Friday, June 28, 2013

finish it Friday, 6/28/13

Welcome to finish it up Friday! I have a few finishes today. Some were waiting around for a good long time, so it feels great to wrap them up!
My daughter has a new little skirt! I had the fabric washed and dried for months. Once I sat down to sew it up, it probably took me 20 minutes. (Why do these things take so long? Good grief!) She squealed with delight when she tried it on. That will never get old! She's wearing it today and she looks adorable in it! I'm so glad that she will still wear handmade things.
This is a little zip pouch that I made last July at quilt retreat. It was ok, but a few days ago I added a gusset so now it stands up and has a bottom to it. The pouch went from "meh" to "hurray"! What a difference a gusset makes! I gifted this one to a friend and she loved it.
One more finish...I posted my mini 9 patch pin cushion tutorial! That one was on the to-do list for about 6 months. And the fact that I managed to upload all those photos on my DSL internet connection? Nothing short of amazing. :)
Since last Friday's confession I managed to piece 4 quilt backs! I even got two quilts basted. One step closer to finishing some of those WIPs. That's pretty exciting!
Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Happy Friday to you!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

mini 9 patch pin cushion tutorial

Today I am happy to share this tutorial for a mini 9 patch pin cushion with you. It's simple, fun, and best yet, it's a nearly instant gratification project. It's perfect for this time of year when many of us have limited sewing time. My hope is that you make a cute little pin cushion for yourself, then make one to give to a friend and brighten their day! Repeat as many times as you see fit. ;)

Materials Needed:
5  1" squares in a small print or solid for the 9 patch
4  1" squares in white for the 9 patch
2  2" x 1 1/2" strips for the borders
2  4" x 1 1/2" strips for the borders
1  4 1/2" square of batting
1  4" square of light or mid weight interfacing
1  4 1/2" square of fabric for the backing
crushed walnut shells* or poly fiber fill for the filling

*Crushed walnut shells are normally used for lizard bedding. They can be found in larger pet stores. I think I bought mine at Pet Smart in a 11 liter bag. That will make quite a few pin cushions! :)

All seam allowances are 1/4" unless otherwise noted.

Lay out the 1" squares in a 9 patch formation as shown.
Sew the blocks together into 3 rows. Then sew the rows together to make a mini 9 patch. Press well. The middle square finishes at 1/2"!!! (Eeeee!) I'll admit that these are fiddly-but so darn cute-so it's totally worth it!

Sew the 2" x 1 1/2" strips to the top and the bottom of the 9 patch block. Press the seams toward the borders.
Sew the 4" x 1 1/2" strips to the sides of the block. Again, press the seams toward the borders.
Layer the block on to a 4 1/2" piece of batting. Quilt with straight lines about 1/4" apart through the borders only. Since this piece is so small, I didn't even bother changing to a walking foot. I used the same foot I used to piece everything together and it worked just fine.
Trim the quilted piece to 4" square.
Following the package directions, fuse the square of interfacing to the square of backing fabric. Trim the piece to 4" square.
Place the quilted piece and the backing piece right sides together. Sew around the perimeter, leaving a small opening for turning. Back stitch at the beginning and ending of the seam. Trim corners close to (but not through) the thread line.
Carefully turn the pin cushion right side out. Use a knitting needle or a blunt end of a scissors to turn out the corners nicely.
Fill with crushed walnut shells or poly fiber fill. If you are using crushed walnut shells (as I did here) I suggest using a piece of scratch paper rolled into a funnel to make filling easier. Hand stitch the opening closed with a ladder stitch and silk thread for a nearly invisible closure.
Stick a few pins in and admire your cute little pin cushion!!!
The more you make, the cuter they are!
Trust me, I've done studies on it! By the way, these 12 were made last year.
So, there you have it! Make one, give one, spread some joy! :) As always, if you make any of these, I'd love to see them.
Terms of use: Please use this tutorial for personal use only. Make as many as you would like to keep or to give as gifts, but please do not sell items made from this tutorial. Thank you so much!

Friday, June 21, 2013

finish it up Friday

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

The weeks seem to fly by and sewing time is quite inconsistent around these parts. I'm trying to balance time with the kids, sewing time, gardening/yard work, lots of cleaning (it's never ending), all the while trying to settle in and make this house ours. I'm tired!
I counted up my quilt tops this week and I have SIX ready to finish. I may add more to the super scrap happy top (top left), but even if that quilt top doesn't count, I've got my work cut out for me. Yesterday my friend Brianne came to visit me (YAY!!!) and we picked out quilt backs for 5 of them from my stash. I'm so excited that I've got a plan because I. was. stumped. Now I just need to piece them all. Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
So, I have no sewing finish to share, but I did paint my husband's music room this week. It's so nice to get at least ONE room painted. He's excited and rightly so!

