Mar 242015

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday once again!

Look at the view out that window. You can actually see the ground at the base of the stockade fence. Just a couple weeks ago snow was nearly up to the top.

2015 03 25 woyww  70's quilt.JPG

Today finds me working on this quilt for a friend. She made the top quite some time ago. Judging by the colors and fabrics it may have been in the “70’s. 🙂

Anyhow she asked me to finish it by adding borders & backing and doing the quilting.  I’ve put off the work for too long now and decided today was the day. I was going to spend all afternoon & evening and get this baby done.

Half an hour after this photo was taken my sewing machine ceased to behave. I did everything: changed the needle, rethreaded, changed the bobbin, clean out lint, nothing worked. Now it’s time to bring it to the repair man. I suspect it’s a timing issue, which means it’s in need of a tune-up anyhow. So much for best laid plans!

Since I can’t be productive in my preferrred way I’m going to finish this post and go watch another couple episodes of Outlander. So there. 😀

If you’re wondering why I’m sharing photos of my desk, well, it’s What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday, the day we all get together at Julia’s and take a peek at each other’s creative goings on. It’s always fun and often inspiring. Join us if you have a the time.

Jan 062015

Happy first What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday of 2015!

2015 01 06 woyw jungle baby quilt

Today’s desk shows a baby quilt I’m working on for an upcoming shower.

baby bow ties0002

The pattern is Baby Bow Ties from Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts. I love this book because all the patterns are indeed, sweet and simple. Plus, their cutting charts make cutting quick and foolproof.

Isn’t that jungle print the cutest? And the prairie point edge is a nice touch.

I hope you’re having a wonderful start to your new year! I don’t make resolutions, but I have issued myself a couple challenges. Check back tomorrow to see the results of one, I think you’ll like it. 🙂

If you have a few minutes to take a break, be sure to check out the busyness on the desks of other creative folks from all around the world. We link up over at Julia’s every Wednesday to do just that.

Happy creating!

Apr 082014

Happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday all!  This week I’m working on something different, it’s a memory quilt for a friend’s son who will be graduating this year.

2014 04 09 woyww making a memory quilt

It’s more than just a t-shirt quilt, although there are plenty of those included. His mom also wanted a number of photos, pieces of special blankets, baby outfits and even a bitty backpack! I’m not sure how I’ll include the super hero cape his grandma made him, but we’ll figure it out. 🙂

On the workdesk you see some of the photos already printed onto fabric. Since the quilt squares will be 14 x 14 inches and I can only print the photos on 8.5 x 11 inch sheets, the blocks will have to be pieced together. I’ll also be hand appliqueing a few photos across the seams.  The photo blocks will end up looking like scrapbook pages.

That pile in the upper right is a bunch of scraps from t-shirts I’ve already cut up. Thankfully it’s all starting to come together.

Btw, if you’ve ever thought of putting together a t-shirt/memory quilt, I wrote a post a while back with several Tips For Making T-Shirt Quilts.

Happy creating!

Oct 172013

With Christmas coming and folks looking for gifts ideas (or just us crafters, looking for something new for US, hehe) here is a list of my favorite quilting books for your consideration.

Put them on your own wish list or pick up a couple for a fellow crafter.

1. Favorite quilting book for learning about color:

Color from the Heart: Seven Great Ways to Make Quilts with Colors You Love

Difficulty level: beginner on up

I learned some of the most important lessons about color (in quilts and in any art form) from Gai Perry’s Color From the Heart.  The book consists of seven small quilting projects.  As you work through each one you apply the principles she is explaining.

It’s great fun and the best way to learn, in my opinion.

Two of my favorite little quilt projects ever were from this book (because of the colors, naturally.) 🙂

2. Favorite quilting book for learning about machine quilting

Guide To Machine Quilting

Difficulty level: Intermediate to Advanced

Diane Gaudynski’s Guide To Machine Quilting is incredibly helpful.  She has a whole system worked out which includes needle and thread sizes, how to bundle the quilt, starching the backing to make it slide easier, even propping up your left foot to the same height as the right!  Each of these steps makes the process just a bit easier, so if you implement all her suggestions you’ll have an excellent chance of success.

