and the coffee beans and had the diamonds in a repeating pattern.  When using a fabric of this nature you want to be able to read the words at the top of the quilt so always check your orientation.    If it isn't words but is a directional print the same rules apply and then continue around the quilt with the bottom of the fabric pattern sewn to the body of the quilt on all sides.  Here is also a look at the light fabric with a medium print that was used as an inner border.

I think she did an awesome job with the miter at the corners on the large outer border.  This fabric would not have been nearly as effective had it been square corners with the red diamonds just running off the edge of the fabric, or into a complete stop at the seam line.

Peggy did a great job of putting this top together effectively and I didn't want to detract from her hard work by putting in a lot of quilting that would draw the eye away from the piecing so I went with stitch in the ditch for the quilting with the only variation being in the dark geometric with the large circles and I quilted a meandering circles pattern in those areas.  In the panel blocks, since they were a larger area than I like to leave without any quilting, I did some outlining of the pattern printed on the fabric.  Very simple quilting for a great quilt.  It is important to remember that quilting should enhance the quilt, not detract from the piece work.  In some quilts the quilting is the showpiece of the final quilt, and that is great also.  You are the one to decide how much or how little of the quilting you want to show in your quilt.

Hope you all have a great day!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why is it taking me so long to finish this???

There are so many different ways to make quilts that it is really hard sometimes to decide which project to start next.  Sometimes projects are just so time consuming that I find them difficult to complete.  It isn't that they are not pretty, it isn't that I have made some kind of error that just ruins it for me and it isn't really because I want to have another unfinished quilt laying in my stack of to do projects, they just take so long and I have a desire to complete something, or see something that I want to do now!  I'm so sure that none of you experience the same type symptoms (tongue in cheek).  The fact is that we are all human and sometimes we just pick a project that is larger than our attention span.  (I have a few of those.)  Through my few years of quilting I have learned that there are some projects that I just don't need to start, and there are some that if the size is adjusted then perhaps I would have some hope of finishing.

I have one project that I have been working on (I should say working on and off) that is just one of those that I want to finish, I love what I am doing and the meaning, it's just too darn big.  I wish I had gone with something smaller.  What inspired me to start this was a class I took and in one short class, (4 hours)  I basically completed my project of a small wall hanging.

I really had a lot of fun creating this in a class I took a few years ago.
Lots of great machine quilting and completed in just a few hours.

This was really a wonderful class and we spent the majority of the time doing the machine quilting on this piece.  Actually most of the class was the quilting and quilting is one thing I love.  Every leaf has a different quilting pattern as does each of the different sections of background and the borders.  All the different patterns were really neat to learn.

I was so enthused about how quickly the project went together that I immedately when home and finished the project and the started looking around for what I wanted to do next using the same technique.  Here are some of the things I did not take into consideration when I dove into my new project.

1.  When you do a class project you typically already have the fabrics that are going to be used or they are supplied for you in addition to any special supplies such as bias tape, fusables and spray adhesive or whatever is required for the project.

2.  If the fabric is supplied then typically the pieces are already cut for you, or at least they are rough cut so most of your class time is not spent at the cutting board.

3.  The pattern is supplied in a ready to use format.

Okay, lets start with number 3.  The pattern.  I now have the know how and want to pick a pattern.  I had been told where to look for patterns.  This was not something you could run out to the quilt store and purchase.  The advise was to purchase a coloring book and pick your pattern from the pictures in a coloring book.  That is a great ideal.  I now know that I could have picked dozens of patterns that would have made wonderful blocks for a quilt and would have been really easy to complete.  I could have even used the blocks in a Georgia Bonsteel type configuration and had the blocks all quilted and then put them together.  I could have made an awesome quilt in just a few days!!  I actually found the pattern I wanted to use in a relatively short time in a coloring book with Christmas scenes.  I chose a nativity scene.  Since I collect nativity sets I thought this would be wonderful.  I still think it would be wonderful.  Of course the next step was enlarging the pattern to the size I wanted which was large!!  This I managed on my copy machine by coping portions of the page enlarging them as I went to the size I wanted, then I had to tape all the pages together.  I believe I have something like 40 pages tapes together for this project.  Needless to say this took quite a bit of time to complete.  It was like a 3 day project just to get the pattern enlarged correctly.  Next I had to get my fusible fabric and the pattern was to be traced onto the fusible.  This part of the project only took me a couple of days.  Boy I was moving fast.  I had just spent a week just getting my pattern and getting it ready!

