Friday, December 28, 2012

Gift presented

I finished the pink and white DesignBuilder quilt for my coworker's baby last week. She is back from maternity leave, and we had a chance to work together yesterday. Before she left, I was able to give her the quilt.

I think she really liked it. She said she didn't have anything handmade! We took a picture, and then she noticed the label on the back--and was amazed that I stitched the label by hand. Then she noticed the flowers quilting and had to turn it back to the front--and realized it was echoing the Dresden flower block. She thought it was so cool!

I really enjoy giving handmade gifts for babies.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Matching stripes

LOL. Giggle.

I had you going, huh? Nope, I'm not trying some new modern quilt. I'm wrapping Christmas presents! And birthday presents, too.

This paper has big stripes, so it was easy to use the stripes for cutting guides, then match the stripes to keep the paper straight and look neat.

Since my little guy's birthday is right after Christmas, we always plan the Christmas budget to split up the presents for him, some for Christmas and some for birthday. Whew, I think I'm all done. So no sewing again tonight.

I have this cool new tool, designed just for cutting wrapping paper. This one is from Scotch brand.

Slip the bottom tongue-shape under the paper so that the wrapping paper slides between the tongue and the upper guides. These guides are the blade-guards. Then simply push the tool away from you, and the paper cuts as it glides away!

Then turn the tool upside down, and there are two ridges in a V-shape between the tongue and handle. It's for curling ribbon! Grip the tool, lay the ribbon over the grooves with your thumb on top and a bit of pressure, and run the ribbon over the grooves. Wa-la! Curled ribbon! Which is way more safe than using scissor blades!

Oh wait, I got some more hand-embroidery done on the label for the yellow baby quilt. Yesterday, I got the label done and slip-stitched to the pink-and white baby quilt. Yay!

Friday, December 21, 2012

More fabric goodness

Yay! I got more fabric in the mail today! I know I've done some splurging lately, but this is some fabric I've been wanting to buy, and cuts I've been wanting to try. Plus, I just want to be a bit girly, too. I'm the only girl in my house, and I do love quilting for my boys. However, I've gotten hooked on girly quilts lately, while I've been working on girl quilts for gifts.

And I guess as you can tell from the picture, Riley Blake Designs is my new favorite designer. Besides being local to where I live, they just have cute designs. I had to get more from Craftsy because of the great deals. I also realized that Riley Blake cuts usually contain about half of what most other cuts by other companies have. For example, a jelly roll typically has 40 strips. Riley Blake Rolie Polies seem to have about 20 strips. . So I needed to get two of the same roll to equal enough for the Jelly Roll Quilts book patterns.
Also, A typical layer cake has about 40 pieces, and Riley Blake's "Stackers" seem to have about 21, which I wish I'd realized when I placed my order. That seemed to apply to the charm stackers, too.

I was trying not to spend too much, but I wish I'd bought more, at those prices..

But that doesn't diminish how pleased I am with the beautiful fabric!

Left to right Rolie Polies: Prairie Rose, and two of "So Sophie".
A charm stacker of "Willow" and a 10" stacker of "Pieces of Hope".

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Celtic Snowflakes

There are some benefits to watching movies on a big screen, with HD and a BluRay player--even more gorgeous pictures! We watched Disney's "Brave" with the boys. And I got a wonderful surprise when the credits rolled--beautiful Celtic knot snowflakes as the background art! They showed up beautifully with the BluRay. I just about swooned, they were so pretty!
(Yes, I'm sure you know by now about my obsession with stars and snowflakes, and Celtic designs. So when you combine all three, I'm in heaven!)

I had sugar-plum visions in my head about those snowflakes as quilting stencils on quilts, and fusible bias-tape quilt blocks for a winter quilt! (This is a technique I want to teach myself this next year.) My husband and I immediately conducted Google image searches for Celtic snowflakes and quilts, and the search pulled up the most beautiful designs. Lots of jewelry, crochet and tatting patterns, ornaments for the tree., some were even stained glass art! I will share some of my favorites.

1-- Silver tree ornaments. I love how the centers of the snowflakes are tiny Claddaghs, joined together.

2-- My favorite! I just had to purchase this set of stencils! They shipped quickly, are made of Mylar, and the owner is so helpful.

3-- Very pretty rubber stamps.

4-- Really nice article and picture about a cross-stitch snowflake. I enjoy cross-stitching too!

Teri has some beautiful artwork that she sells digital pdf's for. You can print them after paying. She has snowflakes borders, Celtic Christmas trees, whimsical and more traditional art. She's British and seems to have a wonderful sense of humor!
6--Delicious Doodles also sells her designs on, which is a seller site for digitized artwork.

