Quiltmaker 100 Blocks

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks
My block is in the November 2015 issue!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

100 Blocks Blog Tour

Today is my day on the Quiltmaker 100 Blocks volume 12 Blog Tour, and I am so excited to welcome you all to my blog!  

A little background, then on to the block!  Late last year, I submitted an application to be a member of the Quiltmaker Scrap Squad. I wasn't accepted (sad face), but I was offered a position on a new venture called the Scrap Addicts! (happy dance!)   Since then, I have designed and completed three quilts based on blocks in Bonnie Hunter's Addicted to Scraps column in Quiltmaker Magazine. I made quilts from the Criss Cross block, the Rainbow Love block and the Pinwheel Fancy block. Each quilt has been featured in a blog post on Quilty Pleasures, and one was used as an example in Bonnie's online course "Scrap Quilts with Bonnie Hunter".  I've discovered that I really like designing scrap quilts, and I will be doing a lot more of that in the future! Check back here regularly, as I will be posting scrap quilt ideas and maybe even some patterns!

During a break in my Scrap Addicts projects, I was playing around with what I call double triangle blocks.  I've been on a "Brights" fabric kick lately, so I was using brights and blacks, switching color placement and twisting and turning the units.  

One of the arrangements made a really cool graphic design.  I didn't recall seeing it anywhere before, so I thought it might be worth submitting for consideration for the 100 Blocks series.  To my utter amazement, it was accepted!  This is the first time I have had a block in the magazine, and I am really humbled to be featured alongside some of the best designers in the quilting world!

Overlapped, Block #1180

Speaking of best designers... When I received my advance copy of the magazine, I quickly scanned through it to find my block.  There it was on page 48, right next to Bonnie Hunter's block! What more could a Scrap Addict ask for? ;->

Here are a couple of setting ideas for my block.  The first one is three blocks by four blocks and uses three inch sashings and cornerstones.  I like the little Shoofly block that form at the intersections in this setting. 

Another idea is to set the blocks side by side, without any sashing.  Doing that make the secondary pattern look like Square-in-a-Square blocks, but without any of the complicated math involved with those blocks.  

If you are like me, and are always looking at the secondary patterns, you will see that this layout also has overlapping stars that form when the blocks meet. That isn't where the name of the block came from, but isn't it a nice coincidence?

If you want the stars to be completed on the edges, add a row of partial blocks all the way around.  A 2 by 2 layout, with the addition of the partial blocks would look like this:

So many ideas, so little time! 

Be sure to check out my Bitty Block, which is also posted today on Quilty Pleasures.  Being asked to design a Bitty Block was a pleasant surprise, and I had a great time coming up with ideas before deciding on a Snail's Trail variation. 

The nice people at Quilty Pleasures are giving away copies of the magazine and other goodies on their blog, so be sure to visit and leave a comment there. Also, make sure to visit the rest of the designers on the blog tour today and tomorrow for other chances to win. To win a copy from me, leave me a comment below, and I will use Mr. Random Number Generator to pick a lucky comment-er at the end of the day today (around 9 p.m. EST.)  Make sure that your email address is visible, so that I can contact you for your physical address.  Otherwise, Quiltmaker won't be able to mail you your copy! If you are concerned about spammers, use words instead of symbols when typing in your email address (e.g. yourname at domain dot com)

If you don't want to trust Mr. Random Number Generator to get a copy for you, you can always click the 100 Blocks Volume 12 link on the top right hand side of this page and buy an issue directly from the Quilt and Sew store.  Or, if you want it immediately, you can click the 100 Blocks Digital Download link and download it. 

Good luck to all of you, and thanks for visiting!  

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Confession and a UFO problem

There are some parts of quilting that I just plain don't like. Dislike is probably too mild a word. Hate would be too strong a word. 'Dread' might be the best description.  

I've thought a lot about this recently due to a UFO (UnFinished Object) challenge sponsored by the local quilt store that I frequent.  The challenge is to find and complete as many UFOs as you can from February to December of this year.  "Complete" means quilted and bound, not just a completed top. For each completed project, you throw a dollar into the kitty, and at the end of the year, the quilt store will match whatever you have accumulated to be used for a purchase at the store.  Definitely worth doing! 

In January, I started digging in my bins to see what I had in the works.  I knew that I had some UFOs, but I did not realize how many I had!  I found 41 projects in various stages of completion, and I think that I probably missed a few.   As Charlie Brown would say - "Good Grief"!  

Some of my UFOs....

So far, I have only finished 5 of those projects.  In my defense, I couldn't count my Scrap Addicts projects because I hadn't started them yet.  I did count the Knights of Columbus quilt, because I started that last August (2014).  But even if I add in the Scrap Addicts projects, I still have only completed 8 projects.  I thought that I would get a lot more done with all my free time!  

So I started analyzing my UFO list.  Tops that are completed, but not quilted make up 45%.  Another 45% is sets of blocks that are done, but have not yet been set into tops.  Only 10% are true works-in-progress.  (Yes, I am analytical by nature. And working in a scientific field for 37 years helped to reinforce that tendency!)

After some soul searching, I realized the following: I love designing quilts.  I love making quilt blocks.  I even like hand sewing the binding on a quilt.   I am not  fond of sewing blocks into rows and I definitely dread the process of finishing a quilt.  This dread is due to two things - space issues and 'how the heck do I quilt it?" 

