Building borders and collaborating on quilts

I am building QUILT borders!  No politics here folks…sorry~~!!~~  If you came to read about a border between our country and another, you came to the WRONG place.

I have spent the last couple of afternoons working on border pieces for my Grandma’s Kitchen quilt.

I decided to use a pieced “string” border after I saw a couple on Pat Sloan’s Facebook group Quilt Along with Pat Sloan  several months ago.  I am a confirmed scrappy quilter, and I have LOTS of leftover fabric from this project.  I planned out how much wider I needed the quilt to be and cut my “foundation pieces” (aka phone book pages).  I also did a little “quilt math” to figure out just how “many” of those phone book pages I would need.  The quilt is currently 73 1/2 wide x 92 1/2 long with the 2 borders that are currently on it. You probably remember this photo if you have been following for at least the last 3 months.

Borders on Grandma's Kitchen

I want to add about 18″ overall, so I cut my pages at 9.5 x 6.5.  I will attach them to make the 9.5 the width.  I need about 62 phone book pages, depending on what I do in the corners.  Before my quilt retreat in early February, I cut the pages and a lot of strips.  I had them all set out in big baskets and
I got busy with them the last few days.  My goal is to get a lot of variety as I select pieces to add to the block.  This turns into what I call “mindless sewing”, while I listen to an audio book, chain piece 6 or 8 blocks, press and chain piece some more.  (My hubby can not understand how I can pay attention to the sewing AND the murder mystery.  You will often find him sitting in a chair near my ironing station trying to solve the crime while I am stitching away!) (Current series is by J.A. Jance, featuring a detective working for the Washington State Attorney General on the Special Homicide Investigation Team.…aka the S.H.I.T. Squad) (Don’t take offense…imagine if that was on YOUR business card…..)

Back to sewing…..So far, I have about 50 units done, and I can’t wait to brave the current “nor-Easter – Toby” and get out to my sewing room over the garage this afternoon!

6.5 x 9.5 string border blocks

These border pieces are a bit “wider” than the last one I did –

Scrap Dance Two-Step Mystery Quilt  Along.

You might remember my Scrap Dance Two Step (Pattern by Carole at From My Carolina Home). This was a twin 58.5″ x 82.5″ – The pieced scrappy border was cut at 4″, finish at 3.5 once the quilt binding goes on.  (Still waiting to be quilted!)

Maybe I should send this one to California for my project in April?  I am going to visit One Block Wonder Woman  and play with her new long arm quilting machine!  (She is retrieving me from the ship when I dock in San Pedro and taking me home for a few days to her beautiful home in the central coast of California.  I bet she and my big brother will wine and dine me too…..)

One lesson I have learned about working with scrappy borders is they need to be “stay stitched” on the outer edge.  I will have to check the Scrap Dance Two Step before I put it in the mail to One Block Woman.

Seriously excited about my visit in April.  I enjoy having a family member who loves this hobby as much (or more) than I do, and we try to see each other every few years.  Last visit was when she came out from California to go to the retreat with Cheryl Lynch and we worked on our Pet Mosaic Projects. Go check out her Fannie – Pet Mosaic Project   She had the BEST viewing position in the show I think……

We have also gotten together here in Delaware when she taught me how to do a One Block Wonder (of course) back in 2012.  Mine is below .And then there was the first quilt show/classes I ever went to…at IQF Houston in 2013.  Gosh that was FUN!!  It really opened my eyes to the world of quilting.

Do you collaborate with a family member on your quilt projects???  I enjoy our conversations, cross – country!

Are you in the path of the current Nor-Easter – Toby?  We will either get 1″ of snow or a foot…depending on which way it tracks.  We are waiting to find out if our bus trip to the AQS show in Lancaster PA is on or off for tomorrow.  Fingers crossed BUMMER – Bus trip is cancelled.  The bus company has cancelled all it’s trips for Wednesday.  We better get a foot of snow!!!!!!



Scrap Dance Square Dance Mystery update

I am in month # 3 of the mystery quilt hosted by Carole – From My Carolina Home.  Check out this mystery at From My Carolina Home

So far, I am up to date and complete with my parts for a twin size quilt.  I have my 9 patches done.

9 patches are done

This step was called the Do-si-do, and the directions came out in February. I did most of the blocks in February and finished the last few up in March.

For the March step – “Coming Down the Middle” – we joined our 3 x 7.5″ strips – with our neutral.

