Archive for April, 2019


April 23, 2019

Now that my memo board is up, I’m trying to get into the habit of writing down what I’ve done when I leave the studio. I often feel like I’ve done very little but when I see it written down I feel more productive.

April 9

  • Sewed the binding, front and back, on the March snowman wall hanging, stitched the coal pieces and did the embroidery. It’s finished except for a label.

Snowmen Will Melt Your Heart: Going in Like a Lion, Coming Out Like a Lamb

I did the applique stitching as the quilting. I used the triple stitch on the machine to do the whiskers on the lion. Probably should have chosen a darker thread because they don’t show up so well. This was my first time stitching the binding on completely by machine. I think I cut it 2.25″ for .25″ binding on front. Stitched in the ditch on the front to catch the back. Occurred to me too late that I should have used my stitch in the ditch dual feed foot. Next time.

April 10

  • Sorted the floral 16-patch blocks into my quilt and other quilts. This is the first sort. When I lay them out, more or fewer may be needed for my quilt.
  • Sewed the binding to the front of the bargello (I Used to Be a Layer Cake) wall hanging
  • Trimmed Flying Home to ready it for binding.
  • Cut some scraps with the Accuquilt
  • Cut paper templates for fussy cutting Serengeti kit from Jinny Beyer.
  • Pieced the front of the Schnauzer pillow cover


I found the Schnauzer piece on the freebie table or peddler’s table at a quilt show. I really don’t remember where I got it. The paw fabric came from stash. My brother has had 6 rescue mini-schnauzers over the last many years. This will be for  him. I need to get a pillow insert, then make the back. I’m not quilting it.

April 11

  • Did some hand sewing of binding on bargello (I Used to Be a Layer Cake)
  • Went to guild
  • Went to sale of former quilt shop owner’s stuff. Bought too much fabric.

April 12

  • Traced and fused seaweed and anemone for Clown School and cut them out.


These are some honking big pieces. Fortunately I had a roll of 36″ wide fusible that I bought a while back. Perfect size for this project.

April 13

  • Went to Stella Rubin’s with Baltimore Applique Society. Saw some fabulous antique quilts but we weren’t allowed to take photos of them.
  • Went to Jinny Beyer club
  • Sewed the binding on the front of Flying Home

April 14

  • Sew and Tell meeting at my house. There were only 4 of us out of the 10. It wasn’t our usual day because of Easter and Passover.
  • Sorted scraps and cut strips with Accuquilt for Gyleen Fitzgerald pineapple blocks.

April 15

  • Did some hand sewing on the bargello binding  (I Used to Be a Layer Cake)
  • Sorted scraps and cut pineapple block strips with Accuquilt

April 16

  • Hand sewed bargello binding  (I Used to Be a Layer Cake)
  • Made 4 good pineapple blocks and 2 bad ones.


The good blocks


The bad blocks. I went off the rails on the last two rounds on these. Sewed the last two rounds on the wrong edges. Then cut the side off one of them. The one I didn’t screw up the cutting on could have been used with the others, I guess. I gave these two to Linda to do something with.

April 17

  • BAS meeting. Debby Cooney showed chintz quilts from her collection and Polly Mello’s collection.
  • Reviewed 5 older magazines. Getting rid of 3.
  • Made two pineapple blocks.


I haven’t taken a picture of the two blocks yet but here’s the back of one before I trimmed it. I think I showed in a previous blog a pineapple quilt made by one of my guild members with stars in the sashing. In Gyleen’s method, the 8th round won’t even show on mine because it will be in the seam allowance. This time I used 2″ wide pieces to serve as both round 7 and round 8. I think this must be how Carol did hers but we haven’t had a guild meeting for me to ask her. This way is much easier and wastes less fabric.