If you like you can check out the queen size quilt I machine quilted using this information. If you want to learn how to or just improve your machine quilting I highly recommend this book.

3. Favorite quilting book for memory projects

Hanky-Panky Crazy Quilts

Difficulty level: advanced beginner on up

This book walks you through the steps of making a wonderful little keepsake quilt using handkerchiefs.  I made one from my grandma’s hankies and while back and love it.  It was a fun way to use some special items and preserve memories.

4. Favorite quilting book for baby quilts & quick gifts

Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts

Difficulty Level: Beginner on up

This book delivers what it promises in the title, every quilt in there is both sweet and simple.  It is my go to book for any special occasion quilt (usually for babies.)

This Beatrix Potter baby quilt was from SASBQ, as is this Topsy Turvy Sailboats quilt. (These patterns are probably the most complicated in the book.) This Pink Lemonade quilt is one of the simpler, and yet still utterly adorable.

If you are regularly looking for interesting, but quick quilting projects to make, I think you’ll enjoy Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts.

These next three books are for those quilters in need of a challenge.  They are definitely NOT simple, but they are lots of fun!

5. Favorite quilting book for a challenge

Optical Illusions for Quilters

I took a workshop with Karen Coombs a while back and loved it.  It felt like I was back in art school, which, yes, was a wonderful feeling. 🙂

The experience was so inspiring that I bought her book and her diamond templates, plus stopped at the fabric store on my way home for a pile of batiks.  Then I proceeded to make this:


Never did finish it, but ain’t it cool?

Looking to stretch your skills, or for something new, different and interesting?  Try making an optical illusion quilt.

6. Favorite quilting book for making miniature quilts

Easy Paper-Pieced Miniatures

Ok, I have to warn you that paper piecing is not for everybody.  I have very experienced quilty friends who cheerfully hate it with a passion, lol. However, if you like working with small, complex designs, want utter precision and have a fair amount of patience, you may enjoy the process.

I made the cover quilt with the houses… twice.  Thought I’d lose my mind, but it was a great accomplishment. 🙂

That being said, I consider this method the only way sane people make miniature quilts.  Just sayin’.

7. Favorite quilting book for a cool technique

Magic Stack-n-Whack Quilts

It’s been mentioned before, but I’m a sucker for a cool technique.  The general idea of this book is that you layer identical repeats of a fabric, then rotary cut them into stacks of identical diamonds.  When you put each stack of diamonds together, you get kaleidoscope stars, like this.


and this….


And here’s the whole quilt:


All those stars were made from eight repeats of the four corner blocks.  Cool, eh?

It’ll definitely make you look at your larger scale fabrics in a whole new way.

So, there you have it, my top favorite quilting books.  Some are simpler, some more challenging, but all are worth a try.

Happy creating!

Oct 032013

A friend came to me with a quilt her mother had made.  Her mom has since passed and the quilt is precious.  She’d like to display it in her home.

Sadly, though, the quilt is full of rips and tears like this one.


And this.


The quilt was hand quilted, so of course I did not want to remove her mother’s hand stitching. This is a very different kind of repair from the one I did here, where I took the whole thing apart to do the repairs.

The only way to do these repairs is to applique new patches over the torn and ripped sections. It would have been ideal if my friend had had matching fabric scraps from her mom’s stash, but she didn’t.  Even if she had, they may not have matched so well after all these years of wear and fading.  A little careful bleaching to fade them may have been necessary.


Instead I went shopping for fabrics that had the same look and feel as the patches to be replaced.  (You may not think they match well from the photo, but you’ll be surprised at the finished result.)  When shopping, don’t forget to check the backs of fabrics for a better match.  The one on the left is the back of a Waverly print.


The next step was to cut squares to the same size as the patchwork, making sure to add in seam allowances.  I was then able to machine piece together sections that matched ones needing replacement.


Once the sections are sewn together, press under the seam allowances and pin in place.


By the way, if you have sections with inside corners, you’ll need to not stitch the seam allowance in those corners.  Stop right where the s.a. begins and then backstitch. This will leave the seam allowance free to be pressed neatly.


Now it’s time to hand stitch these patches into place.  My favorite applique thread is 100 Weight Silk Thread. The 100 weight means it’s very fine, and the silk just melts into the fabric leaving your stitches invisible.


