QuiltCon, Hear I come!

Profile Photo Blue 1
Unfortunately, this photo is about four years old. I hate taking photos!

The Modern Quilt Guild is having a QuiltCon linky party for those of us lucky enough to be going.   I will be driving to Austin with a guild buddy, Marty, of Marty’s Fiber Musings.  We both are members of the Northeast Louisiana Modern Quilt Guild, otherwise known as NELA MQG, and I have really enjoyed getting to know her.

This linky party is a fun idea.  There are so many blogging friends I would love to meet.  It will be great to put a face to a name.

Now for five things you don’t know about me …. hmmm.

1)  I can count the number of “Best Friends” I’ve had since high school on one hand … and they have ALL moved out of state!

2)  I have sewn most of my life and I can’t really remember actually learning. Mom sewed, knitted, embroidered, painted and everything else I can think of at one time or another and I picked up a lot from just watching her and being around her.  She quilted in her later years and I never picked it up.  It was only a couple years ago that I started following some of the ‘modern’ quilt blogs and found a new obsession.

3)  I hate parties and purely social situations.  Tell me I have to speak to a room full of people or have a business function and I’m fine.  But tell me I have a get together that’s purely social and I start thinking of excuses.  Its a little crazy.

4)  I finished a business degree at 50!  Sometimes I feel it was a waste of time, but I’m still glad I got it done.  I love that my three girls have gotten or are getting their degrees while they’re young.

5)  I recently read a post by a self proclaimed autodidact and I had to look the word up.  It is someone who educates through self study.  Leonard da Vinci and Ernest Hemingway are two people listed as autodidacts.  Not that I’m a da Vinci or a Hemingway, but I loved the word because I relate.  I’m always getting immersed in new hobbies and/or  researching a new interest.  Online learning (Lynda.com is AWESOME!), magazines, books, blogs and so many learning opportunities.

Hopefully I haven’t bored you to death!  I’m looking forward to QuiltCon and to the workshops I’ve signed up for….so fun!!  Hope to see you there!


Michael Miller / Madrona Road Challenge

Michael Miller has hosted a challenge for their Madrona Road fabrics and it is now coming to a close.  Modern Quilt Guild posted some wonderful photos of a few of the projects submitted.  You should check it out here.  There is also a Flickr group for the final projects and there are some really beautiful quilts there.

(It’s funny the things you think of in the middle of the night!…I forgot to credit the designer of this fabric line, Violet Craft.  Can’t have that!  You should see her post which contains the story in the text fabrics.  Such a beautifully written story.)

Today is actually the deadline for submissions, so I’m pushing in just under the deadline!  I knew before I received the fabric I wanted to create a quilted bag to take to QuiltCon, but I waffled on the style.

I have really wanted to try Amy Butler’s Weekender Travel Bag, and Anna Horner’s Art Student Tote, but I couldn’t commit.



I recently traveled for business training and received this bag from Raymond James.  It’s a great size and it’s fast becoming one of my favorite bags.  I drew out the dimensions and recreated it for the Madrona Road fabrics.

MadronaRoadBag Collage

I seem to always find things I don’t like or could do better, but I’m determined not complain or whine my way through this post.  So, while it may be a bit scrappier than I intended and there were a couple places in construction where I could  definitely improve, the bag turned out pretty well.  Since I drafted the pattern from scratch, I was surprised it went together so well and was really pleased.

Thanks to Michael Miller for hosting this challenge and for providing fabric to get started.  Once I had the fabric in my hands, I had to purchase more.  There are some great fabrics in this line.  There’s still plenty left over for a quilt.  Yay!

And thanks to Modern Quilt Guild for spreading the word and making this interesting.

The Leibster Award!

LIEBESTERJenny at Down to Sew has nominated me for the Liebster Award!  It’s a fun “award” passed from blogger to blogger as a way to network and acknowledge some of your favorite blogs. A receiving blog must have less than 200 followers.  Thanks, Jenny!

To participate:
1. Thank and link back up to the one that nominated you (Me).
2. Answer 11 questions asked to you by me.
3. Tell us 11 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 11 of your favorite blogs that have less than 200 followers
5. Ask them 11 questions.

Jenny’s Questions to Me:

1.  What is your favorite healthy snack?    Hmmm, nuts?  I love peanuts, almonds, pecans, cashews.  Okay, some of those aren’t AS healthy, but still.

