Saturday, March 17, 2018

Celebrate Quilting

It's National Quilting Day! Let's celebrate. Sew along with me and make this cute little mug quilt

You know I love making small projects and sometimes it's just the thing to get my creativity going. This little pinwheel block is left over from a different project (still unfinished, ugh.) and I decided to use it to make a mug quilt. Isn't it sweet? A mug quilt is something I'll always use and it's always nice to have a few extra lying around just in case. What fun to serve someone a cup of tea with a cute mug rug and see them smile and say "Oh, how cute!"  I am calling this "Whirlwind" because that's the name of the block and also my sewing room right now looks like a tornado hit it because I'm working on many things at once. I know most of you know exactly what I mean . . . .

To make this little project, cut -

2 squares, 2 7/8"  x  2 7/8" from a dark blue print
-        Cut each square once on the diagonal for 4 triangles
1 square, 3 1/4" x 3 1/4" from a pink print
-        Cut twice on the diagonal for 4 triangles
1 square, 3 1/4"  x 3 1/4" from a checked fabric
-        Cut twice on the diagonal for 4 triangles
2 squares, 3 3/4"  x 3 3/4" from a light print
-        Cut each square once on the diagonal for 4 triangles
2 strips, 2" x  6" from a medium blue print
1 rectangle  7"  x 10"  from a backing fabric 
1 strip, 1 1/4" wide, from a pink print for binding
7"  x  10"  piece of thin cotton batting

1.  Sew the pink and checked triangles together as shown.  Make four units like this.

2.  Sew each pink and checked unit together with a dark blue triangle. They finished units should measure 2 1/2".  Make four.

3.  Sew the four units together as shown, two at a time. Then, sew the two rows together, pinning the center as you stitch to make sure your points meet. Your block should measure 4 1/2".

4.  Add the light print triangles to the sides of the block.

5.  Sew the medium blue strips to the sides of your block.

6.  Layer the quilt top with batting and backing and then add the pink binding.  I like to use a 1 1/4" single-fold binding strip in my little quilts to avoid too much bulk.

There are all sorts of fun ways to honor your quilty self today - visit a quilt shop, teach someone to quilt, finish a UFO, organize your scraps. You get the idea. Hope whatever you do today involves at least a little bit of quilting.

                                                             Happy St Patrick's Day too!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Nine-Patch Fun

The nine-patch block is one of my favorites and I've made these in all different sizes. But mostly for small quilts.

Right now I have three nine-patch quilts in the works that will be larger than the small quilts I typically make. Some of the blocks will still be small and some will be a bit larger. I'm working on these in between sashing my Dear Jane quilt. 

It feels odd making 6-inch blocks when you're used to making smaller ones. They seem huge!

These will be put together into a lap quilt using scrappy six-inch blocks alternated with light print squares. Simple, yes, but scrappy and sort of sentimental.

I'm having a lot of fun playing with my fabrics.

These are 3-inch blocks I'm making for a quilt inspired by a quilt called the Birthday Quilt in Julie Hendricksen's book Preserving History. It's a wonderful book if you love reproductions and antique quilts and it contains quite a few patterns I really want to make. I had the great idea of making a quilt for myself instead of making one for a book, a pattern or a mystery. Something simple. So, this one is going to be MY birthday quilt and just for me to cuddle up in on the couch. 

If you can believe it, the blocks in this quilt are 1 1/2" (!!!). Yes, the BLOCKS, not the pieces. Beautiful,  but that seems just a little crazy to me so I'm making my blocks 3", using 1 1/2" squares, which is still small enough. If I had to make them any smaller I'd get really frustrated and probably quit. After my Dear Jane blocks, it's not like I need even more frustration with tiny pieces. 

For this quilt, I need 240 nine patches and 240 shirting or light squares. Sounds like a lot but they stitch up really fast. I just finished my 130th block yesterday so I'm more than halfway there. I started this last November and then got sidetracked. So I picked it up again to take a break after I put together my first DJ segment. My "loose" goal for the past week has been to try to make 10 blocks every day. I've made blocks 6 days straight so that's pretty good. No pressure, I've got months to finish, but a goal is always good.  Again, it's been fun including a lot of my favorite reproduction scraps in these blocks. 

