An actual finished quilt

My friends all know that I make quilt “tops”….and have quite a few hanging around waiting to be quilted. (I refuse to count them). I confess…..I just love the aspect of quilting that is the “making” of the blocks and the assembly of the blocks. Then….something distracts me and the top ends up on a hanger and I am on to the next half dozen projects. This month, however, I did a small quilt, start to finish! I did have a purpose, so in an effort to ensure it didn’t miss a deadline, I plowed straight through.

While I was doing some “sorting” earlier in the summer, I realized I have about 4 different collections of “train” fabric. My grandkids have “aged out” of the kid prints, so I offered to make a quilt for my husband’s club. My husband belongs to the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club, and they have their annual OPEN HOUSE season coming up. They have raffles rather than charge admission as a fund raiser and I offered the idea of a “train themed” quilt as one of the raffle prizes. When someone buys a string of raffle tickets, they drop them in the various boxes for different prizes, so they have a chance to win something they have chosen. The chairman of the Open House thought that would be something different and might draw the interest of those that don’t necessarily want to win a train set or tickets to a tourist railroad.

I chose the Pat Sloan pattern called OH MY STARS . This is a free pattern on Pat’s website –

My friend Nancy has made this pattern in varying sizes and said it goes together very quickly, and that helped with my decision. I deviated a bit from the pattern by adding an extra row to gain some width, and by making a simple mistake when I was laying out the stars. I miscounted and placed the bottom star one row UP. If you are familiar with the pattern, you will see my error, but I am hoping that it looks like a design “choice” and the average person would not know.

The bottom edge of the quilt is to the right in this photo.

planning the layout

I realized after I got all the rows sewn together that I was missing a row, and it was “too late” to move the star down one row. (The star points on 3 stars are supposed to extend into the border). Well…l fixed the missing row issue by adding the 10th row ….and then I decided to add a 9th row on the side (which is at the top of this photo). BIGGER is better, right? It is still rectangular, just a bit wider.

Quilt top finished
Quilt top assembled

I’ve seen a lot of quilts made with this pattern, and have come to understand that the fabric choice for the stars is critical. If you pick the wrong fabric, the stars might not pop. I almost did that and when I second guessed my choice, I went back to the fabric bins and pulled out that yellow dot fabric. It isn’t from the same line, but it did have all the “right” colors and I am happy with the choice.

Funny thing about this fabric….I purchased an entire bolt of that railroad track fabric in 2015 or 2016 at Burkholders in Denver PA while on a guild bus trip. Later in the year I found the coordinating prints and bought 1 yard bundles of the set. I’ve used quite a bit of the track fabric on various projects, but was glad I had so much. It’s nice to clear a bit of it out of my stash too! Of course, I will still have some left in the form of 5″ squares, because I “over cut”, and that bolt is not gone yet! One of the pieces in the collection just begged me not to “cut it”, so I used it on the back.

adorable print
Adorable fabric

Of course, it was only 1 yard, width of fabric, and not enough so I added those extra blocks around the perimeter and more of that black railroad track fabric.

Quilt back made

I quilted the quilt on my Janome 11000, use the serpentine quilting stitch.

wavy stitch

I “stretched” the stitch out to it’s maximum width and also increased the stitch length. I take photo when I alter the automatic stitch settings so I remember what I used. When my machine is restarted it remembers, but if I switch stitches, and then come back the machine will default to the standard setting. The post it note is the ‘date of needle change’, to remind me of when I put a new needle in. (Gotta leave myself reminders for everything it seems!)

Got the quilt trimmed and bound and it just needs a label, which I will make on my embroidery machine.

Front of train quilt
Yay for a finish!

I bound the quilt with the same railroad track fabric, and used the turquoise dot for the flange. My favorite method to bind is called Susie’s Magic Binding, which is all done by machine and results in that little extra pop of color along the edge. That link will take you to a tutorial.

The last job to do is to hand stitch the label on the back of the quilt. I had the club logo digitized by Apex Embroidery and merged my dates and name into the design on my Janome 11000.

Label for train club quilt
Ready to hand stitch on the back of the quilt

When I make a label, I use a method I learned from Pat Sloan for making circles for applique. I use a piece of light weight fusible interfacing (Pellon 911FF), and I lay the glue side (bumpy side) against the pretty side of the embroidery, then stitch all around. Once I have trimmed it to1/4″ of the stitching, I slit the Pellon carefully and turn it out, so the embroidery is facing up, the Pellon with the glue side is on the back. I run a rounded tool around the edges, and roll the edges in my fingers so that I get a nice smooth seam, and all the fusible Pellon is to the back of the label. Then I carefully press it to the back of the quilt. I use a pressing cloth and leave the iron sit in place for quite a bit of time, making sure the heat gets through the various layers of the label (yellow fabric, batting, stabilizer) and the fusible Pellon adhears to the quilt . Then I let it cool for a bit and hand stitch all around. IF I have the label finished before the binding goes on, I try to encase 2 edges in the binding. Pros and cons to that though are something to thing about. PROS – only 2 edges to hand stitch. CONS – Additional layers for your machine going thru all the binding, quilt and label. I always put a heavy duty needle in when doing binding, so it works. This time though I didn’t have the embroidery ready, so I’ll be stitching all around!

