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Monday, March 31, 2014


Spring has finally sprung. The only snow left now is what is left of the deepest drifts. Spending less and less time indoors. I did get these blocks together finally. And added the border. Thank goodness for the gals coming over to quilt Wednesday nights or I wouldn't have gotten that much done.

 One good thing about the snow, it brightens the wall for taking better pictures of my quilts.

Stop by Judy's next for Design Wall Monday.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

STiLL Winter

It sure doesn't feel like spring yet. I don't remember a colder March. That means it is still quilting weather. Lots of us are getting a little tired of the dark colors of winter, me included. So I brightened up the blog a bit. Even though black isn't a bright springy, cheery color, I love it with the bright prints in this quilt. It's all I've had time for.
If you have the new version of the Thirtysomething Square Up, you can make these stars and border units easily using it. You will also be able to find the block in my new book, The Thirtysomething Block Book.
and I may be late, but I am still linking up to Judy's.

Monday, March 17, 2014

What's it to you?

Still busy as all get-out, but at least I am getting stuff done. The only sewing I have done is to make these 3 sampler blocks for my beginner class. My neighbor is interested in joining the class now, so I will have to catch her up.

Otherwise, I'm still working on the book.  You may be surprised that I seem to be working on it so much when I said I was pretty much done.  That's cause once I figure everything is ready for the book designer or graphic artist and she does her thing we see that we have room to add a little something here and there. Or some of the drawings didn't convert well from Electric Quilt to Corel Draw on a PC then to Adobe Illustrator on a Mac. Then there is juggling stuff on the pages and the reference to it that you have to check/correct. Stuff like that. Unfortunately,it doesn't look like it will be printed before I go to California in early April. It was never part of the original plan, so that is ok. I'd rather take the time to do it right, than rush through it and regret it later.

Quilting at church tomorrow. No prep required there. Hopefully we will finish up our log cabin blocks for our raffle quilt.  I hope to have no part in deciding what arrangement they want those blocks in. That no doubt could take all day with a roomful of women.

I was discussing terms for techniques with another quilter. Gee, it would sure be nice if we all spoke the very same language. The one that got us going was where you sew diagonally across a square that has been placed on the corner of a bigger piece. After our discussion I checked several of the quilt books in my collection and found the following names for the same technique. And sometimes no name was used, just the directions to do it.

fast 45's
corner square
folded corners
stitch and flip triangles
squiffy squares
flip over corners
fast corners

I hear folded corners most around here. So, what's it to ya?

Other names that I hear used differently than me

My term                                 Their term

block                                        square
unit                                           block or square
half-square triangles                triangle squares
back/backing                           lining

No wonder people have trouble learning how to quilt!  I hope I don't add to the confusion with this. While sewing with friends, I try not to swear.  Okay, just being honest here. So instead I just say "Oh, bobbins".

For my last Spring report, I noted that the robins and redwing black birds are back. Today I saw the geese and just now I hear the cranes. Yep, that's the order every spring. It totally makes sense that their clocks are set by amount of daylight and not temps. Forecast this week is for temps warm enough to melt most of the remaining snow. I am hoping along with the rest of the nation!

oops, It's Design Wall Monday, at Judy's. Nearly forgot.

Till then, Happy Quilting

Friday, March 14, 2014

SEW Busy

I can't believe how busy  I have been. The book is taking longer than  I thought it would. Probably cause I found this great graphic artist that has ideas of her own. And partly because I am not as computer savvy as you'd think. Besides getting the book ready to print I've had another group of beginners start a sampler class. It was getting a little crowded here so we set up class at our house across the street. Otherwise it will sit empty till it gets a new roof and then who knows what my in-laws will want to do with it. Should be fun.
My daughter and her friend have been coming regularly, too. Lisa started her sampler probably 15 years ago. The blocks are all framed now,next they will get sashing and a border. I am happy to see my daughter showing an interest in quilting again. I imagine it will just be a winter thing, but that's ok.
Spring is on its way. I knew it was coming too. We had a few days of snow melting so the deer probably won't be coming around to raid the bird feeder much anymore. Still have lots of snow, though it didn't keep the robins from arriving on time and even the chipmunks are awake. We haven't seen the stray cat we fed this winter since it warmed up a bit and the coons came around to eat it's food.
Before you know it I'll be digging in the garden again and I won't have made many quilts all winter.
Yikes! Lots of odds and ends waiting for borders and such. Maybe I can focus on that. Once taxes are done, and. . . Mark has been a wonderful help. I imagine once it's nice out, he will be outa sight. I guess I will enjoy it while I can.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Great Do-over

If you have been following my blog for a while, you may recall that last March Sue and I bid and won an antique quilt top from on ebay. I say "we" cause Sue isn't connected. The top was for her. She's crazy about them old 30's and 40's prints. And probably really 50's prints. Her plan was to take it apart and remake it.
Here's the before and after pictures.

