Allietare: Clue 6, part 1

January 26, 2016

Updated 2/3 to add link to Bonnie’s mystery link page.

Before I show you where I am on Allietare, I need to get the required Snowmagedon pictures out of the way. The official total for my town is 28.8 inches. By the time I got out to measure in the backyard, there had already been some melting and compacting. The yardstick says about 22.5. The picture on the right is a bench.


The left picture below is from my front door. I know the steps and sidewalk are under there somewhere. The right picture shows my car across the street, just right of the center of the picture. It looks like less snow than there is because I’m looking down on it from an elevation. My house sits up on a little hill.

My car after I shoveled and before the plow came. On the right I’m trying to show the snow pile next to the cars. What you can’t tell is that it is almost as tall as I am.

Here you can see a person emerging from behind the snow pile just to the left of center. On the right is a picture looking down the court from my house. There are driveways where those cars are.

Linda claims this is the first big storm in decades. How could she forget Snowmageddon 2010 that brought 2.5 feet of snow for my birthday? Not to mention the other two storms that winter that also brought us 2 feet of snow each. Maybe she doesn’t remember it because she doesn’t have to shovel it.

This was the first time in years that neighbors pitched in to help me shovel. The help was gratefully accepted. Next week is my Medicare birthday so I really shouldn’t be shoveling at all. Enough already with the snow. On to quilting.

You’d think I’d get a lot done while being snowed in but I didn’t. I did get all the blocks and setting triangles finished.

I laid out a few blocks at guild last week to see how they looked. Some of my neutrals and golds don’t have enough contrast from a distance but that isn’t much of a problem since no one will be looking at this from a distance other than during show and tell sessions. With the X-rated fabric, I probably can’t enter this in my guild show in 2018 because that would surely offend someone if they looked at it closely enough to identify that print.


Maria had her finished top there. It took me a while to figure out why the design looked so different. It has to do with the values of the fabrics she chose. Her 4-patches are close in value so from a distance look like a lozenge.


Maria’s top


My Allietare blocks laid out on my design bed.

Maybe I’ll get back to sewing on Allietare next week or maybe the week after. Yesterday, I sewed a binding on one of the three quilts waiting for that. I’d like to get the other two done while the machine area is set up to deal with that.

See where others are on the mystery.

I need to select fabrics for my class on Saturday. I have to finish my block for Mimi’s Grad School class on Monday. My bird is currently blind and crippled (no eye and no feet). I’ll try to write more about that project next week with show and tell from the class. I also need to get started on the Jinny Beyer BOM.


Allietare: Clue 5

January 5, 2016

Yup. Still a week behind. I always get depressed about the mystery when Bonnie releases the reveal on New Year’s Day or does a fast finish like she did with Easy Street. I’m always at least 2 clues behind by that point because of holiday travel.

I finished clues 4 and 5 on Saturday.


Clue 4


Clue 5

Haven’t had a chance to work on it since Saturday. Sunday was Sew and Tell, Monday was Mimi’s Grad School and guild and today was the heat pump guy for the winter maintenance. I though I’d be able to do some work today but I spent the day moving things out of piles and closer to where they belong. We won’t discuss how long some of those piles have existed.

One of the things I found today was a bag from Row by Row. In it were these fat quarters that I bought to use in the mystery. Crap. Well, I guess I can use them on the back.


Oh, just realized I can use the gold and coral in as centers for 2 of the blocks. Now I feel better.

See how far everyone else has gotten at this week’s link-up.

Mimi Dietrich’s Grad School Surprise

January 1, 2016

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a member of Mimi Dietrich’s grad school class. We meet once a month at Bears Paw Fabrics in Towson, MD. In December we had a potluck along with our normal show and tell.

After lunch I returned to my seat to find a dowel next to my stuff. I thought, “Who put this stick here?” Then I noticed that there were sticks at other seats, also. I wasn’t the only one wondering what was up. After I saw that everyone had one, I figured it was part of the surprise Mimi said she had for us.

