Monday, December 31, 2012

How Much Thread Does a Quilter Use In a Year?

About this time last year, I was wondering how much thread I really use in a year.  I decided to save the spools as they emptied, as a way of getting a rough count.  I say "rough count" because I had used thread off some of the spools in a prior year and I've started a number of other spools that aren't used up yet so they didn't get tossed in the empty spool basket.  This is particularly true of all the different colors of thread I've used for applique.  But I figured this method would be good enough to satisfy my curiosity. 

And here is the result:

10 empty spools!  I thought it would be more but this makes sense when you consider that I finished only seven quilts and did not quilt any of them myself.  I am currently hand quilting a smaller quilt but likely won't use up the whole spool of hand quilting thread on it. 

Do you have any idea how much thread you use?  Enquiring minds want to know!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Find - Bloc Loc Rulers

I enjoy the process of making quilts as much as the finished product, and I find that having the right tools makes the process even more enjoyable.  As a result, I'm a sucker for any sort of tool that looks like it will make the more tedious, repetitive steps go faster or that will help improve accuracy.  I especially want to avoid having to rip out and re-sew.

I first encounted Bloc Loc rulers at a quilt show where they were being demonstrated.  Bloc Loc rulers have a channel that snugs up to the seam, eliminating slipping and ruler rock when you trim.  I've found that the best way for me to get accurate flying geese blocks is to make them a little bit over-sized then trim them to size before sewing them into larger units.  There are a number of different rulers out there that help you do this; I have and use both the Fit To Be Geese ruler from Open Gate Quilts and Deb Tucker's Wing Clipper,  but my new favorite is the Bloc Loc. 

See how the channel in the lucite ruler snugs up to your seam line?  It is so easy to cut around this ruler accurately. 

The only drawback is that each Bloc Loc Flying Geese ruler makes only one size block, unlike the other rulers which work for a range of sizes.  So I've been buying the rulers as I have a project come up that warrants its use. My latest is the 3" by 6" size.  I'm using it to construct the 2013 school auction quilt. Oridinarily, I prefer smaller blocks but I find that a bold, graphic look works best when using this high contrast color combination (gold and blue are the school colors).  There will be a lot of flying geese in this quilt and this ruler is helping me construct them efficiently.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!


Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Cathy @ Quilting On Main Street

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jelly Stars - An Almost Finish

Jelly Stars is a finished flimsy.  My name for this quilt is Sparkle, but I made it using the Fig Tree Quilts pattern called Jelly Stars  and a jelly roll from Blitzen, a Christmas line from Moda.   

Reggie refused to move from his napping spot to accomodate phototgraphy. 

The quilt finished at about 75" square.  It went together very easily, with directions that eliminate the need for set-in seams or anything too advanced.  I think it is a great quilt to make if you have a jelly roll and have been wondering what to do with it. As you can tell from the pattern cover, it works well for a non-seasonal look too.

Mr. and Miss Main Street have been busy, holding up the finished quilts for photo taking. Miss Main Street suggested that I get a quilt holder, like a clothesline, because she won't be around next year to do this job. I will have to figure out an alternative.  Or else limit myself to small quilts.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Summertime in December - Another Finish

Back from the longarm quilter, bound, and labeled - Summertime, my Dresden Plate quilt.

Summertime is 80" square, with 16 Dresden Plate blocks.  I made my blocks with the Fat Cat ruler, a 30 degree ruler that yields a circle with 12 blades (many Dresden Plates are made with 16 or 20 blades).  I hand appliqued each block onto the background.  I used fabrics from various Fig Tree collections, except the sashing and binding fabric, which is a pindot print from the Bliss line by Bonnie and Camille for Moda. 

Kari Ruedisale quilted Summertime, using a floral motif in the blocks where the petals form a star in the center.  There is a vine with curlicue tendrils quilted in each of the two borders.  The squares in the pieced middle border finish at 1".

Summertime was named after this floral chintz china pattern.

