Wednesday, October 5, 2016

I Heart B&C Sampler

Over a year ago I participated in an Instagram Bee called "I Heart B&C" {Bonnie & Camille}. It was a talented group and each month we made 2 sampler blocks for 2 different members of the group. Which meant each month 2 beautiful blocks arrived in my mailbox. Yay for happy mail!

I added a few additional blocks and now have a super cute 20 block Sampler Quilt...

It took a while to decide how I wanted to set the blocks together. Some of them seemed to want to float {like that adorable Strawberry block} and others seemed to need a frame. After thinking and thinking, I came up with the idea to frame half the blocks in a solid aqua and half in the white background fabric. Then I alternated the two.

The back is a wide back check from Vintage Picnic, then bound with a diagonal stripe. 

I played with different quilting designs on each block. It was really good practice for both coming up with and idea and executing it. Some worked better than others :) This Dresden was a favorite...

We took advantage of this beautiful Fall day to photograph the quilt at one of our favorite locations ~ The Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery. The Swamp Rabbit Trail is a 21 mile walking/running/biking trail here in Greenville. This stop has a fantastic grocery with local products and a great cafe.

Biking is big in Greenville as is art on buildings {as is food!} and this is the side of the bike rental building. The rabbit's going very fast!...

But the tortoise has a spare!

It's a great stop if you're local! You can spot it by the giant bike on the roof!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sweet Stars Sewalong

I first "met" Peta, a lovely Australian quilter, on Instagram. I was drawn to her soft, fresh, pretty quilts and her sweet personality. She has a great blog - She Quilts A Lot - {which she does!} and has started patterning her original designs.

Today I'm here as a stop on her Sew Along for one of her newest designs Sweet Stars.

When she sent me the pattern, I decided I had to give this sweet quilt a go as it has 3 of my favorite blocks {is it crazy to have favorite blocks?} - Ohio Star, Sawtooth Star and Weathervane.

I pulled a small bundle of fabric called "Mimosa" that had been sitting in my stash, added a few extras and made a fun little quilt that will be going to our guild's charity project.

We've all been asked to share a bit of quilting basic advice and my topic is... 

Perfect, Wobble-Free Borders Every Time

I found this Dresden block sitting in my UFO pile and I think it's time it had some borders!

If you ever find that your quilt will not lie flat or the borders are a bit wavy, chances are the borders are not exactly the same size or cut exactly to fit.

The number one thing not to do is sew a border on one side, trim the excess and then sew a border to the other side and trim the excess. Chances are that after all your careful piecing, fabric being the stretchy thing that it is, the edges of your quilt are not exactly the same length. When you simply sew on a border and then trim it to the length of your quilt, your borders may be 1/4" - 1/2" or more different in length. And we all know from grade school math that squares are not squares and rectangles are not rectangles if the opposite sides are not exactly the same length.

You may have learned to measure your quilt with a tape measure and cut your borders to that length. That's great if you're a really good measurer! I must not be because for years, I measured and the borders still did not fit.

You've heard the phrase "measure twice, cut once". It's a good one, but for me the better advice is "don't measure at all". Here's what I mean and what I've started doing...

1 ~ Cut 2 borders a few inches longer than the side of your quilt {For a bigger quilt, you will have to piece your strips together}. Press the strips wrong sides together so they're nice and flat.

2 ~ Lay both strips along one edge of your quilt. If your quilt is longer than your table, pin both borders and slide it across the table.

note ~ some people like to do this along the center of the quilt - it's a great idea if you think your edges might be a bit wonky.

3 ~ Use a rotary cutter and a ruler to trim both borders the same size as your quilt, using the horizontal lines on the ruler to be sure the edge is nice and square.

4 ~ The bottom strip is perfectly placed and ready to be pinned along the length of your quilt. Flip the top border strip to the other edge and pin. This border may not fit exactly! Pin all along the edge easing in either the quilt or the border. It's actually really easy to ease in along a long border length. This is where our stretchy fabric is our friend :)

Once two sides are sewn and pressed, repeat the same technique on the other two sides.

Ta da! Perfectly flat borders and you didn't even have to search for your measuring tape!

If you'd love to make this quilt just like Peta's, Fat Quarter Shop is offering a kit for it.

Follow along with the other bloggers for more great tips!

