Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Sizzling Along

While I'm on the road teaching, I thought I would show you all my completed Sizzle blocks so far.

The Cool Kit blocks are calm and pretty:

The Combo Cool/Warm blocks I am making from my stash are more dynamic:

This is not the final layout of either quilt, I just threw them up on the design wall for their photo op.

It is not too late for you to start this project. The patterns and all instructions are FREE for all of 2019 to Star Members of The Quilt Show.  Join Today Get 365 days of great shows and lots more great information and this pattern is FREE, until December 31, 2019. Print your patterns and get started.

Be sure to see my Sizzle blog the first of each month all this year for tips and tricks.

There are also excellent videos with the designer, Becky Goldsmith. You will learn a lot!

Let's quilt.


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Share the Wealth

At the start of the Quiltmaking 101 class I teach locally for beginning quilters, I start by saying "Making a quilt is an expensive way to get bedding--if you just want a blanket, go to the store." 

Quilters know this is true, non-quilters think you should be able to make them a queen-size quilt for $50. Not even close...

So, why do we do it? We are "making gifts for generations yet unborn"--a phrase I have loved since I first heard it years ago. My children, and their children, and hopefully, THEIR children, will have a tangible reminder that I was here.

Stella admiring "Stella's Splendid Sampler" two years ago

"Can you find the flower?"

Stella and Sam, Easter 2019

A few months ago, one of those beginning students sent me a lovely email, thanking me for all she learned in the 5 week class. She said she loves quilting now but wasn't sure how much she could do because of the cost of supplies. This made me a bit sad.

The Sunday Sew and Sews is a great group of quilters I am leading through the Block of the Month from The Quilt Show. In passing, I mentioned that student's comment and said we should be thankful we can engage in our passion with such abandon. After class, several of them told me they wanted to share some of their excess with this quilter.

Just a few of the Sunday Sew and Sews--we need a new photo

I let everyone know we would collect things to donate to this student for a couple months. I just asked them not to dump garbage bags full of hand-offs--make the donations nice things a new quilter might actually want to receive.

The other day I gathered up the donations--it was quite the haul! One person would be overwhelmed with all stuff: fabric, notions, books, etc.  

One of my goals for each beginning class is to "addict" at least one of them, completely and totally to quiltmaking, so our industry and "tribe" can continue to grow. In the past two classes, two more women jumped in with both feet, eager and excited to learn all they can about quilting.

So, I invited all three of these wonderful women to my home to pick up "a few things". 

It was like Christmas--I wish I had taken a photo of my Q20 piled high with all the gifts. I gave each of them a big tote bag and they took turns, selecting whatever they wanted. 

One of the Sunday Sew and Sews wrote this nice note--I read it to all of them:

Most quilters who have been at this a while, have more than they will ever need--I certainly do. It is fun to share with others. If you have a group of quilter friends, consider a "swap"--each person can bring things they want to get rid of in exchange for finding new treasures.

Perhaps there is a Girl Scout troop you can work with--helping future quilters to "catch the bug". 

I'm sure you can think of other ways to "share the wealth" with quilters just getting started. I'd love to hear your ideas.

And a big "Thank You" to the Sunday Sew and Sews who generously shared their bounty!

Let's quilt,


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Spellbound for Houston

What a nice surprise to get the "Congratulations" email, that Spellbound will be joining many other Blue and White quilts in Houston this Fall, to help celebrate the 45th Anniversary of the International Quilt Festival, the Sapphire Celebration. She is nestled in a box and safely in Houston right now:

This simple but striking pattern is from Debbie Maddy at Calico Carriage Quilt Designs. I have taught it to a large group of students and they enjoyed making it too. Being organized is a must, there are 3 different sizes of strips to cut.

The SAPPHIRE CELEBRATION is sure to be as wonderful as the Ruby Jubilee was, 5 years ago. I hope you are making preparations to join us, October 31-November 3, 2019, with Preview night October 30. Find more information here: IQF Houston Show Information

I may be a bit lest "bloggy" in the next month or so--there are three working trips in the next 5 weeks: Kansas City for Spring Market, Austin/Victoria, TX and Ft Myers, FL, all great trips that I am looking forward to. At the same time, our grandkids are moving back here in 3 weeks from St. Louis--so excited! AND I am in the middle of a very big project I must keep under wraps. So when home, my head is down and the (sewing machine) pedal is to the metal!

Let's quilt!


Sunday, May 12, 2019


A bit of a happy dance occurred recently--my Lifetime Quilt came off the Design Wall and is now a finished top, 100" x 100":

Here it is just before I took it down to sew the last three seams, one on the left, one on the right, and then finally, the left and right parts could be sewn together.