Once you start sewing rows together, quilts tend to get large, quickly.  As more rows are added, it gets harder and harder to handle.  And I just don't have a lot of space. My sewing room is my dining room, my 'design wall' is my living room floor, and I can't sandwhich and pin baste a quilt any larger than a toddler size anywhere in my house.  

So when I do get a larger top done, I have to find a place to lay it out and get it ready for quilting.  And that is a hassle.  I used to use the Activities Center at our local parish school, but my husband isn't the facility manager anymore, and I don't have as easy access to it as I used to.  The local quilt store lets people use their upstairs retreat center if it isn't in use.  But that entails a half an hour drive along congested roads. It's an option, but not the most convenient. 

'How the heck do I quilt it' is actually two problems - the design and the logistics. I do all my quilting on my home machine, a Janome MC6600P. I can quilt a baby or toddler size quilt on it fairly easily, but anything larger is very difficult.  Trying to wrangle a twin, or even a lap size quilt is difficult, even when I set up a card table beside the dining room table to try to distribute the weight somewhat.  Quilting the blocks separately, then sewing them together is an option that I recently discovered, but it obviously won't work for the tops I already have done. I don't have the space for a long-arm, and I don't want to incur the expense to send all those tops to a professional long-arm quilter. Then there is the problem of the design.  I have taken a couple classes on machine quilting; one in person and one online, but I still agonize over what design to use!  

So now that I have answers to why my quilts aren't done, I need some help! Have you experienced any of the issues that I have?  How have you solved them?  Or are you still wrestling with them?  I would love to hear your experiences, so leave me comments!  If I get 10 or more comments, I will draw a name and send you a copy of the new 100 Blocks magazine with my block in it!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

She Who Dies With the Most Fabric Wins?

One day, my cousin 'C' posted a comment on my Facebook page that she didn't know that I was a quilter, but since I was, she wanted me to contact her right away.  That really piqued my curiosity.  Since she lives on the other side of the city, we don't get to see each other very often. She is actually my mom's first cousin, so I guess that makes her my second cousin.  Or first cousin once removed?  We've had numerous conversations about how to describe our relationship, and have decided that 'cousin' is probably not the most accurate description, but it is certainly the simplest way to describe it.  

Anyway, I called her and we did some catching up on family issues, then got to the reason for her post.  It turns out that she had a quilter friend who had passed away recently.  The daughters and sons did not want any of the mountains of fabric that the woman had accumulated over the years, so they gave it to my cousin.  


If this lady liked something, like a kit, or a block of the month series, she would not only buy ONE, but she would buy a half dozen.  There were charm packs, there were kits, there was yardage, there were half yard cuts, fat quarters, 6 inch strips, etc. etc. etc.  Solids, prints, novelties, 'good' quilt shop fabric, fabric from a chain store, templates, stencils... you name it, she had it.  

My cousin took on the herculean task of sorting it all out and trying to decide what to do with it all.   She kept some of the fabric and a few kits, but since she is also a quilter, she already has a stash, and has no more room to store the bounty. She gave a bunch of it away to other quilting friends, and STILL had too much to store. So she asked me if I would want any of it.  Duh!!! What quilter turns down the chance to get free fabric?

We made arrangements to meet, and I took a trip over to her house.  What was left of the deceased quilter's stash was in cardboard boxes and plastic bins and grocery bags all over C's living room.  I took more than I knew I could use, but she really wanted it out of her house, so figured that I could find someone to use it. We squeezed it all in to the back of my Prius. Here is a picture of the haul.  Remember that this is MUCH LESS than HALF of what was given to C.

After I unloaded it, I spent a couple of days going through it and deciding what to do with it all.  The plastic boxes on the left and the bin in the foreground are full of 5 inch squares. Those I decided to keep, since I make a lot of scrap quilts. The white box on the right was full of solids fabrics in 6 inch strips with a few 1-yard cuts thrown in.  Solids seem to be the latest trend, so I decided to try some projects to see how I like using them.  It isn't often that you get to try something for free, right?  The photo box in the center contains a kit which looks interesting, so I decided to keep it.  

The templates and most of the partially sewn projects didn't interest me, so I put those aside for the "free to a good home" table at the next quilt guild meeting.

After all that, there was still way too much for me to use or even to store.  My husband was starting to complain about all the clutter.  Then, it hit me!  What about donating the rest of the fabric to a worthy organization who could use it?

A few years ago, I found out about an organization called Quilts For Kids.  This wonderful organization was founded by a woman who used to work in the garment district in New York.  She discovered "a wealth of discontinued fabric samples being thrown away" and convinced the garment houses to give them to her instead. With those discarded samples, and donations of other unused fabrics, she founded Quilts for Kids. Their mission statement is "Transforming fabrics into patchwork quilts that comfort children with life-threatening illnesses and children of abuse." 

You can read all about it on their website: http://www.quiltsforkids.org/  They are located outside of Philadelphia, PA, but supply quilts to children's hospitals all over the country.  I encourage you to check it out and get involved!  You can request a kit, which they will send to you for free.  The kit includes the fabric for the quilt top; you supply the batting, the backing, the labor and the shipping back to their offices. 

Anyway, we were taking a trip to Philadelphia at the beginning of the month, and were driving!  So all the boxes and bags went into the back of the car, and I made arrangements to drop it all off at their office.  They assured me that all of it would be put to good use, which made me feel really good.   

