Friday, September 29, 2017


Today I'm finalizing my stacking and packing for a trip to work with the PALS Quilt Guild of Muskegon, Michigan.  The lecture I'm presenting on Monday evening is called Old Dogs (that's me), New Tricks (that's you).

Yep, you!!

All the generous quilt makers who share their work and ideas on blogs, Facebook, and Instagram.
All the quilt makers who follow my posts and encourage me with their comments

You've energized my work and given me a new spark as a quilt maker.

Couldn't have done it without you!!

Back to the stacking and packing!

Have a good weekend,

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tips from Mary, the Teacher

Over the next 6 months, I'll be teaching Piecing the Feathered Star with Marti Michell's templates several times.  I made a new set of "step samples" to use in the workshops alongside the finished tops.  This morning, I pulled fabrics, cut all the pieces and assembled the various steps while reviewing my teaching outline to get my head back into that groove.
As I was working, I was thinking about the frustrations I sometimes encounter in the classroom so today I'm sharing a few tips from this teacher's point of view that I  think will improve your workshop experiences. 

Fall is always busy, isn't it?  So being efficient is good.
Over the past few years, I've discovered that going straight to my stash of "sacred piles" is the quickest way to gather up the fabrics for a new project.
Tip #1 -- when you need fabric for a workshop project, check out the sacred stacks first -- most of the "choosing" is already done -- so much less stress!!
Of course, you know what a "sacred pile" is, don't you?
(It's a stack of fabric that looks great together and you are saving it for just the right project.)
I won't ask how long your stacks have been "sacred" if you don't ask how long mine have been.

Thing is, if I don't use them, they will end up in the BIG yard sale so these days, I always go there first.  And sure enough -- this stack of prints just needed a background and one more green.

Tip #2 -- iron the fabrics at home before the workshop!
It means you will be ready to cut with the teacher and won't lose valuable time (which you have paid for with cash) just ironing.
Besides, your iron is probably better than the classroom iron!
Skipping the ironing step isn't the answer either -- wrinkled rumpled fabric is the first step to inaccurate cutting results.

Tip #3 -- know the machine you take to class really well and make sure it works!!!
When I was a Bernina dealer, most of my students owned Berninas (bless them) and I could help them with machine problems but these days, NO CAN DO!!
Look at my machine!?!
It's a 30 year old mechanical machine -- I have no clue how to do most of the things your computerized machine does!
I don't want you to be frustrated but I'm not going down that road with you.
Tip #4 -- Use your rotary cutter like a grown-up!
This is my number 1 complaint about students.
First make sure you have a working blade.
When it's not cutting on the mat, CLOSE IT!!!
You are a danger to yourself and everyone around you if you are sloppy about this.
More rotary accidents happen in workshops and as a teacher, I give students one "free pass" before I confiscate cutters -- you have to buy them back from me -- $10 a pop!!
(And nurses are the worst!?!)
Do not cut under your wrist or towards yourself!!
Why do I even need to say that?
Marti taught me to use a small rotary mat on top of my large one so I could always rotate my work into the safest cutting position.  These little mats (about 6" by 8") cost $5 or less.
If you cut with your right hand, you should always be cutting on the right side or across the top of a tool and vice versa for lefties.
Tip #5 -- Since you paid for the class, why don't you try the techniques and ideas the teacher is sharing?  Pay careful attention to the demonstrations and take some of your own notes. 
My quilt making skills were built a little here and a little there with ideas I learned from other teachers.  I may think "my way" is better, but I need to try "their way", too -- just in case.
Don't chain piece?  I teach it in every workshop because it's one of the keys to my efficiency so I hope students who don't already chain will try it out and let me help them make it their own.
Tip #6 -- Keep up during the workshop.
If the teacher wants you to move onto the next step, do it even if you don't have all the pieces done.
You are there to learn, not finish a project.
The teacher has planned a time-line for the workshop designed to teach all the steps.
If you don't move onto each step with her, it might be hard to pick up again at home.

Okay, that sort of became a rant, didn't it?!?
If you always close your cutter and come to class with all the supplies and pressed fabric, thank you!

To the rest of you -- come on.
Better preparation is a good investment and worth it!!

See you in a workshop??


Friday, September 22, 2017

Smorgasblocks Sampler -- Blogger's Quilt Festival

I finished my Smorgasblocks Sampler a couple weeks ago and shared it here on my blog so when I decided to enter it into the Blogger's Quilt Festival (HERE), I did a new set of photographs and have included close-ups of all the blocks with links to their patterns!
The quilt is the brain child of Anneliese at Eye Candy Quilts and it began last June (HERE is the first blogpost about it!)
The sampler is made up of a collection of FREE patterns from a ten quilting blog authors.
We started with Jessica's Feathered Star -- get that pattern HERE.
The fussy cut center of that gal doing her ironing set the tone for the rest of the quilt.
Also in this picture are the Raspberry Kiss blocks from Rachel at Wooden Spoon Quilts -- you might recognize the block if you follow the campaign on Instagram to help @craftycop produce a stash of blue quilts to be given to families of fallen police officers around the country.  Rachel resized the block just for that purpose!!  The original pattern is HERE.