The Fig Tree Harvest tab under the header at the top of this page will take you to photos of all the quilts I've made so far in my Fig Tree Harvest project (an effort to use my extensive stash of fabric from the collections by Fig Tree Quilts). 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Quilted Christmas Stockings

I made Miss Main Street a stocking for her first Christmas, 17 years ago.  It is quilted, with prairie points and a vintage lace cuff at the top.  (It is the red stocking in the center.)  When Reggie joined our family, I made him the stocking on the left.  Last week, I turned out the one on the right, just in time for Dillie's first Christmas.  (For new and intermittent readers, I clarify that while Miss Main Street is our human child, Reggie and Dillie are our dogs, both Pembroke Welsh Corgis.  We have a tendency to treat them like two-year-old human children.)

The construction of the stockings is very similar to making a tiny quilt.  You can't see it but there is a small amount of quilting on the body of the stocking.  I used a thinner batting so they would not be overly bulky.  And the edges are bound, just like a quilt, with bias binding to go smoothly around the curves of the toe and heel.  I used the tail end of the binding to form the hanging loop.  I used vintage lace from my collection of "cutters" on all three stockings. 
I have quite a bit of vintage lace and need to come up with more ways to use it.  Christmas stockings along will not do it as we are certainly not having more children and grand children are a long ways in the future. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Quilts All Through The House

Now that the painting job is finished in our living room and dining room, I can get the rooms decorated for Christmas. I started by spreading the Christmas quilts around.

If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you may recall my stated wish to have enough Christmas quilts to replace the everyday quilts on the upstairs landing.

Due to the large size of the lower quilt, I've achieved that goal, though that does not mean I will stop making Christmas quilts, oh no!  I have several more in mind.

By the way, the quilt on the upper left is from the patten Brand New Day from Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.  The lower quilt is also from a Miss Rosie pattern but I can't remember the name.  The quilt on the upper right is a log cabin, made without a pattern.
Christmas Stars and Christmas Ribbons (from pattern Ruby's Ribbon Box by Little Louise Designs) are in the living room.

And my novice effort with wool is hanging nearby.

And one of my earliest quilts is on our bed.  The pattern was in an issue of American Patchwork & Quilting about 10 years ago.  I made this back before I knew about longarm quilters for hire so I hand quilted it - a long term project! 

All of the stars are the same snowflake print and the backgrounds are very, very scrappy.  At the time, I did not have the extensive stash I have now, so I had to buy a lot of fat quarters and quarter yard cuts to get the scrappy look. I used a lot of Hoffman prints because at the time, they were making the most gorgeous prints with flowers and leaves.  I had a lot left over so I made a smaller version for my mother,  She puts her quilt on the back of a red couch in her family room during the Christmas season. 
No tree yet but it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Boughs of Holly, A Finished Quilt

Boughs of Holly came back from longarm quilter Kari Ruedisale a few weeks ago but it wasn't until this weekend that I got it bound and labeled. 

Now it is finished and gracing one of the new chairs in my newly painted living room. 

The quilting design includes holly leaves and berries in the side and corner triangles.  Kari used green thread on the red triangle, which helps the quilting show up a little more than matching red thread would but is not the major contrast that white thread would make.  She used white thread in the pieced blocks.
Boughs of Holly is about 70" by 80" which is a good size for a twin bed, a little big for a throw. I made it using the pattern Crossroads from Bonnie Blue Quits/Red Crinoline Quilts.
My quilt takes it name from the fabric I used for the border, a holly print stripe by April Cornell that I've had in my stash for a few years.  I unearthed another big stripe print, perfect for a border, and I'm mentally planning a project for it for next year. 

I try to be diligent about labeling my quilts. Lately, I've been doing this by printing the label copy onto printable fabric sheets, composing them on the computer in Word then printing using my ink jet printer.  I frame the printer fabric with some scraps left from the quilt top then slip stitch it on the back near a corner. 

I can usually get four labels on one fabric sheet (they are a bit pricey; I stock up when I have a discount coupon to use at Joann's).

