BOM catch-up

I was doing so well keeping up with my 40 Shades of Grey block-of-the-month project but last month my package of fabrics never arrived.

After waiting for 6 weeks, I sent out an email looking for it.  I know things get shuffled around sometimes in the military postal system but I was anxious to get my blocks made!

My package with the April fabrics arrived and I still didn’t have my March stuff.  I got started on the Catherine Wheels blocks and wouldn’t you know it, the March package showed up a day later!  I have no idea what happened there but I’m happy to say that I’m back on track and all caught up with my BOM’s.

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Here are the “Beach Huts” from last month or maybe March.  These were super easy to do and I got them done in only a couple days.

Then the “Catherine Wheels” blocks were from April I guess.

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These blocks were also pretty easy.  They’re paper-pieced but nice, big pieces so they went together quickly.

I think there’s only one more month of blocks to make and then cutting the setting triangles and putting everything together.  I can’t wait to see the fabric for the setting triangles.  I thought we would have to sew strips of fabric together but then I realized that it’s fabric with stripes.  That sounds easier!

 

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Vegetable Bags

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This is a project I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.  I always usually bring my own grocery bags to the store and have been doing this for a while but I’ve been feeling guilty about all the little plastic bags I use for my fruits and vegetables.  Until recently, I’ve been saving and re-using them a few times.

The recently part is because the commissary (the grocery store on base) hasn’t had any little vegetable bags for the last few weeks.  It’s been making me crazy!  What’s going on?

It made me so crazy that I came home one day, went online and debated different fabrics, ordered fabrics from the U.S., the fabrics came in the mail, I dragged them home and get this:  I actually made some bags!

(I’m sure tomorrow the commissary will have the little plastic bags again.) It doesn’t matter though because I have my own little bags and I’ll be standing on  environmental high ground!

These bags were so easy to make!  I’ll walk you through the process so you can make your own.

Step 1:  Pick your fabric.  You really can make these out of anything.  I wanted light-weight, see-thru and washable so I picked these two fabrics from Fabric.com called Telio Mod Stretch Mesh (left) and Bartow Tobacco Cloth (right).

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I wasn’t sure about sewing that mesh so I started with the Tobacco cloth which was very soft and lightweight.  It’s very loosely woven though so it requires a little more preparation.

Step 2:  Decide what size you want to make your bag.  I folded the fabric and cut mine 12 1/2″ wide by 16″ tall.  I kept the fold at the bottom of the bag in hopes that the bag will be stronger that way.

Step 3:  Finish the edges so the fabric doesn’t fray.  If you have a serger, this would be a perfect way to finish the edges or you can zig-zag the edges.  I just folded the ends a tiny bit and sewed very loosely.   When I worked with the mesh I skipped this step since it didn’t seem like it would fray.

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Step 4:  Add a tunnel for a drawstring on both top pieces.  For my drawstring, I used 3/16″ polyester Cable Cord and I figured it would save me time to just sew the cord into the bag.  DON’T SEW INTO THE CORD – you want it to move freely.

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Step 5:  Sew the side edges together.  You want to put the outsides of the bag together for this step and if you are sewing it with the cord inside, be careful to keep it out of the way and going the right way.

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Step 6:  Turn it right side out and you’re done!

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As you can see, the tunnel part of my bag isn’t sewn together.

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I can pull my cord up at one end or both, however I like.  I’m not really sure if I can burn the ends of the cord or how to keep them from fraying.  I plan to consult with my husband who has more rope and cord knowledge than I do.

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Here’s the mesh bag which was actually easier to make; just a little stretchy to sew over.  Also, I didn’t need to do any ironing on it.

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There you go!  A couple hours of sewing and I have 5 fruit/vegetable bags that I can use over and over again.

 

Indian Summer project

While I wait for my block of the month projects to arrive in the mail, I pulled out this kit that my husband gave me last Christmas (2016!).  It looks like it will be a beautiful quilt and I can’t wait to complete it.

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This is a Quiltworx pattern with all the extensive instructions they are known for.  It’s full of beautiful fall-colored Batik fabrics and I love every one of them.

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Last year I managed to get all the fabrics cut and put together in pairs for each block.  I even sewed a couple together!

