Quiltmaker 100 Blocks

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

Friday, March 25, 2016

Vinnie Loves Maude

A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a pattern testing group for a quilting acquaintance of mine, Beth Helfter.  We've actually never met, but I feel like I know her.  She was a member of the Quiltmaker Magazine's Scrap Squad the year before I was a Scrap Addict for that same magazine. And I participated in her pattern testing group last year, as well, so we've had some interactions.  I admire her slightly-off-the-wall humor, and I appreciate her relaxed attitude toward quilting. "Perfection is overrated" is a oft-repeated mantra in her blog, Quilting Hottie Haven. 

This year, the project was a scrappy one - right up my alley!  We were instructed to use scraps of "modern" print fabrics  and "low-volume" backgrounds.  Modern was defined as "if you've bought fabric at a quilt store in the last 4 years that isn't a 30's or Civil War reproduction, a novelty or tapestry-like border print, it's probably fine".  LOL! check, got it.  

But what the heck is "low-volume", I wondered?  Beth said that she meant "modern-feeling prints or tone on tones on white, off white, grey, or light pastel background."  I admit that this was the hardest part of the project for me. What is modern-feeling?  I didn't have a lot of grey, which has really been in vogue for the last year or so (and thus is modern, right?) A lot of the pastels that I have are reproductions, which she didn't want for the 'modern' prints, so I was guessing that they would also be off limit for the backgrounds!    

Off to the quilt store I went, so I could discuss the topic with the owner and the staff.  I came away with a better feeling of what I needed.  And, of course, some low volume background scraps. ;->

One of the cool, little known features of the quilt store I frequent is the scrap bin.  The bin contains cast-offs and small cuts, left overs from the owner's projects, etc.  And it also contains a box of gallon sized plastic zipper bags.  You can stuff the bag as full as you want (as long as you can still 'zip' it!) for a given price.  I think the current going rate is about $10.  If you are good at it (which I am, of course), you can get a couple of pounds of scraps in the bag, which is about 3 yards of fabric.  

As usual, Beth's blocks challenged me to go outside my comfort zone.  That's one of the cool things about doing pattern testing - you can really learn some things that you would have never tried.  In this case, Beth had us using the stitch and flip method of making corners with one inch blocks.  Yep, you read that right, ONE INCH!  The good part about that is that I didn't need to mark the stitching line before sewing them.  The stitching line was so short that it was easy to stay where I needed to be. The bad part is that I kept losing those tiny blocks!  I was finding little one inch background blocks everywhere around the house for weeks afterwards. Which reminds me - don't wear flannel or fleece while you are sewing.  You become a walking design wall with little pieces stuck everywhere....just saying.

Beth got a lot of mixed feedback about the sizes of the pieces - some people loved them, some hated them.  So in her final pattern, she gives directions for both a 10 inch block (using the 1 inch squares) and a 20 inch block, which uses 2 inch squares.  Either way, I think you will love the pattern!  

Here are my tester blocks, one before it was sewn together, and the other is of four blocks set 2x2. I like the setting, but Beth came up with a really unique one that you'll love!

You can see pictures of it on her blog.  And as a bonus, for today only (March 25th) it is available on Craftsy for only $5! Here is a link, check it out!



Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Welcome, everyone, to my day on the Quilt Qwazy Queens blog hop!

We were asked to write about why we are crazy about quilting, our first quilt project, and things like that.  So (deep breath) here goes!

I only started quilting 'for real' about 15 years ago, though my interest in creative pursuits goes back much further than that. 

I was always interested in working with my hands and making "stuff".  I remember making pot holders on a toy loom when I was 5 or 6.  I really loved making them!  

Like many people of my generation, I learned to sew in Home Ec in high school. During that time, I saw articles in magazines like Family Circle and Women's Day with quilt patterns and was intrigued enough to cut them out and save them. I had a vague idea that "someday", I'd like to make a quilt. So I kept cutting out patterns and I filed them in a file box along with my other "someday" projects.  I had a folder for quilts, one for knitting, one for crochet, one for counted cross-stitch, etc. etc.  While I was thinking about those folders for this post, I went looking for them.  And I actually found them!  Yay!  OK, I freely admit to being a pack rat. But at least, I'm an ORGANIZED pack rat. ;->
You can tell these clippings are from the 70s - look at those colors!
My first attempt at actually making a quilt was when I decided that I needed a bedspread for my dorm room my freshman year in college.  So over Christmas break, I bought some red, yellow and blue cotton prints and dove right in, without a pattern or anything.  How hard could it be, right?  The result was an eye-assaulting nine patch sashed with a navy blue polyester-cotton blend with many unmatched corners and puckered seams.  It was what I would now call gawd-awful, but it kept me warm for the four years of college.  And it was used as a picnic quilt and a beach quilt and a swimming pool quilt for many years after that until it finally fell apart.  

