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!

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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.

 

Fabric Play

I’m supposed to be quilting the basket quilt.  I’m soooo close to finishing but it’s hot and I don’t feel like wrestling with it in my quilting gloves.  I decided I needed a day to just play with fabrics and try something new. (This is probably why I have so many unfinished projects!)

I bought a book last fall called “Wanderlust Quilts”  by Amanda Leins.  We were still living in Italy and the quilts in the book really spoke to me – they made me think of Italy and our travels.  Also, the book was on sale so I just could not pass it up.

I fell in love with one of the quilts in the book called Aqueducts.  It’s a small quilt of scrappy arches on a white background.  I think I finally have enough scraps to make it so I got started.  The book calls for making fabric out of scraps, or just basically just keep sewing fabrics until you get pieces big enough.  I looked at it and decided maybe it would be easier for me to paper piece bits together.

The long straight pieces I just sewed together and cut to the right size but the arches, I did a variation of paper piecing to save fabric and get the right shape.  I’m not gonna lie, this project created a mess!

So the large arches went together very easily.  I pinned them like crazy, used the slow speed on my machine with the needle down and just took it slow.  I’ve only finished one row of the large arches but they all turned out very nicely.

The small arches were another story.  They were just so tiny that getting them in the machine and around the curve felt impossible.  I did one on the machine and the rest, I sewed the background arch on by hand.

It’s coming together quickly.  I have these two rows done and have to do two more rows of large arches.

It’s just what I needed though – lots of fabric play!  I’ll share more when I’m finished.

Moose Quilt

I’m making a big push to finish my UFO’s or unfinished projects and today I checked one more off the list.  I finished my Morley J. Moose quilt.

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The top was all finished and I even had it stuck to some batting.  I just needed a back and to quilt it.  I had some bright yellow backing left over so I had to do some piecing to make it fit.  With the quilting, I got to use my darning foot or free motion foot for my Janome.  I bought it last fall but really hadn’t had a chance to use it.  It works great and this little quilt was small enough that getting it into my machine was no problem.

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I played around with some different motifs inside the moose and then did a stipple in the background and some lines around the outside.  The whole thing was just fun.

I had stored some strips with the quilt and I assumed those were the binding strips.  I put them together and thought they seemed a little narrow.  I thought maybe the pattern called for a 2 inch binding which is smaller than I usually use but sometimes when it’s a small piece, the binding can be smaller.  I still thought they seemed small as I was sewing them onto the quilt but then when I got to the end and measured for the seam to close off the binding; I realized these were 1 1/2 inch strips!  I was really wondering if it would work at all but by that time – the deed was done.  Well, it took some ironing and some pulling but I got the binding sewn onto the back.  It’s not pretty but since it’s a wall sized quilt, it won’t get a lot of handling.  I don’t know what happened there.  I can’t find the pattern anymore so I don’t know if it called for small binding strips or did I completely goof and cut them the wrong size?  Anyway it’s finished.

My friend gave me her easy method for adding a label and I followed her instructions.

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It was easy since you sew it in with the binding.  Plus, this white half-square piece of fabric just fell out when I was going through my unfinished projects – it was practically begging to become a label!

Baskets finished & Updates

I finished the Basket quilt-top yesterday and am washing the backing that came in the mail a couple days ago.  Hancock’s of Paducah was having a backing sale and it couldn’t have been a better time for me.  I found a old time-y looking neutral print backing that will be perfect for this quilt.

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Please don’t look too closely at the basket handles as I warned you that applique is not my thing.  I made it through 20 of these blocks and actually ended up hand appliquéing most of the handles.  It wasn’t too bad but getting them all in the same place obviously was beyond me.

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It’s a sweet quilt that will be a perfect lap warmer.  Now I’m trying to figure out how to quilt it.  I think I’ll just do some straight stitch-in-the-ditch lines.  I hope I can manage this size on my little sewing machine.

You might have noticed that I was able to hang my quilt to take photos.  I got my design wall put up!  I just made a little sleeve on the felt design wall I had and hung it up on a small curtain rod.  Easy!

I also wanted to share a cute block I made for a block of the month of my quilt guild.

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How adorable is this Pineapple block?  I thought about making another one with orange fabrics.  For every block you make, you get more chances to win all the blocks and then you can make a quilt out of them.  (I’m also tempted to keep it myself and make a little pillow.)

And last but not least; I wanted to update you on my Long Time Gone block of the month quilt.  This month I got the fabric to finish this last block for section 3:

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So now I almost have the left side finished.  I think I have to add section 4 to the bottom.  And then the whole right side is sections 5 & 6.

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Whoa!  Right?  It’s a lot to look at.

Anyway, besides all this; I was inspired by the backing sale to dig out some quilt tops and get them finished.  I’ve got fabric coming in the mail and am making plans to finish my unfinished projects!

Long Time Gone July BOM

I get so excited when I get my block of the month fabrics for this quilt – and also a little amazed at how small the envelope is!  The pieces are very tiny so there’s not much fabric here.

