Monday, August 31, 2020

2020 Monthly Color Challenge - September

Subtitle: How to fix a quilt block boo-boo

Well folx, somehow we have made it thru 2020 all the way to the month of September. And that means a new block in the free Block of the Month party hosted by Patterns by Jen.  Jen has been churning out lovely 2020 Monthly Color Challenge block patterns every month, with each month having a different color focus.

I present to you: cinnamon!  (Bird inspiration: cinnamon teal)

When I signed up to participate as a blogger for 2020, I chose months with colors that spoke to me.  I mostly play in the warm/earth tones end of the color wheel, so cinnamon was such a natural fit.

Here is my completed block

Astute fabric aficionados will notice the use of Fairy Frost by Michael Miller (color: coin) as my feature fabric.  This follows last month's use of neon pink Fairy Frost in the flamingo block.

It was a fun block to try out the technique of 4-at-a-time flying geese (otherwise known as no-waste flying geese).  And to give a bit of breathing room, in the face of some of my previous busy blocks.

But what I really want to share with you today is how to come back from adversity when making a quilt block.  Because we all know that "adversity" happens.  And in this case, it was more adversity than even a seam ripper could have helped with.

Did you notice my block's boo-boo?  Not sure how it happened, but I managed to cleanly cut off a corner of the background fabric, after the block was constructed.  (If you saw my cluttered, disorganized sewing space, it might make perfect sense. #honestcraftroom as Jen says.)


The old perfectionist me would have cut a new square of the needed size and re-sewn that portion of the block.  But maybe I wouldn't have had enough extra fabric to do that--I am making these blocks entirely from stash, after all.  So what other option does one have?

Well, you can just patch that bit with more of the same fabric.  Not the first time I've done this sort of rescue (not the first time I've cut into a completed block, yikes).  And although it looks glaringly obvious when I'm 10" away from the block, I've never had a regret about using this technique once the quilt was complete and in use.  The quilting step hides a multitude of sins.

Things to keep in mind if you "patch" a quilt block this way:

  • cut off more fabric, if that makes the area to patch a more regular shape (in this case, a 45-degree angle, instead of the random hack that was there originally)
  • pay attention to grainline of your patch, where possible (another reason for making the 45-degree angle)
  • if the fabric has a strong pattern, be willing to overlook pattern-matching issues (this mottle does not count as a strong pattern)
  • oversize your patch and trim to size after it is stitched in place
  • press open this seam, so the patched section lies flatter
  • due to pressing seam open, consider a shorter stitch length and switching to a matching thread color (seams pressed open tend to show stitching more than those pressed to one side)
  • most importantly, don't point out your mistake!  Unless you're writing a blog post about it, know one ever needs to know.


Thanks for reading this far.  Be sure and go check out the other bloggers who are showing off their September blocks.

Wendy of Pieceful Thoughts

Sarah of Sew Joy Creations

Alla of rainbows. bunnies. cupcakes (that's me!)

Tammy of Tamarinis

Sandra of Textile Time Travels

Joanne of Everyone Deserves a Quilt

And did you know there are SPONSORS?  Link up your block at the end of September (to Jen's linky party) and you might win something from one of these generous donors (these are the 3rd quarter sponsors--prizes will be awarded October 1st)


Sponsors July thru September

Quilters Chic - PDF Pattern
For The Love of Geese - PDF Pattern
Carole Lyle Shaw - Pattern and Grunge bundle
Quilters Dream Batting - Dream 80/20 - 60" x 60"
The Fat Quarter Shop - Fabric Bundle

Warm Company - Warm 80/20 - 55" x 60"
Warm Company - 1 yard Insul-Bright
Make Modern Magazine - 6 month subscription
Patterns By Jen - Superior Thread S-Fine 50
Patterns By Jen - Magic Wand


Sunday, March 17, 2019

Quilt Qwazy Queens - a tiny wardrobe

For World-wide Quilting Day in March, Marian from Seams to Be Sew hosts an annual blog hop.  This year's theme for "Quilt Qwazy Queens" has us post about our craziest make.  I must admit that I've made my share of crazy unusual items over the years.  (See here, here, and here, for example.)

I'd like my epitaph to be about my boundless optimism and wild creativity...

Note: giveaway info and full blog hop schedule at the end of this post.

Today's post is about a tiny wardrobe.  And the handsome fella who gets to wear it.

Meet Oakie: world traveler & fashion icon

It all started with the raincoat.  Oakie came home from a spring break trip to England where he had spent much of his sightseeing time inside a ziplock bag due to the incessant rain.  (Spring can be that way, right?)  Sweetie asked if I could make Oakie a raincoat.  Um, sure thing.  Black pleather OK for that?  And a visor on the hood (to keep his beak from getting wet).  And a striped lining (just because I can).