Then I cut the labels apart, trim each to size while centering the copy, and sew fabric strips to all four sides.  Turn under the raw edge and slip stitch to back of quilt, similar to the hand sewing stitch I use to stitch down the back side of the binding. 

With Keep Calm and Sew On (the spools quilt), I used a different fabric print on each side of the label, for a scrappy look. 

Occasionally, when I'm making a pieced back, I will piece the label into the backing.  This means the label is ultra secure as it gets quilted right into the back as well.  However you do it, do be sure and label your quilts.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Winner...And Quilting With Layer Cakes

Thank you for all the birthday greetings.  Using the random number generator at, the winner of the layer cake is post number 13, Julie.  I've sent her an email message. 

The comments on my last post include some good suggestions for using layer cakes, including the Dresden plate block, Anita Solomon's Arrowhead block, layer cake patterns from Me and My Sister Designs, and the big Schnibble quilts from Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.  There were also a number of specific patterns mentioned:
Summer Breeze from Melissa Corry for Moda Bake Shop
Twilight Tango from Little Louise Designs
Baskets of Marmalade from Cotton Way
Slide Show from Terry Atkinson
Go Tell It on the Mountain from Konda Luckau for Moda Bake Shop
Sunkissed Jewel Box from Moda Bake Shop

More quilt patterns for layer cakes can be found in a post I wrote last spring.  The Moda Bake Shop patterns are free so that's always a good place to start if you are looking for ideas.  And the Fat Quarter Shop has a whole category of patterns that call for layer cakes; I rather like this Cluck Cluck Sew pattern called Dottie, this Cotton Way pattern called Star Blossoms,  this Fig Tree pattern called Sparkle (I would not have guessed it is based on layer cake), and Hidden Friendship by Planted Seed Designs.  Just click on the words in blue to be taken to site with the pattern mentioned.

Despite the birthday celebrations, I squeezed in some time to quilt and will be back shortly with a finish!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Celebration!

This is post number 555 and it falls on my 55th birthday.  The coming together of these two events calls for a celebration.  And a celebration calls for cake!  Quilters want their Layer Cake!

So I'm having a giveaway.  Leave a comment here telling me the name and designer of your favorite quilt pattern that uses a layer cake.  On Sunday, I'll have a drawing (using the random number generator app) and the winner will receive the fabric layer cake of her (or his) choice, limted only by the stock on hand at my favorite online quilt shops.  (In case you are not familiar with this term, Layer Cakes are collections of 10" squares of fabric.  Made originally by Moda Fabrics, they are similar to charm packs except each piece of fabric is larger.  They typically include 42 pieces of fabric, one of each design in the collection, but the number can vary.)   

And look what I got for my birthday!  This was my present from me, to me!

When I first heard about the AccuQuilt Go fabric cutter, I was not really interested.  It seemed like a gimmick.  Then I saw more, including some quilts and other items made (or cut) by bloggers with a AccuQuilt Go or Go Baby.  Still, I thought I wouldn't use it enough to justify the cost.
But Olde City Quilts, one of my local quilt shops, had a great "Black Friday" price on the Go Baby and dies.   Now the price was low enough to justify getting it for only limited use.  While they didn't actually have the dies I wanted, I figured I could find them online; I ended up getting my dies from (great prices).  I will use the hexagon die to cut hexies from scraps; I figure it will save a lot of time for this job.  I will use the butterfly die for an applique quilt wall hanging. 
Remember, leave a comment about layer cake quilt patterns for a chance to win a Layer Cake.  And while you're leaving a comment, let me know about your experience with the Go Baby, if applicable. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Binding Next

We are in the process of having our living room, dining room, and foyer painted here on Main Street and as a result, there has been very little quilting going on.  Instead, I've spent my evenings boxing up the contents of the dining room hutch and moving furniture between rooms.  The house will look so good when the paint job is finished.

As I  have two quilts back from the quilter, this seemed like the pefect time for binding. 

