Taming the Scraps

My scrap basket is overflowing again. I was looking for a piece of red scrap fabric yesterday and as I searched, the scraps just kept coming out like one of those handkerchiefs from a clown’s sleeve! I was beginning to think I had a magic basket with no bottom.

I knew it was time to get in there and tame this thing.

Too much!

I started a sorting system.

First I set aside larger pieces and long strings. I can cut these later or use the strings for any string pieced projects.

Then I cut smaller pieces into 2 inch or 2 1/2 inch pieces. Lots of my pieces were only a little bigger than this so it seemed like a good size. I’m thinking I may have enough to make some sort of checkerboard quilt blocks.

And last, these are the pieces that were too small to do anything else with but I couldn’t stand to part with them. These bits are great for kids craft projects and that type of thing.

Since I started saving all my scraps, I’ve discovered endless possibilities and the beauty of whole quilts made from the leftovers of other projects. It can be fun and challenging to try and use up these leftovers.

Just don’t wait until they’re taking over your sewing room like I did!


Scrappy Fun with Flags

I dug out another unfinished project and have been working on it this past week.  Before we moved to Italy I started making flag blocks but then they got put away in the move.

Now that I’ve visited more countries I thought it would be fun to make flags for all those countries.


So these are the flags that started it all.

Actually, I started making the flag blocks smaller and then switched to this bigger size.  This is actually an 8 1/2 X 11 inch block which is the size of American computer paper.  I thought that size would be both flag shaped and easy to make paper pieced if I needed to.

I’ve visited 20 countries now so I made a quilt layout that would be 4 flags across and 5 down.  So far, I’ve made 16.


Some have been easier than others.  And I wouldn’t recommend starting a project like this without a good supply of red fabric!

So, I don’t think I will completely finish this quilt until we leave Europe because I have plans to visit more countries.  (Of course I’ll have to visit countries in multiples of 4!)  But I think a black and white map type fabric would be nice for the sashing so I’m on the search for something like that.

I was thinking it would be nice to print or embroider the country name onto the flag and maybe the year I visited.


I was able to use my Liberty of London fabric to make the British flag which worked out well.

What didn’t work was the paper pattern I created for this flag.  It took a little trial and error.

As did my Canadian flag.  I tried to use a leaf pattern I had but it was set on point so there was a lot of math to get the flag the correct size.


The Spanish flag also gave me trouble.  I planned to make the background and then paper piece & applique the crest emblem.


I was trying to get the correct size for the crest emblem but do you see the problem with my flag?  I didn’t see it until I had already sewn it together.


I got the background flag correct but my crest emblem looks a little … well, simple.  Hopefully, in the overall quilt, it will just look like the Spanish flag.

These flag blocks have been a lot of fun and I think it will be hard to decide that the quilt is finished because there’s always more places that I want to visit.  I’ll definitely share my progress on this project.


Baby Quilts x 2

The past couple of weeks I’ve been working on some baby quilts for a friend who is having twins!

I pulled out my notebook where I keep all the patterns I’ve collected to see what I should make.  One pattern I had is called “Cuddly Critters” and it’s a tumbling blocks pattern.  This pattern was in the Summer 2012 Fons & Porter’s Easy Quilts and is designed by Patti Carey.

The pattern came with instructions to use the Fons & Porter 60 degree Diamond and Pyramid Rulers or cut out the templates included in the magazine.  I don’t have the rulers so I used the templates.


This quilt was really easy to make.  The key is to use light, medium & dark variations of the same color to create the 3-D block effects.

I pulled out three fabrics and got started cutting but quickly figured out I didn’t have enough of those fabrics.  (Wouldn’t it be nice if I read the whole pattern first?!) That’s when the quilt became more scrappy!  I had to find fabrics that were the same shade as the first ones and I mixed them in.


The fabrics I used were very geometric and maybe it’s that or just the combination of  different fabrics that give this little quilt a modern feel.

This quilt was fun and easy to make and then I bought some flannel to use for backing.  I ALWAYS forget what a pain flannel is to work with!  I layered everything and used my walking foot to quilt around the blocks.  The flannel also makes the quilt a little heavier than I wanted but over time, with washing, it should soften and thin out.

It quilted fine but then when I sewed the binding on, there were issues.  Maybe the flannel doesn’t move through the feed dogs at the same rate as the top or have the same amount of stretch?  I don’t know but my top kept coming out longer.  It definitely took some wrangling to get that binding on.

The second quilt was a pattern my husband picked out.  It’s called “Pinwheel Baby Quilt” and I found it here on the Moda Bake Shop.  It’s by Jodi at Simply This That and The Other.

The pattern called for using a Charm Pack and I did use some Charm Pack pieces but also some of my own fabrics so I would have more choice in colors.  I wanted it to have more greens.

This quilt is a simple pinwheel pattern but has these fun Prairie Points added to the outside border.


There was a little time spent cutting, folding and pinning these to the inside of the quilt.

And of course, when I bought the flannel backing for the other quilt, I also bought some for this quilt.