I figure I can count out 5 yards of fabric from the stash for this project. I’ve been keeping track with my fabric out of the stash for a challenge from Carole – on her blog FROM MY CAROLINA HOME. Hey, by the way, it’s almost time for AUTUMN JUBILEE on Carole’s blog. She does this every October and I have a link on my sidebar. The projects are in a wide range, everything from card making, table decor, working with wool applique to quilting. Be sure to click on the link on my sidebar and go check out Carole’s blog.

What’s happening in your sewing room? Has the Autumn weather arrived in your area yet? We are having a real cool down with a high of just 66 today and a low tonight of 46! WOW!! From air conditioning to heating in just a matter of days. Going to hold out and bundle up for a little bit. I pre-paid for some home heating oil this week, and it was $4.99/gallon. SOCKS & SWEATERS are going to be the rule of thumb this winter as I roll the temperature on the furnace way down!

Where ever you are, hopefully you are safe & sound and out of harms way from storms, as hurricanes roar towards Nova Scotia and the Maritimes, and are starting to build up in the Gulf.

Crumb quilt #1

Last month I shared some of my scrap quilting efforts. Primarily, I play with scraps because I can’t bear to waste anything. In the last year or two Pat Sloan was talking about scraps and “crumb quilt blocks”. She was SO organized and orderly, making blocks from the leftover bits and pieces of the current project; storing in her baskets and roll around cart. Oh if only I had that tidy mindset! Working with scraps seems to generate MORE scraps. If you missed out on that whole conversation it might be fun to look back at her blog – . Pat does a daily you-tube video along with writing a blog post daily….again I say…if only I had that mindset.

Anyway, I dug into one of my scrap baskets and started sewing crumb blocks with no apparent rhyme or reason. Just grab the next piece out of the bin, and sew. Most of what I grabbed out of the bin were leftover blocks, the reject blocks that didn’t measure up, odd bits and pieces cut away from the borders and sashing of quilts and stuff that came into the donation boxes that I couldn’t figure out how to clean up and sell back at the guild meetings. Anything that was just “too big” to put in the dog bed filling bin went into these blocks. You will see some bow tie blocks and spool blocks that went back and forth to multiple guild meetings before I gave up and determined nobody would buy them. I’m sure some of what I had collected were test blocks from projects and other peoples “oops” blocks. Some of these crumb blocks have a color family, others are not. Random piecing…stitch, press, square, stitch, press etc. Working with scraps seems to generate MORE scraps. I just sewed hunks and chunks together to make these blocks. When I got to around 9″ I stopped and squared the block to 8.5″.

Last blog post I think I showed you this –

crumb block sashing

I managed to sash all 100+ blocks that were in my crumb blocks container. Too many for my design wall all at once.

While I was going through all the blocks trying to find the right balance, I noticed I had a series of blocks with a pink triangle and a lot of white space. I decided to do a little “machine embroidery” embellishment on those blank spaces. Here are a few –

a favorite machine embroidery Crumb block
Crumb block Opportunity to embroider

Those two blocks will probably appear in Crumb Quilt # 2 or #3.

Meanwhile….. Since I had over 100 of these blocks, I did a bit of sorting and pulled out all the ones with the red sashing and all the ones with the darker green and blue sashing. They went back into the box. I had to put my thinking cap on for how to put these very different blocks together and I went “SHOPPING” for just the right fabric. I bought enough fabric (6 yards) to sash at least 2 Crumb quilts. I bought 3 yards of two different fabrics. One for the darker blocks and one for the brighter blocks.

Once I sorted out which blocks I wanted, I had to decide on how wide to make the sashing with the blocks I had chosen. I wanted the blocks to float a little, so I went with a wider sashing. It also meant that I needed to remove a bunch of blocks or I would have a massive quilt. I put about 10 more blocks back in the box. Here is the result – a great size for a picnic or a twin bed!

Crumb quilt  # 1

This nice tone on tone green did the job. I think it helps unify the quilt with so many funny blocks. I used 24 of the 100+ crumb blocks for this project.

Can you spot all the blocks with machine embroidery? Here are a couple of close ups —

Flowers for the fun of it  Crumb Quilt #1
Line art machine embroidery Crumb quilt #1
Embroidery embellishment crumb quilt #1

Notes about this quilt – the crumb blocks were 8.5″ before I added a round of sashing (various colors). All that sashing came from my 2, 2 1/2 and 3″ strip bin. I needed width of fabric to go around the blocks. Once they were sashed, I trimmed all the blocks down to 11″. (Weird number but it was working). Green sashing and cornerstone blocks are all 3 1/2″. The corner stone blocks all came from my “Bonnie Hunter Scrap Storage” bins. Bonnie refers to her system as “Scrap User’s System” . I have to rethink how I refer to my bins…..Stop Storing and Start USING!

What do you do with your scraps?? Time to start using, not storing I think! I have to say, I’ve never met a scrap I didn’t like!

Organizing and Playing with SCRAPS

I’ve been doing a bit of tidying up in my quilt room as I divest myself of the 2nd Time Around committee at Quilt Guild. One thing has finally happened, and that is my husband raised my cutting table. He cut 6 new legs and raised it up to “breakfast bar height“. The legs are now 38.5” high. It seems “just right” for me. This old table was my husbands “train table” when he was little boy, and has seen YEARS of service. He tightened things up with extra screws and eliminated some of the wobble. Now my tallest drawer unit fits underneath, and I have room to store my empty “machine” boxes in the middle under & behind the storage units.

