Monday, December 30, 2013

Last Finish of the Year!

I squeezed in one last fnish this year.  It is my blue and gold version of Denyse Schmidt's Point Me pattern. 

I pieced this quilt in the late winer/early spring, when I made two blue-and-gold quilts in rapid succession.  For this quilt, I used a dark navy solid fabric with yellow and gold fabric triangles, and used a lighter navy solid in the other quilt.  I like to make a quilt in the school colors for the Parents' Association fundraiser auction at my daughter's school each year.  I donated Falcons In Flight to the auction in 2013, reserving the Point Me flimsy for 2014. 

Even though Miss Main Street has graduated and moved on to college, I still like to help out.  I've got to quilt and we certainly have more than we need so why not make one for this cause that means a lot to me.

This is a close-up of the quilting on Point Me.  It gives the large open spaces a nice texture.  I bound the quilt over the Christmas holiday.  All I need now is the label, but before I can make the label, I need a name for the quilt.  I'm thinking of Point Me in the Right Direction.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Color Essentials by Amanda Murphy

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.  We had a good day here, with good company and lots of wonderful food.  I received several quilting books as gifts so I plan to provide some reviews in between project progress updates.

First up is Color Essentials by Amanda Murphy, published by Stash Books.   

I thought this book would go in-depth about color theory and how to apply it to making quilts.  While there is some brief coverage on color theory, it is really about using solid color fabric for quilt making, specifically using the Kona Cotton precuts put out by Robert Kaufman.  Some of the color combinations are really spectacular (I must buy the Kona Sunset palette!) and I really liked the section on achieving transparent effects with different colors (transparency placemats project). 

Most of the projects are very fresh and modern looking, and they don't all require white background fabric.  Most of the projects are pieced but some combine piecing with machine applique.  Another thing I really like is that for each project, there is an additional page depicting alternative color combinations.  The original project is sewn and quilted; the color possibilites are computer generated drawings. 

I may not make any of the projects in the book but I have benefitted from the color inspiration found in its pages.  

That's the Kona Sunset palette above.  See what I mean!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Working on Trellis Crossroads

I don't have a lot of time for sewing during the holiday season but I got started on my Christmas-y version of Trellis Crossroads anyway.  To start, I need 120 sets like this and have most of them finished.

Much as I like the design, I am not impressed with the pattern directions.  My first complaint is the absence of any little tips regarding techniques for making the block.  For example, the step where you join the two rows of squares to each side of the narrow white strip calls out for a tip on how to keep your seams lined up on either side of the white strip.  This is especially crucial because the white strip is cut overlong and trimmed after the block is together, so it is very easy for the seams to become mis-aligned.  But there is nothing about it.  And there aren't any pressing instructions!  How can you have a quilt pattern without pressing instructions!  Pressing in the correct direction will make joing the blocks so much easier. 

I read ahead in the directions to try and figure out the best way to press.  I ended up pressing the seams in the pieced strips open and pressing the long seams towards the white strip.   The finished width of this strip is only half an inch so the seam allowances meet in the middle.  So far, so good; my seams are lining up on either side of the white strip and the block is good and flat.  So the absence of these instructions are not a deal-breaker but could make it difficult for a novice quilter.

If you like what you see and want to know more, the pattern for Trellis Croasroads is from the book Modern Bee by Lindsay Conner.
I have to put  this project away for a few days, clean up the sewing room and transform it into it's alter ego, the guest room.  My mother is arriving later today for a 5-day stay with us.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Only 372 Sewing Days Until Christmas!

Call me Crazy, I'm starting another Christmas quilt!  I've got plenty of time to get in done for Christmas 2014.

Remember when I showed you this book, Modern Bee, that I found at my local library?  Well, one of the designs kept calling to me.  I could see it in my mind, made from Christmas fabrics from my stash.  Fabric from my stash plus pattern from the library, that's practically a free quilt!

It's this design, called Trellis Crossroads. Only my version might be called Christmas Crossroads.

The only snag is that I have a limited amount of time to keep the book. So I have to get cracking!

Monday, December 16, 2013


Thank you all so much for suggesting names for my latest quilt.  The design comes from Kim Diehl's book Simple Comforts, where it is called Twilight Hopscotch.  But at the suggestion of Nicole, I'm going with Wintergreen

I love anything mint flavored and Wintergreen fits the colors in the quilt so well too.  Here's a close-up of a block, where you can see that it uses two different green fabrics, a snowflake batik (from Tonga) and a metallic gold speckled green.  The background is Kona White. 