Have a good weekend! I still have to get in my 10 blocks today . . . . 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Dear Jane Progress

Finally, I had some time to sit down and start sewing my finished Dear Jane blocks together with the sashing. I've been busy but I've also been stalling because it was all a bit scary. How do I do this? Will everything fit together nicely? Or will it be a real pain to get the top assembled? What if they simply do not go together and the quilt looks awful? I went back and forth about the sashing too. The very first Dear Jane quilt I saw in person (made by Karan Flanscha, of Iowa) had cornerstones. Blue cornerstones. I liked the way it looked with cornerstones and I hope Karan doesn't mind I'm using her idea. Jane Stickle's original quilt does not have cornerstones but it made perfect sense to me.

I'm very happy with how it looks and, surprisingly, it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. 

This is Karan's quilt - 

I remember meeting Karan when I was teaching a workshop at a guild meeting in Iowa some years ago. My mouth fell open as she showed us her quilt. It was beautiful and I became inspired. She encouraged me to try making this quilt and has truly been an inspiration to many quilters over the years.

I'd been trimming and squaring up the blocks as I went along but I pressed and did it again as I sewed the sashing just to make sure.  I'm always amazed when they turn out to be 5" square. You have to understand, I've been doing this since 2010 and my skills and accuracy have improved since making some of the early blocks. I've used two different sewing machines. Some blocks are hand pieced, some are machine pieced, some are paper pieced. Lots of variation and so much could go wrong. I breathe a sign of relief when they measure up. If you are thinking of making this quilt, be sure to get the official Dear Jane rulers. They're essential. And the software. Don't forget about the software. I would never have finished without the Dear Jane EQ software. A big help for the rotary cutting directions and a lifesaver as I did the paper piecing. Plus, the software contains lots of other info and some great tips. It's almost like taking a class -  all the info you need is right there.

Here's how I'm making the sashing with cornerstones - I cut 5" x 12" pieces from my sashing fabric. Then I cut a 1" x 12" strip from blue cornerstone fabric. I sewed the two strips together and then sub cut that into 1" strips as you can see below. I also cut 1" x 5" strips of sashing fabric. These were first sewn to the right side of a block (see below). The sashing piece with the cornerstone attached was then stitched to the bottom of the block. Then I sewed 6 blocks together with the sashing to make a row. Remember to leave off the sashing around the outer edges of the quilt as you sew the rows together. 

I decided to sew the rows together into four sections. Then I'll sew those sections together. It's a little less cumbersome for me to do it this way. As long as I don't get confused and sew the wrong sections together at the end. I keep the picture of Jane's quilt nearby so I can check every step of the way.

Snow days = Sew days. I stitched a couple more rows together yesterday and hope to finish the first of four sections today. (Don't worry, it's just a little snow. It'll dry. This quilt will probably go through worse before I'm done with it. And it looks so pretty against the white snow.)

Have a fun weekend! It's supposed to snow A LOT more here in the coming days.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Mystery Quilt - Block 2

I've uploaded a file with instructions for Block #2 (or Clue #2) for my Friendship Garden Mystery Quilt on my website and in my small quilt groups. All you do is add a border around your first block. Easy.

Then, if you feel like doing more, cut 20 squares that measure 3 1/4" x  3 1/4". We'll use these in a later step as we put the quilt together in the coming months. Make sure you put them in a safe place so you can find them when it's time. (But. don't be crazy mad like me and put them in a place so safe you lose them for 2 years . . . .)

Choose a nice assortment of prints in various colors and values if you are making the scrappy version. 

This week I found a small scrap of this pretty blue and red fabric and decided I couldn't bear to cut it up - I needed to use it to make a doll quilt from the alternate star block I gave you last month for the Mystery Quilt. You may choose to make a star for the center if you are not comfortable with applique. See directions for Alternate Block #1. 

