Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Quilt Block a Day: Winter Edition

Happy Solstice! Today we celebrate the return of the sun, and the days will begin to get longer. Plus, it's the first day of Winter. So we get to start a new "Quilt Block a Day."

The idea behind "A Quilt Block a Day" comes from Karen Snyder of Anna Lena Land. Karen writes, "So you don't have time to make a quilt? But you can make one block a day!"

For Winter, I think the perfect block is the Log Cabin. Cozy, easy, and a great scrap-buster! Here is my tutorial for my favorite method of making lob cabin blocks. As the season unfolds, I'll share different methods and different styles of log cabins.

The very first quilt I ever made was a Log Cabin quilt made from blue and mauve cotton polyester -- it was 1976, everyone was using blue and mauve, and 100% cotton was almost nonexistent.  This was long before rotary cutters, so we snipped the selvedge and tore across the width of each fabric to make 2 1/2" wide strips.  As the strips were sewn together, the excess fabric was cut off.  When all the blocks were made, their sizes sometimes varied as much as an inch.  Thirty years later, Marti Michell designed a ruler just for log cabin quilts.  Using her technique, every block comes out square and the same size.  I've been saving 1 1/2" strips to "someday" make a scrappy log cabin quilt.  And today is "someday."

I wanted a larger center, so it is cut 3 1/2" square.


The ruler is designed so the only markings are what you need to cut each "log" for your quilt. 


I began with size "c" and cut enough "logs" to have three lights and three darks on each block.


Here are the first two finished blocks.  My blocks are 9 1/2" raw edge-to-raw edge.  That means the 90 blocks we make for the Winter BaD season will be perfect for a full-size bed quilt.


I hope you'll share your Autumn Maple Leaves blocks on the
"A Quilt Block a Day" Facebook page!



From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Friday, December 19, 2014

TGIFF: The Christmas Edition

Today's TGIFF is a real oldie but goodie!

Here's the story: More than 10 years ago (more like 15!), I was the project leader for my son's 4-H club quilting project. I always made a parent attend with their 4-H'er, whether the project was quilting, knitting, or dogs.

The mothers of my quilting project members decided they wanted to learn to quilt also. So we formed the "Quilter Mamas." Once a month, we met at my house, had lunch, and sewed a block on a Christmas quilt. Some of the Quilter Mamas had never sewed before, one was a third generation 4-H'er. So the plan was that we would sew on our quilts only at my house.

Over the years, we gradually made many (but not all!) of the blocks in the quilt. We realized the reason for the Quilter Mamas was to be together, not necessarily to finish the quilt.

Thanksgiving weekend, Joy called me and said she had her quilt finished. Did I know someone who could long-arm quilt it for her before Christmas? As quilters, you all know Thanksgiving weekend is NOT the date to request a quilt be finished by Christmas!

Incredibly, one of our local long-armers, Frankie Shake, was willing to take on the quilt! And she finished it in record time. I showed Joy how to make Susie's Magic Binding during the Mystery Sew-Along at Ruth's Stitchery. And here it is, the first Quilter Mamas Christmas Quilt!


You may recognize the pattern from a Martingale Co. BOM project. I enlarged the photo so you can see some of the details of Joy's quilt. Plus the orange running shoes of the quilt holder!

I'm so excited to see Joy's finished quilt, it make me want to quilt and bind my own! Mine is finished except for the last border -- maybe I'll get it finished this weekend?

While uploading the photo of Joy's Christmas quilt, I realized I never showed you the December Jelly Roll Party project. This is "Basket Weave" by Pam and Nicky Lintott. I used a Moda Jelly Roll from several years ago in Christmas prints.


I hope your own holiday preparations are well underway!


From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

As If

YOU could sew when this is sleeping on your Christmas quilt!


That would be Samosa, my birthday kitten. He is three months old today and is a bundle of fun. He likes to jump up an unsuspecting passersby leg -- luckily, the vet trimmed his claws!

Like many sewists this time of year, I'm mostly sewing prezzies. Which can't be shown on the blog, because, well -- they're surprises! Here are some for friends I don't think read the blog. (None of them sew, Can you believe I have friends who don't sew?)