Even though I felt good about the donation to Quilts for Kids, I have a lingering melancholy about the whole experience. This woman had spent so much money on all these projects and never got to use it all. Sure, she probably enjoyed buying it, but at what cost?  What other good cause could the money have been used for?  It also makes me think very hard about any future fabric purchases for myself!  No more impulse purchases.  Before buying anything, I am going to make sure that it is for a project that will actually get made, and not that I want it just because it strikes my fancy at the moment. Between the scraps from previous projects and yardage stored in totes in the basement, I probably have enough fabric to make 100 quilts. My will is going to stipulate that any left over fabric gets donated to Quilts for Kids or another worthy organization.  In short, I've I decided that I don't want to 'win'.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

One Last Scrap Addicts Project - Stars in Stripes

Stars in Stripes 

It was with mixed feelings that I submitted my last Scrap Addicts project to my Quiltmaker editor. On the one hand, it was DONE  and I don't need to stress about it anymore.  On the other hand, it was my LAST project, and I will miss the interactions with my fellow Addicts and the Scrap Addict editor, Diane Harris.  She has been a great cheerleader for us, and has provided wonderful encouragement along the way!

In my experience, being a Scrap Addict has been a lot of fun, and quite a challenge!  Being a Scrap Addict meant that I needed to come up with at least 2 quilts based on Bonnie Hunter's blocks that were published in her Addicted to Scraps column in Quiltmaker Magazine.  That included coming up with a quilt design, choosing the fabrics, figuring out how much of each scrap fabric I had, and where it should go in the quilt, piecing the top, sandwiching it, choosing the quilt design, quilting it  and binding it.  Whew! In retrospect, it was a lot of work, but it was all worth it!  I guess I was a bit of an overachiever because I actually decided to do three projects, not two.  Some of my trials and tribulations involved with that decision can be found in my previous blog posts. 

If you ever get a chance to be a Scrap Addict, go for it!

Here is a link to the post on the Quilty Pleasures Blog about Stars in Stripes.   You can read about (and see) some of the 'trials and tribulations' involved!


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Stars in Stripes - Scrap Addicts #3

My last Scrap Addicts project was dubbed “Stars in Stripes’ by my daughter when I was deciding how to arrange the blocks, and the name stuck!

For this quilt, I decided to go with a controlled scrappy theme.  I challenged myself to work with value, rather than color, for the large and small star points.  In order to make that work, I chose to use all one fabric for the background and all one color for the center squares.  I then dug in my scraps for darks for the small star points, and mediums for the large star points.  The darks are burgundy, black, navy blue, hunter green, etc.  Some of the mediums are dark mediums, some are lighter mediums, but as long as they showed a good contrast with the background fabric and the dark points, I used them! If all the mediums were the same value, it would be boring. Using anything from brights to 30’s reproductions as my medium fabrics really made the stars sparkle.  I used whatever was in my scrap bin, including a potato print fabric left from making a microwave ‘baked’ potato bag and a candy corn print.

Some of the blocks are pretty by themselves, some are downright ugly!  But when they are thrown together, it is the contrast that matters, not the print.

I ran into all sorts of issues when I was putting this quilt together.  My original setting idea didn’t work out, so I had to start over – several times.  I finally decided on a stripe-y setting, but only after I had already put some of the rows together. Matching the sashing on the rows was a challenge, even when I pinned them. (Lower left, near the fall leaves print.)

Another issue was matching intersections.  Here are three blocks that have intersections that I wasn’t happy with (upper left in the first two pictures; upper right in the last one.) 


I had to decide whether it was worth taking them apart and remaking them.  My inner perfectionist said “yes”, while my inner realist said “am I really going to notice once they are set in the quilt with all the other blocks?”  The realist won this time.

Each quilter differs on how perfect their work has to be.  One quilter friend of mine says that perfection is overrated.  After ripping out and re-sewing the offending rows several times, some of the sashing still didn’t line up.  I decided that she was right, at least for this project. If I was planning to enter this quilt into a quilt show, I would tear it out again and again until it was perfect.  Since this quilt is destined be a couch quilt, which will get used and abused, I decided that it was OK that the sashings didn’t line up exactly and that the points and intersections aren’t perfect.  

Some things however, HAD to be fixed.  For example: 


Somehow I managed to not only sew the bottom row on upside down, but I had some units in the wrong place!  The take away lesson here is to always look at the pieces that you are sewing together BEFORE you sew them together!  In this block, the bottom row should have been the vertical row on the left hand side, and the middle left unit belonged on the bottom.   So I grabbed Jack, and got busy remaking the block.  Oh – Jack is my (seam) ripper. I know, bad pun.

When deciding how to quilt it, I wanted to emphasize the diagonal lines of the quilt. So I used my walking foot and stitched diagonally through the stars from one side of the star stripe to the other with an off white thread, pivoting when I reached the navy strip. The good thing about that method is that I didn’t need to mark the quilting lines; I just stitched from one intersection to the next.  It’s easier to see the quilting from the back:

In the sashings, I stitched straight down the center of the hourglass blocks. That wasn’t quite enough quilting, so I switched to a navy blue thread for the top thread and added a line of stitching down the center of the navy solid strips.
I discovered that was not the best choice. Since the navy strips are narrower than my walking foot, I couldn’t keep the quilting line straight down the center, and it meanders somewhat in places. 

I was seriously considering tearing out that quilting and trying something else when my daughter walked into the room.  I asked her if she thought that I should rip out the navy thread and stitch down both sides of the solid instead of making one line down the center.  