7-- urban Threads designs digitized machine embroidery for sale with download in a variety of formats for different machine brands i.e Bernina and others.

Oh yes, and these cute paper snowflakes were made by my 3-yr-old and myself this week. I'm quite pleased at how they turned out! He practiced cutting skills, and I practiced designing.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pieced backing

I thought I would try something different with the yellow/gray quilt. Since it is 48x48" finished, it is wider than a standard width of fabric. I usually just handle that by cutting a strip the required width (plus the extra required for layering and quilting take-up) and sew it on. This time, I decided to watch the free Craftsy class called "Creative Quilt Backs" or something like that. So even though I'm not much of a modern quilter, I learned some things that I will share.

I decided to slash and tear the backing off-center and insert a pieced strip. The teacher advised not to insert a strip down the center, because it's hard to line up centers while layering, and they could shift while quilting. Then your eyes notice the differences!

I cut two strips 4 1/2 by WOF for yellow and pieced them together. Then I cut a few strips of the dark gray 4 1/2" wide. I had to piece a bunch of strips together of the grey because I only had fat quarters for that color. Then I strip-pieced the yellow and gray strips together, cut them at 4 1/2" wide across the strip unit and made four-patch units. Then I pieced the four-patch units in a strip 8 1/2" wide until I had my desired length of about 52".

By the way, I'm pressing all seams open to reduce bulk on the backing!

Next, I learned from the Craftsy class, that to piece your strip into the two backing pieces, mark all the centers of the strips, then pin together at the centers, then pin working your way out to the ends. Don't just add strips and line them up from the top or bottom! Working from the centers out gives a more uniform, centered quilt back, and if your layers shift at all during quilting, then they won't slide off an end that's too short and not have enough backing. Wow. I wouldn't have thought of that, but it makes sense!

Learning and trying new things is a huge part of why I love to quilt. There's always something new to learn or try, and I like to challenge myself just a little with each project. That way, I'm always growing!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Good fabric day!

Hi all!
What a fun day for me today: fabric fun!

While doing morning cleanup chores and sweeping the porch to get ready for Christmas lights, the mailman brought my package from Craftsy! I got a great Black Friday deal on the Riley Blake "Pieces of Hope" fat quarter bundle and the companion layer cake! That's the fabric line that with every purchase, a portion of money goes to Autism research and Autism Speaks, the national organization for Autism. Autism Speaks has chosen puzzle pieces for its logo, since so much of Autism is a "puzzle", i.e. so much is unknown and not understood about Autism. This cute line features puzzle pieces and inspirational words, cute stars, stripes, and dots. I'm thinking using the Swoon pattern, since the preview of the pattern online states it uses 18 fat quarters and some yardage, and the bundle has 20!
If you didn't know, my son has Autism.

Then I got the Christmas lights up. I must have done something different than last year, because they didn't extend across everything that I did last year. Growl* my husband wants me to wait until payday to get more.... But he can be such a Humbug when it comes to decorating for holidays.

Then I mailed off the Quilt U Be Mine piece to the next person.

Then I went to Walmart and found some cute little fabric bundles of pinks and purples, which I will use to supplement the next round of Quilt U Be Mine. Also, I found a remnant of a medium green viney print. Whee!

Hearts and more hearts

I've been paper-piecing these little hearts this week.
The little straight ones are possibly the simplest and most fun little paper-pieced hearts! And I really like how the heart-in-a-heart turned out, too. It almost looks like a heart-shaped gem in a heart-shaped ring, doesn't it?

Just a few notes about removing the paper foundations: every quilter has his/her own preference. For me, when joining sections together, I like to remove the paper in the outside seam allowances, anywhere I'll be joining edges. Then I leave the rest of the paper there, until I'm ready to join the blocks together into the quilt. I just feel it stabilizes the block better until joining in the quilt.

When paper-piecing, it is helpful to use a larger needle, such as a 90/14, which can help penetrate the layers and paper. Then set your machine to a slightly shorter stitch length than the preset. The larger needle holes and smaller stitches work together to help make the paper easier to remove afterwards.

Whenever you decide to remove the paper, work in reverse order of sewing, if you can. That's usually from the outside in. Use a pair of tweezers or the tip of small scissors to pry up the corner of a piece of paper in a patch, press onto the seamline with another finger, which stabilizes the seams and helps prevent stitches from pulling out with the paper. --it helps to do this on a flat, hard surface--
Then slowly pull the paper off along the seamlines.

And I just got my borders done and all attached, on the first round of Quilt U Be Mine! Whew!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

X and O

This is how my little chubby chevrons turned out: little X's and O's!