2. What is your least favorite thing about blogging?  The time necessary to blog ‘intentionally’.  I started blogging to document my quilting and sewing projects.  But I want a blog worth reading, so I think about the blogs I like and what I like about them.  Blogging with some consistency, working to improve photos, and improving content take more thought and time than just throwing something on a page and moving on.  I really admire bloggers who do it well.

3. What was your first sewing project?  The first I remember is when I was in elementary school.  I made a blouse from a Vogue pattern.  It was sort of boxy, with short sleeves and a collar.  I can remember going into the kitchen asking mom some technical question about putting it together.  Funny that I remember that so well.  I did love that blouse.  I was sewing before that, but I know that was my first pattern.

4. Do you organize your fabric, and how?  Sort of.  (What a mess!)  I have my fat quarters and some half yards divided by color in wooden shoe bins…you know, the ones that are four by three cubbies?  They are awesome for storing fat quarters.  I have two and want another.  I also have some larger yardage stored in clear plastic bins so I can see them.

5. Do you play a musical instrument?  I played clarinet in school, and took piano lessons for a few years.  I love music.

6. Name a song that you never get sick of hearing.     What a Wonderful World, by Louis Armstrong!

7. What is your worst sewing injury?   I read that Maureen Cracknell sewed into her finger, then a few weeks later Alyssa Lyncher did the same thing.  While I commiserated with them, in the back of my mind I wondered how they managed to do that.  And of course a few weeks later, I hit my finger!  Not as bad as it could have, but not fun.  My worst might have actually been an iron burn though.

8. Paper, plastic, or bring your own (most likely handmade) bags to the grocery store?   I’ve tried to bring my own fabric bags and always end up forgetting them in the car!  I usually get plastic, but I do wonder about how green they are.  I think they’re supposed to be preferred over paper, and I really don’t get that.  Seems paper would break down quicker.

9. What is the oldest thing in your fridge right now?  Jar of pickles probably.

10. Favorite kind of pie.     Pecan Pie…but I want my own recipe.  I cut the sugar in half.

11. Do you paint your nails?  Rarely.  I actually go through stages of mani/pedi’s.  It’s usually in the summer…barefoot season.  🙂

Eleven Random Things About Me:

1.  I love the Harry Potter series…books and movies.  I want to know what’s happening with Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermoine following the defeat of Voldemort.  I miss them!

2.  I have always enjoyed going to the movies and think nothing of going by myself…which some people consider weird.

3.  Mom says I was always reading something…She would make fun of me reading the cereal box or soup can while eating, just because it was on the table.

4.  I hate cleaning and will find any excuse to avoid it.

5.  I’ve sewn for more than thirty years, but only started quilting in the last two.

6.  I finished my college degree in business administration at 50 years old.

7.  I had a 1970 Mustang in high school and still do a double take when I see vintage Mustangs.

8.  I’ve only been out of the USA once.  I went to Prien Germany a couple years ago.

9.  My brother was an avid hunter and fisherman.  I’ve eaten almost any game you can mention.  I’ve even had fried rattlesnake thanks to my husband, also an avid hunter.

10.  I really don’t like social events where there is a room full of people.  I’m always looking for an excuse to miss parties, showers, weddings and the like.  They just make me nervous.  weird.

11.  And the best for last…I am blessed with the most awesome family.  Not perfect, but perfectly lovely.  I have a husband the makes me so crazy I sometimes want to snatch his head off and I know he would do anything for me.  He is awesome in all the ways that matter.  I have three girls who are crazy about each other.  I just love that about them.  And now I have an awesome son-in-law and a perfect and precious grandson.  No seriously, he is perfect.  You should see him.

Now for the 11 questions for my nominees:

1.  What’s your favorite book? or movie?

2.  Cake or pie?

3.  What sewing project was your all time favorite?

4.  Do you have a favorite fabric manufacturer?  (Moda, Free Spirit, etc)

5.  Who is your favorite fabric designer?

6.  Name a song that you never get sick of hearing.

7.  Where is your favorite vacation spot?

8.  What brings you peace?

9.  What makes you laugh?

10.  Have you tried hand quilting, paper piecing, or embroidery?

11.  How many bees, guilds, or other sewing groups do you belong?

And my nominees are:












Have fun!!


Love Quilt and A Lovely Year of Finishes

As an incentive to get some projects completed, I’m participating in A Lovely Year of Finishes hosted by Sew Bittersweet Designs and Fibers of all Kinds.

I started this Love pattern by Tula Pink in November.  It was super easy and fun to put together, but I was scared to actually start the quilting.  There’s no hiding when quilting on all that lovely negative space.