3x7.5 rectangles joined

and our 2-1/2 x 6-1/2 rectangles –

Square Dance 2.5 x 6.5 pieces joined

My design wall is now FULL — (that is a sideways queen size flannel sheet on the wall that my pieces are pinned to.)

Scrap Dance Square Dance parts constructed

Did you see Superman and Elvis ???  There are also blocks with animals, cats dogs and llamas,  and lighthouse, and flowers.

Some fun fabric

Elvis is in the house!

It’s like an eye-spy quilt for grown-ups!  Superman fabric is well represented!!  All scraps, except the neutral!  It’s been fun so far!  April will be carried into May in my world, as I will be traveling when the next step comes out!  I will “catch up” in early May when I return from my journeys.  In the meantime, Elvis will keep an eye on things.  😉

Are you Square Dancing along on this mystery too?

A little bit of stitching

I spent 10 days away from home since my last post.  I went to visit my daughter and 3 of the grands, and got to enjoy the fun of a certain youngster’s birthday party.  Have you ever been to one of those “bounce” places?   WOW !!  Six kids from age 5-10, 3 adults to monitor among 300 or more other kids. My only “job” was to keep my eyes on the 5 year old, and I lost sight of her in the first 30 seconds.  When I spotted one of the bigger kids, then I spotted the 5 year old, and fortunately they stayed together for the better part of the hour.  Heart stopping moment, that lasted for only a few seconds.  That didn’t happen again, but golly!!!  (This grandma almost got fired!)

While I travel, I play with my English paper piecing project.  I managed to get a couple of my diamonds together.  I also realized looking at the photo below that I need to get two more pieces attached to the diamond in the second row on the right end.  🙂

EPP on the wall with houses

Every once in a while, I dig the diamonds out of the giant ziplock and give them a press and put them on the wall.  19 are complete.  I have LOTS more to go, so I need to take more trips.

Do you see the houses on the left side of the photo?  I took a class called LIBERATED HOUSES at Ocean Waves Quilt Guild a week ago with Barb Vedder and made these funky little houses.  I used scraps and enjoyed the process.  If your guild is looking for an energetic and fun speaker, I highly recommend her.  Check out her website for more info – Barb’s website

I took 5 or 6 bins of scraps to share with the class and the guild members had a great time !

My liberated houses

Here are a couple of blocks made by others in the class….

OWQG Liberated House block made by a member

3 favorites made by an OWQG member

This was a fun class and a great way to play in the scrap bin!

Speaking of funky houses – I visited the San Antonio Arboretum  Botanical Garden in February, and spotted these 2 in the new Children’s area.

Funky houses at San Antonio Arboretum

Off kilter house

I’ve played with my embroidery machine a little in the last week too, making 2 t-shirts for the youngest granddaughter. She just turned 2 and I had fun watching the wild antics of at least 10 kids under 5 at a birthday party last weekend.

Unicorn applique tshirt

Dino Shirt for 2 year old!

One project for the week was working on our Senior Quilts for church. I chair this project every year, and this year, we only have one graduate.  (What a change from the 10-15 in previous years).  Last Saturday we laid out the pattern, and then marked the rows, stacked it all up and I brought 1/2 of the rows home. Another quilter is working on the “other half”.  I had a Material Girls quilt bee on Wednesday, and took my half for the bee.  I used Bessie – my Featherweight to stitch the blocks.  I have my rows completed, and just need to give them a good press.  When the other quilter gets her half finished we will “join the rows” together!

Bottom half of Senior Quilt 2018

Don’t forget today is the day for the next step in From My Carolina Home’s mystery Quilt.  Go check out the block post and get your directions for Scrap Dance Square Dance !  Coming Down The Middle Step

I’ll be working on my pieces tonight!  I am all caught up with the last step!  Photo’s to come!

A mystery and more

NOTE: edited on 12 March 2018 to fix the photo problem!

I have mentioned previously that I am participating with From My CAROLINA Home doing the Scrap Dance Square Dance. Last Friday the 2nd clue came out (January – clue 1 was all cutting ).

I had a busy few days so I didn’t get to sew until Tuesday. I have taken on the 2nd Time Around again for the guild, and we had a work morning Friday. The afternoon had me off to visit my friend in Assisted Living. I thought I was going to help with her sewing group, but the flu epidemic has made gathering of any sort off limits. Most wise for fragile folks especially. So, we visited in their apartment and avoided any close contact with anyone else in the facility. We were all in good health, so my only concern is catching someone else’s bug. Lots of hand sanitizer going and coming! I’m avoiding touch with people at church too. When they are shaking hands end sharing God’s peace, I raise 2 fingers in the classic V and proclaimed “Peace be with you during cold and flu season! When asked, I explain that because I was unwell in January, I just can’t risk another bug. I have places to go and can’t miss out!