Casual beach attire

Formal wear (the lad has been in multiple weddings)

Hanging out at QuiltCon 2018

Dive hoodie: a real hit with the ladies

Makes friends wherever he goes

Tiny dinosaur backpack--with pockets & piping!

You didn't really get to see all the places Oakie has been: London was just the tip of the iceberg for this little guy.  He makes a great travel companion--takes far better photos in front of the coliseum in Rome or Hubbard Glacier in Alaska or the Sydney Opera House than anyone else.

His wardrobe has grown to the extent that I made him luggage (seen in photo at right).  And I talked others into participating in the tiny wardrobe madness.  The mini-quilt and orange life vest pictured above were made by others (as were his Santa hat and Minion beanie).

And, as he clearly loves the camera so much, I go to great lengths to photograph Oakie & post to Instagram

Someday, I will make tiny clothes for grandchildren.  But for now, this is my craziness.  Thank you so much for the chance to show off. 


There are two $35 gift certificates for The Fat Quarter Shop to be won by some lucky blog reader and commenter.  The Rafflecopter link is here.  Closes on March 20, 2019.

Full Blog Hop schedule:

March 18, 2019
Days Filled With Joy
Life In the Scrapatch
Rainbows. Bunnies. Cupcakes. (you are here)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Text It! Blog Hop - life is short...

Hello BlogHoppers!  I'm Alla (rhymes with Paula).  I love fabric and whimsy and learning new things, so I jumped on the chance to play with wool and applique in ways that are new to me.  Welcome to the "Stay Awake" day of the Text It! Blog Hop.

When I was looking thru Sherri Noel's book Text It! Quilts and Pillows with Something to Say, there were so many projects that appealed to me.  I knew I couldn't make just one.  In fact, I'm working on 3! (I may have a problem with focus.)

But the main one I wanted to share on the Blog Hop was the  Stay Awake wallhanging.  The reason?  This sign on my kitchen door:

It was a phrase my mother often used.  I purchased this decal from the Etsy shop It's Written in Vinyl just after mom was killed in 2015.  Needless to say, I knew which project was first on my list.

Sherri's book encourages you to make the projects your own: there are seven full alphabets included, not just the letters for the words in the book.  Advice: if you do change the wording, some other things might have to change:
  • the amount of wool/fabric needed for applique
  • the size of your background fabric
  • the orientation of the piece
This last change, orientation, came as a surprise to me.  I was placing my words this-way and that on the background, and just couldn't get them to look right to me.  The word "dessert" was just too long; no other words wanted to fit on the same line with it.  So I switched from landscape to portrait.

Behind the Seams: cup applique from the back

For the cup and saucer applique, I used a freezer-paper technique from Jenifer Dick's book The Modern Applique Workbook.  This was a new-to-me technique, but it worked out well.  Just as shown in the Text It! book, the individual pieces are layered--cup over the saucer, cup interior over the cup--rather than being fully separate from each other.  For the freezer-paper technique, I stitched everything down with a narrow zigzag monofilament. Which is another new-to-me technique.  (Don't you love learning new things?!)

I also chose to piece my background, because I really wanted to use this chocolate-bar novelty print for the word "dessert".  But I also totally wanted to use a cream-colored wool felt (this project in the book uses wool for all the letters).  Solution?  Two different fabrics for the background, with the cup and saucer applique artfully spanning the dividing line.

Had so many questions as I worked with wool for the first time.  I discovered: wool felt is not the same as felted wool.  It all worked out in the end.

Since my amazing chocolate-bar-print really didn't show up as well as I hoped, I chose to add a novelty chocolate border.  More is more, I always say.  #maximalist

My final note on construction involves outlining the applique letters.  I used machine blanket stitch on the quilting cotton letters.  Since I have worked on multiple projects from this book, I have ended up using three different sewing machines.  Each of their blanket stitches are just a touch different, requiring adjustments of stitch length and width, and especially tension.  I also learned that there is such a thing as a non-stick sewing machine needle (who knew?), which could have helped with the buildup of gunk on my needle while blanket-stitching around the applique letters.  Advice: choose the sewing machine with the knee-lift when doing blanket stitch around applique!

My whip stitch (before I ripped it out)
For the wool letters, I tried the recommended whip stitch by hand, but didn't end up liking the way it looked.  I think my use of wool felt, rather than felted wool, contributed to this.  I un-stitched, and used a simple running stitch instead.  For thread, I tried cotton sashiko floss.  I had heard some of my wool enthusiast friends talking about how nicely it pairs with wool, and has a matte finish.  It was definitely easy to work with in this application.  I bought mine through Kimonomomo.  (I will be giving away a skein to a commenter on this post; see below.)

