Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

It was delightful to have our son and daughter-in-law over for dinner on Christmas Eve.  After midnight Mass we exchanged a few family gifts.  So, now I can share a photo of the T-shirt quilt for my son.

Lots of great memories from his college days sewn into this quilt.

I used polar fleece for the backing and it has no batting.  I'm getting more confident with my quilting, and did much denser quilting on this t-shirt quilt than I have in the previous ones I have made.   Most was done with the walking foot, but there are a couple blocks quilted in free-motion quilting.  I really love how it turned out, and my son loved it too!

Warm wishes to you and your family for a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Getting caught up

Foggy December day at the lake.
It's been cloudy, foggy and basically just not too cheery outside for the past two weeks here.  Great weather for quilting!

(Half-size) Grand Illusion status:  step 1 - pieces all cut, and 30 blocks done.  step 2 - pieces all cut, and 30 blocks assembled.   step 3 - ALL 60 FINISHED!!!  step 4 - pieces cut but that's all so far.

Last weekend we took a drive up to the Lake and I brought up some quilt tops that were in need of quilting.  The big dining table up north is perfect for spreading out and supporting a quilt while I machine quilt.  It's such a sense of accomplishment to get another UFO a step farther along!

First I worked on Shoo Fly Pie.  I started this one in March 2012, didn't like how it looked, set it aside...ripped out blocks, made more blocks, set it aside....started up again in July 2014 and put the top together and pin basted the layers, set it aside.... You get the picture.  Finally, it's quilted up and the binding is on.  All ready to be hand stitched down.   I usually machine stitch down my bindings, but I will need some handwork projects in January, so I'm getting them ready now.

Next up I quilted the center and first border on a red/white/blue quilt top.   I needed a stencil from home to lay out the next two borders, so packed it back up again for now.  Then I started quilting Baptist Fans on Oklahoma Backroads.  I was able to get a little bit done before having to pack up and head home. But at least there was some progress!

At home this week I worked on a T-shirt quilt to give as a Christmas gift.  Shhh! Don't mention it to anyone.  I doubt the recipient reads my blog, but you never know on that one.  The good news is that the bag of T-shirts is now OUT of my junky laundry room for good!  This is my third t-shirt quilt and the best one so far.  I'm going with denser quilting and it looks much better.  Mostly straight lines with the walking foot, but a couple free-motion areas where I stippled or echoed what was printed on the shirt.  Photos after Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Yoyo Wreath

A few more ornaments were added to our Christmas tree today.  The house is slowly gaining it's holiday finery.  I wanted to share this little yo-yo wreath made by my mother.   I have two of them now.  One that she made for my first Christmas tree, and one that had been on my parent's tree for many Christmases.

She cut 3 inch circles, stitched around the edge and then filled them with a little fiberfill batting as she pulled the thread to make yo-yo's.  A dozen yo-yo's threaded together through their centers and tied into a wreath, plus a tiny red bow - so simple!

The navy print is from a skirt and camisole Mom made for me in the 1970's -ruffles, lace and 'prairie style.'  Such sweet memories these little ornaments can bring!  What are some of your favorite handmade Christmas ornaments?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cascadia finish

This replica of an antique doll quilt was a recent quilt-along with Lori at Humble Quilts.  This week I pulled out some fabulous vintage fabric (that came from my mother's house) to use for the back and binding.   Mom had made herself a blouse and skirt from this fabric in the 1970's, but I think the fabric was old even then.

All finished!  I added a muslin border to lighten it up a bit and make the tiny blocks 'float'.  It measures 18.5 x 22 inches.

Linking up with other quilters this week at: confessions of a fabric addict

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Album Ornaments

This afternoon I was trying to do some cleaning up in my office/sewing room.  When it was time to take a break I had just been stuffing tiny pieces of fabric into the bag for making ornaments.  Well... as long as they were in my hands...

I made a couple of ornaments using the Album block design from the Pond Dakota Album Quilt that I researched for the Bloomington Historical Society.  A little figuring, but they turned out Super Cute!

