Little “between” projects

Around the new year, lots of quilting bloggers create for themselves a listing of Unfinished Projects (UFO’s) that they want to complete in the coming year. I’ve done that in the past, surveying all the things I have started and not finished. Not this year. I know that is not a motivator for me, looking at the “LIST”. I would just feel guilty while making it, and staring at it. Sometimes it is just hard to continue on with a project, so in my sewing room it sits in the “time out” zone. I don’t need to make that UFO list on paper, because it is always in my head. I think of quilting as FUN time and the idea of the list doesn’t sound fun at all. If you follow me for a year or more, you will KNOW when I am excited about a project, because it is all I drone on about, post after post. When I get bored with something…you don’t hear a peep.

Now that that is out of the way, let me tell you about a couple of my “between” projects. The “between” projects are those things I work on just to keep my hands busy sewing while I am thinking about all those things sitting in “time out”.

Last week I had fun with an all day Quilter’s retreat on Zoom, hosted by Carole of the blog – From My Carolina Home. This was my 3rd retreat with Carole and I decided the day before I better figure out what I wanted to work on during the retreat, and get some prep done ahead of time. After the last retreat I worked on one more block from the Lori Holt Vintage Christmas Quilt book. My box of blocks is filling up, and I have a couple more from the book I still want to make. I am starting to think about how to “set the blocks” and what I want to do in the borders. The book has SO many patterns that are interesting, and I am coming up with ideas of how I will do it. Meanwhile, I need some training on ‘hand embroidery’ to get a face on my Dolly block.

dolly block for Christmas quilt
Dolly from Vintage Christmas Quilt book

I decided for this retreat, I wanted something “easier” to sew and that would give me a lot more “production” during the all day retreat. I picked up a zip lock bag of squares off of my cutting table and inspiration struck. What was in the zip lock were 2 patches stitched at the assisted living center where I volunteered for a couple of years. This particular bag was a project a lady had started, but never returned after the first couple of times sewing. I looked them over, got out the seem ripper and took them apart. She had made some interesting choices when she picked her blocks out of the big box of squares I brought with me. One thing that happens when I volunteer is the ladies use donated machines, and let’s just say the stitching isn’t always of the best quality. So, my seem ripper and I became friends, and I quickly took the blocks apart. As I looked over the stack, I decided I would put them together as 4 patches and then cut them apart into “disappearing 4 patches” to get a little more interesting block.

So, I started with this – a 4 patch made from 4.5″ squares

Four patches

I squared them up to 8″ and then during the retreat, I cut them up and repositioned the pieces and made this –

Fun with disappearing 4 patch
4 patch changed to disappearing 4 patch

I decided with the size of the blocks, that cutting at 1.5″ would work.

Cutting the 4 patch

The rotating cutting mat is very helpful for this, as you don’t move the fabric, you just rotate the mat and ruler. My Fiskars mat fits perfectly on the side of my sewing machine table, so I could just stand up, make my cut, and not move away from my work area during the zoom.

Before the switch example
four cuts, all 1.5″ from the center seam

After you make the 4 cuts, you rearrange the pieces like this….

Switching the pieces
all rearranged…..

and you sew it back together. This was a lot of fun to do and I managed to get these all done in one day.

Disappearing 4 patches
20 blocks complete

There are dozens of patterns for “disappearing 4 patches” , and I used the one inspired by Laura at Sew Very Easy –

I was “sewing for the sake of sewing” but this was really fun, and elevated a simple 4 patch into something that looks a little more complex. I’m not sure what I will do with these, but I am thinking I will find a fabric that plays nicely with these fabrics, and put them together into alternating blocks, and make a lap quilt/throw out of it. It will probably end up back at the assisted living facility at some point. (I justified the “sewing for the sake of sewing” because I got the zip-lock off the cutting table! )

What is happening in your sewing room?

Vintage Christmas Quilt update

My first blog post for 2021 covered all the December 2020 fun, yet here I am still working on Christmas. The “Vintage Christmas Quilt” book by Lori Holt is one that will keep me busy for a while longer. Just over a year ago, my blogging friend Carole posted a suggestion to have a “quilt along” ( ), and I ordered the book by Lori Holt. I got out the fabrics I wanted to use, made the decision to do some pre-washing and got started. Over the course of 2020 I shared my project updates. I am working on the 12″ blocks, and last month finished the 12 that Carole had suggested in the quilt along. She turned hers into placemats, but I decided I wanted a quilt and needed more blocks. I have gone back through the book and picked out a few more blocks to work on.

