Friday, February 23, 2018

small projects

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
I made my first pincushion of the year! It's about time, no? I had 5 of the 6 sections pieced for months and then it got set aside. Yesterday I finally pieced the final section and finished it up. I got hung up on fabric placement, (and then distracted by 100 other things!) which is why it took me so long to finish it. Seems silly now, because I love how it turned out! It's scrap project #198. (Pattern can be found in Plenty of Pincushions, Volume 2.)
This week I finished my 10th block for my Mark Twain quilt. It's pretty exciting to see the pile growing! I have a low-key goal to make 5 blocks a month, so I'm about a week ahead of schedule. (I'm rarely ahead of schedule on ANYTHING, so I'll celebrate that miniscule victory. Ha!) I have been enjoying hand stitching so much!
I decided that this project needed a brand new WIP bag. (Pattern can be found here.) This version is extra measures about 18" x 20"! I was happy to discover that it was very easy to upsize the pattern. (I have a post about sewing with vinyl and shortening zippers here, that you might find helpful.)
It's really hard to convey the size of the bag, so I took a photo of it on my 18" x 24" cutting mat for scale. It's HUGE! I look forward to filling it up with finished blocks!

If you have the Work In Progress Bag pattern and would like to make an 18" x 20" bag, here are the measurements you will need:
Use a 16" zipper.
Cut 1 piece of vinyl 2 1/2" x 18"
Cut 1 piece of vinyl 17" x 18".
Cut 1 piece of vinyl 18" x 20".
Cut 2 pieces of fabric 2" x 18" for the zipper casings
Cut 2 (or 3?) strips of fabric 2 1/4" x WOF for the binding
Zipper with tabs should measure 17 3/4".
Assemble the bag according to the pattern directions.

Alright! I think that's it for me today! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

lost in the crowd--the beginning

Last November I had the opportunity to speak to the St. Cloud Heritage Quilters. A woman named Jean Gilbertson brought this amazing quilt for show and tell that literally made my jaw the best way possible, of course!
If I recall correctly, this is at least a queen size quilt. It was truly stunning.
Each of the 4 patches finish around 2", so each individual square finishes at about an inch, I believe.
I was foolish and asked the only question that came to mind, which was: "how long did it take you to make that?" (I should know better. Hahahaha!) No surprise that her response was: "a long time". After seeing this EPIC quilt, I knew I had to make something inspired by it....someday. After a mandatory three month waiting period, I STILL want to make it, so....
...I pulled out some scraps and started sewing! I had a small bin of 1 1/2" squares that I had previously cut, so I was able to sit down and prep needed. How fantastic!!! Of course I've already blown through my supply of pre-cut squares, but that means I'm making good progress! I made it a point to not overthink the fabric selection. I know that some day in the future I will look at some of these blocks and think, "what was I thinking", and other days I will think, "hey, those aren't bad at all". I waver back and forth, depending on the day, or my mood, I suppose. (Does that happen to anyone else???)
The pieces are small, but not unmanageable. That's a good combo! (Quarter in the photo for scale.)

There are a lot of things to love about this project:

-There is only one seam in the center to match up.
-Playing with fabric combinations within each block is a delight.
-They are small, so you can get away with finger pressing the seams during the block construction. (I  do press them with an iron once a bunch of blocks are finished.)
-They are addictive. As I was sewing, I found that I kept telling myself, 'just one more'.
-They are QUICK to make.
-It's easy to check the block for accuracy with a 2 1/2" square.
Did I mention that it's FUN sewing up scraps??? I'm having a blast!
A friend asked me, "how many blocks do you need to make?" I think this is one case where it's better to NOT do the math quite yet. Why take all the fun out of it so soon? Hahaha!
I decided to name my quilt "Lost in the Crowd", for a few reasons. One, because it would be really easy to camouflage ugly scraps and get away with it. Two, if you wanted to point out a favorite fabric to someone, good luck finding it!
Rarely do I have a name for a quilt this early in the game, so that's pretty exciting! I think I'm going to go sew just a few more blocks now. :)