How about you? Do you have a finish to share? If so, please link up! Thanks so much for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Happy first day of summer! :)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

patchwork makes me happy

I love turning this....
...into this.
Doesn't it scream summer? Isn't it so happy?
Oh, I just love it!
The squares are cut 4 1/2" so they finish at 4".
It's a lovely lap size. 60" x 72". My favorite.
Several scraps are from the lovely miss Anna of Noodlehead, (thanks Anna!) like this lovely patch of pearl bracelets. It's the only red square in the whole quilt, but I had to include it anyway. It's so good!
Several of the scraps are from my own collection, like this long hoarded Heather Ross camper van fabric. Isn't that guy on the van so cute? I love the grey bikes, too! So many fun fabrics in one quilt top. I think this is going to be a favorite for a very long time!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Quilting on the Go blog tour

Today I'm happy to be a stop on the Quilting on the Go blog tour.
Quilting on the Go is written by my long time blog friend Jessica, who blogs at Life Under Quilts. I have admired her beautiful travel quilts for many years. In fact, she is the one who got me started on EPP over two years ago. I'm so excited for her beautiful book! It clearly covers every step of the EPP process-preparing a travel kit, choosing fabrics, how to join the pieces, very important assembly instructions-like finishing the edges of your quilt (that's a biggie for me!)-and so much more. The book has several small projects: a pincushion (adorable), a tiny sewing kit (a must make!), pouches, bags, and a pillow. There are several quilt patterns in the book, too. Of course! The book is a great resource if you are just beginning EPP, but it's also a great motivating resource if you are in the middle of an EPP project. For me, it was wonderful to see finished quilts! It gave me hope that one day I will have a finished quilt, too. May sound silly, but if you are in the middle of a hand pieced quilt, I think you know what I mean. :)
EPP (English Paper Piecing) is a slow process, yes, but I really enjoy having a portable quilting project ready at all times. The kids and I love to get out the picnic quilt (they select an activity, I grab my stitching) and we hang out on the lawn together. It's a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon!
Here's a progress picture of "Oh My Stars" quilt. The countdown has begun! I only have 27 stars left to add to the quilt. (And the filler pieces, too). I'm getting there! It's exciting to be this far along in the journey. I'm looking forward to lots of hand stitching this summer! (Really, I am!)

Since this is a blog tour, of course there are some freebies! You can visit Lesly's blog to enter to win your very own copy of Quilting on the Go. (Giveaway open through today.) Next week Lucy will be giving away a copy, too.

If you need paper pieces, you can use the code UNDER20 for a 20% discount at

Be sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour:

June 11 Lesly at Stitch Literate
June 12 Clare at Selfsewn
June 13 Christina at A Few Scraps
June 14 Victoria @ Bumblebeans
June 15 Amanda Jean at Crazymomquilts
June 16 Laura at Quokka Quilts
June 17 Lucy at Charm About You
June 18 Katy at I'm A Ginger Monkey
June 19 Ara Jane at What Ara Jane Loves
June 20 Kathy at Pink Chalk Studio Blog
June 21 Jessica at Life Under Quilts
And if you would like to purchase a copy of the book it's available at:


So, my question to you is, do you EPP? I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on it. Personally, I'm looking forward to making a hexagon EPP project after I get this diamond quilt done. I think I'm hooked!

Friday, June 14, 2013

going old school

Welcome to finish it up Friday! I was hoping to have my sewing room put together to share today, but that certainly didn't happen. Turns out I have a finished quilt top to share instead. I'll take it! :)
I went old school in the sewing department this week. I made several wonky log cabin blocks and put them on a white background. I realize this is soooo 4 years ago, but it was still fun to do. :) Isn't this such a happy quilt?
For the centers I fussy cut fabric that my sister bought for me in Sweden a few years ago. (Thanks Anita!) I think this was a great way to show case the fabric. A side benefit was using up some of my string scraps, which are always plentiful. The blocks are huge! 20" finished. When making my blocks I tried to mix up my color schemes to make it NOT make it look so much like me, but I don't know that I succeeded in that. It's really hard to work against your normal inclinations.
I haven't sashed a quilt in white for quite awhile now. I really dislike the colored threads showing through the front, so I tried pressing the final seams toward the centers. I hope that alleviates at least some of the problem. Still, there are lots of threads to trim before I baste! The quilt top is 60" x 80".
Do you have a finish to share today? If so, please link up to a specific post. Thanks for joining me!
Happy Friday to you!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

the answer

Thank you so much for joining in my guessing game! It was quite fun for all of us here to read your answers. :)

The number of quilts is....


(I KNOW! That's a lot!!!! I was surprised by the total, too.)

Jenny was the closest with her guess of 93.

Rachel gets honorable mention for guessing that it is one BIG quilt folded very carefully for the illusion of many. :) Very clever and a little bit sassy. I love it!

Several questions were asked in the comments such as:

Where do you store them all?
We use several of them daily and the rest are stored in my quilt cupboard. It was a TV armoire that I eventually took over and filled with quilts. It's a happy, happy place!

How long did it take you to accumulate that many quilts?

13 years. That is the amount of time that I've been quilting, too. Hard to believe!

Were they made by you? Gifts?

Some of them were gifts, one is vintage (purchased) and the rest were made by me. No wonder my arms hurt most days. :P

LeeAnn asked how do you make folding fun?

Heh. It took awhile to refold everything, but it was fun to "revisit" each quilt. And as Debbie brought up, quilts need refolding, anyway!

Nicolette recalled that I did a guessing game very similar to this many years ago. I checked and it was way back in 2008! It was fun to look back at that post and see the totals then.

No one asked, but I'm sure someone is curious. I've finished 218 quilts in my day (as far as I can figure). That counts wall, baby and larger. Doll quilts, place mats, pillows and the like aren't counted in that number. So, the fact that I have 91 at my house isn't too bad. (Or maybe I'm in denial.)
Either way, I have a stack of quilts that I plan to sell (when I can figure out pricing and work up the guts to put myself out there) because I certainly don't NEED 91 quilts and I definitely want to keep making more!

Now, I need to get back to quilting.....ha!!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

quilt party

We've had so many rainy days that it's forced us to find some inside fun. Yesterday afternoon we had a quilt party, which was a HUGE hit with my kiddos. We gathered (almost) every quilt in the house and spread them out in the living room. It literally looked like a sea of quilts. It was ridiculously fun.
Afterwards, there was a lot of folding to do. We made piles and did a tally. The totals were revealed at supper. It was really, really fun to take stock!
We also thought it would be fun to host a guessing game here on the blog. Guess how many quilts are in the piles shown. I'll send a little present to the winner. (Or to the person who has the nearest guess. If there are multiple winners I'll draw one from a hat.) Go on, make your guess! Oh, and please leave me your email address, too. Please, only one guess per person.

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, June 07, 2013

leftovers quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
As of 11 last night I still had 2 sides of binding on this quilt to hand stitch down. Oh, and my internet is down, too, so I wasn't sure I would be able to blog about it even if I did have a finish. But, thanks to some late night and early morning binding, I am done with my leftovers quilt! And thanks to my handy hubby, who helped me rig up a hot spot with my phone, I'm able to share my finish with you. He's quite a guy! I'm so thankful to have in-house tech support. :)
On to the quilt. The blue/green/purple pieces are leftovers from this quilt that I made for my nephew several years ago. The blocks are floating on a Kona Ash background. I used a light gray thread and quited a simple swirl over the whole thing.
My favorite block in the whole quilt is the pink/orange/yellow block. It was pieced from my never-ending supply of scraps. (of course!) This was kind of a last minute addition and I love how it gives the quilt an unexpected punch of color. I am a huge fan of grouping warm colors together and cool colors together and this was a great way to integrate the two in one quilt. I think it's really effective! I have so much more exploring that I want to do with that idea.
For the back I used a bunch of blue fat quarters from Connecting Threads (now discontinued, I'm sorry to say). They make a wonderful backing, plus, they are so soft! I sure LOVE a two-sided quilt!
For the binding I used this wonderful Central Park print by Kate Spain. I wish I had yards and yards of it. It finishes off the quilt so nicely! Incidentally, I used the same print for my last quilt finish. I don't think I've ever bound two big quilts back to back with the same binding print. It's gotta be pretty good for that to happen. And it's not even a polka dot or a stripe. Amazing! :)
I love how all the elements of this quilt work together! It measures about 68" x 92". I'm so happy to have this one finished!

How about you? Do you have a finish to share? If so, please link up to a specific post. Thank you for joining me to finish it up Friday!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

squaring up a quilt, a non-traditional approach

I'm not sure I should admit this, but I'm not one to square up quilts on a regular basis. Usually I just follow the rows of patchwork when adding the binding, then I trim off the excess batting and backing afterward. That usually works for me. But what do you do when you have wavy solids on the edges of your quilt with no patchwork to guide you? Well, you have to get a little creative!
(I didn't plan to blog about this, so I didn't take any step by step photos along the way, but I'll try to explain what I did anyway. I hope it makes sense!)

The goal was to square up my leftovers quilt. The edges weren't square after piecing it, but I figured if I started hacking at the quilt top things might go bad. So I decided to quilt it and THEN deal with the problem. Nothing like procrastinating, huh???

What I did to square things up:

I laid the untrimmed leftovers quilt on the floor, as flat as possible. (In the photo you can see the grey front and the blue back.) Then I pulled out my spiderweb quilt-which is MOSTLY square-and laid that over the top. I smoothed things out, much like I do when I baste a quilt. (Nothing is taped down at this point.) The purpose of the spiderweb quilt was to act as an approximate cutting guide. Working on one side at a time, I anchored the masking tape on the floor, then stretched it taut over the width of the quilt, parallel to the edge of the spiderweb quilt, as pictured above. (Think of stretching a string from post to post when planting a garden to achieve a straight row.) After eyeballing the line, I lowered the tape and smoothed it out very carefully onto the quilt, making sure to not distort the line. My cutting guide (the tape) was in place. I got out my 6"x 24" ruler, my rotary cutter and a mat and cut oh-so-carefully following the tape line. The long ruler kept my cutting line true. I had to be sure to move my mat with each cut! I was also VERY careful not to cut my finished quilt!  By the time I got to the 4th side of the quilt I was heaving a huge sigh of relief. It looked pretty good. I measured the final side and I was only off by 1/8" from top to bottom, which isn't bad at all! I did a bit more trimming in one particular area and called it good! I am quite happy that this technique worked or I may have ended up with a very small quilt. :)

I'd love to hear your thoughts on squaring up quilts. Do you bother? Or are you like me and only do so when completely necessary?

If you have any questions about my approach, I'll try to answer them in the comments.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

camp stitchalot and a little progress

I'm excited to tell you that I am going to be teaching at Camp Stitchalot in August! There will be 3 other teachers that weekend: Jacquie of Tallgrass Prairie Studio, Dan of Piece and Press and Rossie of Fresh Modern Quilts. Brenda of Pink Castle Fabrics is the host for the weekend. I'm excited that I get to teach at camp, but I'm beyond thrilled to be able to learn from the other teachers. What a line up!
For my class I will be teaching how to make a slab (improvisational piecing with scraps) based on the material in Sunday Morning Quilts. It's one thing to make a smaller piece (a single block) from scraps, but how do you take it beyond a block? I'll be covering how to use this technique to make a larger quilt. It's quite fun!!!
The solids above were sent to me so I could make a sample block using the slab technique. I started with Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids in Marine, Turquoise and Luna along with some Kona Cotton in Bone. I added in a few scraps of my own because I needed a bit more variety. (We were allowed to add scraps, so I didn't break the rules. No worries!) It was an interesting exercise to work with a limited color palette, but I also enjoyed the challenge of working within those parameters. It's good to stretch your skills! Speaking of stretching...I had to chop these up to make scraps in order to make my block. THAT was probably the hardest part! :)
This is my final block and it measures 20" square. I rather like it! It was fun to sew with fabrics that someone else selected. This block will go into a sampler quilt along with blocks from each of the teachers. I can't wait to see how they all play together!
If you are interested in going to camp, you can find all the details here. I hope to see you in August!
In other news.....quilting time is hard to come by these days, but I'm trying to be content with the time that I get. I don't always do so well with the contentment piece, but I'm working on it. :)
Currently in my leftovers quilt. I'm estimating that I have less than an hour of quilting time on this one. It's a big quilt, so I'm excited to have made that much progress. I'm looking forward to picking a binding fabric!
One more bit of progress...while my sewing room is still not organized, I have my cutting table cleared off. Woo-hoo! This piece was formerly an island in our kitchen, now the center of my sewing room. My husband teases me saying that I'm spoiled, but I think it's a dandy fabric holder/cutting station! I'm very thankful to have it! (By the way, gotta LOVE that billiard light above it, no?)
The island turned cutting counter (it's from IKEA) happens to hold a whole lot of fabric! Hurray!