29 August
Peta from She Quilts A Lot
Let's get this party started!

1 Sept 
Amy from Diary of a Quilter 
Selecting fabrics to make a beautiful quilt

5 Sept 
Christine from Stitching Revival 
Learn the easiest (and most proven trick) to help with accuracy

8 Sept 
Kirsty from Bonjour Quilts 
Mastering the humble half square triangle

12 Sept 
Kimberly from the Fat Quarter Shop 
Sweet & simple: the Sawtooth Star block

15 Sept 
Sedef from Down Grapevine Lane 
Everything you need to know about easy corner triangles

19 Sept 
Nadra from Ellis and Higgs 
Pretty & Practical: Quarter square triangles & the Ohio Star block

22 Sept 
Cindy from Hyacinth Quilt Designs 
Perfect, wobble free, borders every time

26 Sept 
Jemima from Tied with a Ribbon 
Machine & free motion quilting tips

29 Sept 
Debbie from Happy Little Cottage 
Fast and accurate machine binding to get your project finished

30 Sept
Peta from She Quilts A Lot
Wrap Up & Giveaway

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chic Country Quilt Start

This is my first try with the Quick Curve Ruler, which has been out for quite a while. I'm always reluctant to buy a ruler that has only limited uses. Which is why I've put this one off for some time even though I love so many of the patterns created for it.

The Quick Curve Ruler is the brainchild of Jenny from Sew Kind of Wonderful.

So many of her patterns designed for the ruler are great, but I fell for Chic Country. The gray with a pop of orange quilt on the cover is beautiful, but me being me, I wanted to try a different look. I thought some of the smaller prints from Bonnie and Camille's new line "Little Ruby" would be soft, fresh and vintage looking in this pattern.

My plan is to make 3 red blocks with the rest of the quilt done in white and aqua. Here's my start - I wanted to see if I had the stamina to sew all those curves...

I wouldn't recommend this pattern to a brand new quilter, but the curves are gentle and pretty easy to stitch. The block components are squared up after stitching the curves, which leaves some wiggle room in the curvy piecing. The hardest part is matching up all those points on the blocks, but after finishing the set of nine blocks, I'm already better at it.

{And you won't see to many closeups of my points! We'll just say they're close!}

I think it's going to be really pretty - at least I hope so!

I finished up another little quilt this past week and donated it to my Greenville MQG for the ongoing quilts for kids charity project. The blocks were a start of the Reverse Sawtooth that I posted about here. They're the original 8" size from the pattern and were sitting once I changed my mind on the size and fabric.

It's so nice to send these potential UFOs off to be loved and cuddled!

Thank you all for engaging a bit here on the blog. I read and enjoy all your comments! If you need an answer from me, be sure to leave an email or email me directly as most comments come to me as "no-reply". My email address is

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Scrappy Trip

I'm probably the last quilter in this century to make a Scrappy Trip. I'm not a big fan of really scrappy quilts, so while the idea was great and so many of the quilts I've seen are beautiful, I didn't have an inclination to make one. Until I saw Allison's of Woodberry Way.

She made a gorgeous planned Scrappy Trip and I fell in love with it. I decided to go ahead and try one using a limited color palette of black, teal, mint and pinky red.

The top is done! I followed Allison's directions found here. She made the blocks larger than the original quilt design.

I made one slight variation to the directions because I wanted all my seams to nest, which makes it tons easier to put the blocks together.

When piecing the strips, I pressed all the seams away from the background fabric. This made the rows go together easily within each block.

With this design you make 2 different blocks {one with a print in the upper corner and one with a background}. I wanted the seams to nest as I sewed the blocks together, so instead of turning them, as Allison directs, I created 2 different blocks.  This also allowed me to keep the black squares going diagonally across the quilt.

The rows for each block are pressed in opposite directions making the seams nest as the blocks and rows are joined.

Block 1:

Block 2:

Block 1:

Block 2:

Thank you all for the advice on my bag {that many of you pointed out would make a great bin!}. I'm thinking the heavy quilting just shrunk {shrank?} the bag too much. Several of you suggested, measuring the finished outer portion and cutting the lining once the bag is quilted. Always adding interfacing to the lining fabric sounds like a good idea also! I still need to add the handles or maybe I'll just use it as a storage bin! Fat quarters maybe?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

WIP Thursday...

I enjoyed reading all your comments on my last post with my thoughts on blogging. Sounds like I'm not the only one who is a blog reading fan! I'm planning on making an effort to interact with my favorite bloggers more, which boils down to commenting more. Hope you'll join me!

How about a WIP day? I kind of fell away from posting these once Lee from Freshly Pieced stopped hosting the link-up. But today I'm back with a WIP post.

I'm not a one-project girl, and here's what I'm working on...

I mentioned in my last post that I'm making a not-so-scrappy Scrappy Trip. That one's still in progress with 4 blocks left to make.

My second piecing project is using Les Fleurs, a new line by Rifle Paper Company for Cotton + Steel. I've been a big fan of Rifle products for years and this fabric line was a no-brainer. Had to have it.

Do you find it hard to cut into a favorite fabric line? I do - afraid of not liking what I've made. I decided to chop right into this one while I can still get more if necessary!

The block is from this book, Back to Square One, from 1988. I've been gong through some of my archived books and have been finding some awesome patterns.

Here's the style from 1988. The quilt is called Smokehouse and I think it's going to be really pretty in some updated fabrics. At least I hope so!

My current machine quilting project is a sampler quilt. I received 15 blocks from an Instagram Bonnie and Camille Swap group.