April 18

  • No guild meeting because of Holy Week.
  • Fussy cut animal blocks
  • Designed the fussy cut animal block quilt
  • Auditioned fabrics for fussy animal alternate blocks
  • Arranged the animal squares

April 19

  • Cut and pieced the alternate blocks for the fussy cut animals
  • Sorted scraps and cut strips for pineapple blocks

April 20

  • More hand sewing on bargello (I Used to Be a Layer Cake). Unsewed the part that has to be redone on the front. A short area of the top ended up not getting caught under the binding.
  • Cut binding strips for the T quilt
  • Prepared the T quilt binding strips that will have the label stitched into them.
  • Sorted scraps and cut strips for pineapple blocks

April 21-22

  • Fixed the binding on the front of the bargello (I Used to Be a Layer Cake). Finished the hand sewing of the binding. Yay! Will blog about it another time.
  • Prepared the binding and sewed it on the T quilt. Finally!
  • Sorted scraps
  • Assembled 4 columns of the fussy cut animal quilt into two pieces of two columns each.

If you’d asked me what I did, I’d have said not much. By writing it down, I feel like I accomplished a lot. This is an unusual amount of time in the studio. No guild meetings because of Holy Week and other church activities. No appointments. Nothing requiring me to be out of the house. That will be changing soon.


Squirrel in the scrap bin

April 23, 2019


No, not that kind of squirrel. Wouldn’t that be an event? The squirrel in the photo is one of the famed albino squirrels of Olney, Illinois.

What I found was the kind of squirrel that takes us away from what we’re supposed to be working on and makes us start a new project. While sorting scraps (a lot of my scraps come from other people) I found some fussy cut squares of wild animals and some yardage for cutting more. I dutifully made a pile and took it upstairs to give away at the next guild meeting.

A couple of days later, while reviewing some older magazines, I ran across this quilt:

The creative juices started flowing and next thing you know I retrieved the pile from upstairs and designed a quilt inspired by the magazine quilt. The size of the squares in the magazine didn’t work for what I had so I modified it. I cut several squares from the yardage and put everything up on the board. Some of the fussy cuts of other fabrics weren’t quite big enough so I combined them and pieced to get squares the size I needed. Shades of our forebears from yesteryear. That didn’t provide quite enough squares so I hit the stash room and pulled fabrics and cut until I had the right number of squares. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the interim steps.



No lions or tigers but bears a plenty, moose, wolves, racoons, opossums, wild horses, skunks. My dad always called skunks “woods pussies”. I remember one visit to my grandparents farm in Iowa when the skunk that lived under the feed shed came out into the yard. My brother who was quite little ( 2 or 3) lit up, said “pretty black and white kitty” and took off after the skunk. One of the adult males (my uncle maybe) who was nearest grabbed him by the britches and held him back while they said “no, you can’t pet that kitty”.

As you can see I used a 9-patch rather than the double 4-patch in the magazine quilt. My squares are 6″ finished (6.5″ cut). All the background and water fabric (the blue and green stripe) came from stash. I found 2 greens that were very similar but they still weren’t enough. I pulled some strips from the 2.5″ bin that resulted from participating in the Quiltville swap group on Yahoo several years ago. Some other fabrics were auditioned including light fabrics and a brown. After looking at the magazine again, I realized that what made the steps stand out was that the background is the same color as the background of the fussy cut squares. Green it is!

The arithmetic was fine except I looked at the wrong number when computing the number of step squares I needed. I cut twice as many as needed. Used up a second fabric as well as the first because I couldn’t get the full number out of the first fabric. Oh, well, now I’ve got a bunch of 2.5″ squares. As I cut the background pieces I pinned them to the empty spaces along with the water squares. Much easier to end up with the correct number of pieces that way.

It’s amazing how fast some projects come together. From conception to cutting, piecing, waiting for a friend’s opinion on the background fabric to being ready to assemble took just a few hours in a couple of afternoons. It’s now in the process of being assembled. I think the brown (peeking in from the left side) will be an inner border. I think I want a print similar to the fussy cut squares for the border. That will have to be a new purchase.  The day this was laid out the Keepsake Quilting catalog was in my mailbox. It has 2 potential border prints in it. Obviously, this quilt was meant to be. Hopefully, one of the prospective back yardages in the stash room will be acceptable for this. If not, maybe I’ll just piece a bunch of greens together. Maybe blue. I’ve got twice as much blue fabric as green.