Ornaments: Sarah and John P. Williamson signature blocks
1893 Pond Dakota Album Quilt

Just three inches square,but not really difficult.  They are made quilt-as-you-go, using 1 inch by 2 inch strips and strip sets.

There is a holiday party at the Museum this weekend, so I think I'll be up late tonight making some as gifts!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Denim placemats: tutorial

My box of old denim jeans is overflowing and my son-in-law has told me already that he has several more pairs to contribute.  Some new placemats might be just the thing to use up some of those jeans.  Better get busy!

Several pairs have flat felled seams on the sides as well as the inseam.   Let's take advantage of those!

Pattern:  If you want to make a pattern, cut a 12 inch x 17 inch rectangle.  Fold into fourths so the four corners are together.  Measure 4 inches from the corners on both sides and trim the corners off in a gentle curve. Open up the pattern.

Step one:  Cut off the bottom cuff, removing worn or ragged fabric.  Cut the crotch seam open by cutting from the front zipper around to the center back seam.

Step two:  Lay the bottom of the leg on your cutting board - front side up.

Step three: Measure up 12 inches from the bottom and cut across. Your placemat will be 12 inches top to bottom.

Step four:  Cut vertically down the center of the front of the leg and open up this piece.  Trim edges if needed so your placemat is 17 inches wide.  By having the seams equal distance left and right of center a plate can sit flat on the placemat.  (If the seams are too close together, or down the center, your dinner plate will be wobbly.)

Step five:  Use your pattern, or Measure 4 inches from the corners in both directions. Round over the edges as shown.  Use a plate if you need help making a smooth curve.  Your placemat should measure 12 x 17 inches.

Step six:  Cut batting from fleece, flannel or batting scraps,  and cut a fabric backing for each placemat.  Sandwich and pin.

Step seven:  Using a walking foot, stitch on either side of the felled seams.  My stitching lines ended up 1-1/2 inches apart by using the side of my foot as a guide.  Continue to stitch parallel lines about that same distance apart across the place mat.  I used grey thread, but yellow or orange would be great - especially if the color matches the stitching on the denim.

Step eight:  Stitch a generous 1/4 inch in from the outer edge all the way around.  Trim away any uneven edges.  Finish the edge with the method of your choice.  Quilt binding, clipping for a raggy edge, serger edge, or pinking shears are all good options.

Repeat as needed!

Note:  If the jeans are long enough you can get a second placemat, BUT, the inseam starts to curve as it gets closer to the crotch.  After you cut open the leg (but before you round the corners), you can cut along the edge of the inseam and slide the excess fabric under the seam so the fabric lies flat.  Topstitch the seam back down and take a couple of had stitches to tack the seam down if needed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Grand Illusion step one

It's a compulsion.  I simply can't resist a Bonnie Hunter Mystery.  I love every one of them!
Step one of Grand Illusion is out - and I promised myself I'd only make a small version this time.  
Just a couple of blocks...
Well, maybe half size...  
I've cut a few extra pieces... so maybe a little bigger...  
Oh dear!

Week one link up:
Looks like there's already over 250 other quilters linking up, so take a look at some of the other color and fabric choices.  No shortage of inspiration in the Quiltville crowd!

Saturday, November 29, 2014


My bag of 1-1/2 inch scraps is nearly empty! Woo Hoo!!

  Lori at Humble Quilts had a sew-along to make a small quilt 
inspired by an antique doll quilt she had seen.  It's adorable!  Thanks Lori. 
My version of Cascadia 

Now I need to find a sew-along for my 2 inch scraps.  
That bag is completely full - I can't even get it closed.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US.  It's a special holiday for our family with traditional foods and time spent together in love and laughter.  What's on the menu?  A 'pot-luck' dinner at my sister-in-law's house with hot apple cider, turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, strawberry jello and I am bringing the pumpkin pie!  I'll probably bake a small turkey breast at home too just so we can have 'leftovers.'

I am so grateful for you, that you take the time to read my blog posts and share your love of quilting with me.  Your comments and suggestions give me such joy.  I enjoy reading your posts too.  It's exciting to have quilting friends and acquaintances from far and near.  And so, to all of you.....