I bordered each of the blocks in white or aqua solid and alternated the border colors in setting the blocks together. 

To quilt it, I straight stitched in the sashing created by the borders and now I'm free-motion quilting each block individually.

I'm trying to stretch myself to come up with different custom designs for each block, including some straight lines using the free-motion foot. {i.e.. semi-straight lines}

This book, Free Motion Quilting by Amanda Murphy, has been really handy for ideas.

And finally, I got this far on the market Bag from Handmade Style by Anna Graham in a couple of afternoons this past weekend. It still needs handles and I haven't decided what to use yet. I seem to have a problem with baggy linings in all my bags/pouches. This pattern even had you cut the lining 1/2" smaller, but mine is still pretty baggy. Any words of wisdom on how to alleviate that appreciated!

And that's what's happening here. Hope you're having a great week!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My thoughts on blogs and blogging...

I knew the question at the end of my last post, "Are you reading blogs?", was self-evident. What I didn't expect was the overwhelming response both in the comments and through email. {And the fact that so many of you read to the end of the post!} Thank you! I enjoyed reading your comments and the passion for blogging appears to be alive and well!

First, let me reassure many of you - no, I'm definitely not going to stop blogging. And thank you, thank you for all the compliments :-)

What got me thinking about blogging is some things that I've heard recently. A comment that "blogs are dead", a statement that "blogs are now marketing tools", and Rachel's post pointing out that there are definitely fewer hobbyist bloggers. Couple these comments with the fact that I seem to have lost my blogging mo-jo this Summer. I've been asking myself "do I like my own blog?", "would I read it?". Since joining on Instagram, the blog here has become - look at this finished quilt. Is that all readers want to see?

So I'm feeling the blog needs a little shot of adrenaline {or maybe I do!}

Certainly as many of you pointed out - blogs have changed.

I think that was certainly inevitable and change is good. Shifts and changes improve things - I think of how quilting has improved since my Grandmother's day.

Grandmother's Flower Blocks made by my Grandmother in the 30s
Sometimes the changes don't feel so good. As a passionate blog reader I've noticed:

  • Some of my favorite blogs have disappeared. Many bloggers have used the platform as a jumping off point for a quilting career. And good for them! In 2006, when I wrote my first book, it was tough to get noticed. But it doesn't mean I don't miss some of my favorites. I always looked forward to Camille's {Simplify} beautiful photos and Anna Maria Horner's  beautiful writing. {If you love beautiful writing, read Posie Gets Cozy. She's poetic!}
  • Blogs have become a marketing tool. Several of you mentioned a dislike for blogs that are constantly trying to sell you something. It's the way of the world, but I definitely avoid blogs with too much of that {especially those pop-up ads}
  • Comments are down. I'm guilty of writing fewer comments too {Was it easier to comment when we had Google Reader? I don't remember} I don't blog for comments, but I sure do like them!
In thinking about all this I have been asking myself "What do I want my blog to be?" "Do I want to keep up my 'hobbyist blog'?". The answer is yes - and here's why:
  • Like Thelma commented, my blog is a great diary of my quilts for ME!
  • I've found myself finishing a quilt, folding it up and moving on to the next one. My blog makes me stop, appreciate it, think about it and feel the joy I find in quilt-making.
  • I'm a mediocre photographer and writer. I'd love to improve in both areas and this blog is a way to push myself, practice and hopefully get better.
  • Whenever I figure something out - whether it's a new block, method or twist on a purchased pattern - I feel a need and obligation to share it. I get so much good info from other blogs and bloggers, I can't not give back. It may be a tutorial or just a simple tip to make quilting-life easier.
  • I was watching the Olympic gymnastics with my 6 and 8 year old granddaughters. A few minutes into the competition they both put their bathing suits on and started practicing cartwheels. It made me realize how much seeing another's success and achievements is so motivating. I strive to do that here - inspiring just one person makes my day!
So, yes, I'm still blogging. Things may stay the same or they may improve. We'll just have to see. But these thoughts and your comments have given me that little touch of adrenaline that I needed. 

I'd love to hear from you. What do you like to see?

Finished quilts? - I'll always have those!

In progress photos? I've seem to have gotten away from those.

Scrappy Trip - not so scrappy
Things I make that I don't finish and don't know what to do with? Sad to say there are many!

EPP Hexagons

Fabric Crushes?

Les Fleurs, Playground, new mini Henna garden

Personal stories related to quilting? Like these dresses I made for Elyse and Madelyn this Summer for my son's wedding. {Pictured with their new cousin Ava}

Decorating, storage and organization ideas? Another passion of mine...

Fun storage basket for quilts from Target
Thank you, thank you, thank you for being here and sharing this journey with me. I really do appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to read this blog. As always I love your comments. Those of you who don't fit into the "Post as" profile can always email me. I have that set up so I don't get all the Spam comments.

And as an avid blog reader I'm always looking for new reads. Do you have any favorite "hobbyist blogs"?