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Striped binding, lessons learned

February 28, 2018

It’s hard to believe that in all the years I’ve been quilting I’ve never used a stripe for binding. I learned a few things about doing that. Here’s a tutorial so you can learn from my mistakes.


I sewed the strips together as I normally would, using a diagonal seam. Don’t do this unless you really don’t care how it looks. I care so this wouldn’t do at all.


Then I sewed the strips together with a straight seam, this didn’t quite work out, either.


I folded back a seam allowance along one of the stripe edges. The seam allowance doesn’t have to be a quarter inch. Put some glue on the seam allowance.


Then lay the right side on top of the right side of the other strip and find where the pattern matches.


The two pieces are now glued together.


Sew along the crease line you made when you turned back the seam allowance. You can see that the bottom strip has a lot more seam allowance than the top strip. Trim the seam allowance on both strips as needed.


The sewn strips. The stiletto shows where the seam is. Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? Use a stiletto to open the glued seam and press the seam open to reduce bulk.


All wound up and ready to go.  I get empty spools from my long arm quilter. I tape the beginning end of the binding to the spool and carefully wind the binding around it so that it comes off the way I need it to for sewing to the quilt. I pin the end to hold it in place on the spool until it is needed.


State of the Stash February 2018

February 28, 2018

I belong to a Yahoo! group called Stashbusters where we are asked to report on the state of our stash during our birthday month. Since this is the last day of the month, I’d better get busy. The state of my stash is — Awesome!

One year ago today I closed on the purchase of a new house. I narrowed it down to three choices, all very similar layouts, 55+ communities, main floor owner’s suite, garage. I felt like I was on HGTV’s House Hunters. Did she choose the large country house with shared well and septic? The cozy charmer next to I-95? Or the newly constructed house (my friend Linda dubbed it the posh house). I chose the new house because of the finished basement space that makes a practically perfect studio. The open sewing area is something like 12′ by 32′ with a sliding door that backs onto forest retention area.

I have a fabric room! Yes, a room, about 10′ x 13′ if I remember correctly. For the first time, all my fabric (except for fabric that is in project boxes) is in one place and relatively organized. I’ve been collecting fabric since the mid-90s so I’ve amassed quite a collection. One can acquire a lot more fabric in an hour of shopping than can be used in an hour of sewing. While I was working I had lots more shopping time than sewing time.

For several years I started trying to track fabric in and out. That always fell by the wayside fairly quickly. I’ve given up the idea of tracking fabric use. As long as it all fits in the room, I’m good, although I would like to see some shelves empty so I’d have some place to put the finished quilts that aren’t currently in use.

They say confession is good for the soul, so here are pictures. I prefer to have my fabric on shelves where I can see it. When I want to pull fabric, I pull out a stack and rifle through it, then put it back on the shelf. The lightweight ladder came from The Container Store. I like it because it has a high frame that I can hold onto and all the steps are usable, unlike most ladders that try to knee-cap you when you get close to the top. I use the ladder to get to the top of the color wall. Those bookcases are 8′ tall. I’m only 5′ 4.5″.


View from the doorway. Cutting table is in the middle of the room. The rulers are on the table but eventually I’d like to hang them on the wall and free up the cutting space. I’d also like a more sturdy table with storage underneath. Two wastebaskets – one for pet bed scraps, one for trash.


The color wall – tone on tone fabrics. In the old house the batiks were separated but I thought I wanted them with their colors. Found out I’d prefer them separate. That’s a task for another day. As you can see, I’ve managed to cover most of the cutting table with stuff, leaving only a quarter of it clear for cutting. In my defense, it’s mostly current stuff on there. Once I finish with it, that space will be clear again.


Hand dyes, flannels, and other. The two rolling carts are overflow of unsorted novelty/multi-color prints that doesn’t fit on the bookcases. A couple of boxes of non-fabric stuff that hasn’t found a home yet. The bins in front hold batting.



The rightmost case and the bottom shelf of the next case is all cat fabrics. The other shelves are stripes, border stripes (mostly Jinny Beyer), holiday, Christmas, food, Kaffe Fassett collective, Tula Pink, William Morris, patriotic, floral, oriental and unsorted novelty and multi-color prints. Fabrics on top of the shelves are mostly assigned to existing or future projects. The bookshelves are all bolted to the wall so they don’t fall over and bury me.