So, anyway Saturday was busy with our senior quilt project at church and babysitting for the nearby granddaughter for a few hours. I got a 2nd visit in on Sunday too. Nothing warms a Grandma’s heart quite like the greetings she gives. Hard to describe, but let’s just say she gets VERY excited when I arrive. My Monday was a meeting for our next quilt show (April 2019), and more 2nd time around! So, THAT is why it took me until Tuesday!

I blocked the entire day, and finally managed to get into the sewing room after 3pm. Let me just say that the day was most frustrating and sewing was a wonderful way to unwind. In fact, I was having such a good time I forgot about dinner! Hubby was working on some details on his trailer jets …that is about model railroad term for tractor trailer on a flat car. Seems he brought home nearly everything on the HO layout to repair!!

Trailer Jet maintenance

Here is a close up so you can better see the “scale” of these cars.  Those binder clips are the small and medium size – and of course, he has an old rotary cutting mat to work on to save the counter top.

Trailers on flat cars

The wonderful furniture he has now for his hobby area was my friend June’s sewing room furniture. You might remember it would not “fit” without modification in my space, so I “let” the hubby have it! This pull out tray was where my friend used to have her sewing machine.

Meanwhile…. I was busy working on the clue.

I managed 38 of the 56 I need.

Travel the rest of the month to visit grandkids will stall any more progress until after March 3.

Happy stitching. Go Check out Carole ‘ s blog,

More in March when I return…written from the airport. … as I travel. ..

Retreat and UFO

Every year, since I have been a member of Ocean Waves Quilt Guild, there has been a retreat in early February.  I’ve attended many of these retreats and always enjoy the time spent with so many creative, talented people. As in the past, we meet at a lovely beach front hotel in Ocean City Maryland, where we are greeted most mornings with spectacular sunrises in our ocean front rooms. 

640 Dawn's early light - Ocean City MD Sunrise

There are 9 more photo’s in this sunrise series you can see hereOcean City Sunrise photo’s

It is inspiring to wake up early at this retreat, so you don’t miss the glorious sunrise.  Breakfast is at 7:30, and we are sewing by 9 am !

I took with me many items to work on at the retreat.  Turns out, only ONE project captured most of my time and energy.  I dug out one of my oldest UFO’s and brought it along, with the intent of quilting.  Just how old is it?   You can read about it back in 2012 here –

and here

and here-

About a year ago, I came across a bit of fabric that was in the same deep red/brown tones and I tucked it into the box for backing of this project.  So, when I pulled it out to take to retreat, I just needed a bit of batting.  This project was about 44″ square.  I am happy to say I finished all the quilting during the retreat. I cut the backing and batting and pin basted in our hotel suite on Tuesday night, so I was ready to start stitching when the classroom opened on Wednesday morning.  I worked two solid days quilting this, and thought it is small, there were TONS of starts and stops, and turning constantly. I decided right away I was going to “pull up” the bobbin thread, and use my lock stitch on my Janome for my start & stops, and not burying all those threads. It’s a wall hanging and a 6 year old UFO !  (I’m not putting it in a show, so hush you quilt police)  (Oh, and by the way, I KNOW there are a few crappy HST and a few geese that lost their points in this project….they jumped out at me while quilting….hey it was before I knew what I was doing…..)

Quilted and bound


I did most of the quilting using my walking foot. The exception is in the wide border of hearts, I used a stitch that is connected hearts, and in the narrow red border I did the same stitch.  On the outer red heart border I did some wavy stitching.  I like to use these built in to the machine stitches if possible.  They make quilting a lot easier.  If you want to see close-ups of the various quilting that I did, look at the photo’s here – UFO Finish  .  (There is also a photo of the back where the techniques I used really show). 

Yesterday,  I trimmed it down to about 40″ square, as I felt the final borders were TOO wide.  I used up a bunch of left over bits of the red to make a scrappy binding, and did the Susie’s Magic Binding technique. (Some call it binding with a flange or piping) If you have never tried this method, check out the tutorial here – Susie’s Magic Binding Tutorial(Watch the video’s too…)

I used the same fabric that is in the area around the flying geese in the flange for the binding. I love that little pop of color along the edge. I added a hanging sleeve while I was doing the binding, and the last thing that needs to be finished is to hand stitch the bottom and ends of the hanging sleeve and make a label!

