Monday, December 31, 2012

Easy Street, Step 7

I know this doesn't look like too much yet, but believe me, this took a marathon sewing session today to finish Step 7, which was only posted this morning. Final clue tomorrow morning. Happy New Year!

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Yes, it is snowing very nicely at the moment. I am snug and warm in my sewing den. Bonnie Hunter has posted another clue this morning on her Easy Street mystery quilt. We are beginning to build units for the big finale, which posts tomorrow. What a way to end the year! Here is what the units look like that we are making today.

Before Christmas I made funky chicken pin cushions from a pattern that has been languishing in a drawer for several years. The pattern is  Pollo Loco by Miss Rosie's Quilt Co.. I haven't been able to show them sooner because our little social group did not meet to exchange Christmas gifts until yesterday. You never know who is lurking in blogland.

The chickens are made from orphan blocks and are filled with crushed walnut shells. The walnut shells are easily available in pet stores, where they are marketed as litter for reptile cages. This is a much better use, in my opinion. I really like using walnut shells instead of batting. The pincushions are nice and weighty with the shells as filling and it also holds pins well, too. The combs and tails are made from fun fur yarn or shredded fabric strips in the case of the checkerboard chicken. Fun fur makes fabulous combs and tails, but a word of warning - it makes a big mess all over your sewing area. Have the vacuum at the ready.

Last, but not least, I have been plugging away at the pineapple blocks, made using Gyleen Fitzgerald's Pineapple Tool. These are easy to make and turn out very accurately using this ruler. Unfortunately it seems to be making no dent whatsoever in the scrap pile.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Grandmother's Choice: Cheyenne

Today Barbara Brackman posted her Grandmother's choice Block of the Week,Cheyenne. Here is my version.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Easy Street Step 6

Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt, Part 6, posted today. It was a relatively easy step, consisting of 128 bricks cut from 2" black and white print strips and 16 squares of green fabric cut diagonally twice. All done and ready for step 7, which will post on Monday morning. The pace is picking up and the last clue will be posted a week from today! I am eager to see what all this cutting and sewing will produce. It is snowing a bit here tonight and it is just so nice to be warm and toasty and sewin' up a storm of my own indoors.

I had a small 4 year old (almost) helper in the sewing room today. She is the daughter of a friend and came with her WebKinz Christmas kittie. Of course Pedro, the kittie, needed a quilt. And of course, it had to be pink. No photos, but it was fun, fast, and done!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

More Organizing

I resisted the urge to run out to Target today to look for a pre-lit Christmas tree on sale. More junk to store I thought. I have two artificial trees that never got put up this year, so what is the point really? One of the trees is a small skinny 4-foot artificial tree that in years past was decorated with woodsy ornaments and placed in the front entryway. It will become the regular tree on a small table in the future.

After lunch, I put together this organizer that was on sale last week at Michael's. The drawers will hold the  strips that are being cut up from "discarded" fabric following the closet reorganization of November.

At the rate things are going, several of these organizers will be needed. The plan is to use the strips in pineapple blocks and other scrappy projects. In furtherance of that goal, two more pineapple blocks were added to the first one on the design wall.

The original one is looking less homely now that it has company. Repeat ad infinitum.............

Monday, December 24, 2012


I received a new toy in the mail today. It's the "Trash to Treasure Pineapple Quilt" book by Gyleen Fitzgerald as well as the Pineapple Tool that goes with the book. I first learned of Gyleen, her tool, and her followers at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2010. There was a table of ladies demonstrating the tool and displaying the quilt they had made using it. I ordered the book and ruler last week, but really didn't expect it before Christmas. Here is Gyleen's web site. And here is the block I made this evening:

Yes, it is a homely thing, I will be the first to admit it. I tried, I really did, to make it totally and completely random and scrappy, according to Gyleen's instructions. The lights and darks were placed in order, though, and the fabric in each round is either the same on all four sides, or similar. But - and here is the important part - the block is absolutely square. Homely though it is, an entire quilt of these blocks will be interesting, if nothing else. The plan is to start whittling down the large amount of fabric left over from the closet cleaning and reorganizing that I showed you here.

