Square in a Square Tool Review

My sister-in-law, Carolyn, aka One-Block-Wonder-Woman and I both have purchased the Jodi Barrows “Square in a Square” ruler and book. (Since we live on opposite sides of the country, we don’t share our tools, but DO share what we love in terms of information with each other).

I’ve posted in the past about using  Option 3   to make several hundred flying geese https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/small-projects/ .  I have great plans for using many of the other options in the future.

Recently, Carolyn has used her Square in A Square to make many of the “options” for which you can use this ruler. She wrote a great blog post last week, and I would encourage you to take a look – I have a tool for that too

WHY do you need this ruler?  If you have never used the ruler or don’t know what it is, take a look at some of the videos on You Tube that Jodi had published – Jodi Barrows You Tube Video

Many times we buy specialty rulers that only do I thing.  This one has LOTS of uses. And, you work from strips and squares , not with triangles which can be problematic because of bias.

If you purchase the ruler, do your self a BIG favor and purchase the companion book. Honestly, to use the ruler to it’s full function the book is an ABSOLUTE necessity.  It is full of information, techniques.  You will be much happier if you do.   If you purchase directly from Jodi’s website, http://squareinasquare.com/Pattern-BooksPatterns_c_12.html    , then she gets a greater share of the profit, vs purchasing through another retailer.  (I like to support these designers by purchasing directly!) (Same thing with Bonnie Hunter & Pat Sloan books/tools)

Disclaimer – Nobody is paying me a dime for sharing this info!  I love this ruler!!!

So, my quilting friends – put this on your Christmas Wish List….give the family a link to the tool on Jodi’s website, and enjoy making square in a square blocks, and flying geese and all those other blocks that in the past might have been a struggle.  Having the “right tool” in your inventory that is so multi-functional is like having one of those screwdrivers with 42 tips and a flashlight!

What is your “favorite tool” in your quilt room?

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Model Railroad Open House

Today is the final day this year for the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club Open House.  Of course, we will have two more weekends this coming January to round out the 32nd Annual Open House Season.  What amazes me is the number of people I greet who are bringing their youngsters out to see the trains who came as a child!  I am also amazed to greet the “first timers”.  The club has been around for 33 years, and located in the same place for 32! It really is a tradition in many families in Maryland and Delaware to come “see the trains in Delmar” in November, December and January.  Disclaimer — I am the lady sitting at the front counter, shamelessly selling raffle tickets for 3 great train sets!  Check out this one –

Description on back of the box

Inside the box

Share with your friend in the Mid-Atlantic region, and come out this weekend or in January to see the great model train displays.

The club is located at 103 E. State Street in Delmar DE on the 2nd floor of Camelot Hall (Sorry, no elevator). Park behind St Stephens United Methodist Church.  Free admission, donations appreciated!

Alive and sorting

Greetings after a month on “the road and sea”!  I came home alive, but slightly unwell…with a nasty ear ache!!! That has been tended to, but flying home wasn’t fun!

I have been traveling since late October, and am glad to be back on my home turf!  I have been in Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Aruba, Columbia, Panama Canal, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico, California, Texas, North Carolina (again), Maryland (again) and finally back to Delaware…..

Lots of great stories but no time until next week to share them, and the great photo’s with you of my transit of the Panama Canal.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving was celebrated with my daughter and her family. Then we rolled into the weekend with the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club Open House . We had nearly 900 visitors last weekend, and are gearing up for this weekend now.  (Yes, you still have a chance to come & see all the trains!)

This week we spent cleaning out & moving my dear friend’s ENTIRE sewing room out of her house to my house. (I did squeeze in time for my Queen Bees on Tuesday, while the hubby did some of the packing by himself). We packed out the entire room, including the wonderful cabinets her husband had custom built for her room.  Over 40 banker boxes and a dozen plastic totes, 3 loads in the SUV, and one load on the landscaping trailer later, we are tired and sore and overwhelmed with STUFF.  The pix of the stuff on the trailer is a bit “blurry”…probably because my arms are sore and tired~!!!~

cabinets

I have made 2 trips so far to donate items that are not things I will use, and to make room for her things.

off to the charity store

I had what I call the “sugar plum fairy vision” of how this beautiful cabinetry was going to work in my sewing room.  (This fair vision was without a measuring tape. )  My basic space (upstairs over the garage) is 10 x 17; exploding out into the 17 x 70 area….  I had hoped to replace my current furniture and use her wonderful unit, but it was NOT going to be an easy fit.