She looked at me like I was nuts. The conversation went something like this:
Daughter: Mom, your quilting OCD is kicking in again.  Why did you use navy blue quilting thread?  Me: So it would blend in and not be as noticeable.   
Daughter: Sooo…..
Me.  Oh. (pause) Yeah. (pause)  Let it go, right?
Daughter: Right.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Second Scrap Addicts Project Posted!

I just have a few minutes, but I want to tell you about something exciting!

I checked the Quilty Pleasures blog this morning and saw that they posted a really nice write-up about my Pinwheels on Parade quilt!  This quilt was based on the Pinwheel Fancy block in the Jan/Feb issue of Quiltmaker Magazine.  Even though it was the first issue of the year, it was my second Scrap Addicts project. It's a long story, which you can read about here:


I had a real "Aw, shucks" moment when I read today's post. Diane Harris, who is one of the editors over at Quiltmaker Magazine, said that my quilt was "Brilliant".  Wow!  Who, me? She really didn't mean that, did she? I am really flattered.  I took a few required art classes in high school, but I have been a scientist most of my life.  So having people compliment me on my quilts is a new twist.  A very nice twist, I must say :->.  

Here is the link to the blog post: http://www.quiltmaker.com/blogs/quiltypleasures/2015/10/bonnie-hunter-pinwheel-fancy-and-barb-johnsons-scrap-quilt/

I hope that you will come back and visit my blog soon.  I am going to have a some nice give-aways in conjunction with the next issue of the Quiltmaker 100 Blocks magazine, which will be coming out sometime in November.  It would make a great stocking stuffer for any quilters among your family and friends!

Now it's outside to finish winterizing the yard while the weather is still nice!  I hate to think that summer is over, but I have to face facts.  And I'd rather be outside getting rid of tomato plants and pulling the root crops now than wait until it is cold, dreary and wet.  

Till next time!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Quilty Secrets

I have been keeping a secret for about 2 months now, and it is killing me! I have been feeling like I could burst because I wanted to TELL people, but it was too soon.  I did tell a few local friends, but they don't quilt, so they didn't see why I was so excited.   Sooo... before I let you in on the secret, a little background information is in order.

While I was working on my Scrap Addicts projects, I was fooling around with layouts for blocks.  As I moved the different pieces around, I suddenly saw a layout for a 12 inch block that I didn't recall seeing before.  The combination of fabric placement and the orientation of the blocks made a really cool graphic design.  I looked in all the quilt block reference books that I have to see if anyone had published it before, and what it was called.  

I didn't see it anywhere.  Hmmm, that started me thinking about Quiltmaker Magazine's 100 Blocks series.  I grabbed all the issues that I have (all but Volume 1; somehow, I missed that one :-<)  Anyway, I looked through the 10 issues that I do have.  And I didn't see anything exactly like the one I came up with in any of those issues either. I looked through 1,000 blocks, and there was nothing exactly like mine.

As an aside, it is amazing to think that there are over 1,000 unique quilt blocks, not counting all the ones in the quilt block reference books.  Wow, that is mind boggling!  I wonder how many other un-dreamed-up blocks are out there waiting to be discovered?

So, back to the topic.  I took a deep breath and submitted my block to Quiltmaker to see if they would accept it for publication in an upcoming issue.  I never really thought that they would, but I figured that it was worth a shot.  

A couple of weeks went by, and I put it out of my mind.  Then, one day I received an email from Quiltmaker that started with "Congratulations"!!!!! 

They accepted my block!!!!!!  SSSSQQUUEEEEL!!!!  My husband came running because he thought that I had somehow hurt myself, LOL!  I was so excited that I could just point at the email and couldn't say a word.  He read it and said something along the lines of "oh, that's nice".  NICE??  Men! (humph).

My block is going to be published in Volume 12, which is due to come out in November!  Stay tuned, I am going to have a giveway in conjunction with the blog tour!  I'm not sure what exactly it will be, but it will be fun!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Scrap Addicts project #2

For my second Scrap Addicts project, I used the Pinwheel Fancy block from the January/February 2015 issue of Quiltmaker Magazine.     

                                           Pinwheel Fancy            Pinwheel Fancy blocks

You can find this block, and all the other blocks from the Addicted to Scraps column at this link:  http://www.quiltmaker.com/addicted_to_scraps/index.html

One bonus feature that I like on the Quiltmaker Magazine website is the suggested settings for the Addicted to Scraps blocks.  Clicking the block pictures will take you to a quilt pattern made using that block. The pattern for the block itself is in the magazine issue indicated, but on the blog, they give you a possible setting, including the instructions and yardage needed to make the pictured quilt.  Another bonus is that any of the same-size blocks can be interchanged into the different layouts.  For example, Pinwheel Fancy and Twirl Around from the March/April 2015 issue both finish at 6 inches. 

                             Twirl Around Twirl Around blocks

So, if you prefer the Twirl Around  setting better than the other, you can use it for the Pinwheel Fancy blocks, and vice versa.  Or, you can use any of the other 6 inch blocks!  

OK, that was a long detour around what I intended to write about today...  

Today, I want to give instructions for doubling the size of a block, and the fabric requirements and instructions for making the center block of my second Scrap Addicts project (which will appear on the Quilty Pleasures blog any day now...)