I machine sewed the binding on both quilts on Saturday.  I use a walking foot for binding application, I think it makes the process a little smoother plus if helps prevent the binding application process form stretching the edge of the quilt.  Now it is time to hand stitch the other side, a good activity for the coming week.  Be on the lookout for two finished quilt unveilings!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Four Day Weekend To-Do List

I had the best intentions to do lots of sewing over the Thanksgiving four-day weekend.  My plans included:
  1. finish the pineapple blocks and sew them together
  2. bind an almost finished quilt
  3. make a Christmas stocking for Dillie, our puppy
  4. cut out my next quilting project
  5. re-hem a pair of pants that my mom left with me
You probably sense where this is going.  I partially completed #1; I finished all the pineapple blocks and they are assembled on the design wall but not sewn together yet. 

Clearly, I needed a 22 day weekend!

But I did some other things that weren't on my original list.
  • Played a rousing game of Monopoly on Wednesday night, followed by Scrabble on Thursday night.  Soundly beaten by daugher in both games.  (Wow, we raised her right!  While Mr. Main Street - the English teacher - and I were forming three letter words like aim and hag, Miss Main was forming six letter words like fasten and plenty.) 
  • Visited a LQS, Olde City Quilts, for their sale.  Was seduced by displays and bought supplies for two impromptu projects.
  • Because LQS did not have one thing I was looking for, surfed various quilt supply internet sites and placed an order.
  • Visited the gym to work off the turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie.
  • Made my Christmas gift list to use while shopping. 
The long weekend is over and now it's back to the regular routine.  With luck, I might get to #2 on my original list by next weekend!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Still Pineappling...And Happy Thanksgiving

I managed to make a few more pineapple blocks since my last post, though I have been busy with other things, like work and cooking.

Yes, very busy with all the activity that goes with Thanksgiving.  And one of my local quilt shops is actually having Black Friday specials!  I'm tempted, very tempted.  But I do mean to put in some serious quilting time. It is a four-day weekend, afterall!

Wishing you the best Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Even More Pineapple

Inspired by a picture on Pinterest, I decided to try out an idea for the border by making a few blocks.

I'm using various French General fabrics (Moda) in this quilt, mostly from the Rouenneries Deux line, augmented by a few prints from Rural Jardin and French General Favorites.  The creams include a few miscellaneous items from my stash and the red square centers are a hand writing print from the Etchings line by 3 Sisters for Moda. 

The French General reds vary from a faded pinkish red to deep red while the neutrals range from an off white called "pearl" to creams, beiges, and dark taupe. I'm using the lighter neutrals in all the blocks but the border will be formed by replacing the reds with the darker taupes.

So far, so good, but I have many more blocks to make!  By the way, I got some questions about these blocks.  I cut the strips of fabric 1.5" wide and the blocks are coming out 10.25" (will be 9.75" finished).

Monday, November 12, 2012

More Pineapple

I've been working on my pineapple blocks and during the past week, went from this... this.  From eight blocks to sixteen.

I was not at all careful about how I put the blocks up on my design wall but you get the picture.  I'm going for a 7 by 7 block setting, for a total of 49 blocks, so many more to make. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prancer and Vixen

I've been working with my Blitzen jelly roll and have more stars finished.

The pattern is Jelly Stars by Fig Tree Quilts.  It is going together well but I need to put it aside for a little while.  I chose the fabric for the sashing, border, and binding and am awaiting delivery.  No matter, I have plenty of other projects to work on in the meantime!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Jelly Stars Quilt

I haven't abandoned my pineapple project, just realized I need more fabric.  So while I wait for my online order to arrive, I started another project.

This one was a total impulse.  I saw a sample quilt on display at my local quilt shop, Pennington Quilt Works.  The display quilt was a Lone Star design made from the Sentiments fabric line, a holiday line from Moda.  I liked the design, which turned out to be a pattern from Fig Tree Quilts designed to use a jelly roll.  Perfect for my jelly roll of Blitzen, another holiday fabric line from Moda!