Mimi uses grad school members as stunt quilters for her books when she needs more sewing done than she can accomplish in time by herself. In 2004, she asked us to work on pieces for Easy Applique Samplers. Mimi designed each piece, selected the fabrics and, for some, specified techniques.

The surprise was that she decided to give them to those of us in grad school! Rather than keep them stuck in a cupboard until she dies and expecting her sons to do something with them, she wanted to let them go out into the world.

I received the one I worked on. I did the applique (fused with hand blanket stitch) and embroidery. Barbara Laskowski quilted it. Mimi did the binding, sleeve and label.


Linda is away dealing with a death in the family, so missed the meeting. Because she needs some sunshine in her life right now, Mimi felt this one should go to Linda. I don’t know who did the work on this one.


Allietare: Clue 4

December 30, 2015

Yep. Clue 4. I’m a week late. This is the clue where I always get behind because of holiday travel.


Clue 4 ready to sew


This is as far as I got.

I think this clue looks like martini glasses.


A pile of little bonus triangle squares just from the sets I’ve sewn


Bow ties sewn as leader/enders between sets of clue 4.


Four flowers on each stalk opened up right before I left. This is a record. Of course, by the time I got home last night they were all shriveled up except the last two to open.

While I was in Illinois, my friend, Becky, and I wandered through a local antique shop. I found this interesting design, circa 1940s I think. It wasn’t well made so I only came home with pictures.




Can you see the octagonal block? Squares fill in the gaps between blocks. I didn’t find the exact block in Brackman’s book but 445.8 (Wedding Ring Tile) is close. Nothing exactly like it in Jinny Beyer’s book, either. I’ll have to show it to her at club next week and see what she thinks.

If I were small enough, I’d have snapped up this beaded dress, even if the only place I had to wear it was around the house. They were asking less than $40 for it.



Detail of bodice. Love that sweetheart neckline.


Detail of skirt. Not a very good photo, I’m afraid.

See how others are doing on the Allietare mystery at this week’s link-up.

Allietare: Clue 3

December 14, 2015

Friday gave us clue 3. Because I’m cutting with the Accuquilt dies, I’m sewing squares instead of strips. Lots and lots of little squares.


Squares all cut. Ready to sew twosies.

Each fabric is in its own little pile. It looks like there aren’t many golds but each gold pile has two fabrics in it. I don’t have as many golds as I do other colors.


Twosies all sewn.


The twosies piled by neutral color, ready to be sewn into the 4-patches. I arrange the pieces in a way that gives me maximum scrappiness. I randomized the neutrals so that should be no two 4-patches with the same neutrals. I realized while I was sewing these that I should have done it so that the golds didn’t repeat pair-ups in the 4-patches.

Some of my neutrals are a little dark or have too strong a print to provide good contrast with some of the lighter golds. Too bad. This is the way it’s going to be.


Who’s this? The 4-patches are all done. I finished the sewing this morning while catching up on the last quilt cam.

I still have to cut the neutral rectangles for this clue. I’ve got 3 more days to finish that before the next clue. See what others are up to at the linky party for clue 3.



Allietare: Clue 2

December 8, 2015

Friday morning gave us the second clue for the mystery. Thoughts of the new clue coming drove everything else out of my mind. When I felt awake enough to want to look at the clue, I turned over and reached for the tablet. I saw the time on the clock and suddenly remembered that I had an appointment for a haircut that morning. Oh, crap! What time is the appointment? Whew. I had 10 minutes I could use to take a look at the clue before hopping into the shower to get to the appointment on time.

Got home around 11:30 and started cutting.


Uh, oh. By noon I ran out of fabric for my constant fabric but I hadn’t finished cutting for the clue. Normally, I round up when buying for a specific pattern. Had I followed my normal practice, I would have bought 2 yards instead of the specified 1.5 yards. I guess I was trying not to end up with extra fabric for stash the day I bought it and only got the 1.5 yards. I ran out because I neglected to consider the waste for die cutting.