Also, the small quilt challenge we'll be making for February is my Windowpane quilt on page 38 of Small & Scrappy.

I love this scrappy little quilt so much. It was inspired by some vintage blocks I found online. The colors were rather dull in the original but still pretty. I made mine in similar colors but added more blue and pops of pink to brighten it up. I'm hoping some of you make this quilt in red or pink for Valentine's Day. 

It's still cold here in Chicago and the lagoon at the Chicago Botanic Garden is frozen over. But it's still pretty to walk around, even if there's no snow.  

When I've had a few minutes, I've been working on some 6" nine-patch blocks for a lap quilt. That light print will be used for my setting blocks. Nothing fancy. Just wanted to use some of my favorite fabrics to make a quilt I can cuddle up under as I watch TV. This one is for ME. 

I work with small blocks so often, it feels weird to make 6" blocks. They seem so BIG. Might be a trend though : )  I sure wish I had made some of my small quilts in larger sizes. 

Of course, something tells me I'm going to have to share my blankie with the dog when it's finished. I don't mind a bit. Who's a pretty girl now that she's had a bath and a haircut?? 

Have a good weekend!

Friday, January 19, 2018

A Prairie Journey

It's almost a book! Here's the cover -  A Prairie Journey, Small Quilts That Celebrate the Pioneer Spirit. Published by Martingale, it will be released in July. I am sooo excited.

Is this cover gorgeous or what??  Blue, blue and more blue - can you believe it? Makes you kind of swoon a little. But don't get too excited yet. It's just the cover; it's still not finished. I spent the last couple of weeks going over the proof pages with a fine-tooth comb, checking the layout and illustrations to see that there are no mistakes, that everything reads perfectly and that the instructions are clear before the book eventually goes to print. Making final changes and suggestions. Then it goes to the editors who will also do this. They still need to take photos of the quilts and add them. I spent days looking for antique photos that will complement the quilts and text. It's a lot of work for a publisher and takes a lot of people a lot of time. I've been working on it myself for the past year. But it's all coming together and I'm very proud and extremely happy with it. 

A Prairie Journey is now up on Amazon and, while it's still pretty early, I see that you can pre-order copies. Read the publisher's book description - 

"Inspired by yesterday's traditional blocks and today's reproduction fabrics, the author of the best-selling Small and Scrappy returns to share more petite quilts with ties to the past. Thirteen designs whisk readers back to an era when the time-honored quilt blocks today's quilters love were just making their debut.

"Stitch projects with names such as Wagon Wheels, Crossing the Plains and Aunt Sarah's Scrap Baskets, or make a Tree of Life friendship quilt featuring blocks autographed by family members [or friends]. Vintage photos and the words of pioneer women from the mid-nineteenth century, a time when quilting offered a welcome respite from the hardships of moving westward are sprinkled throughout."

The release date is July 16. I will probably begin taking pre-orders for signed copies sometime in May. (Just so you know, it will likely be a little cheaper on but the books are not signed if that matters to you.) Please check my website or Facebook page occasionally as we get closer to the release date and I will put any updates there. 

As you can see, my Welcome Home Mystery Quilt from last year is included. This is why I never posted my finished version. I wanted to surprise you. 

*   *   *

I hope some of you are already finished or on your way to making the first block of our NEW Mystery Quilt for 2018 - Friendship Garden. The next part is easy and will be posted in my small quilt groups and my website on or about February 1.

Have a great weekend! We're expecting a warm up and I'm afraid all of our snow will soon be gone. You know how I love the stuff . . . .

Friday, January 5, 2018

Mystery Quilt Sew Along

I'm starting another Mystery Quilt Sew Along this year. It's called Friendship Garden. The first block is an appliqué design. You can read about how the sew along will work by visiting the Mystery Quilt page on my website or going to the files section in my Yahoo group or Facebook group and clicking on the link called "Welcome to the Mystery Quilt." Then, download the first block.

Yes, it's applique! I took a poll and some of you said you wanted to do some applique this time so here you go.