Now lets skip up the the very first consideration, the fabric.  I had to pick the fabric for this project and I really do strive to do things right and I know there are fabrics out there that are prints that when cut correctly you can get some wonderful effects.  I started to hunt my fabrics.  This process took about 4 months.  Every time I entered a fabric store I was on the lookout for fabrics that would give me exactly what I wanted.  I had the wise men the animals the doves the wood in the stable the straw, there was a night sky, oh this was a very detailed pattern, in case I forgot to mention that bit of information.  I would wind up purchasing 1/4 yard of fabric or a fat quarter for a beard.  This was getting to be a very expensive project also, but the effects are really worth the effort.

It may be a little difficult to tell at this stage that this is a dove, but the fabric I found
actually is feathers and I attempted to cut it so the feathers on the wings were
going in the right direction.  Yes fussy cut!

This section, which I believe you can tell is a beard I think is great.

Another section of beard and notice the skin tones. 
I actually used different skin tones for all the wise men
which meant different hair colors and types.

This picture shows two of the wise men and as you can see they are
very different.

The last picture also shows that this project is not complete.  As you can see, finding the right fabrics will make a huge difference in the completed project, when that happens. 

Now for the other thing I did not take into consideration when I started this project, cutting the fabric.  Almost every piece of fabric is fussy cut.  Doing fussy cuts takes an enormous amount of time if you are being very particular about the effect you are striving to attain.  The orientation of the pattern piece and the the orientation of that item on the quilt both play a part.  There are some pieces that I have cut several times before I achieved the effect I wanted.

My project hanging on my quilting room wall.
As you can see from the above picture, my project is not yet at the half way mark of completion.  One day I'm sure it will be a great show piece for my collection and will beautiful hung with some shelves around to hold a few of my nativity collections.  I actually have at least one nativity in every room of my house and in some I have more than one and I love them.  They are a constant reminder of my Lord and what he gave up for me.

I hope you have a great day, and a wonderful time quilting.  Let me encourage you to sign up for my blog.  I promise you will not receive emails trying to get you to purchase my products or use my services.  I hate it when I sign up for something and then get a mailbox full of junk!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Some quilts take longer than others!! Quilting

I actually didn't start out to make this into a 2 part post but it got so long I really didn't want you to get bored and just quit reading so here is my method for quilting for the "Oriental Garden Path Quilt."

This is a picture of the blocks and I think the quilting did make the right
portions of the block pop up.
 The quilt itself began with a print fabric, oriental, with a oriental garden with pagoda and waterfalls which was given to me by Kay.  The name of the pattern used for the blocks is "Garden Path".  I had recently taken a class by Nichole Webb showcasing her book of quilting designs called "Garden Branching".  Okay, these things all just seemed to go together in my mind.  I had also designed the quilt to have some larger spaces for special quilting and Nichole's patterns just really seemed to fit.  First I did a simple stitch in the ditch quilting around the blocks.  Next I wanted to pull the fabric down in the second square so that the center square popped up and the eye would be drawn to that fabric because that was the focus fabric.  I did a sort of simple small paisley pattern.

Since the object of the quilting in the background here was to
pull it down so the other pieces seemed to pop up I did not want
to draw attention to the quilting by putting a contrasting
color in this area.  The object was to minimize.
 Now anyone who has flower gardens will tell you that the beauty of the garden is in the variety of flowers, colors and sizes.  Well I wanted my quilt to show that same diversity so I wanted to use patterns of several different flower and I wanted to use different colors in the flowers.  Anyone who does machine quilting will tell you very quickly that it is more difficult when you have to change thread numerous times in one quilt.  Most quilts will be quilted with one or two different threads.  Rarely will you see them use 3 different colors in one quilt.  When you are talking about a really nice show quality quilt though you will often find quilts that have used several different colors to enhance their quilting.  Well, my quilt isn't show quality, but I really wanted this to be special, soooo.  Here are some pictures of part of the flowers that I quilted into the quilt.

Picture #1

Picture #2
Giant Camellia

Picture #3
Whoville Rose

Picture #4

Picture #5
Star Flower

Picture #6

Picture #7

Picture #8
Gerber Daisy

Picture #9
Drooping Thistle
Picture #10

Picture #11

Picture #12

Picture #13

Picture #14
Drooping Thistle

As you can see, some of the flowers turned out better than others.  The yellow (Picture #14) just did not pop on the background fabric, so I didn't do very many yellow flowers.  I thought the picture of the thistle was great but it was much prettier to me in the blue (Picture #9).  I did do violets in groups and as a single flower and I did the fuchsia in the same manner.  You will notice the green around the flowers.  This was the branching or vines that pulled all of the quilting together and it was done with a verigated green thread.  There is a green bush shown in the fabric with the pagoda and I tried to duplicate this in the large outer border. 