This quilt was quick and easy, especially after I got the tiny four-patch units finished.  If you are interested but don't want the entire Simple Comforts book, the publisher (Martingale) sells an epattern for the quilt for only $4.99. 
I won't really be able to enjoy this quilt this Christmas but that's ok, I feel good knowing it will be quilted and bound in plenty of time for next year's Christmas decorating.  And it was enjoyable to make something seasonal during the season!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I pieced the sashing on Monday evening then last night I began sewing the whole quilt together.  More to do but you can now see how the design comes together once you add the pieced sashing to the blocks. 

Kim Diehl, the designer of this quilt, called her version Twilight Hopscotch but I need a new name.  At the moment, I am partial to All Is Calm, though this does not need to be a Christmas quilt exclusively so maybe something else would be better.  What I mean is, do you have a suggestion?

Monday, December 9, 2013

Twilight Hopscotch Progress

It's been slow going for me with this project but at last, all 16 blocks for Twilight Hopscotch are finished and on the design wall.

The rest of the design will be formed by the pieced sashing, which is a project for the upcoming week.  I want to get the top finished before I have to clear up the sewing and transform the quilting room into the guest room, in time for my mother's Christmas visit.

The quilt is really easy to make, and fast once you get the little four-patch sub-blocks made.  It is just that I've had other things demanding my time lately. We are having new hardwood floors installed on the first floor of our house in early January, a project that has taken some careful planning as we need to move all of the furniture and rugs out of the rooms and fully vacate the house for about 12 hours each day while the finish dries.  It has taken some planning to figure who and what is going where and when.   Then we'll have to move it all back in again and put everything away.  Where's Carson the butler when you need him?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Christmas Quilts Past, Part 3

My first quilt was a log cabin, made in a class based on Eleanor Burns' Quilt in a Day book.  While I was working on that quilt, my sister told me she was pregnant so it became a baby quilt for Nicholas , who is about to celebrate his 21st birthday (yikes!).

This is my second log cabin quilt, made using fabric left over from the three scrappy star quilts in Monday's post. 

By the time I made this quilt, I knew about longarm quilting so I "outsourced" the quilting for this one.  I has an all-over design of holly leaves using a varigated red and green thread that shows up very nicely in the light portions of the quilt. 

I've been thinking about making another log cabin quilt; that may go on my "list" for 2014.   But something for my short-term list are embellished kitchen towels.  I made these a couple of years ago, super easy, and they make a good hostess gift, teacher gift, or gift exchange-type present. 

I bought the base towels at Target; you can get similar at Walmart, Home Goods, or Bed Bath & Beyond.  I sewed strips of fabric together, then sewed the ric rac at the top and bottom edges, turned it under and top-stitched to the towel, turning in a quarter inch at each side.  I added prairie points to the towel in the middle; not difficult but it does take more time. 
I'm looking forward to a crafty and quilty weekend; I hope you have some fun planned too!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Quilts Past, Part 2

This is our Christmas tree skirt, another early quilt project.  We moved into this house in 1997 and I think I made it that year or the next.  I used a pattern but can't locate it now.  I know I enlarged it from the original, I think by making 8 hearts instead of 6 and placing them on the perimeter of a larger circle of fabric. 

The hearts were made using the easy "stich and flip" method for the patchwork, then I hand embroidered along the seams; nothing too difficult given my limited embroidery skills.  You can see in the photo above, there is slit (top of photo) that allows you to place the tree skirt around the base of the Christmas tree while the binding around the inner circle has ties at each end to hold it in place. 

I am concerned that this might not hold up well if washed but we've used it every year since I made it and I haven't needed to wash it yet.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Quilts Past

I'm slowly working on putting up the Christmas decorations here on Main Street.  The quilts were the first to come out and gave me an idea, since I don't have any quilt-making progress to show off this week, of showing you some of the Christmas quilts I made in the BB era (Before Blogging).

This is one of my early quilts and the first Christmas quilt I made.  The pattern was from an issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, in the mid-90's.  I was not able to find it on the magazine's website.  It is very easy and you can make it as scrappy as you want to.  I  used a single fabric for all the stars and another single fabric for the outermost rectangles; the inner squares and rectangles are real mix of mostly Hoffman Christmas prints. 

I didn't yet know about the longarm quilting industry so was hand quilting every quilt I made.  I used masking tape to mark straight lines in a cross-hatch pattern. 

I liked this quilt so much, I made it two more times.  My second version was a throw size that I gave to my mother and the third fits our queen size bed; it is there now.