Here's two more of the patterns.  The upper ones are Spinning Pyramids by Jesse, The Art School Dropout.  She designed the pattern for Kaufman Fabrics a couple years ago to show off their wide assortment of solids and to play with values.  
The arrow is a tutorial from Carla of Grace and Favour -- had been on to-do list and now I was doing it!!  You can get to the tutorial HERE!

Sarah at No Hats Quilts provided the Scandi Windmills block -- foundation piecing and curved piecing.  I recall being a bit intimidated, but once through the first quarter section, I was okay!
Surprising to me, it's one of my favorite blocks in the quilt.
When we worked on the section below, I was really puzzled.    It's called Twizzle and was designed by Heidi at Buttons and Butterflies.  How was it going to work into the quilt? And why did I make so many mistakes while piecing it. 
Happily all the mistakes ended up being used in the border!!
It really is a great pattern, just read the instructions very carefully.
I was so excited to find Barn Bats by Elizabeth Hartman as part of the sampler!!
I had it bookmarked but you know how that goes -- lots of bookmarks, not many starts.
It's fun to make and quite clever!
It was originally a Halloween idea and you can find the pattern HERE.
Whiskers is a big block -- whimsical needs to be the mindset for this one from Anna at Six White Horses.  The pink ears redeemed it for me because the scale of the block (15") felt all wrong.
Garden Fence was perhaps the easiest block to piece in the quilt.  It was designed by Cynthia at Hyacinth Quilt Designs.  More of the 1950's laundry routine and I think that floral print is a scrap of vintage fabric that I found in my stash!
The pattern is HERE and the block itself ends at the pink but we added sashing.
Last but not least came Orange You Glad by Emily at Crazy Old Ladies!
The hand stitched buttonhole applique with some silk embroidery thread was my personal touch.
This would make a great scrappy project to carry around for a bit of hand-stitching now and then!
The instructions for making this section are right HERE.
It was a fun project -- I discovered new designers and made a great quilt in the process. 
I worked completely out of my stash and used up all the mistakes and cutting leftovers for the free form borders!

Thanks for coming over from the Blogger's Quilt Festival to see it close up and read about it.  Perhaps you found some new patterns to try out!

It's our first weekend of Fall here in Northeast Ohio and I'm going to spend it birding!!
Hope you have fine weather and good times, too!!


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Here's my first entry for this year's Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side!
Click HERE to see all the entries -- so much inspiration!

The Lichen Tree is my favorite finish for 2017!!
This is the wall outside my studio where it is currently hanging.
I love how the color of the wall impacts the look of the quilt.
It's an original quilt (no, there won't be a pattern for it).
I love that it's so different from my typical style.
I love that I was able to translate a stalled old project into this updated art piece.
I love the blend of contemporary fabric with fabric from my (oldish) stash.
I love that it won a cash prize early in the summer!

I enjoyed experimenting with quilting as an integral part of the overall design.
 I'm not sure this scribbly section brings a patch of lichen on a tree trunk to anyone's mind, but I know what it means! 
The density of the quilting was unfamiliar territory for me. 
It's a lot more work but worth it in the end!! 
Using a facing for an edge finish created the most anxiety for me and while I'm happy with the result, I'm not so sure I'd do it again.  I'm very good at binding!!
Thanks for visiting and looking at my quilt!
Looking forward to meeting some more quilters through this year's festival!


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hexie Mania

In my Instagram world, English Paper Piecing and hexies are really hot right now. 
There are so many interesting new designs coming out and I know of at least four sew alongs that are centered on EPP and/or hexies. 
I certainly enjoy the process!  I'm a hand baster and find that stage of it quite soothing.  

However, I need to remain practical and not cave into any of the sew alongs right now.  I have two large unfinished hexie/EPP quilts in progress and starting another project would only take time away from each of them.  So I've held back and held back and held back.  

But when I saw the #100days100hexies2017 hashtag pop up in my Instagram feed, I decided to use the daily posts and prompts to motivate myself to produce the 1700 or so hexies I'm going to need to complete the setting I've organized for my Dodecagon blocks.
This is my working diagram (generated in Electric Quilt) and the tally sheet for how many hexies I need and how many I have finished basting.
I had a good start on the scrappy black ones, but still needed 236 -- that took 20 days.
Now I'm working on the yellow ones.
I'm going through hexie papers like they are M&M's!?!
So I was glad to come across this package of light weight cardstock in my office.
Not sure what weight it is, but it's light enough to work well.
Everyday, I punch another 20 papers from a sheet.
And I cut a stack of hexies -- 12 to 16 so they are ready for basting when the opportunity presents!
This weekend, I was able to finish 27 while serving as welcome hostess during a local event.
Don't you love hand stitching out in public?
It's such a great conversation starter -- everyone in curious and wants to know what I'm doing!
The rows of yellow hexies are growing.
(Apparently my blacks have a lot of blue in them since they always photograph navy?)
I'll tackle the green ones next.
And then the pink ones.
If I have stitching time once the day's hexies are basted (trying to do at least 10 a day),
I've started to add the black ones to the dodecagons -- I make two "chains" of hexies.
Once those are complete, I add them to the dodecagon.
Removing the dodecagon papers as I go makes it easier to manipulate the edges and keep them aligned. 
I'm pleased with the progress I'm making though I don't expect I'll get all the needed hexies basted by the end of the 100 days.  Most of the participants are doing a single hexie every day and using a lot of cute prints so it's fun to browse the hashtag once a day and see what's new!