Generally I don't blog about other people's quilting but this time I had  to share cause she was so sweet and gifted it to me. WOW. Why would she do that?  Well, she knew I loved this particular pattern and lots of those prints. After all I kept her informed of all the goodies I found on ebay and shared with her the treasures left at church. But apparently this is her favorite pattern to piece - having done 3 now. Giving it way gives her a reason to make another top.  Apparently she has a problem with them piling up at home and she is happy to give it to someone that she knows likes it.

It doesn't take much to see what changes she made to it. Besides changing the many colored melon patches to one color, she swapped out some of the fabrics that were very thin. She is fond of the stripes so added those and introduced a bunch of the bright yellow. One of the biggest improvements to this piece is the workmanship.  The quilter that had attempted to put this thing together had no concept of a consistent width seam allowance and didn't have a clue how to get those corners to meet and lie flat. Sue ripped out all the hand stitching that had a backstitch every 3 stitches and then recut the pieces for the 9-patch.  Sue was a a little disappointed in how flat and smooth her pieces fit together, but I assured her that it will "quilt out". Let's hope so.  I bet she is going to expect me to hand quilt this thing.  That's her favorite thing to do with a quilt top and on a gem like this, I guess I ought to to honor Sue. She has been my sister-in-law and friend for 40 years and I am really glad to have this piece from her.

Book 9 I am calling the Thirtysomething Block Book and is in the hands of the graphic artist, so now my attention turns to marketing it. Thinking of a blog hop/book tour. What do ya think. There would be give-aways involved. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Authentic 40's

This top took longer than I like to get to this point. I was busy finalizing plans for Book 9.  But I am pretty happy with this top  so maybe it was worth the wait. I want to get it quilted soon Those fabrics aren't getting any younger.  But first I have another on the frame to finish and I haven't been quilting much because my back and shoulders are a bit sore.

Mark did me a favor yesterday and left me alone a few hours so while he was out I cleaned out my closet. Wow! What good feelings. Lots of clutter was relocated. Some was designated for the church rummage sale, some just belongs in the basement and some stuff goes to other people.  I didn't tally up my ufo's, but I'll tell you that I have 5 empty boxes that are still waiting for those kits I want to put together. I wanted to get that closet cleaned out before another bunch of ladies begins to meet here for sampler class. That group will begin in another few weeks.

The friday night gals are switching to Wed.nights. I hope that works better for them. My daughter and her friend have also decided to start quilting. Her friend hasn't used a machine before and was having a hard time getting the hang of sewing a straight line.  I hope she doesn't give up to soon. I remember learning to sew 45 years ago! Our teacher had us use the machine without thread as we practiced sewing on paper. This may very well help this gal, but first she needs to learn to lighten up her grip. She was hanging on so tight that the fabric couldn't feed through the machine.  Now that I know what I am dealing with I will be quite a bit more explicit. Still she was successful in making 2 ricebags. I was very pleased with how my daughter did when she sat to work on a 13 year old ufo. 
I hope to get them to the point that they can join the ladies at church or the Wed night group. Occasionally anyway.

On Valentine's Day the snowshoes I ordered arrived. We've been enjoying them pretty much since. I won't go out when it is below 20 degrees. And we did have rain one day. Now we have some pretty icy snow. So now everyone else has had enough of winter, and I  could go a little longer.  I don't wan't spring to come to soon cause I have things I need to get done indoors before it gets so nice that I'd rather be outdoors. It would be nice if it were a bit warmer though, like 20's and 30's.

If you blog at all, you know it is never to late to enjoy the links at Judy's. But since it is time for Design Wall Monday that is what I am going to do.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Almost Together

What a perfect day for sewing. Snow, snow and more snow. We had to make a quick trip into town before the roads got bad, then I worked on finalizing some pages of the book. The rest of the afternoon  was spent joining these blocks.

