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.

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.)

“A Lovely Year of Finishes”

Hosted by

Shanna of Fiber of All Sorts




I just saw this challenge posted and decided to join in.  First because having a deadline makes me more accountable.  I can get very distracted and end up with too many projects at one time.  And second, because it fits with the goals I have in mind anyway.

My plan this week is to catalog the projects I’ve completed in 2012, the works still in progress, and any new projects I plan (at this point) to start.  One major goal will be stash busting.  My fabric bins are overflowing.  And my wallet will thank me.  Now to see if I have the discipline….I can tell you that is pretty shaky.  Especially with the beautiful fabrics that continually come out.  Salt Water 😦 and Luxe in Bloom 😦 to name a couple.

So back to the Lovely Year of Finishes challenge.  The goal is to identify what you will finish that month, post the goal and then post progress and success throughout the month.  My January was easy to document.  The quilt below on the left is a baby quilt for a good friend’s new grand baby.  It’s a semi-modified Turning Twenty pattern and measures 50 x 50.  I’m trying to choose fabrics for the back now and want it quilted by the end of this coming weekend.

Next is my Tula Pink’s ‘Love‘ quilt.  It’s basted and ready to go.  I just need to get the nerve to get started on it.  Wish me luck that I don’t mess up all that beautiful negative space.  Notice the pinning??  Those are the new (for me) Pinmoors I’ve seen advertised by a few shops.  A darling friend, Melissa, gifted these to me at our recent guild meeting just because she new I wanted to try them!  Melissa and Marty were instrumental in helping me get our modern quilt guild (NELA MQG) started this past October.  We are still small, but I hope we can build some excitement this coming year.  We have had a lot of fun so far and are really excited about it.

50" x 50" Turning Twenty Baby Quilt, and Tula Pink's Love quilt
50″ x 50″ Turning Twenty Baby Quilt, and Tula Pink’s Love quilt

So that’s the goal for January….it’s really longer than that, but I do like keeping it manageable when possible.  What about you?  Do you need a deadline to keep you on track?  Check out the challenge above.  You can have (another) reason for finishing a project on time and have the chance at prizes as well.  Maybe I’ll get lucky enough to win a fabric certificate and add to those overflowing bins… Oh yeah!  DISCIPLINE.  (riiiiighhht)

Teri Lucas tutorial for Kaleidoscope

Another post from the 2012 FMQ Challenge hosted by SewCalGal.  Can you tell I’m trying to clean my slate for the new year?  😀

Teri Lucas presented a tutorial based on using software like Kaleidoscope to deconstruct images into kaleidoscopes and using the images in quilting.  Kaleidoscope looks reasonable and fun to use, but it is a Windows program and I’m on a Mac.  But Teri provided a pdf of the following block for us to practice quilting.  I do love this block.  The colors are some of my favorites.

Kaleidoscope Tutorial2


I used Dritz Inkjet Printable Fabric in a Canon printer to create the fabric.  The quilting was done on a Bernina 820 with YLI Silk thread in a pinkish taupe.  I started with a tension close to one.  Then I dropped the tension again.  I was still seeing threads pulling on curves and dropped the tension to .5 which seemed to work.  The thread broke on me once during the quilting, which is better luck with silk than I have had in the past.  I believe I lowered tension to .5 after the thread broke.

My echoing and stippling need work and this was a good piece to practice on.  This is a great piece to use for practicing feathers.  I’ve got to do a few more like this.

I’m trying to decide what to make out of this piece and may use it on a bag.

Thanks to Teri Lucas for sharing her expertise and her time with us during this challenge.  This was a really fun and useful exercise.  As always, kudos to SewCalGal for putting this together.

Anyone wanting to broaden their free motion quilting experience should really take a look at the tutorials still on line while they’re still there.  Incredible value.


Trapunto with Diane Loomis

As part of the 2012 FMQ Challenge hosted by SewCalGal, I attempted the Trapunto tutorial offered by Diane Loomis.  I probably should have used the pattern she offered.  Instead I used a Celtic design.  It was definitely a learning process and something I will use in the future.

Trapunto Detail
Trapunto Detail
Celtic Design in Trapunto
Celtic Design in Trapunto


1)  If I had it to do over, I would use a higher loft batting for the initial trapunto application.  The center circle design stood up some, but the interlocking ‘ropes’ on the corners and around the design ended up pretty flat.  It could be that the design didn’t offer enough space to fluff.

