Friday, February 28, 2014

Aha! Moment Tip #9

I came across this "Quilting in Thirds" method in a quilt book I got out of my local library about 15 years ago.  I'd already tried Eleanor Burns' method of quilting on my DSM where you cut the backing as well as the batting in half, I believe. I don't have her book here with me, so I can't describe exactly what I did, but I used it with great success on my daughter's Teddy Bear quilt, made in 1996.

When I found this method, I tried it, and it was like the heavens opened up and a choir sang, "AAAAWWWWHHHHH!!"  I showed my guild; I was ecstatic.  I've used it on every single throw-size and up quilt I've quilted on my Elna and then Bernina ever since.

Here's how you do it:
1.  Tape your backing down to the floor as per usual.

The spidery-looking (EWW!) shadow at the bottom is the chair I'm standing on! Not a giant brownish hairy spider like the one that lived in our dishwasher for a day or two....shiver....not going there.

2.  Lay down the batting, again, as usual, except do not spray or pin baste yet.

3.  Without spray basting anything yet, lay down the top, smoothing it out as well.

That brown lump is Bella's butt, not the spider, although it seemed that huge to me the two times I saw it!  Don't think this quilt had any cat hair on it.  HAD.

4.  Divide your quilt top in horizontal thirds in your mind.
Tip:  I've found that not all quilts will divide at a logical starting and stopping quilting spot, so sometimes the thirds are uneven.  For example, you might have 24" at the top and bottom, and the middle section 36",  just because of where your quilting motifs might land.  For my "Brrrr Park" quilt, after much pondering, I've had to go with dividing my batting in half, since in the two huge open spaces, one between the top row of trees and the middle, and the other between the bottom row and the middle, I plan to quilt huge feathered wreaths.  If I cut the batting in thirds, i.e. below each of the 3 rows of trees, I'd have two issues: one, I'm cutting the batting apart in a focal area, and two, I would have to quilt each feathered wreath half at a time, not a good idea for flowing quilting lines.

4.  Once you have your top lined up and squared up, carefully fold back the top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 (or in my case, 1/2) of the quilt top, onto the centre 1/3 of the quilt top. Mine is folded back at the halfway point.


The reason why I lay out all 3 layers without basting is to be sure I have all layers squared up, as well as to be sure I cut the batting in a logical place.  Had I merrily cut my batting in thirds without laying down my top, I would not have seen the issue with needing to quilt my feathered wreaths in one go.

5.  With scissors, carefully cut apart only the batting layer at the desired spot.  I use a wavy line as opposed to a straight line for three reasons.  For one, it's easier to match up the cut-apart section once you have finished quilting the centre section, and two, it also ensures that various lines of quilting will cross it (i.e. you might be doing cross-hatching in one area, straight-line in another, free-motion in another, and were you to be doing a straight line it wouldn't follow right along a straight join) and three, the cut-apart edge is easily disguised or hidden.  That said, I've never had a cut-apart edge visible or "feel-able" in any quilt and I've been doing this method for over 15 years.

6.  Using a permanent marker, or a piece of masking tape and sticking it to each section, label the top third and bottom third and right or left edge of the batting you've cut away.  Be sure to write on the excess edge of the batting!

7.  Remove the cut-apart batting.  Smooth the centre area, and either spray or pin baste as you normal would.  I still do not move the top layer so that I will have it positioned correctly.  Fold back half of the centre section, baste it as you normally would (see here for how I spray baste), and then repeat the process for the top half of the centre section.

8.  Below you see me doing just that:  folding back the top on itself so I can spray the top of the batting.  I've already glued the backing to the batting. 

9.  Repeat with the other half of your centre section.  QBS is so wonderful because you can reposition multiple times so you get all layers nicely smoothed out.  Here I have my top half all basted.


Pull up the basted quilt once you are done.  Remember to flip your quilt over to the back and gently smooth out the backing before you start quilting.

This revolutionized my quilting life because I could easily do more intricate designs in the centre of the quilt since there was 2/3 less bulk to handle, a huge deal when you only have 7.5" throat space!