So; rather than tear my sewing room apart, and wait on the hubby to build new counter tops for the cabinets, I decided HE should use the wonderful L shaped unit. It is 10 foot long in each section of the L.   It fits PERFECTLY into the area where he was working on his model trains.

So, we spent yesterday clearing out stuff that had been sitting for 5 years; and moved the cabinets in.  Today, we had to summon up our muscles to carry the big counter tops upstairs.  They are solidly built and extremely heavy, and by the end of the day yesterday I begged off.  Once we got those counter tops upstairs, we had to get them set “just right” and get them secured to the cabinets.  It will be “after the train club open house” before hubby can start filling up the 16 drawers with HIS hobby stuff.

Hobby space for Bill

I am excited because he has been working off of a table for the last 2 years, and didn’t really have any space.  I am also thrilled he finally agreed to dispose of those things that have been “hanging around” for so long.  I think it is a real eye-opener, when you go to someone else’s home and help clear out.  We are buried in STUFF here, and I am beginning to convince him we need to “throw stuff out” or “move it along” to someone else.

Meanwhile, I have 40+ banker boxes of fabric and crafting items to sort through and “recycle”.  This is going to take me a while, and I want to do it with care and not get rid of something that my dear friend might be able to use at her new residence.  My friend has moved into an efficiency assisted living apartment with very little space.  I plan to make a small sewing basket for her, with essentials; and then will periodically take her a project that she had been working on. She was “in the midst” of embroidering some lovely pillowcases, so I am going to start with them.  I know she loves handwork, and if I only take 1 project at a time, she will probably not feel overwhelmed.  It was a good reminder to me to get busy and FINISH stuff!  She is like most quilters, a woman with many hobbies, and LOTS of projects on going.

Meanwhile, enjoy this video of my honey, holding up the light so I could take pictures. Don’t mind the mess….it means we USE this stuff & space!!

Bills new cabinets

Here after he is in my debt, because I gave up the coveted cabinets, but hey; that’s ok!  I gave them up for him to use!!  And I also gave him that great power strip on the table with 10 plug in spots and 2 USB outlets (Happy Birthday Bill! )

So, after being gone a month, I am behind on EVERYTHING !!!

What is going on in YOUR hobby space???

Machine embroidery and applique

Promised my daughter I would make a couple of hooded bath towels for the youngest grandchild. She is growing so fast and those little hooded baby towels are just not big enough any more. My daughter asked for 2, and I chose the basic fluffy “white” bath towel and hand towel to use.

I found a great pattern/tutorial on “French Frills” embroidery website for making the hooded towel work with embroidery on the hood.  I’d done hooded towels before but they always had a seam at the center of the forehead.  French Frills offers the pattern as a free download, and you have to select 5×7 hoop size.  French Frills freebies page

They also have some cute designs to purchase. They have some very elaborate designs, and also offer SVG files for cutting the applique pieces.  They do offer some 4×4 designs, but not many.

Because my Brother PE500 is only capable of a 4×4 design, I was limited by design choices.  I knew I wanted a unicorn, and I knew I wanted some “undersea” designs.  I ended up at Embroidery Library  and chose from the “animals on the edge” category for both my clown fish

clownfish - ready tocome off the hoop

and my unicorn.

Ready to deliver - 1 Unicorn towel

I’m really pleased with the results.  I’ve only done applique on the embroidery machine one other time, for a baby bib, so there was a learning curve for me with this project.  (Note to my embroidery friends….sometimes I do break down a BUY designs….but ONLY for a really special project!!)

All wrapped up and ready to go

I read somewhere that if you don’t have embroidery software, you can load a sheet of paper in your hoop and “stitch out” the die line to make cutting the fabric for the applique easier.  I did that for the clownfish, but not for the unicorn.

I also read that if you put water soluble stabilizer (wss) on over the toweling, then do the first die line stitch, it will help to keep from snagging the towel, plus help with the sinking stitches.  I did that, and then once I set the applique fabric on top of the wss, I put a 2nd piece of wss over the applique fabric.  I think it really helped the overall stitching.

Another thing I did was use Floriani sticky back stabilizer, so I didn’t have to hoop the towels.  I also floated a piece of tear away under the hoop.  So, count the layers….4 stabilizers and the applique fabric.  I only had 2 issues with the stitching where I had a thread break and had to go back and restitch.  I am really tickled with the outcome.