I really enjoyed quilting this quilt.  My biggest problem was I got behind on my other quilting while I was trying to finish this so had to take it off my machine before it was finished and for some reason I let this lay in my quilting room, folded up for more than a year before I decided on the 4th of July to declare my independence from a UFO (unfinished object) and put it back on my machine.  The really interesting part is when I put it back on the machine and started quilting again I was finished in just a couple of hours.  I really don't know why I put it off so long, but am so happy I finally kicked myself into finishing this project.  Well it is almost finished.  My friend Peggy has the quilt now, putting the binding on for me.  There just isn't anything as wonderful as a great friend, but a finished quilt runs a close race.

I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures in quilting, my trials and triumphs.  Let me know how you are doing with your projects.  I love hearing from my blogger buddies.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Some quilts take longer than others!!

Some time ago I was asked to teach a short program on and provide a pattern for a block.  I was very excited that people I know had actually asked me to teach.  Well that didn't really last too long.  I struggled over what pattern to teach that would be somewhat easy to piece and yet go together in a fashion that made it appear to be a more difficult block.  I looked through book after book and searched online and it seemed that I couldn't find anything I felt would be a good project.  Finally, just a couple of days before I was scheduled to teach I found what I thought would be a great block!!  After looking at about a thousand patterns this was the one.  The blocks were relatively simple.  It was a square in a square pattern that extended out to another border around that and then an accent along each outer border.  The pattern was called Garden Path and the directions for cutting were simple.  There were no 7/8" or 3/8" to make things more difficult.  I took great pains to copy the pattern down correctly and made my sample.  I presented the program and everyone admired the block.  I was greatly relieved that it had gone so well....until......  The following week I had a telephone call from one the people and she literally blasted me that my directions were not right and there was no way anyone could make a block out of that pattern.  I thought I had been so careful, but not careful enough.  I had left out one line in the directions.  Now what is that saying about "the best laid plans of mice and men...."

Well, I decided to go ahead and make a quilt using the block pattern that I had demonstrated.  First I had to decide on fabric.  Just prior to these events a friend, knowing how much I loved oriental patterns had given me a piece of fabric that she had that did not match anything in her stash.  She was trying to whittle down her fabric stash to more manageable proportions.  (Something I have never, ever, ever had the urge to do.)  This particular piece of fabric was an oriental garden complete with pagodas.  Well the name of the pattern was Garden Path so why not use that oriental garden fabric to make a garden path, and then I pulled out some more oriental prints from my stash that contrasted with the piece I was given and then I picked a very neutral background.

This is the garden path block  and some of the fabric
I chose to go with the piece of fabric I was given.
 I decided that I really didn't want to go with a traditional sashing pattern, that this quilt should have some special quilting and I wanted room to do that quilting.  At the time I was thinking about ferns and feathers.  Oh well, it wasn't time to quilt just yet, I had to finish putting it together.  I had 12 blocks and I wanted to make a quilt that was larger than a lap quilt and smaller than a bed quilt, and I did not want to use just a 2" sashing around the blocks so I decided to do some math.  Gosh, who would have thought that math would have come in so handy.  Well actually I loved math so it wasn't a hardship.

You can see in the above picture there is a variation in the spacing between the blocks, and in the picture below.

This picture gives a better picture of the different block setting.
You will notice the points are closer to the border for some blocks.
The points on the blocks are not in a regimented line.
 Quite simply I decided how wide I wanted the inter portion of the quilt and basically I decided that I would use the 2 1/2" sashing measurements and I would typically use 4 of those for a total of 10" of sashing.  Instead of cutting 4 - 2 1/2" strips, I cut a 1" and a 4" and a 2" and a 3" and that was my 10" of sashing and then I just put those in different places in the row.  I sewed a strip on each side of the first block and then on 1 side of the other 2 blocks.  Then I carried it a step further and used the same technique for the sashing on top and on bottom.  The final result was to give my quilt a very unique appearance in the setting and it is not one that you will find in a pattern book.  I like things simple, but I like things unique.  I guess this is all part of the reason I love freehand quilting on my machine.  Every quilt is different.  Even if I tried I could not exactly duplicate any quilt.  That is part of my love for quilting, the creating of something unique.

Well I got the blocks and sashing together, in much less time than you would imagine.  Just about 2-3 hrs and I was ready for borders.  Borders are really special things.  You simply don't want to forget the function of the border.  The border functions to stop the eye.  It says "Okay that was the quilt and that is the extra special portion, take time to look again."  Really the border is not there because you want to make the quilt bigger and so you just added borders until it was the right size.  This particular quilt, I felt, was to have very special quilting, so I didn't want a first border that would overwhelm, just a little pause and then we will see what's next..  My choice was a very narrow, green and black geometric that really looks almost like a solid black with a little texture.  Turned out to be just what I wanted.