Friday, February 16, 2018

Abby's sunset quilt-complete

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

Abby's sunset quilt is complete! I LOVE the simplicity of this quilt. It's made of just plain squares and just solid fabrics, but it's anything but boring. Hurray!
This is a variation of my Hot and Cold quilt. (The original pattern can be found in my book No Scrap Left Behind.) I loved playing with the contrast of warm and cool colors again, but this time I wanted to let the colors mingle a bit more than the original, yet still be separate. (I talked about the construction of the quilt top in this post, if you care to read more about it.) I can only guess how many different colors are represented in this quilt top. (It's a LOT!) As with any scrap quilt, the more the better!
For the backing I used some of my good neighbor's yardage in this lovely lime green. I love how it looks like a field of flowers. A row of patchwork squares breaks up the repeat, so no fancy piecing is needed to match up the print exactly. (I did think about trying, but then I came to my senses. Phew!)
I quilted it on my Janome Horizon with a walking foot. Normally when I machine quilt, I use the same colored thread in the top and the bobbin. Why invite unnecessary trouble? Well, this time I decided to use two different colors of thread: green in the bobbin and silvery gray in the top. It's not perfect, but it's not an eye sore, either. In the end, I'm glad that I made that choice. The straight line quilting,'s. not. easy. In fact, when I started quilting this on Saturday, I got soooooooo spun up and frustrated at how poorly I was quilting it. Thankfully I had enough good sense to walk away and take a break. (I normally don't!) The next day I assessed the situation again. When I showed my husband where I was going to pick out some stitches, he scolded me....and he even used my middle name!!! I guess I was being a little bit unreasonable. (what??!?!) Let me tell you, I have a perfectionist streak that runs DEEP and I got to stare it right in the face. (It wasn't pretty....sigh.) Anyway, I carried on and finished the quilting. It's definitely not perfect. I did go back and pick out some slightly crooked lines...and then I tried to let go of the rest. Again, not. easy. I know that some people say that if you can't see it from a galloping horse 10 feet away, then it's good enough. (That one always drives me crazy!) I certainly don't agree. Somewhere in the middle there has to be a happy medium, right?
I used two different colors of Kona cotton for the binding: cerise and dark violet. I used cerise for the top section, in the warm area, and the dark violet in the cool area. I was pleased that I could come up with a decent solution from the stash. I did all the hand binding in a marathon session...less than 4 hours. (I love to savor the binding process, but yesterday it was a race against the clock, and the sunset!)

When my daughter and I were taking photos it was CRAZY windy. Here are some of the outtakes...just for fun.

I LOVE how the front and the back look together!!!
At the end of the photoshoot, my daughter was holding the quilt and I thought it would be fun to add a quick snapshot of her, since the quilt IS named after her and all. I love this photo so much! She posed like that all on her own. :) I also love the fish house in the background and the little bit of sunset, too. It sure sums up a Minnesota winter!
The quilt measures 62" x 74" and it's scrap project #197. This is also my first completed quilt for my "salute to solids" challenge. (You can read more about that here.) It feels good to have one done!
Here's a few sunsets from the past few months, taken right outside my patio door. Of course a camera doesn't capture half of the awesomeness of the sunsets....but you have to try, right?

Alright! Now it's your turn! Please link up your finished projects for the week. Thank you, as always for reading, commenting and joining me for finish it up Friday! I sure appreciate it! Have a great and safe weekend. xo

Friday, February 09, 2018

a very purple quilt-completed

Welcome to finish it up Friday! I'm thrilled that the very purple quilt is complete!
As you may have read, I started this quilt on Monday. I put the last stitches in the binding, added a hand-written label and washed & dried it on Thursday afternoon. I plan to pop in into the mail later today! Time was of the essence, as this is a comfort quilt for a friend's sister, who is currently undergoing cancer treatments. A lot of stitches and prayers went into this quilt.

Once again, I'm amazed at what a little (or a lot) of focus can do! Don't worry....I still fed my family, did laundry, walked my dogs, tended a sick child and kept things going around the house. Oh, and I slept, too. :)
All of the fabric (except the backing) came from my stash. That felt amazing and I was happy to actually USE it, you know?
The backing is a chambray/cross weave fabric by Andover. I found it on clearance at my local quilt shop. (Hurray!) It's super soft and very calm compared to the front. Hahaha! In order to keep the back interesting, I added a strip of patchwork. I'm so glad I did! It was nice to use up some scraps on the back. If I were to use this quilt, I would use the back side up! It's certainly not the first time I've liked the back of the quilt better than the front.
For the binding I used a purple colored fabric that reminds me of grape jelly, but it is actually a Kona called Hibiscus. :) I like the way it frames the quilt.
A few weeks ago, I purchased some labels from the Dutch Label Company. I can't tell you how official I feel now! I really like them. I put off ordering labels for YEARS because I didn't want to make a decision. Now I'm wondering why on earth I waited so long. Silly, but true!