Now I had a dilemma. The quilt shop where I bought it is a 45 minute drive from my house. I would be at the shop on Monday for an event. Could I wait until then? No, I couldn’t. I would have spent the weekend worrying about whether they had the fabric or not. I went to a closer shop first in case they had the same fabric. They didn’t. Didn’t take me long to decide to go ahead and go to the other shop. I chalked up the cost of gas and time as payment to relieve the anxiety of not having the fabric.

I quickly found the fabric and bought another yard. I suspect we may be finished with the constant fabric which would mean I could have gotten by with half a yard but better to be safe than sorry. I can always use the extra for binding if that color works for that.

I used the flippy corners method so the constant squares were cut with the die cutter. The rectangles were a different story. They are a non-standard size so no die for them. Since I only needed one strip per fabric, I went to my next best tool for accurate strip cutting – the Stripology ruler. Go to the linked site to see details about the ruler. It is similar to the June Tailor Shape Cut and Shape Cut Plus but better.


It has slots for the rotary cutter every half inch. I cut in the 0 slot to cut off the raggy edge on the left and then in the 2″ slot.


Shows where the strip was cut.

I starched the strips based on this video by Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings. The strips do distort a little while they dry or maybe it’s because I don’t have a gridded ironing surface and iron them crooked. I’ll have to experiment with that. But, I find it doesn’t matter that much when I’m cutting small pieces from the strip. I can work around any distortion. I also use the Stripology to cut the rectangles from the strips.



Four perfect rectangles. I doubled the strip before cutting.

For Grand Illusion, the 2014 mystery, I drew lines for the flippy corners. That wasn’t fully successful for me. Earlier this year one of my old tools turned up. The tool is The Angler from Pam Bono designs (no longer available). I forgot to take pictures while I was sewing. The tool is taped to the machine bed. Instead of drawing lines on the fabric, you just position your piece under the needle and guide the fabric according to the lines on the tool.


Clue 2 all done. The squares are on the right. Wonder what makes the purples glow in the photo?


What’s this?

Call me crazy (and many have) but, yes, I went there. 160 bonus triangles that finish .75″. I’ll have to wait and see what else is left over to add to it for a miniature quilt of some sort when Allietare is complete.


It measures a perfect 1.25″. The ruler must have slipped while I was moving things around to try (unsuccessfully) to eliminate the glare and shadow.

This is a picture of The Angler after I’ve sewn the last bonus triangle square. It occurred to me that if the original line can be sewn following lines on the tool, I could draw additional lines that would produce bonus triangles of a specific size. The blue lines are the lines I drew. On the right behind the needle, you can see the corner of the fabric touching a line. The stitching from the first line is lined up with a line to the left of the needle. I hope all that makes sense.


While this tool is no longer available, I know of three similar tools on the market now:

Too bad none of them had the bonus triangle square idea. My tool has seen better days and is pretty flimsy. I’d like to see the Seams So Easy tool – sounds like it is a thicker product. I have an idea how to temporarily modify it with quarter-inch tape to do bonus triangles.

These tools aren’t just for sewing flippy corners. You can also use them for straight quarter-inch seams.

See what everyone else has done at this week’s link-up.

Allietare: Clue 1

November 30, 2015

I showed my colors and fabric choices in an earlier post.

I part ways with Bonnie when I find other techniques that work better for me. A case in point is the EZ Angle ruler. I used it for a couple of earlier mysteries but was never happy with the results. I don’t know if my cutting and sewing aren’t quite compatible for accurate results or if it is something else. I do know that the pieces I cut weren’t always the same size. I think I turned the ruler wrong when trying to cut the other way – watch Bonnie’s video for the right way to do it. I gave up on rotary cutting the pieces because I found a better way for me. What does work for me is heavily starching the fabric and die cutting the pieces.


