Posts Tagged ‘Tools’

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.

New Additions

January 13, 2019

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with furniture with cubbyholes and other storage items. Wonder why that is? I have always wanted one of these:


This is a Wooten desk. The open picture is not the same desk as the closed picture. They made various versions from 1870-1884. Very hard to come by these days and can be quite pricey. When I lived in Chicago in the mid-1970s I saw one in a shop window for a while on my daily bus ride. I lusted after that desk but I couldn’t afford to buy one back then. The only way to find one at a reasonable price is if one comes up at a rural local auction. The asking price for the desk on the left above is around $25,000. No Wooten desk for me.

Another thing I’ve always wanted is a card catalogue. I think everyone I know wants one of these. One guild member told me she offered to work 3 more years at her library if they’d give her a card catalogue. They said no.

My friend Vera and her husband are in their 80s and recently moved to a continuing care community at the insistence of family. Vera was not at all ready to leave the house and all her wonderful things. One of the wonderful things she had that she wasn’t able to find a place for in the apartment was this:


Her son got it for her from Duke University. When I found out it was going to be in their tag sale, I got my friend Caren to join me at the sale. I sat here the night before pondering: where would I put it and what would I put in it? I couldn’t buy it without answers to those two questions. I decided it would fit in the fabric room where the piles of bins were. The bins are easy enough to relocate. I decided it would be good for storing strips. One drawer for one color or style in one size. Caren and I got to the sale early and when it opened, I made a beeline downstairs. I was able to buy it!

There are 60 small drawers. So, three for each color/style to store 1.5″, 2″, and 2.5″ strips. The 4 large drawers were made for Vera by her brother-in-law. I don’t remember if the original drawers were missing or she needed somewhere to store clothing patterns. Not sure what I’ll use the large drawers for yet. Probably some sort of scraps.

So, I paid for it. Now I had to get it home. It was bigger than I realized and wouldn’t fit in my Honda CR-V. We thought it would fit in Caren’s car but it was a whole lot heavier than we’d imagined. We couldn’t budge it, even with the drawers out. Oh, no! What to do? We had to have our purchases out of the house by 2 pm that afternoon. Although I could probably have made arrangements with Vera to get it later, the person in charge of the sale would have been very unhappy with us. Somehow we managed to piss her off before the sale ended.

Caren called our handyman, Ray, to see if he could come help us out. He responds faster to her because he is her realtor and manages the rental of her old house. Well, he had an appointment but could come after that. Great! I was as antsy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Ray does good work but he piddles around and doesn’t show up when he’s supposed to. I was worried he wouldn’t get there on time. While we waited for Ray, Caren and I took the drawers to my house and unloaded them into the garage. When we got back to the sale, we found more stuff to buy and filled up both cars. I picked up a very nice quilt rack for $10. Ray showed up with his helper in the nick of time and got the piece loaded into his truck. It just barely fit. I treated everyone to a late lunch before we headed out to my house to unload. I have some strips ready to put into some of the drawers but I need to clean it up a bit first. As I cut for the Bonnie Hunter mystery I also cut strips for the cabinet.

My other new acquisition also came from Vera. When she was showing me through the house she pointed out the treadle cabinet and said she wasn’t able to take it with her. I said I’d buy it so it wasn’t in the sale. Vera decided she wanted to gift it to me as a thank you for picking her up and taking her to Mimi’s grad school group. I was NOT expecting that. I’d noticed that Vera hadn’t been there for several months. When I found out it was because she was having vertigo and was afraid to drive that far by herself in case she had an episode, I started swinging by to get her. When I broke my ankle, other people hauled me around so I’m paying it forward.