Here you can see just one of the diamonds has been repaired.  It takes a bit of looking to find which one, eh?

By the way, this is NOT a quick fix.  To date I’ve repaired all nine of the diamonds and a few of the stars. I’m coming close to 40 hours invested.  It’s a good cool weather, work-on-while-sorta-watching-a-football-game kind of project.

If you have old quilts in need of repair, feel free to send me detailed pics and I’ll be happy to advise you on how to proceed.  🙂

Happy creating!

Jun 172013

It was quite a few years ago that Bethany Reynolds came to our quilt guild and showed us the cool techniques in her book Magic Stack-n-Whack Quilts.  Of course I had to give it a try; I’m a sucker for any cool new technique. 🙂

This quilt top was the result: (click to embiggen)


I only had so much of the main fabric, so had to fill in three blocks with baskets, which I think keeps it interesting.

The squares in the corners are the fabrics that all the stars were made from.


You can tell it was a while ago cuz this Debbie Mumm fabric was new at the time.


This block is made from the above section of fabric.  Can you find the portion?  It’s kinda like playing Eye Spy. 🙂


This quilt had been just a top for TOO long.  It was one of my favorites, but I never got around to finishing it.  The daughter of a dear friend was getting married, and this top was the largest in my stash so, as much as I hated to give it up, it got finished for her.  I hope the newlyweds enjoy it and know that much love went into every stitch. 🙂

So, whether you’re making something brand new, and finishing up an old UFO, Happy Creating!

Apr 252012

All the projects currently on my desk are gifts for folks who likely read this blog, so instead of showing my workdesk today, I’m showing you a few quilts I’ve recently completed.


My oldest son’s birthday was last weekend and I made him this quilt.  It was supposed to be sent to him while he was overseas in the Marines, but that just never happened.


Now that he’s out of the Marines, it’s awfully nice having him back in the area. 🙂


When I finished piecing this quilt top, I measured it to see what size batting & backing I’d need to get.  Imagine my shock when the measurements turned out to be exactly what the pattern said they should be.  That never happens, I’m always fighting the “fudge factor.”

I attribute the newfound accuracy to the fact that after my sewing machine’s recent tune-up, I notice that I’m no longer wrestling with it wanting to wander off to the left.

Moral of the story: Those regular sewing machine tune-ups are worth every penny.  Don’t put them off.


I also finished these two small quilts.  They’re for missions that my quilting group has been working with.  The pattern is great and goes together very quickly. (You can find it here.)


Aren’t those baby animal the cutest things?




To see what other creative people from all over the world are up to, make sure to check out What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday.

Happy creating!

Nov 052011

You know, I’ve always been just a bit suspicious of those blue water-erase marking pens. They seem almost too good and too easy to be true, and I wondered about the long-term results.

Now I’m thinking I was right to wonder.

About 10 years ago I made this quilt.  mini-mariners-compass-quilt

It’s from Fons & Porter’s Fat Quarter Friendly, and was not a simple project. Those paper-pieced stars are only 5.5″ across; some of the triangles are itty-bitty. Anyhow, I just pulled it out to put up with my autumnal decor and discovered this:


No, those blue marks were NOT visible last year. (Btw, please don’t judge my appliqué work and machine quilting too harshly; I have improved a lot in the last 10 years.  😉 )

I tried spritzing with water, but this time around the marks did not disappear.  I then washed the entire thing in a load of laundry.  No joy.

After an online search, I found someone who said a white vinegar solution helped.  I let the quilt soak for a day in a 50% white vinegar solution, then ran it through the laundry again.

The results?


Only minimally better.


My suspicions were confirmed.  Whatever it is in those pens that makes the marks does NOT go away after spritzing with water.  It may no longer be visible, but the chemicals are still in there and can possibly become visible again at any later date.

I suggest you only use these kinds of marking pens on projects you aren’t going to care about in 10 years.  If you must use them, consider thoroughly immersing your entire piece to completely wash out any traces of the marking pen. (If that’s even possible.)

For me?  I’m going to stick with more traditional methods of marking from now on, such as chalk or a very fine, light pencil line.