Here it is getting ready to go "under the needle" for that LONG center seam:

It took 25 minutes to PIN that seam. And almost that long to sew it.

I was merrily stitching along, thrilled to see the end, did the last stitches and took it out. Guess what? I ran out of bobbin thread about half way through...

So, I said "Boulder, Boulder, Boulder" (that's a big dam) and repinned and resewed. Then I pressed the seam open and stay-stitched all around the perimeter. The whole process of joining the big sections and sewing the final seam took about three hours.

It is HEAVY! There are 12,800 triangles and each Half Square Triangle unit finishes at 1.25". There is almost as much seam allowance as triangle.

Here is it resting on a queen-size bed:

 Later this year I will quilt it on my Bernina Q20 using wool batt because it is so light and so cozy to sleep under. Eventually, this will be my bed quilt so I can enjoy it every day.

I have written about this quilt several times: here is just one of the times.

The quilt that inspired me is this Half Square Triangle Antique quilt. Since I saw this 3 and a half years ago, I have seen several more like it:

I don't know what the next Lifetime Quilt project will be--something has come up that is taking a lot of time so that decision can wait for a couple months. Stay tuned...

Let's quilt!


Sunday, May 5, 2019

The Charming Sampler

Here is a new little project I've been working on titled "The Charming Sampler":

 It's about 34" square, the blocks are 3" finished. It's a project for a future class. The majority of the fabric in the blocks came from one Charm Pack of 5" squares. The sashing and border fabric are from yardage.

To give you some perspective, here it is on the "design wall"--that is still covered in my 100" x 100" Lifetime Quilt. That HAS to come down very soon as I need the wall for another large quilt under construction:

On the personal front, our beloved grandchildren (and their parents) are moving home to Alabama! They were here earlier this week on a househunting trip and Lauren will start her new job by the end of May. We are thrilled and had such a great time babysitting almost 4 year old Stella and 7 month old Sam while Mom and Dad looked at houses. They will be about 35 minutes from us, so much better than 9 hours!

Let's quilt!


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

SIZZLE---Block 5

This is the  2019 Block of the Month from The Quilt Show. This quilt pattern designed by Becky Goldsmith is FREE to Star Members. Join today  to be part of the fun.

See Previous Posts:

Block 1  Tips there apply to this month also
Block 2
Block 3
Block 4

This month we work on on another block that has mostly straight narrow strips of fabric. One little twist--the Top and Bottom Diamonds are mirror images of each other. As Becky says, "the paper does the work"--just be sure to keep your fabrics numbered and organized:

Let's start with the Wedges, they're easy:

Fabric 1 is darker than Fabric 2. I placed them right sides together, and carefully aligned the center line on the wedge with the pair--keeping the raw edges lined up with the dashed line. BE SURE you have Fabric 1 under the paper where Fabric 1 goes--it would be very easy to get the two fabrics mixed up:

NOTE: there is not much extra length so be sure the back side of Fabric 1 completely fills piece 1, including the seam allowances.

Also, the stiletto is pointing to the tip of the Wedge--the circle at the tip does not apply to this seam, it is for the seam that joins this wedge to a diamond later. You can tell that because there is a straight solid line that goes all the way through the seam allowance to the outside, past that circle. Sew this first seam all the way to or just past both seam allowances, outside to outside.

Here the first two fabrics are trimmed, waiting for the two "wings" to be attached:

Here the wings are in place, the right angle edges were trimmed with a rotary cutter and ruler and the curved edge was cut with Karen Kay Buckley scissors--I love how well them cut these curves, no slipping, and I am sure the cut is correct. If I tried to cut this curve with a rotary cutter, I am not certain I could get it this perfect, so I am sticking with the scissors. Braveheart Becky has no trouble using her rotary cutter, I salute her! Do what works for you.

On to the Diamonds:

As with the Wedges, put Fabrics # 1 and 2 rights sides together. Be sure the back side of Fabric #1 is placed on the paper, under the Fabric #1 location. And be sure it completely fills the space of Fabric #1, including seam allowances:

The strips are narrow so you will have very little excess to trim away after sewing each seam. These are easy and sew together quickly.

 I made a Top and Bottom half of the Diamonds at one time--not all the tops then all the bottoms. Making only one top and and bottom each time, insured I would not accidentally sew two Tops or two Bottoms together. This is what you want:

 NOTE: when you sew the Top and Bottom halves together, this is one long seam, outside to outside, NOT stopping at the Circle. The Circle is used when this Diamond is sewn to a Wedge. When you trim these, be sure to trim the little spots at both ends--this makes it easy to align the two halves:

Press 4 of the Diamonds with the center seam going UP, and 4 of them with the seam going DOWN--this will be very helpful when constructing the full circle. Add a Wedge to the Right side of each Diamond:

What could possibly go wrong? What NOT to do:

Fabrics are lined up correctly--BUT I sewed on the WRONG seam line

Going in the WRONG direction--sigh...
As usual, make two halves, join them together, remove all the paper, add the Block Corners and Block 5 is done. By now, this finishing part is probably something you understand and are able to do without much thought. Pin, stitch slowly, keeping the two edges aligned, and there you go!