Now I was ready for a final border and I wanted the oriental fabric again, but it needed to be a fabric that combined many of the colors I had used in the blocks.  The cards were the perfect choice as far as I was concerned.  I did make sure that the fabric was cut so the cards were all correctly oriented to the person viewing the quilt.  On top the cards are all with the top of the cards toward the outside top of the quilt and down the sides they cards are all with the sides of the cards on the outside of quilt and still with the top of the card toward the outside top of the quilt and the bottom border has the top of the cards against the border and the bottom of the cards pointing to the outside edge of the quilt.

This picture of the bottom left corner of the quilt shows
the fabric orientation of the border.
It was actually hard to tell where the fabric was seamed together which was an accident on the first one and then I started striving for that look on the second one and it worked out very well if I do say so myself.

Well now it's time to pick out the backing and of course I had to go with another oriental fabric.  This is one I really loved and I had to piece the backing.  I learned a long time ago that when you were having to piece a backing the correct way was to make all 3 pieces the same size or put a larger piece in the center and identical smaller widths on each side.  It is not preferred to just place a seam down the center of the backing.  Well since I had gone to so much trouble with the rest of the quilt, I needed to go all the way, and since I had matched the pattern so well at the seams on the border I wanted to see if I could do that on the backing also.

It really is difficult to tell where the seam is in this picture. 
I put an exclamation point under the seam and the seam is not at the end
of the wooden post but going through the center of the second flower
from the end of the post.

All in all I think the quilt turned out very well.  I did do some special quilting, but not what I had originally envisioned.  I actually love the quilting and how it goes along with the whole theme, but I'll give you a look at that next week. 

Happy quilting.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Scrap quilt?? or Kit???

A friend recently brought me a quilt to quilt for her that I think is just really a neat little quilt.  A very simple little quilt.  (In case you haven't guessed.....I love simple.)  This particular quilt was simply half-square triangles with a couple of borders.  What made it so neat was the  play of light and dark across the quilt.  The simple use of color made it a striking quilt.

As you can see the color is the highlight of this little gem.
Isn't this just a lovely little quilt!!  I really enjoy the way she used the light fabrics opposite from the darks and then in a few places there are the random pieces of medium thrown in for variation and it makes the light colors pop even more.  All this with simple half square triangles. 

Now the finished size of the square is 3" so the square had to be 3 1/2".  In order to make a half square triangle you can take two 3 7/8" squares, place them right sides together and cut them diagonally (corner to opposite corner) and sew along the diagonal cut and you will have a 3 1/2" square.  It's really a very simple trick that makes all your half square triangles the right size.  From the two original squares you will have 2 - 3 1/2" squares which will be 3" finished size in the quilt.

Just a little closer look at the individual blocks.
 Hummmm.  I just wonder if I have enough scraps to do one of these?   Of course, I know I do, but what about you?  If you are like most people you tend to lean towards a particular color scheme and you can pick out those colors from you scraps and wind up with a really great scrap quilt.  Just remember to use a variety of colors unless you want an all blue with the alternating lights or maybe you are into light blue and yellow, with alternating darks instead of the lights.  So many possiblities and what a wonderful way to use up some of those scraps.  Of course you could use any color combination, and you could use any size half square triangles to make up this neat quilt.

If you want to change the size of the half square triangles here is the easy way to do the math.  Just add 3/8" to the unfinished block square, or add 7/8" to the finished block size, either way works and while it may be just a tad aggrivating to cut on the 7/8" it is better than having off sized blocks.  Know how to do this little math step means you can add in half square triangles to any of your patterns and get them to fit properly with nice little corners.  So if I need a block that is 4" finished and I decide I want to toss in a half square triangle then I just add 7/8" to the 4" and cut my squares 4 7/8" for a perfect 4" finished block.

Now I know several people who routinely cut their left over fabric into strips and that is how they organize their stash.  I think they all cut different sizes too which makes it interesting.  If you are one of those people then you may have to trim your precut pieces to get a standard size.  If you cut your fabric in 2 1/2" strips then trim down the strip to 2 3/8" and cut those into squares.  It is really better to do the trim first and then cut your squares.  You will have a finished 1 1/2" half square triangle when you finish your quilt.  Whatever the size you have cut, remember to trim off that little 1/8" and then cut your squares and have fun sewing.

It can really be a headache to try to sew long strips of the half square triangles into rows and little errors in seam allowances can add up over the width/length of the quilt giving you something you really don't want to deal with, so the best way to do this quilt is sew the blocks into larger blocks and then piece those together.  For example, use the half square triangles to make a 9 patch block (3 blocks long, 3 blocks wide), or a 16 patch block (4 blocks long x 4 blocks wide) and then sew those squares into the larger sections.  This will help keep any errors in seam allowances spread throughout the quilt so you will have a quilt that is easier to square, and your machine quilter will like you a lot more!!