Thank you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Holiday packages

There has been quite a bit of snow on the ground here in Minnesota the past few weeks and it's put me in the mood for the Holidays a bit early this year.  Fortunately, thimblemouse and spouse shared their pattern from the Florida Row by Row Experience called "Tied Up With A Bow."  

It's just adorable, and I could not resist piecing it up!  As it happens, I started a row-by-row quilt top a few years ago, but stalled out.  I do have November done, and July.  August is halfway done.  But the rest... not yet.  The original pattern idea had applique poinsettias for December. about a substitution?  You bet!

I had to make Tied Up With A Bow twice for it to be 72 inches long - but that was no problem.  It goes together so quickly and was such fun to make with scraps from my Christmas fabric stash box.  What do you think?

 Makes me want to get my own Christmas shopping done and start wrapping packages already!  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stepping Stones

Today I had the joy of presenting a quilt to a dear young man from our church.
 I have known him many years, particularly though our son's Boy Scout troop.   He was just starting his first year in college when he suffered a brain aneurysm.  It was a miracle that someone saw him collapse and called for help immediately.

He survived, and after over a month in hospitals, he is now home and continuing his recovery there.  He has a long way to go, but each stepping stone takes him closer to recovery.  Each rehab session is another brick that rebuilds his life to normalcy.

I had started this quilt a long time ago, but pulled it out of the UFO pile and finished it for him with a fleece back.   Sometimes it's a blessing to have those unfinished quilt tops around, just waiting for the perfect moment to be finished with love and go to someone who needs a warm hug.

The quilt is Bonnie Hunter's "Bricks and Stepping Stones."  (I've linked that name to her free pattern.)

Monday, November 17, 2014

A whole lot of friends

Here's the last of my Moda 'Friends & Companions' mystery quilts.  It is closest to their original color choices.  I did change out the setting blocks to blue, and the black border to gold just to pull out those colors a bit more.  This time I ran out of red and green (who is surprised?)  After trips to three fabric stores to find some more, no luck for an exact match.  The red fabric I eventually bought for the border has a subtle stripe, so I mitered the corners and they turned out great!  It's been years since I've put mitered corners on a quilt.  (I'm so lazy!!)

Friends & Companions
And just so we can have all the Friends and Companions together, here are the other two.  Which do you like best?

Friends & Companions - the Musical

Autumn Friends & Companions
It was fun to try the same quilt in three different colorways.  Next time, though, I really need to just make a decision and pick ONE.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sewing Expo

The past several years the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo has made a stop in the Twin Cities, and that's where I spent part of the day Thursday.  There was lots of excitement, laughter, and some good deals to be had too.  It was fun to talk strike up conversations with other quilters and sewing enthusiasts, and have that instant connection of a common interest.

I didn't take any classes, but enjoyed browsing through the vendor booths.  I picked out a couple new quilting books, a bit of fabric, two embroidery cd's (half price), sewing machine needles and a cute little bobbin holder.  Elna did not have a booth, so I couldn't replace my walking foot - which is still MIA. (Missing in Action)

There were lots of lovely quilts on display.  Quilts made by Fons and Porter staff were in one area.  Another display area featured lovely art quilts.  A third group of quilts were entries in the "Double Wedding Ring International Quilt Challenge."  This one clearly stood out, and was the Best of Challenge Winner.  Isn't it fabulous?  Karen Williamson used the Pickle Dish block, a variation of the Double Wedding Ring.
Organic Pink Pickles by Karen Williamson

I have not made a Double Wedding Ring quilt yet.  Maybe someday...  How about you?  Is a Double Wedding Ring on your quilting wish list?

Monday, November 10, 2014

A bit of an Irish Puzzle

As I was searching through my scrap bag this weekend I came across an unexpected surprise.  A piece of light green that was just big enough to finish up this little 32 inch square quilt top!

The center block is an orphan "Sarah's Choice" left over from my son's wedding quilt.  The teeny tiny HST's that make up the Irish Puzzle blocks are bonus blocks from Celtic Solstice.

