Friday, September 28, 2012

Craft book month

Hi ! In honor of National Sewing Month, Craft has been hosting a blog hop all month for Craft Books. Blogs have been sharing all sorts of crafts and projects from books all month!

Today I'm going to share not one, but two, of my favorite quilting books.
1-"Sylvia's Bridal Sampler" (SBS) by Jennifer Chiaverini
2-"Quick-strip Paper Piecing" by Peggy Martin

Just a hint: these are paperback books, so I took them to my local copy center. They cut the binding off, then inserted the spiral binding, both for just a few dollars. It's much easier to make copies of the foundations that way!

Jennifer Chiaverini is one of my favorite authors, and her pattern books based on the quilts in her novels are wonderful. I first heard of SBS and Chiaverini through my local Bernina dealer, Dave's Bernina, in Provo, Utah. They have a weekly sewing club with different projects every week that should be able to complete in an evening, with friends and snacks, spotlighting different techniques and sewing/tools. They started a Block of the Month for 2011 from SBS. They chose 12 blocks, enlarged them to 12" finished blocks, and taught basic techniques as we sewed and reviewed a different Elm Creek novel every month! Super fun year! Then we embroidered the centers of the blocks with monthly seasonal motifs on the embroidery machines. I talked my friend into going, and then we had weekly sewing get-together at my house in between club nights to work on blocks, and I taught her so much to quilting because she had never done it before. It was so much fun.
While going to BOTM, Jodi became pregnant, and we decided her BOTM would be her baby quilt, as the block party was done by December. The baby came just after we got the top pieced, so I layered, machine-quilted, and bound the whole thing myself. I don't have an embroidery machine, so I hand-embroider "labels" on the backing.

Jodi and her finished quilt!

I love SBS book because it has 140 different traditional blocks, all 6" size. Easy directions, all the templates and cutting instructions and foundations are included. There's a gallery of quilts made, and included with each block are illustrations plus photos of finished blocks--which I love.

Since the blocks in SBS are only 6" finished each, many are paper-pieced. Even when the club enlarged them to 12", we still paper-pieced. I just had to share my favorite book and method with my classmates: "Quick-Strip Paper-Piecing" by Peggy Martin. Some of my classmates caught on well, some used it, some tried it, and others preferred cutting patches the usual way.

I taught myself to paper-piece using Marcia Hohn's tutorial on, which uses patches and scraps.  But then I started a project for Halloween, and got so frustrated with constantly picking out the patches: not fitting together, the backward thinking of the shape patches, not lining up! I threw up my hands, quit it, and went to to find a book or a new way to do it. I found Peggy's book!
The tutorial for her method is wonderful, with great pictures and it's very well-written. She includes a section on how to adapt her method to other blocks that are not in her book. Then she has a huge section of Mariners Compass-type stars, projects, basic quiltmaking skills, and a fun gallery of quilts from her classes. I immediately tried the Simple Star from the book, which is the second star on my blog header. Then I got to work with other blocks I wanted to make--even those cute firetrucks from Quiltmaker Magazine (Sept 2009), and the Quiltmaker "Snowflakes".  I fell in love with paperpiecing! It's highly addicting. All because of Peggy's simple method! I share this method on blog posts and Facebook and classes, everywhere I can because I love it!

There are no shapes to match--you just measure and cut strips of fabric. No headaches and almost eliminating using a seam ripper! It is an assembly-line method, and works great with blocks that have multiple sections that are the same.

Peggy even has a new class on, teaching her method. I haven't taken it, but I highly recommend it, especially if you learn better from a live instructor and demonstrations instead of from a book. You can click on the orange Craftsy button on Peggy's website to access the demo of the class.

I get into such a rhythm and a "groove" that it's hard to stop. I sit at my sewing machine, have a small table on my left with my mat, rotary cutter, and ruler, then on the right, I have my ironing board and iron set up. I sew sections down a strip, cut them apart with shears, trim the seam allowances on the left, then pivot to the right to iron all the sections at once. Then repeat!