I decided to add a piece of that soft “tender touch” to the back after the project was done, and I cleared away as much of the tear away and sticky back as I could.  The sticky back will eventually dissolve in the washing but the tender touch will stay in place.  I don’t know if you can see it, but I stitched the tender touch to the back of the towel, as the “glue” doesn’t really stick well in my opinion. (I’ve had it peel off of a cotton t-shirt in the first washing)

inside of hooded towel

I put it on the back, stitched around the design with a straight machine stitch, then trimmed it close to the edge, then pressed it in place.  This will keep the back of the design from scratching little faces and bodies.

I chose some other designs for the “undersea” towel to put along the edges –

Undersea motif hooded bath towel

The fish on the right is from Designs by JuJu – “Sassy Fish”.  I purchased that several years ago and don’t find it available now.  There were 22 steps in that little design, 6 fabrics.

Sassy Fish

They have a LOT of great designs, that would have worked well for this project.  I love Designs by JuJu  and have used many designs in the past.

The crab applique is from OhMyCS.  I had a challenge with it, because I did not cut the applique fabric perfectly. It came a little low and did not catch in the tack down stitching around the eyes.  I ended up adding some extra stitching on my sewing machine to catch the raw edges.  Also, the design had so many curves, I could not trim it well.  I figured those bits will ‘fray’ in the washer and give it “character”, so it will turn out ok.

Feeling crabby

Overall, I think they turned out cute.  Trimming applique on towels is a real BEAR! I left the wss in place when I started trimming, but removed it “too soon” I think.  Not perfect, but it “is a bath towel” and it “WILL” fray and still look ok. (Trying not to obsess any longer……where are my snippers…….breathe…..)

I am second guessing my “ribbon” decision, and may have to replace it “down the road” if it doesn’t stand the test of time.  I could not find any other unicorns that would work on the white towel.  (Next time I would choose a colored towel I think!)  Again….trying to stop obsessing……..

Unicorn towel and floral ribbons

Anybody that makes these to sell gets my respect!  If I was to make them and put in a “craft sale”, I wouldn’t charge less than $50 a piece, as there is a lot of time in the embroidery, and construction.   Then of course, I would be obsessing……looking for absolute perfection.

These were made with two “medium quality” bath towels from Big Lots, and one hand towel.   Of course, they are “priceless” in my opinion because I am making them for one of the grandchildren!

Time to deliver this afternoon!

Back to quilting……………what are you working on?

 

Autumn Jubilee – circa 2016

In my last post I mentioned I was would be working on my Autumn Jubilee 2016 placemats during my sewing time at the Material Girls Quilt Bee.  I am HAPPY to report that I have completed 4 placemats in this project.  But not, AT the bee.  

Doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment really, since I have been piddling with them since January or February.  Once a month this Material Girls Quilt Bee gathers, and we sew.  I decided to keep a ‘project in a box’ ready to grab and go.  Every month I would make 2 or 3 more leaves.  In August, I had enough leaves together for 4, and made some choices about the border fabrics when I came home, I got the borders on.  I wrote about it on this post –  Still play with Autumn Jubilee

Since our last gathering in August I just needed to assemble the backs and quilt. We didn’t sew in September, so the box has been languishing on the floor under my design wall.  And I had totally forgotten what was and wasn’t done!  (I really should read my own blog!)

As I went to “pack up my gear” for the bee, I had to look at what was in the box, where I was at on the project etc, since I hadn’t touched  it in 2 months.  So,  Tuesday (after I finished my Grandma’s kitchen blocks)  I got the box off the floor and took a hard look.  I re-discovered the backs were made and pinned to the front with so I didn’t have to even think about which back went with which top. (They are all unique).  I just needed to dig out the batting and QUILT.  I used batting pieces that were wide scraps, some of it pieced with that great Pellon tape.   I even managed to quilt one before I packed the car!  The remaining ones were all pined, and I left all four at home to finish “after” the bee.  (Disclaimer – one has been completely finished for MONTHS)

So, what did I work on during the bee?  I took my Autumn Jubilee box (now neatly sorted and organized) and made some more stems, and half square triangles, and built 2 more leaves.  I do have enough parts in that box for at least another 4 placemats.  (This should keep me going at the bees for another few months!)  I do like to have a project that doesn’t require great amounts of concentration while all the conversation is going on all around.  I’ve got all those parts, so why not!

When I got home, after the bee, I unpacked and decided I was going to finish the quilting on the remaining 2, and that went quickly.  I’m not sure you can see the quilting but I did a spiral from the center out over the leaves, then straight line walking foot in the borders.

I made the binding for all of them, and started putting it on.  Each placemat has different binding, to coordinate with one of the border fabrics.  I used my favorite method, Susie’s Magic Binding.