After graduation, I got my first job and got married. I did some counted cross-stitch, knitting and crochet while watching TV in the evenings with my hubby. But after the kids came along, I was just too busy with my family, working full-time, being a Girl Scout leader, choir member, Mom's Taxi, etc. to do much of anything craftsy.  I still ripped out and filed interesting patterns from magazines figuring that my "someday" was going to happen someday :->.  

Then, about 15 years ago, I discovered the world of quilting on the internet!  I live in a part of the country where there weren't any quilting shows on TV, so I had never heard of shows like Eleanor Burns' "Quilt in a Day" or "Simply Quilts" on Home and Garden TV.  But I came across their websites and found out that some of the patterns from the shows were available online! My world changed forever at that point! I also stumbled up a Yahoo Group dedicated to swapping quilt blocks, and another one for making mystery quilts.  By then, the kids were old enough that I had some time to myself.  My "someday' had come, and I dove right in to my quilting adventure!  

Here is a picture of a corner of my first "real" attempt at quilting - with a pattern and everything!  You may not be able to tell from this picture, but the points are awful, lines don't match up, and the binding is simply the backing wrapped around to the front.  But boy, was I proud of those matching diagonals on the upside down maroon calico heart!  And see that red bandana heart?  It was made from a piece of the red fabric left over from my college bed spread!

Since that heart quilt, I have lost count of the number of quilts and quilting projects that I've made.  Table runners, purses, baby quilts, lap quilts, quilts for charity, quilts for grandkids and for great nieces and nephews... I am always in need of inspiration!  So I still collect interesting patterns that I may need "someday". There is a wealth of free patterns on the web and it isn't hard to find them!  Try typing "free quilt patterns" into your search engine and see how many hits come up!  I collect many free Block of the Month patterns but I now save a lot of them electronically.  (Speaking of free BOTM patterns, Marian at Seams to be Sew has a tab on her blog with links to TONS of 2016 BOTMs! Check them out when you visit to enter to win prizes for the Qwilt Qwazy Queens Blog hop!)  OK, where was I?  Oh, yeah - electronic patterns! Fortunately, it takes a lot less space to save patterns when they are electronic. If I kept paper printouts of all the electronic patterns that I have, there wouldn't be room in the house for anything but file cabinets!  OK, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but here is a screen shot of the files on one of my flash drives.  

My current filing system for quilt patterns
Each line is an electronic folder. Some of the folders have only one pattern in them, but others have many, many more than that.  For example, the Block of the Month folder has about 60 quilt patterns in it. The "Quilt Patterns" folder has about 3 times that many.  It's an obsession.  Or maybe an addiction.  Do they have 12 step programs for quilters? ("Hi, I'm Barb and I'm a quilt addict") ;->

So the reason that I can call myself a quilt qwazy queen is that I am crazy about saving quilt patterns.  I know that there is no way that I could possibly make all of the projects in my lifetime, but I still save them. I think that fits the definition of crazy, right?  

Make sure to visit the rest of the Qwilt Qwazy Queens on the Blog Tour the rest of this week, and leave comments on each blog to be entered for great giveaways! The schedule for the rest of the week is listed below.  

If you comment on my blog today (before 6 a.m. EDST on March 23nd), you'll be entered to win a Quilter Dream Batting - Dream Pink! I will be using Mr. Random Number generator to pick a winner.  Please include your email address in your comment so that I can contact the winner to get a shipping address. You can use words in place of the '@' and the '.'  in order to hide from potential spammers.  (For example, yournameatgmaildotcom)

As a special gift to the blog hoppers this week, one of the sponsors is offering a 10% discount on any order (except gift certificates)  To redeem the offer, go to the Fat Quarter Shop (http://www.fatquartershop.com/) and use the code seamstobe316

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