Buy the book

Sherri's book is so awesome!  As I said at the top of this post, I'm working on other projects from the book, because they are just so very appealing.  Plus, I've used her alphabets to write messages on other projects I had in the works, too.  If you'd like to purchase a signed copy of the book, you can get it directly from the author at her Rebecca Mae Designs online shop.

Giveaways (win the book?)

  • Book publisher Martingale has generously offered a copy of the book for me to give away to a lucky visitor to this blog (U.S. only).  
  • Aurifil is giving away two spools of thread.
  • I am offering a small bundle of fat quarters of the swirl and chocolate fabrics used in my project plus a skein of sashiko thread.
  • Grand prize: Sherri Noel has a final giveaway bundle available through commenting on any/all of her Blog Hop posts (like today's post)
To Enter:  
Leave a comment below telling me what phrase you'd like to applique onto a quilty project. Winners of the 3 different prizes will be selected by random drawing on March 19th.  (If your comments are set to "no reply" I have no way to contact you and you cannot win.)
If you live in Canada, Joanne is holding the giveaway for the book from her blog, Quilts by Joanne.

Keep Hopping

Sharing posts with me today are:
Becca Fenstermaker  at Pretty Piney
Katie Bock at Sewing with Katie

Thank you JW Marriott dessert bar!
Go show them some love!

Plus, see the full schedule of bloggers at Rebecca Mae Designs. 

The Blog Hop for Text It! started on March 4th and goes through the 16th.  Thanks so much for visiting!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

I'm too OLD for all this NEW efficiency

Starting to feel old: the number of apps and software efficiency tools I want to learn is growing... at the same time my patience with learning new technology gadgets is growing thin.

Weren't we promised a world where technology would make our lives simpler?  It seems, lately, that all the digital things that will make my life easier involve me learning a new widget. I mean app. Or software. Or some such.

What follows is a list of the software/apps I am currently struggling to learn.  (Keeping in mind that I generally love learning new things...)
BOM block drafted in EQ8

EQ8 - The pinnacle of quilt design software. Finally upgraded from EQ6 (thanks for the birthday $$ Dad!)  I know more than I think I do, but there's a learning curve nevertheless.  My heart's desire is to be able to easily upload images of my fabric stash, so that my quilt designing is taken to the next level.

AirTable - I gave up on Trello for project management. I have high hopes for AirTable. I really do want to be an organized human when I grow up.

SquareSpace - I want to migrate from Blogger to my own website one day.  Students from previous sewing and quilting classes have asked where I am teaching next.  Prospective quilt shops and guilds would like to know what I teach and when I might have openings in my schedule.  And maybe I have a couple patterns to sell...someday.  Meanwhile, I am fiddling with my employer's SquareSpace website, and feeling entirely inadequate to the task.  (They should never have let me into the deep end of the pool with their website: people can see it.)

Canva edit of someone else's design
Canva - Free web-based graphic design! What could be more lovely?  Umm... So far, I've Real Estate Listing into a Come See Our Booth flyer.  But there's So. Much. More. I want to do here.  (And, being American, I want to do it right now. All of it.)
managed to tweak someone else's

QuickBooks - as a proud member of the gig economy, I need professional handholding to keep my micro-biz finances in order.  Paid my subscription $$, can't it just do all the work for me?

BoxStorm - implementing an inventory system at work.  Inventory is no joke, y'all.  Oh, and this software supposedly will connect to QuickBooks (if only I knew how to find the magic portal).

[Unnamed photo-editing program]  I have used Picasa for my photo-edits for over a decade.  And I like it.  I understand it, it works for me.  So, of course, Google has dropped it from their suite of offerings.  I am still holding on; I don't need to share my pix online in albums, or order prints from within my photo editor.  I just want to mitigate my pretty-poor photography skills with easy edits. I did download GIMP to give it a try, but I'm not there yet.

Stuck in the past, I am.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

What to do when your #MAKENINE is all Finishing UFOs

As detailed in my previous post about organizing my stash, I have a lot of UFOs.

So, as I make out my 2019 sewing goals, I wonder whether I should focus on finishing UFOs, or using up stash?

Ha-Ha!  Of course I should finish things!  How silly of me--thinking that I can "bust some stash" by starting new projects.  Clearly, I have a big problem with finishing.  No more starting, unless there is some commensurate finishing, too. 


The instagram hashtag #MAKENINE is pretty prevalent this time of year: creatives and crafty folks plan out nine things they are committing to in the coming year.  If I look at my UFOs, I have at least NINE quilts (most of them larger than baby quilt size) that I can work on.  They have been started (farther along than the "dreaming/planning" phase).  But they are not yet done done.  And they need a little oomph.

Finish NINE ufo quilts in 2019

Here they are, in order from my Insta post committing to them in 2019:

1.  AAQGO charity quilt
Top clomplete; quilt basted; started to be tied.  (Will I continue tying, or try and quilt this myself?)

