Think about this.....

...the only thing scarier then reaching out to the unknown is settling for that with which we are comfortable.

Monday, January 30, 2012

It's Monday...again!

I hadn't planned on doing much quilting yesterday, but found myself with some extra time in the evening and decided to sew the three large blocks together I had cut out the night before. They were just begging to be done on my planning table. I then sewed the two little and three big blocks together to see what they looked like.

That wasn't enough to do, so I picked out and cut the remaining two small blocks and one big block in that column out last night and marked those up so their ready to sew tomorrow as well. I could have done more, but even God took a day off to rest once in a while. :-)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Only two small blocks completed yesterday because we went to visit my mom in the afternoon...which is about the time I work on quilts. I did get three of the larger blocks cut out to work on again probably Monday.

Today was spent binding the two monthly wall hangings I
do as well as the annual DeGroot Reunion wall hanging that will be offered in July for the White Elephant auction. I hope everybody likes it!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


I have now completed half of the quilt top to Heritage Stars. It's turning out so nice and I feel like I'm falling in love (again). This one may be hard to part with. I'll get pics up later so you can see what I'm talking about.

Meanwhile, I have found an amazing sight to take quilting classes without having to drive and spend money on gas and lunches. I can take them from the comfort of my own home and the instructors are amazing! It's called Craftsy and the classes are relatively inexpensive.

I started one yesterday on a new foundation paper piecing technique and the cost was $30. This morning I found a class for the block of the month, where we'll be making two blocks each month with a finished 20-block quilt by Christmas. This particular class was free! Imagine, two classes worth something for $30. I would have burned that up in my truck alone just going to Lansing. Ya gotta love technology!!

Friday, January 27, 2012

1/3 of the Way

I can't tell you how much I love doing this quilt. Each block is a new experience in color/value and cutting. I have the first 14 small squares done, four big squares (which also have a small square in the middle) and then the only small/tiny square is completed as well.

I couldn't just leave everything on my piecing table before going to bed so I had to put all the blocks together--of course! It looks really good!!! I'm a bit concerned about all the seams and how the blocks are not laying very flat, but then again, I haven't steam pressed it and it's only 1/3 of the way done, so I have to remember that's why.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday? Already?

I can't believe it's already Thursday. It's nice having one of the boys home during the week to throw off your schedule (like mines so packed...really). But Caleb had Monday off as a records day and that will throw anybody off.

Wednesday I spent working on my February Sunbonnet Sue. She's so cute heading out to mail her Valentine's Day card in the mailbox, so the two monthly quilts are nearly done. I need a whip-stitch-binding-day because now I have three down there to do.

I did decide on my next project. It's called Heritage Starts published in the latest McCalls Quilting magazine. It's a combination of scraps and stars and should turn out very well. As I always do, I ran a test block on Wednesday night just to see how the measurements worked out and to see if it was going to be a fun quilt to make. I'm in love!!

This quilt is made up of 52 6" blocks and 10 or so 12" blocks. They are various colored stars and I am using (again) some of my scraps left over from previous quilts. The problem about using the ones in my "16-cube" section of fabrics is there isn't enough fabric to make into the pieces needed. Therefore, I'm having to work my way down into my other fabrics, which is okay because I love to delve into new designs.

Yesterday I completed the first column of the quilt which included 10 of the small squares and then did a test run on the first large star. It actually went very well and so then on to more today.

Unlike previous quilt making processes, this quilt is being put together one block at a time rather then the usual "assembly line" method. It's nice to take my time and just savor each block, it's colors and the creation process!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Well, Second Floor Walk-Up is far as the top is concerned. I am a bit disappointed on how it turned out. I feel like it's not as bright and cheery as the initial pattern I followed or like the picture shown in the magazine. On to other things I guess.

This is the block for my quilt guild for February. Pink will be the color of the month and so I completed this task while I had the chance.
The next few days will be taken to complete my two monthly wall hangings. Yesterday (after I put tother Second Floor Walk-Up and constructed my guild block) I was able to actually piece all of the fireplace wallhanging before shutting Laura down for the night. It turned out really cute and will get pics when the binding is completed. Until later...

Monday, January 23, 2012

How Time Flies

It's already Monday? Isn't it funny when even during the winter doldrums I find much to do during my day. Although my days are not as nearly harried as they used to be, it's a different kind of "stuff to do" now that occupies my time.

Saturday we broke down and went and saw War Horse, which was a very good movie despite it being wartime because it had my second passion in it...horses.

Sunday I had not planned on working on any quilting (we had to go and get some food for the teenager to eat), but after getting our groceries in, eating lunch (very late), and then watching our Sunday movie (Dolphin Tale...which was another very good movie), I still had an early evening and night to do something more productive then watching movies.