Since this was the “big deal” for me at the retreat, I will stop here and ask – what is the OLDEST UFO you have sitting around, and WHY didn’t you finish what you started?  

I will tell you why this went “in the box”.  We were doing a new project every week in the class and I was overwhelmed.  I also could not figure out how to “finish”.  Our instructor had scaled the pattern in Pat Sloan’s “I Can’t Believe I’m Quilting” down to just a 1 block project instead of a whole quilt, and I didn’t “know” what to do at the time.  Of course, a few years of experience were needed under my belt before I could say, enough is enough and a wall hanging is just “fine”.  🙂

More about the retreat in the next post!


Quilt Retreat packing

I just realized I never published this post….so here you are…from Ocean City MD.

Our annual retreat begins tomorrow evening and runs through Friday. 27 quilters will converge on a lovely hotel at the beach in Ocean City Maryland and we will be laughing and talking and sewing and eating and drinking and sewing some more.

Our guild gives you the option to work on your “own” projects or work on an instructor led project during the retreat. We have a member who teaches often at a local quilt shop and is gracing the members with her talents, and teaching skills. She is a thorough and patient instructor and I would learn a lot by taking on the project they have selected…..but…………I have too many UFO’s and too many projects not even started yet to contemplate starting another. This is the 3rd year where I will bring my UFO’s to the retreat and work on them. 2 years ago I did the machine quilting on a twin size log cabin quilt, that I later entered in the guild quilt show. Last year, I was busy building blocks for the Bonnie Hunter “Talkin’ Turkey”. (SHHHH….that UFO haunts me, hanging on the wall in the sewing room, with the borders hanging there).

So, what to take? Maybe I will get that big TURKEY off the wall, measure it, and get one round of the borders pinned on & back it up & take it along for a ride! I could get a LOT done in 3 days.

The other thing I have looming is the additional border for Grandma’s Kitchen. I made a decision after laying it out on the guest room queen size bed. I decided I needed 9 ” more for a good drop on the quilt. (We have those fat mattresses!).

You might remember in my last post that I mentioned I had already ordered 3 yards of 108″ wide backing…..well…it arrived today. My dilemma is the current length of the quilt top, and the addition of top and bottom borders. 3 yards is 108″. My quilt top is currently 92 1/2″ long. If I add 9″ borders top & bottom….I will “run out” of fabric by several inches!! (What was I thinking ordering exactly what I thought I needed, before I FINISHED!!!!!!) I didn’t want to piece the backing!!!! I wanted 1 piece….hmmmm……. So, here I am, contemplating life – Do I need to make it longer if I add additional borders on the side? How “funny” will it look if I put 9″ borders on the sides and NARROWER borders top & bottom? Or no top & bottom borders…..Or, just suck it up, and piece the back with a coordinating fabric that will give you LOTS of clearance for quilting!!! LESSON IN LIFE — BUY MORE FABRIC than you think you need, because you will really need it. And EXTRA fabric could become binding, and STASH!

So, you wonder, what will the borders be? That was not a tough decision. I’ve seen photo’s of 2 of the Grandma’s Kitchen Quilts where Piano Key borders were used. One was an inner border, and one was the final outer border. So, I decided on using my “left over fabrics”, cutting strips and making piano key borders. It gives me the scrappy that I crave! And, there should be a reduction in scraps left over from this project. To pack up for the retreat, I will pack my bin of fabrics that are left, and cut some phone book pages, and get them ready for making some string piano keys. I think there will be a variety of widths, which will make it more interesting. I don’t think I am going to cut more than 2 or 3 strips from each of the left over fabrics until I see “how many” blocks I will need to get around the outside of the quilt.

My “just in case” projects (just in case I need more to do) will be some fun panels for childrens books. I have acquired through ‘fabric acquistion road trips” many panels, and a certain little girl will be 2 in March; and there are 2 that I have plans to make, dealing with “dogs” and “cats”. Shhh….surprise…..

Quilt retreat

Good morning from Ocean City Maryland where Ocean Waves Quilt Guild has gathered for 3 days of fun. Our retreat is always a great time of fellowship and fun , laughter food, and some sewing and learning.

I brought 3 UFO’S to work on along with 2 new projects. I’ll try to post photos after I return home and let you know what actually got worked on.