This month we’re working on Section 3 of the quilt and I was a little upset that we didn’t get the fabrics to do the whole section.  BUT, I did what I could and here’s an update:

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So this month we did the bow tie block and the courthouse steps blocks for Section 3.  I went ahead and cut my sashing and made the filler checkerboard pieces.  We’re missing a half square triangle block.

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I’m not sure if I’ve ever made courthouse steps blocks but it looks like these came out a little “wonky”.  I’m hoping that when the whole loud thing is put together, no one will notice a few crooked blocks.

These fabrics are so fun and bright!  I have to admit, I’m having so much fun with this block of the month that I signed up for another one that starts next month called “Forty Shades of Gray”.  It’s another bright and busy quilt that I just couldn’t pass up. (Maybe we don’t tell my husband?)

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These are the quilt pieces so far.  I feel like we’re about halfway through but the quilt is not halfway done.  I wonder how this will work out?

Sweet Basket Project

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When I was home for a visit last month, I hit the fabric shops and Jo-Ann’s for supplies.  I found a couple of new books full of promising projects.  I really don’t need new projects but, like any quilter, I have a couple quilt projects going at all times and about a million projects that I want to make!

One book I picked up is called “Civil War Remembered” by Mary Etherington and Connie Tesene.  The quilts in this book are mostly smaller, lap-sized or wall hanging projects that are a gorgeous use of reproduction fabrics on mostly traditional blocks.  They just look really homey and I fell in love.

IMG_1253 (2).JPGThis basket block is from the “Gather the Troops” quilt.  It’s made with reproduction pinks, blues, greens, yellows and browns.  It’s a very feminine quilt that I plan to make for a Christmas gift.

The only drawback of this quilt is the handle which has to be appliqued.  Maybe you’ve heard how I feel about applique?  It’s not my favorite thing.

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On this block, I hand appliqued the handle.  I machine appliqued the other blocks and some looked OK and some didn’t.  I wonder if it will be very noticeable if I do them all different?

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Surprisingly, the hand applique or needle-turned method wasn’t that much more effort than the machine applique method so I think I’m going to try to do the handles that way and probably go back and re-do these blocks.  The quilt has 20 baskets so I’ve gotten a good start.  Maybe if I can make 2 basket blocks a week I’ll have the quilt top done by the end of August and still have plenty of time to get it quilted and finished in time to ship for Christmas.  It sounds like a good plan.

 

Finished “Acorn’s Promise”

Well, I’ve finally finished this quilt for my Italian friend.  She asked me for it back in December and I had some setbacks along the way.  You might remember I made this quilt before but in a smaller wall-hanging size.  To make it larger, I just kept adding borders!  The original pattern used half trees along with the full-sized trees but I hate half quilt blocks so I modified it with some scrappy background blocks that add a little bit of depth to such large background pieces.

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I used left-over bits for the colorful border and it was quilted by a friend of a friend (thank you Janelle of E & J Quilts!) in Minnesota who did an awesome job with an all-over swirly wind pattern.

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Since the border was so large and there was so much brown; I thought I might add a piped binding to add just a little bit more color.  I couldn’t decide which color to go with though since there are so many colors in the trees.  My friend suggested I go with the scrappy theme I had already started.  I’ve never done a piped binding before so I had to figure out how to do this.

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Luckily, I still had some scraps left over so I put those together in strips using the same method I used to make the trees.

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This method is sewing the strips together and cutting them at a 45 degree angle.

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I found some tutorials online on how to make a faux piped binding and to get a 2 1/4 inch sized binding, you need 1 1/4 inch of your binding fabric and 1 1/2 inch of a contrast fabric.  I complicated things by having a pieced contrast fabric.  I found that all the seams made some waves and rough corners.  I’m not sure if I would do this again.

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You then sew these 2 pieces together.  Of course, it’s 10 miles long so it will take you forever!

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Then you fold and iron and you should have a nice little bit of your “faux piping” showing.  Like I said, I had a few lumps and bumps with all the seams.

I didn’t get many photos of this next part because it took me several days but getting the binding onto the quilt is a little different process than a usual binding.  You actually sew the binding to the BACK of the quilt with the binding fabric down and the contrast fabric facing up.  You miter your corners just like you would if you were sewing the binding to the top.

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Then you flip the binding over (ironing it helps) and then you’re supposed to basically, stitch-in-the-ditch to finish it.  Obviously, you would want a matching thread so that it’s not so visible.  This was one problem since I wasn’t sure what thread to use.  I tried a neutral but it was still too visible for me.  Luckily, our household goods came from storage in the states this week and I had my best invisible thread.

The invisible thread worked great although I didn’t like how it looked when I stitched in the ditch. I also found that when I did that, you could see my threads more on the back binding.  I ended up stitching closer to the edge of the colored piping which maybe defeats the whole “piping” thing but it just looked neater to me.  When I did this and used a neutral thread in my bobbin; my threads on the back blended in nicely with the backing fabric.

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I’m not sure for all the effort that it was worth it to do the piped binding.  I enjoyed trying something new and I’ll probably do it again although with just one contrasting fabric!