Speaking of machine quilting.....I really didn't know what I was going to do with this particular quilt because I didn't want to do an overall pattern that would detract from the lovely piecing.  What I finally decided was an outer border of "ocean waves" pattern, and an inner border with stars and then a special little pattern in the blocks.  I did a stitch in the ditch and then put a little design in the dark fabric.

One of these days I'm going to take a class in
photography!!.  You can see the ocean waves
pattern at the top and then the stars in the second border,
and finally the design in the dark triangles more clearly
on the backing.
I used a maroon thread both top and bobbin and the quilting really doesn't show up on the front of the quilt.
I think this is a better picture of the design on the dark triangles
and the freestyle stars on the inner border.

Quilting should enhance the quilt, not take away and this quilt really didn't need anything that would make it appear busier, so I felt the maroon thread was ideal for this little quilt that already has plenty going on with the play on the light and dark fabrics and the many pieces. 

I hope you all have fun reading this and it inspires you to try out this pattern.  If you do, please let me know and if possible send a picture.  I love seeing what others are doing.  Each quilt is a unique statement of our own taste, desires, and love of quilting. 

Take time this July 4th Holiday weekend to thank God for the independence we have in the United States and our wonderful men and women in the military who fight so we can keep those freedoms.  We have a wonderful country!!  If our leaders are not doing what you think they should, pray for them.  If they are doing what you think they should, pray for them.  Prayer works.  Have a great day!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Still on the Jelly Roll

I recently have been using some Jelly Rolls.  I must confess that Elanore Burns is the one who made me do it!!  She had a great class in Paducah a couple of years ago that a couple of friends and I took and we made 3 quilts out of a Jelly Roll plus some coordinating pieces.  We had all picked up different colors and so all of our quilts turned out very differently.  I made the 3 quilts, one friend put hers together into 2 quilts and another put hers together into one quilt.  They all turned out great and so very different that no one would have realized they were all from the same basic beginning. 

Next I taught a class and everyone there put their quilts together differently and everyone had different fabrics and they all again turned out very unique. 

Well now I have bought another Jelly Roll, but didn't want to spend a lot of money on other fabric to go with it so I just picked up 1 color that went with all the fabrics, a tone on tone, and started my quilt.  I wanted something that would be easy and simple to make so I decided to make my own version of the "Fractions" Pattern.  I took my jelly roll fabrics and sewed a strip of the tone on tone down one side of each strip.  The Jelly Roll was 2 1/2" and I sewed a 1 1/2" strip of the background fabric.  Then I cut each strip into 3 1/2" rectangles.  Then I started sewing my pieced together.  I would pick out two pieces placing the jelly roll strips right sides together sewed the 3 1/2" side.  This made a nice rectangle with the background fabric on both sides and the jelly roll fabric in the middle, 6 1/2" wide and 3 1/2" in length.  I sewed all of the pieces together. 

Next I placed the pieces right sides together and sewed down the 6 1/2" side.  This gave me one block with the jelly roll pieces in the center, flanked by the background strip and a  6 1/2" square block.  After sewing all of the pieces together into the 6 1/2" square blocks I began joining the blocks.  I would place 1 block with the background strips horizontal and the next with the background strips vertical.   The worked up into a great little pattern and I just kept adding the blocks until I had used them all up in the top.

By alternating the placement of the blocks, it appears that each
block has a border.  Looks a lot harder than it was :)

As the quilt came together I decided that I wanted to put a triple border on this quilt so I picked up enough of one of the fabrics in the jelly roll to put a border around the quilt and then used the background color for the 2nd border and picked out another fabric in the Jelly Roll for the 3rd border. 

This quilt was super easy to make and was really a lot of fun.
Using the Jelly Roll really made this one easy.  The green was the only
fabric that was not in the fabric line but I'm thrilled with the

It really doesn't take a lot of imagination to use a Jelly Roll and make a great quilt.  You can purchase patterns and/or books in a variety of places, or you can do as I did and decide to just sew it together in a pattern of your own choosing.

When I purchased my fabric and decided on the border fabric, I didn't really know the final size of the quilt.  Well, I sort of ran short of fabric on my last border.  I was sewing the last border on the week after the tornado hit Ringgold, GA and the local quilt shop was totally demolished.  I thought, on no, I'll never be able to find that fabric now.  (I'm really not into buying fabric off the internet even though I know I could if push came to shove.)  I rounded up every tiny scrap I had left and sewed them together.  The last border had about 20 pieces of fabric in the last 16" but the fabric was a print and it really didn't show.  Believe me when I say, I really sweated over that one!!  This will be my tornado quilt.

In memory of the tornado and those who lost so much, I quilted tornados in the corners of the quilt.  This quilt now has more than one special memory, the tornado, and my friend who inspired me by bringing her "Fractions" quilt to me for quilting.  My wonderful friends are a constant source of inspiration and I thank God for each and every one.