Nice tall legs for my table

Part of my tidying is sorting containers/drawer units and getting things labeled. A friend of mine who lived in assisted living left all of her sewing supplies to me and some of the units under the table were hers. I integrated my stuff into her stuff and now I feel more organized. In the process, I swapped out baskets for project boxes and took a good inventory of all the “scrap projects” I had in works.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I never met a scrap I didn’t like. Quilting generates scraps. That’s a fact. I started to follow Bonnie Hunter on her QUILTVILLE blog years ago and learned all about her “Scrap User’s System” . Not a storage system….but a USER’s system. And wow, have I made a lot of scrap quilts in between generating scraps while quilting with yardage. One thing I love about Bonnie’s system is she has a chart to use when you have an overflow in a certain container. Too many 2″ strips…look at the chart and see what patterns you can make with those strips. The other thing is, she has lots of free patterns on her website that are scrap friendly and has written many books with scraps as the focus.

I have LOTS of ongoing scrap projects and I thought I would update today what I have been working on lately.

Hearts of Hope is one project I am working on.

Hearts of hope sewalong
Hearts of Hope

At last count I have about 25 made. You need nearly 50 for the quilt in the pattern that Bonnie Hunter offered this past spring.

Another project I have been playing with is a pattern by Pat Sloan. On Pat’s blog, I Love To Make Quilts, she has lots of fun patterns. A few years ago I downloaded one called Traffic Jam when she was having a sew along. The four patches in the center came from my “scrap user system” as well as the corner blocks. I was not as “coordinated” as most of the people doing the project during the sew along week, and only did a couple of blocks. But, for a scrappy quilter, it is a great project to do when you don’t have something else going on. During a family vacation last year, I took this project along with me and my granddaughters helped sew 4 patches and pick out those corner blocks. This summer I decided I had enough blocks to assemble and used a consistent blue fabric for the sashing all the way through. That sashing was the “scraps” from a quilt backing after it was trimmed. The picture below shows the top before I added one more row! It’s now square (5×5 setting); about 70″ square.

Traffic Jam
Traffic Jam

Another scrap project I have fiddled with in the last year is crumb blocks. Pat Sloan was talking about them during her daily videos this winter and I started to play with making some. I had a basket on my table full of bits and pieces that were “waiting” for something to happen. Left over bits that I hadn’t cut up for the Scrap User System, orphan blocks left over from my quilts, the odd orphan block that came thru the donations to the guild that I couldn’t bear to toss into the dog bed scraps etc. Well…102 crumb blocks later, the 12×12 project box was full and I decided to do something. So, I got out my 3 containers of strips, and started with 2″ strips. I needed ‘width of fabric” to surround the blocks, and I started cutting sets. When I went through all my 2″ strips, I dug into the 2.5 and the 3.5 strips, trimming them down to the size I wanted. I have all but about 20 blocks with sashing pinned to the block, and about 41 sewn so far. This is what is currently on my design wall.

crumb block sashing
Crumb Blocks

I think these blocks will make several fun quilts and I won’t assemble any blocks until I have the sashing on ALL of them. Then I will sort them into more “harmonious” groups. I mentioned to a friend that i might take those blocks with the big blank white spaces and do some machine embroidery on them. Fun words about scraps is what I had in my head, like “never met a scrap I didn’t like” or something of the sort. Feel free to offer suggestions! The other thing I think I will do is to put some sashing BETWEEN the blocks that will tie them together, like the Traffic Jam quilt.

I still have a dozen bins and boxes of my own to sort through and organize, sitting around the room and under tables and such. Getting the 2nd Time Around stuff out of my space eliminates an excuse to not clear up my own junk. It’s getting better day by day, and taking time out to do a little sewing with these various scrap projects help to balance things out.

What’s happening in your sewing room on this hot summer day? Got any fun “quotes” about scraps?

Linking up today with OH SCRAP

Tiny projects

June was a time for a couple of TINY Projects. Sweet Pea designs had a fun “stained glass” project for the June Keep it Simple sew along. They call it a Stained Glass Key Hanger. The link will take you to the pattern, which is till available on the website. (Do go subscribe to the group on Facebook, that way you get the discount code for the monthly projects.)

Of course, the more I saw completed on the Facebook group, the more I wanted to make it. My friend June was having a birthday, and I thought it would make a fun gift for her. I decided to NOT make it a key hanger, rather just a small wall hanging, for her door, or wall next to her entry at the assisted living. She likes to change out the decor by the season. I started the project when I went to our Embroidery Club meeting in early June. Since it is done in 2 halves, it was a perfect project. Stitch time according to the machine and actual time of course are quite different. Depending on the chosen size of course the times are increased. I estimate that each half of the panel takes about 2 1/2 hours because of all the trimming of the pieces. So, 5 hours total at the embroidery machine, but I did it over the course of a couple of days.

I did the 5×7 stitch out on my Janome 11000, as the pattern did not offer an 8×8 choice. I dug in the scrap drawers and pulled fabric that I thought would be fun for June.

Wall hanging for June
Tiny wall hanging for June

The finished size (before the hanging sleeve) is about 6 1/2 wide and 9 3/4 high. I did an “envelope style” back rather that the one indicated in the pattern.

Back of Junes wall hanging.
Backside of June’s wall hanging

I had fun with this “in the hoop” pattern, and decided I needed to make one for myself too.