Quilt in the ditch to stabilize the quilt.  See how the quilt top and backing easily bunch up on the table behind my machine, since there is no batting for half of this quilt?  With the Quilting in Thirds method, you have 2/3 less batting to manipulate for the centre section!

Once I have finished quilting this section of Brrrr Park, I will tape down the quilt once again (that is the only downside to this method; you have to tape it down three times).  I'll line up the cut-apart batting, matching the wavy line, spray baste the layers, pull it up off the floor and continue quilting, carrying on with the stitch-in-the-ditch along seams first.  In the book, she recommends whip-stitching by hand the two section of batting, which I used to do.  I find it's not necessary especially if I'm doing fairly heavy quilting, because the many times my stitching crosses those cut-apart edges will hold everything together just fine.

I love this method because you only have to deal with the entire bulk of a quilt for the last third of the quilt!


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Off Track But It's All Good

Dayna left yesterday afternoon, WAAAAAH.

I did get a little sewing done while she was here for 5 days.

1.  I hemmed a new pair of dress pants for her, LOL

2.  I did get another one of the 26 projects completely cut out and ready to sew.  Well, not completely cut out; I still have the background fabric to cut out and once they send me the red fabric I was missing in my kit, I'll be able to finish cutting the block strips.  Yes, the first and only time I take the plunge and order a kit to make one of the quilts featured in American Patchwork & Quilting's Quilt Sampler, and 2 years after ordering it, as I'm cutting, I realize, something isn't right!  So I called the shop and they were mortified, but they have managed to find me 3 fat quarters of the red fabric (I was supposed to have 2/3 yard) which they've put in the mail.  I might get it's coming from Country Fabrics and Quilting in Brainerd, Minnesota.  I must say I was happy with the way in which they handled this.

However, I'm not so happy that the fabric in the kit is not exactly as shown in the magazine.  The tone-on-tone polka-dot background has been replaced with a solid, and the binding fabric has been switched to a different one that is within the quilt in the magazine, but not in the yardage I received.  I have two entirely different fabrics that will be in my quilt that are not in the one in the magazine.  I think they should have said, "To order a kit of similar fabrics, yada, yada".  So I will mention this when I call them to let them know the red has arrived.  The magazine came out in September, and I ordered the kit in December, so perhaps they'd had more people order than they'd planned on, and couldn't get all the fabric back in?  In any case, an accompanying note with my kit would have been in order.

Here is a picture of eight blocks stitched up so far last night and today.  This is not the final arrangement though.
Out of my comfort zone for colours again, but I'm loving it!

If you know fabric, you'll see that the majority of these are Tula Pink's Parisville line!  So ironic because just lately, within the past 6 months, I've heard of her, and found out a little bit about her, and fallen in love with (and bought some of) her fabric line, Acacia!  I opened this kit up properly, smoothed out the fabrics, and lo and behold, here is another line of hers.  And, this is definitely leaning towards being a modern quilt, and within the past 6 months these quilts have been finding their way into my life, especially this red and aqua colour combination.  AND, Parisville?  With my lifelong love of all things French, as well as being a French teacher?  Too funny.

3.  I also sewed the four triangles onto my Self Round Robin, so it's now on point, waiting for appliqué.  I THINK I have decided what I am going to appliqué on it!

4.  I covered an old flattened cushion that I have on my sewing chair.  This needed to be done since last year.

Can you tell that it's the leftover fabric from my clothesline fabric baskets?!  There's one of them in the background.  I love this cushion!  So bright and cheery and it matches my blue IKEA chair just splendidly.

This morning I made a pillowcase for my grandson with pirate fabric I'd ordered for this express purpose from Hawthorne Threads.  He loved the Tall Ships Festival in Essex County last year so much, and got right into all things pirate, so I know he will love this.  It's the Roll It Up pattern from All People  I've made this pattern several times; it's just awesome.  All seams are hidden.  This time I topstitched the contrasting band with Isacord thread.

