Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Lone Star

     In October my oldest son requested a quilt for Christmas.  I managed to get it done, quilting and all.  Below is my working drawing of the quilt.  I did take a picture of it, but I can't download it from the disc in my camera and I can't find the USB cord.  Maybe I can take it somewhere and have a disc made.    My computer is causing me all sorts of problems and I will have to come up with the money to either fix it or buy a new one. I did fix my last computer, and it only works sporadically so I suppose a new one is in my future.  Anyway, here's the quilt.

     For the most part I'm pleased with the results even though the final quilt is not exactly like the picture.  I did the quilt in three stages, the center, the inner border and stars, then the outer border. The central star went together quickly and easily using strip piecing methods. 
     Instead of batting and backing, I backed the quilt with fleece.  This was a dream to work with as it stayed flat and didn't form any wrinkles.  I centered the center star on the fleece and quilted that first. I discovered the quilting foot while doing this section.  I lost my walking foot somewhere so decided I'd try this.  It works beautifully as it rides on top of the quilt without pressing into it.  Unfortunately, it does take practice since it is free motion in operation.  As I have mentioned numerous times, my quilting is not the best so a lot of the lines were kind of wobbly.  To solve this problem, after I finished the initial quilting of the design, I selected a decorative stitch and went over the lines to hide the wobbles.  It turned out pretty good.
     My next step was to make the eight 10" star blocks around the outside edge.  Then I added a 3" strip to the outer edge of the center star, then placed the eight stars around that.  Since I didn't have a lot of time, to figure out how to set the stars in a circular pattern, I arranged them at the centers and corners on each side.  I don't think it looks as good but it got the job done.  To finish I added an 8" border to the top and bottom and a 6" border to the sides.  I actually finished it two days before Christmas.  Even though I'm not entirely happy with it, my son loves it and that's what counts.
     As soon as I can figure out how to get the picture out of my camera, I will post it for you to see.
                           Have a great New Year!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Clearing the Decks

     I'm getting up in years and have decided it's time to clear out all the stuff I know my kids won't want.  I started with trying to use up all the fabric I have.  That has resulted in 14 completed quilt tops this year.  I still need to start the quilting process.

     My second project is compiling all my family's favorite recipes for my kids.  I get frequent calls asking how to make such and such a dish.  When  I mentioned  that  that I should just make up a cookbook, they all loved the idea and I am still getting reminders of  dishes to include.  I'm going to get notebooks and decorate them for each person and I think I will place the pages in plastic sheets to protect them.

    Along the same lines, I want to compile photo albums for each child, along with certificates and other things important to each of them. 

     Another thing my youngest son has requested is an autobiography from my husband and myself.  We were talking one day about various relatives that he knew nothing about, things that we had done or had happen to us, and he wanted to know more.  I thought about it and decided he had a good idea.  Not only would he have information on his heritage, but also an eyewitness history of the times by the people who have lived through them.  With my husband and myself he would get opposing views of various events since he is and always has been a liberal and I grew up a conservative.  I've decided to take it by decades, my personal story as well as what was happening in the world at the time and my reactions to those events. 

     I tried to talk my mother into doing this because I knew so few of our relatives. Unfortunately she wasn't interested.  My great grandfather came to this country from Italy and at Ellis Island they changed his name.  I still don't know the original family name and since she died several years ago, I will never know. 

     Just something to think about.

1/2 Square Triangles

     I don't remember if I discussed this before, but if I did, I think it bears repeating since so many patterns utilize 1/2 square triangles.

     Rather than cut out individual triangles, you can speed the process up by sewing the triangles first then cutting them apart.

There are two ways to do this:  You can work with a 1/2 yard or a yard length of fabric.  Measure off the piece into appropriate sized squares.  Divide each square in half on the diagonal.  Lay your ruler
the width of the seam allowance along each side of the center and mark.  Stack the marked fabric on top of the contrasting fabric.
Sew along each seam line shown by the dashed lines.  Cut along the solid lines.  Each square equals two completed triangle squares.
     If I don't need a large number of  same color triangles  I stack the two fabrics together and cut strips the appropriate width.  Mark squares down the length of the strip.  Mark center diagonal, then add allowance to each side.  
 Cut the squares apart, then cut the center diagonal line.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Combination Pattens

I was watching Fons and Porter a couple weeks ago and they showed this quilt.

I found it quite striking especially when they revealed it was a combination of two patterns, Shoofly and 54-40 or Fight.  The blocks are all straight lines, no curves at all.
The only thing that kept me from starting it immediately was that triangular block in the middle of the 54-40 or fight block.
Traditional piecing methods make it quite time consuming and subject to error.  I kept wracking my brain trying to come up with an easier way to piece that section.  I did it.  I figured out how to strip piece this section.
Cut out the triangles.  Cut strip of white 3-1/2" wide.  Lay the edge of the triangle along he edge of the strip and sew in place.  Repeat with other triangles until you run out of strip.
Press seam toward colored triangle.  Sew another strip to other side of triangles.  Cut apart and square up the block to measure 4" plus seam allowance.  It really works and none of that pesky trying to match the points properly.  Try it out.

     The original quilt had scraps in the small squares running throughout the blocks.  I thought it would be more orderly to make the small 2" squares all the same color.  What do you think?
The blocks are 12" and I figured it to measure 84" x 118" for a total of 63 blocks.  Of course, you can adjust it to any size you want.
                                               54-40 or Fight                  Shoofly


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Santa Tree Skirt and TableTopper

My Christmas decorations lean heavily toward Santa Claus.  During an experimental sessions I came up with this design and just loved it.  Most kids who visit during the holidays love it too.

The design is pretty easy to sew and can be completed in a few hours.  I thought some of you might like it too, so I have made up a pattern for the design that you can order through paypal.  Hope you like it as much as I do.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Diamond blocks are among the most popular patterns in the quilting world.  What makes them so challenging are the set-in corners and center triangle.
I admit to having difficulty with set-in pieces.  For me they are time consuming and I usually have to do them a couple of times before they fit properly.  Of course, I had to come up with a more efficient way to accomplish the goal.
My solution was to divide the corners into half square triangles and to split the center triangle in half.   For the corner squares, trace around your pattern and cut it in half on the diagonal.  Trace around this piece and add seam allowances all around.  Cut the center triangle in half from the center point to the outer edge.  Trace around this and add seam allowances.  Yes, this technique requires more fabric, but you have converted these set in pieces into straight line sewing.
Sew the half square triangles to the sides of the diamonds as shown.  Sew the center half square triangles to the opposite side the  diamond.  Now join the eight diamonds in straight seams.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Well, I thought it was Saturday.  Not until I went to the grocery store did I realize it's Friday.  This is how my month has gone.  But whatever day it is, I still think my complaint about the lack of craft shows on TV is valid.