I decided to use the Pinwheel Fancy blocks as a border around a center medallion.  And the center part of the center medallion is a ginormous modified Pinwheel Fancy block.  OK, well, maybe it's not THAT big, but it is much bigger than the original block.  I  wanted a large center block, but just the pinwheel by itself did not make a good center block.  So I modified it by adding flying geese on the four sides and turned it into a star.   The finished size of the whole center medallion is 24 inches square and the center pinwheel is 12 inches square. 

This is a closeup picture of the center medallion.  You can see where I added the flying geese on the right and the left of this picture, but the top and bottom ones are cut off.  Use your imagination or wait until the whole quilt is posted on Quilty Pleasures ;->

The original Pinwheel Fancy block finishes at 6 inches. So I needed to make the block twice as big.  That sounds simple, but there are some things to take into account.  For example, the large half-square triangles (HST) in the original block finish at 3 inches, so you use typical quilt math and start with a 3 7/8 inch square.  You cut that in half diagonally and stitch it to another diagonally cut 3 7/8 inch triangle to get a 3 inch finished HST. But you can't double the cut size and start off with a 7 3/4 inch square because the resulting finished triangle would be 6 7/8 inches.  
The trick is to double the finished size of the HST piece and THEN add the 7/8 inch.  To get a finished 6 inch HST, start with 6 7/8 inch squares.   

Instructions for the center medallion:

Please note these instructions are ONLY for the center 24 inch block.  They do NOT include the fabric or instructions for the borders or the coping strips used to make the quilt shown on the Quilty Pleasures blog. 

From the Orange fabric
Cut 2 - 6 7/8 inch squares, then cut them in half once diagonally to yield 4 triangles
Cut 8 - 6 1/2 inch squares

From the White fabric
Cut 4 - 6 1/2 x 12 1/2 inch rectangles
Cut 6 - 3 7/8 inch squares, then cut them in half once diagonally to yield 12 triangles
Cut 4 - 6 1/2 inch squares

From the Black fabric 
Cut 2 - 3 7/8 inch squares, then cut them in half once diagonally to yield 4 triangles

Make flying geese from the white rectangles and the orange squares:

Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the 8 orange squares. Lay one of the orange squares on the right side of one of the white rectangles and stitch the diagonal from top left to bottom right.  In other words, start in the center of the rectangle and stitch along the drawn line to the bottom right corner.  Press the triangle in half along the stitching, making sure that the orange fabric is even with the white fabric along the sides.  Trim away the white fabric and the inside layer of orange fabric, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  
Lay another orange square on the left side of the white rectangle and stitch from the center to the bottom left corner.  Press the orange square in half along the stitching and trim away the white fabric and the inner layer of orange fabric, leaving a 1/4 seam allowance.

For the pinwheel center:

Sew the black triangles to a white triangle to make 4 HST.  Sew a white triangle to each side of the black/white triangle (on the black sides).  The resulting piece will be a triangle with a black center piece. Sew this triangle to a large orange triangle.  Trim as needed to make a 6 1/2 inch square.  Arrange the four squares so that the orange triangles form a pinwheel as shown in the picture. Sew together as a four-patch block.  

Final Assembly:

Stitch a flying geese block to the right the pinwheel block, lining up the center line of the pinwheel with the center of the goose block.  Repeat for the left side. Press the seams toward the center.  Stitch a white square to each side of the remaining flying geese blocks and press the seams toward the white squares. Stitch these to the top and bottom of the pinwheel/geese unit and press the seams to the outside.  

If any of these directions are not clear, please leave me a comment and I will try to clarify them.  

My next project with the blog is to learn how to insert diagrams!  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

6 weeks. Really?

Good grief!  I just looked at the date of my last post.  I knew that I needed to get back to posting, but life has been so busy that I just haven't taken the time to do it.  So I am going to try to do a little bit each day, and will hopefully be up-to-date by the time I need to travel again at the end of the month (spoiler alert - it involves the Pope!)

Since my last post, I have taken four trips and was only home a total of 9 days in the month of August!  

The first trip was to Philadelphia, for the Knights of Columbus international convention.  That's where my quilt was raffled off. I am very excited to announce that my quilt raised $1,500 for the Knights of Columbus charities.  I was sooooo thrilled.  And I have to admit that my head got a little big with all the compliments. ;->

I thought that it was amusing that some people liked the back better than the front.  I guess that it is kinda unique, because I used a panel in the center, then added border strips and corners.  But I didn't really plan it that way, it was a consequence of how I assembled the sections of the quilt. 

Here is a photo of the back.  I'm not sure you can see the hands, but I had my son and my daughter hold it up so I could take the picture.  The center is the panel, and it is surrounded by a small print with red and blue stars.  Then the corner sections are a bigger red and blue star print.

I did plan to use the panel on the back, mostly because I wasn't sure where else I would use it, and it fit right into the red, white and blue theme.   The center section of the front and back of the quilt were actually made with a straight set, then turned on the diagonal and the corners were added last.  Because it was getting so big (see the previous posts about how I had to keep re-designing it!), I didn't think that I would be able to quilt it all on my home machine, so I quilted it in pieces, then assembled it and added a binding.  

To assemble it, I sewed the sections of the top together with my sewing machine.  After that, the batting in each section had to be sewn together, then the backing had to be sewn.  I did the batting and the backing by hand, using a simple whip stitch.  