It was a bit of a puzzle to make them fit together, but that's what it's all about isn't it?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Window week

It's been a crazy week around our house.  We had nine windows replaced.  The workmen were here two days, and for the rest of the week hubby has been putting a finish on the wood windows and frames.  They are looking great, and are even slightly larger than the old windows.  Everything looks so much brighter without the storm windows and screens.

But, with construction work comes a serious MESS!  Everything had to be pulled 4 feet away from every window. The middles of the rooms are stacked with things.  But, by next week I hope we will be on the road to normal again.

Monday and Tuesday I hid in my sewing room/office for most of the day while the workmen were here.  I was able to get a few things finished up.  First, I made a few more little pumpkin ornaments.  Here's their 'selfie'.  Can you see the window in the background that is being installed?

Next, I put borders on Countdown to Christmas.  Took me long enough! It was a mystery quilt by Temecula Quilts from last December that had been in my UFO pile.  The pieces are so tiny that I did about half of what they called for and made a smaller quilt. Each of those star blocks finishes at 2 inches!  Tiny is cute, but I only have a limited amount of patience for it.  

This quilt languished because I didn't know what I wanted to do for borders.  Do you find that setting a quilt aside for a while can be a good thing?  I finally decided on red, white and blue.  Keeping with the star theme, the blue and the red border fabrics both have stars.

I can get some quilting done as soon as I find my walking foot.  It has apparently gone for a walk somewhere, because it has been missing all week.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Friends and Companions - the musical

Here's my second version of the Moda Sew-Along "Friends and Companions."
'F & C the Musical' on the piano -
which you can't see at all!

Silly me.  Why would I think to look at the fabric requirements before starting a project?  I just started pulling scraps and put together color groupings.  There was no chance of finding more of my light background fabric. It's a piece that's from deep stash. We're talking 30 years back.  So, when it came to making alternate blocks I looked for something with the same density of pattern.  Music notes to the rescue!  And so this version will be "Friends and  Companions -the Musical."
Trying for similar pattern density.

The red border is narrower than the original.  You guessed it, not enough red left to make a 6.5 inch border.  Well, 4 inches of red will do just fine - and it's all used up!  Can you tell the setting triangles are a different fabric too?  Yep, not enough green either.  I'll just call it "the creative process."  (smile, wink)

My stash report is doing much better this year than the past two.  Purchased 38 yards, used 60 yards. Over 20 more yards used than purchased!  The only fabric purchased for this quilt was the music notes, and some additional solid black.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Make a Little Pumpkin ornament

Just in time for Autumn, Harvest Festivals and Halloween, (and in plenty of time for Thanksgiving,) let's put together some little 3 inch pumpkin ornaments.  So easy, and quick for a gift tag on a hostess gift, or just a little decoration around the house.  Don't let the little pieces scare you!  We'll be sewing them on top of a larger piece, so they're easy to handle.

First let's get the pieces cut.  Dig out that scrap bag!  Find a nice pumpkin orange 2 x 2.5 inches.  A piece of green for the ground at 1 x 4 inches.  From the background fabric cut a piece 1.5 x 2.5 inches, four 1 inch squares and two 1 x 3 inch strips.  And... for the back of the ornament you will need a 4 inch square of fabric.  I used a Halloween print this time, but anything will do - I often use muslin.  Look through your batting scraps and cut a 4 inch square of batting.  Finally, a six inch long piece of narrow ribbon.  Mine is 1/4 inch width.  In your bobbin, use a color that matches the fabric you picked for the back of your ornament.  It makes the back look much neater!

Ready, set, go!

Start by layering backing fabric (right side down), then batting on top of it.  
Next, place the orange square right side up slightly below center. 
 (I have 1.5 inches of batting showing at the top.)

Place four 1 inch squares, right sides down, in the four corners of the orange fabric.  Stitch through the whole works.  Diagonals on the corner, turn and keep going.  Take about 5 or 6 stitches along the top and bottom to get to the next corner block. Flip the corners back and finger press.  No need to trim anything yet.

