Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Sure Sign of Spring

Yesterday, I spent the day with my friends at Material Girls Quilt Boutique in La Plata, Maryland. Our workshop project was a 'secret' new quilt project. While the workshop participants were busy bees sewing scraps together, I took advantage of some cute Easter fabric and the Taste of Nectar Pin Pack to make a Spring holiday treat.

This might be a bit reminiscent of a recent post featuring quilty heart-shaped pins.

Quilted Easter Egg Pins

First, I needed some 1" half-square triangles. So I paired two 2-inch squares, drew a diagonal line on one, and sewed a 1/4" seam on both sides of the line. Cut and trim. And repeat, repeatedly.

Quilted Easter Egg Pins

To make four pins, I needed 24 half-square triangles. I ended up with quite a pile of trimmings.

Quilted Easter Egg Pins

Instead of 9-patches, I'm making 2x3 rectangles, so I trimmed the Mini Scrap Grid interfacing to have just enough to make four. The Nectar Pin Pack has enough goodies to make 9 pins.

Quilted Easter Egg Pins

Next, I fused the HSTs to make a chevron pattern on the grid. Then it was time to sew. Pretty much, I followed the process to use the Mini Scrap Grid, as usual.

Quilted Easter Egg Pins

Fold. Sew. . . .

Quilted Easter Egg Pins

. . . cut apart, and press. (And you KNOW, how much I like to furl those seam allowances!)

Quilted Easter Egg Pins

Add a 1x2" border on the bottom and a 1-1/2x2" border on the top. The Nectar Pin pack has fusible foam 3" square batting. To make an egg, just trim an inch-wide strip from one side. Then cut a 2x3" backing rectangle from the cut Easter fabric.

Quilted Easter Egg Pins

Layer the backing, foam, batting, and top. Fuse with an iron and quilt lightly.

Quilted Easter Egg Pins

Cut with pinking shears to form the shape of an egg and sew or glue the pin to the back. All set for Easter breakfast!

Quilted Easter Egg Pins

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

A "Little" Quilting

A couple of years ago, I purchased one of Kate Flynn Nichols' Miniature Storm at Sea quilt kits at a quilt show The samples on display were absolutely beautiful and the pieces are laser cut, ready to sew.

Piece 'o cake, right?

My first hint that this may not be a complete cake-walk should have been the size of the packaging. The parts needed to assemble the entire quilt top comes in a box that is about 4" wide and 6 or 7" long, and not even an inch thick! Since I've had this kit for a while, I decided to throw it in my bag of stuff for my retreat this past weekend at the Upstairs Inn. I wanted to treat myself to a personal project--when you design quilt patterns and books for a living, it's fun to go completely offline with a non-work sewing project from time to time.

The pieces are really small. Nothing bigger than about 2" long for the largest pieces.

Storm at sea quilt

Since they are precision cut, the pieces assemble into blocks beautifully! (But not quickly!)

Storm at sea miniature quilt

After a full day of sewing, the blocks were good. By the second day, I started sewing the rows together. And that's when the pattern really started to emerge--stars and straight lines that look curvy.

Storm at sea miniature quilt

And all of the sudden (okay, not so much 'all of the sudden') the quilt top is done! All 14x18" of quilt top.

Storm at sea miniature quilt

To make sure all the points connect beautifully, the kit instructions suggest that the all the seam intersections are furled including all the pointy-points (I love to furl, as you know, if you've been following me for any length of time!)

Making for a really flat quilt top and a really interesting 'wrong side' of the quilt.

Storm at sea miniature quilt

Kinda makes me wonder why I brought all this other stuff to work on!

quilt supplies

Some old friends were spotted at the retreat, too! Here's Sue's Petit Fours quilt sample on display at the shop.

Petit Fours Quilt display

Melonie spent some retreat time working on her Bloomin' Steps quilt.

Bloomin' Steps quilt

The Common Sense pillow looks cozy tossed on the sofa in the Inn.

Common Sense quilt pattern, pillow

And Sue always does a beautiful job of displays in her store. All the projects from When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters were on display ready for the book signing on Saturday morning.

When Bad things happen to good quilters book projects

Certainly, it was fun to get away from the normal routine and spend dedicated time at the sewing machine. But the VERY best part of any quilt retreat is the camaraderie of good friends. Don't you agree?

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

In a Bind

I'll be vending at a bunch of events this summer, and Quilt Market is just around the corner, so I've been attempting to get ahead of the game, working on a few samples.

In particular, I'm making a few Up One Side Runners for my display and to kit up for the shows. The fabrics I'm using for this sample are from Hoffman California Fabrics. The line is called Ridge Rock. It will start showing up in quilt shops in early summer, so be sure to ask for it at your favorite local quilt shop!

This fabric line reminds me of a walk in the woods on a summer day. It's a small group with only a few prints. To create a nice contrast with the print background fabric, the runner features some beautifully matching 1895 Bali hand-paints (these colors happen to be called Seacliff and October) also from Hoffman. I just love the colors!

Up One Side quilted table runner

This runner practically puts itself together. It looks more complicated that it is to make! After a few hours of sewing and some dedicated quilting time, I'm ready to get the binding on.

