Cold/Snow/Cold/QUILT !

6 " of snow

6 ” of snow

What should we do when the weather turns so bitter cold that going out is just NOT worth the effort? We quilters seem to get real busy at our sewing machines.

Since this past Sunday, our temperatures have just been bitter! So cold in fact that going to church was just out of the question with icy roads. Let me tell you I even skipped an opportunity to sew with friends on Sunday afternoon! And with 6 inches of snow on Monday night into Tuesday the cancellations of activities started. Church council meetings; Quilt bee etc.

So with the crummy weather, why not just go sew. Well I have to trudge through that to get to my sewing room! You see, it is up there, above the garage….

Woman shovels to gain access to the sewing room!

Woman shovels to gain access to the sewing room!

Once my hubby and I got the 6 inches of snow removed (one shovel load at a time) from the driveway, and cleared our way to the road we were too exhausted to go out anywhere. And honestly; why risk it when you really don’t HAVE to? I needed a nap!! But once refreshed, I got busy for a few hours in the garage sewing room.

I played with my embroidery machine a bit and hand stitched a label on the back of my log cabin quilt!

Label embroidery on PE500 Brother machine (4x4 hoop)

Label embroidery on PE500 Brother machine (4×4 hoop)

I played with my Brother Scan N Cut

And I got productive again with my last 13 blocks from the Bonnie Hunter Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt.  I finished getting them put together.  They all needed squaring up and sashing.  I am 3/4 of the way through with the sashing now. 6 are completely sashed and 7 need just the last row of sashing put on.  I decided to go with YELLOW sashing as it is my youngest granddaughters “favorite” color this week.

six blocks sashed

Grand Illusion # 2 (modified)

I think I will use more of the yellow when I add the green checkerboard paths in and make the cornerstones yellow as well.  Glad I bought extra yellow when I was purchasing fabric for the mystery quilt. I thought I was going to bind the mystery quilt with yellow, but I haven’t decided yet what I will do.  Anyway; I am designing as I go and inspiration will strike at some point. Meanwhile this will make  GI#2 a bit different from the one pictured below,  I did in January.  Of course, it is still in need of quilting but lacking a plan. I’m sure inspiration will strike me soon. (GOAL is MAY for a finish on GI # 1)

Grand Illusion by Mary # 1 modified pattern Twin sized

Grand Illusion by Mary # 1 modified pattern Twin sized

Two more days of COLD – Bitter – COLD weather; so more sewing is going to be happening as soon as I don my boots and coat and trudge out to the garage. Stay warm!


Purple Log cabin complete

I finished quilting and binding my twin sized purple log cabin this week.

The quilting you have seen in other posts….I got the crazy idea to use pretty stitches built in my machine for quilting and go “around the logs”.  I worked for 2 days in October and for 2 days in February to get all those logs quilted.

After our retreat in February, all that was left to do is the border  quilting.  I had a plan to use my new Brother ScanNCut machine to help me with those borders. (Thanks daughters and family for the really crafty Christmas gift!).  So; I decided to cut out some flower shapes (design included on the machine data) and cut them on freezer paper. I pressed the freezer paper flowers onto my quilt and intended to outline around the flower shapes and free motion quilt between the flowers.  It looked like this on the work table:

Freezer paper flowers cut on the Brother ScanNCut machine

Freezer paper flowers cut on the Brother ScanNCut machine

I managed to get one stitched before I figured out that all the jostling around of the quilt in the turning etc caused the flowers to pull free…so out came the flat headed pins and I secured them to the quilt for stitching.  I could cut out about 7 or 8 flowers per pass on the machine, so I prepped about 6 sheets of freezer paper and started cutting. That machine is AWESOME!!! This was my first chance to use it, and I see many more uses ahead!  Anyway; around the quilt I went, and when I was done, I just used a pair of tweezers and lifted the paper off.  Yes, in some places I stitched thru the paper.  Because the fabric is so busy; you really don’t “see” the quilting on the border, but it “feels cool”.  You can only really see it on the cornerstones now that the quilt has been washed and dried:

The cornerstone do show a bit of the border and my binding.  I decided to do my favorite binding – Susies Magic Binding – The tutorial for this binding is on the blog 52 quilts in 52 weeks by Aunt Marti.    – note this is the “written tutorial”.  Just recently Marti made a video to go along with that written tutorial. It is rather helpful and you can find it here:

Kudo’s to Marti’s Little Sailor for the great video camera work.  I especially liked the camera angle that was mounted on the machine arm pointed down at the needle.  He is an excellent video editor too.  If you ever thought you might like to “try” this binding, this should give you the “push” to do it .  I was showing a friend the binding method last week, and on my thread rack I have cardboard tubes of “leftover bits”.  I counted at least 8 different bits of this style.  I like it because it gives a special pop to the quilt. (My hubby likes it for that reason). AND I like it because it is all machine, no hand stitching!  (The lazy me showing). It takes very little “extra effort”.  Minimal when you consider that binding by hand is a few hours of time! (Commercial over now; but do check out Marti’s blog!!) Let me know if you have as much fun as me with that binding.

