Thursday, February 26, 2015

Spring Thinking

Let me introduce you to a new pattern, Up One Side Table Runner.

Up One Side Quilted Table Runner pattern

Well, actually, it's not a *new* pattern, but it has received a bit of a facelift. Up One Side was originally published by Cut Loose Press, but I decided to re-work the pattern a bit and reproduce it in a new format. It's still amazingly simple to make, and the making is even easier using the Marti Michell Corner trimmer.

What does this have to do with Spring Thinking? The Up One Side pattern lends nicely to kits. Since, I'm vending at a handful of quilt shows this spring and summer, I'm beginning to think how I might put some fun fabrics together for kits to make the table runner.

This sample is almost done. It just has to be quilted and bound. How about a purple binding for a Spring table setting?

green and purple fabrics for table runner kits

Blues have always been a favorite of mine, any time of year.

blue fabric for table runner kits

It wouldn't be Spring without a little pink!

Pink fabric for table runner kits

I'm only starting the process, and making samples, but it struck me that the fabrics I'm putting together look awfully Spring-like. And since the snow is piled high out my front window, and I'm more than ready to move on to the next season, I thought I'd share a few of the fabric combinations. I don't know about you, but I feel much better, now!

You can ask for the Up One Side Table Runner pattern at your favorite quilt shop. Or find it here. If you want a kit, then you'll have to come visit my booth at one of the shows I'll be attending this summer--if you don't already subscribe to my weekly newsletter, Good Migrations, the block at the top of the sidebar will get you there (along with a free patter for subscribing!). My calendar is posted in the newsletter. Who knows I might even throw some kits into my shopping cart once they are ready.

Like Spring, these things seem to take so long to get here, but they are so worthwhile when they finally arrive!

Ooh, and speaking of warmer weather. Did you go Row by Rowing last summer? The summertime shop hop is returning again in June. All 50 states and six Canadian provinces have shops in the hop. The snow may still be piled high everywhere I look, but inside, I'm thinking Rows. I feel very fortunate to have been asked by several shops to create their free row patterns for the Row by Row Experience 2015. Sorry, nothing to reveal for you just yet. But you know I'll be offering some sneaky peaks right here on this blog to help you rev up your engines for Summer travel season. And the rows I'm creating are really, REALLY fun! So stay tuned!

I'd better get back to creating! Stay warm, think *Spring* and . . .

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Little of This, A Little of That

I have a question for you. You met the quilt on my bed a few weeks ago. Several folks have sent a note asking for the pattern. There technically isn't a pattern for the quilt, because it was made from a collection of swapped 'ribbon star' blocks.

ribbon star quilt blocks

Here's the question: if I were to organize a block swap featuring this particular block pattern, would you be interested to participate? You see, I have a new interfacing product in the works, a lot like the Mini Scrap Grid you've heard me go on and on about. The new stuff is bigger, uses scrap sizes I like to use, and would fit very nicely into the production of this block--very, very fun. Of course, there'd be a set of guidelines and rules, fabric needs, and a pattern for the block, costs, and some fun surprises--all yet to be compiled if this is a 'go.' By the way, the new interfacing isn't even available yet (but it's coming soon!) First I wanted to get a 'temperature read' to see if there is enough interest to run with the idea. Are you interested? (this isn't a commitment, more like a survey.) If you are, write a comment to this post. And watch for more details here or in the Good Migrations ezine.

Done with the hearts, on to Shamrocks. Thought I'd try to see if I couldn't turn a mini 9-patch block into a St. Patty's day treat. Start with the Mini Scrap Grid, and some low-contrast 9-patch blocks.

mini 9-patch quilt blocks

Add some borders, bigger ones this time. Side borders 2" square. Top and bottom borders 2x5" rectangles.

quilted shamrock pin

Sew the borders to the 9-patch, fuse the 5" square top to a 5" square backing with the fusible foam batting in between. Rather than the Nectar Pin Packs, I substituted the 5" foam batting from the Mini Mug Mat Refill Pack. Quilted around the 9-patch. Roughed in the clover shape for the cutting guide.

quilted shamrock pin

Add the pin to the back. And done. Three- and four-leaf variations.

quilted shamrock pin

Or maybe, just stick with a Mini Mug Mat for a place to rest your beer mug!

Mini Mug Mats

I had another question from one of the participants in an upcoming workshop. At Cafe Sewciety Quilts in Webster, New York, I'm scheduled to lead a workshop in mid-March. We're making the T-shirt quilt featured in When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters. Michele asked if sweatshirt material would work as well as the T-shirts.

