Fun Little Project

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Check out this cute heart-shaped pot holder that I made from a kit!  I bought the kit at Jackman’s Fabrics in St. Louis while I was in town visiting my daughter.  They had these little pot holders on display and had kits made up with all different fabrics.  I wish I had bought more than one now because it was so easy to make.

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The kit came with all the fabrics you need, the pattern and very easy to understand instructions.

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You cut out the heart pieces.

The directions said to quilt these parts lightly so I just quilted along some of the lines in the fabric for a criss-cross design.

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Then add binding strips to the half heart pieces for the back.  Baste these heart pieces on and then put the heart front piece onto the back upside-down and stitch around the heart, leaving an opening to turn the whole thing right side out.  Then you just hand stitch the small opening you have left.

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I wish I had used the small bit of red I had left over to add a little hanging loop to one of the heart tops.  This thing is so cute, I would love to hang it in my kitchen!

Now that I have the directions and pattern, I can make more.  You really only need small amounts of fabric and batting.  I would need to buy some of the Insul-Bright batting for the inside.  This is a nice product to use on potholders because it keeps the heat from going though the potholder and burning you.

And by the way, these would make great little gifts for that friend that likes to cook!

A Tied Quilt

Since I’ve been on roll finishing so many quilts (and the weather has gotten cooler) I decided it was time to finish my Sister’s Choice quilt so I can use it on my bed.

I’ve been putting this off and I should have bought supplies while I was back in the states but I didn’t.  I looked at the PX to see if they had anything I could use and found some crochet thread and yarn and some larger needles.  I thought I could use the crochet thread to hand quilt the quilt with big stitches but I don’t have a thimble and it’s just too painful to do without.

Then I found the invisible tie online and remembered that we did that with a quilt at my Virginia church but you need a VERY long needle so that left me with tying the quilt with little knots.

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This method is usually used with utility quilts – often for kid’s quilts.  It’s not super pretty but it works fine.

The type of batting you use will determine how closely you need to put your ties.  I used a thin 100% cotton batting which doesn’t have to be quilted very closely.  6 inches apart is probably the maximum and obviously you want to put the ties in a pattern that’s pleasing to the eye and fits in with the overall quilt.  While this is a quicker method, it still took me 3 days to finish all the ties.  Once I finished the middle of the quilt, I thought maybe I could straight-line sew around the blue inner border.  I tried using my walking foot but I didn’t have much luck.  I ended up using a regular foot and a longer stitch to give it a homey look.  The goal is to keep that batting from shifting when you use the quilt.

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When I started cutting fabric for binding, I found I didn’t have enough.  I know – you’re not surprised since this happens all the time to me.  It’s my thing.  I’m the queen of strange bindings.  I did have enough of the light blue that I used for the border to bind 3 sides but then I had to use the bright blue for the last side.  Hey, it’s a scrap quilt!

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So now I just need to hand sew the back of the binding and this quilt is finished!  Kitty is giving it her stamp of approval.

Finishing Touches

This week I’ve been finishing the binding on several quilts.  I had a quick visit back to the states and was able to get my Global Warming quilt quilted while I was there.

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I bought some extra-wide bright yellow fabric to use as the backing and had it quilted with swirly circles.

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I was going to use the left over yellow backing fabric for the binding but I decided to use some of the remaining batik jelly roll strips and try to match light with light and dark with dark.  It made the tedious binding job a little more interesting and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I love this quilt!  It’s so bright and fun.  Plus, I think this is some sort of record for me.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever made a quilt this fast from start to quilted and bound.  It just worked out that way, I wasn’t even trying.  So often, after I finish the quilt top, I’m sick of it and need to put it away for awhile.

While I was home, I was able to dig a couple other quilts out of storage and get them finished.  They will be going to new homes.  Here is the Mystery Quilt I made last year:

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It was quilted with a floral pattern that goes along with the floral fabric.

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And the Quiltworx Compass Quilt which was so fun to put together:

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It was quilted with an all-over wavy stipple pattern which lets the design show through.

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I feel like I’ve really accomplished something with these finished projects and now it’s on to new projects!

Global Warming quilt- Part 2

The Global Warming quilt top is finished!

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It really wasn’t that hard.

