Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Finish

In a happy coincidence a couple of months ago, I fell in love with a pattern called Simply Woven by SewCraftyJess posted on the Moda Bake Shop.  The same day I snagged two jelly rolls of Chicopee by Denyse Schmidt on sale from Craftsy.  That combined with some Eggshell Bella solid and I was all set to make a new quilt.

The DMQG retreat was a couple of weeks later at the Compass Centre in Mt. Calm, Texas, so I took everything with me and started on my version of Simply Woven.  The first problem I encountered was that my jelly rolls did not have as many strips as the pattern called for.  Luckily, there is a shop in the Compass Center that had some near-solids in coordinating colors so I bought enough to make up the difference.  Once everything was cut, I started piecing.  It's not a hard pattern but it takes FOREVER!  I worked on it for two complete days and finally finished the top (I thought) on Sunday morning.  I hadn't paid any attention to the size of the finished quilt, which was 72"x96", about twin sized. I don't have any twin beds, so when I got home, I took out one row, made one more block, and sewed it back together so it measures 84"x84".  I like the square size much better, and it will fit over my queen sized bed.

I quilted it this weekend and used all the left-over strips for the binding.  I'm really pleased with it!

Friday, November 16, 2012


No, I'm not in Hawaii, although I wish I were.  We spent 2 weeks there last year just before Christmas, a few days in Honolulu and the rest in a condo on the beach in Maui.  It was a wonderful vacation.  We lived in Hawaii many years ago when Mr. T was in the Navy, and have been back several times on vacation or business.  I've come to dislike Honolulu for its traffic and crowds and even the North Shore of Oahu is no longer quiet and sleepy.  Maui, on the other hand, was fabulous.  Of all the islands, Kauai is my favorite, although I haven't been back in many, many years.

Our last day in Maui was Christmas Eve, with an afternoon flight back to Dallas that got delayed until quite late.  We had to be out of the condo by noon, so after some last minute sight seeing, we went shopping.  I made the family take me to the Maui Quilt Shop in Kihei before it closed.  It's a wonderful little shop, filled with lots of Hawaiian patterns along with fun and contemporary fabrics.  I picked up a couple of traditional Hawaiian applique patterns -- I might even make them some day.

My real find was a packet of Hawaiian bark cloth charm squares.  Bark cloth is the traditional fabric of aloha shirts.  These were lovely florals in reds, blues, greens, and yellows.  I just had to buy it.

When I got home, I found some white on white cotton with a floral pattern that looked like plumeria, a popular flower used in Hawaiian leis.  I didn't want to cut the charm squares so I decided to just sash them in white.  I started the quilt last spring while on a retreat at Quiltagious Quarters in Celeste, TX.. Several people said it needed cornerstones, so I raided a dark blue batik from another project (still WIP) and used that.  I finished it a couple of months ago and it's now hanging in the DMQG exhibit at my library.

Maui Aloha

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Silent Auction

I attend a regional professional meeting every year in October.  For the past several years, there has been a silent auction of donated items to raise money for scholarships.  I never contributed anything, feeling that the $20 or $30 that is usually paid for an item was likely to be less than I'd paid for it in the first place.  But last year I made a lap quilt, about 50" square, a fractured nine-patch made out of leftovers in my stash.  The bidding was intense and the final bid topped $150.  So this year I made another one, again out of my stash.  It was slightly bigger, at about 60" square.  The bidding was not as intense, and the same person won it again this year, for slightly less money.

 I sewed the binding on during the 5-hour drive to Lubbock.  I had to pin the quilt to the wall of my hotel room to take the picture.  Unfortunately, the battery in my camera died and I had to use my phone, so the picture is not the best.

It's always hard to part with a quilt that I like, but I'm consoled that it was for a good cause.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Gift

I received a charm pack of Juggling Summer by Moda at a DMQG meeting a couple of months ago. 

