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!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Seasonal Changes

With the temperatures getting colder, I thought it was time for some decorating changes to warm us up here on Main Street.  So Cobwebs (2011) is up in the kitchen.

And Hidden Meadows is in the bedroom. 

Reggie is happy!

What photo editing software do you use?  I've been using Kodak Easyshare, because that is what came with my camera, but Kodak has stopped supporting it and my copy seems to have gone bad.  It stopped working over the weekend.  Fortunately, all my photos are saved on my hard drive and backed  up to another drive so that is not a problem.  I just need another way to import them from the camera and edit them.  There is always Windows Live Photo Gallery, but if you are happy with something else that is not too complicated, please let me know with a comment or email message.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

McCall's Quilting Nov/Dec 2012 - A Review

Over the weekend, I picked up the new edition of McCall's Quilting (Nov/Dec 2012).  The Nov/Dec issue is usually one of my favorites, so I bought this one despite the despicable practice of poly-bagging the magazine so you can't browse the contents before purchase.  Still, the cover shot was attractive and promised a few Christmas-y projects, as usual for this time of year.

I don't think anything in this particular issue is going on my quilting to-do list.  It was a little disappointing.  But I'll provide a glimpse of the contents here.  We don't all like all the same things and you may see something here that captures your interest.  (Note, these are just a few of the projecs in this issue which also comes with a CD with six additional small projects - hence the reason for the polybag.)
First up is Cadeaux de Noel (Christmas present in French), a roughly twin bed size quilt.  I rather like this block and the multiple border treatment, but am not drawn to the red background.  This was designed by Susan Guzman, a frequent McCall's Quilting contributor. 

Next is Woolen Welcome, from Deirdre Bond-Abel.  It introduces a reverse applique technique with wool on quilting cotton to make a 27" wall hanging.

This is Pinwheel Pines, a woodsy looking throw quilt designed by JoBeth Simons.  This would make a good scrap/stash quilt and could be done in many other color palettes. 

I rather like these holly leaf appliqued placemats, designed by Laurie Tigner.  They are machine appliqued and this section includes directions for the placemats as well as a table runner and hot pad.  Again, a good scrap/stash project.

My Signature Color:Red is one of the cover quilts.  The scrappy design, by Lynn Lister (another frequent contributor) makes a generous throw quilt.  Of course, this could be done in colors other than red if your signature color is blue, or purple, or...

Crowning Touch makes a 50" square quilt, shown in the photo across a kitchen counter.  It is a novel use of HSTs and I like the border.  This project was designed by Cathy Wierzbicki. 

Like I said above, there are some additional projects in this issue.  Additionally, the ads and tips columns can be as interesting as the main features. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pineapple Quilt Block - Foundation Paper or Ruler?

This is where I was a few days ago...

And this is where I am now. 

I've finished the first eight blocks and they look like pineapple blocks now.  I've been using the Pinapple Rule from Possibilities but this technique is not without its problems.  In fact, though I plan to finish this project using the ruler, if I make another pineapple quilt, I will probably try foundation paper piecing. 
I thought the ruler would be less tedious than the foundation papers.  While I quite enjoy the sewing process with foundation paper piecing, I don't like having to remove the paper at the end.  While an alternative is to use muslin or very thin interfacing in place of the paper, I am afraid that will leave me with a quilt that feels heavy and stiff.  
The Pineapple Rule is cleverly designed and quite easy to use.  The biggest drawback is that you are always attaching your next round to bias edges.  It is all too easy for the bias edges to get stretched out of alignment.  None of my blocks looks wonky but I doubt they are all exactly the same size.  I have a feeling that sewing the blocks together at the end will be challenging (the blocks you see above are on my design wall, not sewn together yet), but I will address that challenge when I get to it.  After all, tomorrow is another day! (quoting Scarlett O'Hara).
I will be putting this project aside soon (just temporarily) in order to return my sewing room to its other use, the guest room.  My mother is coming for a visit, to see Miss Main Street in what is probably the last theater performance of her high school career.  Mom will be staying with us for a week and I don't think she wants to share the bed with piles of fabric and partially completed quilting projects.  So it is time to put the fabric away.  But this presents an opportunity to send the Bernina for a tune-up and work on some binding. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Hanging A Quilt

Now, when I look up from my sewing machine, this is what I see:

My "spools" quilt is hanging on the wall across from the table where my sewing machine lives.  The quilt is hanging from a strip of wood perched on two 3M Command hooks.  This hanging technique works well for smaller quilts.  A small piece of lumber (a little wider and thicker than a yard stick) goes across the back at the top of the quilt, held in place by tabs of fabric across the corners. 