Once I had all 4 of the segments done, I stacked them up with the center 4 squares on top of each other- all the segments facing up.  I tried to carefully get all the seams matched and pinned all 4 sides so they would stay all together.

Then I got out my tape measure (the pattern called for a yardstick but I didn’t have one) and started marking my curve.  The pattern called for it to be at 36 inches but since my quilt came out a little smaller, I marked my curve at 35.5 inches.  I wanted to keep my curve at about the same place as the curve in the pattern.

After measuring and marking and re-measuring, it was time to cut.  I just used my scissors and cut along the line I had marked.

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Here’s the quilt all laid out and ready to have the curves sewn.

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Normally when I sew curved pieces, I find the center of each piece and line them up first.  With this quilt, it was more important to line up the seam lines of each block.  Most of the time they lined up pretty well and the whole thing wasn’t too hard to put together.  I used A LOT of pins which always helps when doing curves.

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So there it is: “A Global Warming Quilt No 1” by Anthology.  I bought some really bright yellow backing and it’s going to the quilters next week.  I think I’m just going to sew some of the left over batik strips together to make a colorful binding.

I’ll share the finished quilt with you when it’s all done.

The Global Warming Quilt

I’ve finished all 100 blocks for the Global Warming quilt – and 5 seasons of Gilmore Girls on Netflix!  (Hey, you have to have something to make those boring blocks go faster.)  I laid them out and now I’m sewing them into 4 sections.

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I have to say this about the blocks- many of mine didn’t come out at 8.5 inches.  I puzzled over this because some did and I double checked my seam allowance but then I decided that maybe these jelly roll strips are a little off.  Some were 2.5inches but some were not quite there.  Then I noticed a small note in the pattern that said, “Strips may vary in width. You can deal with it!”  I guess they were referring to what I had discovered.  It’s definitely not the end of the world but the blocks really need to be the same size to all fit well together so I ended up cutting all the blocks down to just over 8 inches.  I hope this is the right way to deal with it.

One of the sections has the light blocks, one has the dark and the other two are medium value blocks.  I noticed that I had a lot of yellow and orange blocks in my medium values so I decided to put those together in one of the sections and the other medium section has more blues and greens.  I’m hopeful that when I cut the large circle out and turn it, this layout will create the most contrast.

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So the next step is to stack these 4 sections, pin them and mark a 36 inch arc and CUT it.  (How scary is this?)  Then move the circle pieces and sew everything back together.

It sounds like it could be cool.  It also sounds like things could go badly.  I will be holding my breath while I perform these feats of magic.  (And taking photos so I can let you know how it goes.)

Time for Something new

The fabric I ordered came in last week and I got the Sister’s Choice quilt put all together.  I wasn’t really happy with the blue fabric.  It looked a little lighter in color online than the blues I used for the star points but when it arrived, it was a lot lighter and BRIGHTER.  Oh, well.

The light colored fabric I used for the outer border is very old.  I think I bought that when my son was a baby.  The point of this quilt was to use up lots of my fabric and it definitely did that.  I sandwiched the whole quilt and eagerly got to quilting it.

What was I thinking?  This sewing machine is tiny!  I had a little wrestling match getting it into the machine.  I was so excited to try out the walking foot but then was very disappointed in the results.  My other machine never had a walking foot because Pfaff has the “integrated dual feed” system.  I have some options here: 1. un-sandwich and mail to quilter back in the states, 2. power through the quilting, 3. hand quilt, 4. tie the quilt.

I’ll think on this dilemma for awhile.  But in the meantime… time to start a new project!

I routinely cut out pictures of quilts that I want to make and put them in a binder.  This new project was one of those and when I went looking for the pattern, I was excited to find it for free online!  The quilt is called Global Warming by Anthology.  It was made originally to use Anthology’s line of Batik strips.  It just takes 100 2.5″strips of fabric.  I thought a couple of jelly rolls wouldn’t take up much room in my boxes to mail so that’s how I decided on this project.  Most jelly rolls have 40 strips in them and I brought 2 so I knew I would need to order another.

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The main thing about this quilt is that your blocks have to be distinctly light, medium or dark.  I separated my fabrics and figured out that I needed more dark so I ended up ordering 2 more jelly rolls. (What the heck – you can never have too many Batik strips.)