It sat on my cutting table for awhile, getting moved around but not opened.  I wasn't particularly crazy about the fabric on top, but when I finally opened the pack and saw all the rest of them, I changed my mind.  I love the colors and the patterns really speak to me.  In fact, I liked it so much, I went online to see if I could get some more and discovered that it won't be available until October.  Dang!

I need to make a quilt for a fund-raising silent auction in October, and what better way to raise money than with something that was free in the first place.  So I started looking for patterns that used single charm packs.  After browsing around for awhile, I found Jungle Path by Jessica Kelly at the Moda Bake Shop.  It's a baby quilt, and used a jelly roll too, but I figured I could work around that easily enough.

I decided to use a light gray for the thin sashing and solids for the block borders.  I used all the boldly printed charms along with enough of the subtle ones to make 25 blocks.  I didn't cut down the charm squares as the pattern says to do, leaving them at 5", and ended up with 10.5" finished blocks.  I haven't sashed them yet, but I put them up on my design wall to see what they look like together.


There will be 1" light gray sashing between each block and row.  I'm really happy with how it's turning out.  Now I'm thinking that I may just have to keep it and make something else for the silent auction!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

An Amish experiment

It is my tradition to make a quilt for every person on my staff who retires.  I will usually ask them what colors they like, then create a quilt of my own design.  Laura, who is retiring this month after more than 30 years of service, went a step further and sent me a picture of an Amish quilt and said that was the style she wanted.  It was a very traditional "square in a square" pattern that is usually associated with Amish quilts.  I did some research on different styles, but ended up returning to the simple design.

I bought several fat quarters of Kona solids and started piecing.  (How nice to have access to so many beautiful solids these days!)  I had to get a full half-yard for the outside border and more for the back, but the fabric requirements were really minimal.  As I was piecing, all I could think of was how I was going to quilt all this wide-open space!  My standard stipple/meander was not appropriate for the Amish style.  It needed feathers and grids.  I have a longarm, but I'm not very experienced with can't yet do feathers and straight lines, and a gift is not the place to experiment!  So I marked the quilt with a stencil for the center and surrounding triangles and a ruler for the grid lines everywhere else.  Then I spent hours on my Janome quilting all those lines.

After I bound it last night, I tried to get off the marker lines.  They were supposed to come off with water, but they didn't very well.  I ended up nearly soaking the quilt and had to put it in the dryer (did I tell you her party is today?) so it would be dry.  I hadn't prewashed the fabric, so the beautiful, smooth quilt is now wrinkly -- and some of the marks are still there.  Aaarrggghhh! 

But it's done and ready to give to Laura.  I hope she likes it.

Laura's retirement quilt, 40"x40"

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

WRAP Donation

My primary professional organization, the Medical Library Association, holds an annual meeting in May in a different city each year.  This year it starts this Saturday in Seattle.  Two years ago, two members from the Hospital Libraries Section started a project called WRAP - Warm Up and Read Project to collect knitted, crocheted or quilted blankets made by MLA members for a hospital in the meeting community.  Each blanket donation also includes a book.

While I was on retreats for the past two weekends, I started and completed a donation for the WRAP project.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Orca Bay progress

I was fortunate to be able to go on two retreats over the past two weekends.  Each was at a different place -- Cutter's Paradise in Royce City and Quiltagious Quarters in Celeste.  They are both very nice retreat centers and the groups were so much fun.  I even got a lot of work done.

I have been working on Bonnie Hunter's Orca Bay quilt since she first announced it as a mystery quilt.  I had never done a mystery quilt and just decided to try it.  Her first comment in the first posting (which doesn't seem to be up anymore) was "no whining."  That should have been a clue.  This quilt is full of little pieces, hundreds of little pieces, thousands of little pieces!  I have great admiration for anyone who actually completed it in the 7 or 8 weeks of the mystery.  I fell behind quickly and still haven't caught up -- but two retreats have helped me make a significant dent!

Over the past few months, I had already assembled several components of the quilt.  I had made the blue string blocks:

and the Ohio stars:

During the first retreat I finished the 350 1 1/2" half-square triangles, the 64 red string blocks, and cut an additional 700 1 1/2" triangles.

During the second retreat, I started assembling all those half-square triangles with the single triangles into black and white flying geese blocks:

Those got added to the sides of the red string blocks that had been cut in half (sewing bias edge to bias edge):

And finally, I began to assemble all the pieces, even though I don't have all the black and white geese done yet.  I had to see some significant progress!

This is two of eight rows completed.  I WILL finish this!  (Dang!  I just noticed two of the blue string blocks going in the wrong direction.  Do you see them?  At least it's not too late to fix it!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

DMQG Wonky Cross Quilt

The Charitable Projects Committee of the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild asked each member to create an 8-inch wonky cross block out of fabric of their choice for our first project.  We collected them a few months ago and I said I would finish it off.  I joined all the blocks at a Saturday Sew, then set it aside.  The holidays and life got in the way, but I finally got to it this past weekend.  This month's challenge was to recycle something into a quilt or block, so I used a donated home dec fabric panel for the back.  It is polished cotton chintz and looks like it was a drapery panel at one time.  I took out the top and bottom hems and the stiffening that was sewn into each side hem.  It was the perfect width for the top.  I quilted it with a panto on my longarm, the first time I've done a panto.

I bound it with donation fabric also.  (I'm the keeper of all the donated fabric, so I have easy access.)  It was stiff with the polished cotton on the back so I threw it in the washer and dryer to see how it would turn out.  It's now nice and soft and wrinkly.  It should make someone happy!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Car Trash Bags

I haven't been doing much quilting lately, except to make my 9 blocks to trade next month and put the border on my current bee block.  Miss Em has been home on spring break and I've enjoyed spending time with her, even if she beat me at bowling yesterday.  Well, we each won a game and decided to call it quits when we were both ahead.  She left this evening and probably won't be home again until the end of the semester in May.  I miss her already.

Yesterday was also my birthday.  In addition to bowling, Miss Em and I had lunch together, then Mr. T joined us for dinner at my favorite seafood restaurant.  One should not have to cook on one's birthday!

Miss Em surprised me by telling me she wanted a car trash bag like one I had pinned on Pinterest.  So, today before she left, I made her one.  I made it just like the tutorial, but had to shorten the strap considerably.

It's sitting on the front seat in the first picture and hanging from her emergency brake in the bottom pic.  I liked how well it turned out and how dead easy it was, so I decided to make one for myself, too!

Mine is smaller and not quite so deep, but it fits my car perfectly, hanging from the gearshift.  Now I'll have somewhere to put that trash besides on the passenger seat.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Block Exchange

A small group I belong to is doing a monthly block exchange.  Each of the 9 of us makes 9 of the same block, all in batiks.  Then at our monthly meeting, we each get one of each of the other's blocks.  It's taken us several months to figure out how to actually do the exchange without getting confused, so that everyone ends up with 9 different blocks.  Someone usually accidentally takes two, or misses one, so that it doesn't come out even in the end.  We finally just pass each stack around the table, each person taking a block until they are all gone, then pass the next stack.  This month's exchange went perfectly -- except we had an absent member, so someone had to collect for her and she will have to bring her blocks next time.

These were the March blocks:

I love all the different batiks and when the quilt is all finished, they all look fantastic together.  Here is a picture of a finished quilt (not mine, unfortunately!):

I did the same block swap a couple of  years ago with an online group, but that one is still a WIP. :)  All the blocks are together, but I haven't sashed them and then there's that border!  I've got the black and white checkerboard sewn on the piano keys, but I still need to assemble it all.  Sounds like a good retreat project!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Vacation and croquet

I'm spending some time with a long-time friend in Boca Raton, FL this week.  I brought my Farmer's Market hexies and stitch when I have a chance.  But the most fun today was a visit with another friend who took us to lunch at the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach.  We ate a yummy lunch on the verandah overlooking the manicured lawns with white-clad players knocking croquet balls around.  Who knew??

The pics were taken with my cell phone, so they aren't the best.  But trust me, it was beautiful!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lots of Stitching

What was supposed to be a long, 3-day weekend of quilting turned out not to happen.  Mr. T's 92-year-old aunt passed away on Saturday, so we had to drive to Louisiana for the funeral, which was this morning.  I took along my farmer's market hexies and did lots of basting and stitching during the 10 hours of driving over two days.

I finished the large green, blue and orange block before we left.  The blocks will be joined with dark red hexies.  I stitched one of them to the green to see what it would look like.  The smaller, unfinished blocks were basted, then stitched together in the car while listening to an audiobook of The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler.  It sure made a long, boring drive go much faster!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I have not knit since I was in college.  That was an awful lot of years ago.  But last month at one of my quilt group meetings, Marti was knitting a ruffled scarf.  It looked easy, she said it was easy, that the yarn does all the work, that it doesn't matter what size or kind of needles you have.  She promised to show us how if we brought the special yarn and needles to the next meeting.  So, last night, armed with a skein of beautiful yarn from my friend Karen's shop, Yarn and Stitches, and an ancient pair of needles, I learned how to knit a ruffled scarf.  It still feels awkward, but I'm making good progress.  And I LOVE the color!

It looks rather like a caterpillar, doesn't it?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Pillow Day

No, not a nap day, although curling up under a snuggly quilt sure sounds good after the cold front that came through last night.  Today I finally made the pillow shams to go with the new bed quilt that I finished about a month ago.  When I made the quilt, I pieced a back for it out of miscellaneous batiks I had that went with the top.  There was a double strip of 4" squares through it.  There were fat quarters and pieces of yardage in it.  I tried twice to square it up so that it would load on my longarm, but I just couldn't get it right.  I even quilted two rows that I ended up picking out.  So I gave up on the pieced back.  I could have taken it all apart and folded up those fabrics and put them away, but I didn't. 

So today, I cut up that back to make the pillow shams.  It was a pain trying to manipulate all that fabric (the equivalent of a queen size sheet), but since everything was already sewn together, all I needed was to cut two pieces 24" by 28".  I quilted the tops and just made pocket backs so that a regular bed pillow can slip right in.

You can see the bed quilt in the background.  I would have taken the picture with the pillows actually on the bed, but I was too lazy to make it.  It IS Saturday, after all!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bee Square

The Dallas MQG is starting a round robin bee tonight.  Each of us who wants to participate will bring in a center block, up to 24" square.  We will be put into groups of 4 or 5, then each person in a group will pass her square to another group member, who will add a border.  Next month, the process will be repeated, with each group handing off, round robin style.  We will be using bags to hold the quilts, so no peeking to see the progress on your own square.

It took me awhile to decide on a center block.  I was completely undecided (read:  had NO clue what I was going to do) until I saw this block on Pinterest (originally from Pitter Putter Stitch).

It took me awhile to track down the pattern, but I finally found it.  It's called Circle of Geese available as a free PDF from Piece By Number.  The paper-pieced pattern is repeated 4 times to make one 12" circle block.  I wanted a larger center for my bee block, so I tried to figure out how to enlarge it.  I tried using a photocopier, but one or two attempts failed and I gave up.  I looked for another pattern, and found one with a larger circle of geese, but I didn't like it nearly as well.  Then I had one of those head slapping, "doh" moments.  Make FOUR circles to make a 24" block!  So that's what I did.

I used Kona Snow for the background and snips from each of 48 different fabrics in turquoise, pink/red, green, and yellow/orange.  I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!  Now I just have to get all those little crumbs of paper out of the sweater I was wearing when I tore out the paper foundations.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Honoring Dad

My dad would have been 89 yesterday.  He was about 21 in this picture, a new Army Air Corp recruit with a hand lettered nametag, soon to go to war.  He was only 58 when he died, much too young.  He never knew his granddaughter, nor she him.  But through me he helped shape her into the lovely young woman she is.  Life goes on ....

Saturday, February 4, 2012

So Close ...

I am determined to finish my Habitat Challenge quilt for this Thursday's Dallas MQG meeting, even though we really don't have to have them done.  I finished all my flying geese last week and discovered that I needed more gray to finish the top.  I knew the fabric was a Bella solid, but there is no marking on the selvedge, so I didn't know exactly WHICH gray it was.  I already had two shades, one lighter than what I needed, so after much online examination and agonizing, I ordered Bella Gray last Monday.  I wanted to be able to dive right in today and not make any more trips to the store.  The fabric came within a day.  It's on the left.  What I need is on the right.

I didn't need Bella gray, I need Bella silver.  Aaarrrgggg!!!  So, back to the store I went today, fabric swatch in hand to ensure I got the right color this time.

I should still be able to finish the top, if not the entire quilt by Thursday.  We're also starting a round robin bee and I need to complete a center block for that.  AND, we're swapping zipper pouches.  At least THAT is done!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Farmers' Market hexies

A couple of years ago I was gifted with about a dozen fat quarters of various farmers' market fabric.  Each FQ has a different fruit or veggie printed on it.  I couldn't decide what to do with it until I saw a hexie quilt on display at the Quilt Asylum in McKinney.  The proverbial lightbulb went off and I bought some 1 1/2 inch hexie papers that day.  I'm not in any hurry (thank goodness!) and work on them when I have quiet time in front of the TV or as a car passenger.  Earlier this week I traveled to Shreveport and back in a day for a friend's retirement party and since I wasn't driving, I was able to baste and stitch some of my farmers' market hexies.

These are oranges, yellow peppers, and blueberries.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Zippered Pouch Swap

At the Dallas MQG meeting next week we're having a zippered pouch swap.  Here's my contribution.

I followed the great Noodlehead gathered clutch tutorial.  It went together really easily and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out.  I suspect there will be more in my future!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Easy Flying Geese

I used to hate making flying geese blocks, with rectangles and squares at the corners to trim.  They never came out very well, no matter how careful I was.  Then I discovered Eleanor Burns' method, and now I actually LIKE making those geese!

They start with two different squares of fabric.  For four 3"x6" flying geese blocks, you start with a 9 inch square of background fabric and a 7 1/2 inch square of geese fabric.

Center the smaller geese square on the background fabric, right sides together, and draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.  It can be in pencil or ink since it will be your cutting line.

Sew 1/4 inch on either side of the line, then cut the two pieces apart.

Press each odd-shaped piece towards the larger, background fabric.

Now, put the two odd-shaped pieces right sides together, with the right side of the geese fabric facing the right side of the background fabric.  The seams will NOT match.  They will be offset by about an inch.  Draw another diagonal line from corner to corner across the seam.

Sew 1/4 inch on either side of the line, then cut the two pieces apart on the line.

Make a snip in the seam allowance halfway between the two intersecting seams.  Press the seams toward the background fabric.

You will now have two squares, each with two geese.  On the front, the two geese will be off-center.  Position the Eleanor Burns flying geese ruler over one of the geese, lining up the lines with the seams of the geese.  Trim all four sides.  I like to use my rotating mat for this step so that I don't have to move either the fabric or the ruler.

Trim the other geese and you now have two flying geese with very little waste left over.

Trim both geese on the second square and you'll have 4 perfect flying geese squares!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Habitat Challenge

Today I am starting on my Jay McCarroll Habitat challenge quilt for the Dallas Modern Quilt Guild.  We have fat eighths of 8 habitat fabrics and can only combine with solids.  This is what I plan to use.  I see flying geese in my future ....

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Beginning

It's not "today is the first day of the rest of my life," but this IS a start of something new.  I've never been a journaller (is that even a word?) but I'll give this a try.

I finished a bed quilt a couple of weeks ago, a quilt for me for once.  I give most of my quilts away, so it's nice to see the results of my labor every day.  It's based loosely on a  Denise Schmidt design, Pretty Square.  It's 96"x96", plenty big enough for our queen bed.  Now I just need to make a couple of pillows to go with it.

Mr. T will be gone all weekend.  I'm looking forward to having the house all to myself!