The second half of the blocks for that quilt were completed! Wow...that was quick! I love easy quilts like this. It'll be interesting to see if my fabric substitutions worked or whether I still need color venue education. Tomorrow will tell.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Project

This is what I started working on yesterday. It will probably only take a few days to complete this very simple quilt top but it will be a welcome change from the intricate work I have been tackling.

Somewhere in the next week I need to work on my monthly wall hangings. These include one that hangs on the side of our fireplace just as you would walk in our front door, and the other is a Sunnbonnet Sue depicting appropriate attire and surroundings for each month of the year. They are a nice diversion from making larger quilts that take up so much time.

Meanwhile, Jim is taking me to go see War Horse today and then off to the grocery store.

Friday, January 20, 2012

On to the next phase

It doesn't look like it, but these three borders were a lot of work! It, surprisingly, took me all night to get them on. I felt like I was making excellent progress early on in my evening, but then became halted somewhat when my husband Jim and I ended up getting into a rather in-depth conversation about something totally unrelated to quilting. Doesn't he know that from 2-10 p.m. we just talk quilting? Silly man!

But they're on and the top is folded and put away until I can quilt it. There are a few reasons why it won't be quilted right away, but I'll spare you the gory details and move along to my next endeavor.

While I was pretty much set on doing the "Hip to be Square" pattern, my new McCall's Quilting magazine came a few days ago. I have been working on a mystery quilt with the bi-monthly publication and step 2 is in the current issue. I need to complete that first. Then, there is a really simply, yet very colorful scrappy quilt that I just HAVE to make! I don't recall the name right now, but it has something to do with walking up to the second story. More later!

Thursday, January 19, 2012


The first item of business yesterday was to complete my January Guild block. I decided on a dark blue and white the previous day and had already cut those pieces out. I then constructed the first picture above for my January block. On to the quilt.

I laid everything out on the floor (after I swept and washed it) and found this pattern to be very undemanding. I only had to fix a few glaring errors, and I had to actually construct an additional block because somewhere I lost count. That happens, A LOT! With all the blocks set in a way that I liked, I re-piled them up so that I could keep track of what order to sew them together.

I got on such a roll that after getting the 14 rows together fairly quickly I had enough time (and energy) to actually get the quilt top completed. Well, at least the bulk of it completed. The two pics above show the top as of last night, and a closer look at one of the finished blocks.

The next step is the borders. I don't know if I'm going to add two or three. I will be putting a thin, neutral colored border around the quilt to "close it in". The borders are supposed to create the finality of the quilt and where it ends in its design. The second border will be the flying geese units with a 2" block on either end. After that, I may attach an additional wider neutral colored border. We'll see?!?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Blocks Completed!

It's funny how the dreary weather provokes a much more productive me. This morning brought rain and warmer then normal temps, and as the day progressed, the temps declined bringing sugar snow. Just a dusting, but enough that when looking out the window, prompted me to work even harder. I'm not sure why?

Our block count is 140 or maybe even 1 more than that; I'll find out tomorrow when I begin to lay out the blocks to audition them for position within the quilt. The best way to accomplish this rather daunting task is to have a block wall, but I really have no empty wall space to do this with. I'm still not sure where I'll find the room. Perhaps I'll have to Swiffer the basement floor and make sure all the dust bunnies are cleared out. It's the closest to my sewing machine, so this may be the best idea.

I have also tossed around my finished blocks for the option of putting sashing strips between each one. The quilt seems like it will be a bit busy without them, but not only does it add a LOT of time, but I'm not sure I'll be happy with the result. It may segregate each block too much. I'll take a harder look when I get them all down on the floor.

Because I was so productive today, I also cut out my January block for the new quilting guild I plan on joining in February. They ask each member to bring a finished 10 1/2" block with a certain color scheme. For January, it was white. The block can have as little or as much of the required color in it. Mine will be half white and half dark blue. I'll make one for February tomorrow too with pink being the color of the month.

I'm back

Sunday was just a much needed slug-a-bug day. I didn't do any quilt making whatsoever, which is very unusual for me.

I must have felt like I needed to make up for Sunday on Monday, because when I finally shut Laura down for the night, I was 36 further blocks ahead in my endeavor.

This brings the total count to 100! Over 2/3's of the way there.

Meanwhile, I am already planning on the next quilting adventure with another scrappy-type of quilt. I'm leaning towards a pattern called Hip to be Square put out again by my favorite quilting magazine, Quiltmaker.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yesterday and Today

After finishing cutting out the remaining "big" pieces yesterday, I started making the individual blocks.