I hope everyone has a great day and gets to do some sewing or quilting this week.  Its a wonderful hobby that can produce some really great useable gifts.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Okay, let's clean house!

No, not the dreaded housework!!  As much as I love quilting, in equal measure, I dislike housework.  Unfortunately it has to be done.  My quilting room has to be cleaned occassionally also.  Now my quilting room is a mass of projects in all stages of completion.  I really do generally know what I have and a large part of the time I can even find it without too much trouble, but occassionally I do misplace something and I have to hunt.  I really hate the hunting part.  I always feel so stupid that I didn't put it where I should have and that I can't remember where I put it!  When I start having to search for things I know housecleaning in on the agenda.

Such a weekend this was.  Typically when I start cleaning out my quilting room I begin by trying to pick up all the different scraps of fabric and sorting them into the scrap heap, or folding them to be put away in the bins and I just start making a stack of folded pieces to be put away.  My first goal is to get to the bottom of the chair where I pile "stuff".  Now along with various fabric pieces, there will be various pieces of batting that have been trimmed from the edges of quilts.  I don't mean just slivers of batting but pieces can range from  45" wide down to about 6" with lengths varying from 36" all the way to 120".  Typically I cut up the smaller pieces and stick them into a bag hanging on the end of my quilting machine to use under the hopping foot when the machine is not in use.  Usually I keep a good supply of approximately 3" square pieces for this and they always work very well for wiping the dust off the machine and cleaning out the tracks and little things of that nature.  Use them and toss them.  They are also great when the string supply on my floor reaches epic proportions.  Strings will cling to those little pieces of batting, and when the floor looks like it may have a shag rug on it this will grab the strings in a hurry.

Alas, I wander.  I hate to toss those large pieces of batting and realistically there are only so many small wall hangings I am going to make so what next....Wwwwwweeeeeeelllllllllll.  I have these lovely little dogs, French Bulldogs, and they all love their little doggie beds.  Goodness those little things are expensive.  Now when I am testing out a new pattern with the quilting machine I take those pieces and cut them up to the appropriate size and bind them for dog beds.  Well guess what...those excess pieces of batting are now going into those doggie beds, but I don't just use the scrap fabric where I practice new patterns.  I just take a couple of yards of fabric, not quilt quality but some I have purchased cheap to make dog beds, and layer in several layers of batting, cover it with another pieces of fabric and quilt the whole thing.  I wind up with a quilted piece of fabric that is the standard 44-45" width and 70-80" long and much thicker than your regular quilt.  Then I cut that up into rectangular pieces the size I want and just sew a quick binding, all machine sewing, no hand binding for these babies and I have 6-8-10 dog beds done with 2-3 hours of work.  I've cleaned out my chair and used those scraps of batting.  Typically I will have also found, in that same chair various pieces of binding that were left overs from some quilts I have bound and I just sew all those bindings together and use those to bind my dog beds.   All of this gives me a great sense of satisfaction.  I've used scraps, leftovers that most people toss and made something very useful that we would have had to purchase otherwise.  Now I can play Mrs. Thrifty Homemaker and my doggies love their beds and we keep an adequate supply of clean beds for my little darlings.

I frequently toss these on the end of the sofa, that's where my Dorothy
likes to sit, and they gather all the doggie hair and dirty paws.
I really love the fact that after I have spent hours, literally hours, cleaning up the living room then someone always comes in with mud on their shoes and of course they have to sit down and then prop up their feet on the footstool.  If I throw one of these little pads on the footstool then it makes cleaning  up the mess so much easier.  Sometimes I can just open the door and give the thing a good shake and it's fine, but if not, no biggie, just toss it in the wash with the rest of the dog beds and it's ready to go again.

These just happen to be the right size for my husbands foot stool.

While you may not have dogs or cats who would love their own little bed, or a hubbie that tracks in dirt and mud and props his feet dirty shoes on the ottoman, there may be some other activities you or your family participate in and you could use a few of these wonderful pads.  Do you have a child or grandchild who is active in sports.  If you ever go to those games you know how dirty the bleachers can be at the ball park, or stadium.  In the summer you don't want to lug a blanket around, but a 24 x 18 seat cover is great, especially if there was a shower of rain just before game time!  Even if you have stadium seats those little seat covers just add a nice little layer of comfort and are so easy to toss in the washer.  They are also a great item to toss in the trunk of your car just in case you have a breakdown of some kind on the road.  Great for kneeling on when you have to change a tire, great to sit the kids on so they are away from the road and out of danger.  Great for tucking into a diaper bag to have a pad to lay baby on for changing instead of laying them on that changing table you have never seen before.  They are even nice burp pads when you don't have a burp pad.  Nice little pads to have at church if your small child tends to lay down on the pew for a nap during services, or to let them sit on the floor with their toy when you take them somewhere like the doctors office.  Sizes can be adjusted for your specific purchase.  Bet if you think about it you will think of a hundred different uses for these little free pads.  You may even want to make a few as gifts for your friends because they are sure to comment on their usefulness and how creative you are to have come up with this ideal.