Love Quilt Collage

I regret I lost sight of the diagonal lines in the gray and there is so much horizontal lines at the letters.  But  overall, I feel this is one of my best jobs yet.

Love Quilt Aurifil Collage

To begin I was using So Fine thread and couldn’t get a good tension.  I actually quilted almost half of one white square before giving it up.  I’m not a believer in ripping out quilting, but I did this time.  No matter how I moved the tension, I had thread sitting on top or on the bottom of the quilt.  I switched over to Aurifil and the difference was dramatic.  I read of a lot of quilters, particularly long arm, who seem to love So Fine, so I’m sure it’s a good quality thread.  Maybe it’s the difference of quilting on a domestic machine, or perhaps my Bernina in particular, but Aurifil seemed to sink into the quilt with very little fussing with tension.

It may be hard to see, but the quilting on the left was done with So Fine and on the right was done with Aurifil.

And then there’s the binding.  There’s something I despise about creating binding.  I don’t mind actually sewing it on the quilt, but don’t like cutting it, piecing it, or ironing it.  But I love the spools of binding when I’m done.  It’s one of those little things that make me smile.  And I love that Tula Pink recommends using a length of each fabric used in the letters.  It’s a nice accent to the quilt.  I roll my binding onto old wooden spools and, based on a suggestion in a recent Superior Threads newsletter, placed it on my thread spindle while sewing it to the quilt.  (My Bernina has three spindles so there was room for the thread and for the binding.)  It worked beautifully.


So that’s one finish for January.  I still have a baby quilt and another special quilt to finish before the month’s out.  I head to Florida for business for most of this week and lose some sewing time.  I’ve gotten pretty greedy with my time and have begun to wonder if sewing is becoming an addiction.  Hmmm..do I really want to find a cure?









Simply Solid Bee – Puce Alternate Block

I’m participating in the Simply Solids Bee hosted by Sew at Home Mummy.  The block I chose was the Duck Creek Puzzle block.  You can find my original post here.   This bee is made up of quilters of all skill levels and I worried I may be making this too hard for some.  I’ve been sewing for more than 30 years and even though I’ve only been quilting a couple years, I take for granted a lot of skills I’ve picked up over the years.

I’m offering an alternate block that I believe will mix in with the Duck Creek Puzzle block and create a fun quilt.  This block is simple and is similar to the string block shown on Film in the Fridge blog which can be found here.  I’m wondering how many people have linked to this tutorial.  I have seen so many of these quilts.  It is a huge favorite.  There is a Flickr swap group that’s dedicated to this block.

First, I want to apologize.  I’ve created this post in a rush and the sewn illustrations aren’t my best.  I believe in ironing seams and I didn’t here.  I was playing with dimensions, so my sample block isn’t really correct or squared, so you just have to use your imagination!  LOL.  Forgive me.

This is a very rough draft and created in a hurry.  Not the best example.
This is a very rough draft and created in a hurry. Not the best example.

I have altered my block so that strips are attached to a base triangle.  We will be making four 6.5″ blocks and attaching pinwheel style.  The color scheme shown is just a suggestion.  You can make the colors totally scrappy if you choose to.

The beginning of this post describes sewing strips in a semi-improvisational style.  The second half of the post describes paper piecing.

As I describe the steps, I will refer to the photos in the following collage as “Pic #”.  

Strip Piecing

To begin, cut your neutral fabric (whites, tans, grays, etc) into two 5 1/4″ x 7″ rectangles and cut into half square triangles (Pic 1).

Cut your colored fabric into 2 1/4″ strips.  If you are cutting yardage, you will need two strips cut wof (width of the fabric).  If you are using fat quarters, I believe you may need four 2 1/4″ strips cut on the 18″ width.  If you are using scrap strips, then you can actually choose pieces as the fit.  You will use less of the ‘brown’ strip.

The first two seams are sewn with edges together.  The last two are slanted to create a fan.  I’ve tried to rough out the layout for you in Pic 2.  Your first colored strip will be sewn to the long edge of your triangle (Pic 3).  Be careful to leave enough length on your strips so that they are long enough when ironed flat.  I have a bad habit of misjudging the direction of the angle and invariably sew a strip that will angle up into the block.  Then it’s back to the seam ripper!   I now tend to leave extra on the ends just in case.  Pic 3 shows me folding the brown strip back before sewing to be sure the strips are edge to edge.