I sewed the label to the back (strategically placed) and then I quilted it. I figured that it would be better to have a little bit of quilting over the label, rather than to have the label sewn through all the layers of the quilt and have an awkward rectangle of straight stitching showing on the front. (I hope that makes's hard to explain.) I also added a hand written label with the recipient's name, my name, the date and a get well sentiment on it. Label overkill? I hope not!
I free motion quilted it on my Juki with a simple stipple using a light lavender thread. (50 weight Aurifil color 2560)

I didn't keep an exact tally of the hours that I worked on this quilt, but I estimated it was around 18 hours. (That doesn't include the time it took for shopping for the backing.) I think that's pretty reasonable, especially since that time includes hand binding.
It measures approximately 63" x 72".

While I'm still not a huge fan of the color purple, I enjoyed making this quilt and I think that it came together pretty well. I'm praying it brings a lot of warmth, comfort and love.

Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you for joining me for finish it up Friday. Have a wonderful weekend. xo

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

a very purple quilt top

Last week I had the random thought, "I can see making a purple quilt someday." I don't know about you, but that thought sure surprised me! I have never had a thought like that before! I'm not a fan of's definitely one of the hardest colors for me to work with. About 2-3 days later I got a phone call from a friend, who's sister is battling cancer. My friend asked me if I would I be willing to make a purple comfort quilt for her sister to use during the chemo treatments. (Coincidence? I think NOT!)
So, I pulled a bunch of purple (and violet) from my stash....
...and I pulled some purple scraps to round things out and got to work! There is no time to waste.
Here's my block layout....
...and the completed quilt top. The blocks are 9" finished. The quilt top measures 63" x 72" or so. I started cutting the fabric about 10:30am and I had the top pieced around 6pm. I purposely kept the pattern simple and the pieces fairly large so I can get it completed and to the recipient as soon as possible. I'm pleased with how it's coming along.

It's been awhile since I have had this much time to sew and I have to say, it's fun to make an entire quilt top in a day! (Even if it is purple. Hahaha!) Honestly, I'm just happy that I can help in some small way, you know?

Friday, February 02, 2018

finish it up Friday, 2-2-18

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
This week I finished my business taxes, which is probably the happiest finish of the whole entire year!!!! (Can I hear a "you betcha"?) That means that I've had very little time for sewing, which really stinks, but it's got to get better soon. (That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.) I worked on my log cabin blocks for a little bit last Saturday and I have 70/132 blocks complete, which feels AMAZING! I'm going to try to push through and get them all made instead of putting this project back in hibernation. We shall see...  (Measurements for the log cabin blocks can be found here.)
Yesterday morning I finished up this cheery dishtowel (tutorial here) in a few minutes. I had the patchwork strip mostly finished....I just had to add one more block to the strip and then assemble it. (More "cleaning up the slow way"!) Making one dishtowel at a time sure beats making 14 at a time, like I did here. For this version, I used 2" x 2 1/2" rectangles and then I pressed the patchwork down 1/2", so the patchwork is smaller (and cuter). You can use any size pieces you'd like, which is part of the fun! This is scrap project #196.

That's it for me this week! Please link up your finishes. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

mark twain quilt progress

Life seems to be going at break-neck speed these days, but I am still managing to find time to do some hand-stitching amid all the activities. That's a very good thing! Having a portable stitching project at the ready is key.
I've done a lot of stitching at church (before service starts) and some in the doctor's office while waiting for my daughter's strep test. (It invited a LOT of questions, let me tell you!) Some blocks were stitched the weekend of my mother-in-law's 80th birthday party while we hung out with family (lots more questions) and some stitching was done while I attended a workshop with my son all about college readiness. (Yikes!) I haven't done any stitching in line at the grocery store. Not yet, anyway! Hahaha!
I'm replicating an antique quilt (you can read more about it here, if you care to) and this block is a nod to the original quilt. I didn't have enough dark navy fabric for all 16 hexies for the outer later, so I substituted in a similar-ish fabric for the last 4 hexies. It adds SO much character and interest! For those of you who like things symmetrical, I'm sure that it makes you very uncomfortable, but I really like it! Eventually these blocks will be connected/bordered with the red-orange solid hexies.
One thing that I've noticed is that making the block centers takes very little time...
...but adding the hexies to the outside takes considerably longer! I am enjoying the process, though, and that's what matters, right?