Bins of Kaffe Fassett Collective, food, Flower Fairies, large yardage for backgrounds, backings, borders, etc. The stuff on top is fabrics for the On Ringo Lake mystery, scraps from current cutting and other things being cut. The wall above the bins is where I’d like to hang the rulers. There’s also a project box sitting there behind the scraps. The scraps are sorted into strings, chunks (pieces big enough to run through the die cutter) and crumbs. Color sorting of scraps may occur one day. There’s also a string project on the second bin that’s waiting to be trimmed to size.

On Ringo Lake: Clue 4

December 18, 2017

Clue 4 saw us cutting umpty hundreds of pieces again. My Accuquilt triangle die is getting very tired. It’s been used on the last three clues.


Ready to sew


One side sewn. So far, so good.


Two sides sewn. Ready to press.


Need to cut a few more triangles. Math didn’t quite work.


Staring to press. Uh oh! What happened?

Yes, I sewed all umpty dozen hundreds wrong. How did this happen?

  1. I didn’t make a test unit to verify that everything was correct.
  2. I didn’t look at Bonnie’s sewing instructions for the second side.
  3. I didn’t lay out the pieces to see how they were supposed to fit. That’s especially important when sewing triangles.

If this were baseball, the three strikes would mean I’m out. But, this is quilting so it can be fixed.


All better now.

See what other mystery quilters did at Bonnie’s link-up party.

National Christmas Center

December 14, 2017

Last week I read about The National Christmas Center here. As many times as I’ve been to Lancaster County, I’d never heard of this place before. Let’s think about that for a minute. I learned about a Christmas museum a couple of hours away from where I live on a blog post written by a woman who grew up in London and lives in Paris. Yay, internet! It’s a small world, indeed.

If you live within a reasonable distance of Lancaster and love Christmas, you MUST make time to visit this museum before it CLOSES FOREVER on January 7, 2018! It is for sale and they’re hoping that someone will buy it and reopen. I sincerely hope that happens.

We got a leisurely start on the day by leaving at 9:30. Google maps travel time of 2 hours is a bit optimistic. It’s really 2.5 hours for us. Our first stop was lunch at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. Like most of the other well-known restaurants in the Lancaster area, it won’t win any culinary awards, but no one should go away hungry. It is the largest buffet I’ve ever seen – 2 complete buffet lines. I’d guess the seating areas accommodate at least 1000 people.

We spent about an hour and a half wandering through the museum. I could have spent much longer. There is an unbelievable amount of stuff to see here. This place is huge, although you don’t realize that until you think about how many different rooms and areas the path takes you through. I like that it is a one-way path that winds through the various areas so you don’t miss anything. Please see Linda’s post on our trip. With a couple of exceptions, our photos are all different. Even with that we only scratched the surface.

We were welcomed into the Christmas Around the World exhibit by this slightly creepy figure.


I was interested in the Dutch house because my great-grandfather, John Hendrik Oosthoek, came here from the Netherlands in the late 1800s. My aunt told me he threatened to change his name to the English equivalent because no one pronounced it correctly. I’m glad he didn’t because I can’t imagine talking about Grandpa East (Oost) Corner (hoek).




There were many toy workshops along the way.




My home town had a Woolworth’s while I was growing up.



If this is what they made at the end of the day, how beautiful were the ornaments made earlier in the day?



Honoring the troops

There was a display of dangerous Christmas ideas over the years. My friend, Polly, would love this.



Stages of a blown glass ornament.


The snow on the tree appears to be batting or pillow/doll stuffing.


Life size nutcrackers at the entrance to the area for pictures with Santa. Santa is otherwise occupied on Wednesdays so wasn’t available for portraits with Santa. You can just get a glimpse of the quilt on the back wall.



The quilt is enormous!

Some of the vignettes in the portrait with Santa room. Love the tree with all the nutcracker ornaments. Now I want one. Sigh.


There were many wonderful painted surfaces throughout the exhibit areas.



There was a room for each page in this book. I probably should have taken time to read the pages as we went through but I didn’t. I found videos for you: here and here.

Of particular interest to quilters is Nanny’s Rag and Quilt Works.





An Amish display



A cross stitch sampler hanging on the wall. Linda told me what this type of sampler is called but I forgot already.


Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women celebrate a quiet Christmas at home.




Hand blown glass ornament factory


Lots of displays of ephemera.




Biker Babe Barbie.

I had to include this photo because back in the mid-1990s one of my co-workers dubbed me “Biker Babe” when he found out that I had dated a guy with a Harley when I was in college. Irony in action because I don’t think you could meet anyone less like a biker babe than I.