I hung twoCommand hooks on the wall so they would be 5" in from each side, then perched the strip of wood in the hooks. (Use a level to be sure the two hooks are lined up evenly.) This method is easy on the budget (the wood was under $2 at Lowes and the Command hooks were about $3), and the hooks don't leave any marks on the wall, should I want to take it down some day (but why would I want to?).

I've christened this quilt Keep Calm and Sew On, the name being inspired by the iconic British WWII poster.  I'm sure you've seen variations of this poster all over the internet.  I made this little quilt using the Spools pattern from Thimble Blossoms, only I reduced the size of the block so I could make the spools using charm squares instead of a jelly roll.  The finished size is 30" wide and 31" long.  The fabric is California Girl by Fig Tree Designs, with Kona white for the background and the yellow, tan, and white ticking stripe from California Girl for the binding. 

Early on, I was indoctrinated in the need to use bias binding, and only bias binding, on quilts. I don't think I've broken that "rule" until now.  I really preferred the appearance of the stripes on the straight of grain.  Plus, it is a wall hanging so the edge won't get that much wear.  But I'll go back to bias binding for my next bed quilt!

This was a fun, fast project.  If you need a something to cheer up your sewing space, I highly recommend that you make a Spools of your own. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Using The Pineapple Rule

So, I'm making a pineapple quilt using fabric from the Rouenneries Deux line from Moda (in case you are new here or somehow missed my last two posts).  I'm using the Pineapple Rule, made by Possibilites, a tool that is supposed to make the construction of the pineapple block easier. 

You start with a center square and sew strips on all four sides.  My center squares are 2.5 inches and my strips are 1.5 inches wide.  By the way, I'm using one fabric for all of the center squares and it is from the Etchings line by 3 Sisters for Moda.  The red coordinates well with the French General reds.

After adding the strips, you trim.  There is a companion book to the ruler, Positively Pineapple, that has the directions for using the ruler, along with several quilt projects.  (The book seems to be out of print but there are plenty of used copies on Amazon and Ebay.)

After trimming the first set of strips, you have this square in a square.

Then you add your next set of strips and trim again. 

You keep going in this fashion until your block is complete.  I have quite a pile of trimmings!

In order to chain piece, I'm working on eight blocks at one time.  So far, I've added two rounds of each color to the center square.  The photo below shows what they look like now.  The finished blocks will have four rounds of each color, with the last round of red strips forming the corner triangles, to square up the blocks. 

I will be working on this project when I feel like piecing and working on my backlog of binding when I feel like hand sewing.  Lots to do around here!

Monday, October 1, 2012

It Wasn't Supposed To Be A Guessing Game

My last post was not supposed to be a mystery!  I thought my Pinterest link would take you to the one picture I was referring to as my current inspiration, not to my entire Pinterest file of quilty love.  (Though if you need to see some quilty love, I've found lots of it!)

You were supposed to see this quilt, called Very Berry Tarts.  It was designed by Edie McGinnis and is in her book called A Second Helping of Desserts.  When I saw this quilt on someone else's Pinterest page, the decision of what to make with my fat quarter stack of Rouenneries Deux was settled. 

 I have the book but the directions for making Very Berry Tarts use foundation paper piecing.  Not terrible but not my favorite technique.  I'd rather save it for a string-style scrap quilt.  Anyway, I wanted to do a little personal variation on the original design so I decided this posed the perfect opportunity to break out my Pineapple Rule from Possibilites.  I bought this tool several years ago but never got up the courage to tackle a pineapple quilt.  Well, today is the day!