I need a name for this quilt. Anyone have ideas? So far we’ve floated: In the Wild, Wild America, A River Runs Through It, Walk on the Wild Side.

The leftover pieces of the yardage went to Linda. Would you believe I later found more of a similar fabric? I cut a couple of squares for future use and the remaining fabric bit is waiting to go to Linda.

Rite of Spring

April 8, 2019

Everyone has been asking how it got to be April already. Count me in that group. Didn’t I just report my January progress last week? I feel like I haven’t done much but I’ve been really busy doing it. Saturday I completed that annual requirement of filing income taxes. I was quite agitated by the time that was done. The Republicans’ so-called tax cut resulted in an increase in my taxes of $4500 over 2017. Yikes! I headed to the studio to calm down.

A couple of years ago I matched my floral fabrics with greens and cut strips for 16-patch blocks. It doesn’t pay to do anything but simple sewing when I’m upset so I got out the bin to finish up the blocks. There are enough blocks for many quilts. Here’s the result. These are just plopped on the way as I finished pressing them. They’re not sewn to each other or arranged or anything like that. I was much calmer after finishing these.


I took the previously finished blocks out of the bin and discovered that stack wasn’t just finished blocks.


The pile on the right is the finished blocks. The pile on the left is the blocks waiting to be completed. Oy vey! Here’s what came out of that pile on Sunday.


I was thinking that there were lots more finished blocks so I went digging in the UFO closet. Found this bin of completed blocks. Now, that’s more like it.



Now that ALL the blocks are finished and won’t fit into one bin, it’s time to sort them into the blocks for my quilt (all my favorite blocks, of course) and the blocks for donation quilts.

Here are random shots of other things I’ve done since the early February report.


First block for Baltimore Garden class still in progress. For the March class we were supposed to have the block ready for the flowers. The block is ready to have the first part of one of the flowers stitched. I got a start on the freezer paper pieces for our April class homework. I don’t think I’m going to be ready to sew a bird’s eye by class time.


4-patches from 1.5″ squares.

I laid out blocks I made a couple of years ago at retreat. I laid them out at retreat and had one left over. Someone said I had to make more to finish another row. So, I brought it home and made the blocks but it sat. I neglected to take a photo of it on the design wall. It’s now packed up to go to retreat next month for block assembly. I’ll save the border work till I get home from retreat.


4-patches made from the leftovers of the blocks I forgot to take a picture of.


Some string blocks.


More string blocks.






Blocks for the checkerboard top.



Laid out the Sweet Poison blocks and trimmed them to size.


Made some pink 16-patch blocks.



Got the borders on Mocha Meringue and made the back with leftovers and some added fabric from stash.


Assembled these 9-patch blocks and added a border. This started with already made blocks from the freebie table at guild. I made a flannel back for it so it’s ready for the quilter.


Went to Target this morning and got some Command picture hanging strips so I could get my memo boards up. This door is at the bottom of the stairs so I will see it first thing when I go into the studio. My Target is being renovated so everything has been moved around. While I was looking for what I needed, I found those cute hexagon wood magnets and the pins with hooks. Do I need the hooks? Beats me but now I have them. I must have dry erase markers somewhere but Target had these neat ones that have a magnet and eraser built in. The dry erase boards are magnetic so that’s perfect. I’ve already filled up the bottom board with things that are pending just laying around the studio waiting for a turn. The top board contains the tasks that need to be done next. If the boards stay stuck to the door I’ll be a happy camper. In the process I discovered that the door doesn’t latch securely so pressing on it pushes it open even if it is closed. Have to get my handyman on that next time he’s here.

Things I don’t have pictures of: February snowman is fused. March snowman is ready for binding and needs the coal pieces added. Haven’t started April and it looks like maybe it’s going to get skipped for now.