Child catches Santa in a 1950s house

There was a large room with a train layout in the center. The ceiling was covered with branches with ornaments hanging from them. I wasn’t able to get a decent picture. It wasn’t yellow in person.



There’s a carousel tucked into the cave.


This looks like the old, no longer used, bridge near my house that is all decorated with lights for Christmas.

There were many cases of nativity scenes from all over the world.



The strange thing at the bottom is my index finger for scale. Look how tiny those snowflake ornaments are!

There were streets winding through a village one might find in the time of Jesus. These figures are life-size or bigger. This is a sampling of what we saw.



The tour culminated with the nativity.

I wanted to buy something at the gift shop. As I was making my second pass past all the ornaments to make my choice, Patty came over (I think she was ready to head for home and wanted to hurry me up.) I said it was too bad they didn’t have a ship ornament since my grad school project is Ladies of the Sea. A moment later, Patty found this ornament that I had completely overlooked. It was one of a kind. I’m going with the story that Patty saw it because she’s a little shorter than I am and it was hanging low on the wall.

How perfect is this? Of course, I bought it.

When I proposed the outing I thought we might follow up with a visit to one of the many quilt shops in the area but it was after 3 p.m. and I wanted to do most of the driving home before dark and snow was in the forecast so we jettisoned other plans and headed home. We all agreed that it was a satisfactory day and that the museum is worth a trip. Had I known of it years ago, it would be an annual tradition by now.


On Ringo Lake: Clue 3

December 14, 2017

Clue 3 came out last Friday. I didn’t start working on it until Saturday because I was working on En Provence. Yes, I know that’s last year’s mystery.  I spent all weekend cutting the pieces for clue 3.

For the coral pieces I cut rectangles. I don’t have the corner ruler Bonnie is promoting but I do have the Sharyn Craig designed Cutting Corners ruler. I set about figuring out which lines to use to cut off the right amount. A quick look through the instruction booklet didn’t reveal exactly what clue 3 required or else I totally overlooked it. Watching the videos might have helped. Doesn’t matter. Being a long-time student of Jinny Beyer means I know how to draft blocks to a required size and I quickly figured out which lines to use.

For the neutral triangles I used the same Accuquilt die I used for the flying geese “wings”. I made a sample piece before committing to the final cutting decisions.


Ready for sewing


One triangle sewn


Looks a lot like the previous picture, doesn’t it? Second triangle sewn. Ready for pressing.


All done.

If I counted correctly, the piles at the top of the picture contain the necessary for the clue. The ones laid out on the bottom appear to be excess to requirements. I knew I’d have a few extras but didn’t expect so many.

Please visit Bonnie’s blog to see what others have done.

Miscellaneous blocks

December 5, 2017

I was able to do some sewing in summer and early fall. These string blocks were made from scraps from Genie’s estate. There are other different string blocks that I haven’t taken pictures of yet.


Two of the three kennel quilts I made from Genie’s strings. They’re surprisingly quick to make.


Some spool leader/ender blocks.


Some wild and goosey blocks:


Lots and lots of 16-patch blocks.

Apparently I neglected to take a picture of the quilt top I made at retreat in September. I’ve found I do better at retreat if I cut everything out ahead of time and just sit and sew at retreat.

Mimi’s Grad School: December 2017

December 5, 2017

This is the first grad school class update I’ve done in quite a while. One of these days I’ll have to post the pictures from the months I missed posting.

December is always a holiday potluck lunch. Everyone was satisfactorily stuffed.

In January of this year, Mimi passed out cards and instructed us to write down what we hope to accomplish this year. At the December meeting she handed them out for us to review and discuss with our neighbors. They say confession is good for the soul. I knew I was going to move so my goals were quite modest. I only had one and that was to keep up with the Ladies of the Sea blocks. I didn’t quite succeed but if I hadn’t been working with a friend, I wouldn’t have accomplished as much as I did on the project. I highly recommend having a workday with a friend to keep you on track for a project even if the two of you aren’t working on the same project. I can’t stress enough how helpful it is.

Here are the blocks folks finished for the bucket list projects. There weren’t as many finished blocks this month as there have been in past months.

Polly had some challenges with her husband’s health and other family issues the last several months so she didn’t quite finish some blocks at the time or had to miss meetings so didn’t show them. She made up for it this time. Here are her finished ship blocks:


The Mayflower was this months block. The rigging on this one nearly killed us. Every time I thought I was done, I found another line missing. Sigh. Here’s my block. I haven’t done any inking on any of the blocks yet.