This block I'm working on is from SBS, the Dogtooth Violet, one my favorites from the book. Here is one section finished, then three more being sewn down a fabric strip.

 Here they are flipped over, ready to cut apart. There on the left is SBS book, with the directions for sewing the block together.

Next, trimming the seam allowances. Fold the paper and strips back along the seamline, place your ruler with 1/4" marking along the seamline, then trim with the rotary cutter.
Once all the strips are pieced on a section and pressed, flip the section to the paper side up, place the 1/4 mark on the seamline, and trim to 1/4 seam all the way around.
Finished Dogtooth Violet! Gorgeous, and look at those points!

Here's the Tennesse block from SBS, with the diamond sections paper-pieced and trimmed, ready to piece together. (It's a LeMoyne Star, but the diamonds have stripes!) It's alternate name is Liberty Star, which is appropriate for my color-scheme!
And here are some of the finished blocks from my Patriotic-colored Sylvia's Bridal Sampler. All of these are paper-pieced using Peggy Martin's strip method. 

When I say "some" of the blocks, I mean "some". I got ambitious because I have a king-sized bed, so I designed my BOTM from Sylvia's Bridal Sampler as a king-sized quilt in Quilt-Pro software. I used 42 blocks from the book (38 different, and 4 of the same for the corners), plus a garden-maze setting, for which I found the directions in one of Chiaverini's other pattern books.  :-)  So, my current block count is 29 of 42, with three more half-finished on my sewing table as I type. That includes the Tennessee, the Silver and Gold, and Sylvia's Shooting Star.
Here's some more samples of my using Quick-Strip Paper Piecing:
Ambulance from "To the Rescue" from Quiltmaker Magazine (Sept 2009).
And "Snowflakes", another QM pattern. I posted this on their Facebook page, and they published my picture and comment in their next magazine last fall 2011! Wow!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


I set aside some of the quilting I've been doing and decided to just do some piecing over the weekend. No church meetings were scheduled on Sunday, so me and the boys hung out. I got to piece all afternoon! So nice to just sit and enjoy myself.

I paper-pieced the Dogtooth Violet, and strip-pieced some parts of the Silver and Gold, to get ready for template-cutting the diamonds.

Then on Monday afternoon, little guy practiced cutting skills, with my help, while we trimmed copies of foundations for more fire trucks and ambulances. That's for my husband's fire station quilt. And I liked the Tennessee/Liberty Star striped block so much, I had made a few more foundations and extra strips cut, so we cut out those extra foundations, so I can do another one. Also cut out the foundations for the 6" version of Star of the Orient.
Then while Dancing With the Stars and Castle premiered last night, I used my Silver and Gold template to cut the diamonds from the strip set. Also cut strips and found scraps for the Star of the Orient.

Add to that, we need to update our desktop computer. It's old and slow We'll try a factory reboot first. That means I spent all Sunday night making sure I had all my files, quilting files, pictures, etc, copied over to the external drive. And burned my downloaded, bought, Quilt-Pro add-ons to CDs.
Whew! So great to get a lot of quilting done!

Monday, September 17, 2012

EZ Dresden contest results

Congrats to the winners, but It's not me!
SLMQG posted their winners list for the EZ Dresden Challenge. Nothing for me. There ended up being over 70 entries from around the world. wow.
Congrats to the winners!

Thanks for the kind, positive comments from some of the other contestants and others, here on my blog.