I now have the whole thing sandwiched together and I’m trying to decide if I want to go ahead with the flannel on the back or switch to regular cotton.


It’s a sweet and fun baby quilt no matter what’s on the back.  I plan to use my walking foot again to quilt diagonal lines with the pinwheels and I have some fun green polka-dot fabric for the binding.

I can’t wait to give these quilts away and meet these baby boys!

Good Fortune Quilt finished!


After the reveal of Bonnie Hunter’s mystery quilt a couple of weeks ago, I put my sewing into high gear.

I still had two parts to finish so I managed to do those and get all the blocks put together last week.  This week I concentrated on those 4 borders.  Yes, 4!


I love the colors and movement in this quilt.  It wasn’t a really hard quilt and it’s not as big as last year’s so it felt easier to do.  Mine measures at 73 1/2 inches square.


So there’s the first quilt top finish of 2019!  I’m really happy with it.

You can still get the free pattern on the Quiltville website until February 1st – after that, you’ll have to pay for it.

Waiting for a Clue…

Well it’s a new year and I have a new project!

I somehow got sucked into this year’s Quiltville mystery quilt.  I wasn’t even finished with the one from last year when Bonnie Hunter announced this year’s quilt called “Good Fortune” which was inspired by her trip to China last year.

At first I thought I would just dig through my stash and see if I had any of the right fabric colors … and I did.

Then I thought I would make my goal to get at least 1/3 of each step done … and I did that.

Then Christmas came along and it was the first time in 26 years that neither one of our kids was with us and I was feeling a little sad.  I suddenly had more time to go back and work on the steps that I hadn’t finished and it kept my mind off things.


I’m working as fast as I can on Part 7 right now.


And I’ve finished everything except Parts 3 & 4.

These little red & white 4-patches are from Part 1 and Part 7.

I was thrilled that I could clean out my scrap box for some parts of this.  I definitely had plenty of blue and red and tons of background fabrics.


I had to go out and buy some more orange so now I can finish Part 4 and I’m not sure if I have enough green but I think I probably do and I don’t mind if this quilt is really scrappy looking.

I’m just wondering how many more clues there are and what this quilt will look like.  I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

“On Ringo Lake” Finish

I’m happy to report today that I’ve finally finished Bonnie Hunter’s 2017 mystery quilt, “On Ringo Lake”!


It took me forever to get those chevron pieces for the sashing completed.



And then I laid the entire quilt out to make sure everything was going the right way.


Then I started the long process of putting it together row by row.  I was able to get half of it together the week before Thanksgiving but then I had to move everything back up to my sewing room.  That slowed me down a little.

Putting the rest of it together took another week.


I see that Bonnie is well into her 2018 mystery quilt but I’m not sure if I’m going to jump right in!

Travel memories made into a Quilt

I’m back at my sewing machine after spending some time off to travel.  One of my trips this fall was to Seattle to visit my daughter and I had a wonderful time.

This was my first trip to Seattle and really, to the Pacific Northwest part of the US.  We lived in California for a while but I never got farther north than San Francisco.

Since my daughter is going to school in Seattle, I had plenty of time to sight-see while she was in classes during the day.  And you guessed it – part of my sight-seeing is visiting quilt shops!

I got to visit 3 quilt shops in the Seattle area!

Our Fabric Stash is a consignment fabric shop right in Pike Place Market.  I love the idea of selling your unwanted fabrics on consignment.  I bought a fat quarter of fabric and a bag of scrappy 2-inch squares that have inspired me to perhaps make a checkerboard quilt next year (I’ve dubbed 2019 “The year of the scrap quilt” to get rid of my scraps but I’ll tell you more about that later.)

Esther’s Fabrics is a lovely quilt shop out on Bainbridge Island.  I took the ferry there one day and spent several hours exploring the cute shops and a very nice art museum.  I bought several beautiful fat quarters at Esther’s.

Undercover Quilts is just up (a very steep hill) from Pike Place market and was the last shop I visited.  I hit the jackpot here and found a couple of wonderful quilt-y souvenirs.

I have to say, I fell in love with the totems and artwork of the Pacific Northwest Native Americans.  I love the bold colors and the nature inspired designs and at Undercover Quilts I found some laser cut fusible appliques of Totemic designs.


These quilt patterns are by Lisa Moore at Quilts With a Twist.  I was so thrilled that I could buy this and take it home to create my own beautiful quilt as a souvenir of my trip!  I also bought a pretty blue Batik fat quarter to go with my applique for the border.

When I got home and had a chance to read through the pattern and lay everything out, I decided some little crossed canoe blocks would make it look even better.  They had to be small (3″) so I drew a pattern.


When I paper-piece, I like to use a postcard to have a perfect fold.  Check out my new postcard from Seattle!


Anyway, the pattern called for adding the borders to the background fabric before ironing on the applique so I did that first.


Then I simply peeled off the paper and ironed on the applique – so easy.  It came with optional fish eggs to iron on (I thought they were bubbles!) but I decided not to use them.