I ran into a snag.  I would get to the “corner” of my binding and my stitches were not “locking”.  I had a 1/2” or inch of space where the top thread and bobbin thread did not lock. I fussed, and fussed and fussed.  Thread changed, bobbin changed, needle changed, machine cleaned, bobbin race cleaned and still no stitches.  I must have tried 15 times and no luck. (Seam ripper engaged numerous times to take out the excess). I reverse sides, I changed tactics and started in the middle stitching to the corner etc. AGGRAVATED & getting cranky when things don’t go right!  (Does that happen to you??)   I knew it had to do with the thickness in the corner, but could not figure out a solution.  I gave up on Wednesday night and quit.

Chatting with my hubby on Thursday he suggested a different TYPE of needle.  I put in a heavy duty needle and sailed right through the corners!  (I love his fresh perspective and that he understands sewing!) This is what happens to me when you are TRYING so hard to finish something!  (FUN FACTOR GONE….you know!)

So, Thursday afternoon, I bound all of the placemats and declared DONE (for now).  We even used 2 of them at dinner last night!!

4 finished Autumn Jubilee 2016 placemats

Each one has different borders and backing.  Here is a peak at the back side.

Autumn Jubilee 2016 placements

I love fall fabric, and my favorite is the top left, as it has a shimmering gold through out.  Note, all of these fabrics for the backs, and the leaves on the front, the borders etc were “scraps”.  Amazing amount of variety.  No “new” fabric was used in the creation of this very scrappy project, and no “new batting” was used either!

The original pattern was by Carole – From My Carolina Home on her blog in 2016.  I’m not sure if it is still available, but she has a new pattern out for Autumn Jubilee 2017, so go check her out – https://frommycarolinahome.wordpress.com/

Do you have any projects languishing?

Grandma’s Kitchen Blocks 15 and 16

Catching up in my sewing room after nearly 2 weeks away.  I was behind on the Pat Sloan project called Grandma’s kitchen. I am using 1930’s reproduction fabrics.  They come from a variety of manufacturers and I want to hit as many different patterns & colors as I can.  (Note – my collection grew to a wild number…..)

I got “caught up” just in time for the next step.   Here is block 15.  I am trying to bring in some more yellow and black into the blocks.

Finished block 15 of 25

and here is block 16 — I wanted to carry through some more pink and green in this block.

Block 16 of 25

Today Pat released the layout for Grandma’s kitchen and the first 16 blocks can be assembled into rows.  There are lots of “filler blocks” and sashing bits, so I will have to really look at the layout.  I may “wait” and assemble the rows after the last 9 blocks are made.  I have such a variety of colors that the balance is going to be very important to me for the overall look.

Here are MY sixteen blocks arranged yesterday, before the layout was published. I keep “moving them around and every time I do, I end up with 2 blues side by side (or 4 in this case) or 2 yellows side by side, or 2 blacks side by side etc.

Sixteen blocks completed

I may not “like” my color choices in the position that Pat gives, so there may be some “re-arranging” of those 12 1/2″ and 10 1/2″ blocks.  I have all my 10.5 in a row for no particular reason.  I know that the fabric choices for the future blocks will be guided by the layout Pat has given.  I have 1 other black fabric that I am “saving” – that great clothesline fabric I mentioned a while back.  I may use it in sashing, but will have to do some adapting to use it to it’s best effect, as the print is large. Most of the sashings are 2.5 or 1.5 or 2×2.  It is going to be interesting.

Check out Pat’s post today, and see what you think!  This is probably my “last” post on Grandma’s kitchen until December.  I won’t have time next Wednesday to make a block, as I leave bright and early on Thursday morning.  I am going to be away for a month, coming home late on the night before Thanksgiving. When I get home we will be in “full swing” with the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club Open House, and I will have a lot of catching up to do at home between weekends.  I still have my “Bonnie Hunter Talkin’ Turkey” hanging on the design wall.  (Pattern in Bonnie’s book STRING FLING(note – this is becoming a vintage project, as I started it in September 2016 when Bonnie was in Dover DE teaching a class….we won’t talk about the OTHER Bonnie project I still have in a tote…..)

1 row to go

It is 99% assembled, the borders are made and hanging there for MONTHS, just waiting to be sewn on!  That will have to happen when I get back BEFORE I can lay out Grandma’s Kitchen!

What’s on your design wall today?

Off to Material Girls Quilt Bee today….I am ‘late’, but going.  I’ll be working on my Autumn Jubilee (2016) placemats.  Carole   From My Carolina Home    had a great pumpkin and leaf pattern last year and I have made placemat tops.  Two are assembled and quilted, two are waiting for quilting, but today, I am going to build some more ‘leaves’ for 4 more placemats. 