T-shirt quilt

Since my process to make the Warm Memories Quilt is a bit different from many T-shirt quilts--I use single sided fusible batting rather than interfacing, I wasn't sure if this would translate well to sweatshirt material. Off to the sewing room with a couple of sweatshirts to give it a try.

T-shirt quilt

Sure enough, worked fine! Michele, it's a go!

T-shirt quilt

Hey Material Girls, here's a little hint of what's coming to your store in late March! I've been sew-sew-sewing away at it. Here's another hint. . . it's absolutely amazing!!

mini scrap grid quilt

With temperatures below freezing for most of the month of February, I haven't ventured out past the sewing room very much. Earlier this week, glorious sunshine combined with bitter cold temperatures allowing me to capture the prettier side of all this snow.


A lone stalk of grass, braving the cold.


The snow accumulated on the top of a deck railing. The angle of the sun creates another dimension.


Top-to-bottom ice offers an interesting view from an upstairs window. When the ice turns to water, let's hope it stays outside.


On that note. . . Spring . . . bring it on!


Happy Stitching!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bee, Mine

I can't seem to let go of these heart-shaped pins! A couple weeks ago, Mary wrote me a note with her idea to turn the 9-patch pins into heart-shaped pins or ornaments as a February gift to the residents of her mom's senior living facility. One thing led to another, I created a couple of pins, inspired by Mary's idea and documented them in my blog entries from last week and the week before.

One variation takes the normal pin borders and trims them into a heart shape.

heart-shaped quilted pins

A second variation has extra large borders, which were trimmed with pinking shears, creating the needed affect to turn the 9-patch block into the heart-shape.

heart-shaped quilted pin

Why stop there? The thought occurred to me that this same pin might be fun with a slight variation. Why not add borders in two colors following the two-color 9-patch block? Or turn the 9-patch into a corn-and-beans block with a few itty-bitty half-square triangles. And repeat the two-color border situation. Interesting!

Anyway . . . enough with the pins! Happy Valentine's Day, with or without a heart-shaped pin!

On to my quilt dilemma. Last week, I told the tale of the wretched quilt on my bed. Worn miserably where the quilt meets the edge of the mattress. The quilt is a candidate for the Recycled Tote. Big time.

That means, the bed needs a new quilt. Going back a few months, I told you about this log cabin quilt. The center was made following a Marti Michell pattern using fat quarters. I added the borders to turn the square quilt center into a rectangle to fit my bed. Only problem: a quilt TOP doesn't do much to keep a person warm in February in Syracuse, New York. And with my full schedule, I could see that I would have no time to quilt it.

Sure, I could have employed one of many very qualified long-arm quilters I know to finish it up. But I decided to go a slightly different route. 

scrappy log cabin quilt top

Meet the Snowbelt Quilters. A group of 9-12 quilters (the numbers have fluctuated a bit over the years) in Oswego, New York, just north of Syracuse who get together every Tuesday to quilt. Hand quilt. Nancy, the group 'instigator' came on the cruise to Alaska last summer with me and mentioned the group's on-going interest to take on quilts to finish. I turned over my log cabin quilt to her back in September.

On this particular snowy day, the ladies had two quilt frames up and running. Mine was in the front room, and this double wedding ring was set up in the dining room. How nice to have a choice of projects to work on (or chat over!)

quilting bee

Barb doesn't use a thimble!

quilting bee

In an instant, the quilt frame is pulled aside, and the dining table is set up with lunch. I'm told I was particularly lucky on the day I visited. You see, the group migrates from one home to the next as each member takes a turn at hostessing. Lunch is typically a brown-bag affair unless hostess responsibilities fall to either of two of the group's members. Zosia, one of the two (Mary Jane is the other), enjoys cooking lunch! Corn chowder, fresh chicken salad, quesadillas were on the menu on the day I visited. In the summer time, the group meets in the evening and coffee and dessert are always offered by the hostess. You get the impression that the meeting is as much about socializing as it is about the quilting! (My kinda gals!)

These ladies range in age from 65 to 85 years old. But don't let that give you any thought that they are anything but high-energy and fun! They started quilting together each week in 1973--over 40 years ago. Stop and take that in for a moment!