My friend Nancy commented that it looks like something grandma would have made. Perfect!

Friday, January 26, 2018

two things

Welcome to finish it up Friday! This week didn’t feel very productive, but it sure felt FULL! Anyone else in the same boat?
I did manage to round up a few finishes for this week, though! My major finish was quilting Nancy’s charity quilt. I brought it home as a flimsy just last week and I returned it to her yesterday, ready for binding. That was fun! I tried out a new-to-me machine, which is always a little challenging, but it was also a very good experience. (I'll be sure to blog about the machine again after I use it a little bit more.) The quilt is about 64" x 83" or so.
The other little finish I have for this week is turning an orphan block into a pot holder. It's what Lynn calls "cleaning up the slow way". Isn't that a great way to describe it???
I used a few scraps of Insul-Brite and stitched them together (by hand) before using it as the "batting." If you are not familiar with Insul-Brite, it's a great product that has a layer of heat resistant material in it, making it a perfect choice for projects like hot pads, oven mitts, etc. This is the first time that I tried piecing it together (a machine zig zag stitch would also work, I'm sure) and it felt good to eliminate wasted product. Just the trimmings went into the trash! 
The backing is a cute pear print (it's cotton lawn, so it's super soft) by Robert Kaufman. I LOVE it!
I quilted it with a concentric square and bound it with a spring green gingham print. It's ALMOST too cute to use, but I WILL use it! It's going to replace one of my super gunky old ones. It's a good way to put the scraps to use, don't you think? It measures about 8.25" square and it is scrap project #195.

That's it for me today! Now it's your turn. Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! Have a great and safe weekend!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

quilting with a tiara

No, I haven't traded in my trusty stocking hat for a jeweled crown...I'm trying out a sit down long arm machine. (hahaha!) This Baby Lock Tiara belongs to a friend's sister. It was just sitting in storage, so it came to live with me for awhile instead. I've had the machine for a month or two, but I've been hesitant to use it. I tried it out at my friend's house last spring, but I had a lot of trouble with thread breakage. I'm sure you all know how frustrating that is! Last evening I finally took a few minutes to read the manual and thread the machine. I did some playing on a test sandwich and it went very well! I was expecting to have to mess with the thread tension for a few days, so I was pleasantly surprised. Almost giddy!
This morning I was eager to try quilting a real quilt, so basted this one (pieced by my friend Nancy) and got to work right away. My stipple is a little bit rusty, but other than that, it's smooth sailing. The throat is 16" deep and it has a nice large table to support the weight of the quilt. The table that holds the machine is significantly lower that what I'm used to, and it's more ergonomically correct. That means it's easier on my shoulders and back. All good things! This is also good news for my WIP pile! :)

I've updated my website with my upcoming events for the year. You can check them out here. The next few events are in Minneapolis, which is almost local for me! I'll be teaching Spin Class-Make Your Quilts Your Own on Friday, February 2, 2018. You can register here, if you care to. I'll also be doing two trunk shows that weekend. If you live in the area, I'd love to see you there!

I hope your week is off to a great start!

Friday, January 19, 2018

arithmetic quilt complete

Welcome to finish it up Friday!
Today I'm very happy to share with you my first completed quilt of the year! I went on a little photo field trip yesterday, so I'll share those first and then I'll go over the quilt specifics at the end of the post. I don't think that I've mentioned it lately, but man, finishing feels good!



Patttern: Arithmetic by Jeni Baker
Fabric: Tag by Cheryl Arkison for Connecting Threads (I bought a kit, but some of the yardage is still available here.)
Backing: Scraps from the front plus Good Neighbors yardage
Binding: Timeless Treasures stripe
Quilting: FMQ Loops done on my Juki
Thread: Aurifil 2615 (50 weight)
Size: 64" x 88"
Started: November 8, 2017
Finished: January 14, 2018
Fun fact: I've learned to spell "arithmetic" because I've typed it so many times when posting about this quilt. Hurray for learning something new!

I'm so pleased with how this quilt turned! It was a fun project, fairly quick to make and beautiful results. I think I want to make another arithmetic quilt,  but next time scrappy! Shocking, isn't it???

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday! I hope you have a great weekend!