One of the benefits of a deep stash is having the perfect fabric right at hand when needed. I have an extensive collection of food fabrics. I was thrilled to find a pumpkin print that was exactly the size of the pumpkin in the block. Then I discovered a mini apple print that was exactly the size of the red apples. The orange and green came from other fruit prints that were the right color but not the size. They still worked.

Peggy is working on a Karen Kay Buckley pattern:


Patty is using the Accuquilt Rose of Sharon die for her blocks.



Clara is working on Barbara Brackman’s Prairie Flowers.


In the It’s a Small World arena, I worked for Clara’s brother before I ever met Clara. We were in a class together when I found out who she was. Some of the students were talking about names and relatives. One asked Clara if there were a lot of Murphys around. That triggered something and I asked her if she was related to the Murphy boys who worked at Social Security headquarters. “Oh, yeah, all of them. Doug was my husband.” Doug and his brother, Richard, were already legends when I started working at headquarters. Then, she said, “Tony P________ is my brother.” You could have knocked her over with a feather when I told her I used to work for Tony. Later, I remembered him saying when Doug died that Doug was his brother-in-law.

Dot finished her snowman top:


Nechama’s finished quilt:


Doesn’t that sashing set off the blocks nicely?

Mimi finished the quilt with the blocks given to her for her initiation into the Quilters Hall of Fame. Some of the birds have special characteristics. Notice the one in the center with a crown. Kay made it because she considers Mimi the queen of applique. But, Kay is known to her grandchildren as Queenie. Two birds with one crown, so to speak. There’s a bird representing the Ravens. Mimi’s a big sports fan. She pointed out some others but I can’t remember what she said about them.


If you’ve made it this far, here’s your reward. One of the goals Clara wrote was “move my granddaughter’s Tshirt quilt to the next level.” She claims she accomplished that goal because she moved it from the basement to the second floor. We all got a big kick out of that one. So, if you want to succeed at your goals, you just have to be careful with your wording.


On Ringo Lake: Clue 2

December 5, 2017

Friday morning before I got up, I reached for the phone to see what Bonnie had in store for us this week. After seeing how many units we had to make, I had to stay in bed until the shock wore off – 4 times as many units as the first clue! Yikes.

I’m not an early riser so after I got up, showered and dressed, I ate a quick lunch then headed out to meet Polly for an afternoon sweatshop session working on our current block for Ladies of the Sea.

Friday night, I began cutting the enormous number of parts needed for this clue. I used my Accuquilt dies so before cutting everything, I made one to make sure I had the right dies.


One perfect little flying geese unti.

On Saturday Polly and I headed off to Lothian, Maryland to Dick and Jean Fries’ (Bellwether Dry Goods) holiday open house. Dick and Jean are hand-quilting brokers and Jean makes quilts to sell. Last year was supposed to be the last year for the open house but they decided to do it once more this year. I did buy a four-block wall hanging. I don’t have a picture of it yet.

After that I had to go to the grocery store. Yeah, Saturday afternoon. It was a madhouse. I try to avoid Saturdays but I needed ingredients to make dishes for the two potlucks on Monday. Yes, you read that right – two potlucks on the same day, one at noon and one at night. More mystery cutting happened Saturday evening.

Sunday was the December Sew and Tell meeting. I’m hosting it at my community clubhouse since Genie died so I have to be there. Sunday night I finally finished cutting and started sewing.


All the pieces cut and ready for sewing.

Monday was Mimi’s grad school class so no sewing happened until late afternoon.


Bowl of one-winged flying geese.

I’m currently in the middle of sewing on the second wing. Actually the side triangles are sky but let’s just call them wings for now. No sewing happened today (Tuesday) but perhaps I can finish the geese on Wednesday.

See what others have done at Bonnie’s link-up.

On Ringo Lake Begins

November 27, 2017

I started doing Bonnie Hunter’s mysteries in 2012. You can see what I wrote:

2012 Easy Street

2013 Celtic Solstice

2014 Grand Illusion

2015 Allietare (at the quilter)

2016 En Provence (hasn’t progressed since last post)

I used my own color scheme for Allietare and loved it. I intended to use a different color scheme from Bonnie’s this year but look what I bought for my bathroom in September. The color scheme wasn’t revealed until the end of October.