The fabrics are either pieces too small (less than 6" WOF), or ones that I don't like any longer. In accordance with Bonnie Hunter's plan, the strips are being cut into 3.5, 2.5, 2.0, and 1.5 inch strips. There is a huge amount of work left to get everything sorted and cut into strips. 15 minutes of cutting at a time seems doable. If you just get started, usually you can last much longer than 15 minutes. Little by little it will get done. The pineapple blocks use 2.5 inch squares in the center, and 1.5 inch strips for the rounds.

When inspiration fails to strike, there will always be the pineapple tool and a bag of strips at hand. Quilts from trash will be the result. If nothing else, the tops can be simply quilted and donated to a worthy cause.

Merry Christmas

Grandmother's Choice: Mother's Delight

I have pretty much completed Christmas cookie baking. All the presents were wrapped last night. My daughter and her significant other are coming for dinner tonight, but until then, I hope to have some time to sew. Here are my helpers.


Mickey , resting after the battle of the batting scraps

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Promise Rings

In between baking Christmas cookies, I managed to put the binding on this project. It lived on my design wall for over a year before getting finished. It is "Matrimony", a pattern by Aardvark. It is a deconstructed riff on the traditional Double Wedding Ring pattern, hence my name for it. Here is a closeup of the quilting by Sandi Wagner of Sew Fine Machine Quilting:

I asked for simple, all-over quilting because this will be a utility quilt, thrown over the back of the sofa for cold winter evenings of reading or TV watching.

Another finish is this hexagon runner. It is for my sister's antique six-foot long harvest table that she uses in her kitchen. Because it is a long and narrow table, other runners that I have made or that she has purchased, didn't quite do the trick. This one can live on her table from Memorial Day through Fourth of July clear until Labor Day.

There is quite a tale behind this darned thing. I originally estimated that 268 hexies would be needed for this runner. After cutting out the required number of pieces from card stock and fabric and basting all 268 pieces of fabric to the card stock, I was playing with them on the coffee table. I couldn't get the pieces to tessellate  There were gaps between the pieces and in my frustration I asked my husband to come and look at the stupid hexagons that were being recalcitrant. He immediately quipped that it could be because they were pentagons, not hexagons. Duh and duh! This process is so mindless that I had not noticed, even after cutting out 268 pentagons from card stock and from fabric and basting all 268 pieces, that they were the wrong shape. Well, thought I, no problemo. Don't they say there are no mistakes, just creative opportunities? To the internet, then, for ideas. Well, you can make bowls from pentagons, or balls, but the only way to make a flat table runner is to applique them all down separately, or add teensy weensy little triangle pieces between them. Neither idea appealed, so, you guessed it, I unbasted all 268 pentagons and re-basted them to 268 hexagons. In the end, I didn't need all of them and have a small container of leftover pieces. Frankly I never want to look at them again.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Easy Street Step 5

Easy Street, Step 5 completed. This is Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt The instructions call for 64 of these units and there is a debate about what to call them - flying turkeys, big-bottomed girls, or houses. I will now have to patiently wait an entire week for step 6. See what everyone else is doing here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What Do You Sew On?

I could have used a treadle sewing machine today. Our power was out for a good part of the day due to high winds. Here in St. Louis we are getting the wind and dropping temperatures from the big winter storm pushing across the plains from Colorado to the Great Lakes. We are far enough south to have missed the snow. Not being able to sew, surf the internet, press fabric, bake cookies, or even read (due to the gloominess in the house), I cut out patches for the baby quilt I am working on and then took a long winter's nap. 

The goof balls who predicted the end of the world on December 21st can crawl back into their holes now. It is already the 21st on the other side of the world and there are no reports of the world ending. Tomorrow is the first day of winter and the shortest day of the year. Rejoice! The days will be getting longer again after then.