Here is the final product:

Some people asked me if I was sorry that I wasn't keeping it for myself.  I thought about that for a long time and decided that making a raffle quilt is kind of like raising a guide dog.  You love it, you care for it, but ultimately, you know that it is meant for someone else.  So even though I really like the quilt,  I am glad that it has a good home.  A nice lady from Northern California won it, and she told me that it will go into her spare bedroom, which coincidentally has a red, white and blue theme!  It was meant to be!

Next up - August trip #2 and  thoughts on "She who dies with the most fabric, wins"

Saturday, July 25, 2015

It's Done!

It was almost a year in the making, it had two major and a couple minor last-minute design revisions, but the Knights of Columbus quilt is finally done! And with 10 days to spare!  :->  

I hung it out on my porch to take a picture... drum roll, please..


All in all, I am pretty happy with it.  I posted this picture on Facebook so that that the ladies in charge of the raffle could see that it is done and quit worrying.

Oh, my goodness!  Sixty two 'likes' and 42 comments so far, and I just posted it yesterday.  That may not seem like much, but I was (and am) overwhelmed with gratitude that everyone likes it! 

Now the only thing I have to do is put a label on it.  I tried using the freezer paper method of printing a label, but my printer ate the fabric off the freezer paper and ended up with major heartburn.  After I got it working again, I trotted off to Joann Fabrics to pick up some of the fabric sheets that are INTENDED to be put through the printer. Then, of course, my printer ran out of red ink. <sigh> I grabbed some colored pencils and colored in the part that is supposed to be red, and it looks pretty good.  I ironed it to set the dye into the fabric, and I think it will be OK.  But the problem I have now is that I feel that the label feels like cardboard, and I'm not sure I want to use it.  I bought the June Tailor brand because it said that it is color fast.  If you have any recommendations for other brands or other ways to print a label, please let me know!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Things have been really crazy here!  Between trips with my hubby for Knights of Columbus, trying to keep up with the weeds in garden, and trying to get to the raspberries and blueberries before the birds do, I've been going nuts.

The last time I posted, I think I mentioned that there are now 74 blocks for the raffle quilt, and a diagonal setting is in order.  However, I had originally planned to put borders on it.  To put it bluntly, that ain't happenin'!  

Stepping back a few steps for the newbies - I am making a quilt to be raffled off at this year's Knights of Columbus international convention (a.k.a. "Supreme Convention"), which is being held in Philadelphia at the beginning of August. It is red, white and blue, and is made from modified Sawtooth Star blocks; one block for each jurisdiction where the Knights are active.  The original design was a simple 8x9 setting because there were 72 jurisdictions.  Sometime in May, the powers-that-be decided that one of the jurisdictions in Mexico was too big, so they split it in two.  Without checking with me - can you believe it?  ;->  So after some sleepless nights dreaming about blocks and layouts, I finally come up with a layout for 73 blocks.   All was well until the beginning of June at the annual meeting when they split one of the jurisdictions in the Philippines into 2. AAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHHHH! 

More sleepless nights ensued until I came up with the current layout.  If they do any more dividing, I'm going to give up and put the new blocks on the back!  

So I finally finished all the blocks, laid them out on my 'design wall' (living room floor ;->) and realized that I was going to have to quilt it in pieces because it is so big.  So I joined the blocks for the center section together and quilted it using a simple curved design.  Then I sewed the four corner sections together and quilted them using the same design.  To join the sections, I sewed the top portion of each piece in its place by machine, and trimmed and stitched the batting and the backing together by hand.  I then had to quilt over the seamed areas.  That is where I ran into trouble again.

The quilt was getting so big that it would not feed through my sewing machine smoothly.  Sometimes, near the edges, it was fine, but when I had to turn it, it would either jerk and make a jig-jog in the stitching line, or it wouldn't move and I'd have teeny tiny little stitches that didn't match the rest.  

So I decided that, if I want it to look decent, I won't be able to put borders on it. Adding borders that need to be quilted would just exacerbate the problem with wonky stitching.  So I am going to finish the quilting as best I can, then just bind it.  It will still end up about 80 inches square, so it will be a nice queen bed topper.  If I want to make anything bigger than a toddler size quilt from now on,  I am going to take it to my local quilt shop and learn to use their longarm! 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

You've GOT TO be kidding me!

In my last post (which I wrote at the end of May, but forgot to publish until today - oops, my bad!) I mentioned the fact that my husband and I drove up to Connecticut for a week at the beginning of June. We needed to be in New Haven at the home office of the Knights of Columbus because he works for them, and there were meetings all week.  While we were there, I mentioned to some people that I was making a raffle quilt for the  International Convention, which is going to be in Philadelphia this August. I plan to have one block for each jurisdiction, and each block will be the same size and overall outline, but each one will be unique.  This is to represent the fact that each jurisdiction is equal to the others, but each is also unique.  Since the convention will be in Philadelphia, I'm making a scrappy red, white and blue quilt, with eight inch modified Sawtooth Star blocks.

I also told the story of how they added a new jurisdiction last month, which caused me no end of sleepless nights while I figured out how to set 73 blocks, as opposed to 72.  72 is so nice and even - 8 by 9, straight set, no problems! <sigh>.

Anyway, I did finally figure out how to set the 73 blocks.  I was planning to set them 9 by 9, and have a blank white block on the end of every other row.  So there would be 9 star blocks in the top row, 7 in the next row (with two blanks on either end), 9 in row 3, 7 in row 4, etc. until the last row, which would have 9 blocks again.  Here is a picture of that layout:

It's kind of hard to see in this picture, but the blank blocks would go on the sides, where my design wall (a.k.a. living room carpet) is showing through. 