Oct 262011

Since I’ve only found the time to sew once in the past week, my workdesk today looks much the same as last Wednesday.  (The bound buttonholes are coming along nicely, I’ll show you the results soon.)

Instead of boring you with a repeat workdesk, I thought I’d show you what I bought today.  Quilt fabric!


Don’t those cupcakes look too yummy and adorable? (I’m on the last day of a very restrictive phase of a diet, so I must have food on the brain cuz I HAD to buy this fabric, lol.)

And these jungle critters:


Don’t you just want to squeeze them?

These will be for charity quilts that my guild is making.  Here’s a link to the pattern we’ll be using.   Here’s how it’s laid out. four-patch-quilt

Many of us in the guild love this pattern because you can showcase a large scale print in the bigger squares and add coordinating fabrics all around.  It goes together quickly and easily. I’ve used it to make several baby quilts for gifts, too.

The fabric on the left in each photo is the backing, the fabric on the right is for the large squares (and the outer border for the jungle quilt.)    The stripes are for the narrow inner border.

I’ll try to remember to take pics when these quilts are done.  🙂

Happy sewing and creating and happy What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday!

P.S.  Just what IS WOYWW, you may be asking?  Go here to find out, it’s lots of fun!

Sep 172011

Right now I’m working on a commission, a t-shirt quilt that includes what must be most every t-shirt this gal has ever owned.  🙂

It’s rather an interesting challenge, trying to get them all into a reasonably sized quilt.  We’re skipping any sashing between blocks, as that would make it far too large to be allowed.  It will be quite busy to look at, but full of memories.

In case  you’ve never made a t-shirt quilt, they’re actually very simple.  Fusible interfacing is pressed onto the wrong side of the t-shirt design to stabilize it.  Then blocks are cut out and treated as quilt blocks.

This is a Tanzanian memory quilt I made last fall, you can read the whole post here.

tshirts from africa quilt

For the quilt I’m working on now I got around the “way too many t-shirts” problem by cutting them into three different sizes, 6.5″ squares, 12.5″ x 6.5″ rectangles and 12.5″ squares.  Two of the smaller squares sewn together are the size of one rectangle, and two of the rectangles sewn together are the size of one large square.


As you can see from the photo above, it’s very helpful to have a design wall to help you sort out just how many completed large squares you will have.  If you don’t have a design wall, find a large table or some empty floor space to lay things out.

It’s also good to have a  couple shirt that will serve as “filler” for those odd areas.  Thankfully my client had some old jammies and two tie-dyed t-shirts that worked perfectly for that.  And here it is, with the all the squares sewn together.  Did I mention she had a LOT of t-shirts?


We had two shirts with designs that had to be cut larger than 12.5″ square.  I solved this problem by making one row that was wider than the rest and filled in the gaps with our filler pajamas and tie-dye.  You hardly notice it in all the busyness. (It’s the second row from the left.)

If you want to make your own t-shirt quilt here are a few tips:

  • Use a design wall or large floor area to plan your layout
  • Save leftover bits of t-shirt until you are all done.  You may need them to fill in the top corners (such as in the blue & white UMass section) or make filler blocks, such as the green/red/yellow section in the top left.
  • Use a light to medium weight fusible interfacing.  If you use the heavy weight stuff  the sewing becomes more difficult.
  • If you have one or can borrow a steam press (such as this Steam Press), this is an excellent time to do so.  It makes the fusing go faster and be more thorough.
  • Be careful when pressing the lettering on t-shirts.  Some of it will smear and/or gum up your iron if you try to press over it. Iron-off hot iron cleaner is a great product to use  if this happens.
  • Use the leftover backs of your t-shirts to protect your ironing surface.  Place the piece to be fused right side down on top of the scrap t-shirt, then place the fusible (fusible side down, please) on that.  If after pressing you find some of the lettering has transferred to the scrap t-shirt, you can just toss it and grab another one.
  • To reduce bulk press the seams open.
  • Don’t even THINK about hand quilting.  Plan to machine quilt, or better yet, just tie it.
  • Each block will stand out better if framed by sashing (as in the Tanzania quilt) but you can squeeze in lots more memories if you don’t sash.

T-shirt quilts are great for graduations and are an especially good gift for that difficult-to-buy-for guy.

Have fun preserving those memories!