This evening I sewed up fourteen bow tie blocks for the baby quilt, so something useful was accomplished after all today. I sewed on my vintage 1941 Singer Featherweight this evening. What do you sew on?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New Project Started

I have started a new project. It will be a quilt for a friend's new baby boy. 14 pinwheel blocks completed, 14 bowtie blocks are next up. After a bit of sashing and borders, there will be some simple fusible applique and prairie points.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tori's Quilt

I finished the second of the Hungry Animal Alphabet quilts I made for my neighbor's twins. I took them to her on Sunday evening and she was so happy to have them. The one for the other twin is here. I got a lot of free motion practice on these two quilts by outlining the figures in the alphabet blocks. It helped me improve my abilities in that area, which were sadly lacking. It did not turn me into an expert, but it definitely helped move me along.

Monday, December 17, 2012


This is quilt is from a  pattern in  "Material Obsession 2" by Kathy Doughty and Sarah Fielke. It was beautifully and intricately quilted by longarm quilter, Sandi Wagner of Sew Fine Machine Quilting. It will be entered into my guild's March 2013 quilt show.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grandmother's Choice - Capital T

Grandmother's Choice this week is the "Capital T" block. I wanted the "T" to show, and so I restricted the fabric choices to make that happen. A fun Laurel Burch creature was fussy cut for the center.

Christmasy music, including Gregorian chant is on the CD player in the background this morning. It was hard to keep the sadness from my heart this morning as my mind kept returning to the tragedy in Connecticut.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Easy Street Mystery Quilt Part 4

Ready for Step 5. Somehow, cutting up all this fabric is not making much of a dent in my stash. To see what everyone else is doing, please go here.

Of course, that does not keep me out of the stores. I visited a new shop in our area this week. Janie Lou is owned by two sisters and patrolled by a little flea of a dog, Lilly. She is a three pound energetic ball of Yorkshire Terrier fluff. The sisters have mostly operated out of their homes, setting up booths at quilt shows around the country. Tired of the grueling 14-16 hour days at the quilt shows, plus all the traveling and setting up and taking down of booths, they have opened a brick and mortar store on Manchester Road in St. Louis, MO. The shop has a definite modern vibe. I completely fell in love with a collection of Free Spirit fabrics, "Seventh Wonder" by Parson Gray. The designer behind this line is David Butler, whom some of you may recognize as the husband of Amy Butler, another wonderful fabric designer. So much talent in one family! I bought some of each fabric that Janie Lou had in the shop. Take a look:

 These fabrics will make a fabulous understated, sophisticated quilt. I am picturing the fabrics paired with a great solid. Which reminds me that Janie Lou also has a great selection of Moda Bella solids. I had read about this line, but had not had the opportunity previously to see the actual product up close and personal. They have a lovely, fine texture and are less "thick" than Kona solids. I will definitely be using them in future projects.

In the company of several friends, I also visited Batiks Plus this week. They are primarily a mail-order, online outlet for Hoffman Bali Batiks, although there are also other products on offer. McKenna Ryan patterns, fabrics, and kits are available as well as patterns by Judy Niemeyer and Jacqueline deJonge ("Be Colourful" patterns). While my shopping companions maxed out their credit cards on yardage, mindful of my newly organized closet and resolution to use what I have, I got away with a lovely pile of batik fabrics from the remnant bins and one Bali Pop (okay, cut me a break here, it was on sale -  a REALLY good sale). The remnants were all nice sized pieces and since I do a fair amount of applique and scrappy quilts, they will get good use.

Batiks Plus is open by appointment only, but the owner, Cookie, and her trusted companion, Buddy, the black lab, are very welcoming. It is truly a treasure for fabric lovers and mostly flies under the wire here in St. Louis. This is due to its mostly online presence.

As if this wasn't enough quilty fun this week, last night was the December meeting  for Thimble and Thread Quilt Guild. The speaker  was the prolific and talented Teajuana Mahone, who blogs at TeaQuilts.
The number and variety of quilts that Tea produces is overwhelming. She is an excellent teacher as well and is definitely not afraid of changing up a pattern or technique if it doesn't suit her needs. I have seen her presentation three times and have not seen the same quilt twice!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fox has Dots

The Fox Has Dots, a BOM by the Quilted Fox in St. Louis, MO, has monthly optional blocks. Two of them are pictured here. Combined with the regular monthly blocks, this is going to make a very dynamic quilt.