I felt a lot of love and support from my family and my husband's firefighter coworkers and family. At least I know they loved it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Nowhere slowly

Ever feel like you're stuck on the same projects for a really long time? Whether you're stumped and scared, or stumped and don't know what to do next, or other projects just keep getting in the way, or no matter how much you work on something, it just doesn't seem to get any progress? And you love the project, and enjoy it, but you really want to move on to more projects?
I have a couple of those right now.
1--My little fire truck quilts seem to be taking forever to outline the trucks, ambulances, and ladder trucks. Doesn't help when I take a break and come back to the spool of King Tut Superior Thread ($10.00 a spool!) is off the machine and knotted nests are all over the basement, thanks to my little guy!
2--my Sylvia's Bridal Sampler king-sized quilt. It started with a BOM at Dave's Bernina, just twelve, and we finished the 12, and I got ambitious and planned a king-size with 42 blocks. I'm hand piecing a few. But otherwise, piecing the blocks have taken a backseat to other projects. Not to mention I have a Garden Maze setting to make for it, and two more borders. And how am I going to pay for backing and batting and border fabric? And how I'm going to layer and quilt the thing on my tiny-but-loved Bernina? I haven't had time to watch my Craftsy class on that very subject yet, to be able to plan.
4--in conjunction, I sigh at my own goofs that take more time. A bit of hand-piecing the Love-in-Mist at work in snatches yesterday, with setting in tiny squares into the diamond sets. Got 3 of 4 done, and after work, realized that I'd used the wrong color squares for those sections! Snip snip, redo. "sigh"

3--skirt. I get everything up to the zipper done, and then put off doing a zipper, so it all sits.

Do you have a certain task or sewing step that you detest or think is drudgery?

Projects I'd like to do or get going on:

1-Brown Bear quilt kit. (will need to replenish a few of the fabrics before I start--$ needed for that to happen)
2--Cat in the Hat dress up hat for my little guy. Maybe Halloween? Need to buy felt.
3--firefighter station quilt for my hubby. I'm ready to go, just need to make copies of the foundations and buy more fabric.

End of the night report:
1-outline quilting on fire trucks done. Next: flames in background and big outside borders. Should I do some bitty quilting in the small red borders, and the bitty black roads???
2--Dresden for my patriotic sampler. Hand-pieced, hand-appliqué with a slip stitch, but the center circle is machine-appliqué with my new favorite blind-stitch. I was ready to be done with it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

More Dresden fun

What a cute fabric line! Willow by My Mind's Eye by Riley Blake. These pastels are so calming and I love the Dresden designs!
She has a tutorial to make her cute apron, that uses Dresdens for the pockets!
Sorry the link didn't work or a picture show up. I will try to fix that on the desktop later.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9-11 Tribute: Never Forget

Today I want to talk about two things: the tragedy and heroes of 9/11, and my father-in-law.

Of course, I was horrified and heartbroken by the images and the tragedy, but I didn't have much connection to it personally. Now that I'm married to a firefighter, it took on much more depth of feeling for me, knowing what these heroes left behind at home, and family members' longing and pride for them at the same time. In our family, we speak with a lot of reverence and respect for the heroes of 9/11.

I also have a hard time separating the two topics, because my father-in-law was also a New York firefighter and crew captain, in Freeport, Nassau County, Long Island. I learned that he was friends with, and had trained some of, the firefighters who died in the towers. He also died in September and was buried on September 11, just two years after the attacks. My brother-in-law, the one on the left of the group picture, was already a police officer and firefighter in the town he lived in (which is where my husband and I live now, too), and my husband told me how special of a funeral service it was for Dad, the retired firefighter: his hearse was a vintage fire engine, and two ladder trucks from our city and a neighboring city formed archways with the ladders and flags at the entrance of the cemetary. My father-in-law loved being a firefighter, and sounds like he was one of the nicest, warmest, caring individuals out there. I never had the opportunity to meet him, because he died just two months before I met my husband. But it's because of him that my husband and his brothers love working in the firefighter and police fields that they do. My husband's first memory was walking across the street with his dad to the fire station.

My father-in-law had some serious chronic health conditions, and was living in Utah with my brother-in-law by the time the attacks on 9/11 happened. My husband told me that he was glued to the tv and news all day, in tears. Firefighting isn't a job--it's a way of life, a true brotherhood (sisterhood too), a personality. He truly hurt for the loss of his brother firefighters.