I did a little google search and discovered that this machine has no feed dogs. It is the motion of the needle that moves the fabric. Apparently it’s quite desired by machine quilters which I am not. I wanted to get someone out to do some cleaning and maintenance on the machine before I try to learn how to use it but I intended to wait awhile. Unfortunately, I wasn’t being careful enough when I opened the cabinet to take the picture and it is now stuck in the open position. It looks like the chain that raises and lowers the machine jumped its track and I forgot to pull the belt out of the way before completely raising the machine so it’s stuck between the machine surround and the side of the cabinet. Sigh. I didn’t want to push too hard and break something so, for now, it’s staying open. Now I need to track down someone to work on it sooner rather than later. There is a company in Baltimore that sells industrial machines that used to have someone who worked on treadles in the home. I hope they still do.

Good Fortune: Clue 3

December 10, 2018

Yay! We’re working with green this week. I was hoping for that. Orange in the next clue, maybe? I cut my strips using the Stripology ruler. About a year ago I decided I wanted to use lime green (or whatever color this is) and started looking for fabrics at every shop I was in all year. Despite having an abundance of green fabric, I had practically none of this version. I found myself in three quilt shops this week for regularly scheduled events and acquired a few more pieces. I was good to go now.

This week we were making half-chevrons. Bonnie had us drawing two lines for the sew and flip triangle corners and bonus half-square triangle squares. I don’t like to draw lines and usually use one of the tools with lines to follow that fits on the sewing machine bed like the Sew Straight from Quilt in a Day. In the past, I’ve altered mine to do the bonus HST. But, I don’t know where mine are since the move last year and didn’t feel like doing a hunt. I was afraid pencil might show so I drew the lines with a Clover Chaco-liner. The one I used was an older style. I have most of the colors in the newer style but, again, don’t know where they are. Sigh.


Pile of chevron pieces waiting for the second sewing.


For the rectangle, I needed to sew pretty much on the line but a ways away from the line for the bonus HST. I don’t understand why I needed to sew so far away from the bonus line. This picture shows how far away from the line I had to sew. img_20181209_154807.jpg

I ended up running the inside edge of the presser foot against the line. They aren’t all perfect but they’re as good as they’re going to get.


I used this ruler to check the size and trim the dog ears before pressing.


The finished half-chevrons and bonus HSTs waiting to be measured, trimmed and pressed.


Hopefully, one pile has an extra triangle because I came out one short. Since there were two from each half-chevron, an odd number isn’t possible. Guess I’ll find out later.

See how others are doing at Bonnie’s link-up.

Good Fortune: Clue 1

November 26, 2018

I couldn’t start Clue 1 until Saturday because my brother was visiting for Thanksgiving until late Friday afternoon. On Friday we finished this:


This is the first time I’ve put up a tree in years. I bought a new one (7.5′ slim) from Hobby Lobby for 50% off. The treetop angel that I needlepointed many years ago has gone walkabout. She must have taken the tree skirt with her because there is none to be found at present. My brother suggested using some of my fabric. What an idea!

I wrote about the colors I chose for Good Fortune here.  This week’s clue was a boatload of 4-patches. I did all the cutting with my Stripology ruler. I love it and it is worth every penny in my opinion. I cut a strip from the 39 red fabrics I pulled for the mystery and cut them into 6″+ strips to get good variety. Normally I would have just cut squares and tried to mix them so that no two 4-patches were the same. Too much trouble this time. I decided to do it Bonnie’s way. I sewed the short red strips onto 46 longer neutral strips and just kept moving them through in a big loop until all red strips were sewn to a neutral strip.


Third time around.


Ready for pairing.


Attempting to track the number of red segments from my strips as I cut them into short strips.


Bowl of 4-patches ready to spin. Are there enough? Who knows? It’s a mystery!

The required number of 4-patches are in the container on the left so why is my bowl not empty? I only expected to have a couple of extra, not 8. It would have been 9 if I hadn’t messed up cutting on one. I was hoping not to have a bunch of extra bits for this mystery. You know what they say about the best laid plans.


In the first clue of mystery Bonnie Hunter gave to me: an overflowing bowl of 4-patches. You need to hear the tune to 12 Days of Christmas in your head. The words don’t quite scan right but it’s the best I can do.