Oh; back to the quilt….you know if you read my blog that the inspiration for this particular quilt came from  having so many left over 2.5″ strips from the “secret” quilt that was made last fall for my big sister.  She has a great grandchild, and I never “got around” to making that baby a quilt.  So; left over strips that match the special quilt we made for her grandma and I was building more log cabin blocks.  You can look back at those posts about it here:

and here :

and here:

The quilt we built for my sister had bigger blocks – using this footprint:

Plan for a log cabin block by Carolyn

Plan for a log cabin block by Carolyn

My sister in law Carolyn ( ) drew up that plan and sent it to me. For the twin I just finished, I left off the 14 1/2 ” strips. So; these finished as 12″ blocks and the borders were 1.5″ and 6.5″.  A good healthy twin size quilt!!

Finished twin size purple log cabin 12" blocks Barn Raising pattern

Finished twin size purple log cabin 12″ blocks Barn Raising pattern

Did I mention I did a SCRAPPY binding??  I was totally using up those left over strips, even if I had to cut them down to 1.5″ for the binding!  The flange is the same purple as the inner border and that I did cut from the fabric. The flange gets cut at 1.75″.  Using the tutorial as a guide, you will see that the binding is stitched to the back first; then rolled to the front and stitched down in the flange.

Here is a view of the back; right before I took it to put in the washer!
Scrappy quilts get a pieced back!

Scrappy quilts get a pieced back!

Now, it just needs a label. And a sleeve…think I will hang on to this quilt until our quilt show in July, then send it for the great great niece’s 2nd birthday. I think it will be special that she has a quilt that matches her great grandma’s quilt. Still need to add a little stuffing to one of those throw pillows I mentioned in an earlier blog to send along with it!

Grand Illusion clue 2 & 3 progress interrupted by Christmas!

My last post about the Bonnie Hunter  – Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt left off with me working on 100 DOUBLE DIAMOND units for Clue 2.

I must report that I finished them!!  100 double diamonds for Clue 2!

100 double diamond units

100 double diamond units

I remade 31 units that I had the size off a bit on, and am much happier with the results.

As I wrote the previous post, I had Clue 3 printed out.    Now,  Clue 4 AND 5  are on Bonnie Hunter’s  blog:   (Look for the Grand Illusion tab along the top of the blog. ) You have to download them soon; as she will take them off the blog for inclusion in a book.  I keep printing the clues as they come out, and saving them in a notebook.  I figure I will catch up eventually.

Working on clue 2, I used method 3; stitch and flip. I was saving the “bonus triangles”; which required an extra row of stitching.  I ended up remaking 31 sets that measured too short. My error and I fixed it.  I sure do have a lot of bonus triangles! 3 baskets so far on the ironing board. Learned a bit along the way!

bonus triangles

bonus triangles

Before I could progress to clue 3; there was the issue of Christmas— packages and a bit of decorating around the house; etc..  We got the tree up on Saturday before Christmas, along with a bit of other garland around the archway and a doorway. That and 2 wreaths was all I had the ambition to do!  There is not a shortage of decorations to use, just a shortage of ambition.  I really must do this in NOVEMBER.   I wanted to keep it simple since it went up so late, and will be easier to put away when we get around to it.

Christmas tree 2014...all toys!

Christmas tree 2014…all toys!

Let me tell you about my Christmas gift from my dear husband!  His gift to me was shelving installed above my sewing desk! Talk about making a girl happy! 

We started by clearing  off all of my supplies from the desk and things that were hanging on the wall.  What do you do with them…well, I piled them on the cutting table & the work table —

everything and more on my cutting table

everything and more on my cutting table


my  work table became gift wrap central and storage while we worked on the shelving

my work table became gift wrap central and storage while we worked on the shelving

He gathered his tools for the job. He needed tools to find studs and drill and align and measure …..

Doing it right...finding the stud!

Doing it right…finding the stud!