Aren't they adorable?!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Teeny tiny

This week I figured that I needed to buckle down and decide what I was going to do for the Quilt U Be Mine first round....and then tackle it.

I've spent a lot of time in QuiltPro trying to get inspiration and organize what I'm going to do, and also on the web. Funny how lots of ideas come to you when you least expect it, and sometimes not so much when you're searching!

I stumbled upon Bee in My Bonnet, ( and she's hosting a Row Along! Seems super-simple and she's great at tutorials. And inspiration struck me! I saw her Row 3, the Chubby Chevrons or Lozenges, and I figured out I could join a bunch and arrange the directions of the chevrons, and have a Valentine's Day theme. And at the perfect size for the required border widths of the Quilt U Be Mine!

I spent yesterday and today afternoon cutting squares.
I am surprised again, just how small 4" finished borders can be!

So here are my stacks of lozenges, ready to arrange and sew together. That's it for tonight; I'm turning in!

BTW, now that I'm looking at them, I don't think that the pink with green egg shapes print really goes with the rest. What do you think?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Belt carriers and Binding

Happy Sunday!
I'm tired, I worked today, and we've all been sick, but things are alright.
I made belt carriers (or belt loops) for my jeans tonight. I got sick of my belt riding up and my waistband sinking down. I have a short torso with a sway back, which means I need to alter all my home sewn pants to have more room in the back rise, and shorter in the front rise. My store-bought jeans need to be lower-rise, but I still need to have a flat belt with D rings (no buckles--they stick out funny!). But, manufacturers never seem to add enough belt loops. I always have to add more for my shape!
I cut strips from old jeans, or from a short cut of lightweight denim or twill. I fold the strips in thirds along the long sides, and press. The strips are usually 1 1/2" wide. Then I use a specialty overlock-type zigzag to secure along the long side, and a straight stitch on the opposite parallel long side. Then I lay the strip next to the carriers already on the pants, leave some room for ease and turn under, and cut into pieces. I straight-stitch each end twice in place on the pants, and zigzag over that.

Next, I'm sewing the binding on the Design Builder baby quilt. I'm using the scraps leftover from the backing of the SBS baby quilt. It's a darker red, but it has tiny stars like the prints in the panel.
I found a cool tutorial on for no-lump beginnings/endings of the binding strip, for sewing it on the quilt.
One thing I found that makes sewing binding sew much easier, is a Binding Buddy, or the Simplicity Binding Maker spools. I make double-fold binding, then wind it around the long bobbin, then tie slip knots in a length of ribbon. Slip the knots over the ends of the spool, and slip it over your head to hang around your neck. The binding spools off the bobbin when you give it a tug, as you need more. Pretty cool, huh! Tame the twisting binding!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

FMQ practice

I thought I would try something I learned in Ranae Allen's class about transferring markings for quilting designs.
First, I printed the design I wanted from the included CDROM. It had three repeats. I thought--"hey, I can practice this and make more copies at the same time!"

Pin or staple several sheets of tracing paper to the back of the pattern. Next, take the thread out of the machine, and "quilt" through all the layers. I ended up with hole-punched designs on paper to follow!

Carefully unpin the layers, then carefully separate all the layers. Cut the repeats apart.

Then Plan the placement of the designs. It's pretty easy to tell where the designs are going because the tracing paper is semi-transparent. Once the repeats/designs are placed where desired, pin in place.

Thread the machine with quilting thread and take off, following the punched designs on the paper. Hand placement and keeping the quilt with paper flat is important, and it helps to have a Free Hand System like on my Bernina. That's where there's a lever, that's attached into the machine, that can be operated with a sideways push of the knee, that raises and lowers the presser foot. I can't live without it, in any kind of sewing or quilting I do. Use it in combination with the Needle Down function, when the needle always stops in the down position, and it's so much easier to guide the quilt.

I did one whole side of the first border, and I'm liking the tracing paper quite well. My two biggest stumbling blocks are : guiding the quilt where I want it without jigs or jags or wobbles--keeping smoothness of the lines; and also I stink at free handing anything. I'm not a fly-by-the-seat of -my -pants type of girl, and that goes for drawing anything--even drawing with thread on a quilt. My biggest fear is that those two weaknesses are going to make my quilts look awful. I'm a perfectionist, and I can't get what's in my head onto paper and fabric well. So I need guides, stencils, lines, dots. I want to do every part of a quilt myself, so I'm trying to conquer my fears and practice, and try not to be distraught over what it looks like. Probably the people I am making quilts for, might not even notice all those wobbles and such; so I try to tell myself that they'll think it's "whimsical." But at least I keep going, right!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks Blog Tour

I am following my favorite magazine's blog tour for their new issue of 100 Blocks, Volume 6 !