2)  To begin I was using a lighter bobbin thread during the trapunto stage.  It showed a bit.  Wish I hadn’t done that.

3)  Used green YLI Silk thread for some of the quilting.  It blended almost perfectly with the green batik.  At first I liked working with it, but it began to break on me.  Played with the tension some, but it kept breaking.  Not sure what was behind that. ….  If anyone has ideas, I would appreciate the feedback.

4)  Switched to Isacord thread in a slightly paler, lime green.  I always like working with Isacord, so didn’t have a lot of problems after that.

This was fun and I definitely want to try it again.  Thanks to SewCalGal for hosting the FMQ Challenge and a huge thanks to Diane Loomis for offering the tutorial on trapunto.  It was excellent with wonderful detail and photos.

SewCalGal’s 2012 FMQ Challenge in Review

Early in the year I was lucky enough to stumble across SewCalGal’s free motion quilting challenge.  The caliber of instructors to provide tutorials were just amazing.  I had only just gotten into quilting the summer of 2011 and had wanted to learn free motion quilting so this challenge was perfect for me.  The resources online are incredible, but this challenge provided insights from so many wonderful instructors and provided so many viewpoints.

I want to extend a HUGE “THANK YOU” to SewCalGal for hosting this challenge and to each of the instructors for sharing their time and experience with us.

1Jan, 2Feb, 3Mar, 4Apr, 5May, 6Jun, 7Jul, 8Aug, 9Sep, 10Oct,11Nov, 12October Bonus    Right: Some of my practice sandwiches for the year, and Trapunto detail
1Jan, 2Feb, 3Mar, 4Apr, 5May, 6Jun, 7Jul, 8Aug, 9Sep, 10Oct,11Nov, 12October Bonus
Right: Some of my practice sandwiches for the year, and Trapunto detail

[The photos were taken with my new Nikon D5100, but still appear too dark.  I’ll have to keep working on that.]

It was actually fun reviewing the year in order to write these posts.  I kept thinking, “Oh!  that was my favorite!”  Then I would get to another and think the same thing.  The instructors were just incredible!  Did I mention that?

Even though I still have a long way to go, I look at the first samples and can see the improvements I’ve made.  There were a couple sandwiches I couldn’t find and had to redo in order to get photos.  They were so much easier now.  Although, feathers are still such a challenge for me.  Diane Gaudynski makes them look so easy and so beautiful.  Mine are just pathetic.  I was looking at my initial attempts and HAD to recreate one to photo.  What you see in the collage above was just quilted today. As a matter of fact, I believe I will show you what I mean!  Below are some of my attempts to date.  Sad, just sad.

1.Dec 2012, 2.Feb 2012, 3.4.5. Feb-Nov 2012
1.Dec 2012, 2.Feb 2012, 3.4.5. Feb-Nov 2012

Unfortunately, I’m still working on December and wanted to get this post entered before the deadline.    December is borders and I’ve already started playing with designs.  Christmas totally sidetracked me from the FMQ fun.  I really enjoyed watching all the other submissions.  Some are just incredibly fabulous!

Many of the tutorials were still up last time I looked.  If you’re interested in FMQ you really should check out the SewCalGal site.   Again, thanks so very much to SewCalGal and to all the instructors.  I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge.





My contribution to Pin It, Sew It.


As part of Alyssa Lyncher's, Pin It! Sew It!, I've completed my version of a 
sewing machine cover by Ellison Lane Quilts.  Tutorial found here.

Her version:  

My version:
Sewing Machine Cover

I measured the cover to fit my Bernina 820 (the Hoss) and the measurements 
were RIGHT ON.  As in, next time I'll add another 1/2" to 1" for a little 
more clearance.  I also created mine to have closed ends and used Malka 
Dubrawsky's, Stitch in Color, for the patchwork sewing machine.  
I just love the fabrics.  The tutorial was easy to follow 
and Ellison Lane Quilts has some pretty awesome tutorials.  You should 
check out her blog.

Thanks to Alyssa for starting the Pin It! Sew It! linkup.  
It's always fun to see what others 're'create.