Reflections on an empty spool

Well, this happened on Wednesday…..

At first it was just a hassle to have to stop, get the new spool and re-thread the machine. But then I started thinking how many hours of enjoyment I had obtained from that 3000 yard spool of thread.

It was used to piece an unknown number of quilt tops…quilts for babies, quilts for Veterans, quilts for charity and quilts just for ME!!! It was used to practice machine quilting, to piece endless scraps together and even to mend a few clothes along the way.

Sweet Claire used it on quilts made for herself, her brothers and her friends…….

….and my friend Ruth used it make a Christmas gift for her husband…..

After remembering all of these fun memories, I looked at the new (6,000 yard) spool and started dreaming of new projects to come……what will they be????


Sash-shaying around

A couple of months ago my “Cre-8” group issued a new challenge to use quilt sashes in a new way AND to include a fair amount of this fabric…….

When we received the fabric it was folded to the lighter side and several of us didn’t realize that and started planning a quilt using the “wrong” side of the fabric!!

I kept coming back to the idea of a lattice so, as is my normal way of working, I started a search for any photos showing lattice work. After drawing out several sashing designs from lattice patterns (and not liking any of them), I started thinking about making the entire quilt one big lattice…..

Now the problem was figuring out exactly how to piece this design. I really wanted the woven look to hold up so I realized that there were going to be a LOT of partial seams!!

I pulled out some scrap fabrics and started practicing the piecing process…..

The piecing worked, but I didn’t like the proportion of lattice slats to blocks.

I tried again…..

This time I liked the proportion better but didn’t get the feeling of a wooden weaving.

Then my eyes fell on this stack of fabric……

….and the top fabric in particular. The color seemed a bit intense, so I turned it over and found that the back was perfect…..

It even looked like weathered wood!!!.

So I started piecing…..using the BACK of the lattice slat fabric and both the front and back of the grey fabric. It is so ingrained in me to always sew with the right sides of the fabric together and I ended up ripping several seams out before I was through. It was apparent that I needed this meme……

Got to have your wits about you.

As I started sewing, I realized just how important it was to keep my seams perfect or else the whole top would be skewed in one direction. (It is amazing how much difference a small sliver makes.) This was good thinking, but not so easy to do, especially as I came to the end of the stitching line……

Oops!!! After I fixed a couple of these, I switched to a different foot that would keep a perfect 1/4 inch seam. It made a huge difference to my piecing…..

Once I got into a groove, I realized that I could piece 4 patches together before I added them onto the quilt top…..

This made it a little bit easier to keep track of where I was on the quilt. I finally started putting a mark on the pattern for each block group that I added……

I also got tired of trying to remember which was top and bottom of the quilt top so a strategically placed flower pin reminded me where the bottom was.

As I mentioned earlier, there were TONS of partial seams…..

….and I quickly tired of sewing thru a scrap fabric between each one.

Now, I LOVE technology and have always wanted to make each piece of equipment do whatever it can to make my life easier, but I have never used the thread cutter on my machine. For some reason, I had in my head that the next seam wouldn’t sew correctly if I had cut the threads so close to the edge. But, this little scissor button…

……worked perfectly and made my life SO much easier!!!! I can DEFINITELY get used to using it!!!

In a relatively short time the top was finished (but not trimmed down to the final size)…….

Now the question is “what am I going to hang on my trellis????” Interestingly, as I was working on this, I was watching an episode of “Quilting Arts” where Susan Brubaker Knapp was demonstrating the making of free-form flowers……..

Maybe that was divine providence????

But, the fabric that I was waiting on has arrived so I can get back to my Color wheel quilt….providence will have to wait!!!!

Show & Tell Time


One of my favorite parts of the guild meetings is our Show and Tell time.   There were two quilts shown this month that I really wanted to talk about. 


The first one was made by my friend Nupur, an avid scientist, mother, wife, chef, reader and blogger.   This is her FIRST quilt and I am so impressed with it and happy for her!!!!


My friend Sue showed this wonderful Christmas friendship quilt and gave us a great hint for how to put something like this together.   She worked in rows, selecting the tallest block to determine the height of that particular row.   She then added to the other blocks and added bits and pieces to bring every other block in that row up to the same height.  DSC03894

The result certainly doesn’t look like it was done in rows but sure made the piecing easier!!!   Thanks Sue for the great hint!!

Next summer project…..

Every two years, our guild makes a quilt which is raffled to raise money for our charity projects and our educational projects.   This year we have decided to make a scrap quilt and asked guild members to provide Four-Patches and Half-Square Triangle blocks to be used.

I… a moment of craziness…..offered to do the piecing for the top.

SO, I now have hundreds of patches, all ready to be put into a quilt…..


We always ask for the pieces to be made a bit too big so the first task is to trim each of the patches down to 4.5 inches.

That task done, I started thinking about different ways that we could set the blocks together and came up with three ideas.

The first was a quilt from one of Bonnie Hunter’s books.  The idea here will be to use the blocks to create an unusual, possibly asymmetrical pattern…..


