Sunday, October 28, 2012


Continuing to make progress on the State Quilt.  Here's "Windblown Square" for North Dakota.  Lynn picked this up for me while on a road trip.  I fussy cut the words on the fabric for Peace, Family, Laughter, and Joy.

This is a beautiful block, but by using parallelagrams instead of half-square-triangles, it made for a very fussy block with lots of "Y" junctions.

Click here to listen to James Taylor Carolina In my Mind  which was what was going through my mind the whole time I was making this block.   Missy sent me the primary fabric and I filled in with a random fabric for the stem.

I found it to be ironic that one of my favorite songs is related to one of the states that I've been to the least times.  I've never been to Alaska, have been to Hawaii only once, but all other states have been to 3 or more times.  Thinking the South Carolina only hits the "Twice" mark.

Here's my version of Carolina Lilly (which usually has 3 flowers...but remember this is a 6 inch block).

The Maple Leaf block is for Vermont.  This is another of those fabric donations from non-quilters.  My brother's friend ET got pulled into the process and graciously went to a fabric store to help me out.

This is a great example of why I think I totally lost momentum.  Many of the traditional quilt state blocks were "36 Patch".  Ugh.  It's 6 inches square.  There are actually 32 pieces in this square.  Yoiks!


Saturday, October 27, 2012


Continued progress on the state blocks.  I got several cut out Monday and have been stitching away in my spare time.

This is Captain's Wheel for Louisiana.  My daughter's friend Bry offered to buy fabric while she was visiting her mom over the summer.  We found out afterwards that her mom moved from LA to PA.  I'm still counting it as LA.

Here's Tall Pine Tree for Oregon.  My husband was headed to the Baker, OR bike rally the summer this project started.  I convinced him to stop at the quilt shop in Nyssa, OR on his way since there's a coffee shop there as well.  He walked in and said "My wife wants a skinny nickel of red fabric".  The shop keeper looked confused but an old guy sipping coffee just pointed to the back of the store and said "Fat Quarters are over there."

The swirly fabric I have marked as coming from South Dakota.  If you sent it, please let me know so I can give credit.

 I love the look of the Dakota Star block but it was a pain to make since all the edges are bias, and the white triangle templates I made aren't quite symmetrical.

Nothing that a little steam and spray starch couldn't fix.

And finally, Indiana Puzzle made with fabric from Heather.  In fact, I'll credit Heather for giving me the solution to not having fabric from every state.  She sent several pieces and said she had lived in MO, KS, CO, IN, WA and I could count it for whatever I wanted since she'd bought fabric in all those states.

This pattern, by the way, is absolutely delightful to sew.  It builds from the center, much like a log cabin does, and ends up looking much harder than it is.  I may have a full quilt of this pattern in my future.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bloggers Quilt Fest $2.25 Plus Tax

This year I've been trying a lot of new things, so instead of posting one of my epic applique quilts, I'm sharing an up-cycle project.   I had been reading blogs complaining about the cost of cotton fabric and encouraging people to use old clothing instead.  Isn't that what quilting USED to be about?

I was imagining an amazing bright colored quilt made from Aloha Shirts and headed out to the thrift shops.  Unfortunately anything remotely like I wanted was still going to end up being the equivalent of $8 per yard.

Not one to come home empty handed, I ended up with a couple of men's plaid shirts (one with paint drips on it) for $1.00 and a cream colored, cotton, King sized fitted sheet for $1.25.

I carefully cut apart the shirts, treating them like yardage and decided to make Half Square Triangles using a technique which was new to me.

When I read it, I thought making HST by sewing around the outside of a square then cutting it into 4 across the diagonal seemed perfectly stupid because of the bias.

Turns out that my first impression was accurate.  Making 4 HST for a pinwheel wouldn't be so bad, but a 6 foot strip on the bias....?

My project stalled out at this stage for several months.

Eventually, I started making 9 patch blocks with the remaining blocks.  I added another plaid fabric from the stash to get enough blocks to finish the center.

I then threw all the leftovers into long strips for the finished quilt, no longer caring if there was paint, or plackets, or repairs.  Those are the next strip in from the outer edge.  I added the random 4 HST block squares and called it a quilt.

Everything else went into a crazy patch pillow case which  became a FMQ practice piece described in this post.  

They eventually became 2 pillow cases that used the collars from the original shirts at the openings.

I pieced together the bits and pieces of batting and used up all the old white and cream thread.  Besides my time, I invested $2.25 (plus tax) in material and learned a lot of new techniques.  I would have never been so free in my piecing with "new" fabric.  Give it a try.

Blogger’s Quilt Festival Stats
Finished quilt measures : ?? 70x80ish
Special techniques used : machine pieced & quilted by me.  Home FMQ on pillow cases
Best Category : Bed quilt, 2 color quilt, home machine quilted

Amy's Creative Side

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Epic Fail

An interesting thing about traditional blocks is that you can interpret the way to put the blocks together in multiple ways.  Unfortunately, I got nearly done with this block and decided it was an absolute disaster.

I'm not one to un-sew blocks.

In fact, this may be the only time I have.

So much better.

"Mayflower" block for Massachusetts.

I decided to use some strip piecing techniques to make tiny HST for my Oklahoma block.

I figured that my 14 stitches per inch running stitch should work fine to keep things held together.

The theory was good.

My 1/4" seam was a bit wide though, so I didn't get the perfect squares I'd planned.

1" finished squares are kind of a pain in the butt.

Eventually I finished the Oklahoma Twister block with fabric sent to me by my niece Hillary who is going to college in Oklahoma City.

No, the points don't match.

Hey, it's a tornato...things aren't symetrical in a storm.
And the 3rd block that turned out to be less glorious than imagined was the Hawaii block with fabric brought by Deb from Maui.  Where the white motif hits the applique edge, the design disappears.  Which is OK since it didn't turn out anywhere near what I'd imagined.

I tried putting a shadow in red ink.  Not sure If I like it any better, but it's what it looks like now.

31 state blocks finished.
Must forge on.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

State Blocks

Do you remember my USA State Block Project? 
If you do, thanks for being my long term blog friend.  If not, the short version of the story is that I collected red fabric from every state, either personally or with the help of friends, to make a 6" block to represent that state.  To make everything harder, I also decided that it would be 100% hand pieced.

Last week I went back to work on these blocks and finished Arkansas Cross Roads.  Since I didn't get any fabric donations from that state, I just used misc fabric from the donation stash.

To make up for the fact that I didn't actually have fabric from Arkansas, I just made it legit by thinking of my biker buddy Gail who is from there, the whole time I made the block.

My quilt, my rules.  Don't judge.
Colorado Beauty block.

There's a good chance that the fabric came from my friend Michelle...but when my interest started to wane, my records lost accuracy.

If you live in Colorado and sent me fabric, it should probably be attributed to you.  So be it.

 This is Delaware Flagstones.  Once get back on task I fudged my rules.  The fabric came from Amy, who lives in Virginia.  But Delaware is very close to VA, so I figure that she has been to DE.  I'm figuring that she may have even bought fabric in DE.   Maybe this fabric was purchased further North and traveled through DE.

Bottom line?  Block is done. Fabric from wonderful blog friend who tried to help me succeed on my original challenge. Who could drive to DE in an afternoon if needed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Best Laid Plans

I had planned to spend my day off working on the Trapunto project.  I made this prototype over the weekend and blogged about it at Celebrate Hand Quilting.

Ever have those days where nothing goes as planned?  Nothing worthy of real complaints, just annoying.  Like running out of thread and having to go get some during the first rain storm in 5 months.

And I had bought some of these super expensive water soluble pencils to mark the quilt.  When I was using the white on the dark, my complaint was that the lead kept breaking.   I adapted my technique and smoothly copied my pattern onto the white fabric using the blue pencil..

Problem is, that the blue is hard to see while doing FMQ.  And by the time I was done with the machine basting, sections of the markings had completely brushed off.

I eventually got it basted and most of it trimmed.  No telling how it's going to turn out as I will have to re-draw or just guess on the stitching lines.

I also spent a couple hours trying to figure out where I was on my state block quilt...finding the missing fabrics and patterns.  And I carefully prepared 2 blocks to throw in my purse since I knew I'd be waiting for my daughter at 2 appointments.  Got there are realized I'd forgotten to include needles in the kit.  Ack.

Maybe the rest of the week will go better.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Blue Damn Rube

I have finally finished another quilt.  Sadly finishes are few and far between for me these days.
I'm quite pleased with the texture on this quilt.  The stitching is about 1/2" apart, using the lines from the crazy pieced squares as a starting line and connecting randomly from one block to the next.  The light blue was an unwashed Kona and the backing was an unwashed new Ikea sheet.  The batting is a bamboo/cotton blend. The thread 100% cotton.  By washing in hot water and drying on high, there's a lovely little bit of shrinkage that gives a nice pucker.

This quilt was my final attempt to use up blue scraps.

Which is what I thought when I did this quilt.

 And this one.

And this one.

But now I'm really done.

And here's the new sewing machine.  I'm a little sad that I waited so long to buy one.  I'm impressed with how much value I got for the money.   I used the walking foot and a straight stitch with no issues.  It was great to have the extended section to the left.

And even though I know I don't need 99 stitches, I look forward to trying some of them for variations of straight line quilting.

Next project will be some FMQ using the new machine.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Relativity...that's what makes spending $130 on Naughty Pirate Boots seem indulgent....

but $300 for a new sewing machine (that includes an extension table, walking foot, 1/4" piecing foot and free motion quilting foot) an absolute freaking bargain. 

This morning, I was stitching away on the Blue Damn Rube quilt when my Viking decided that it was no longer going to stitch at full speed.  My machine has 2 toggle switches - one for needle down and one for 1/2 or full speed.  The needle down one broke a year ago and my machine guy wasn't able to find a replacement.  Looks like speed died too.   Sheesh. It's only 19 years old with 200,000 miles on it.  You'd think they'd make things more durable.