The finishing touches

When I first started posting photos of my new studio space, several people commented about how much light there was, and with 4 large windows, that was entirely true……

However, when I started putting the fabric on open shelves, I began to worry about how the wonderful light would harm the fabrics. I sure didn’t want each piece to have a faded line running thru it!!!

The other concern that I had was for dust. As I ironed and folded all of my fabric, I had to stop often to sweep up the dust bunnies that had formed around the ironing table….just in front of the fabric shelves. I was astounded just how much lint and dust was thrown off by the fabric.

After thinking about it for a while, I decided that sheer curtains were the way to go. The Ikea shelves provided a perfect surface to attach the curtain rods and I can easily see that the fabrics are better protected……

I hate not being able to see the individual fabrics as easily, but by using the sheer fabric, I can still see the colors……

Hopefully the room is COMPLETELY FINISHED now…..until I think of the next thing!!!


Next step for the studio…..

As you might guess, in the last few months I have spent a lot of time scanning the internet for ideas about how to organize my studio. Somewhere along the way, I saw the idea of having a small rolling cart that can be used when at the design wall.

In my previous set up, there simply wasn’t room to have this, but with the more open space of my new studio, I decided that I would give it a try.

A quick trip to Amazon yielded the cart of my dreams……

The shelves are approximately 16×13 and it is 34 inches high.

The top shelf will hold a simple pin cushion to hold the pins that I use on the design wall and any blocks or other fabrics that are needed close at hand when I am laying something out…..

I am a bit in limbo about what exactly will fit into the second shelf, but I feel sure that I will find a good use for it.

The bottom shelf holds a small step stool…….

Even though I am fairly tall, I have found that this really helps when I am trying to pin up a large quilt…..

This is how I am envisioning the cart working……

It seems so much easier to have all of the pins right beside me rather than having to stretch here and there to find one, especially when I am trying to hold several blocks in place at one time!!! I also love that it is so easy to move between areas of the design wall, and the sleek design means that it is easily stored and out of the way when not needed.

It will be interesting to see if this is as useful as I think that it will be!!! I will keep you updated……

First Finish in the New Studio…..

This past weekend I spent a fair portion of my time in my studio and had a marvelous time working on a Quilt-of-Valor top.

Using Bonnie Hunter’s Essential Triangle Tool, I ended up with an almost perfectly pieced top……

Quilt of Valor

I am super excited about this first creative work in my newly recreated studio!!!

Now to pass it along to the long-arm quilter’s to get it finished up.

What will I do next…….a VERY good question!!

I Should Have Trusted Bonnie!!!!

Yes, I should have known that Bonnie wouldn’t send me astray!! And of course, I am talking about Bonnie Hunter of If you have never heard of her work, you really should check her out. She is the queen of scrap quilts and is one of the most prolific quilters that I have ever seen. I often get tired just reading about everything she does on her blog.

Several years ago she put out a ruler called the “Essential Triangle Tool”. As the name implies, it was designed for cutting out triangles. Specifically, it was to be used with strips and without having to worry about that pesky 7/8ths inch that you are supposed to add.

When you look at it, it looks a little strange with all of those green triangles on each corner and several different sets of marking lines…..

I had purchased it last year but just had not felt up to giving it a try. I think that I was concerned about having to sew along bias edges that had been previously cut. This technique had been tried by me over the years but had never resulted in accurate blocks. Probably “user error”!!

There are several steps to creating a Flying Geese design using this tool. The first step is to cut a strip of the “goose” fabric that is the same width as your finished square, plus 1/2 inch. In my case, the finished block was 2.5″ tall so my strip needed to be 3 inches…..

Now, you line the ruler up on the edge of the strip, noticing that the little green triangle hangs off of the top of the strip…..

After making the two cuts to finish this piece, you rotate the ruler by 180 degrees so that the next piece can be cut, alternating back and forth until you have the required number of geese…..

Next, the wings of the geese blocks need to be cut. Amazingly, you use this exact same ruler to cut these pieces. These strips need to be the same width….3 inches in my case. The most important thing to remember when setting up these strips is that the RIGHT SIDES NEED TO BE FACING!!! This is very important since you need mirror pieces to complete the Goose…..

After you get a straight cut on one end of the fabric pair, you line up the ruler with the green triangle hanging off of the top edge and the line on the 2.5 marker……

Make the cut and grasp the fabric strip and move it to the right to get it out of the way…….

Flip the ruler around and make the next cut…..

Once everything is cut you can lay out the three pieces to form the goose…..