There are 84 of these triangle units for the inside part of the quilt and they’re all paper pieced.  Here, I’m showing how I use a postcard for the folding and trimming.

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It gets a little monotonous.  Also, I’ve found that these tightly woven Batiks are a little troublesome for my sewing machine.  I’ve never had this much trouble with Batiks.  They keep breaking my thread and doing strange things to my machine.

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I think I have about 27 triangles finished which means only 57 more to go.  I do a few at a time and then put it away again.  This is one of those projects that may take me a while to finish.

Maybe I’ll have all the triangles finished by this fall and then I can put it together.  However, there’s also a paper pieced border of strips so that might take a while as well.  I’ll keep you updated on the progress of this one!

Spinning Geese

I just finished my most recent 40 Shades of Grey block of the month block.  It’s called “Spinning Geese”.

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I thought this block would take me no time to finish.  I love paper piecing so I thought it would be easy.

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I was wrong.  I had so many difficulties with this block.

First of all, this was one of those paper pieced patterns where they have you cut out specific sized fabrics.  I followed the instructions but discovered that the amounts were wrong.

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It only called for 8 inner and outer background pieces but that was only enough to do half of the circle.  And while it wasn’t a problem for the inner background fabric, (they sent me plenty) I ran out of outer background fabric and had to put a couple of pieces together.  I don’t think it’s noticeable – just annoying.

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The paper piecing was easy.

But then the pattern called for cutting the outer circle out as one whole unit and sewing it to the finished circle.  I wouldn’t have done it this way.  I would have cut the outside circle into quarters and pieced them to the quarters of the inside circle and then sewn it into a square.  I think sewing a complete inside-out circle is difficult.  Maybe it’s just me.

I wanted to do it that way but worried that a seam allowance hadn’t been added for four extra seams.  After trying to pin the whole circle, I decided to try it that way but with 2 half circles.

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It worked that way.

Then, inside of the circle were more of the appliqued perfect circles that have been scattered throughout this project.  I’m getting pretty good at these!

The pattern for the inside circle was included (but only for the grey circle).  I cut out the fabric and got it ready to applique but then discovered it was too big by about a quarter of an inch.

I was very frustrated at this point because I dug through all the circles I had used before and couldn’t find the right size.

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So I had to make my own circle.

This one fit and I was able to find two smaller circles from previous months to make the pink and flower circle.

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As you can see, I machine top-stitched the inside circles because I had been working on this block for two days and was done with it.  I like to think of it as extra durable this way.

I looked forward in the book and there’s only a couple more months.  Yay!

Playing Catch up

I didn’t think this would happen but I’ve finished one block of the month quilt and I’m all caught up on the other!

I finished my Long Time Gone quilt top!  I can’t tell you how happy I am since I thought it would never end.

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Sorry the photo is a little dark but it’s winter in Germany and I don’t have professional lighting.

I have to admit, when I was adding the borders to this, there was a little problem with the square-ness.  I think anytime you have so many pieces, there can be problems.  I did the best I could and did some easing and took in a little here and there.  Once the batting and backing are added and it’s quilted, it -hopefully, won’t be so noticeable.

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I also noticed this after I put it all together.  I think the checkerboard piece on the right should have been turned the other way and then I wouldn’t have two colored squares next to each other.  The checkerboard would have continued to the left piece.  However, at this point, I just didn’t care enough to take the whole thing apart and fix that!

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It was a fun project and I’m glad I did it but I’m also glad it’s finished!

I also finished this month’s 40 Shades of Grey blocks!

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Lots of applique, as you can see.  I looked at it when I got it in the mail and then I put it away thinking I would never be able to do these.

First of all, they didn’t include the purple fabric for the middle circle and after I went out and bought some – they sent an email saying that they forgot and it would be sent next month.  Also, the pattern called for 1/2″ hexagons and they didn’t include any pattern or anything for that.  So I was not too happy to begin with.

I found some purple fabric for the middle and made the circles using the perfect circles method.  Then I printed out some hexagons on card stock and hoped they were the right size.  This was a little excruciating to work with such small hexagons and to fussy-cut the fabric so you see little images in the hexagons.