Great designer blogs, great giveaways every day, and great blocks! I just wish I could use some of the gorgeous fabrics that they get to use! And I wish I had time to make every favorite block in all the issues! There is definitely some of every style of blocks to appeal to just about everyone.

Congrats to all the designers, fabrics, thanks to the sponsors, and everyone who organized this huge undertaking every time to put a new volume out!

Some of my favorites so far:

Indian Cabins,
Carson City by Pat Sloan
Codex by Scott Murkin
Coffee Mill by Jennifer Chiaverini
a strippy star on the front cover (I think it's called Spring)
Star by Cinzia White
Northcott's fun colorway variations of several of the blocks (using Reptile Rumpus--way cute!)
And of course, the fire truck on the front cover!!!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Been sick

I'm sorry that I haven't posted much lately. I've been working a lot of evening hours at the ER, and I have had a cold followed by an awful sinus infection, the last two weeks. So I haven't gotten a lot done sewing and quilting.
The babies have been delivered, that I am making quilts for, so I should get in gear and get the quilting done. On the pink and white quilt, I have gotten the block quilting done and started the borders. Money is tight, so I'm waiting until I'm working on the binding for the pink and white before I get backing and batting for the yellow one.

I have gotten some hand piecing done, since I haven't had a lot of energy. I got the Glorified Nine Patch done, and nearly have the King's Star finished.

Right now, I'm blog hopping with Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks Volume 6. This is so much fun!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Time out for Halloween!

We finally had a bit of money to get my little guy a costume. I made little brother's costume last year, but he really didn't understand nor want to wear it last year. Now he's totally into Halloween and it still fits, so we'll try it out. I got a cute Butterick pattern that makes cats/lions/leopards depending on your fabric and trim, a bunny, a monkey, and a bear. I made Little brother's bear with bright yellow fleece, then put on a plain red t-shirt: instant Winnie-the-Pooh!
I went to Walmart on Monday to see what I could find for big brother for school, and couldn't find anything he would like. So I planned ahead and had the pattern with me, and went straight to the fabric section to get stuff to make him Kung Fu Panda Po!
I spent all afternoon/evening Monday, cutting out the pieces. Then I spent all afternoon yesterday sewing. It was made a bit harder because my serger didn't like the thick fleece layers, and kept skipping stitches, so I had to go over parts of seams with my sewing machine. I nearly finished when I had to stop for dinner and go to work.

I pulled in from work at 02:15 and went straight to the sewing room. I had to top stitch the hood, stitch the Velcro on the hood, and hand stitch the hood lining opening together. Oh yeah, and slip stitch the tail and tail stay together. I just didn't have time to make pants, so I dug his khaki shorts out of his drawer and pinned the tail to his shorts. I finished at 3 am! The bus came at 7:30.
You should have seen his dazzling smile when I took his picture this morning, because he loves Kung Fu Panda.
Ugh, I went back to bed after I put him on the bus!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Quilt U Be Mine round robin

Hi everyone!
I'm so excited to participate in the Quilt U Be Mine Mystery Round Robin, hosted by Michele from !
I can't wait to see what my group and I decide to add to our blocks as we go.
I can't wait to get to know new quilting friends, too.

Here is my center block. I think it's named Hearts Around or something similar.
1--I traced and cut out the hearts.
2--To appliqué, I sewed the hearts, right sides together, with a piece of very lightweight fusible interfacing, in a 1/4 seam allowance.
3--Then I clipped all the curves, then cut a slit in the interfacing to turn the hearts right side out. Use something pointy to gently smooth and shape the seams. Use a warm iron on delicate setting to gently press the seam allowance.
4--Fold and spot-press the background piece to mark your centers and diagonals. Arrange your hearts where you'd like, using the marks to help you center them on the background. Pin in place, and turn up the iron to the hot setting recommended for the interfacing. Place a press cloth over the hearts, and press in place.
4--Then you can hand-appliqué in place with a stitch of your choice, or use the machine, like I did. I used the blind stitch, but flip-flopped it, and reduced the width of the zigzag. Then I carefully stitched around the outside. It is helpful to stitch with your needle set to always stop in the "down" position, so that you can pivot your piece slightly as you go. I found about every 3-4 stitches is a good time to pivot for my machine, to be able to hug the curves.
And here's a cute label I made to match. I hope my group members will sign my label as they complete their parts!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekend accomplishments

Hmmmm...time for a recap of the week.
1--finished four blocks for my Patriotic Sampler "Sylvia's Shooting Star" It's nice to take out four blocks at once. These will be the corner blocks of my sampler. I'm going to turn the stars so they're shooting toward the quilt center, in picture 2.
Patriotic Sampler block count: 34/42 ! Getting closer!