Now to the machine!!!! Starting on the right side, match up the fabric edges…..

…….and sew from the blunt end to the pointy end…..

Bonnie has even designed these blocks so that they nest up against one another for chain piecing…..

At this point, she suggests finger pressing the right side before continuing. I understand her concern about having an open bias edge on the other side of the goose, but I found that it was much easier to use my small iron and CAREFULLY press the side seam before continuing.

Next, you line up the left side and sew it in place, this time starting at the point……

The result was a PERFECT Flying Geese block!!! The final step was to trim off the “dog-ears”…..

….and it was ready to go.

I made 72 of these for my current Quilt of Valor and they were all perfect, there was NO fabric wastage and, once I got going, they were really fast to do.

I did use my 1/4 inch guide foot for the piecing which also helped with accuracy.

As I said…..I should have known that Bonnie would have the BEST way of doing this!!!!!

Half-square triangles……

I my last post, I talked about having “extra” half-square triangles when I made the flying geese blocks. Now I needed to trim them down to a usable size….what will I use them for….who knows!!!

Some weeks ago, I read a blog post that was talking about different ways to make HST’s and it talked about using a Bloc-Loc ruler…..

Block Loc Ruler

It sounded interesting (and satisfied my desire to try new techniques) so I purchased one and gave it a trial run with these “bonus” patches.

The “ditch” that runs down the diagonal of the ruler provides a “ledge” that can be lined up with the diagonal of the block, making it VERY easy to trim blocks down to size.

The first step was to decide on the optimal size of these patches and decided to cut them to 2 inches, making a 1.5 inch finished HST.

I lined the ledge up against the diagonal seam……

…..and trimmed the first two sides……

In this photo, it looks as if the right edge isn’t flush with the ruler but that is a photographic anomaly!!

*****Note that the ledge side of the ruler must be opposite to the side where the seam allowance resides. From what I have read, it will not work well when seams are pressed open.

Next, I flipped the block around to trim the other two sides, but quickly discovered that the ruler also had to be flipped so that the ledge would butt up against the diagonal seam.

I lined up the 2 inch marks on the already trimmed edges……

The final step was to trim the last two sides…..

….leaving a perfect 2 inch square!!

Since the ruler has to be flipped, I think that it will be faster to trim one side of a group of squares all at the same time, then flip everything to trim the other two sides……

Step 1 – trim
Step 2 – flip
Step 3 – final trim

I am intrigued with this ruler and look forward to using it in the future!!!!

Piecing again…..

It seems like it has been a LONG time since I have pieced anything!! To be honest, I have looked back over the last 18 months of posts, and I haven’t found any place where I actually pieced half-square triangles, or flying geese or ANYTHING.

I did some paper piecing last May and a lot of string piecing to make the Color Wheel squiggle (which still needs to be finished), but no traditional piecing. That is scary!!!

I am still trying to “up my game” with my work so wanted to be super careful on the first Quilt-of-Valor top that I am making. And part of doing this is to try some different techniques for piecing to see exactly what works best for me.

The first step in my QOV was to make 72 flying geese units. Since I wasn’t feeling particularly sure of myself, I decided to cut squares for the corner triangles and then sew on the diagonal…..

This method gives a fairly accurate size, but there is a lot of wasted fabric. Since I don’t have much fabric (cough…cough), and I COULDN’T allow that to happen, I went ahead and sewed a second seam approximately 1/2 inch from the first seam……

Then, I cut between these two lines……

….and ended up with a Flying Geese block AND an additional “freebie” half-square triangle patch…..

First step completed and NO un-sewing!! Although I did run out of bobbin thread and had sewed 7 pieces before I realized it….ARGH!!!

#TBT…..Who am I???

Many years ago, the guild presented the challenge to make a personality quilt. It could be an actual likeness or an image that reminded the observer of you.

Back then, I had NO idea of how to make an actual likeness, and did not have the confidence to even try one.

Instead, I thought about my quilting personality and decided to show my quilting closet!! At this time, I worked solely on the kitchen table, often using the kitchen island for a cutting station. My fishing tackle box full of supplies sat on one corner of the island. Moving the cutting mat and fabric was often the first step to dinner preparation and there was no possibility of sitting at the sewing machine laden table. We typically ate our family dinner in the living room, normally watching Batman or Rin-Tin-Tin on TV.

A closet was the only place that I had to store my supplies. Fabric boxes were stacked on the floor and thread spools were hung on the door. The shelves held supplies, batting and all other necessary supplies.