1. Cutting half square triangles, 2. Basic layout, 3. Attaching the first strip, 4. Before sewing, make sure the strip is long enough when folded into place, 5.  Angle strips to create fan, 6. Beginning to square up, 7. Needs one last strip, 8. Finally square using guidelines
1. Cutting half square triangles, 2. Basic layout, 3. Attaching the first strip, 4. Before sewing, make sure the strip is long enough when folded into place, 5. Angle strips to create fan, 6. Oops!  Duplicate,  7. Beginning to square up block, 8. Needs one last strip, 9. Finally square using guidelines

At this point we should be adding our third strip.  You can see (Pic 4) my third strip is red and I am pinning to the brown strip with the edges meeting at one end and angling away from the edge on the other.  You will come in about an inch or so from that edge.  You should end up with the finished strip width of approximately 3/4″ at that end.  The good thing about these blocks is these don’t have to be exact.  The goal is to have a finished block you can cut down to 6 1/5″.

Be aware of your layout.  Notice that the strips angle in on the same side as the short edge of your main triangle.  This will be important.

Pic 7 shows the base triangle with three strips attached.  At this point I begin to square up because I know I only need a small piece for that last stip.  I just need to know where to put it.  At this stage, I square up with an extra 1/4″.  This leaves a little room for error when really truing up the block.

Pic 8 shows my block needing that last strip and you can see what a small piece is needed here.

SimplySolid Puce AlterSquareUpNow we’re ready to true up our block.  We need 6.5″ blocks.  If possible, place your ruler so that the seam line of the first two strips are at the corner of the block, and the seam of the neutral triangle and first strip are at the 1 3/4″ mark.  Ideally, the opposite corner should hit the seam of the neutral triangle and the first strip.  I’m afraid I cut it out of this photo.  (Take a look at the pdf of the paper piece pattern for a better layout.)

Once you have four blocks, arrange them in a pinwheel as shown in photo at beginning of this post, and sew together.  You should have a 12.5″ block at this point.

Voila!  You’re done.  Yay!

Paper Piecing

This block can definitely be paper pieced.  I have created a pdf pattern that you are free to use.  A couple opinions about paper piecing.  You can get great definition when using paper piecing and it’s great for using odd sized scraps of fabric.  The most frustrating part of paper piecing to me is removing the paper when your done!  That’s what usually stops me from fooling with it.  I have found that the newsprint paper you can find in art or craft stores have been the easiest to tear away.  And once it’s cut down it will feed through your printer, so that’s a definite plus.

Other than that, if you haven’t paper pieced before it may seem a bit backwards.  I will do my best to describe the steps, but I believe there are probably much better resources online.  Feel free to let me know your favorite source.  I’d love to share them.

Shorten your stitch length.  I usually set mine about 2 or 2.25.  Shortening your stitch improves your ability to tear the paper away when you’re done.  Think of perforated paper in the notebooks these days.

To begin, the pdf I’m providing is a scant 6.5″ block, so be sure to allow extra on the edges.  I almost always allow extra on the edges when I paper piece because it is much easier to cut down than to realize you’re short and have to start over.

You will be sewing on the printed side of the paper.  Your fabric will be pinned to the backside.  This will seem really strange.  As seamstresses, we expect to use the fabric as our seam guide…can’t do that here.

So you will begin by placing your triangle base under your paper pattern.  Your first strip is the easiest to place.  You should still be able to match edges and pin so that your seam line falls at 1/4″ from edge of fabric (Pic 1).  Stitch paper side up using lines as guides (Pic 3).  Although I haven’t done so for this demonstration, I would highly recommend you iron strips back as you sew these.  Your block will have a great finish and it will be much easier to square up at the end.

Pic 2 shows first strip sewn in place and folded back.  You can see where it is pinned, the strip is a little short.  This is what I warned you about earlier and why I usually allow extra length for my strips.  It is hard to see here since my white triangle and paper base are both light, but as you sew the fabric to the backside of the block it will fold out to be the right side of the block.  Your seams are getting caught between the fabric and the paper pattern.  This is one of the reasons paper piecing seems backwards at first.

1. Pinning, 2.
1. Pinning, 2. First strip sewn and folded back, 3.  Stitching paper side up, 4. Marking seam lines 5. Attaching second strip, 6. Paper will need to be folded back so these seams can be trimmed.

As you add strips, it gets a little tougher to gauge were your seem lines are and where you should place your fabric.  At this point I pin the top and bottom of my seam lines with pins (Pic 4).  I can now turn block over and use those pins as markers to place fabric strips.  Remember the pins are marking seam lines, so the fabric is placed at least 1/4″ past pins.