My wall hanging
My second wall hanging

I did the back the same way.

back of my wall hanging

I did that because turning out with small pieces like this is tough. I used a medium weight cutaway stabilizer. There is batting in there as well, and it gets rather “stiff”. The directions called for you to use two pieces and leave an opening for turning, and then slip stich it closed. Lazy or easier….not sure, but it worked so well for the first one, I decided to do it on the second as well.

When I gifted the first one to June, I gave her my wall hanger with the wooden dowel. It is a 12″ hanger. I ordered a couple of new ones, and ended up with “all wrought iron” hanger. Somehow, June’s looked ok on the wooden dowel but the all wrought iron hanger with mine looks silly. So, back to shopping on Amazon and Ebay. I ordered an 8″ and a 6″ hanger form each of those places for these little projects. When they come, I will swap out June’s to a smaller hanger.

I did a little “video” tour of the quilts I have in my living room. I am enjoying putting some on the wall and over the back of chairs. Have a look! (Yes, that first wall is the archway between dining room & living room, with the grandkids heights marked in pencil right on the way! 😉 )

I am really enjoying these small projects done in the hoop. Yes, there is some sewing as well, but what I like is that I can have a finished project rather quickly. What I love about these in the hoop applique projects is I can really dig in the scrap drawers and not cut into any yardage. Everything in both projects, including the batting and backing came from scraps. I still have 6-8 LARGE quilts in the sewing room that are “all but done”….waiting on borders and quilting. Someday………..

What’s under your needle?

Spring Travel

Gosh, there has been a lot of time “in between” blog posts. It’s been since early May when I last posted on this blog. My blog friend Carole Carter wrote about “Quilting and Blogging” this past week and I am always amazed that she can keep up with posting 3 times a week with her busy life. She inspired me to get on with it! I’ve been writing blog posts since 2013, and have 474 wonderful people who follow my blog. Heaven knows why they stick around, especially this year, with only 10 blog posts (including this one!). In my busiest blogging year (2016) I wrote 82 posts. So, let me “get on with it” as they say~!!~

May was an interesting Month. The weekend after Mother’s day, the Hubby and I flew to Florida and went on a 7 day cruise onboard the Caribbean Princess. I booked the cruise because it went to San Juan Puerto Rico and I could get an AFT WAKE VIEW balcony cabin. This was my 22nd cruise with Princess, and my favorite cabin of all times.

Lately when I have cruised, I have starting posting “cabin tours” on You Tube, and I did that for this cabin as well. Hubby and I spent a lot of time just sitting and enjoying the views. Be sure to “like & subscribe” if you enjoyed the video and help my You Tube channel grow a bit.

We did lots of eating ……

dinner at the Crowne Grill
Steak and Lobster at the Crowne Grill the first night

and a bit of drinking

First drinks on board
Chocolate martini and rum & coke – First drinks on the cruise

and spent time on the beach

Shade at Princess Cays
Princess Cay in the Bahamas

and wandering around the ports,

San Juan Puerto Rico
San Juan Puerto Rico

and of course, a little time at the pool too.

hanging at the pool

My hubby is ambivalent about cruising, but knows how much I enjoy it, so he does his best to keep up with me, and plays along, pretending to have fun. He’s not a fan of heat and humidity, so he had to do a lot of “playing along” on this trip. It was mid-May and HOT HOT HOT and humid. But that pool, and the wake view helped a lot. I was pleasantly surprised he would hang out all day, in a lounger by the pool, but then again, we were in the shade, and there was a great breeze. Besides…you could order food and drinks and they delivered right to your lounge chairs.

When you are in the cabin, you could order on the app on the television as well. There are lots of choices for included food, and no extra charge for delivery. You can see the “status’ of the order on the screen as well, while you wait on delivery. In all it is very efficient.

Ordering food in the room
Ahh…room service

With our great balcony, it was easy to avoid feeling crowded when the pool decks were busy.

Enjoying the balcony and the view
Enjoying the aft balcony C753 Caribbean Princess

Man do I love to cruise. This was the very “pretty” side of cruising.

In all fairness, I have to talk about the “not so fun” part of travel right now. We were flying out of BWI (Baltimore International) on a direct flight, non stop to Fort Lauderdale. Our 2 hour 39 minute flight was to arrive at 1105 pm. We got to our hotel about 1:30 am. Our flight was an 1 1/2 hours late leaving, and watched out the window as the sole baggage handler loaded all the bags for the flight, in the rain. Our flight was full, and I was stunned that there was just one ground handler for the baggage. As you watch the news in June, this problem became more and more evident for travelers. I felt sorry for the guy, and a bit frustrated as well.

I was ever so grateful that MOST of my packing cubes were vinyl. Those ones with the mesh bags were tucked in between others, and not a lot was damp. I did “unpack” the cubes from the suitcases at the hotel, and leave our suitcases open and standing upright in hopes of drying them out. In the morning, the cubes went back in, and when we boarded the ship, the luggage came fairly quickly. We unpacked, and again, stood our suitcases upright and unzipped to air and thoroughly dry. We were glad of our early boarding time and quick luggage handling at the cruise port.

