Books quilts and sewing

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Archive for the month “August, 2012”

Soldiering On

I’m in the middle of sewing some of the Christmas blocks together and I hit a wall.  I turned off my sewing machine and unplugged the iron from its power source.  I don’t understand why for the life of me I could have been so excited about it one day and then wanting to throw it in the bin the next.  Have you ever felt like that?  It is turning out okay, but maybe I feel a little daunted by how much work is going to go into this quilt when it will only be used either for decoration, or just a lap quilt.

Either way, I need to work through this.  I don’t have the designed firmly set in my mind, though the design is down on paper.  It’s all laid out and measured and I know where each piece is supposed to go.  I don’t know if I’m sold on the four-square piece that will be interspersed with it though.

If anyone has any suggestions or advice, let me know…

It’s Never Too Early to Start a Christmas Quilt

So I started last night thinking about the first Christmas quilt of the season.  What pattern to use though? Here is a quick preview of the fabric I’m going to be using.


Now, in my previous post I mentioned that it’s a good idea to have already picked a pattern out… and I did, I promise.  I may still actually use the pattern I picked in the end, but while playing around with the Electric Quilt software I came across a block that with a little embellishment would highlight the blue fabric like I wanted.

The next thing I knew I was designing an entire quilt around the block I created.  I have the look that I wanted but don’t yet know if I’ll change it in the end.  Here is the finished test block, I still don’t know if I want to fussy-cut the fabric… it just seems such a waste, but I may end up doing it in the end.


These squares will be 8″ when sewn together with a foursquare.  I should have some of the panels finished to show by the end of the week end.

Thoughts on New Projects and what to AVOID

I wanted to write a little about the art of piecing.  I was originally going to say ‘the art of quilting’, but I really wasn’t talking about that.  The most difficult, frustrating, and wonderful thing for me is still piecing a quilt together.  I do not want to detract from the quilting process at all, merely to say that while the quality of the quilting can make a huge impact on the design as many people know, it takes a special skill to piece a quilt as well.

One of the things that Kay and I had discovered during our quilting journey, was how many of our wonderful long arm quilters weren’t necessarily great at the construction aspect of the process.  It sounds like such an easy thing to do… pick out fabric, pick out/design quilt, cut said fabric, sew all of it together and then hand it to the “professional” to do the real work of quilting it all down.  As I’ve said, I am not detracting from the artistry and difficulty of the quilter, but want to emphasize the first part of this whole process.

Picking fabric

I can’t tell you how much fabric I’ve passed up even when I’ve fallen in love with a particular one.  Yes, I do have some lone wolves in my stash that I could not resist, but they’re lone wolves because I couldn’t (yet) find anything to put them with.  It’s generally a good idea to start with the pattern you’ve created or one you’ve seen rather than picking the fabric and then ‘stuffing’ it into a pattern.  I have seen a collection of fabric however and made the purchase Hoping to find a pattern that I could use.  With seasonal fabric, it is not as difficult.

Picking a pattern

This can be a tough nut… I’ve picked a pattern before and looked at it in all its ‘simplicity’ and then tried to execute it only to find out that I was bamboozled.  What looked like an easy inviting pattern turned out to be a cutting or piecing nightmare that after I finished with it I swore I’d never attempt that again… or words to that effect!  Another challenge loomed while working with Electric quilt, which is a wonderful product, but is time-consuming to learn and then apply your knowledge to build the pattern.  The one advantage that I can see using the EQ product is that whether or not your pattern is unique among others is that you created it yourself and it might just be a one-of-a-kind pattern.

Another thought before I leave this topic is a personal opinion (be warned)… sometimes more is just, more.

Sewing and Pressing

I can’t for the life of me put enough emphasis on this… when ironing, press the fabric do NOT stretch the fabric.  I realize that after sewing you might measure and find that you’ve lost an 1/8” or more off of what the finished size should be, but trust me on this if you stretch the fabric it’s going to do weird things after the first wash.  Also, by paying attention to your seams and keeping them flat but not stretched, you will help your long-arm quilter avoid the “hills and valleys” they sometimes find in others work.