This blog has really been an eye-opener in how it shows me so many things.  I am amazed at how much I got done while Dayna was here, and yet had lots of special Mum/daughter time with her. I wouldn't have realized I'd accomplished a fair amount had I not written this post!

Pet peeve to spout off about:  will people PLEASE, PLEASE, learn the use of the apostrophe??!!!  It's always an "ouch" when I read others' blogs and see errors with the apostrophe, using it to make words plural.  However...

The pirate fabric is Riley Blake.  The line is Pirate Matey's.  Matey's.  WHAT does the Matey own, pray tell?  If "nothing" is the answer, and you have more than one Matey, then it's Mateys.  An 's' can follow a 'y' people!  Or is the phrase, "Pirate Matey is..." ??  Uh, I think not, unless they meant "Pirate Matey is by Emily Taylor Design". Somehow, I doubt it.

Example:  On Saturdays I teach yoga.
Saturday's my favourite day.  This means Saturday IS my favourite day.

English is confusing, I know.  French is much simpler in that it doesn't (does not) have apostrophes to show ownership.  They've (they have) even officially stopped adding a plural when you make numbers and letters plural.  For example, I have two 3s in my address.  Please see this excellent site, and pay attention to Rule #11!!

Okay.  Breathe, Sandra.  I'm going to go and sew some more!  I have: 1) a pristine tile floor just waiting for me to 2) lay out, spray baste and layer my Brrr Park quilt, and 3) pictures to take to show you another Aha! Moment that changed my quilting-on-my-DSM life.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

It's Sew Plaid

Two charm pack quilts down, one to go!

This is a charm pack complete with instructions to make a tiny quilt, 12 3/4" square, a CD which includes fabric info, recipes, and another quilt pattern all put in a cute little tin, that I picked up at Sew Worth It in Sarasota about 4-5 years ago. The fabric collection is called "Follow Your Heart" by Kathy Schmitz, and it's Moda again.  How I love Moda fabrics.  The hand, their designers...ahh.

My husband went golfing for the day, so I was excited to have the condo to myself, and sew all day.  I had the charm square quilt to finish (I'd sewed a few of the light bars between the squares last night), as well as get the appliqué foundation sewn onto my Self Round Robin, and I had hopes (slim ones, but still) of starting to baste my Brrr Park quilt.  The charm square quilt took me 5 of the 7 hours I had today!  Unreal how it is always more than I allow for.

After I did the first Charm Square quilt, I knew I wanted to leave the squares intact.  It killed me to trim off and throw away an inch on 2 sides of each 5" square in that first quilt!  I also grabbed myself by the scruff of the neck and said, "You are designing this little quilt. No avoiding it.  How hard can it be?  Just do it."  Eek!  I said to Dayna today that I'm proud and a little giddy that I like it so much!

Here is the original picture again of the charm square packs I brought with me:

Cute tin, huh?

I first took them out and just looked at the colours which were black, red, green and tan, as shown on the tin.  I thought of doing a study in shading, and then it went from there into mainly shading from black to the tan.

Here it is in the early stages:

I liked it.  However, it would be quite small, only 31 1/2 by 36" and I wanted it a little bigger.  I had some of the light-coloured fabric left over from the first charm square quilt, so I put a few as spacers in and instantly knew it was right.

Still, I didn't want the horizontal sashing in the light fabric (and I didn't have enough left over, lol) so I knew I had some lots of Kona black cotton (bought 6 yards at Alma Sue's last year for a yoga bag, and for practice quiltlets with my longarm, and well, it was only $5/yard, and one can never have enough of, or go wrong with, black, n'est-ce pas?!).  So, I dug it out and tried a leftover strip from making the back of the "Merry Catmas" quilt, and I liked the effect.  I was unsure how it would continue to look as it approached the lower rows where there are lots of black squares.

After the first 3 rows were sewn with the light-coloured bars, I cut 3 full strips of the Kona cotton to see the effect.
 I'm sure you'll agree, the black is just fine!!

It needed a final frame, one not too overpowering, but one that would put a full stop at the end of the sentence, so to speak.  I got Joe's opinion on my thoughts, and he agreed, a frame was needed.  I cut the final border at 3.5" so it will finish at 3".