Happy sewing....

So sorry to be late in posting, but due to the severe weather we had yesterday, we were without power for about 18 hours yesterday evening and last night.  God blessed us with no storm damage and family who came through safe and sound.  Hope you all were likewise blessed.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lazy Days of.....What are you talking about, I don't have lazy days

Instead of Lazy Days of Summer, Winter, Spring or Autumn, it seems that I always have more to do than I will ever have time to complete, and yet I am always starting a new project, or looking up something new that I have heard.  There are times that I have to stop, take a deep breath, and look at what is there before me, instead of rushing off on a new tangent.  The wonderful thing about tangents is they are just spokes in my wagon wheel and eventually they will all connect and form the circle of my life.

Several years ago I decided that I would make paper pieced wall hangings for my step-daughter, step-daughter-in-law, and my youngest stepsons current girlfriend.  I started early, but found that I really didn't love paper piecing enough to finish the pattern I had started.  It was a lovely pattern, but....  What can I say, I just got tired of it...It had a gillion and one pieces.....My work area wasn't such as to easily accomplish my task...  Okay there are a million and one excuses but the bottom line is...they all got laid back and pushed back until they were just another UFO.

I'm sure we all have them, or have had them at some point.  That project that you started but didn't finish for whatever reason.  What do you do with those?  This week I want to give you some ideals that you can use or not, but just as food for thought.  There was that project that just wasn't coming together well and I had this large part finished but it called for more squares and then the border was pieced and the, well you get my drift.  Then there was that quilt that the colors, after I started just didn't do anything for me and it just didn't look the way I wanted it to look.  Gosh I had really worked on that one and then as I started putting it together I just didn't like it!!  Then of course there were those paper pieced pieced pieces, and several more that along the way had been shoved into the corner.  I really needed to clean up some of the mess!

Guess what, at a guild meeting someone said something about orphan blocks, and one of the ladies at that guild said just bring them to me and I'll do something with them.  She got all kinds of blocks, and they were all different sizes.  Some just didn't turn out right because of issues with seam allowances, or cutting problems and I'm sure I don't have to go into how many ways there are to mess up a block.  I know I've experienced my share of messed up blocks.  I gave some of my mishaps to her, but I still had plenty.  I really didn't want to carry them all to her because I didn't want anyone to know had bad I can mess something up.  Well you just had to be there to see some of the works of art Robbie brought to the guild meetings in the next few months.  No one would have ever guess those were orphan blocks.  I just didn't have the tallent she had for pulling things together.  She would just lay all her blocks out and pick a background color and if she had to add an extra strip on a block to make it the right size then it was added.  Some of the smaller blocks she put together with stripping and made a brand new 4 patch block of the right size to go with others.  It was amazing.  I learned a very valuable lesson from her.  We all tend to drift toward a particular palate of colors and with just an addition or two along the way, most of our orphan blocks will go together nicely into a brand new quilt.  If you want to try to bring some of your blocks together, I suggest you carry several of them with you when you go shopping for fabric so you can lay them all out with a background fabric to see if it works or see how many of them works and then adjust the size of the quilt, I mean after all you didn't have a pattern anyway so instead of a bed size quilt, how about a lap size.

Along that same train of thought, those quilt tops that I had completed a large portion of just as suddenly became lap quilts instead of half finished projects.  It was much easier to put the fewer number of blocks together with a border and "get 'er done" and it really felt good that it wasn't still just laying around and I still had the rest of the fabric that I had never cut that remained in my stash, or when I got really creative, because the fabric just wasn't one I ever planned to use again, I just sewed large squares or rectangles of the left over fabric together and had a pieced backing so I finished the project without spending any extra money, which was nice.  Another project wound up with a much smaller number of blocks, I think I had finished 6 blocks and I just sewed them together with a lasagna border out of the rest of the fabric and voila, another lap quilt.

What on earth does anyone need with so many lap quilts??  Well, I didn't need them so what would I do with them?  Gosh, I can't begin to tell you how quickly they disappeared.  One of them I kept because I found out I liked it after all.  Another lap quilt went as a gift.  Several went to a local nursing home for patients who were there and had no one bringing them those comfort items we all love.  Several more when to a hospice for the nurses to take out to their patients.  A couple went to people who were on chemotherapy for cancer and had to spend hours getting therapy in a large room that they said was always cold so they took them to chemo every week.  Some went to a church for their benevolence program.  Other places who can place your extra small quilts are home health care organizations, fire departments and police departments as well as your local Red Cross or Salvation Army or your local homeless shelter or battered women's shelter. 