As you start angling your strips to create the fan, your seam edges need to be trimmed (Pic 6).  Just fold paper back and use your rotary cutter and ruler to clean these up.  Remember, it’s best to do this as you go because these will be caught between the paper as you attach your next strip.

Continue in this way to finish the block.  Because you have the paper base, you can always tell how long a strip you need for the next section.  That is a nice point for paper piecing.  Just be sure your strip is long enough on the ends when you iron the strip back.  (Am I wearing that out yet?  That is always my downfall!)

Once you’re done and given you block a final press, rotary cut your block to a 6.5″ square.  Again, if you’re using my pdf, the grid is a scant 6.5″ and you will want to use your ruler, not the grid markings.

When squaring the final block, use the visual points mentioned above (seam line of neutral triangle and first strip should be at one corner and seam of first two strips should hit the opposite corner); but since you’ve paper pieced, these points should naturally fall in place.  Then you have the fun of tearing away the paper.  Ugh!  Big Ugh!  When using copy paper, I use steam in my iron when pressing in hopes it will help weaken the paper.  Fold the paper at a seam line and try to tear as you would a perforated sheet of paper.  For me it’s never that easy and I’m always pulling bits of paper out of my seams.  For those of you that are pros at this, feel free to leave tips in the comments.  I would really love to hear them.

Okay, wow!  This post feels huge!  I hope I’ve given you the information you need without overwhelming you.

Again, if you have any tips or suggestions, please share.  One of the great things about bees is having the opportunity to learn new things.  We all seem to have our specialties

But most important … Have FUN!

Scrap Busting Session

The new year is supposed to be one of those prime times for reorganizing and my sewing room needs a major overhaul.  One goal is to empty my scrap bins.  Here are a couple of bins of odd sized pieces.

Scrap Bins
Scrap Bins

I’m going to start improvisational piecing blocks until I clear most of the scrap stashes.

Today I worked for about four hours and have made a small dent.

These are the blocks I’ve finished so far.  Amazing how far a few scraps will go.

Blocks I've finished so far.
Blocks I’ve finished so far.




I also worked on a block for Curve It Up Quilt Along hosted at SewKindOfWonderful.

Block Six ... Curvy Geese
Block Six … Curvy Geese


I have had the Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful for almost a year, but still haven’t given it a try until now.  I have been watching all the fun blocks being created in this QAL, but with Christmas and the holidays, I haven’t been able to really get involved.  If possible, I’m going to work backwards and complete these blocks in shades of peach, gray and white.

This ruler is amazingly easy to use.  The blocks came our just as expected.  Great ruler!

And that’s my day today.  Hope you’ve had a chance to sew this weekend.

Simply Solids Bee – Duck Creek Puzzle

Erin, at Sew at Home Mummy, started a Simply Solids bee for the year.  I’ve signed up for February and have chosen my block.   I typically don’t work with blocks that require templates and this one does.  Hopefully I won’t have everyone up in arms the first month up!


This block is called Duck Creek Puzzle and I found it in BlockBase, a  CD-ROM Version of Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns.  I will be asking the bee group to stash bust and make this up in 4 colors…preferable 3 colors and a neutral.  I think this could be a fun quilt in a multi color version.

When making the center block, I started the seam connecting the middle square to the triangle where the right angles meet, and stopped the seam about an inch from the end of the square.  I attached each triangle to the center square in this way.  On the last triangle, you can now continue the seam which attaches the triangle ends together.  Work around this section and connect all triangle ends to complete your center block section.

DuckCreekPuzzle CtrBlock


Once that center block is constructed, you will want to pair the outside triangles (C and B) and connect a pair of triangle sets to “A”.

Sew an “A” to each side of the center block.  You should now have three ‘rows’.  (see photo top right below).  Match the seam points and sew to complete blocks.  Finished blocks are approximately 12.5″.  One of my blocks was just under 12.5″ and one was right at 12.5.  But they’re close enough to match for the quilt top.

And here are a couple finished blocks…

DuckCreekPuzzle Collage

And now to submit to Bee Momma and see what my group thinks.

Edited 1/10/13:  Great history, description and photos of this block here.  Can anyone tell me copyright rules on a block like this?  It was originally printed by Nancy Cabot in July 17, 1937.  Am I able to post a pdf of the templates without infringing on copyrights??

(update July 13, 2013…Block diagram and templates are posted on Template page.)