The last batch of pieces, cut to the die size, ready to process.


Pieces laid out in bin ready to be starched.


Pieces soaked with starch.


Starched pieces laid out on the drying rack. I’ve found that ironing them dry distorts the grain. I let them completely dry.


Dry, starched pieces ready to iron. Iron them flat.


The die I’m using. It cuts 6 pieces from each layer of fabric.


Layer the fabrics with right sides together. That way they’re ready to sew. Although the Accuquilt Go! will cut 6 layers, I prefer to do 4 layers.


After cutting. The cutting mat has been removed.


Carefully peel off the excess aroung the outside. There are often threads still holding the pieces together at the corners where 2 shapes meet. Have a pair of small scissors handy to cut any threads that weren’t cut by the die.


There is some waste but I’m willing to pay that price for the accuracy. Notice that the pieces have engineered corners. No dog ears to cut off when the pieces are sewn together.


Oops! I put one of the fabrics the wrong way on the die. I didn’t notice till I’d sewn three of them with right side of the neutral to the wrong side of the constant fabric. Had to do these over.




Clue 1 finished.

I was very pleased to see this the other day. Two bud stalks on my antique amaryllis. Read the story of the mother plant (scroll to the end of the post).


See how others are doing with clue 1 at Bonnie’s link-up party.

Giving Thanks at the Racetrack

November 26, 2015

My immediate family lives 700+ miles away. I always go to family for Christmas but never for Thanksgiving. I used to go to a friend’s house until she moved out of the area. I was on my own for a couple of years until Caren invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family at Laurel Park Racetrack. I’ve been doing that for many years now. Sometimes her mother and son joined us but now it’s just the three of us.


Caren and Paul

Most people think going to the races for Thanksgiving is weird. We get free coffee or apple cider and a donut in the morning, a nice buffet dinner at noon, a fun day of racing and go home with a free pie. What’s not to like about that?

In past years, we got a ticket for a free pie from the Maryland Jockey Club with our paid admission to the track. Last year, they did away with the free pie because it was too expensive. Paul thought it was because people would come in with a bunch of kids and go home with a stack of pies. This year, they brought back the free pie but you had to buy a racing program to get it. Who’s going to buy a program for a kid? Another change this year was free admission to the racetrack and no coupon needed for the coffee/cider and donut.

Today the temperature outside was around 60 degrees and sunny, great conditions for racing. Inside, it wasn’t too warm and wasn’t too cold. We didn’t get good table service for drinks but we never do. Our server always seems to disappear and never comes by when we want to order something.

Caren and I were unusually lucky today, cashing a lot more tickets than we normally do. Poor Paul only cashed one ticket all day. That’s unusual for him so he was a little unhappy.

If I counted correctly, I actually made money today! It’s been a very long time since I made money at the track. The day started with me cashing winning tickets for the first 3 races. Wow! I decided I better get some lottery tickets in case my winning streak extended to that. From then on, I won some races and lost some races.

There is always at least one race where I forget to check my betting slips before I leave the teller window. Once you leave, that’s it. When I forget to check is always when the teller makes a mistake. Never fails. Ever. Usually, it would have been a winning ticket for me if the teller hadn’t messed it up. This time, the teller gave me two bets on the same horse, instead of the two horses I selected. Well, luckily, the horse ended in the money so her mistake worked in my favor for a change. And, that horse had higher odds so the payment was pretty good. By pretty good, instead of $3.60 or so, it was $20+. We’re not talking big money here.

We can’t really see much of the race from the clubhouse tables so we watch on the monitor that is at each table.


Our normal view of the race. This is the one where I had the double ticket on #8. Although she’s leading at this point, she finished in second place.

We could see the finish line from our table.


This isn’t the finish line but it’s close. They either just finished or are just about to finish. This is another one when my horse, #13 ended in the money and paid a nice amount.