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I love working with Batiks!  They’re so bright and cheerful, it’s like working with a rainbow.  I guess we’ll see if I was successful separating and selecting light, medium and dark colors when the quilt is finished.

Here are sample blocks:

img_0235The blocks are very simple.  Two of the strips are sewn together and then cut into 16 pieces to make 2 – 16 patch blocks.  These are sewn together according to the pattern, then there will be cutting and sewing like a large drunkards path block.  It should be interesting.

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I have all my dark blocks waiting to be put together.

Blocks Finished

My Sister’s Choice blocks are all finished!  I’ve been laying them out and sewing them together.

This is one of those quilts that can drive you crazy when it comes time to sew the blocks together.  Your perfectionist tendencies don’t want to let you have any background fabrics next to each other but somehow, they seem to find their way together!

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I don’t really think it’s all that noticeable if I did have some background fabrics next to each other.  You can see from afar, the background fades into … well, the background.

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I lay out my blocks and then stack them into rows and then sew them.  Somehow in that process, some blocks get turned or out of order no matter how careful I am.  I’ve had a couple of places where two fabrics are next to each other – I don’t know how it happens.  It’s not the end of the world.  This quilt is going on my bed to be used so no one is going to notice.

 I debated for a while whether to add sashing but..1) I didn’t have enough black fabric for all the sashing and 2) it really didn’t look right.  Then, I debated whether to make this a quilt-as-you-go quilt.  I’ve never tried this technique where you sandwich and quilt each block and then put them together at the end.  If you’re using a small home sewing machine, this technique can make the quilting process easier.  I did a lot of research online and finally decided against it.

For one thing, everyone suggests that you have a little bigger seam allowance; maybe 1/2 inch instead of 1/4 inch so that the seams don’t bunch up.  I didn’t plan for that in the beginning so things might not have worked out.  Apparently, sashing is best for these quilt-as-you-go quilts because it can hide the front joining seams but then you have to hand stitch the back seams together.  That sounded like a lot of work.

There was another technique where you add the batting and quilt the blocks.  Then sew them all together, then add the whole backing and just quilt the backing in with seams around the blocks.  Those seemed to have messy backing so I decided against that technique as well.  Someday I’ll try the quilt-as-you-go.

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After I get these blocks together, I will wait. (I do a lot of waiting here.)  I’m waiting for the blue fabric I ordered for the inner border and the backing.  I ordered the batting several weeks ago because I’m such a good planner.  Don’t ask me what I’m going to use for binding – I haven’t figured that out yet.  It’s actually a miracle that I found enough blue for the star points.  I kept running out and I kept finding more blue in my meager stash.  Luckily, it’s a scrap quilt so it’s all good.

My plan is to sandwich it like a regular quilt and try out my walking foot to do some simple straight line quilting.

Stay tuned…

 

Sister’s Choice Quilt

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 Look who’s here and still enjoys “helping” with my block layouts.  As you can see, I’ve been working on the Sister’s Choice blocks that I kitted up before I moved.  This is a free pattern from Bonnie Hunter’s website, Quiltville.  It’s been slow going on this project since I’m trying to figure out how to plug in my sewing machine and iron at the same time.

There’s just no way to do it with the iron that I have.

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I have only one big plug spot and two large plugs.  I’ve been sewing like an assembly line.  Sew 6 of the 9-patch blocks together, then iron.  Then do the next step and then iron.  And so on… It works but just seems to take forever.  I’m on the lookout for a small travel -sized iron that runs on 220 voltage so I could possibly plug it into one of the other outlets in the room.

I have 24 blocks made so far which is half of what I need.  The pattern  doesn’t really give an amount for how many blocks to use but I estimate 48 will give me a full sized quilt.  I’m hoping to use this quilt on my bed here.  The pattern from the website just has the blocks set right next to each other but someone posted a picture of their Sister’s Choice quilt with black sashing in between the star blocks and I thought it was really striking.  I need to lay the black strips out with the blocks and see what that looks like.

You might have noticed that I’ve been playing around with my blog design as well.  I have no idea what I’m doing but it’s been fun top play around with.   I now have my own domain name too!  I hope you enjoy the changes!