See you next month when we make Block 6--you are really going to like that one.

Let's quilt!


Sunday, April 28, 2019

Scrap Storage--What To Save

Quilters generate "scraps" or "leftovers", pieces of fabric that remain after making a quilt project. Some people throw them away, especially if small, so they don't have to deal with little bits.

I save everything--well, maybe not EVERYTHING--but a lot. Making FREE quilts from Leaders/Enders is something I love to do--I have written about that several times: Lifetime Quilt, and Time Management are a couple posts with lots of info.

When it's time to start a new project, this can be daunting:

Where to start? What to make? Looking at this, I'm feeling the need to purge the closets again--this is behind two of the SIX closet doors in my studio, and yes they all look like this.

Since I often make scrap quilts, I  need a way to keep those organized so they can be found and used when needed.

A reader has asked me to discuss how I decide WHAT to save and how I STORE my scraps. So here are a few of my methods:

STRINGS: leftover lengths, no less than 3/4" wide, no more than 2" wide. This large tote bag is close to full--when I teach String Quilts, I bring it and dump it on a table for everyone to share. These are fabrics I don't really care about:

HUNKS: pieces too large to be cut into Strings, these are separated into Less than 2", 2-3", 3-4", 4-5", and more than 5".  These are fabrics I like enough to want to use again. When working on scrap quilts, I start in these boxes to find Hunks to use, all colors are in these boxes, so I sort through them quickly to find those that will work:

This is the 3-3 7/8" box:

These boxes are stored on book shelves, always ready and accessible. The best thing about having big feet is I also have BIG shoeboxes:

STRIPS for Log Cabins, a block I like to make. These are favorite fabrics cut into 1.25" or 1.5" strips, one bag of each size light, one bag of each size dark. When I am ready to make Log Cabin blocks, I decide on the size, grab those bags and start making them. The bags are stored in a small dresser drawer:

1.25" dark and light bags

1.5" dark and light bags
 FAT QUARTERS or almost FQ: these are stored by color and style. The 1800s Civil War repros are stored together--these are blue and green:

 The Contemporary Fat quarters are stored in large Rubbermaid boxes, sorted by color families--these live in the closet on the floor. There are several more of these:

When I pull fabrics for a project, I gather them together and store them in tote bags while I am working on that project. This keeps everything together until the project is complete. Here is a current one I am eager to start:

 All the big tote bags I get from International Quilt Festival shows are ideal for storing big projects in process. This is an ongoing Strings quilt, made with 8 point Lemoyne Stars:

These are the two SIZZLE quilts under construction in 2019:

Every once in a while I dig out old UFOs to get started again, here is one where  I just need to finish the center applique' block--then the piecing can begin. Having handwork at the ready is a good thing:

 LEADER/ENDERS: when I decide on my next Lifetime Quilt, I will cut pieces for it and get started. Now, my fall back Leader/Ender is super simple, 1.5" light and dark squares sewn into 4 patches. Right by my machine, at all times, is a small container of light squares and that green box which has dark squares. Twos become fours, then are trimmed to 2.5" squares, which will be 2" finished someday.  They are stored in that larger plastic tub in the back, it once held fresh spinach:

The most important thing is to decide what kinds of quilts you want to make, what is the smallest size you want to deal with, and how much time you want to spend organizing your scraps.

Bonnie Hunter has written in detail about her Scrap User's System. She cuts all her leftovers into specific sizes, ones she knows she will use, and sorts them by color. I quickly determined this was more organization than I want to do. But it clearly works for her so check it out, it might be perfect for you.

Here are a few quilts I have made just from the fabrics stored in the shoeboxes, not from yardage cut up. I always try to use the leftovers first:

Staying at Grammie's, made for a new Grandma friend

Trash to Treasure Pineapple Blocks

I Wish You a Merry Christmas, given away

A Queen Size Four Patch quilt given away, only the border was yardage

A quilt-along project from Humble Quilts, only the golds were Fat Quarters
Scrappy Trips with piano key borders, given away, 2.5" strips cut from the shoeboxes

So, I do use my "scraps"--good thing, since I have a lifetime supply and make more every day. What do you do with your scraps?

Let's quilt!