The front of the quilt sported a door……

But when you opened it, you could see the full extent of my quilting closet…….

The top shelf held a roll of batting and my “tool box”……

Next came a shelf of books….quilting, gardening and music…..

I laugh now that there is even a book called “Successful Parenting” and another called the “Softball Team Mother’s Handbook”. Of course there is a book called “Financial Statement Preparation” and another called “Natural Hybridization” (Michael’s first book). Quite an eclectic assortment!!!

The next shelf had a very important box full of UFO’s with the note to “DO THESE FIRST”. The other side held some of my finished quilts. ……

I remember having fun with these finished quilts as I printed photos onto fabric. This was one of my first tries at this technique.

The bottom shelf contained an always teetering stack of fabrics……

It is fun to note that I still have some of these fabrics and have recently been carefully folding them to fit on my new shelves.

The final section was inside the door…..

This panel included photos of Michael and I, one of the kids. There were a few spools of thread and my current to-do list. And finally, my “quilt angel” award that I won at our very first guild show…..more about that in another post.

All in all, I am happy with my personality challenge. It was another situation where I was challenged to push beyond what I thought I could do!!

…..Bring on the next one!!!

Am I doing this wrong?

About 5 years ago I purchased a Juki TL2200QVP Mini…..

And I absolutely love it!!!!

One thing different about it is the two sets of tension discs……

When you look at the threading instructions it shows this diagram…..

On here, it looks as if the thread goes straight from the three-holed thread guide onto the top tension disc. However, I always wondered how much good it was doing since the thread only wound half way around it.

Several months ago, my friend Linda suggested that I join the “Juki Junkies” Facebook group and I have loved the tips that I have picked up from it.

The other day there was a discussion about tension problems and someone mentioned that the thread needed to go UNDER the small hook before it winds around the top tension dial……SMALL HOOK……what SMALL HOOK!!!!

So, I had a good, up-close look at my machine and sure enough there is a small hook…..

I have now threaded the machine including the small hook and cant wait to see if it makes a difference….especially when FMQing.

I sometimes worry that I spend too much time online, reading these posts, but then I get a great tip like this and it all seems okay again!!!

So….now it is time to stop reading and get back to sewing!!!

Can I get a Hallelujah!!!!

A little over 11 weeks after moving everything out of my studio, I can say that EVERYTHING is finished and back in order and that creating can begin again!!!!

And that deserves a HALLELUJAH!!!!

The actual construction took a bit over 3 weeks and I have spent the last 7-1/2 weeks putting everything back into place, with most time being spent at the ironing board, working thru all of the fabrics.

The cleaning and organizing process might have been faster if I had kept this advice…..

But today, I put the last piece onto the shelves and did the final re-organization. This is the rainbow result….

Fabric color walls

In the end, I moved the fabric stacks around some to get the colors that I use more often in the easiest spots. I also found that some of the earlier colors were stacked too high, meaning that it was really hard to get things in and out of the cubbies. So, as I moved things around I also split some into shorter stacks.

The shelves on the far right contain boxes of unfinished projects. I am hoping that, if they are out in the open, I might actually get them finished……time will tell!!!

My room is now divided into two areas…. cutting and sewing……

Here is a wide view of the entire room. Enjoy it now because it will NEVER be this clean again…..

The wide view of the clean studio

My first project is a Quilt-of-Valor using one of the patterns that I showed last week…..

Quilt of Valor quilt pattern

It was so much fun to finally start using the room in the manner in which it was intended…..

….although I was a bit nervous and wondered if I really remembered how to cut and piece!!!

It was a relief to find out that I did remember the basics!!!

Storing the leftovers

Yesterday I finished ironing and folding all of the fabrics in my studio…..

…….and was left with all of the little pieces that were too small or irregular to put onto the shelves. After a bit of thought, I decided to store them in a small plastic box.

First step was to figure out how big the pieces needed to be. After doing some measurements, I cut a piece of foam board 5×8 inches and checked to see that it fit perfectly in the box…..

I used this piece of cardboard as a guide for folding the fabrics..

First was to lay the fabric piece out…..

Then iron the extra bits in to form a rectangle…..

Use the pattern board to measure how tall the fabric needs to be…….

After ironing it to the correct height, place the pattern board on the far right side and then flip it over one time……

Next, fold the fabric to the left of the board over and iron it in place……

Finally, fold this piece in half……

….giving a perfect 5×8 rectangle of fabric.

They all look so pretty in the box…….