In previous years, they’ve only run nine races and usually they had a small field. Last year several races only had five horses. This year there were ten races and some races had over 10 horses.

Good food and good company made for a great day.

Allietare: The Fabrics

November 25, 2015

The first Bonnie Hunter mystery I did was 2012’s Easy Street. I used her colors because it was the first time. I intended to use different colors for the next mystery but her colors were the ones I had the most of, so I had to use them. Last year, for Grand Illusion, I didn’t have any other ideas so I used her colors except for substituting brown for black.

Earlier this year, while cutting from my floral fabrics, I ran across this one and the color scheme really spoke to me. I hoped to be able to use it for this years mystery. It looks washed out in this picture. It shows up better in some of the other pictures.


I anxiously awaited the reveal of this years colors. I can’t remember when I was this excited. It was like when I was a little kid waiting for Santa. Every day of that week in October I went to Bonnie’s blog, sure that the colors would be released that day, only to be disappointed.

When they were finally released, I saw the first color: gold. Well, darn, my scheme has gold. The second color: red. Well, darn, mine has coral which is different but in the same color family. Then, our schemes parted company. Great, mine will work!


The first draft of gold fabrics.


These were the winners. Everything looks very brown and washed out in this picture instead of gold. The dark fabric is my constant. I was checking to make sure there was enough contrast with the darker golds.


These were eliminated for being too dark, too light or just not quite the right color.

I neglected to take a picture of the corals before I started messing with them.


Sorted into 4 color groups with the inspiration fabric in the center.


All of the fabrics lined up with the inspiration. Should I remove the brighter pinks? I don’t know why this picture is sideways.


The brighter pinks have been removed in this picture. I think I’ll leave them in.

For the constant color, Bonnie used grey, I’m using a beautiful cinnamon brown.


This picture doesn’t do justice to the rich color. As you can see, it’s a perfect match to the inspiration fabric.

Where Bonnie used black, I will be using dark blue/blue purple.


The dark blue and purple in the inspiration fabric.


The candidates.


The rejects. Some are too light. The color is wrong in some. I really wanted to use the batik on the right but it has too many colors in it and stood out too much.


I’m leaving this one in. Yes, the print is what you think it is. And, although it doesn’t show in the picture, it has glitter on it. You’ll never guess who gave me this fat quarter – Baltimore’s own applique queen, Mimi Dietrich! One woman in our grad school class used a piece in her Y2K quilt and told her grandchildren it was dog bones and worms.


The winners for the dark color.

For neutrals, my inspiration fabric calls for a rosy beige. This is a very difficult color of neutral to find. Fortunately, I have plenty in my fabric collection.


The candidates.


These are the lightest ones. I won’t use the bottom two but I’m torn about the top one. Time will tell.

Our adventure is about to start. Are you ready?


Sourdough Stars

November 24, 2015

After I finish a big project, like Celtic Solstice, I flounder around for a bit. I spend a few days working on mindless piecing as something of a palatte cleanser. I spent a few days making Wild and Goosey blocks.


Not entirely mindless but they served the purpose. I piddled around tidying things up around the studio getting ready for Bonnie Hunter season. While doing that I ran across the bonus triangle squares from Grand Illusion. They hadn’t been pressed yet so I did that. The next thing I knew I was cutting fabric for the squares needed for Pinky Swear, designed by Jo Kramer to use the bonus triangle squares.


That used the pink/neutral half-square triangle squares but I still had the brown/neutral squares. I decided that since I had a pink and brown top, I should make a blue and brown top. I finished it on Sunday.


Here they are side by side.


I’m calling these Sourdough Stars because the bonus triangles they started with are the quilting equivalent of sourdough starter. You take some leftovers from a project, add some new stuff and get another quilt top.

Only 3 more sleeps until the first Bonnie Hunter Mystery clue!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.