Wednesday night we went to The Mall in Columbia to see the famous poinsettia tree.


Some years ago the mall did away with the poinsettia tree. What a hullabaloo that caused! After a tremendous fuss by county residents, the mall management caved and brought back the tree.

We meant to go through the Symphony of Lights that started Thursday but forgot. However, these deer were frolicking in the courtyard at the mall.


For months I’ve been looking for my pieces from Grandpa Bennett’s salt and pepper shaker collection. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find them after my move last year. A couple weeks ago I was at the sewing machine and noticed a small box in the gap between the bookcases and the side wall. There was stuff on top of it so it was hard to see. Yes! I found them. Finally!


The shelf is no longer empty! Some of the things are my additions. I found the barn shelf at a craft fair years ago. Perfect for Grandpa’s salt and peppers because he was a farmer.

Thanks for visiting. See what others are making at Bonnie’s mystery linkup.

T for Two off to the quilter

October 25, 2018

I finally got the borders on T for Two and took it to the long-arm quilter this afternoon. Yeah!


T for Two at guild for show and tell. I couldn’t get the whole thing in the picture because there was a table in front of it. I didn’t feel like making the effort to put it up on my design wall at home at this point. I’ll take proper pictures when it is finished.

My original thought for the back of this quilt was to reflect Bill’s interest in the Civil War and Becky’s love of books. When I laid out the fabric, I realized that idea wasn’t appropriate for a bed quilt. I realized it would be best to have Becky pick out a fabric she loved for the back so she can use the quilt either side up.

When I looked at assembling the back, I decided that I had to match the print as best I could. Pretty good job, even if I do say so myself. It’s hard to see from the picture but it’s a very delicate metallic filigree design.


Here’s how I matched the print. It takes patience but wasn’t at all difficult.


I decided the match point should be the center spine of the design. I folded one of the fabrics at the chosen point closest to the selvage and pressed it.


Then I laid the fold on top of the second piece of fabric, matching the print as best I could. I used Easy Piecing seam align glue to hold the fabrics together. It worked very well for this and for matching the border print pieces on the front of the quilt.


I unfolded the top piece and carefully carried the fabric to the machine. The glue isn’t permanent so will pull apart if much pressure is put on it – this is by design. I then stitched in the crease of the fold. Toward the bottom of the picture you can see that the fabric isn’t fully opened to show the crease. That is because the glue went through. I just gently pulled it away to reveal the crease. After the seam was sewn I trimmed it to .5″ seam allowance, pulled the seam allowances apart and pressed open. After the 3 panels were sewn together, I trimmed the top and bottom so they were even (I hope).

Now I have to figure out what to use for binding. I’d like to find something that works for both sides but may end up making a two color binding.

While I was dragging my feet on the borders I accomplished these items.


Checkerboard leader/ender. Some sets of four 4-patches, some 4-patches and some twosies ready to be 4-patches.


16 more blocks for Sweet Poison. Pattern is Kwik Krazy and Kwik Krazy Too, modified to add leading strips.

My friend Caren said she’d smack me if I gave this quilt a statement name. Tough. Sugar and carbs (sugar in disguise) are poison so Sweet Poison it is – unless I come up with something I like better. While I was working on these blocks the potato chip fabric looked so good I could practically taste them. I resisted for a while but finally succumbed and bought a bag of chips to get that craving out of my system.

Now that T for Two is off my plate for a while, the world is my oyster. I can work on anything I want without feeling guilty. Yes! I have so many things to work on I almost can’t decide where to start. I’ll keep on with Sweet Poison until the blocks are finished but switch off to other items. I’d like to get On Ringo lake to the quilter before the next mystery starts the day after Thanksgiving.

Stringing Along While Bordering on Boredom

September 14, 2018

September began with our monthly Sew & Tell meeting. Kathy showed what she’s been up to the last several months.


Kathy’s yarmulkes for the princess’s upcoming Bat Mitzvah.