The pattern is called Jelly Stars.  It calls for simplified construction techniques to strip piece the stars from the jelly roll strips and add the background.  Here are the strips from my Blitzen jelly roll, arranged on a small drying rack I use for hand laundry.  This little rack was perfect for keeping the strips organized in sewing order. 
You sew the strips together in sets of three then cut the strip sets apart, then sew some more to make diamonds.  Eight of these diamonds make up one star.  The quilt is fairly easy and goes fast, but the pattern directions are rather cursory.  I think I get more out of looking at the photo and illustrations than from the directions themselves.  This pattern really assumes you know a lot already; it would be improved for beginners if it included more tips on such topics as how to avoid stretching bias edges, how to match up the seams on the diamond shaped pieces, etc.    Actually, this is the kind of pattern that would benefit from a companion YouTube video to demonstrate some of the construction.

When it all comes together, you have a finished star block like this.  The blocks are big; four of them make a quilt that is 73" square.  You can make a smaller block if you cut your strips narrower than the 2.5" width of jelly roll strips. 

I had my star diamonds all made before the storm, then used some daylight hours when we without power to cut the background pieces so I was ready to resume construction when the power came back on.  I have one star finished, need to complete the other three, then decide what I'll do about sashing and a border.  I used the mottled white, called "Grunge," from the Blitzen line for the background. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Back in Business!

Our power went out in the storm on Monday evening and we did not have it back until last night (Thursday) - 3 full days without lights, heat, or internet, but I'm not complaining as it could have been much worse.  Many in our area still don't have power and there is devastation everywhere in NJ but we were almost unscathed.  The wind was absolutely ferocious,bringing down tree branches and whole trees, which in turn pulled down power lines.  Utility poles toppled over as well. Our block of Main Street was closed to traffic until Thursday afternoon because downed power lines were lying in the street.  But we did not have flooding in our area.  We are some miles inland from the shore, the rain was not that heavy, and the ground was not already saturated (unlike last year's storm).  Most of the areas that experienced floods were hit by surging water from the ocean or up the Hudson River.  My sister-in-law's house on Long Island, one block from the bay, was flooded on the first floor, with water up to the roof of the car parked in the driveway (the family was on a trip to Toronto at the time of the storm so all are safe). 

In our case, we just experienced first world problems under post-storm third world conditions - how to keep our cell phones and e-readers charged, the monotony of meal after meal composed of peanut butter sandwiches and Halloween candy, and the anxiety of trying to get Miss Main Street's early decision college application due Nov. 1 sent on Oct. 31 without internet service.  Wow, I needed something stronger than a Diet Coke after that process!  The worst was the cold; by Thursday morning the temperature in our house had dropped to 52 degrees (F) and it's a real downer when you feel cold all the time.  Fortunately we have a lot of quilts to wrap up in.

Speaking of quilts, I got some binding done during daylight hours (which are surprisingly short this time of year), and here is my latest finish:

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you might remember my project I called Magic Eight Square from back in May.  My tutorial for the block made from layer cake squares is here.   I made this quilt from a layer cake of Lately Arrived From London by Barbara Brackman for Moda, a 19th century reproduction collection, along with some yardage for border and binding. 

I had the quilt long arm quilted with a pantograph design and it was only as I was putting on the binding that I noticed my mistake.  Did you notice?  The two blocks in the upper right corner are reversed.  Too late to fix now and fortunately, it does not totally ruin the quilt.  In fact, if I don't call attention to it, maybe no one will notice.

I could name this quilt Numbskull, but I think I will go with Humility, after the Amish concept of the humility block (because only God is perfect).  Also, the name Humility fits the Victorian look of the fabric prints. 

I did more than finish Humility during this adventure.  I'll be back in a couple of days with more to show you.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hey Sandy!

We've done a lot to prepare for your visit but you won't hurt our feelings if you cancel.  The bottled water and D batteries we've laid in for your arrival won't go to waste.  I'm sure we can use them when one of your rowdier fraternity brothers drops in sometime.