Did you notice that I said 'WAS planning', and 'would go'? <Big, BIG, sigh>.  On Sunday morning, there was a breakfast meeting, and the speaker mentioned that there were 74 jurisdictions. WHAT??? Did I hear him correctly?  Did he make a mistake?  Surely, he meant 73, right?  

I followed up with him after the meeting. He didn't make a mistake.  They decided to split one jurisdiction in half because it was so big.  So for the fraternal year 2015-2016, there are 74 jurisdictions.  Which means I need to come up with a setting for 74 blocks.  AAAARRRRGH! 

The only good thing about an 8 hour drive back home from New Haven is that it gave me LOTS of time to come up with a new setting.  So by the time I got home, I had a couple of options and was able to sleep that night! Here is the one I decided to use:  

The center and the two missing blocks on each side will be blue 'blank' squares, for which I''ll probably use some of the border fabric for consistency.  Then I'll fill the diagonals with white side square triangles.  So this is IT!!!  If they add another jurisdiction, too bad, so sad!  I absolutely have to get this done by the end of the month, because July will be busy with traveling and the convention is the first week of August!!

Rolling right along

It has really been a busy spring so far!  I'm really glad I retired when I did.  I don't know how I would have been able to do everything this spring if I was still working full time.  After my last post, I finished the Pinwheel Fancy quilt (more about that later) that was an add-on Scrap Addicts project, then started cutting blocks for the raffle quilt.  I knew that I would be away from home for a couple weeks and I wanted to be able to work on it while I was away. I hit upon a way to keep all the pieces for each block organized so that I could work on them without getting them mixed up - little zipper sandwich bags!

My hubby and I were away at the Knights State Convention from Thursday thru Sunday.  On that Saturday, I got up and drove 2 1/2 hours to my niece's baby shower, then turned around and drove back to the convention.  When I got home on Sunday, I threw some things in the washer and packed.
Then I drove about 5 hours to my sister's house.  She needed to have a hip replaced, and so I went down to help her.  (Tangent alert!)  Am I the only one who considers North to be 'up' and South to be 'down'?  As in 'We drove up to New York for the weekend' or "We drove down to Florida and saw the Everglades'?  Anyway, back to the topic at hand!

I got back this past Thursday, unpacked the suitcase and started packing again.  We're heading (up ;->) to New Haven for the week for my husband's job.   The day after we get back, I need to be in Pittsburgh at 11 a.m for rehearsal.  The Concert Chorale that I sing with is going to be performing at the Three Rivers Arts Festival at noon that day!  They even have us on the website!


I was in a quandary about my Pinwheel Fancy quilt because another Scrap Addict was using a similar color scheme as my original idea.  After much agonizing, I decided to go in a completely different direction.  I still used black as my accent triangles, but I used various brights in the large triangles.  Then I made a variation on the block and expanded it to make a center medallion.  The small pinwheel blocks became a pieced border around the center medallion, set off with two narrow black borders.  Some little kid is going to absolutely adore this one!  I sent a picture to my Quiltmaker contact, and she says that in addition to the video shoot in August, she is planning to feature it in a blog post!  Yay!  I'm seriously thinking about writing up the pattern and publishing it. I'll probably make one change to the piecing; other than that, I'm very happy with the way it turned out. I can't post the picture until after it has appeared on the blog, but once the blog post is up, I will link it here and on Facebook.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Curve Ball #2

Don't you just hate it when life throws you curve balls?  I received TWO in two days.  I mentioned the other one in a previous post, but haven't gotten back to tell you of the second one yet. The second curve ball was with my second Scrap Addicts project. 

Each Scrap Addict was assigned two blocks, and we can use them however we want, as long as the finished quilt is lap sized or larger. I decided to use brights, with black on white scrappy backgrounds and black accents. I think it will make a really cute toddler quilt. I liked the way that the first couple blocks turned out, so I dug out some bright scraps from my bin and starting to make blocks. There wasn't quite enough variety, so I cut into some fat quarters, too.  And the leftovers from fat quarters get cut into strips to make more scraps! Bonus! 

After playing with layouts for a few days, and not getting any sewing done, I realized that I really need to get going if I am going to finish my Scrap Addicts projects AND the raffle quilt on time.  So I decided to stick to a simple straight setting with plain sashing and black cornerstones.   

The curve ball arrived the next day.  Since there are 12 Scrap Addicts and 6 blocks, there will obviously be duplicate assignments. One of the other Scrap Addicts posted pictures of the project she had made using the block.  It was amazingly similar to what I had decided on.   She used blues with black accents and plain sashing with black cornerstones.  Hers was set on point, but still, I thought that mine was way too similar.  DARN IT! Back to square one, at least for the setting <sigh>. 

I emailed the editor, and she said that she thought it would be fine if the quilts were similar, but I felt compelled to come up with something different. Stay tuned, and you will see what I came up with.  I'm very happy with it, and happy that it won't be similar at all to the other one!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Random Observations

I think I'll call these "Barb's Laws of Quilting".  They are kind of like Murphy's Law, but specifically for Quilting.

1. The smaller the amount of a particular fabric that you have for a given project, the more likely it is that you will make a cutting mistake. Conversely, if you have lots, you can slap your ruler down anywhere and the cut will come out perfectly.