She had a lot of fun choosing the fabrics. Each one has a novelty print on one side and what she called a “sane” fabric (tone on tone) on the other side so the owner can wear it on the sober side if preferred. This one is really cute:


Yarmulke with a llama wearing a yarmulke!

Kathy commissioned the shawl and other bits from a local maker. They’re hand-dyed silk and are absolutely gorgeous.


I’ve been making string blocks.

Last time I touted my new tool for slicing the paper on the back of the blocks. Apparently I need to be more careful if I’m slitting the paper on the starting strip where I’ve used glue to “pin” it to the paper because this happened:


Yup. I slit the fabric. Not the end of the world. Here’s what the back looks like at this point.


I got out the ripper and removed the center strip. Then I sewed the two sides to a new strip.

I’m working on this for the border on T for Two. I love the look of the mirrored border print but it is painfully boring to prepare and sew. The prints have to be matched up and pinned a lot so the fabric doesn’t slip out of alignment. Then I stitch very slowly so I can stay on the line.

You might have noticed that the narrow border print isn’t actually mirrored because I am alternating the motifs. In the case of this border print, I felt it looked better to have the blue blob in the center of the one motif bounce from one side to the next instead of being lined up in lockstep.

I’ve got two of each stripe sewn so I’ve got 3 more sets of each to do to have sufficient length for the borders. Then the hard part comes. More about that when I get there.

While making strings I pulled some large half-square triangles out of the box. I decided to turn these into squares instead of cutting into strings and crumbs. They weren’t the same size but I just paired them up and used the smaller one as the guide for where to sew. I used my new triangle trimmer rulers to trim them.

What will I do with them? Who knows. For now, they’ve been added to the ABS (already been sewn) bag.

I finished the last leader-ender spool block so am now sewing green and white for a checkerboard quilt. They were already in pairs so now they’re being turned into 4-patches.


Linda, Patty and I were supposed to go to the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza today. After checking the forecast on Monday evening, we decided to go yesterday instead because it looked like we were going to enjoy a weekend with rain from Hurricane Florence. By yesterday morning the forecast had changed but it was still a better day for going than today.

As with all the regional shows in this area, over the last several years we have noticed a decrease in the number of vendors and the contest quilts. Every year this show seems to add more special exhibits. There were some very good quilts but I found a lot of the quilts this year to be ho-hum. I went through all the quilts and vendors in record time. We arrived at 11:15 or so, ate lunch and Patty and I were ready to leave by 2 pm. We have never done a major show in that short a time. After we tracked Linda down, we left before 3 pm.

I was disgusted to see that First place in the Modern category went to a friggin’ panel quilt. Really? Don’t get me wrong. It was a pretty quilt and I liked it a lot but it was a panel with a pieced border. Not award worthy in a major regional show, in my opinion.

One of the special exhibits was Threads of Resistance. First time I’ve ever seen a quilt exhibit that was draped off from public view with warning signs at the entrance. Some of the quilts had a phone number to call to listen to an audio message about the piece. I didn’t take the time to do that. Some pieces were thought provoking, others too in your face for my taste but on the whole, the exhibit made me sad and depressed. Being confronted with the enormity of happenings the last two years brought me to tears.

I’m pleased to say I didn’t buy a single piece of fabric at this show. Nor did I buy any patterns. I did pick up a few things from Brooklyn Haberdashery, a new to me vendor.

Writing this post has allowed me to procrastinate on sewing more border print stripes together. 🙂

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.

Do as I say, Not as I do

December 8, 2016

I have a bad habit of buying block of the month kits only to put them away for years before working on them. DON’T DO THAT! For the last several months I’ve had the itch to work on the applique blocks (it’s half pieced and half applique) in a BOM (Home Sweet Home by Kelli Saffell) I bought in 1999 from a store that is long gone. Yes, that’s right, the BOM is almost old enough to vote. My desire to work on it was frustrated because I couldn’t find it. Last week I couldn’t stand it any more and started an exhaustive search. Since it wasn’t upstairs where I thought it was, I assumed I’d taken it downstairs and put it in the UFO/kit cabinet. It wasn’t there. Hmm. If it wasn’t downstairs it must still be upstairs which is where I thought it was in the first place. I finally found it upstairs buried under a pile.