How do you measure success?

At the end of the day, as we left the Apple Scrapple Festival with an SUV loaded with boxes, my hubby asked if I thought the day was successful.  It is difficult to measure when you aren’t really there to “sell” a product.

Apple Scrapple is just a month ahead of the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club annual open house, and it is such a great opportunity to promote our coming event. It is FREE advertising for the club.  (One of our members RUNS the entire craft show and allocates the club a 9×13 booth space for no charge).

So, I figured the measuring stick was the open house brochures we passed out.   We took a case of 1000 brochures for our upcoming open house. (There were maybe 50 out of the top of the box when we started).   We brought back about 1/3 of the box.   Hubby printed out 210 “labels” with info on an EXTRA RUN (more about that in a minute), and every brochure with that EXTRA Run label was handed out.  I can say for certain, that we spoke to OVER 210 people.  My “guess” is we handed out something like 700 brochures, so I think it was a successful day.

All set up and ready for visitors

People would see and hear the trains running and walk over to the table to watch.  Usually they were in groups of 3 or  4.  The men were attracted because they had been “schlepping around the craft show” carrying bags for the wife.

(I am a people watcher, and most of the men would stand at the edge of the booth while the wife, mother, daughter etc looked at the various craft wares.  They were bored.)  (It’s a good spouse who will wander the craft show, but then…I’m sure those wives have done their bit at car shows, fishing shows, etc) (Please don’t be offended gentlemen if you happen to LIKE craft fairs…this is strictly my observation and conclusion with no facts to support my particular point of view.)

When the men got to the train layout the eyes would light up, and they got to chat with the club members, and we were not “hustling them” to buy anything.  Then the women would wander up, and look at the “display” more so than the trains.  It gave us an opportunity to talk about both areas of interest.

We would hand an Open House brochure to someone in the group, inviting them to come see the “big layouts” at the club.

2017 2018 open house flyer

Overall, for a week & 1/2 worth of work getting this display ready to go, I was really pleased with the reactions it brought during the day from the public. By the time you put the buildings on, the trees, the vehicles on the streets and parking lots, and get some trains moving, it starts to look like a nice little town.

Double track

This little 4×8 train layout was built on a Styrofoam base with a plywood bottom and sides. That is what we started with the first week of October.  In my previous posts, I talk about the scenery, track, etc. After we had it all set up, we added plexiglass around the edges to keep the fingers away from the trains.

20171014_083200

We took our 2 big open house raffle prizes to showcase.  We have a Polar Express and a Harry Potter set to raffle, and I was surprised that we sold a few tickets.  Not a lot, because that wasn’t the point, but some.  My point with the raffle tickets is to “show off” those great prizes, and not hustle sales.

20171014_083409

We had the special Maryland Delaware box cars, and sold a couple of them. (These are available on the club website if you are interested in one, and not in the area).

I took along my train “pillowcases” and sold 3 of them. That was all “bonus” in my opinion.  If we had a separate booth with more space for display, I imagine we could have sold more, and could have brought other items from the club to sell. Oh good thing we left those wooden train whistles at the club!

The member of our club running the craft show was pleased with our set up.  It “slowed” people down near the back of the cafeteria, and as they wandered away; they stopped at the food booth run by his church and family. A win/win for all of us I think.  His son is also a club member, and he did the big job of transporting the 4×8 layout and the saw horse it sits on.

I think we met our purpose, achieved our goal, and will encourage the members to do this again next year. We’ve had a few years without the train layout at the festival, and people “LOOK” for it. Of course, I wore the hubby out pushing to get this ready and to “do” this festival.   I took the lead and did all the planning and coordinating, list making, 75% of the loading and unloading; and a smaller % of the tear down and reloading. We had 10 folks show up during the festival to help with the “passing brochures”, talking to the public etc.

Now, it is time to unload what we are storing at home, and sort what needs to go back to the train club this week.  We have to get ready for NEXT Saturday, our EXTRA RUN, when St Stephens UMC has their Fall Festival.  The church asked the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club to open for the festival. This is a first for the club. The club is very grateful to be located on the 2nd floor of the church fellowship hall for the last 32 years!  So, if you missed seeing our little 4×8 display, take a run to Delmar DE and enjoy the St Stephen UMC Fall Festival, and come upstairs and check out the over 8000 square feet of layouts!  I’ll be there, at the front door, greeting visitors, selling raffle tickets and inviting them back for the annual open house season.