Another place to use those quilts that you just don't have a use for is to wrap them around some food items, and personal care items and drop them off under that bridge where you know the homeless take shelter.  No you don't have to talk with them or come in contact.  You may want to include an encouraging Bible Verse, or pamplet.  We did this at a church I was attending several years ago with the teenage class and it was a wonderful eye opening experiece for some of those teenagers to just think about what was necessary to a homeless person.  Can you imagine living out of a plastic garbage bag?

Well back to where to I started....I took my ufo of the paper pieced flowers and cut off the unfinished edge and actually found a couple of fabrics for borders that really matched the paper piecing and I finished that UFO too. 

A really beautiful pattern for someone who is very much into
details and many steps.

I really think it turned out quite well, and It now hangs in my living room.  I just think that is where it belonged all along!!!  I'm so glad I made this project just for me, hehehe.  Maybe sometime down the road I'm show you all some of my wonderful potholders made out of stray blocks. 

Here's hoping you all have a great week and remember, giving is a wonderful feeling.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Another Photo Transfer Quilt

Typically around graduation time I hear from a lot of people about making quilts for their graduates.  They are all so very special.  This year has been no exception to the rule and I've had several people who have contacted me about quilts.  One particular lady wanted a photo transfer quilt for her granddaughter with pictures of her through the years.  She brought me a variety of pictures and I dutifully copied them off onto the fabric and went through the entire process of rinsing and ironing and trimming.  I went out and got the fabric in the colors of the college she will be attending this fall and  decided on a pattern.  I decided not to do the traditional thing with the pictures all lined up in a row or used as the center of a regular pieced block.  I decided I wanted the arrangement of the pictures to appear as through they where just tossed down across the quilt without the precision alignment.  I had no ideal it would be so simple.

The first step to accomplishing this was making the decision that I did not want to cut the picture itself but the fabric surrounding the pictures.  Therefore the pictures had to have a border.  Having no ideal what I was doing I just decided that I would put a 3 1/2" border around each picture and see what happened next.  After putting the borders on the pictures I laid them out and discovered I had 2 pictures that just didn't fit.  I had 3 rows of pictures that balanced each other and then I had 2 extras.  Oh well I will think about those later and see what I can do about them.

Well the next step was really easy.  I just took my square up rulers and started cutting those borders.  I would turn the block at an angle and cut out the new square. 

I think the picture with more angle actually looks better on the quilt. 
You will notice I tried to alternate the angles from side to side.

After I cut the blocks I wanted to add another border around the pictures, mainly because I knew it would help with aligning the pictures and give me room to manulipate the rows to the proper size for the extra long twin bed since that is the size found in most college dorms and in addition I had to use the second color fabric which was a white on white print that I had found with little baby foot prints that was adorable to go with the solid maroon. 

Grandmother had told me which picture she wanted in the center of the quilt and it was the only 8 x 10 picture and I decided that this would look better just set in straight and it was large enough that I didn't need or want a second border so that it would automatically drawn the eye right to the focal point.

By not adding the white border around this picture and using the same
fabric as the sashing, it draws your eyes right to the
main picture in the quilt.
 It wasn't until I was placing the pictures in the quilt that I discovered that I had duplicate pictures in two sizes.  I had two of them!!  Oh well.  Then when I tried to substitute the two extras I had they just didn't work at all in those spots.  What now!!  I'll think about that later.

After getting all my borders around the pictures I lined up the vertical rows and trimmed all the pictures in each row to the width of the smallest picture and sewed my vertical rows.  Next I trimmed one row and added an extra strip to another to make the rows all the same size.  Finally I added in sashing between the rows and added the outside borders.

After getting the top all pressed I laid it out on the bed and that's when I decided what I was going to do with the extra 2 pictures.  I would just place them across the sashing between some of the pictures and turn them on an angle also.  Such an easy solution.  I trimmed the border down even and used bias tape over the raw edges and zigzagged it onto the quilt top.  Now  I was ready to quilt.

I really loved the way these extra pictures added an extra punch to the quilt!

I always like to do something different and something special on quilts if the customer will give me the opportunity.  I had told grandmother that I did some "quilt writing" on some special quilts and asked if there was anything she would like me to write into the quilt with the quilting.  She actually called me a couple of times before she decided on something simple "From Mammaw" and I decided to add the year. 

Every quilt is special for one reason or another.  This is one I am sure the granddaughter will always treasure and it will never be forgotten that this was a gift from a loving mammaw.  I hope you all have a great week and do something special for someone else as a rememberance for someone you loved.