Using a 1/4 inch seam, stitch and flip open the top piece (1.5 x 2.5), then the two sides (1 x 3's) and finally the green bottom piece. Now we're getting somewhere!

The next step is to stitch a border.  I use the edge of my presser foot as a guide.  
You can see I've gone down the center of the side and bottom pieces, 
and stitched approximately the same distance from the edge on the top piece.   

Grab the pinking shears and let's get this trimmed to size!  
The finished ornament should be 3 inches square.

Fold the ribbon in half and tack the raw edges to the back of the ornament along your border stitching.  The last step is a little free-motion quilting.  Using dark green thread, stitch a couple of curved lines from top to bottom on the pumpkin.  Then scribble-stitch in a stem and tendril.  
All done!

Sharing this design with Judy's Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Autumn Friends and Companions

Looking out into the back yard this morning I noticed that the Sumac is at peak fall color.  Just the perfect backdrop to photograph my Autumn version of Moda's Friends and Companions Quilt-Along.  But, it wasn't done yet!   Threw in a load of laundry and headed to the sewing room.

There wasn't enough of any one orange fabric for the final border, so I cut 3 inch strips from what I had for scrappy piano keys.  By late morning a quilt top finished!  And a lovely fall photo.

Let's see some other finishes for the week:
Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Rediscovering the Pond Dakota Quilt

Sunday, Oct. 19th is the day!  I've been asked to give a presentation about the Pond Album Quilt that I have been researching for the Bloomington MN Historical Society.  I think I'm all ready.  Send good thoughts and prayers that it goes well.  I never know what I'm getting myself into sometimes.  LOL

This week I've learned something new.  My son was teasing me because he learned to make PowerPoint presentations in elementary school, and I have never done one.  And, I needed to have one prepared for Sunday's presentation.  The original quilt is too fragile to bring along with me.  So, with a little help from Hubby, I put together my very first PowerPoint so I can show photos of the original 1893 quilt.

If you are in the Twin Cities area, I invite you to come Sunday, 2PM, to the Gideon and Agnes Pond House at the Pond Dakota Mission .

I keep finding more and more interesting bits of information about the Dakota women whose names appear on the quilt!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Design wall Monday

It was a lovely weekend to quilt awhile at the lake.  I worked on piecing the alternate blocks for the Moda Friends and Companions sew-along.

Here is "Autumn Friends and Companions."

Next step is a 2-inch black border, and then a scrappy orange border.  I had started with one orange fabric and ran out, so I used a second orange fabric for a couple blocks. Then I found some more of the first fabric.  (sigh)  But I still don't have enough of either for the border, so I'll add a few more oranges and give it a scrappy border.

It's always a good idea to give projects a review, and I learned a few things from this project.  Color substitutions can be tricky on a mystery quilt.   I think I may have selected autumn colors that were too similar in value.  Even though I love all the fabrics, the piecing disappears in a couple of the blocks.

On the plus side, a surprising discovery. I love how the designer made the black center of the 'alternate blocks' 1/2-inch larger than the other black pieces in the 'alternate blocks'.  The result is that the alternate blocks end up the same size as the sampler blocks.  Without that little detail, the 'alternates' (based on 5x5 pattern) and the 'samplers' (based on a 4x4 pattern,) would not have ended up the same size without a lot of crazy math on one or the other.

Two more versions ahead.  Stay tuned....

Linking up with Patchwork Times Design Wall Monday.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hostess gift in a hurry

Last Saturday we were invited by some friends up north to have dinner with them at their cabin.  I had planned to pick up some flowers to give as a hostess gift before we left for the lake on Friday.  Oops... completely forgot.  What to do!!?


On Saturday morning I poured through whatever fabrics I had brought with me for the weekend (in case I had time to quilt awhile.)  I had the pattern for the recent Marcus Friends and Companions Sew-along, and some HST leaders and enders.  I had brought up some fleece to use as backing for a lap quilt that was in my to-finish pile, so I laid that out, pinned it up for quilting and was pleased to find I had bought about 1/2 yard extra fleece. (There'll be photos of that once I get it quilted.)

