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.

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.