If you are on Instagram, you can check it out by visiting @sewfoxymama or the hashtag #100hexies100days2017.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Steady Progress!

Sunflowers at last!!
We've had to beat off the rabbits and the deer, but we were finally able to harvest a small bouquet for the dining room table!!
Since finishing my Smorgasblocks Sampler last weekend, I've been focused on painting woodwork (boring but necessary) while listening to a new book on Hoopla -- Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge -- it's the plot from Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility set in modern times.
Harry (the indoor black cat) has been my companion.
This lump is Harry -- I did not realize that he was so fond of burrowing into the perfect napping spot?
My rewards for making painting progress have been slipping away to bird a nearby park (can't miss fall migration) or spending time in the studio working on assembling these two quilts for my grandchildren.
I decided on sashing these blocks with the background fabric to set each of them off.
I thought I would share how I handle sashing -- not sure why I started taking this approach?
Did someone teach me this? 
Mary Ellen Hopkins perhaps? 
Or one of my It's Okay teaching pals?
I add the sashing to blocks before doing any assembly of rows -- it makes for much less matching!
After being sure all the blocks are uniform in size, I add a plain sashing strip to one side of all the blocks in the quilt.  Doesn't matter which side, but must be the same for all the blocks.
Here I've added it to the right side.
I pressed the seams towards the sashing.
Then I add a cornerstone to one end of another batch of the sashing strips.
You can see one of the pineapple blocks at the back of the picture -- they are my current "sew-offs" as I need just three more blocks to finish another top.
I pressed these seams towards the sashing.
Those sashing/cornerstone pairs are now added to all the blocks -- once again, which edge doesn't matter except that it's the same side for all the blocks.
I pressed the seams for the  two outside vertical rows of blocks towards the sashing and the center row towards the blocks.
(The paper in the center of her forehead reminds me where she belongs in the layout.)
The final step to preparing the blocks is to add sashing and cornerstones around two of the outer edges.  One of them will have a cornerstone on each end.
For this layout, the left edge and the upper edge blocks will get one more pair so they are sashed on three sides.
The upper left corner is the only block that will be sashed on all four sides.
Here are all the blocks with sashing and cornerstones attached ready to be assembled into rows and the completed quilt top -- my task for this weekend!
The tops will be 44" by 58" and the verdict is still out on borders.  Borders will frame the tops nicely but may also make the quilts larger than I intended.
Auditioning will yield a verdict.

Harry emerged from his cocoon in time for supper but is back down for a long afternoon nap!
Perhaps we all need a bit of a nap this weekend!

The blocks are from Lorna's most recent sew along at 

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Finish -- Smorgasblocks Sampler!!

I love to cross items off a list -- don't you!!
Quilting my Smorgasblocks Sampler provided lots of good breaks this past week from the annoying task of sanding woodwork (now finished) and painting (75% finished).
Two years ago, I used Baptist Fan to quilt three scrappy quilts for my three children made with heirloom blocks from their great-grandmother.
I shared how I moved through the design in this POST.
This little tool set I shared a couple weeks ago inspired me to use that quilting pattern again!
These are Ruler Foot Echo Guide disks, made by the Sew Steady folks (they make those wonderful Dream Tables that fit on any sewing machine) to be used with the Westalee domestic machine ruler feet -- they slip around the presser foot so you can follow along a ruler edge 1/2", 3/4", or 1" away. 
Happily they fit on the new APQS George ruler follower presser foot, too!!
In my Baptist Fan post from 2014, I illustrate the stitching path I found easiest to use.
With one of these ruler foot echo guide disks, it was even easier!!
I used the 1" disk and echo stitched along the previous arc.
I love how smooth (most of) the arcs look.
No marking necessary!!
It took eight 45 minute work sessions to complete the quilting.
Ready to trim and bind!
This is my favorite block in the quilt!
I discovered I have an alarming quantity of the yellow print I used in it -- 4 yards in three cuts?!?
Apparently, I really loved it or was afraid of running out of it?
Perfect binding!!
I even remembered to sign the quilt as I finished up the quilting.
The finished quilt!
#4 on my third quarter list for the 2017 Finish-A-Long!!
(It's windy here today.)
It's easier to see the old-fashioned quality of the Baptist Fan quilting on the back!
Doesn't it look cozy?
That was so easy, I might just quilt everything I touch with Baptist Fan!?!
I'm planning to give this quilt to a special person (must not change my mind).
Next up for a date with my APQS George -- a baby quilt!
I'm thinking a smaller scale Baptist Fan using the 3/4" disc!!

Hope your September is off to a great start!!

9/26/2017 - linking up to the 3rd quarter 2017 Finish A Long!!