I just have the corner triangles to add before the borders. I want to quilt this one soon, so that means I better put something else on the longarm to do a warmup. Hopefully sometime this week.

Tonight I hope to get back to the book. I'm getting real close to calling it done. This one has not been so easy to work on with Mark around, so it may well be my last book. Nine (books) is a good number, so I may settle for that.

It's not done snowing, but when it stops, I can expect Mark to be out plowing for 4 or 5 hours. 5" so far.  That will be a good time for getting more work done. Till then, I think I will go blogging. Too bad we won't be bumping into each other. I'm going to Judy's first for Design Wall Monday.

I hope your all enjoying the snow if you have it - like me.

Monday, February 10, 2014

So much for the kit

I guess I couldn't resist sitting down to sew up these blocks right away.  The dark half of all the blocks are sewn. I still have to cut the large muslin triangles for the other side of the block. I should be able to get those done lickety-split, but one never knows what kind of interruptions  are in store for us.
One more round of blocks gets added to this layout. I ended up turning these blocks on point. So that means I cut too many little squares. I already have something planned to do with those, but I will wait to see if I add to the collection of scraps so there is some difference in prints between the two quilts. 

Mark has been retired for 13 months now and I suppose were as adjusted as were ever going to be. He is a mite bored this winter due to the extreme cold and snow. I was hoping and even expecting to get him to do some longarm quilting, but not so far. We did just order some snowshoes though. There is still plenty of winter left to use them this year and the temps are likely to start rising to something tolerable. I'm looking forward to enjoying the snow and exercise. Till then, I will enjoy the blogs linked up to Judy's today and probably a little sewing.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Kit has been Cut

When I put my own kits together, I like to cut most of it before I put the box on the shelf. I also like to make a block or two. Sometimes I don't have a clue what setting I will use for the blocks.  I don't usually use any directions so the block is a good quick visual of what I am planning to do. If I have a plan,  I might print out a diagram from Electric Quilt, that goes in the box, too.

I have the little squares and red triangles cut for  the Delectable Mountains variation I am doing using my old scraps. The block is similar to the Split 9-patch block. The difference being that in the Split 9-patch, instead of one large light triangle the light side of the block has the same number of light colored squares and triangles as the dark side. And like the log cabin, there are dozens of settings for the blocks.  I am planning to do the traditional barn raising setting. For some reason, I am having trouble showing that to you.  I am guessing its related to Windows v.8. Haven't got it mastered yet.

I was anxious to see how they looked so I sewed up 4 sets. I'm loving it so far, so it will be interesting to see if the kit ever makes it to the closet shelf. Stay tuned to see if I can resist sewing it up right away or if I cut another kit instead.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Golden Sunshine and Shadows

So I guess this is a Sunshine and Shadows. It sure went together quickly. My notes said it took half an hour to cut and it took me about 5 hours to sew it.  I especially liked having it all kitted up ahead of time.
Since I put the Sunshine and Shadows quilt top together I have been considering what other quilts I ought to kit up. I've got at least these 5 on my mind.

1.    wild goose chase in blue with oranges and pinks
2.    a stack and slash squares with more red, green, black and taupe
3.    a feathered star medallion wall quilt
4.    checkerboard stars with 9-patch centers in scraps
5.    a variation on Delectable Mountains in my authentic 1930's scraps.

I guess I'd like to plan more. First, I am going to Judy's to check out the Design Walls linked there.
Happy Quilting.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Must Make Kits

Note  to Self:  Make More Kits.  I love them!

I pulled another kit off the shelf. I put this one together perhaps 2 years ago. I cut the strips at the time I made the kit, so I could sit down and start to sew within minutes of pulling it off the shelf.  The first step of the sewing went really fast, in spite of the two strips I sewed in the wrong order.  Can you guess what pattern I am making?

I am using the book Tradition with a Twist. The pattern is Sunshine and Shadow.  I always thought that pattern had all the squares radiating out from the center in color order. This one makes a bunch of little ones.  Boy! These squares are sure fast and easy. What a great way to use up stash fast.  Might be something I could plan on. I wanted the strips set sewn together before quilting tonight when the girls come. It's nice to have something ready to work on when the come over so I don't waste time while they are here. Tonight I will start making the rows.