I knew I’d worked on the project a little bit at one time. To my surprise I discovered that I’d prepared all the applique for the blocks and, apparently, some of the applique for the borders and cornerstones. Great! Now I’ve got a head start.

I pulled out the package with the first month’s blocks only to discover that there was no background for the applique block and no fabric for the vines. Darn. I got gypped and it was my fault. That’s why you shouldn’t buy a kit and put it away without looking at it. If I’d at least looked through the kit to make sure everything was there I could have gotten the missing pieces from the store. Have I learned my lesson? We’ll see. Off I went downstairs to find replacement fabric. I found suitable replacements although I don’t have much of this style of fabric in my vast collection. I’d call it country-ish.

There is surprisingly no picture of the finished quilt, although each month’s kit has a picture of the blocks. That’s good because that’s the only way to know where the various fabrics go. I couldn’t find any photos of finished quilts online, either. I think I must have missed buying a kit or two and must not have gotten a reminder because I only have fabric for some or all of the leaves in the borders but no fabric for the other applique and pieced motifs. Maybe it was optional and I passed it up figuring I could use stash fabrics. Who knows? May have to take a shopping trip to Lancaster county when I get all the blocks done to find fabrics that go with it. I remember not buying the sashing fabric at the time because what the store used didn’t appeal to me. I thought I’d wait and find something later. I wasn’t expecting it to be this much later.

Above is the closet thing I have to a picture of the entire quilt. At least it gives me something to work with.

I haven’t done hand applique in several years. I suffered the tortures of the damned the other night while working on the first two blocks. The technique I used to prepare the applique is freezer paper on the bottom and the seam allowance is glued to the freezer paper. Sharp points are thick with fabric and glue. I broke at least two needles and bent another – all different brands. At one point I was using a flexible plastic thimble and managed to get a needle eye to puncture the thimble and lodge in my finger. Ouch! That hurt. My thread was shredding and breaking when I pulled the thread tight after a stitch. My Clover needle threader wasn’t threading the needles. I tried several brands of needles and three different thimbles. During the course of the evening I exhausted my inventory of curse words. I need some new ones. That was last Friday.

The first two blocks are stitched. It was the points on the hearts on the second block that were so troublesome. The blocks haven’t been washed yet to remove the glue and freezer paper. After that is done, they’ll be pressed and cut down to the proper size.

On Monday I bought two brands of needles (John James Gold Eye and Clover Black Gold) and switched to using my pink plastic thimble like the one below. I used to get them at my local quilt shop which is gone now. I haven’t found a new source. I like it because it’s cheap (I keep losing them) and it fits my finger better than closed top thimbles.

Image result for pink plastic adjustable thimble

In fact, I lost my thimble at guild last spring and was forced to use other types. One night a few weeks ago someone dropped something on their way out without realizing it. I hollered at her to stop so I could give it to her, then mentioned  that I’d lost my thimble last spring. Caren asked if it was pink plastic. Then, she pulled a bag out of her tote and said, “here it is”. She hadn’t realized for a long time that some lost and found items got mixed in with raffle basket stuff from our quilt show last spring. I was thrilled to be reunited with my thimble since I hadn’t found a local source for a new one.

I haven’t had any problems stitching this week. I even got the needle threader to thread the needles. I think part of the problem was that I wasn’t putting the thread in correctly. I seem to have the hang of it now. I’m currently using the Clover Black Gold needle.