Another side of the “not so fun” part of travel is apparent in food service facilities in the airports. We had a lot of time on our hands leaving Ft Lauderdale, and had an early dinner in a restaurant in the airport. We were eating about 4 pm, and I felt so sorry for our waitress who was clearly over stressed. When she dropped things in a big way, twice, I seriously thought she was going to just walk off the job. She hung in there, with no help with the cleanup. After our meal and departure, I went back to the restaurant to speak to the manager. I wanted the manager to know that in spite of being over worked, the waitress was amazing, and kept a smile on her face. I was distressed that the other employees didn’t help her the second time she dropped something, and the food & plates sat on the floor for about 15 minutes. (The people for the order got mad and stormed out). The waitress, expecting help for the cleanup never got any help, and she was running drinks and meals to others. When she finally got a moment she cleaned up the floor, on her hands and knees. It dismayed me to see that she had no back up or help when she was clearly over worked. Of course, the manager was thinking I wanted my meal discounted or something, and I explained, that no, I didn’t. What I wanted of the manager was to take a hard look at her crew and maybe come out of the back and be aware of what was happening. It was clear that she was totally unaware. This is just one small example of good people, working hard, yet overlooked by supervisors and managers. We never saw the manager during the hour that we were in the restaurant.

Lastly, the worst part of travel is being packed in like sardines on flights. Both of our flights were full, but I guess we are lucky to have had seats, and no cancellations. We were unlucky in that a couple of days after the flight home my hubby tested positive for C-19, and then towards the end of the week, I did too. We are fairly confident that we did not get C-19 on the ship, as we avoided the elevators, and big crowds, eating dinner as a couple, not at a large table, and not going to venues that were crowded. Thanks to our vaccinations, and our doctor being willing to prescribe PAXLOVID, neither of us were much more than annoyed with cold symptoms. Of course, being stuck at home meant the suitcases got unpacked and the laundry got done quickly following the trip, and before long we were out and about busy again.

Summer is fully on here in Delaware. Sunday’s mean the grandkids and their parents are here for swimming and dinner. This is my favorite time of year. Not a lot happening in the sewing room, but next post I will have a couple of small projects to share.

What are your summer travel plans? If you are flying, I wish you luck. Things are a real mess at the moment.

Wildflower Windows

In April, the Sweet Pea Embroidery design company had their “KISS” – Keep it Simple Sew along challenge. The offered pattern is discounted during the sew along to participants. There is a deadline to submit your finished project photo on the Facebook group. The pattern was called Wildflower Window Cushion and was available for hoops from 4×4 to 8×8. I chose to stitch out the 8×8 blocks. I used my Janome 11000 to do all the stitching.

The block pictured below has so much texture in the embroidery and lots of thread changes too. The white background, and the batik green around it are supposed to be the window pane and frame.

working on all the steps

Once it comes out of the hoop, you trim the stabilizer back to the outer stitching line. After that is done, you trim the frame to 1/2 inch from the stitching. This gives you good seam allowance without so much bulk. During the stitchout, the batting is trimmed back as well.

There are 40,243 stitches in this block and my machine shows that the time it should take, at 600 stitches per minute was 114 minutes. That doesn’t account for the time for thread changes, trimming etc. I figure it took me about 3 hours.

FIRST block finished
Ready to trim
trimmed up block
All trimmed up

I decided to go “scrappy with my window frames”, using some batiks from the scrap drawer.

Another block finished
Block 2 with the red poppy

The blocks with the applique like the red poppy didn’t take as long to stitch. I layered a tulle over the fabric for the flower on the left, and it added a shimmer and dimension to the flower.

I was on a pretty good roll by the time I got to the 3rd block. It was another applique block so it went pretty fast.

growing some flowers
Block 1 Wildflower Window Cushion
46,403 stitches – machine time 130 minutes – 17 thread changes

Once everything was all stitched out, I arranged the “windows” for assembly.

4 completed blocks Wildflower Window Cushion

When I assembled them, I decided to add a narrow strip of sashing between all 4 blocks, and around the outside. Once I put the envelope backing for the pillow on, I stitched about 1″ in from the edge to make a bit of a flange. I stuffed the project with an 18″ pillow. I used all scrap batik for the project, including the backing.

Sloppy photo...envelope back

Finished project with some mods

I figure overall, it took me about 12 hours to make this project, using up about 1 1/2 yards of scrap fabric. Fits just right in this rocking chair.

Finished Wildflower pillow

I loved the pattern so much, I stitched out 2 more blocks and made them into placemats for my friend, June, who lives in assisted living. I think they will make a nice Mother’s day gift for her, and replace the fall placemats that are currently on her table.

Placemat for June

All the fabrics came from the scrap bins and June’s box of fabric. I had fun with the variegated thread on the flower edges.

2nd Placemat for June

The fabric for the borders and backing were leftover twill from making a couple of aprons last year. I thik they will make great “reversible” placemats.

Back of Junes placemats
backside of June’s placemat

I think I got my monies worth for the pattern and used up some scraps as well. I’m counting a total of 1 yard of fabric “out” for the Stashbuster 2022 challenge.

Tally up for the #STASHBUSTER 2022 Challenge – 2 1/2 yards out for the month. Nothing new in. Cumulative 16 1/2 yards out, year to date.

Are you having any fun with machine embroidery or the Stashbuster challenge?

Easter week at Lake Gaston

We had a family trip away for Easter week, but were disappointed with the cool damp weather which hampered recreation plans! My daughters booked a “VRBO” (Vacation Rental By Owner) again on Lake Gaston NC. This year we were on the North side of the lake. The house was spacious, 3 levels of living / bedroom space, and plenty of room for 11 people. We had a great location to sit and ponder the water views. The first two days and the last couple of days we could sit out on the dock and enjoy the water views.