I'd like to think that my father-in-law would be thrilled with my recent quilt design. "Maltese Dresden."
Here is our "honor wall" in the Man Cave. My husband wanted a portrait just like his dad, in his dress uniform. The yellow helmet is my husband's first full-time helmet. The black helmet is battle-scarred and is my father-in-law's helmet.

And speaking of tributes and quilts, I need to talk about a quilt I saw, that was entered in the Home Machine Quilting Show in May 2012, in Sandy, Utah. This quilt absolutely stopped me in my tracks. I'm taking pictures and drooling and nearly crying, when a girl walks by. Something made me talk to her, and she ended up being the designer and maker of the quilt! She had no ties to firefighters or first responders, just felt a need to make a personal tribute to 9/11. She had no idea that others would want to make a version of her quilt. I begged her for her pattern or instructions, but she told me she couldn't, because it was a copywritten image and she had had to get special permission just for herself! I was heartbroken! But still amazed! Her name is Marthe Henderson and titled her quilt "Never Forget".
Remember the original? It's a copywritten photo!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Light in sewing spaces

As I quilt my two (yes two) little fire truck quilts, I had to pause and admire what a difference more lighting can do.

The other night my husband asked me where I'd like to hang the Maltese Dresden. He said he would suggest his Man Cave, which is the firefighter-themed room of the house, but he wanted more people to see it because it was special and he indicated he felt it was a huge achievement for me. Ahhh*sigh* my hubby loves me!
I suggested in the living room above the keyboard. And he, the firefighter, said no, because the quilt would be too close to the lamp. Fire hazard. Grrr. "Ok, I'm not using the keyboard a lot right now; what about me putting the lamp next to my sewing table, where I know I need it every day." He agreed to that.

So after more rearranging of my sewing space two days later, I'm enjoying more light, especially in the evening with no extra light coming in the window. My poor eyesight sure appreciates it! If there's one thing I learned from Household Equipment class at BYU, was that lighting is equipment and just as important as other appliances and tools. Yup!

Christmas in September

I just participated in Quilters Newsletter Magazine's Best Christmas Quilts Blog Hop. There's some really beautiful quilts in the issue, and lots of fun table runners, stockings, ornaments and other such Christmas fun. Lots of beautiful new Christmas fabrics were featured. Snowflakes, snowmen, lots of metallics, holly, plaids, wishes.

One if my favorite quilts was Golden Gifts, featuring a gorgeous printed panel from Stonehenge Christmas Traditions! Oh heavenly beautiful.

And Ta-Da! I won a beautiful Windham Fabric fat quarter bundle, and a copy of the magazine!!! Yay! Thanks, Rana Heredia! Her cute quilt is Deck the Halls and looks like chevrons decorations with holly hanging.
The box was sitting on my porch this morning, and even my little guy was excited for a "present" and gave the bundle a hug!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pickles on Labor Day

I love pickles! Sweet, bread-and-butter, and kosher dills are all yummy! I have been buying a lot of pickles and salsa this summer because they're so great to snack on without a lot of calories. Also it's an easy way to get more veggies in my diet!
I don't have my own veggie garden yet, so when my sister, and also my neighbor offer to share out of their gardens, I say "yes, please! And thank you!" But my neighbor shares her zucchini most frequently, so I've made my share of zucchini bread and wanted something different.

My husband has inherited a marinara sauce recipe from his mother, and we've gotten confident in making that, and water-canning the sauce. So now I'm ready to expand my food-preserving repertoire. Pickles!
I found a zucchini bread-and-butter pickle recipe in the USDA Guide to Freezing and Preserving, and went to work after grocery shopping and the city festival parade. Ta-da! I can't wait to try them in 6 weeks.
Aren't my quilty towels cute!??