I live in Central New Jersey and they say Hurricane Sandy will arrive sometime late Monday or early Tuesday.  Sandy is supposed to be a storm of "epic" proportions, though we had the "storm of the century" last year - what is going on!  Anyway, we've been told to expect the worst and are reasonably prepared.

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, August, 2011. 
Photo taken three blocks from my house.  Yes, that is a submerged car.

So if you don't hear from me for a while, it's not because I don't have anything quilty to say.  We are probably without power or internet service but I will return. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Christmas Stars - Finished!

Christmas Stars is bound and labeled at last!

I started this quilt in July, 2011, as part of my Christmas in July project, but did not get it quilted and bound until this fall. 

Hard to see but the binding is the same red tone-on-tone fabric used for the sashing.  The finished quilt is 66" by 78"; it is being held up by a couple of my helpers here but even then, I had trouble getting a good photo of the entire quilt. 
I used a variation of the Ohio Star block for this quilt.  It is not as complicated as it looks.  My tutorial for this block is one of my most popular posts and you can find it here.  I used a variety of red and green fabrics in the star blocks  with a consistent creamy white background and a red tone-on-tone for the sashing and binding. 

Christmas Stars was quilted by Linda Hrcka of The Quilted Pineapple.  The quilting is absolutely fabulous and makes the quilt very special.  You can see more photos and read about the quilting techniques on Linda's blog post

I agonized over which fabric to use for the border.  I had originally planned to use a print and auditioned several before deciding that the background fabric repeated in the border would set the star blocks off best.  I'm glad I made that decision because I'm so happy with the way this quilt turned out.  
Here is a photo of the border quilted, before I applied the binding.  The quilting has a lot of dimension because Linda used two layers of batting, which made the quilting look almost like trapunto.  As a result, the quilt is heavier than most but that's all for the good because it will be used in the winter.  
I chose Christmas Stars to be my entry in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival.  Go visit Amy then travel on to all the participants.  BQF is always loads of fun and inspiration.
I think Christmas Stars fits best in the Favorite Bed Quilt and Favorite Professionally Quilted Quilt categories.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Binding Quilts

My post about my Spools quilt, Keep Calm and Sew On, elicited some comments about the different types of binding. 

I nearly always use double-fold bias binding on my quilts.  The fabric is cut at a 45 degree angle to the selvages.  The strips are sewn together, then folded in half length-wise to create two layers of fabric before sewing along the quilt edge.  Bias binding stretches a little so it is a must on any curved edge.   The downside is that some quilters find bias binding tends to pull out of shape on straight edges and may even stretch the edge of quilt, creating ripples.   In theory, double-fold bias binding is the most durable type of binding because the fibers in the binding are not aligned with the edge of the quilt.  A straight binding cut exactly on grain will have one thread running right along the edge of the quilt and this thread will get a lot of wear and stress, so the binding could eventually split right along this thread.  However, the reality is that straight grain binding is rarely exactly on grain and will be even more "off" after sewing, so it is not likely that one single fiber will run along the edge. 

So double-fold, straight grain binding works well on straight edges.  It was the perfect choice for Keep Calm and Sew On, where I wanted the stripes to be straight, not bias, plus wear along the edge is not a big issue for a wall hanging. 

I have a few books I frequently refer to for bindings and other edge treatments. A Fine Finish, by Cody Mazuran, is an excellent resource for how to do anything above and beyond the most basic binding.  This book is out-of-print but used copies are available on  It covers putting binding on a curved edge (like a double wedding ring quilt), using piping along the edge with and without binding, and other decorative treatments.  It is a worthwhile addition to your quilting library.

Borders, Bindings, & Edges, by Sally Collins, is another good resource.  While this book covers binding techniques, it includes unusual border treatments, especially pieced borders. 

Darlene Zimmerman's book, The Quilter's Edge, is another good resource for borders, bindings, and finishing techniques.  If you've been wondering how to do prairie points on a quilt, you will find out how in this book. 

Well, I have lots of binding to attend to.  Better get cracking!