I love it!  It finished at 47X52 3/4", a nice-sized lap quilt.  I already have an idea percolating as to what to do with the last charm square pack.  And there is my Self Round Robin yet.  And my daughter, Dayna, is arriving this afternoon for 5 days, so not sure how much sewing I'll accomplish when she will be in my sewing/guest room!  Can't wait to see her.  :-)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Another Fabric Bowl

Today I decided to try the oval basket and use the turquoise accent fabric.  It was so much fun!

I love it!  I love its colours and its shape.  It's 4" high and 10" from end to end.  It was super-easy to construct, just as the first one was.  I set it on the original fabric, so you get the idea of what it looks like.

Here they are together:

This second one has the contrast band set lower than the first one.  You have the option of making a matching lid for it, but I am leaving it as is.  Here is the inside view:

I decided to make a label for this second one.  You sew it onto the base before constructing the sides.

Too much fun!  And practical too.  I can see some gifts in the future. . .

Monday, February 17, 2014

It's a Wrap - Another Project Done!

What a wonderful afternoon I had yesterday!  Loaded my machine and supplies into my rolling sewing machine carrier (such a worthwhile purchase on sale several years ago at Fabricland) and walked on down to a friend's condo where we sewed for several hours.  And visited.  And laughed.  And I got sent home with a delicious container of homemade cabbage and carrot soup.  :-)

Here is the original picture of the project:

We bought the clothesline at the Sarasota Quilt Guild Show last winter.  Nancy already had the book, as she had already seen these cool bowls in a quilt shop.  I ordered the book, It's A Wrap off Amazon and intended to make a bowl over the summer.  It didn't happen.  So when Nancy and I walked home last Saturday morning from my Yin yoga class, she suggested we get together the following weekend to sew.  I said why don't we make a bowl?  So we did.

Here is mine:

Because my stash is in Kingsville, I went to JoAnn's and bought some on sale ($5/yard) cotton.  To make this bowl cost me less than $3 for the fabric and approximately $2-3 for the clothesline rope.  So this is a pretty inexpensive craft!

Inside view
The instructions are clear, logically laid out, and easy to follow.  There are great pictures accompanying the techniques used to create various shapes of bowls or purses, as well as loads of great pictures of finished bowls and purses with embellishment ideas.

I bought enough of the black multi-coloured print to make 2 bowls, and having cut the strips for this one, I think I'll have enough to make 3.  I picked up 1/4 yard of the same fabric in turquoise to match the pink so I'll have a pair of bowls that coordinate!

As my practical husband would say, "What are you going to use it for?"  Well, this one I'd thought of using in my sewing room to hold thread cones or various other sewing gadgets.  I can see using a bowl for bread (I do use a fabric bowl made years ago with timtex for that purpose), to hold jewellery, (I also use another timtex fabric bowl for bracelets) to hold small toiletries in a bathroom, or simply for decoration, depending on the fabric choice.  Lots of possibilities here!

Well, this is how the Internet vortex occurs:  I googled "fabric bowls made with timtex" which took me to that timtex blog post on CT Publishing's blog.  How interesting of a story is that?

I know I'm not at my 5 projects completed per month quota if I wanted all 26 completed in the 5 months we are here, but I sure am feeling a wonderful sense of completion here.  I think this might be #7 or 8?  I'll have to count them up!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Charity Quilts

Although I'm not a member of the Bradenton Quilt Guild, I took home two charity quilts that needed to be squared up and bound.  I finished them both last night.

I bought some royal blue fabric on sale at JoAnn's yesterday that I thought would work for both quilts, and it did.  Love that!  These are for trauma victims. The police officers keep a couple in their cars for use in an emergency situation.  Someone in the guild volunteers to sew the tops, some quilt and others bind.  They are small lap quilts.

I really like the all-blue one.  Very calming. I did the binding completely by machine and it worked out very well.