I did enjoy wandering around the yard and admiring the plants. The blooming azaleas were at their peak.

NC Azeleas
Enjoying the garden
I loved seeing everything in bloom

Like last year, we brought our bicycles along. This year, just the hubby and I went out for a ride one afternoon, on the Tobacco Heritage Trail. We went to La Crosse VA where we had been once before and rode about 3.25 miles round trip. Neither of us had been on our bikes since last fall, so a short trip was all the old geezers could manage.

La Crosse bike trail
La Crosse VA at the Tobacco Heritage Trail

On the worst of the rainy days, we ventured to South Hill Virginia and visited a model railroad display at

South Hill Chamber of Commerce
Detailed model railroad display in South Hill
Very detailed display showing the history of the town

The chamber and HO train display were in the old train depot in downtown South Hill. It was fairly obvious to us that a lot of time and effort had gone into the display, and was well funded. It’s worth a stop if you are traveling in the area, and you have a rainy day to contend with. Our other stop that day was to Rosemont of Virginia Winery. We were pleased they could accommodate us without a reservation on that very rainy day. If you are planning a visit, I would recommend making that reservation.

Wine bar at Rosemont of Virginia
beautiful wine bar

There were high top tables and comfortable seating in the bar area, and a couple of other rooms that were filled with small groups.

Comfortable seating for the hubby
The Dry Side Flight
The dry side flight

Food for snacking was available, but we had just come from lunch in South Hill. The flight prices are on the website. I found it to be very reasonably priced, and the wine (all 4) were lovely. I brought a bottle back to our VRBO to enjoy as well.

As a side note; our VRBO was well off the beaten path, so lots of side roads were traveled going to and from the lake. We passed this place twice, and I was ready with the camera the second time. I always love interesting “roof decor”. Since we were on a back road, I asked the hubby to “slow down” a minute so I could shoot a photo. No shooting of animals of course!

rooftop decor
Roof top decoration makes me laugh

This year, I chose to not bring my featherweight sewing machine. There really wasn’t anyplace that I could comfortably set up and not be in the way, so I am glad I left it at home. I did bring my English paper piecing, also known as the never ending project. I have things kitted up and ready to travel and I managed to sit & stitch one double diamond. Even with this project, there really was no good place to work. The one room with good lighting, a quiet sitting room at the entry of the house, only had two comfortable chairs, and were often in use by others. So once I finished my little project, I packed my sewing bag away. I will be working on these double diamonds for a few more years if I am going to get a quilt made. I probably have about 30 or so done and need close to 100 for a queen size quilt.

Finished a double diamond
English Paper piecing 1″ hexi’s

When the weather cooperated, we did enjoy the view from the deck and the dock.

Enjoying the view
dockside view
lots of nice loungers on this dock

Springtime along the East Coast has been very cool overall, and wet. I’m looking forward to our next trip which will take us someplace much warmer! More about that later.

How did you spend April?

Hearts of Hope Sewalong

In March I shared with you my small wall hanging that was done following a Pat Sloan pattern and a pattern by Oleksandra Derenovska.

Someone suggested in the comments of that post that I take a look at what Bonnie Hunter was doing on her page, and I found the Hearts of Hope Sewalong. This sew along is taking place between March and April and it is NOT too late to join in. The pattern offered by Bonnie Hunter comes with a recommendation for a donation to a charity supporting Ukraine. Be sure to get the directions weekly if you are interested. The pattern is going to come off the Quiltville blog at the end of the sew along.

Many who follow my blog know that I love all things Bonnie Hunter. I’ve done lots of mystery quilts and made several of her patterns over my quilting years.

I started this project last week, and worked on it off and on while my embroidery machine was running full speed. So far, I have 6 blocks completed and trimmed to 6 1/2″. I have a big collection of phone books in various sizes to use for foundation papers. I have LOTS of blue “strings” to use, and have started pulling yellow and gold out of my bins too.

Hearts of hope sewalong

I’m not sure if I am making 49 blocks, but I am enjoying the string piecing part of the project. I may end up making a table runner or a small throw. Who knows??

What are you working on this week?


Tulips in the Field

My spring project done on my Janome 11000 embroidery machine is finished.

I downloaded the pattern from Sweet Pea Embroidery Designs for this project. I participate in their monthly Facebook group challenge, and they offered a nice discount if you used the coupon code found in the group. As the month of March progressed, I kept seeing all the great projects being posted. I got on board a little late in the challenge to participate for the prize, but did get the discount.

As I have said before, you know when you use a Sweet Pea design with multiple panels/blocks, that it is going to take you some time, but it will come together very well. You may remember my posts about that Knitting bag or the Casserole Carrier from a couple of holiday posts.

I knew before I started where I wanted this project to be hung, and what my size limits were going to be. I selected the 7×7 block and used my 8×8 hoop on my Janome 11000 machine. Hubby and I scrolled through pages of completed projects on the Facebook group, and we both agreed that we liked the projects that didn’t use a white background fabric. We both agreed that a light blue would really make the tulips stand out. Hubby does have a good eye for these things and I like to get his buy-in since we are going to hang this in our home.