2--Got the Design Builder panel baby quilt stabilized and straight line quilted. Ok Rachell, don't be a chicken and just go for the FMQ!

3--hand-pieced a bit more of the Glorified Nine Patch patriotic block.

4--planned and cut pieces for my Quilt U Be Mine center block. More to do tomorrow.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Soup in a mug

Fall is in the air, on the trees, and everywhere! I took my kids to a pumpkin patch last night, and our jackets sure didn't feel like enough warmth. We were glad to get home by the time it was dark and get warm baths for bedtime. It was down to freezing last night!
By the time I went to bed, I was getting a bad sore throat. Today I don't feel better-just worse. So I'll share a quick recipe for soup in a mug for one, that I came up with a few months ago.

1 mug
1 small can V-8 juice (5.5 oz)
I tsp bouillon powder (chicken or beef, you choose)

Pour the juice and bouillon into the mug. Fill the rest of the mug with water. Heat in the microwave until desired temp, and stir well. Enjoy!

Warms you right up on a chilly day, has a serving of veggies, and is good with a sandwich for lunch, or by itself for a warmup before bed. Savory and Yummy!

Friday, October 12, 2012


In September, I entered a quilt and a quilt project in contests. Those didn't win.
But I must have had a small lucky streak anyway, because I won something from each of three of my favorite quilting magazines in September!

The first one you saw already: a stack of Christmas fat quarters and a copy of Quilters Newsletter's Best Christmas Quilts 2012.

The next one was a copy of Mccall's "America Quilts Together" and it made me want to try an exchange or round robin sometime!

The next one was from Quiltmaker, and included a Project Linus Charlie Brown fat eighth bundle and a few Christmas prints from Robert Kaufman. Cute, and gorgeous!

Thank you, thank you! It's fun to add to my teeny quilting stash.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Top finished!

The yellow/gray quilt top is finished! I need some batting and something for the backing. For the backing, I'm thinking more of that darling paisley! I'm in love with that print. It's a brand-new Keepsake Calico from Joann Fabric.
What do you think?
I think anything very dark won't look good behind all that cheery yellow, don't you?
Oh yeah, and this is a gift, so no telling, ok?

This quilt is called Diamond Daze, in the brand new "Quilts from 100 Blocks Volume 2" by Quiltmaker Magazine. Love it!

The next quilt is a preprinted panel by Renae Allen of It is her Design Builder panel. I had the good fortune that she lives in Utah, and taught a class at LQS--my local Bernina store, Dave's Bernina. She teaches this class, plus her original two SkillBuilder series classes, which are also preprinted panels. Both have companion booklets. The SkillBuilder has quilting lines preprinted, to get you accustomed to FMQ. The DesignBuilder only has the quilt "blocks" printed, so it's purpose is to help you choose your quilting designs, set the mood of your quilt with designs, and teach you about transferring designs to the quilt top. There really wasn't time, nor did the class really teach, the quilting skills or techniques--that's the Skillbuilder's job. It was very fun to take the class from Renae herself, hear her knowledge and tips, and learn that she pieces and quilts almost all her own quilts on her Bernina domestic machine! And doesn't usually use the Bernina Stitch Regulator!

As you can tell, I've already started pin-basting the layers. This panel will be another baby gift.

I've got to get them done pretty quickly and soon!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'd rather be quilting

and not mending. I had a pile of mending tonight: my husband's shorts, his uniform job shirt, and patching knees in little jeans. I sandwiched that pile in between finishing two blocks, and putting together the units for the yellow/gray quilt.
I broke a needle, switched between an 80 needle and a 90 needle, switched thread colors 5 times, and filled a bobbin. Re-threading my machine is easy-peasy, but I guess it's one of my hang ups. I hate stopping what I'm doing to change colors.

I'm so happy I did the two LeMoyne blocks together: the Silver and Gold, and the Liberty Star/Tennessee. It was a lot of set-in seams all at once, but assembly-lining all those units wasn't so bad. And look at them- so very worth it!

And we took a family drive up the canyon mountain loop, which we do every fall, and admire all the amazing colors! More ideas for the fall quilt I want to make sometime. It would be stunning to have brightly colored leaf blocks, with dark greens in pine tree blocks--just like our mountains. And probably gray rock or light rust red for backgrounds, for the red dirt we have all over the state and up our mountains. It really is stunning! Someday I will get it out of my head and into fabric.