Today, I'm sewing over at a friend's house, working on fabric bowls.  We each bought the book and saw a demo at the Sarasota Quilt Guild Show last year.  It will be good to cross another project off the 26 Winter Projects List!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Charm Square Quilt - top finished!

Ta da!

Again, it took me longer than anticipated.  Ah well.  Here she is:

 Had to get an outside shot to show off the warm colours.

Here it is on the design wall so you can see the cool borders with added extra quarter-square-triangle units.

Thought I'd show you a bit of the final construction process.

Flying geese units of 2 sewn together
This was my first layout.  I let it sit overnight.  In the morning, I changed up a few things.  Look in the four corners for one.  Another was that a couple of the quarter-square-triangle units looked more like half-square-triangle units (see rows 6 and 7 in the above picture) which I didn't like.  I'd hoped that the beige and gold would contrast more than they did, and provide a bit of interest.  I found it annoying, so I "reverse-sewed" those two squares.
The final arrangement

 I used my "Book It!" method of construction once I'd sewed the flying geese pairs together.  It really kept things nicely organized, as this quilt is symmetrical in all four directions.  I left a 3" tail of thread at the top of each "booked" row, so I'd know which was the top of the quilt.  Even so, there was a couple of times where I had to refer to one of my pictures to see whether it was a green or a blue flying geese unit at the top of a given row!
Notice how much the columns shrink as I pieced each pair together!  8 seams at 1/2" per seam (1/4" X2) means a 2" shrinkage per row.

The two halves of the centre section ready to be joined.  I was so happy with the paths of geese popping the way they do.  I purchased this light fabric with help from one of the girls at Alma Sue's Quilts.  I also bought the deep plum final border there.

And here she is once more.  It fits our bistro table rather nicely!  Now to purchase backing and get it quilted.

Quilt specifications at this point:
Size:  36 1/2" square
Pattern:  Winter Night from Another Bite of Schnibbles by Carrie Nelson
Fabric:  2 Charm Square packs "Bound to the Prairie" by Kansas Troubles Quilters (Moda)
plus Civil War Reunion by Barbara Brackman (Moda) and Serengeti by Exclusively for Quilters
Pieces: 396 triangles plus 28 more in the outside border so 424 triangles make up this quilt! Thank goodness for strip-piecing and super-fast contruction methods!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WIP Wednesday!

Ha, I know there are some bloggers out there who actually do this every Wednesday, but it is not my intent to copy them.  I just started typing WIP...and then realized what day it is.  Okay, Linda, WIP means Work In Progress.

So I've been thinking, what, besides Internet and Scrabble and Scramble with my brother online, (oh, and an excellent book my next-door neighbour loaned me that had me reading 100 pages within the first day!! And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini, love all his books) has been hindering my progress on this rather small (36 1/2" square) quilt using the 5" charm squares. . .

So here is the painstaking process I've been going through.  It made me realize how much patience is needed, in quilting, well, in ALL forms of art, be they music, painting, figure-skating.  Sidenote: I read that US Dance Pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White spent 3 years, THREE YEARS working on one move that they finally used in the Olympics the other night.

Here is the process for creating the flying geese in this little quilt.  And note that I haven't even taken into consideration all the cutting required first!
1.  Draw a diagonal line on the back of the 2 3/8" squares.

2. Sew two of these onto the 4 1/4" square, sewing 1/4" seam on either side of the drawn line.

3. Cut apart on the drawn line.

4. Press the seams towards the smaller cream squares.

5.  Place another square on the opposing corner. Sew again 1/4' on either side of the drawn line.

6. Cut apart on the drawn line.  You can see the uncut one below the cut apart one.  This method yields 4 flying geese units per 4 1/4" square with no waste.  I blogged about it a post or two ago about my Self Round Robin, and this little quilt uses the same method! Love it.

7.  Press the resulting cream half square open.  Here you see the bottom unit cut apart, and the top units pressed open.  This picture reminds me of my wooden mosaics I loved to play with as a child!

8.  And, we're not done yet! These little babies need to be trimmed to 2X3 1/2", which will also get rid of the dog ears in the corners and top middle.