From left to right Mary Jane (the sous chef on the day I visited), Joyce, Nancy (the ring-leader), Barb, Elaine (the chatterbox--everyone agreed that when Elaine can't attend the meetings, there isn't nearly as much conversation happening), Ann, and Zosia (the chef and hostess for the day). Two other ladies are not pictured but had their hand in working on my quilt: Elaine and Helen--I'm sorry I missed you!

quilting bee

Any quilter knows that making a quilt is a supremely unique undertaking. When you use that quilt, you appreciate all the time, energy and creativity that went into its creation--selecting fabrics, cutting it, sewing it, fixing mistakes(!), quilting, and binding it. Each quilt is (or should be) a work of pure joy from start to finish! This special group of ladies have added their skills to my project, making it all the more special to me!

The quilt is almost done, and I can't wait to get the completed quilt so I can add the binding and place it on the bed! This may not be the fastest way to get a quilt quilted, nor the cheapest, but it might just be the most special!

If you belong to a quilting bee like this one, you understand.

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Favorite F-Word


(What were you thinking?)

First, here's the project. The Recycled Tote. The pattern is free. Really! Now, before I tell you how you can get your very own pattern, there's a back-story. (Isn't there always!?)

The Reclycled Tote, free quilted bag pattern

The title of the book, When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters, implies that perhaps bad things happen because of something the quilter did. Hey, we all make mistakes, right? But some bad things just happen. Nobody did anything wrong. Like the quilt pictured below. The quilt that almost was, below, never really got to be a quilt. It was huge, nearly king-sized! It didn't get to be a quilt because I fell out of love with it about halfway through the quilting. I didn't want to finish it, so it sat in a heap . . .for years. Now it has been reduced to cut-up pieces because it was used to make the Recycled Tote above. I bet I have enough quilt left for another tote! (Yay, me!)

By the way, check out the glass button on the bag above! It was made with this bag in mind by my friend Bonnie from Joyful Adornments. Love it!

cut up quilt

Here's another quilty example of something 'bad' that happened. Yup, this is my bedroom (don't look too closely at the rumpled sheets or the stack of katty-wampus books on the nightstand). However, notice, that the quilt on the bed is a stunner. One of my favorites, made from swapped blocks.

scrappy bed quilt

I should say it was a stunner. After years on the bed, it has seen better days. The edge of the bed, where the quilt gets the most wear, is particularly ragged. Yep, that's batting boldly showing through the wrecked rose-colored star.

damaged scrapy bed quilt

Oy. I feel compelled to point out that this is my husband's side of the bed.

scrappy bed quilt, damaged

But much of the quilt, though it may be a little faded, is in really great shape. This quilt is a great candidate for the Recycled Tote. Or, what about that quilt found at a garage sale? Perfectly good quilt, not much sentimental value: recycle it!

scrappy ribbon star quilt

Okay. Are you ready for the pattern? All you have to do is go to this page and download it. While you're there it'd be okay if you bought the book, too! Or you can get it here. Or better still, ask for it at your local quilt shop.

I suppose that I need to find another quilt for the bed. . . more on that coming soon!

Last week I showed you how I made a heart-shaped pin using the Taste of Nectar Pin Pattern Pack. Mary, one of the visitors at my booth in Houston last Fall, sent me a note, but no picture, for inspiration. After last week's post was sent, I learned that, indeed, I had received a photo from Mary, and her pin creation was quite different from the one I imagined. Here's a quick recap:

Once again, I worked with only one 9-patch section of the grid. I used some super fun Hoffman batiks in low contract colors for my 9-patch. Place squares on the grid, fuse. . . .

Mini scrap grid interfacing

Fold, sew, furl . . .

nine patch made with mini scrap grid interfacing

and trim . . .

nine patch quilt blck made with mini scrap grid interfacing

Add borders to two sides of the 9-patch, like you would make a courthouse steps log cabin block. One border is 1-1/2" x2" and the other is 1-1/2x3"

adding borders to a nine patch quilt block

Add a backing and fusible foamy stuff sandwiched in between (the foamy stuff comes with the pattern).

making a quilted pin

Add a little quilting . . . Since heart shapes can become a real hack-job without a some guidance, I drew the curvy heart shape onto the borders first with a white marking pen that will disappear later with a bit of steam. Notice that I started the heart curve about 1/4" away from the edge.

tutorial to make a quilted Valentines pin

Trim on the drawn line with pinking shears

quilted Valentine's pin tutorial

Now, you be the judge. . . They are both cute. I think I really like the low-contrast color choice.

quilted Valentine's Day pins

Here are Mary's originals. Super cute!

quilted Valentine's Day pins

Mary made her pins as gifts for the residents at her mom's senior living community. Wouldn't these be cute for a child's Valentine party? I plan to put mine on my coat for a seasonal conversation piece. Very fun, and only took a few minutes to make.

Happy Stitching!