Clown school: I made a list in January of tasks to do each month and lost it. I did get the background pieced. That was so hard. Cut 2 pieces of fabric and sew them together. Now I need large pieces of fusible web. I think I bought a roll of the long stuff so I need to find it and see if it’s big enough.

Ladies of the Sea: I did get the final ship done. Discovered that I used two stands of floss for some of the embroidery then got confused and switched to one strand. I have to go back and redo about 3 bits on one of the sails so they all match. Polly thought I could leave the big sail as it is since it has two rows of tell-tails. I realize y’all have no idea what I’m talking about but it’ll show up here one day.

Looks like I’ve done more than I thought. Now that the memo board is up I can make notes about what I’ve done when leaving the studio.



Scrap Management

April 8, 2019

Anyone who’s been quilting for any length of time eventually has to pay the piper and deal with scraps. My first scrap management effort began in, let’s say the early aughts/oughts. I don’t really remember. One of my books had a page where the authors recommended blocks with two inch and four inch finished units. The several blocks shown on the page appealed to me so I copied it and started cutting 2 7/8″ and 4 7/8″ half-square triangles. I kept the copy of the paper with the cut triangles. I must not have cut triangles very long because there aren’t a ton of them in the box. Too many scraps didn’t work for those sizes and shapes. On to the next plan.

My second plan was to cut the largest square, in even and half-inch sizes, from 1″ to 6″ from the scrap. I figured if I needed HSTs I would just use the next biggest square and trim. Rotary cutting the exact size doesn’t seem to work well for me anyway. This was time consuming but lasted longer than the first plan. I made the mistake of explaining the plan at Sew and Tell. Kathy has never let me hear the end of it. She’s always asking me, “How’s that scrap management plan working out?” At some point I stopped cutting those as well.

After that I just threw all the scraps into a bin and let them accumulate. Before things got totally out of control I had a tall laundry basket stuffed full of scraps. Something clearly had to be done. I started making string blocks. When the scrap got too small to be a string I put it in the crumb bin if it was large enough to get seams on all sides and still have some showing. Yes, I’m a fabric hoarder. Can’t stand to see anything go to waste. Must be something in the Scots and German genes. I worked out of one bin once a month or more for two years and barely made a dent. That bin is stuffed right now because people kept adding to it. I’ve dragged it to retreat the last couple of years just in case I needed it. I didn’t.

At some point I became aware of Bonnie Hunter and her scrap management plan. Oddly enough I didn’t buy in, given how well my previous efforts worked. When I make her quilts, I prefer more controlled colors and pull from stash.

In 2016 I attended a presentation by one of the members at the York, Pennsylvania, quilt guild show. I wish I’d thought to take photos of the woman’s slides. It was a fabulous presentation. She had several go-to patterns that she cut all her scraps for, such as log cabin. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the rest of them. Anytime she feels like making a log cabin, she pulls out that drawer and goes to town. Echoes of my original scrap plan.


A few years ago I finally gave in and bought an Accuquilt die cutter. I never bought the “it’s faster than rotary cutting” argument because first you have to cut a piece the right size to run through the die. Well, why not just cut what you need if it’s a strip or squares? I can cut those much faster with my Stripology ruler than I can with the die cutter.

When I moved into my current house two years ago, I started sorting my scraps into several categories. Strips and squares that were left-overs went into bins of that size. Odd scraps were sorted into strings, crumbs and chunks. Chunks are pieces big enough to run through the die cutter. As you might have guessed I was being overrun by scraps. Linda sorted them when she was here and finished with her work or tired of it. The chunk bin was overflowing. Something had to be done.

Last week I decided on some go-to patterns for now and started cutting. I started with the log cabin die. What a pain in the ass! It’s a great big honking long die and I only need to use half of it to make 8″ blocks which I think is a nice size. Running it through the cutter created so much static the fabric clung to my fingers, the mat, and anything else it touched. It might be easier to rotary cut them. I finally gave up on that one for the time being.