I have 72 flying geese to make for this little quilt.  Yep.  So with 3 triangles per unit, I will have 216 triangles in just the flying geese.  There are 4 triangles in each 3 1/2" square, and there are 45 squares in the quilt, so...180 more triangles there!  I have those all done.  Here is a cool trick for pressing them that eliminates a bulky bump in the middle where all the seams intersect:

You open the seam 2 or 3 stitches, which allows all the seams to magically twirl open and lie flat!  Cool!  I saw this once years ago on "Simply Quilts" but had forgotten about it.  It is so worth buying books, as I always pick up little tips or tricks.  This book has not disappointed yet; I can see myself making more (I want to make them ALL!).  It's Another Bite of Schnibbles by Carrie Nelson.
All of these had to be trimmed at each step: first the 1/2 square unit down to 4", and then after you sewed two of them together to get the above 1/4 square triangle unit, you trim again to 3 1/2"!  Phew!

Well, this is actually a post with relatively few words and lots of pictures!  I was just saying to my mum the other night that sometimes I have good intentions to write little, but usually get carried away!

The thunderstorm we've been experiencing this afternoon is coming back, or else another one is looming.  Time to make supper anyhow, before any potential power outage!  Nothing like what they are experiencing in Georgia and South Carolina today though with the snow and ice that they are ill-equipped to deal with.  At least this time, it sounds like people are prepared and staying home.

Hope to have a finish within a day or two, well the top for sure by tomorrow!

Monday, February 10, 2014


When you're getting long in the tooth like I am - well, not really, but over 50 years of life experience on this beautiful Earth does give one some wisdom - you start to contemplate your gifts.

"It is better to have one true friend than all the acquaintances in the world."  (Unknown)

I wholeheartedly agree with this quote; however, I am one lucky girl, because I have many true friends.  Just yesterday I met up with one such friend, the kind of friend you feel in your heart.  We met on a trip to France and Corsica for teachers who had run travel trips for students.  That trip, in July 2007,  was magical because the group just synced so well, and I wasn't the only one who made lasting friendships.  Lorraine lives in Washington, DC.  She is one of 4 people with whom I have kept in touch over the 6 1/2 years since the trip.  We tried to get together when I was in New York City not long after the trip, but the time was limited for me, and the train too expensive to go to DC for a couple of hours.

Yesterday we finally met up once again, and what a joy it was to see each other, and hug, and talk and talk.  She is down visiting friends not too far away from us.  She thought I had a new email address, and I was supposed to send her a note so we could make arrangements. . . well, time went along and I didn't do it until Friday.  She just popped into my brain and I thought, I'm sending her a quick email now, as I knew she was coming to Florida sometime in the early part of the year.  Well, when my email popped into her phone, she was in line to board her plane to come here!  So, it was definitely meant to be.  What a wonderful day we had: lunch at a quaint, mainly locally-known only, dockside restaurant, which they all just loved, a stroll along Anna Maria beach, and a lovely drive back to our condo along a couple of the keys and through Sarasota, and all the while reminiscing about the fateful trip, and sharing stories about our lives.  To have gone to so much trouble to see each other in person, and to have kept in touch for these past 6+ years and now to know that we will do this again, either by meeting her again in Florida next winter, or by us possibly driving through DC on our way home or on our way back down next Fall, means that ours is a true friendship.

And distance, although hard sometimes, really is not a factor, now that we have such wonderful tools as FaceTime, Skype, email, and texting.  I have what I consider true friends across the US and Canada, and just getting up early this morning, watching the sun rise,

and contemplating the joy of yesterday made me realize that I truly am blessed.  Yes, I have friends who I consider acquaintances, but I have so many who are the kind I feel deeply in my heart centre.

It takes effort, on my behalf, as well as on theirs, to maintain a deeper level of friendship.  Yet the effort is effortless, really.  And the rewards are truly good for the soul.

Now, speaking of good for the soul, I'm jumping onto my machine to work on this next little project with lots of piecing and trimming (egad) that was in my dreams last night!  How I love dreaming about quilts and about colours and fabric!!