I made them using this tutorial from Deby at So Sew Easy.  They are just right to contain a credit card (or Starbucks gift card!) and a lip balm. That one on the right is too small for a gift card. Because I put the tabs on the wrong side and they wound up inside the bag. When Deby says "place the tab on top of the zipper tape -- she means it. I cut off the ends and re-sewed it. Now it's too short. 

Are you sewing Bonnie Hunter's 2014 Mystery, Grand Illusion? I'm a sucker for a mystery project. 


And no, I don't have time for this. But who cares? With no boys at home this year, we're sort of ignoring Christmas. I set out a hurricane jar containing a candle and some glass scatters from Lillian Vernon. And that's it for Christmas decorations!

Hurricane with Candy Cane Scatters Set


Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate!

From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Monday, December 8, 2014

Design Wall Monday



Are you joining in on Bonnie Hunter's new mystery?

I love a mystery, and I look forward each year to Bonnie's new project at Quiltville.com!

Here are parts of the first two steps:


Using my Bloc_Loc ruler to check if my HSTs are truly 2.5" -- they are!

UPDATE:  Granny Maud's Girl asked about the Bloc_Loc rulers. They are my absolute, all-time, total favorite for making perfect HSTs (and even more for Flying Geese!)  Here is the link to my post describing how to use the Bloc_Loc HST ruler.

Becky asked what method I used for the rectangles. I used the flip-and-sew method. One of the ladies at Ruth's "Bonnie Hunter Mystery Sew-Along" used the EZ Angle method with good results. I swore to myself that I would save the cut-offs, but I caved and tossed them in the "cat bed donation scraps" bin!


Here are some bits for part two.  Love that bright pink!

I'll have a new finish to share on Friday!


Monday, December 1, 2014

December Jelly Roll Parade

What?!? December Already? One last assignment for 2014 UFOs:


#11

Clearly, I wasn't the only one who had a busy month in November. I received several emails last night with November finishes!

Debra B. was an early-bird finisher, though. Here are two finishes from Deb.
First, Asian Nights, my #3 UFO, is from Harriett & Carrie Hargraves, Quilter's Academy - Volume 1 - Freshman Year, book. I purchased both the freshman and sophomore years because "thru the grapevine" I heard the "academy" books were written for beginner thru advanced quilter's and will make everyone a much better quilter. I find the books very informative and when I find a quilt I really like, I flag it and it becomes one of my upcoming UFO's.

Deb, I can tell you've taken Harriet's instruction to heart. Beautiful work!
I also have two others that I made. I made jelly roll quilts (not really jelly rolls - just 3" strips of stuff that's laying around that I wanted to use up).


I love the doggy treats in the second photo. I can't believe the dogs let the treats lie on the floor -- mine catch their treats in the air and finish them in one bite!

Heather finished not one, not two, but three charity quilts this month! She tells about the recipients in her blog post on Peachy Pages.




Heather, you've made some soldiers and their families very happy, I'm sure!

Oh, look! Debra also sent photos of this clever wool project. Deb's guild, Sunshine Quilter's of El Cajon, enjoyed a workshop with Kathy of The Cottage at Cardiff Farms. They made these darling wool "stitcher's clutches."





Deb, I have one of Kathy's books, "The Cottage at Cardiff Farms Quilts," but I didn't realize she also did wool patterns. Darling, and I can't wait to see the pin keeps (cushions) you make in December!

Friend Martha in Idaho is making baby quilts again! She reports that the parents have a "beach" theme -- don't you think these quilts will fit perfectly with that?


Martha also finished this "Staggered Geese" quilt, a scrapbusters projects from my favorite Boise shop, Quilt Expressions. She reports a new method to make Flying Geese -- can't wait 'til I visit Idaho again to learn this technique!




Sue about "quilted her fingers off" to finish this beauty by the deadline of her brother's 60th birthday. Isn't is gorgeous?
\

I have to show you the back so you can really see the heavy quilting. Wow, Sue -- I bet your brother loves it!


More details about Coastal Compass on Sue's Quilty Bits and Bobs.

Joy in Nashville has been busy this month. First, I want to show you her "A Quilt Block a Day" finish from last Spring:


Joy, I love it with the bright colors!