2.  Relaxing Round Robin
Top complete; quilt basted.  Intend to machine quilt and big-stitch embellish.

3.  Red/Black baby quilt
 Sooo close to done: finish big-stitch quilting/tying; binding is already complete.

4.  "Instant" baby quilt
Same as #3 (so close): finish big-stitch quilting.

5.  Drama t-shirt quilt
Top is not complete; at least 6 more blocks to make before design step.

6.  Circles BOM
Quilted and bound!  Needs big-stitch embellishment only.

7.  Woven BOM
Quilted: needs binding, which is already prepped.

8.  Minkee-backed squares quilt
Top complete; needs basting and straight-line quilting.

9.  Quick Curve sampler quilt
Blocks made and sashed; needs pieced borders; will be longarm quilted (not by me).

Analysis: if there's a pattern here, it's that the quilting step trips me up.  I don't sit still well for tying or big-stitch quilting, I don't have a longarm, and my sewing room tends to stay cluttered enough that clearing out space for quilting on my domestic machine takes a level of effort that makes me avoid it.  Plus, FMQ still scares me. 

And then there's the allure of the new and shiny: given any excuse, I will choose to work on a new project with surprising zeal and stick-to-it fervor... until it gets to the large & unwieldy stage.  My challenge is to keep this grid of nine quilts in front of me for 2019.  And maybe try to finish one of these in January, to give myself the momentum needed to push on.

Did you plan a MAKENINE in years past?  How did that work out?  Any hints for sticking with it?

Friday, January 4, 2019

Dog-gone Good T-shirt Quilt Idea

Saw Shelley's memory quilt project using Elizabeth Hartman's Dogs in Sweaters pattern on The Carpenter's Daughter Who Quilts blog (go search around her blog - she has made memory quilts from at least a dozen different patterns!)

While it's a great idea, these sweater-sporting dogs are tricky

This is my ONE doggo from that pattern.  Made with my quilt guild's challenge fabric from 2017, but still not completed quilted.  Fifty-plus pieces in there, for those keeping count.

Perhaps a simpler dog could be used?

This dog was the Block of the Moment for my guild, also back in 2017.  Pattern for a very similar block is available here from Quilter's Cache.  Super cute, and great to use up scraps

So, somewhere down the internet rabbit hole, I saw a block made by Emily Herrick (posted on her Crazy Old Ladies blog) that made me really think this schnauzer was a possible shape for a t-shirt quilt.

I felt like, if I could adjust the proportions a touch, this could be done! I needed a bigger canvas for the sweater/t-shirt.  But still want it to be recognizable as a pup.  Whaddya think?

Courtesy of EQ software + my brain

Yep, I think I can do this!  I'll have to try a prototype soon...

(This digression exploration prompted by the recent Xmas fabric/UFO organizing, and the realization that 3 of the offending bins are primarily made up of t-shirts waiting to become quilts.  3 bins!  For reals.)

Monday, December 31, 2018

Santa brings (fabric) organization!

On the first day of Christmas, Sweetie (who I swear was dressed up as Santa at the time) gave to me:

A Way to Organize/Store my Fabric! 
PVC pipe shelving system that is free-standing and holds various sizes of (large) plastic storage bins. This will save me from the "I don't want to move the stacked bins to get to the fabric/lining I need in the bin on the bottom, so I'll just go to the store and buy some more" thinking.  (You don't think that way, do you?  Someone must be more clear-headed than I am on this.)

Almost as sexy as when Nancy Reagan gave Ronald Reagan a manure spreader as a gift.  Y'all just don't know how sexy a practical gift can be...
"We" couldn't wait to put together the shelving and see if all my bins fit!

Uh-oh...they didn't actually fit.  Room for 12 bins, and I have at least... seven too many.  (Hanging my head in shame)

Foreground: fabric bin overflow...

However, later in the day, I came to a realization: my fabric fits in 9 bins; it's the UFO's that take up the remaining bins (and that includes t-shirts waiting to become t-shirt quilts).

Close-up of my "labeling" system: Sweetie found an adorable cartoon version of the Chinese/Japanese zodiac.  Since there's twelve years in this zodiac cycle, this seemed like a way to label my twelve bins with whimsical animals (and who doesn't love a bit of whimsy in their practical everyday?)  

So back to my dilemma:

19 bins total - 9 bins of fabric = 10 bins of UFO's???

Hmph!  What to do?  (Oh, I hear you in the back of the room.  "Just finish some UFO's, woman."  This is me giving you the stink eye.)

Oy.  It's that time of year--I'm sputtering and planning my 2019--good to know where I stand with my robust and muscular stash (and equally massive collection of UFOs)