After all that, I wasn’t about to hand applique – I have my limits.  So I used thread about the same color as the hexagon flower and just top-stitched it onto the purple.  Then used purple thread and top-stitched the purple circle onto the colored circle.  Then I used the thicker grey thread and a big stitch to sew the big circles onto the grey squares.

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They look OK.  This is another busy, colorful quilt so maybe these little blocks won’t be too obvious.

I hung everything up on my design wall and they look good together!

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One finish – two updates!

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Now that the holidays are over I’ve been trying to catch up.  I finished hand quilting this house quilt and even got the binding on!  The big stitch quilting went really fast – well, faster than regular hand quilting.

I call this quilt “A House of my Own”.  It’s a scrap quilt with lots of black and white touches.  I quilted it with big stitches in a baptist fan design with thick Aurifil 12 weight thread in a grey color.

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I just happened to see this thread on my visit to Hancock Fabrics last fall and I liked the color.  I didn’t realize that I had picked up the perfect thread to do this “big stitch” technique.  This will definitely be my go-to thread for this type of project.  It was thick but not too thick and was a joy to sew with – it just glided through the layers nicely.  I only bought one spool and was worried that I might run out but there’s a lot of thread on that spool!

Anyway, I’m so happy to have this fun project done and guess what – that was my last unfinished quilt top!

 

I think I’m caught up with my “Long Time Gone” block of the month.

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However, I’m wondering if I missed a package or what because I still need to make one more block for section 5 before I can put it together (in addition to 6 more pineapple blocks).  And there are maybe 2 more blocks in section 6 before I can put it together.  I’m getting close to the end so I’ll just be patient.

 

And for my “40 Shades of Grey” block of the month; it was my worst nightmare – so much applique!

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I’ve gotten this far and now I need to applique everything onto the block and add the border.  Apparently, when I fell in love with the quilt, I didn’t notice how much applique there was involved!  I’m just gritting my teeth and doing it although it might take me all month.  We’re making a million (maybe not quite a million) half square triangles this month as well.  They’re sewn together and will be fillers in various parts of the quilt.

I’m really trying to get caught up because I received a quilt kit for Christmas that I can’t wait to start!

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40 Shades of Grey BOM

I’ve gotten caught up on my 40 Shades of Grey block of the month.  They’re nice and big and so far, have been easy to do.

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The hardest block so far was this month’s log cabin with the applique flower pieces.

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I hate applique so I had to make peace with doing these flowers and I see that these types of flowers are all over the whole quilt!  I remembered that I was taught a technique a few years ago to applique circles where you sew interfacing onto the back and then turn inside out.  I had to refresh my memory but that’s how I ended up doing these.

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You draw your circle onto the “un-bumpy” side of the interfacing which is then sewn to the right side of your circle fabric with bumpy side down.

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Trim fabric to a quarter or a half inch around stitching.

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Cut a slit in the interfacing so you can turn it inside out.

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Use a blunt pair or scissors or something to push sides out and then iron flat onto the surface you want to applique it to.

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Then you’re ready to hand applique or I just top-stitched with similar thread.

My circles didn’t come out perfect but I think I’ll get better by the time I finish this quilt and I’m not heavily into perfection so I’m OK with the results.  I think these would look fine just as raw edge applique also but this is going to be a large quilt so it will probably be used on a bed often.  I think raw edge applique might not do well on a quilt that’s used a lot.

So that BOM is caught up.  I’m now 3 months behind on my Long Time Gone BOM but I think January will be a good time to do lots of sewing and I’m sure I’ll catch up then.

I have to share my progress on another project I’m finishing up.

I’ve been hand quilting my big houses quilt with a big stitch baptist fan design.

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I’m free handing this so don’t look too close – did I mention I’m more about output than perfection?  This big stitch method goes very fast and with this thread that I’m using; the quilting is very soft.

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Let me tell you how great it is to be under this quilt on these cold December evenings here in Germany watching all my favorite Christmas movies and finishing up another project.

May your holidays be warm and quilt-y!

Another finish…

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Yay! I just finished another project!  This is my scrappy Aqueducts quilt from the “Wanderlust Quilts” book by Amanda Leins.  The quilt went together very fast – as fast as I could sew little bits of scraps together!  Sewing the curves took the most time.