There were 8 blocks in the project, and I started by cutting the batting squares for the blocks and making a big stack. Then I dug out my little plastic baskets from Dollar Tree, and started selecting pieces in my scrap drawers. The drawers are arranged by color and I picked a variety of fabrics, for the tulips and the leaves. Once the bits were ironed, into the little baskets they went, ready to be used. Some of my blue back ground fabric came from the scrap drawers and some came from the “yardage” bins. I used 3 different fabrics in my backgrounds. It was fun picking the “right” fabrics for each of the tulips and I did my best to keep the green fabrics straight. The leaves and the stems continue through the blocks.

First two blocks done
Block 1 & 2

Block # 1 & 2 were really the hardest to do. When I am working on a machine embroidery project, I like to “pick my colors” for both thread and fabrics, and keeping them straight for the subsequent blocks was important. The block in the photo above on the left had 3 background fabrics , 3 leaf fabrics and multiple colors for stems. I use a “grid” to keep my threads straight. I label the “name” of the thread and set the spool in the grid box. (My machine might call for “pine green”, and give a number, but I might use something completely different on the first run, so I want to make sure that I always use the same thread when it calls again for “pine green”).

block 3 in progress
Block 3 in progress

Essentially, when you work on this pattern, you start off with a batting square tacked down on your cutaway stabilizer, then you trim to the tack down line. 48 steps later you finish the block. My machine kindly tells me how many “minutes” of actual stitching time. I am set at 600 stitches per minute speed. Almost every block in the pattern had 40+ steps and at least 60 – 70 minutes of stitching time. That doesn’t take into account the time to do any of the trims, color changes etc. On average, each block took 2 1/2 – 3 hours total to create.

Working through a block
3 backgrounds in Block 4

You can see in the photo above, there are 3 background fabrics in this one block, stems that connect with the block above and below, and leaves that connect below as well. All those curvy bits were trimmed after tack down stitches were done. Applique duck bill scissors and those curve tipped snips really help in trimming while the block is still “in the hoop”.

block # 4
Block 4

You can see how the stems look like they go “through the block” in Block 4. The larger tulip has about 5 fabrics in it. (Remember this is a 7×7 block total size). Using scraps for the flower petals was great, and pulling a big variety of colors to start with helped. I starch the scrap pieces pretty well before I cut the size I need for the petal. The starch helps you get a cleaner trim. It was a challenge finding scraps “big enough” to use for the leaves in the first 4 blocks.

It took me 5 days to get this project completed. I worked 3-4 hours each day on it, and found it fun to watch it grow.

First 4 blocks completed
First 4 blocks completed

As I made progress through the blocks, I kept the other blocks laid out on the nearby cutting table and kept in mind the fabric choices made on previous blocks while I selected colors and fabric for the next block. All in all I think I struck a nice harmony. Many of the fabrics make an appearance more than once.

All 8 blocks made
all 8 blocks made

Once the blocks were all stitched and trimmed, the assembly of the blocks took place. The 68 page PDF booklet of instructions had you join them in rows. I did that, but had trouble lining up the vertical stems. I ended up taking them apart and joining them in 2 columns for a better transition.

joining the blocks
Joining the columns

I had better success this way, using pins to locate connection points and easing the pieces in together. There are only a couple of spots where the join isn’t as satisfactory as I would like, but overall I am pleased with the final project. I added a layer of very high loft poly bat between the top and the backing to give it a softer look. (There was cotton batting in each square during the embroidery process). I did “quilt in the ditch” between the rows and down the center, and around the edge to secure the batting and backing. I did deviate from the instructions a bit with the method for backing and binding. I dislike backing that is pulled to the front and used as binding. I am not confident in the method and I chose to make my own binding

Overall, a nice project. I also put a hanging sleeve on the back instead of tabs, and it slid quite nicely on my 12″ hanger. The overall dimensions are 14. 5″ x 28″.

Tulips banner

I decided to stitch out a label for the back on the embroidery machine while I was working on the binding. Of course, I used my favorite method, “Susie’s Magic Binding”. I use that type binding almost exclusively, as I hate to hand sew binding, and I like the piped edge.

Label for the project

I got the label hand stitched on and the hanging sleeve stitched down! Project complete, banner hung!

Tulip wall hanging
Hanging in the archway between the dining room and living room

I love hanging things in the archway between our dining and living room. This was a fun project to make and I love how it turned out. I’m really glad I went with the blue background as well.

Now, for the all important #STASHBUSTER “yardage in / yardage out” count during March. I count this project as 1 yard for background fabrics and backing, 1 yard for the assorted leaves, flowers, binding, for a total of 2 yards. Thanks Carole . Keeping track, one project at a time with using up my stash.

So, I have a fall wall hanging, now a spring wall hanging, and last month I finished my beach project. Must be time to get restarted on that Lori Holt Christmas Quilt project. I have a lot of the blocks made, but have big ideas for a setting and there are a couple more blocks to make to get the size I want. Hey, a project in progress for two years has lots of parts. It’s fun to finish up these smaller projects in under a week, so I feel like I have accomplished something, before I dig in on a long haul project.

What are you working on in your sewing / crafting zone?

We all come from “somewhere”

It seems in America that we all “come from somewhere” else. My family comes from many places, but on my father’s side, they were called “black Germans”. As a kid, I never understood. You see, my father’s family came from an area near the Black Sea. They were “resettled” Germans in the mid 1800’s, who left Germany and went to the frontier at the bequest of the Russian Czar to repopulate an area where the population had been decimated during war time. There is a long history of Germans, living in what was then Russia. There are many articles about the why’s and how’s, but essentially, they were offered land and were able to resettle and build communities ( ).