Sewing supplies cleared off to make room for hardware and tools

Sewing supplies cleared off to make room for hardware and tools

and the next thing you know; the shelves were up; and I was arranging them!   (I did a bit of purging along the way; filling two wastebaskets!)

I love that he got these shelves and put them up for me! It really was a gift of his time and his talent with tools.  He has great talent when it comes to getting things hung up and anchored properly!

And…he made me a bulletin board for under the shelves!  The board is covered in fabric that matches the skirting on my ironing table. He used spray adhesive to affix it to the cork board; staples to make nice crisp edges and then hung it with screws on the wall over the desk. It is bright and cheery; but I soon filled it with items.  I will probably change what I pinned on it and remove a few things; leaving those photos I love of my Grandmother, my grandkids and my sister.   He even hung up a couple of my treasured Air Force placques!

What a gift!  There is nothing like have a good working space.  I have collected so many supplies and books as this hobby of sewing & quilting has grown.  I’m sure there will be some rearranging, but for now, I like it.

Shelves above the desk!

Shelves above the desk! Room for my notebooks of patterns and reading material; office supplies and fun stuff too.

Ohhh…did you see my wonderful Christmas present from my kids?  That is a Brother SCAN & CUT on the left side of the desk! (Next to the embroidery machine)   I am overwhelmed with that gift.  I was wishing and dreaming and my girls and their families are beyond generous!  Now, you see why hubby did the shelves!  I need more room on the desk top!  (Those shelves are 78″ long…so I have a good amount of space!)

I just love sewing in this room; with my view! I am above the garage and enjoy the bay window! When I am sewing I can see out through the tree tops and watch the world go by!  I love the natural light from those 3 huge windows.

My newest arrangement

My newest arrangement

At night, I need extra light.  Did you see that cool big OTT light with the LONG gooseneck? $50 at BJ’s warehouse and swivels and pivots and angles and has about 7 brightness settings. Love it so much got one for the hubby for Christmas.  (I also got one for someone else who quilts for a Christmas gift….)  I like the little black folding Ott light. It has a built-in battery and is great for taking along or easy to move around the desk to a perfect position. I found it at BJ’s warehouse last summer for $10. And, there is a clip light on one of the shelf brackets that is easily moved over the embroidery machine.   I have 2 goose neck floor lamps by the cutting table for working in the late afternoon & evenings.  Seems the older you get, the more light you need.

Now that the room was put back in order, there was still time to do some sewing!

CLUE 3 - Grand Illusion mystery quilt

CLUE 3 – Grand Illusion mystery quilt

I began clue 3 right before Christmas.  That step required 2″ strips of neutrals; greens and blacks.  I need to make 120 units like this:

clue 3

I FAILED again to follow Bonnie’s instructions  – she clearly said…..

“After you have sewn ONE pair, I want you to do this for me: Take your sewn pair of strips, press it to one side ((We will adjust the direction of the seam later, this is just your test.)) Now MEASURE:Two 2” strips sewn side by side should measure 3.5” EXACTLY”

Anyway; I CHARGED AHEAD and ended up with a stack of strips sewn together that were off by 1/8″ again! So thankfully; before I made them all into the final blocks; I got out my trusty seam ripper and watched a couple of shows on tv while rippin’.

I have since concluded that my seam allowance was too wide!  I guess I have a lot of trouble with that SCANT 1/4″.  My lovely Janome 8900 with the 1/4″ setting and the 1/4″ foot gives me a VERY good 1/4″ seam allowance.  Bonnie said to make 1 SET and MEASURE and CHECK…..ooops…  That was on Page 3 of the instructions……That’s the part I failed….I sewed a dozen strip sets first….duh….

My seam ripper and I are best friends, and now I know if she says SCANT…that I need to use the 1/4″ setting and foot; but move the stitching all the way to the right to the 9mm position.  So; I have 120 units to make; and about 20 are finished.  Not pleased with the first 10; so I am sure that I will make extra and pull out the ones that are not pleasing!! (I see doll quilts  or dog quilts out of “mis-fit blocks” from this project!)

My little baskets are filling up; and I have more to do.   I will give a better report when Clue 3 is completed.

Meanwhile; I need to read the instruction booklet for the Brother Scan & Cut and see what kind of fun I can have with it!  I have saved a couple of quilt patterns that require a lot of applique and this is going to make it SO nice for all that intricate cutting!  Thinking too about my little Moda Flats dolls I made and wondering how I can make fun clothing for them using the new machine.

Happy stitching!  It’s been a good Christmas!