The cabinets are dark brown. How could I not use this year’s mystery color scheme? If you’ve been following along, you know I bought a bunch of coral and aqua fabric on our recent shop hop. A more thinking person might have checked her stash first before adding more fabric to an already significant collection. My memory from the last time I used these colors was that I didn’t have a lot. In the old house, my fabric wasn’t all together. Here in the new house it is. Plus I acquired a few pieces from a deceased friend. I probably had enough to do the quilt but it wouldn’t have satisfied my scrappiness quotient needs.

Here’s what I ended up with. The brown and neutral all came from my existing collection.


Normally, I’d cut squares for the nine patches to get to scrappy maximum, but this time I decided to do it Bonnie’s way. I calculated how many strips I needed for the size I decided to cut, but screwed up the arithmetic. I cut the desired number of strips of brown and neutral but realized part way through that the length strip I was cutting would produce twice the number of segments I wanted. Oh, well. When it came to cutting the aqua strips I couldn’t get the math right. I forgot that Bonnie’s way was to match strip sets before cutting segments. I forgot to do that.  Not a problem, that gets me closer to scrappy max. So, I started making 9-patches until I used up the strips I had cut, then cut more, sewed some, cut some, etc. until I finally got the fifty 9-patches.


Bowl full of 9-patches ready to press


9-patches all finished

I thought you might want to see the bowl. It is a batik wood bowl. Did you know such a thing even existed? I bought it and a tray at a quilt show some years ago, I think from Batik Tambal. I don’t think they carry the bowls any longer.


I haven’t sewed much at all this year so I’m hoping the mystery gets me back into the saddle. See what others are doing at the link-up.

2017 Quilters’ Quest: Webfabrics Bonus stop

November 20, 2017

One of our favorite greater DC area Virginia shops is not part of Quilters’ Quest. But, we always try to make time to stop when we’re relatively close. That shop is Webfabrics in Purcellville, Virginia. If you’ve been to the Houston quilt show in recent years or some of our regional shows, you will be familiar with this shop. In fact, I saw what I think was a corner of their booth in Angela Walters’ Houston video for Craftsy’s Midnight Quilt Show.

Before Howard Carter broke into King Tut’s tomb, he looked through a small hole. When asked if he could see anything, he said “Yes, wonderful things.” That’s how I feel when I enter this shop. The shop has a large front room and a slightly smaller back room, full of all the latest fabrics. If you want it, they probably have it, except maybe for repros. I’m sorry that I don’t have any photos of the shop to share.


My mystery quilt haul. They will cut fat quarters from any fabric that isn’t a panel print.

Linda and I bought these panels from Paula Nadelstern’s most recent collection, Wonderlust.


She thought they were from an older collection but there was a misunderstanding. We had been texting earlier about the ornaments that start with Paula’s printed kaleidoscope designs. I knew the current collection would be easy to find since it just came out. I said we should look for some of the older ones, thinking that would give us more variety in color and design if we wanted to make multiple ornaments. Linda assumed that the ones I found here were older ones. Excuse me while I go search . . . Back now, Kismet was the only collection I could find. Wonder if I ever bought any of the mandala prints back when she first started printing them? Hmmm. Will have to keep any eye out when in the stash room.

We always try to time our visits to Webfabrics around meal time so we can eat at Magnolia’s at the Mill. If you show a receipt from Webfabrics, everyone at the table gets a discount. I didn’t take a picture of my dinner for you. I had seared Icelandic Black Code with butternut risotto, grilled marinated vegetables, roasted fennel buerre blanc. Delicious although the grilled veggies consisted of one slice of yellow squash and one slice of zucchini – more of a garnish than a serving of vegetables. We all finished with the Chocolate Story.


I highly recommend both Webfabrics and Magnolia’s at the Mill.

She Who Must Be Obeyed (my car’s GPS) always takes us home from here via the Dulles toll road to the Capital beltway. Not a good plan at the time of day we were travelling. Despite having done this several times, we’re still not familiar with how to get home avoiding the DC beltway. Next time I need to use Google Maps on my phone if I can’t get She to go a different route. Things were fine until we hit the ramp for the beltway. Traffic was completely backed up and stopped. Patty and Linda voted for not taking the ramp and letting the GPS calculate another way to go. In retrospect, that was probably a mistake. At some point we got off the highway and wandered around city streets until we ended up on the GW Parkway (I think). Then, we ended up at the beltway again. This time, we persisted and eventually got back to my house, taking way longer than it should have. Good thing I have enough bathrooms to accommodate everyone in the car.

Another successful quest in the books. We all did our part to stimulate the area economy.