2. No matter how cold it is, wearing flannel or fleece while you are quilting is a bad idea. Besides the threads that magnetically attach themselves all over you, small pieces that you've cut for your quilt end up sticking to your forearms and/or elbows. Then you can't find them when you're looking for them.  This fact is in no way associated with #3, below. 

3. If you lose a piece that you've cut, it will not turn up until after you've already cut a replacement.  Or changed the whole design because you don't have enough fabric to replace it. (See #1...)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Curve Ball #1

I was making really good progress on the raffle quilt.  Really, I was.  As I've probably mentioned, I am making a raffle quilt for the Knights of Columbus international convention, which is going to be held in Philadelphia this August. I'm making it in Red, White and Blue. Each block is the same basic 8 inch star but the fabrics, placement of the colors and the centers are different for each one.  I'm going to make one block for each jurisdiction where the Knights are active.  The idea is to convey the fact that all the jurisdictions are equal, but different.  Up until about a week ago, there were 72 jurisdictions.  Easy, right? Nine times eight is 72, so, I planned a quilt that would be 64 X 72 before borders.  A week ago is when the curve ball arrived.  

My dear husband nonchalantly mentioned that one of the jurisdictions had been split into two. WHAT????  Now what the heck am I going to do? Seventy-three is not an exactly an easy number to work with!!!  He looked at me like I had gone crazy.  I guess I really did go a little off the deep end...

That night I was trying to figure out possible layouts and thought that the only answer would be to use a diagonal setting, since the rows are offset and usually add up to an odd number. It seemed that I could up with everything BUT 73!   Doing all that math before going to bed was not a good idea.  I had nightmares all night long about diagonal settings, adding numbers together wrong, wonky angles and an end product that looked really, really stupid.  I thought about making one of the blocks a label and putting it on the back, but then I figured that someone could be offended because they might think that I thought one of the jurisdictions wasn't good enough to be on the front.  Sigh.  

After another two days of angst and two more sleepless nights, a reasonable solution finally came to me!  I am going to do a 9x9 straight setting, and use eight blank 'filler' blocks!  So the first row will be 9 stars, the second will be 7 stars and two fillers, etc. until the last row is 9 blocks again.  Once I have all the blocks done, I'll figure out where exactly the fillers fit in best.  I'm thinking probably on the ends of the 7 block rows, but now that the big problem is solved, that will be a minor issue!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Oops, I did it again!

The Scrap Addicts got an email the other day, telling us that Bonnie Hunter is going to be in Golden, Colorado in August to shoot a couple of online video workshops for Quiltmaker.  The videos will be based on the blocks in Bonnie's Addicted to Scraps column from the first three issues this year. 

The January/February block is called Pinwheel Fancy, the March/April block is Twirl Around and the May/June block, which is in the issue that just showed up in my mailbox yesterday, is called Idaho Square Dance.  Aren't they cute? If I did things right, clicking on the name of the block below pictures will take you to the Quiltmaker website that has a quilt pattern with a suggested setting for each block.
Pinwheel Fancy   Twirl Around   Idaho Square Dance
Pinwheel Fancy              Twirl Around                Idaho Square Dance

If you are interested, you can find pictures of all the Addicted to Scraps blocks at the Quiltmaker site - here.  The blocks go all the way back to January/February 2010, so there is quite a treasury of blocks built up by now!  

OK, back to the videos - the best part is that they want to use the quilts that are being made by the Scrap Addicts in the videos! I don't know a lot of details, but our editor said that we would get credit for our work.  I don't know if that means that she will just show our quilts and or that our names will scroll up the screen at the end, like the names of the gaffer and the key grip and all those other people who work behind the scenes in the movies ;->.  

So the people who are making quilts from the first three issues are supposed to send the quilts to Quiltmaker in July so that they can use them for filming in August.  The only hitch is that Scrap Addicts weren't formed until after the January/February issue was published, so there is only one person making a quilt from that first block.  For each of the other blocks, there are two or three quilts being made. However (sad face), neither of my assignments are from the first three issues, so my quilts weren't going to be in the video.  (Note that I used the past tense - more about that in a minute). I was disappointed, but the more I thought about it, I realized that I have three projects due in the same July-August time frame as the video shoot.  So in that way, I was a bit relieved. And I rationalized that maybe they would do another video shoot later for the other three blocks. Still disappointed, but trying to be realistic. Then I read the end of the email... our editor casually mentioned that if anyone else wants to make a quilt from the Pinwheel Fancy block,  they would include it in the video.

Talk about conflicted emotions!  On one hand, I have those three big projects due.  On the other hand, I REALLY wanted to be included!  I decided to sleep on it.  Well, THAT was a bad idea.  All night long, I had setting ideas and colors and fabric choices running through my head, so sleep wasn't happening.  In the morning, I opened up my copy of Quilt Design Wizard (mentioned in my last post) and started playing around with the block.  I came up with a really cute (if I may say so myself) idea!  And if I only make a small one, I'd have time, right? Did I ever mention that I am really good as justifying things that I shouldn't do? Anyway, I took a deep breath, and sent an email to the editor volunteering to make a baby quilt from the block.  I was half hoping that she would say that they could only use big quilts, and had myself talked into not being disappointed.  She replied almost immediately that a small one would be great! 
Woohoo!  I only have 10 more blocks to do from my first Scrap Addicts project, then I am going to whip up that baby quilt!  This is going to be fun!