And don't you love the way this fabric is manufactured in a variety of widths.  I wonder what's going on.  I have been sewing long enough to recall that it used to be either 36"/38" wide (quit making in mid 70's) or 44"/45".  I think it is rare to find it that wide anymore. The two long ones here are probably 12-15 years old. I needed a minimum of 40" for this pattern and the shortest comes in at 40 1/2". No problems yet, but one slip of the ruler could screw that up. Good thing I have enough extra if that happens.

I recall one time a fabric I preshrunk lost almost 4" in width.  That's very unusual cause it usually shrinks in length and minimally in width. And FYI, patterns are typically written  for 40" usable width of fabric. Knowing that, you might want to be sure not to trim too much off the ends when you remove the selvage.  

Has anyone else noticed how hungry the wildlife is this year? The snow is kinda deep for them to find food. In the last two days we have had eating birdseed ON  the back deck not just the birds and squirrels but also a rabbit and a deer. The deer were all over the back yard last night.  I dug the icy snow off the English Ivy yesterday.  I like the way the deer prune that in the winter and help keep it from spreading out of control. They found it. Glad we don't have bear here, though they should  be hibernating now.
I'm linking to a new linky party. Sarah Craig hosts "Can I get a Whoop Whoop" linky party on Fridays. Be sure to visit. The linky parties are like on-line magazines to me.  Thank you Sarah.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Not Inspired Enough

Yesterday I showed some of the blocks a friend gave me 20 years ago. Here I am showing more of the orphan blocks from that  same collection.

As you can see, they are every bit as interesting as the first bunch. When she sewed them, by machine, she didn't stop 1/4" from the edge of the patch to allow for a seam allowance to either turn under and appique or set-in the background piece. Some of this could be fixed. The green and red blocks that are the same are partially pieced and partially machine appliqued These too are made using flannel, seersucker and a very fine gauze type fabric.One of the patches is actually two layers of the fine gauze.
Sue really likes to sew curved  patchwork and loves the 1930's style. Maybe she will want to make a pattern off of one of these.  I am more likely to copy the last one in the corner.

 I don't know how to explain the 9-patch made of the sheer dotted swiss. That one is machine sewn. This was one of two 9-patches in the bunch. They both looked to be made from samples/swatches of one fabric line.
  And look closely at the blue block. Partly pieced by machine and part by hand. No, the white fabric is not printed with little dark dots. If you check it close up, you can see the embroidered holes of the eyelet. Such a hoot!

 And aren't these beautiful. Each block has been hand pieced and left unfinished. I think I had as many as 30 of these at one time, but sold off my least favorites. If I choose to finish them I would have to set-in 14 pieces in each block. I guess I could handle that. But, I haven't been inspired enough yet. Then again, I haven't seen them spread out like this in a long time. Sure are fun. I hope you enjoyed them.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Not too Late

It took 20 years for these blocks to speak to me and tell me to simply alternate them with a plain muslin square. I nearly passed on them when a friend offered them to me 20 years ago. She didn't have any history on them other than her brother found them in an estate he acquired for the antiques.
I pulled them out every once in a while and setting them with sashing or side by side just didn't work. 

No question, the big reason they sat so long is cause some of them are just plain ugly.  I feel free to say that cause  the quilter that put them together is not around to be offended. But really? Wouldn't you agree? I finally figured out to look their best they needed the space that the plain blocks offer. And why I suggest that  it is NOT too late is cause it is still a top and I could rescue some of the uglies and rework some of the blocks. But then, I am not that nuts. 

These come from a very interesting collection of blocks. (You should be able to double click on the photo to see a closeup).  They have all been hand pieced. One of the blocks actually used 12 different colors of thread! The pink and gray(or navy) stripe is a satin that is sewn to flannel. There is also some dotted Swiss in one of the blocks. And that dark red, it's a denim! The side triangles have all been cut from squares cut once diagonally, leaving bias at the outside of the block.  YUK. As expected they were stretched way out of shape. I love that the same block has been shaded in so many different ways - most with 5 different fabrics. The 1 block with triangles in the corners has 17 different fabrics. I guess it was a "make do" quilt and she used what she had.