Joy also finished a long-time charm UFO. It's a Disappearing Nine-Patch she finished for a class sample:


This adorable pillow, made for Joy's sister, is a great way to use some of the decorative stitches on the sewing machine:


Mary finished her entry for the Michael Miller Modern Quilt Challenge. This challenge required the use of several MM pastels -- not always what I think of when I imagine modern quilts.


I think Mary did a great job making these fabrics look "modern!"  Here is the beading on the focal star -- click on the photo to see it close up!


Read more about Mary's challenge on her blog, Zippy Quilts.

Gill really hit the finishing jackpot this month! Just look at all these finishes (and that's not all)!

I love these hot water bottle covers! What a great gift idea for chilly UK winters!


She calls this a "fabric tidy box." Cute, huh? I need to make some of these!


This "chemistry" fabric (showing the Periodic Table of the Elements) was a big hit at Ruth's Stitchery, too:


And one can never have too many Superhero coin zipper bags!


Her "big" finish this month is this log cabin throw for her father in law. 


Looks like you're ready for the holidays, Gill!

I just have to share this stunning antique quilt with you. Joy sent this photo, explaining it was made by her grandmother who passed away last month. I'll let Joy explain in her own words:
She was an avid quilter and hand worker, and I have many pieces that she made for me. She is really where I learned to crochet, embroider, cross stitch, and latch hook. Since then, I have learned to machine sew and quilt, and she was always a big fan and supporter if my work. . . .  I did think of you last week as I was cleaning out her linen closet and came across this quilt. It was hand pieced and quilted. I will assume that it was completed by her, but it very well could have been made by my Great Grandmother. I share it with you, knowing that you will appreciate all of the work and love that has gone into it.  

Joy's treasure is the block pattern for the Autumn "A Quilt Block a Day." This is indeed a treasure, Joy. I hope you'll have it appraised, and buy a non-acid box to store it in!

Enjoy your holiday preparations, and I look forward to the last 2014 UFO Parade on New Year's Day 2015!


From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday: The Next Jelly Roll Quilt

I love making jelly roll quilts. And I love the Jelly Roll Party each month at Ruth's Stitchery!

The good thing about being the lead "partier" is, I guaranteed to finish (pieced, quilted and bound!) at least 12 quilts each year. Because I make the sample every month.

This week, I'm making the sample for our January Jelly Roll Party:


The pattern is by Gudrun Erle, "Strip to Shore." Of course, I bought it because of the Navy reference!

I'm using a "Grunge" by Moda jelly roll, and the background is navy blue Grunge.

Strip To Shore cover

No special ruler is needed, although it is easier to square up the hexagons with a 60 degree ruler. As you might guess from my photo, the hardest thing is arranging the pieces so no same colors match. I didn't always succeed!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

To 52 Quilts' USA followers, and all the ships at sea:
Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow!


From the desk of your auntmartisignature

Monday, November 24, 2014

Bag It: A New Bag from Sew Sweetness

I get a vicarious thrill from "test sewing" patterns for talented designers. One of my favorites is Sara Lawson of "Sew Sweetness."

Sara designs the best bags! My most recent "test sew" for Sara is the Tudor Bag.


This is a good-sized bag, about 13" by 15".  Sara included instructions for both regular handles and an adjustable shoulder strap. I found the perfect webbing for the straps at Snappy Quilts when I bought the Cotton + Steel canvas for the bag.

There is one zipper pocket on the outside, and four big pockets inside.


Believe it or not, this is the first time I've made a bag with the recessed zipper on top. And of course, I installed the zipper upside-down! Rather than struggle to open the zipper from inside the bag, I removed the zipper panels and re-attached them. I'll pay more attention to the part that reads "with the zipper facing down" next time!

I failed to take a photo of the metal "feet" attached to the bottom of the bag. This little detail really makes a professional finish to a bag. I added a shoulder strap pad, copied from the Vera Bradley Weekender bag. I don't usually use a shoulder strap, but if the bag is filled to capacity it will be heavy. So the padded strap is a good idea, I think.

This is not my favorite of Sara's bags (that would be the adorable mini train case I made last summer!) but it will make the perfect winter knitting bag.

Go to Sew Sweetness to see the bags made by Sara's other testers.

Thank you, Sara, for allowing me to test sew this bag for you!




From the desk of your auntmartisignature