Monday, December 10, 2012


I have nothing new to post this morning, so here is a photo of a quilt I completed two years ago. It is from 2009 Block of the Month. It has many Kaffe Fassett fabrics, hence the name of the quilt -  "Kaffe-inated." The lovely and extensive quilting is by Sandi Wagner of SewFine Quilts (

The opinion was offered at the time I was making this quilt that the use of Kaffe's fabrics wouldn't work because so many of his fabrics are fairly large scale prints. The 24 blocks just inside the flying geese border are six-inch finished. They are drafted on a six-by-six grid, giving a finished size within the block of 36 one-inch patches. And some of those are half square triangle blocks! The triangles were made using triangle paper which only slightly lessened the torture. Anyway, I am satisfied, and think that the Kaffe fabrics "worked a treat", to quote Mr. Fassett.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Grandmother's Choice Blocks

This week's Grandmother's Choice block is Centennial. It is the 15th block posted so far. I have not yet made it, but am trying to determine what fabrics to use. I decided that this might be a good time to look at all the blocks together. This turned out to be a good idea and helped me to choose what colors to use in this week's block. Time to get crackin'!

Here is my Centennial block. I wanted to go in a green direction, but somehow ended up with these fabrics. The fabrics are not only talking to me, they are taking possession of me as well.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Easy Street Step 3

Step 3, cut, sewn, pressed, and trimmed. Done!

The Easy Angle ruler made it easy to cut and sew these blocks together. Using the ruler minimized the wonkiness factor that I have gotten in the past when making these. The name of this block is Brave World and has also been called split four-patch.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Bee in My Bonnet Row Along

I would love to be a part of Bee in My Bonnet's Row Along.  Alas, the holidays are fast approaching and my plate is full. This week the row consists of five pair of mittens. Other rows have been made with butterflies, spools, apples, and other fun things.

Today I will finish machine quilting the second of two alphabet quilts for twins, brother and sister. They are the children of my neighbor and are just the cutest. The red quilt above is the boy's quilt. I have another of these panels in a green colorway for the little girl. It is about 75% quilted, but I need to get it off the machine so the binding and label can go on. I committed to finishing them for Christmas. Good thing, too. Without deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise, projects can linger forever.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Fox Has Spots

Our local quilt store, the Quilted Fox, has a Block of the Month. This year it's called "The Fox Has Spots" and here is December's main block. Yes, the photo is not exactly straight, but it is late, I wanted to post, and it is what it is! To see the blocks so far, here is the link: Quilted Fox BOM.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Easy Street, Part 2

Despite my usual dislike for making lots of the same blocks, I am staying on track with Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt. Step 2 involves making a quantity of flying geese blocks; I finished all 128 flying geese blocks last night using the suggested Easy Angle and Companion rulers. I was able to keep the block from going "wonky" because the rulers give you triangles with the bunny ears cut off where you need to line up the pieces. I like this method and will use it in future when making flying geese. To see the progress of others on this project, please go to

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Grandmother's Choice: Bride's Knot

Bride's Knot is this week's block over at Barbara Brackman's Grandmother's Choice Block of the Week. This is my interpretation.

Easy Street Step 2

Step 2 of Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt posted yesterday. Bonnie likes to use the Easy Angle and Companion Angle specialty rulers to efficiently cut triangles for flying geese. This step of the mystery quilt involves making 128 flying geese blocks, so I am all for efficiency. I had the Easy Angle ruler on hand, but had never used it. I was able to find the Companion Angle ruler at Jo-Ann's and with my 40% off coupon, was able to snag it for around $5.00.

This afternoon I used both rulers to good advantage in cutting the pieces necessary to make the flying geese units. This evening will see me at my trusty Featherweight chain piecing like crazy.  Adele playing in the background should speed things along.

For those who are interested, Bonnie has a good instructional video on her web site showing how she uses these rulers. You can find it here: