Friday, January 31, 2014

A's abstract II

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

What a week it's been! Extreme cold, kids home from school and tax deadlines made for a crappy week.'s Friday and my tax stuff is DONE. Yippee!!! That totally counts as a finish.

I managed to finish a quilt top, too! My daughter (7) designed this quilt last July and it's been hanging out on the lower quadrant of my design wall ever since. Well, I decided I needed my design wall back, so I sewed it up. There's nothing like a deadline to motivate me to finish some unrelated and unimportant task. (I have a degree in procrastination. ha!)
Sewing it up was not as easy as it looks. I used some non-conventional piecing techniques and there were a few partial seams that had me puzzled. It was a fun challenge, though! I lost a little bit of the wonkiness on some of the pieces, but I did the best that I could without stressing too much.
I REALLY like it! Kids have such an intuitive sense of design. There is a great disregard to matching everything perfectly. It made me cringe a bit to put the dark teal next to the hot pink, but in the grand scheme of things, it works wonderfully. I love that there is just one little pop of orange, too. It's so interesting and I can't stop studying it. I'm glad that I am able to sew up and preserve a little bit of her artwork in this way. She is ecstatic and she's already talking about snuggling up in it. (That makes me so happy!)

It measures 66" x 62".

This is a follow up to her first abstract quilt, which she designed when she was 4. She's already talking about a 3rd quilt. That's my girl. :)

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes (and your finishes only)! I'd appreciate your cooperation in this...and so would the people linking through. Thank you!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

a little bit of random

Just a few random things to share today.....
While I think it's dandy, for some reason a couch full of pillows does NOT amuse my husband. He thinks we need to buy another couch so we have a place to sit. (I dare not tell him that I want to make 100 more!) I'm liking my little collection so far.
I've been cutting triangles for a new project and my ruler was slipping around like crazy. It was not only frustrating, but it was seriously compromising my accuracy. I didn't have any grippy thingies (technical term) on hand, so I had to get creative.
I got out the duct tape (of course!) and put a few pieces (sticky side facing the back) on the ruler so it wouldn't slip around. Much to my surprise, it worked like a charm! Plus, I get bonus points for being soooo classy! Right? :)

(If you think that's bad, you should see my mailbox. Think ratchet straps and bungee cords. Yep. We are those people. Just for a few weeks. Good times.)

Happy Wednesday! xo

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday, Monday

It sure feels like a Monday here. Good gravy, I'm sick of this cold. Winter is starting to really wear on my nerves. It's too cold to go to school again, and in MN, that's saying something! No school tomorrow, either. We may have to go to school into July if things keep up in this vein.

Ok, on to happier things!
I finished this little Irish chain scrap quilt last week. It's made from the trimmings from this quilt. The 9 patches finish at 1 1/2"! I started making them to add to my mini nines quilt, but they looked so cute on their own, they became their own quilt. I hand quilted it, very primitively, I may add. I started quilting it at guild while I was listening to a lecture on what it takes to win a blue ribbon at a quilt show. Ha! The irony of that still makes me laugh. This quilt will win no ribbons, but I love it anyway! It measures 8.25" x 11.5". It's scrap project #47/101.
Last Friday I made another trip to SR Harris. I really shouldn't have gone (it's like an alcoholic walking into a bar, I tell ya'), but I went anyway. This was me showing restraint. (Are you laughing yet? I don't blame you!)
My daughter had a birthday party to go to on Saturday, so I sewed up a few little zip pouches for the occasion. I used this tutorial for the larger one (although I boxed out the corners with a 4" measurement instead of 2"). The little one is just a copy of a coin purse I made years ago. From what I hear, they were a hit. The little pouch was made from scraps, so it's #48. Almost half way to my goal of 101. Sweet!

Happy Monday to you!

Saturday, January 25, 2014


The winner of the book Quilt Improv is Kathy S!
Thanks to all of you who entered the giveaway!

Friday, January 24, 2014

a quilt for my brother

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
A few weeks ago my sister mentioned that my brother was in need of a twin sized quilt for his couch. About that time the economy blocks were everywhere on Instagram, and after seeing about 100 photos of them, they became somewhat irresistible. The final straw was seeing this photo. The muted color scheme really inspired me. Knowing that this quilt would serve two purposes, I gave myself permission to start something new. (New year, new quilt!) I used all stash fabrics, some that I had for over 3 years, so that felt pretty great!
I quilted it very simply, using (not so) straight lines, about 1/8" from each horizontal and vertical seam line. That didn't feel like quite enough quilting, so I did a single line of quilting on the diagonal lines. I didn't stress over perfection in the quilting. (That takes some effort for me!) In the end, it turned out to be a very soft and snuggly quilt.
I pieced the back, being certain to use up the 3 trial blocks I made when figuring out the measurements. No additional orphan blocks cluttering up the studio. Yay!
I machine bound it and that was FUN! I didn't have quite enough of the zig zag fabric to bind the whole quilt, so I added a strip of polka dots to fill the gap. Once again, polka dots save the day. :)
You can find the block measurements here.
It measures about 66" x 91".
I'm terrible at surprises, so when I saw my brother last weekend I showed him a photo of his quilt top. He seemed excited about. I also asked if he minded that there would be flowers on the back. (He doesn't mind at all.) I'm looking forward to giving him the finished quilt. I think he (and his kids) will use and love it. Just the way it should be!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

a spiral (and oval) quilting tutorial

As requested, I'm going to share a tutorial on how to spiral quilt. (I'll talk a little bit about oval quilting, too.) I've done a few quilts in this fashion now and I've learned a few things along the way. Hopefully this tutorial will give you the confidence to try this technique!
The quilt I'm showing in the photos is my scrap vortex quilt, which you can see finished here. It is a king size! Smaller quilts are easier to spiral quilt, obviously, but it is feasible to do almost any size on your home machine. If your back can take it, that is! :)
First, find the center of your quilt. The polka dot was within 1" of the center, so I used it as the starting point. Close enough! It would have looked awkward to have the center just a bit displaced from such a natural focal point. I drew a circle and spiral with a water soluble marker. (I use the clover brand fine tip disappearing pen. It's a great one!) I tried quilting the very center with my walking foot on my Janome 3 different times, but it never was quite smooth enough. So, finally, I moved over to the JUKI and used my free motion foot.
That looked so much better! Bury your knots, as shown in this tutorial. It's a little bit of a pain, but it's soooooo tidy when you are done! I bury my knots as I go, so I don't have a bunch to deal with at the end.
At this point I switched over to my Janome and used the walking foot to quilt the rest of it. I use the width of the walking foot as a guide, so the quilting lines end up being about 1/2" apart. It's perfect spacing! I keep my needle in the center position.
Once in awhile the width of my lines waver. Here I was about 1/8" off or so. In the big scheme of things, that's ok! You really won't notice it in the end. Just try to keep the arcs as smooth as possible.
'What do you do about the bulk?'
That's a fair question, if you look at the photo above! The good news is that only 1/2 of the quilt (or less) will be in the throat of your machine at any time. It takes a lot of turning and shifting, but as you spiral your way outward, it gets easier. Work slowly, adjust often and most the bulk of the quilt so it doesn't pull against the needle.
I used the dining room table when I was quilting the center. It was ideal because there was a lot of room to spread out the bulk of the quilt. (A cushion for your chair is a must, too. For real!) After my husband gave me too much grief for having half a basement to quilt in AND taking up the dining room table, I moved back down to my normal quilting quarters.
My table downstairs isn't very large, so I set up two tray tables right next to my work space to support the quilt. (An ironing board would work well, too.) It helps a bunch!
Once you get to the corners, just continue to echo the arcs, starting and stopping at the edges. (This is where one can really appreciate an auto thread cutter!) It's very common to breathe a big sigh of relief once you hit the final corner. But it's oh-to-satisfying to be able to quilt your own quilts. Even (or especially) the big ones!
For the oval quilting on the lipstick quilt I used the same technique, except I drew an oval (a very long oval) in the center. I used the stripe of the center block as a guideline. I used my walking foot for the center, but wasn't thrilled with it. After I finished quilting, I went back and ripped out the center lines that were bugging me and used my free motion foot to re-do the quilting. It took me 3 tries to make it look decent and in the end I had to forgive myself for a few wobbly lines. {Perfection is over-rated, right?}

I think I've learned my lesson and next time I will just start with my free motion foot for the center and hopefully I'll save myself some stitch ripping. It seems to work the best for me, anyway.

I would like to give a shout out to Marianne, who posted her great spiral quilting tutorial. It gave me the idea and the confidence to give spiral quilting a shot in the first place. Thanks, Marianne!

If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments. Happy spiral quilting!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

quilt improv blog tour

I'm happy to be participating in the Quilt Improv book tour today.

(photo from Quilt Improv, used with permission)
This book, by Lucie Summers, grabbed me from the first page. I read it in one sitting, almost every word on every page. The photography alone is inspiring! The quilts are gorgeous. I love that they were inspired by everyday life. It's a really beautiful book.

(photo from Quilt Improv, used with permission)
I've done a fair amount of improv piecing, so I wanted to try my hand at something new-to-me. I chose the quarter circles block, which Lucie describes as a freehand version of the drunkard's path block. I was a little nervous to jump in, but I had a blast!
My quilted storage boxes provided the color inspiration for my project. I saw them stacked precariously upon one another and the color combo caught my eye from across the room. (That was probably over a year ago.) I knew that I would use this color scheme for something, someday.
This is what I came up with when I combined the two. I'm very happy with it! Notice that there are LOTS of polka dots. Always. I thought that the mis-matched curves would make me a little crazy, but I was able to embrace the improv. Yay! (You never know until you try it!)
 I quilted the patchwork with some honeycomb quilting, then turned it into a pillow cover.
 The backing is a fun and bright print by dear stella. (I'm dreaming of spring, apparently.)
The pillow cover is about 20" square. This was such a fun project to make! I'm glad that I branched out and I'm looking forward to revisiting the technique again, on a larger scale. So many possibilities!

(By the way, this is scrap project #46/101!)

F & W Media is kindly offering a giveaway of this fantastic book. If you would like to win a copy of your very own, please leave a comment in this post. In your comment, I'd love to hear what inspires YOU. Please, only one comment per person. Be sure I have a way of contacting you, should your name be drawn. Good luck!

edited to add: the giveaway is now closed.

Be sure to check out the other stops on the blog tour and the stitch, craft, create blog, too.


Mon 16th – Summersville
Wed 18th – The Long Thread
Thur 19th – A Stitch In Dye
Fri 20th – Fresh Modern Quilts
Sun 29th – Quiltville’s Quips & Snips


Mon 6thDiary of a Quilter
Wed 8th – Blueberry Park
Thur 9th –  Sew Take a Hike
Fri 10th – Very Kerry Berry
Mon 13th – Sew Justine Sew
Wed 15th – Lily’s Quilts
Thur 16th – Cut To Pieces 
Fri 17th – Happy Zombie
Mon 20th – Freshly Pieced
Tue 21st – Fresh Lemons Quilts
Wed 22nd – Crazy Mom Quilts
Thur 23rd – Gen X Quilters
Fri 24th – Handmade by Alissa
Mon 27th – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Tue 28th – I’m a Ginger Monkey
Wed 29th – Sew Mama Sew

Friday, January 17, 2014

the lipstick quilt

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
This is probably the funkiest quilt I've ever made. I'm very happy with the results! It was challenging at some points, as all quilts are. It started with some mustard colored blocks from Dan's curves class last summer at Camp Stitch-a-lot. A few weeks later I came up with the setting. I love the non-traditional layout and the fact that there are 9 blocks, but it's still a rectangular quilt. (Square quilts are not my favorite.)
It's made up of mostly kona cottons and then just a few prints. I like how the two play together. I also like that one odd triangle.
To continue with the funky theme, I quilted it in one concentric oval. It took awhile and a lot of thread. One of the reasons that I chose that quilting design was because I didn't want the back to be all thread-y. (Pebbling was the runner up idea, but the back would have looked like a hot mess, probably. I didn't want that.)
The backing was a perfect unbelievable match...found at SR Harris. I love how the quilting shows up on the print.
For binding I squeaked by with what I had in my stash. I didn't have enough fabric of either color, so I did a little of each. I would have matched the main color to the binding, if I had had enough, but this is a fun design element, too. I machine bound it. It's been awhile and I need more practice! (I need to let go of just a few imperfections. Sheesh!) But I love the quick finish that it produces. It's durable, too.

It's washed and dried already, so it's all crinkly. It measures 61" x 84".

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes (and your finishes ONLY, please). Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

economy block quilt top

I finished my economy block quilt top this morning!
This will be for my oldest brother.
He's my only sibling that hasn't gotten a quilt from me yet.
(The other 5 have.)
I love the moody color scheme.
It's so appropriate for this time of year.
I made 88 blocks for an 8 x 11 layout.
It measures 66" x 91".

You can find the measurements for the blocks here, if you'd like.

Happy Wednesday!

Monday, January 13, 2014

vintage quilt revival blog tour

Today I'm happy to be part of the blog hop for a lovely book called Vintage Quilt Revival. It's written by 3 talented ladies: Katie of Swim, Bike, Quilt, Lee of Freshly Pieced and Faith at Fresh Lemons Quilts. The book features 20 traditional blocks and shows multiple ways in which you can use them, including 3 different sampler quilts. It's fun to see each sampler quilt and how it reflects the style of it's maker. Most of the projects are paper pieced, but not all of them are. (If you are like me, you might breathe a little sigh of relief!) I've found that the instructions are spot on and easy to follow.
Each participant on the blog hop was asked to choose a block to sew up. Katie, Lee and Faith collected the blocks and will be sewing them together to make 3 charity quilts. I love that idea!
I made the classic dove in the window block, but I put a little scrappy twist on my block, of course! It was very fun to sew up. I could see doing an entire quilt of these.
I also decided that I wanted to sew up a project from the book. I took a stab at the rainbow mosaic pillow. I don't paper piece often, but it's nice to revisit the technique from time to time. (It seems that I need to 're-learn' it each time.) This was challenging for me! I got a little frustrated (precision is NOT my middle name!) but it was a good lesson in perseverance. I'm glad I tackled the project and in a few days I'll probably like it a lot. :) A little bonus, I worked from the scrap baskets, so this is scrap project #46/101.

Be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog hop:

January 13th (Monday):
Crazy Mom Quilts – Amanda Jean
Don’t Call Me Betsy – Elizabeth
Film in the Fridge – Ashley
Happy Quilting – Melissa
Noodlehead – Anna
January 14th (Tuesday):
I’m A Ginger Monkey – Katy
Quilting Is My Therapy – Angela
A Quilting Life – Sherri
Sew Mama Sew – Kristin
Tall Grass Prairie Studio – Jacquie
January 15th (Wednesday):
Christa Quilts – Christa
Diary of a Quilter – Amy
Quilting Gallery – Michele
Sew Take a Hike – Penny
V and Co. – Vanessa
West Coast Crafty – Susan
January 16th (Thursday):
Bijou Lovely – Holly
Don’t You Know Who I Am – Sukie
Lily’s Quilts – Lynne
One Shabby Chick – Amber
January 17th (Friday):
Swim, Bike, Quilt – Katie
Freshly Pieced – Lee
Fresh Lemons Quilts – Faith

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, January 10, 2014

3 is a magic number-finished!

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
Thanks to a deadline (in the form of a quilt guild meeting last night), I pushed to get my "3 is a magic number" quilt finished. It simple patchwork made from scraps. My favorite!
Each square was individually cut at 3". (I talked a little about how I randomize patchwork in this post.) All the squares were joined into rows (not blocks) and those rows were sewn together. The main reason I do this is so that the pressing is uncomplicated. Rows 1, 3, 5, etc. get pressed to the right. Rows 2, 4, 6, etc. get pressed to the left. Then, I pin at each intersection.
Many thanks to my friends who continually contribute to my scrap baskets. My patchwork is all the better (and more interesting) because of it!
Originally I was going to stipple this one because it's been awhile! However, due to the limited amount of thread I had on hand, (and the fact that the thread has discontinued all together) I went with simple loop-d-loops. One line of loops through each strip of squares. No marking required! I was able to quilt it in just a few hours.
Oh, how I love this backing! I scored the Anna Maria Horner fabric at Mill End for less than $4/yard! (I may have bought 9 yards of this color way....and several of another color way.) I added the strip of patchwork squares to break up the repeat. They were already cut and set aside for 'someday'.  I couldn't believe how well they matched!
It measures 60" x 75". This is scrap project #45/101.

One little side note: After a lot of bumbling around and many failed attempts over several weeks, I  finally figured out how to add a translucent layer so one can actually read my watermark on busy photos like this. I'm so excited! Perhaps by the time I turn 75 I'll be a Photoshop expert. Ha!

Ok, now it's YOUR turn! Do you have a finish to share today? Please link up! always.....thank you for joining me for finish it up Friday! xo

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

scrap project round up

I'm steadily working on my goal of making 101 scrap projects. I finished some of these today, some have been done for months and some were done in between. It's high time I catch up documenting them!
This was supposed to be a pillow form, but I decided that the fabric is cuter than any cover that I could sew up! I bet you are thinking that it's an awfully big scrap. It is! (Thanks, Anna!) It's a light weight canvas, so I didn't want to mix it with my quilting cottons. It makes a dandy little throw pillow.
I was playing with some scraps the other day (yay!) and this ended up being a stand alone block. I practiced hand quilting it (as a warm up piece) and turned it into a little coaster. It measures about 4 1/2" square. I'm so happy to have a usable piece rather than another orphan block hanging around. (They accumulate before you know it!)
I call it a coaster, but in all reality it will probably end up as a mini dolly blanket. Isn't that the CUTEST? My daughter will do all kinds of happy squealing when she sees this. (Full disclosure: That is my stuffed toy. Not hers. I may have done all kinds of squealing, too!)
One little side note:
Binding a coaster feels so ridiculous-but I love it all the same! Joining that last seam is a bugger on something this small, so I tried something different. I laid out the binding first-sort of a dry run, if you will. Next, I cut it to length, sewed up the seam and THEN attached it to the coaster. It worked!!! How cool is that? (I used single fold binding, which is perfect for small projects.)
This is an orphan block-turned quilting test block-turned coaster. The front isn't my favorite....
...but I love the back. It's about 6.5" finished. I used more scraps to bind it!
Retreat name tags from last November. I'm going to count these as one single project, not 16 separate ones. I'm excited that I get to use my name tag on a regular basis at guild meetings. (It's the little things...I tell ya.)
I'm not sure where this scrap came from, but I LOVE it! I have a running joke with my friend Brianne that anytime before noon is coffee o'clock, so this was a gift for her. This is the front...
...and this is the back. I LOVE THIS! (And she did, too. Yay!)
I made one for me, too! I machine quilted these while my BIL watched and he was QUITE impressed. That was fun! (I used mine for the first time today and I spilled tea on it already. I'm so bummed! I guess the entire thing will get a tea bath...)
#35, #36, #37
Two mini thread catchers and one normal sized thread catcher. The largest one holds my low volume tiny ticker tape pieces.
The two minis were requested by my husband to hold sweetener. (We've become serious tea drinkers in this house. What else are you going to do when it's -20 degrees?)
Another ticker tape on canvas. Another gift for a friend.
Tiny ticker tape on canvas. (3D, even!)
 #40 and #41
Two quilted rice bags. One for me, one for a friend. These are the fronts....
...and the backs.
 I LOVED this detail. Wish I had a whole quilt like this. Can you imagine?
#42 and #43
Two more rice bags. I made these for family during their holiday visit. I sewed them up hours before they headed home. I skipped the quilting (to save time) and used decorator weight fabric instead. Those are the hardest scraps for me to use, so that's a bonus! Also, the size of the scraps dictated the finished sizes. Use. it. ALL! :)
A quilt as you go pot holder. (Instructions from my friend Tara's awesome craftsy class.) Must. make. more.

There! Now I should be all caught up. I hope this inspires you to use your scraps! It's great fun.
The custom quilt has been delivered. It was MUCH appreciated and they love it. YAHOO!!! (I'm so relieved!) My original time calculations were wrong. Apparently the power quilting I did on the quilt fried my brain. :) The totals have been updated in the original post, if you want to check it out. Thanks for all your positive comments on the post, too. You guys are the best cheerleaders. Ever.