Somewhere I ran across the Stash Buster Challenge 2019. I liked it. Pulled the two HST dies from my 6″ cube.

I belong to the Stashbusters group on Yahoo! Several of the folks are making Cabin Steps. That also looked like one that would work well. Those two dies also came from the 6″ cube.

Back when Bonnie Hunter was doing the tumbler leader/ender I cut some tumblers and started sewing them together. I got out the tumbler die and cut some of those too since I’d run out of pieces a long time ago.

I have the Gyleen Fitzgerald Pineapple book and tool but haven’t used it yet. One of the members of my guild makes a lot of pineapple quilts for charity. I really like her variation. Here’s one I took a picture of.


Got out the 1.5″ strip die and cut those too. This works well even for small pieces because it uses strips as small as 2.5″ long for the first round.

With the necessary dies out, I got to business cutting the chunks. Did I empty the chunk bin? Not by a longshot – see it in one of the pictures above. But, now, when I need leader/enders or just want to sew something, I’ve got pieces cut and ready to go. I went to JoAnn’s and bought project bins at 50% off for storing them. They’re on top of the cabinet in this picture.


Everything outside the drawer unit is scraps of some kind. The blue bin on the left is one of the unsorted bins, mostly strings. The bins with labels hold the pieces I cut with the Accuquilt. The black bag is full of strings sorted by color for a string star class last year. I want to make 3 more star blocks to go with the one from class. The bottom bin on the right contains 6.5″ squares I cut from my stash back in 1999 when I broke my ankle. I think the idea was that I could use those for charm quilts. Ultimately, those pieces ended up under my desk at work for hand piecing during lunchtime. The blue bag on the right contains neutral strings for Bonnie Hunter string designs. The basket underneath contains some project leftovers that need a plan. This box below I bought today is full of strings that were in a cardboard box I’ve been trying to eliminate without success.


The strips and squares are stored in bins on the otherside of the room and new ones are going into the card catalog in the fabric room. There’s a bunch of small containers that have some small scraps sorted by color. I like the idea of making fabric from crumbs and cutting applique pieces from it. One day.

Back to the original plan – the page from the book with blocks that use common pieces. While I was getting things unpacked and organized here in the new house, I decided I didn’t need to keep the copy of that page because I wasn’t cutting those triangles anymore. I could always make a new copy from the book if I changed my mind. Fast forward to last week. I decided those would be another good thing to cut with the die cutter. Triangles from the die cutter work much better for me than rotary cut ones.

I can’t find the book that page is in to save my life. I think it might have been Fons and Porter but I can’t remember. I think they called them twosies/foursies. Sounds like Fons and Porter, doesn’t it? Maybe I made that part up. Could be Nancy Martin and Marsha McCloskey. Could be some other pair. I remember it saying “we like to …” Looked in every book I could think of that might be it. Nothing. I have one Fons and Porter book I haven’t looked at because, although it’s in my inventory, it doesn’t have a location so I don’t have a clue where it is, if I even still own it. My county library catalog has no books with Fons and Porter as authors. I’m hoping my guild library has it so I can look at it on Thursday. Another option Thursday is to look at the books at the yard sale of stuff from the original owner of Seminole Sampler quilt shop. Otherwise I’ll have to request it from the state inter-library loan. It’s driving me crazy that I can’t find the page because I. WANT. IT. NOW.

To make a long story short, I feel like I’m finally getting a handle on scraps after 25 years or so. I’ll have to live to be 150 in order to use them all. Are they all mine? Oh, no. I rescue scraps like some people rescue dogs and cats. Other peoples scraps liven up the scrap box.

Don’t be surprised if someone else’s plan doesn’t work for you. You just have to understand how YOU work with scraps. Some people love Bonnie Hunter’s system. Some like to keep the scraps whole until they’re needed for a project.

Maybe you just don’t want to mess with scraps. In that case, don’t throw them out – find someone who does want them. But, please, don’t send them my way. I’ve got enough already.