Up One Side quilted table runner

Like so many quilting techniques, binding has lots of options. Bias/width-of-grain/length-of-grain--seems like everyone has a preference. Bias binding is said to wear better than binding cut along the straight of grain. It's also better when curves are involved due to the stretch-factor of the bias cut strips.

I usually use binding cut from width-of-grain strips, for no other reason than it's fast and easy. Not that bias binding is difficult to make, but takes a bit more planning.

Typically, I trim the batting and backing even with the quilt top first so I have a perfectly straight quilt edge. I save those leftover bits of batting for pin cushions. Wool batting is a favorite, and those scraps make great stuffing.

Up One Side quilted table runner

I connect my strips with a 45˚seam . . .

Up One Side quilted table runner

Press the seam open, then press the entire strip in half, lengthwise, wrong sides together.

Up One Side quilted table runner

Strips should be cut between 2 to 2-1/2" for a double fold binding that finishes to 1/4"; for quilts, I like to cut 2-1/4" wide strips for a little extra leeway. Of course, if I want a wider binding, my strips need to be wider too.

If you want a different width double-fold binding--something other than the standard 1/4", but you don't know what width strip you'll need, as a rule of thumb, take the finished width you want to show on the front of your quilt, multiply it by 6--2 layers from the raw edge to the seam, 2 layers from the seam to the edge and 2 layers from the edge to the back side of the seam--then add 1/2" for all the folds in there. Therefore, to make a 1/2" binding: 1/2 x 6 = 3 + 1/2" =  3-1/2" strips. Pretty neat, huh? Don't forget to sew the wider binding onto the quilt using the new finish measurement, 1/2" in the example.

Up One Side quilted table runner

I'm a pin-freak when it comes to binding. I've put too much work into the quilt top and the quilting to have a binding that's either too loose or too tight. The raw edge of the binding is aligned with the raw edge of the quilt. I use a dual feed 1/4" foot or the walking foot as I attach the binding

Up One Side quilted table runner

With the binding sewn to the front, I'm ready for some quiet time to hand sew the fold to the back of the quilt, covering the binding seam lines.

In the summer, I take the project out onto the porch to enjoy the nice weather. This time of year, a movie or an audible book are my pick for binding sewing entertainment.

Up One Side quilted table runner

I can't help sneaking a peek for a preview.

Up One Side quilted table runner

Two Up One Side runners are 'on deck' for hand sewing time!

Up One Side quilted table runner

 . . .And one more project that is ready to bind. The winter weather finally subsided enough for me to retrieve my log cabin quilt. The Snobelt Quilters did a beautiful job quilting my quilt, now it's my turn to bind it! 

Up One Side quilted table runner

Some people find sewing the binding on the quilt to be boring. I don't. It's my last chance to add a personal, finishing touch to the quilt. And it's quiet time that always adds calm to a crazy schedule. And it's the home stretch, except for the label, the quilt's done!

And the very BEST part of making a quilt is being able to USE it!

Happy Stitching!

PS: For a few more tips on binding around weird corners, continuous closure, and hand stitching, check out this page on my site for lots of nifty details.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


When it comes to social media icons on my website, I guess I like to be a little different from the rest. I've used little out-croppings of quilt elements I've created, in very loose interpretations of the standard social media icons you see all over the place. I've been advised by many a web-guru, that I should use the standard recognizable symbols, but eh, I like to be different.

In these past few weeks, I decided to re-energize my activity on Instagram. Naturally, it made sense that I have an icon on my website to link to my instagram account. But I didn't really have anything from a quilt that made sense.

So I made one.

Instagram quilted mug mat tutorial

First, I selected a few scraps. I know, the Instagram logo is usually brown, but I like purple!

Instagram quilted mug mat, scrap fabrics

Sewed the 2" scraps in a row, then sewed the row of scraps to a trimmed 5" scrap.

Instagram quilted mug mat, sewing

To make the applique circle center, I used some Quiltsmart Zig Zapps circle interfacing. I only needed one circle.

using quiltsmart circle interfacing

Place the intefacing and 3-1/2" scrap square so the fusible side of the interfacing faces the right side of the fabric. Sew on the 2-1/2" diameter line.

using quiltsmart circle interfacing

Cut on the dotted line.
using quiltsmart circle interfacing

Pull everything inside out through the snip in the interfacing.

using quitlsmart circle interfacing

Then fuse the circle to the background . . .

 . . . . with a hot iron.

making the quilted mug mat

I fused a quilt sandwich together with one 5" pre cut batting square--the same stuff I use in the Mini Mug Mats--the quilt top, and a 5" scrap for backing. I've now got the batting packaged all by itself, just the batting.

making the quilted mug mat

Secure the applique through all layers, and add a little more quilting.

quilt around the circle applique

These two 'angry birds' keep watch over my bin full of binding leftovers.

stuffed bird toys

This purple dotty binding will do . . .

quilt batting leftovers

Sew the binding in place, just like making a Mini Mug Mat.

binding on the instagram mug mat

Turn the folded edge to the back and stitch.

finishing the instagram mug mat


Quilted instagram mug mat

Wouldn't this be cute in a college dorm room? Not that college students drink coffee very much . . *ahem!*

Follow me on Instagram, if you like!

Happy Stitching!