On Tuesday this week, Carole hosted a “zoom retreat” for fellow bloggers and having “virtually attended” two others in December, I knew I would log in and enjoy some much needed conversation with others while I sewed.

In order to be productive for a zoom retreat, I got prepared, just like I would going to an “in person” retreat. I precut all the pieces for four of the Vintage Christmas block, got them labeled by using pins and paper with the piece “letter” and with the sizes. I know that Lori Holt and the Fat Quarter shop sell piece ‘markers’ but I like my method, as I write the quantity of pieces and the size along with the letter.

I have made piece markers with pins and beads 5 years ago and shared a blog post about it –

When I made the marking pins, I intended them specifically for one block wonders. I have found myself using them when ever I have a big quilt on the design wall and am ready to “start the assembly”, as it can be tricky keeping your blocks in order. If you flip back to that blog post, you will see that I store them in a small pencil box, grouped in chunks of foam by alphabet, to make it easier to use them. I decided that I wanted “another set” with just letters for the Christmas quilt. I gathered up my materials (pins, beads and E6000 glue) and quickly made two sets, A-Z. I had an extra pair of hands working with me, and I think my hubby enjoyed helping. I wanted 2 sets because I can see myself cutting again for 2 blocks at a time. I may “make more” in the future. One reason I wanted the A-Z pins was while working on the blocks for the Vintage Christmas Quilt, I found myself taking my paper note off the pieces and losing track with so many small parts. This way, the pin will help me remember (I hope).

Row markers

Because the E6000 glue takes 24 hours to harden off, I didn’t get to use these on Tuesday, but I am “ready to go” for my next group of blocks.

I bagged up the pieces for each block and put them aside for stitching in my block caddy. I have kept all my fabrics in a bin that I am using for this quilt which makes it easy to pull for additional blocks. On this occasion, I needed the addition of more blue background fabric and another white; so I got into my stash of fat quarters and yardage.

During the zoom retreat, I got 3 blocks done, though I did spend an extra hour working to finish the 3rd block. The first block I worked on with the Gingerbread man block. The pattern called for you to add the rick rack trim during the assembly, so the ends would be caught up in the seam allowance. I added a bit of cut away stabilizer behind the area of the block where I was top stitching the trim.

Gingerbread block

I chose to use the green snowflake fabric for my gingerbread man, because I couldn’t decide on a brown fabric that “felt right”. So, my gingerbread man is “frosted”.

My next block was the Snowman block, which turned out to be one of the easiest blocks in the entire book. Lots fewer pieces, much larger pieces, and super simple construction.

Snowman block

The final block for the day was the Manger block. For this block I knew I wanted a brown fabric that looked like wood, and I had several yards. I only needed to cut a strip off of the yardage for this block. I also wanted a blue background, but didn’t have enough left from the snowman block, so I pulled another blue from my fat quarter boxes. The block was very time consuming, and I engaged my seam ripper a couple of times. My fabric choice for the face of Jesus is a tan that had a print on it, and I used the “back side” of the fabric to get a bit darker tan.

Manger block

I like being able to use my own fabric choices for this project, and quite a bit of them are “vintage” pieces from my “inherited” stash. My buddy that lives in assisted living likes the idea that I am “using up” her fabrics.

My fourth block is “bagged and tagged” for the next time I have a couple of hours to sew. Picture below is the first 12 blocks, and I will be “rearranging” as I finish more, to spread out the various blues and different fabrics. Many of these blocks require some “embellishment” and I am going to have to break down and teach myself how to “hand embroider” and decide at what point I want to add the button trims too.

Vintage Christmas Quilt

A friend of mine asked “how big” is this quilt going to be, and I haven’t decided quite yet. I have a couple of ideas for setting once I get “all” the blocks made that interest me.

What are you working on this week? Are you doing any Zoom get-togethers with other quilters or friends? I had a great time and was happy to be invited by Carole – From My Carolina home, and to meet “virtually” other bloggers who are “regulars” on her comment page. If you are looking for interesting bloggers to follow let me suggest from this list –

Carole –

Mary Ellen –

Brenda –

Emily –

I’m sure you will find some very interesting posts! Happy stitching!