One plus to this quilt was that I only had to buy the white fabric, everything else was pieced from scraps.  I think this is a technique that could be used to create other building/monument quilts.  I’m imagining the Brandenburg Gate with this scrappy look.  Maybe in the future…

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I really liked the echo quilting that was done to the quilt in the book so I tried to quilt my quilt like that as well.  This took some time but I like how it turned out.  Now it’s back to the sewing machine to finish some more projects.

 

Quilt-y Travels

I realized it’s been well over a month since I’ve posted anything so I thought I should get busy!  I spent 3 weeks in the US seeing family and squeezing in some quilt-y sights.  My daughter and I took a little road trip to Paducah to see the National Quilt Museum.  It’s been on my to-do list for quite a while and it didn’t disappoint.  Plus, just spending time with my daughter was so much fun.

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I wish I could share pictures from inside but photos are not allowed.  You just have to see it for yourself!  And from what I understand, the quilts rotate and there are always new exhibits so there’s probably always something new to see.

While we were in town, we hit the Hancock’s of Paducah store which also didn’t disappoint.  I probably made my daughter crazy going up and down each row and digging through all the remnants.  I found some good stuff though!

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While I was in Jefferson City visiting with my mom I discovered that the local nature center was having a nature themed quilt show.

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Nature themed quilts – how cool is that?!  Mom & I had a nice afternoon looking at all the quilts and walking on the trails around the Runge Nature Center.

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I returned home inspired and ready to get back to some sewing and was excited to hear that my friend, Lisa, had finished quilting my Christmas-y Kansas City Star BOM quilt.  I finished that quilt back in 2013 or early 2014 and I’m finally getting around to finishing it.

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This was the block of the month project from the Kansas City Star newspaper in 2013.  It’s called “Rubies, Diamonds and Garnets, Too” and was designed by Bernadette Kent.  Since I used Christmas fabric for my sashing blocks, I’ll probably call it my Kansas City Christmas quilt.  2013 was a crazy year for me and this will always remind me of our short time in Kansas City.  I loved that the newspaper published a block every month.

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I looked forward to getting my Sunday newspaper and finding out what the block of the month was.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe they do a block of the month anymore.  I think 2015 was the last year so I guess this quilt is a little bit of history.

My pile of unfinished projects is getting smaller although I tend to add to it very regularly.

French Quilty Trip

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This past weekend I finally had the chance to attend the European Patchwork meeting in France or Le Carrefour Europeen du Patchwork.  Even though it was my first time here, it  was the 23rd year for the event.  I booked a hotel in Strasbourg and dragged my husband along for the weekend with promises of great French food and some sight-seeing in Strasbourg after.

So the show actually takes place in 4 villages in the Val d’Argent area of the Alsace which was only about an hours drive southwest of Strasbourg.  We concentrated our time in the village of Sainte Marie aux Mines.  There were 9 exhibition sites throughout the lovely little town as well as a huge vendor expo area.  The exhibition sites were churches and other public buildings so, for me, it was a unique way to see the quilts.

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The only drawback was that parking was hard to find with people streaming in from many different countries to these little towns.  We circled the town and were only able to find parking back at exhibition site #1 which felt like it was about 10 kilometers from the rest of the exhibition sites.  It wasn’t a problem when we got there and headed through town to see all the other exhibition sites but when we were finished and had to walk back to the car it was pouring rain and we were tired.

One of the featured exhibitions at this show were some Amish quilts.  It seems this area in Alsace is where the Amish started out way back in the late 1600’s/early 1700’s (I learn new things all the time).  Of course we know that they were later kicked out and landed in America where they became famous for their quilts (as well as other things).

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The Amish quilts were displayed in an old church.

Another interesting exhibit was of Ian Berry’s denim art.  Ian is a British artist who uses denim to create works of art.

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I’m so glad I got to see them up close because I had seen his work in a magazine and thought it was applique since he is often lumped in with quilters.  It’s not applique but layered fabric.  Definitely textile art and more 3D than it comes across in photos.  Really cool stuff.

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It always seems like the European quilters are into very modern designs and interesting concepts.

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There were lots of interesting “quilts” to look at.

 

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I thought this one was fun.  Traditional blocks on the right give way to something fun and different on the left.

It was a fun weekend in France and I’m so glad I finally made it to the European Patchwork meeting.