I love my Salmon Boy already!  But wait… it gets better.  For the backing, I discovered that the Seattle map fabric I bought at Undercover Quilts (I couldn’t pass it up!) was the perfect size.

The size of this little quilt is only 17″ x 31″ so I found a scrap piece of batting and layered everything together.  The pattern suggested quilting wavy lines across the quilt with a walking foot so that’s what I did.


Then I got to the binding and of course, this is what I NEVER plan for!  I didn’t have any more blue fabric.  I dug around and found some red or black and had to think about it for a day because I really didn’t like either.

Finally, I went with the black.


And here’s the back:


With my daughter’s house marked with a red “X” sewn in, of course.


I love this quilt and all the memories of my trip!  I’m thinking about ordering another applique design from the Quilts with a Twist website to give as a gift since this little quilt was so easy and only took a couple days to make.

If you get to Seattle, you have to check out these wonderful quilt shops!


Slow progress …


I’m happy to report that I have all 50 of the main blocks done for Bonnie Hunter’s 2017 mystery quilt “On Ringo Lake”!


Unfortunately, I still haven’t finished step #3 – the diamonds in rectangle units.  Big sigh.  I still have almost 200 of those to finish.


Then I’ll have to sew them into pairs to use them as sashing strips between the blocks.

The cornerstones and setting triangles are a little complicated too so I’ve been working on them while putting the blocks together.


I’m really hoping to have this quilt top done before Bonnie comes out with her next mystery quilt around Thanksgiving but it’s been more work than I thought it would be.

I do love these colors together and the way the blocks look.  I think it’s going to be beautiful when it’s finished so I just keep plodding along!

Hopefully my next update will be the finished quilt top – stay tuned…

French Quilt Show 2018

I have to share some photos from my weekend.  I was able to attend the European Patchwork Meeting in France again this year!  This time I went with two ladies from my quilt guild and we spent three days and saw EVERYTHING and had a blast!

The show stretches across 4 picturesque Alsatian towns and something like 20 venues.  My feet were tired but my eyes were so happy!

So this area of Alsace is one of the places where the Amish in America came from and they still take pride in having those ties.  This year, they again had several Amish and Mennonite quilts on display.  They were beautiful.


Danny Amazonas was one of the quilt artists at the show this year and his bright work was stunning.  I loved it.


Dorte Jensen’s portraits in fabric were also amazing.

We saw an exhibition of African quilts by the Kenya Quilt Guild and the quilts of the Salama Mamas.  These ladies continue the tradition of quilting by using what you have and they’ve created their own techniques.

The quilts of Japanese artist Shizuko Kuroha were some of my favorites.  I loved the subdued colors and textures of the fabrics she uses and the tiny, intricate blocks that make up the design of the quilts.


Check out the tiny blocks that make up this quilt when you look closer.  All of her quilts are like that.

The quilt show was accented by the storybook towns of the Alsace region and the delicious Alsatian food which has a German quality to it.


We stayed over the mountain on the Alsatian wine road and had dinner here in Ribeauville one evening.  The vineyards, the flowers, the towns – everything was beautiful!

There’s a company based in this area called Beauville that makes table linens and they had an exhibit about how many of their table linens have been inspired by the animal kingdom.  They were selling scrap bags of bits of their linens.

I couldn’t pass up a scrap bag!


These scraps are a little thick but I can definitely use them in a scrap quilt.  And when I do, I’ll remember this amazing trip!


40 Shades of Grey Finished!


So I received the last package for my block of the month.  It was the fabric for the setting triangles and the pieces in between all the blocks.

I really did not like the fabrics they sent for this (as I suspected).  One didn’t even have stripes!  So… I pulled out the fabric that I had ordered for this possibility.  The pattern called for 2 different striped fabrics (although from the picture, I couldn’t tell the difference).

I just used the one fabric.


Let me just say also that the directions on this section were not good.  The directions for the setting triangles was helpful but the different pieces to fill in between the blocks – not so much.  I was wondering if this quilt pattern had been tested.

The cutting out is important because you need to know which way the stripes go.  Some blocks said and others didn’t.  I couldn’t figure out where some of the pieces went on the quilt – in fact, one I tossed since there was no place to put it.  And I had to cut another that wasn’t on the pattern.

The whole assembly was – interesting.


First I laid out the pieces where they looked like they belonged.


Then I added the setting triangles and the filler blocks.

Next, I started in the top left corner and sewed the blocks together in rows. Actually, I started there and then just went around the quilt and added blocks together where they went together and then I was left with blocks or sections that had inset seams.

This took me all day.

Then there was lots of trimming – as you can see, most of the setting triangles are bigger than needed.

After that, I added the 2 borders.


I really love this bright, fun quilt!  My next step is to find some backing and get it ready to hand quilt over the winter.

I’m planning to use the “big stitch” method again although I’m not sure exactly what design I’ll use.  I’m looking forward to having a project to cozy up with in front of a fire and my favorite movies during the cold winter months and this bright one will be a joy to work on.