I picked Block #8 from and with a little imagination and that extra piece of fleece for the backing, made a little table topper to give as a hostess gift.  I forgot to measure it, but it's about 12x18.

Hurray!  Hostess gift problem solved.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Market Day finished

This morning I did some sorting and picking up in the office/sewing room.  I made a list of fabric I need to buy at the store today to finish up the Marcus Designer sew along that just finished up today.  I was using up scraps rather than checking to see if I had enough of any of the fabrics, and I need some more black and some red.

As I was putting things away I came across Market Day.  It was so close to being done!  Only the quilting in the outside border remained to be done.  So, I took a deep breath and decided to get in a little free-motion quilting practice.  In no time it was done and ready for the final photo.

I've also been trying to calculate what I've used so far this year.  Looks like 27 yards purchased and 50 yards used.  So I'm in the black for this year!  Woo Hoo!  Starting to whittle away at that stash.  Ten small quilts (under 30 inches square), four queen size, two baby quilts, one lap quilt and a table runner have been finished so far this year. Three months to go!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wedding Quilt Roundup

There's been a request to share the wedding quilts I have made and gifted to family members, and friends so close that they might as well be family.
With love and blessings to all these couples - Here we go:

For Michelle and Jared:
Wedding Album 2008

For Amy and Mitch:
Dakota Star 2011

For Rachel and Trevor:
Navy Star 2011

For John and Sarah:
Celtic Square 2013

For Chrissy and Derek:
Rhapsody in Bloom 2014

For Laura and Yingda:
Chinese Coins and Lanterns 2014

For Sara and Brent:
Wedding Album 2014 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wedding Album for Sara

My third, and hopefully final, wedding quilt for this year was completed the night before the wedding.  It seems I keep cutting things closer each time!  But yesterday our niece was married and it was a spectacular Minnesota autumn day.  We were so happy to celebrate this wonderful event with them.

Her wedding quilt has been in the works for many years!  The cream fabric with geraniums, which I love so much, had a copyright date of 1991 in the selvage.  Hmmm...  The fabric was purchased 'just because I loved it' and put in the stash.  Years later it was pulled out and sewn into 12 inch album blocks because I loved the pattern.  Now, finally they are put together into a quilt, which I hope is just right for our niece.  A little vintage, a little sassy, pretty, practical and just plain fun.

The black border looks a little abrupt in this photo, but it has a grey geometric pattern on it.  Family members signed the blocks in the outer row and added their blessings and good wishes to the newlyweds.

My daughter is in town for the wedding, and remarked that she couldn't find a photo of her wedding quilt on the blog.  So I have had to promise to put that in a post soon.  Stay tuned!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Heritage Days 2014

Saturday was a beautiful day for our community festival.  Most of my quilts were brought out of various storage spaces around the house and they filled the quilt demonstration area!  Hubby was aghast at the number of quilts that I pulled out, and I know it was only about half of the ones I have around here.  ...Busted!

There were a couple of my very first quilts that were yarn tied - to demonstrate how the stress on those tie points eventually leads to the fabric tearing out.  There were quilts from old denim jeans and old sweatshirts (didn't have my son's T-shirt quilt this year) - to demonstrate that we still make quilts today out of our old clothing, just like in the 'old days'.  It's just different fabrics.

There were examples of 9-Patch, Log Cabin, Irish Chain, applique' and paper pieced quilts.  I set up the quilting frames that I was gifted a few years back.  They belonged to my dear friend's mother:  One with long poles, and the other a hooped lap stand.  Quilts in trunks, on ladders, on quilt racks and hanging from the tree!

The most fun was to be able to talk about the reproduction of the 1893 Album quilt.  There was a steady flow of two or four people in the booth all day long from 11-4.  Then a storm rolled in and we hustled to get everything picked up before the rain.  It was an exhausting day, but such fun too!  I don't sell any of the quilts, they're just there for 'props', but I keep getting asked about it.  I did sell two books about the Album Quilt though!