New Machine-Old Project

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I’ve been playing with my new sewing machine and I kind’ve like it!  I wasn’t able to bring my Pfaff sewing machine because it was just too big to mail or bring on the plane with me.  I debated forever about what to do and finally decided to get this small Janome machine.  It’s the DC 2014 and it came in the box with lots of really good packing.  It’s a lightweight, basic machine although it’s definitely made with the quilter in mind.

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It came with a quarter inch foot, although I’m not used to this kind with a stop guard on it.  It also has a walking foot for quilting.  It has a needle down option and you can drop the feed dogs.  It’s got everything that I need for piecing and I think I can do some basic straight line quilting.

So I mailed this sewing machine in the box, got the extra insurance and crossed my fingers.  It arrived in perfect condition – thank you USPS!  I got a transformer and a table and I’m back in business.

I’ve been working on adding the binding to my Charlotte’s Web quilt.  I dropped it off at the quilter when I picked up the wedding quilt and it arrived at my Mom’s house a couple days before we flew here.  I just left it in the box and took it back to the post office.

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I had them quilt it with a spiderweb pattern.  The blocks are so big that the spiderweb doesn’t fit perfectly in the web but it’s an all-over design and it still looks nice.  There’s a lot going on with all these scraps so the all-over quilting just adds to it.

I’m so glad I brought this quilt.  We need something light on our bed since it’s so hot here.

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And check it out!  Now I have an awesome place to take my quilt pictures from – the landing to the second floor.

Progress?

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Well, I made it here to Italy!  I’ve been anxious to get back to sewing and back to blogging but these things take time.  We sold our house and moved out the end of April.  Then we stayed with my Mom for a few weeks while we waited for our Visas to come.  We arrived here in Italy the end of May and it’s been a whirlwind of finding a place to live and a car to drive and figuring out how everything works!

I’m happy to report that almost everything we mailed arrived in great condition.  The small Janome sewing machine I bought came in great shape.  The cutting mats and squares that I brought in my suitcase arrived fine. The boxes with my fabrics and kits were another story.

One of the first boxes that we mailed was full of fabric and patterns.  It came last and was in bad shape.

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It seems to have weathered a bad storm.  Things were pretty wet; I had to hang the fabric up to dry and lay the patterns out.  I was glad I put my kits in big plastic bags.  I was really confused when I noticed this on the bottom:

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Hmm, I really don’t know what kind of route this box took to Italy but I think it was the long one.  I guess that’s a mystery I’ll never figure out.

While we were staying at our temporary apartment, I had some time to work on my English paper-pieced project which is all hand sewn.  It’s a good project when you have absolutely nothing else to do.

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I guess I’m making some progress on it, although not much to show for a project that’s 3 years old.  It’s bigger than a doll blanket but not quite baby sized yet.  I hope that someday it will be big enough for a full-sized bed.  A project like this teaches me patience.  Most quilts are overwhelming projects when you first start but it’s always amazing that the little pieces eventually become something.

I’m learning patience with my new life as well.  I spend enormous amounts of time trying to figure out what should be simple, little things.  There’s a very steep learning curve here.  This morning, I spent probably an hour trying to get to a message on my phone. ( The phone I bought from the PX was all in German and didn’t have instructions.) After lunch, I didn’t know which trash to throw the potato chip bag into. (Is is plastic? Paper? Plain trash?)  I have 5 different types of trash.  I remember what it was like in Germany but there are some new things here.  Our house has only 3 kilowatts of power so I’m always thinking about what I turn on and what kind of power everything uses.  I have to get a transformer for my sewing machine so I want to get just what I need and not one that’s too big.

I do a lot of math here.  Kilometers to miles, Celsius to Fahrenheit, watts to kilowatts. Euros to dollars. What are the buttons on the washing machine, what are these buttons on the car?  Do I kiss on the left cheek first, what does this text message from my cell phone provider say?  Is this the right train?  Should I not have waved at that person for letting me in on the road?  (After someone gives me what looks like an angry wave. Uh-oh.)  What are they saying?  What is this word?  What am I eating?

I’m learning Italian words very quickly – by what I need or the situation I’m in.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to put them all together and make sense.?

It can be overwhelming to start a new life as well.