The second is a Jewel Box design…..DSC02433

And I don’t know the name of this third one, but the idea came out of one of Bonnie Hunter’s books as well…….DSC02432

Personally, I like this third version better, but will take all of these ideas to the Charity Bee tomorrow and let them make the final decision.

Then it will be on to the piecing.… favorite part!!!!

Piecing those pesky curves


I have been enjoying working on a quilt that I first posted about in May.   I had pieced a few blocks back then but hadn’t gotten any further….


Last week, I started making more blocks and adding them to the design wall, but it just didn’t look right.  I finally realized that the curves all had to go in the same direction.   Much better……


I have had a lot of fun piecing the blocks and have found them to be fairly easy to do.   I was trying to figure out how to describe the piecing process, but decided instead to do a video.  Here goes…..


I taped this several times to pick which one I liked best and realized that in one of them, my daughter’s dog (Marley) was photo-bombing me!!…..


After each curve was stitched, I spritzed it with water and then ironed it flat. 

The final step was to cut the block down to a 7-1/2 inch square.  There were a few that weren’t quite big enough, but I was able to add bits of fabric here and there to make it work.

I then put them all up on the wall…..


As I looked it over, I realized that there were a few blocks that stood out too much, such as this gold one…..


I pulled two such blocks and added another stripe in a different fabric to tone them down.

Finally, I knew that I wanted to add some accent pieces across the quilt so started adding small strips of red fabrics….

DSC08866Then I noticed that there were bits of red color on my ironing board cover…..


Uh-oh….something isn’t color-fast!!!!    The offending fabric was a piece that I had bought in India and was one of my favorites……DSC08869

….but I couldn’t afford to leave it in the quilt, so I cut them out and replaced with other fabrics.


At this point, I need to decide what borders to use.  I am thinking about using larger blocks that are also pieced in curves but to have the curves moving around the quilt.

More fun to follow…….

Falling Leaves & Flying Geese

P4211084 (2)

This is the quilt that I use in my entry way during the month of September.  As with most quilts, there is a story behind it…….

Back in 1992, my youngest child started to school.  I celebrated by starting into a weight loss program that put a lot of focus on exercise….especially walking.  I was fairly new to the state of Georgia and not used to the beautiful autumn foliage display.  As I walked, I began watching the leaves fall and became enamored with the way they swirled and swooped to the ground.

At this point in my quilting career, I had mostly worked from patterns and had not done much that was designed “from my mind”.  The leaves were made first with the colors moving from the green of summer to the brown dead leaves of dead winter.  I also decided that I wanted the background sky to flow from the dark blue of summer to white wintery sky.

I cut out lots of 2 inch squares of blue and then started placing them on a flannel board on which I had drawn a 2 inch grid.  The morning that I started placing blues was also the meeting of the quilting bee at my house, so I enlisted the others to help me set the sky in place.  We all had so much fun arranging and re-arranging them.

As for the borders, I started with the idea of placing flying geese all the way around the piece, but realized that I didn’t want to make that many of them, so started looking for ways to group them.  I ended up being really pleased with the final arrangement and even quilted a few “ghost” geese in the blank border.

As I looked at the completed top, I realized that it didn’t have the movement that I wanted, so I added the leaf stems and allowed them to provide the “swirl”.  Even more movement was added with the “windswept” quilting.

In the final analysis, I really liked the quilt and it was a wonderful step into the world of designing quilts.

So, it’s September……..bring on the leaves!!!!!

Teaching Day

Yesterday, my friend Mary T. came over to start learning how to quilt. She is interested in learning to hand quilt, so we decided to make a smallish quilt (probably a doll quilt for her granddaughter) and then she can try quilting on it. This is the basic design that she is planning to use. This pattern was created using EQ.

She first picked out a main fabric and then had fun selecting two fabrics of each of the colors to include in the scrap quilt. Here are her final choices….

Next, I showed her how to use a rotary cutter and rulers, and she practiced cutting on some old fabric. Once she figured out how to hold the cutter at the correct angle, she was ready to start cutting the fabrics for her quilt.

We started with the background small squares. She cut 2-1/2 inch strips and then sub-cut them into squares. The only problem that she had was with the long ruler slipping as she cut, so I held the further end in place while she cut.

She next cut the 3-1/4 strips (squares) that were needed for the half-square triangle blocks. I had her cut these much larger than the needed 2-7/8 inch size so that they could be trimmed down to the proper size after being sewed.

While she cut the squares out of the other fabrics, I drew diagonal lines on the background squares. She then put the 3-1/4 inch squares together and sewed along both sides of the drawn line. It was good that we made the squares larger as she messed up on a few of them by sewing much farther than 1/4 inch away from the line. BUT, because we had extra to work with, we were able to trim them down to the correct size.

Her final step at my house was to make one of the modified nine-patch blocks. She has taken the rest home to finish at her leisure.

I think that the colors in the trash can at the end of the day say it best… was a bright, fun day of quilting with a friend.

How could life get any better than that!!!