Growing up, I knew that my father spoke German as a young child until he went to school. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I understood that his heritage came not from Germany, but from somewhere else. My paternal grandparents were both born in the area of Odessa (Russia) Ukraine.

A wonderful history of the family was prepared by one of my paternal aunts, and she wrote the following about my Grandfather, Adam Lingor. “Adam was born 20 miles north of Odessa, Russia in a small German settlement called Josephstal Grosliebenthal. When they lived in Russia, their last name was spelled Lingore and when they came to the United states the E was dropped. The family immigrated to the United States and arrived May 17, 1900 on board the SS Kaiserine Maria Theresa. It took about nine weeks to cross the ocean and one of Adam’s brothers died of diphtheria on the ship. They settled in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Other relatives also came on the same ship but they settled in North Dakota.”

My Grandmother, Josephine, was very young when she came to the United States. My aunt wrote the following – ” Josie was born March 12, 1898 in Kleinlibenthal, Groslietenthal just outside of Odessa, Russia. In 1901 Josie and her family immigrated to the United States and docked at Staten Island, New York. The came to America because they couldn’t practice their catholic religion in Russia and also because the Russians were drafting men into their army. They traveled steerage to America and the trip took about nine weeks and was very uncomfortable because they were so crowded. From New York they took the train and traveled west not knowing where to go and finally stopped at Onaka, South Dakota.

Many Germans in Russia were leaving in the late 19th century, as restrictions on their practice of religion and military conscription, and much more were happening. Settlements in the central United States were opportunities for immigrants, as well as in Canada.

As we move forward a full century, plus a few decades, my thoughts go to my father, a first generation “German from Russia”. Looking back on the stories, I now better understand the challenge a child who only spoke German in the home, until he went to school. My grandparents raised 9 children in a home with an outdoor privy, and it wasn’t until my father was in his 20’s that they had indoor plumbing. My grandfather had a 4th grade education, and my grandmother went as far as 8th grade. Those grandparents made certain their children were raised in the church, they were educated beyond their own limited education and given the opportunities that America offered. My grandfather, an immigrant from Odessa, served the US Army during WWI, and my father, a WWII veteran was in the Army Air Corps. There are stories of my dad, being a tail gunner in a B52, and of being one of the few that could still speak a few words of German. He carried shrapnel in his legs his entire adult life. America gave him the opportunity to be educated, and he spent his life teaching in public schools. His brothers and sisters all worked in jobs of service to others, from Bureau of Indian Affairs to the local Fire Department to working at the local hospital as a nurse.

So today and in the last 3 weeks, I think about my family heritage. My cousin Vicky and her daughter Lisa helped me with filling in some of the blanks with dates.

It may have been Russia from where my grandparents came, but for nearly 30 years it has been Ukraine. I wanted to honor the struggles of the immigrants that left the Black Sea region, and emigrated to America. And I want to honor the Ukrainians who have built a democracy in the last 30 years, and are standing strong to fight for their country.

On March 1, 2022, Quilter Pat Sloan designed a quilt block and asked quilters around the world to help the children of Ukraine. Quilters Stand for Ukraine is a fund raiser, where individuals donate to UNICEF to help the children of Ukraine. The pattern for the quilt block below is available at that link.

Double Saw Tooth Star for Ukraine

Many quilters around the world have contributed, and at last look over $180,000 has been raised thru contributions to UNICEF. On the link above, Pat Sloan tells you about other ways to help as well. She makes reference in her post to Becky Petersen, who is “boots on the ground” in Poland doing AMAZING things.

When I made my block, I decided that I would hang it on my door which has a large window. I decided to make it two sided, and to find a way to honor my grandparents heritage.

I chose a pattern from Sashas Quilts (Oleksandra Derenovska) called Rise of Freedom. Her design is quite simple, and to be honest, I purchased it after I made my version. I want to support the designer, but I did not paper piece the one you see below. In my case I used 2″ squares for the project, (except the half square triangles).

Peace for Ukraine

What I loved about her design was what she wrote ” When I sewed my flag, I thought about my Motherland. Now this flag became a very great symbol of freedom and independence so beloved by me and each citizens of my country. I believe you will have fun sewing this quilt block. Looking at him, you will remember the struggle of my people for their identity and know that if we join together, we can turn the world upside down. I will always remember these days and the solidarity of the whole world towards my country.”

And I added some information about my paternal grandparents and their heritage at the bottom. i contemplated using the Ukrainian word for PEACE which is мир , but thought it worked better for my purpose to put it in English. I used my Janome11000 embroidery machine for the words on this project.

I hung it on my door, on the inside of the glass to protect it from weather.

Peace for Ukraine
Double Saw Tooth Star

There isn’t much, as an individual we can do, sitting here in North America, but the power of groups of people is amazing. Look for ways to help on Pat Sloan’s blog. Look for Becky Petersen’s blog & website QUILTED TWINS . Becky is doing amazing things in Poland, and her twin,  Rachael, who runs the fabric store is helping from this side of the Atlantic. You know you can be confident that they are “real people” when someone like Pat Sloan has suggested them. (I’ve been following Becky in Poland on her blog for at least 6 years!) I love what Becky said at the end of this week’s blog post “On a macro scale, it seems like we can do little, but on a micro scale – in our little part of the world – we can make a difference.

Sending prayers for PEACE / мир .