I started to lay out block three. Got the bias stems pinned down and discovered I’d forgotten to reverse the pattern. All the pieces were backwards. Sigh. I had two choices: pick new fabrics and remake the pieces or use the pieces and make the block reversed. Guess which one I picked? After all, an applique pattern is like a chili recipe – it’s a starting point. No one will ever know that I changed it. I had copied the pattern onto tracing paper to use as a layout overlay so all I had to do was turn it over.


I center the design on the background, then pin the tissue paper to the background at the top. Slide the applique piece under the tissue and maneuver it into place and pin it. Block 3 is now being stitched.



Procrastination report

May 8, 2016

It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I’ve successfully managed to procrastinate working on quilting the baby quilts. I dragged out the first set of twin quilts last week, fully intending to finish them. I managed to do the ditch quilting on the one that wasn’t pieced as quilt as you go. Then I started procrastinating because I didn’t want to do the quilting that shows. Here’s what I did instead of quilting the quilt.

More double 9-patch blocks:

Some leader/ender spools:


My string piecing during the news is working out for the most part. I don’t manage every week day. Monday is guild night so I don’t see the evening news. Friday night I woke up from a little nap just about news time but was too tired to be messing about with dangerous machines. I added these blocks to the collection:

Once a month I get together with a group of people that started as a lunch time group at work. I decide it was easiest to do something mindless so I have a bin of random scraps that I’ve been working from for the past 2.5 years. This bin is dedicated to the once a month sew-in so it isn’t the same container I’m working from during the news. So far I think I’ve made the string pieces for 4 quilts. The bin still looks full, doesn’t it?


Most recently I’ve been working on the pieces for a String X quilt – a free pattern from Bonnie Hunter. Monday I bought fabric for the background and border. The majority of the fabric in the strings came from Amy. There are a lot of turquoise and green so I thought these fabrics would work well.


I need to update my stash accounting to add 3.5 yards.

I was able to borrow a die for the triangles from Patty. Cutting a lot of pieces from one fabric is where the die cutter definitely saves time. So, in my ongoing quest to not work on the baby quilts, I started assembling blocks for String X. Here are 4 of them to show the design. I still need to make 6 or 7 more string pieces to have enough for 12 blocks. I’ll decide on an inner border and binding after the body is finished.


Yesterday, after finishing all the String X blocks that were ready, I decided it was time to get back to the baby quilts. I’m only doing walking foot quilting so how hard can it be? You’d be surprised. I started stitching and saw this:


What the hell!? Look at those loose stitches! I had to rip it all out and come up with another plan. I reverted to straight stitching instead of the serpentine. I need to give it a close examination today to see if it is acceptable – I saw some stitches that looked a little loose. I may have to revert to quilting it on my Janome Jem Gold or wait until I have a new machine. I don’t want to have to use the Jem because it is a 3/4 size machine and doesn’t have any decorative stitches. I also hate to delay longer because the girls are already 2.5 years old. I want to use the alphabet on the Bernina to quilt the girls’ names into their quilts. I’m going to give it a try and hope it works better than the serpentine.

This is on a Bernina 1230 using the walking foot and the serpentine stitch. I didn’t notice any problem when I did the ditch stitching with the edge stitching foot. I did some test stitching on a practice piece and it was okay. Why is it okay on the practice piece but not on the quilt? I’m going to take a closer look at my piecing to see if there is a problem there. The machine had its maintenance and repair several weeks ago so it shouldn’t be misbehaving. Could it be a bad walking foot? People claim this is the best Bernina ever made but I never bonded with it the way many people do with their machines. In other words, I’m not in love with the Bernina brand.

I am so ready for a new machine. I put it off until after I retired so it would do more than sit unused in the cabinet. I retired 2 years ago so it’s time now. I do love my Jem so I’ve been holding out to get the latest and greatest Janome. The 8900 came out in 2012 so I figured maybe this was the year they’d introduce a new machine for quilters. I was right! Thanks to Linda for letting me know that a new model is coming at the end of the month. I can’t wait to see it. I’m hoping for a special introductory price although I’m a little leery about buying the 1.0 version of a new model.