The first order of business is to pick the 3 1/2 inch block off the top of the pile. It is the focus piece in the center of the finished block. I gander at the coloring within the piece and match the other three piece sizes to it. If, for instance, the center piece is a medium value leaning toward the color purple, but has hues of blue, pink, and yellow in it, the next three piece sizes should compliment it. If it's a rather drab piece, I grab the color wheel my mom gave to me at for Christmas this year (thank a million mom!), and see what colors work well with the piece.

The largest block is next to be picked. It will be of a light or dark value thus creating contrast from the center medium value. If the large block I picked is a lighter value, then the 2 3/8" piece will be the opposite, or dark value.

The 2" corners will contrast in value of the 2 3/8" piece and will compliment the block as a whole.

I can piece two blocks at a time, so I repeat the above steps once again.

Once colors are selected, I have to mark a diagonal line on the reverse of each 2 3/8" piece with a fabric pencil and ruler. Two of the pieces are placed, right sides together, in opposite corners of the 4 1/4" block. I sew a 1/4" seam (as I do for all my quilting work) on either side of the diagonal mark.

I then cut the pieces apart from the line I made and pressed open. Wow...this sounds like an awfully confusing process. Let's try to speed it up.

The other two 2 3/8" blocks are put in the remaining corner and sewn like above. They are cut apart and pressed open also. Now I have four "flying geese" units ready to attach to the 3 1/2" piece. I attach a flying geese unit to one side. Press open. Repeat on the opposite side. Press.

Now I attach a 2" block to the opposite ends of the remaining two flying geese units. I then attach those to the remaining sides of the 3 1/2" block, pressing after each addition.

I now have a finished block! Hurray!

I completed 24 blocks yesterday and this evening I made 16, for a total of 40 over two days. Completed block count as of tonight is 64. Almost half way there!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The cutting (and cutting...and cutting...)

The block I'm using for this particular quilt is a scrappy block featured in one of Bonnie Hunter's articles of Quiltmaker magazine. The name of the block is called, "Princess Crown". My goal, and for lack of better resources at current (currency), was to make a quilt without having to purchase outside fabrics--utilizing only those in my stash; mainly the fabrics held in what I call my 16-cube. These are smaller pieces that have no yardage value to them used primarily in my foundation paper-pieced quilts. I'm initially thinking I want to make this quilt 10 blocks wide by 14 blocks high.

There are four basic piece sizes needed for each block. So, once the fabrics are washed, dried, and ironed (did I fail to mention that before? After drying the 100% cottons, you need to iron them immediately or you'll have permanent wrinkles in them later), it's time to start cutting.

They have a new fangled machine out there called an Accu-cutter or some other such thing. I don't own one of those and instead, do it the latest way before just scissors and templates. I use a self-healing mat, see-thru rulers, and a rotary cutter-which looks like a pizza cutter. Each piece for each block will need to be individually cut and given I want to make the quilt 10x14 blocks (which is 140) and each block has ten pieces I have to cut about 1,400 pieces by hand. Whew!

The piece sizes needed for this block are: 2", 2 3/8", 3 1/2" and 4 1/4". I need four each of the two smaller squares, and one each of the two bigger squares.

I started initially grabbing fabrics out of my stash and just starting putting together blocks. But then I thought about this after three days and wondered how I was going to keep track of what I had already used in what block. It was already becoming rather puzzling at only 24 blocks completed, so decided I had better just start with the whites and work my way through the blacks and just cut what I needed cutting.

Whatever dimension I could derive from whatever fabric I grabbed off the top of the color pile is what I cut. I did eliminate all the bright fabrics from this quilt. I wanted a more muted, not so jumpy quilt this time around so I would set aside any of my bright valued fabrics.

This will be day five of the initial piece cutting and hopefully the last?! I only have three more 3 1/2" and about 18 4 1/2" to cut, which should only take a few hours. Then on to matching/sewing them all together.

Friday the 13th

I thought it would be a great idea to journal how a quilt is created and how each of my quilts comes to life over the course of a few days, or even a few months. It depends entirely on the quilt design as well as the overall quilting I plan on doing.

First things first. When I receive fabrics, whether it be as a gift received from somebody, or whether I have purchased them from my local quilt shop (LQS), the fabric immediately goes into the washer and dryer. The soap used on my fabrics is called Orvus Paste soap, which is actually a soap used for washing livestock...mainly horses. But it doesn't contain any dyes, perfumes, synthetic petroleum products, etc. It's the free-est free soap there is and therefore will not do any damage to my fabrics. They aren't getting any cheaper, just like everything else!

After the fabrics are washed, they go in the dryer with NO fabric softener sheets. These also contain petroleum products that can leave residues which are dust magnets. My fabrics are not stored in a dust-free environment, so I have to protect them any way that I can.