I debated putting another border on this but decided against it. I figured that if she had to 'make do' she wouldn't have had the fabric or fussed and would have needed it to get done. Then why didn't she finish it?? Could be cause  her situation improved. I wonder if it's more likely cause she was a "topper" like so many of us and she didn't like how it was progressing so she lost interest.  Same as us. Okay, I guess I'm speaking for myslef.    Oops. Maybe it was cause she got too busy like soo many of us. That's why we have so many ufos. Is that right?

I will show some of the other blocks in the next post. Yes, that donation to church has inspired me.
Happy Stitching everyone.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Vintage patchwork scraps

I'm so glad I have had nowhere to go, so I can stay in and stay warm. Though I will go out and shovel a little in the driveway when we get a light snow which seems to be several times a week this winter. Like everyone else, I'm hoping for a milder February.

I had Sue over to pick through  the donation to church of old fabric scraps. She collected a small pile and made a donation to church in return.  I've been picking through the box of squares too, trying to decide if or what I want to do about them. I've a plan in mind so stay tuned on that.

 I'm still a little undecided about this set of blocks.  I've never seen the dresden plate block made from just one or two fabric before. I don't think some of these are worth the bother, but others appeal to me more each time I look at them.Any suggestions?

Going through those old scraps inspired me to dig out my own collection of old fabric and old orphan blocks. I put them in order and made some plans for some of them. 

Time to check the blogs linked up at Patchwork Times

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Does it make you smile?

Are you cleaning out your studio too??? I'm asking because it seems the quilters around here are. Last night I saw a friend and with a third friend help her start to organize her fabric. The daughter moved out and left an empty bedroom. It was fun to see in Joy's collection lots of fabric I've used in the past. She also had quite a collection of vintage fabric maybe 1950's and 60's. There was lots there that wouldn't make me smile, but she was sure happy with it. I had to keep telling myself  'that's what counts'. We did agree on three pieces being about the ugliest we ever saw.  Too much fun. And so glad I came home empty handed. Well, except for a quilt she wants me to deliver to someone here in town.
Then this morning I nearly missed the meeting at church. 3 of the ladies in our group cleaned out and sent their rejects to church. One had nice pieces (Thanks, Nancy),but  two had a grocery sack of itty bitty scraps. I wonder if they think I actually want them cause of the scraps books I wrote and I like to organize that stuff. Actually not that itty bitty, but small enough that I can use them to demo how to do crumb quilts. They've asked to see that.
Also at quilting this morning we discovered some small boxes of precut fabric squares. Looks to be 40's, 50's and a few 60's.  The ladies weren't too interested in using it for our comfort quilts, but I know Sue likes that stuff, some of it anyways. I will see if she is interested before I decide what to do with it next. The lady that cut these wasn't fussy about the fabric she used. Lots of bottomweight fabrics. Not that the stuff was ugly, but pretty heavy to be mixing in with a finer cotton. Then again there were a few uglies in there too.  I hear it's those uglies in  a quilt that makes it so interesting and the others look so beautiful. I guess I oughta look at them twice and see if any of them make me smile.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Improved Square Up

I just remembered that a year ago when I added two little lines to my Thirtysomething Square Up tool, that I never posted about it. So hear goes. The two new lines were added so the tool could double as a trimming template for the companion pieces to the Thirtysomething units  that I call "Onlies" I called them that cause they have only one little triangle in the unit as opposed to the two little triangles that the Thirtysomething unit has. This first photo shows the tool in position after trimming a square. In my case, the piece under the ruler is discarded. You might opt to use it in a miniature. The other line is 1" below the line I've used to trim squares for 4" finished units.

I had some scraps on my cutting table and thought these little blocks would be cute in this design. I don't have many more scraps that would work with these, so before I dig into the stash to really make something with them, I thought I oughta just use up those scraps first.

  I was inspired by this quilt by Kelly Kroon that I put in my first Thirtysomething book. I think it's wonderful, but apparently you have to get the contrast just right.   

I was pretty excited about these two little lines. I've been using the improved tool in my classes all year and the quilters love it. And they don't even know it saves them from having to buy yet another tool to do what the new lines do. If you are interested you can go to my website to order one. And you still have time to make  a quilt for the QOV/Quilter's Rule tool challenge. Check out these links.

I'm off to Judy's to check out the blogs linked up for Design Wall Monday.