Pretty simple but be warned, the pieces are small, so take your time. My leaves are slightly wonky. But it's finished.

Around the first week of each month through June, you'll get instructions to make another part of the quilt. Those blocks will be pieced, not appliqued, and posted on my website and the Yahoo and Facebook group file pages. 

I'll be sewing along with all of you and, if you keep up, your quilt top will be finished by summer. You can take the rest of the year to finish. I hope you will sew along with us! Our group members will be sharing their progress as we go along and that's a good reason to join the groups. Just click on one of the group links on the side of the blog to join in the fun. Please remember to read the files and patterns before you begin so you have all of the info you need. Also, it's helpful to read the messages posted in the Facebook group about the Mystery Quilt if you have any questions. It only takes a minute to scroll down through the posts. You may find that the questions you want to ask have already been answered. 

Beginners are welcome. This is a no-pressure, sew-at-your-own-pace project. If you don't like appliqué, no worries -  there is an alternate pieced block for you to substitute. The rest of the quilt will be the same. Choose your own colors and fabrics from your stash or scraps. I am making mine scrappy using some of my favorite reproduction scraps but the quilt would also look great as a two-color quilt or done in modern prints. Or, try wool for the applique. 

If you missed the Mystery Quilt for 2017, you'll be happy to know that I included it in my next book, coming out in July.

We'll also be working on small quilt challenges from my Small & Scrappy book during the first few months of the year. After the Mystery Quilt is finished, we'll make some quilts from the new book. There are a few really sweet appliqué quilts in that book so maybe now is the time to learn how to do appliqué if you've been procrastinating. Try visiting YouTube to see some applique tutorials. 

Here's the small quilt for January - Crow's Foot doll quilt on page 34. It's fast and easy and a nice little project to display for Valentine's Day. Or, make it in different colors.

Looks like it will be a good weekend to stay in and do some sewing. In addition to taking down our Christmas tree and decorations I need to do some other cleaning up since my sewing table got a little messy around Christmas. Also, look for some scrap bags for sale on my website next week if you're interested in picking up some of my random reproduction scraps to add to your own scraps for the blocks in your quilt. I'll be cutting some of them up this weekend.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy Quilty New Year

I'm so glad to see some of you were inspired by my attempts to get my scraps in order for the new year. Nothing like a clean slate. It will all be worth it when you feel like beginning a new project. Hope it's my Mystery Quilt, which we'll begin soon.

I cannot believe it's almost 2018. All in all, I have to say 2017 was quite a hectic year. I worked really hard and there were many ups and downs. My next book will be published by Martingale in July. I'm very excited about it. This is the best one yet. I know I always say that but this time it really is, LOL. They sent me a sneak peek of the cover recently and it's absolutely wonderful. I know you'll love it as much as I do, and the entire book as well. I'm expecting to get the sample mock-up pages next week and look them over before they do the final edit and the book is prepared to go to print. I'll share more with you when my publisher says it's okay. Yes, I know, it's a very long process to get a book from idea to reality, but oh it's all worth it. If you still haven't had a chance to pick up my last book, Small & Scrappy, I hope you do that soon so you can join us in more of the monthly quilt challenges we'll be doing from that book in the first part of next year. There are some cute little projects inside.

Also, I hope some of you had fun with all the events and swaps we held in the small quilt groups this past year. There will be more fun coming up in 2018 so you should join us (see group info on blog sidebar). We'll begin another Mystery Quilt sew along the first week in January, there will also be monthly challenges and our annual small quilt swap in spring, a signature block swap and probably another charm square fabric swap later in the year. (Maybe another retreat?) I hope some of you join in and participate in our online group events. It's a great way to make new quilting friends and keep in touch with the "old" ones.

I've been working on the new Mystery quilt pattern of the month and if you check back here in a couple of days, I'll have more info for you. I hope to have the first pattern available for you on January 3 or so.

My best wishes to all of you for a happy, healthy and quilty new year! Now go and finish cleaning up and organizing your scraps so you have a nice head start on a successful quilting year . . . .


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