Sewing can be the swiftest was to destroy a complicated pattern.  I should mention that not all sewing machines are alike, nor are their measurements the same.  The biggest issue that I’ve encountered while piecing a quilt together was using multiple machines during this process.  This error is second only to having a consistent ¼” when sewing.  Don’t let your material boss you around!!  As you sew, keep an even pressure on the fabric and keep the speed as consistent as you can.

I hope this post hasn’t been too preachy, I just wanted to lay down a few things to think about when contemplating your next project.  Until next time, happy quilting!!

Blue Pinwheel is Pieced!!

No, I don’t know why it’s taken me soooo long to finish piecing this quilt.  Call it quilter’s block, which is the term I use rather than the real culprit which I’m sure boils down to laziness…  Well maybe 98% laziness and 2% quilter’s block.

Whatever the reason, I’ve finally managed to finish this quilt top and because I did not follow a pattern ended up with a king sized quilt due in part to the double 4″ borders I thought would look good.  I obviously am not finished with run-on sentences either!  This is, I believe, the largest quilt that I’ve made to date.

Here’s an up-close look at this quilt that has taken me the longest to make.


Now, the points are not perfect and it won’t win any awards, but I’ve learned another valuable lesson on the importance of using only one machine to make the different pieces.  Kay and I have different sewing techniques and obviously use different machines.  She helped me piece ten of the blocks together and that introduced some variations that played hell with trying to line up everything.  Now I’m not placing blame, only stating that I have yet to learn for a quilt such as this how to “play nice” with another quilter and get the desired result.

Also in this pattern, when sewing the blocks together there are eight different points that need to line up which presents another challenge.  Normally I would have to make sure that all of the blocks are the exact size and then pin them prior to sewing to give me beautiful uniformity.  When there are eight points that need to match however, block size is only one component to a beautifully pieced quilt.

With all that said, I am still and all very pleased with how this turned out and can’t wait to get it quilted down and bound.  Speak out and tell me the challenges that you’ve faced!  Until then, happy quilting…

Another Friday, another WINNER!!

And the WINNER IS!!


If this is you, please email me at to claim your prize.


 Wow, what a great set of fabrics!!  12 different 18″ x 18″ fabrics and they’re all yours if you win!!

Also included are instructions on how to turn these fabrics into a carrying bag.  It doesn’t include the handle piece, but who knows what you’ll make from these fabrics.

Joann Fabric’s Persian Plum Block 10

Persian Plum Block 10 had so many little pieces of fabric.  It had me thinking how I was going to be able to make a block big enough.

Sewing them together I had to make eight flying geese.  They were so small and cute, but the fabric is so thick it took a little to get the seams ironed down.

Then sewing everything together the block looked so nice, don’t you agree?

So Much Fabric and So Little Time

My trip to the Moda warehouse started VERY early in the morning.  Please don’t think that I’m complaining, I feel fortunate to have Moda so close to where I live.  Still and all, 5am is a little too early for my liking even for a sale.  Kay took a couple of photos while we were there, but we were so focused on all of the beautiful fabric that we didn’t take too many.

This was just one of the rows we walked down.  There was so much wonderful fabric, the patterns and the colors fantastic.  Then we went to the other side of the warehouse where the Notions were stored…. WOW!

To say that we were kids in a candy store was an understatement.  The warehouse was FILLED with what amounted to candy to us.  Kay was so fun to watch as she moved from shelf to shelf, ohhing and ahhhing.

What I bought was NOWHERE near what I wanted to buy, but I thought I’d share it with you.

Joann Fabric’s Persian Plum Block 9 Block of the Month

Thought I’d start out with this picture…  I saw these outside of a restaurant near the downtown area and couldn’t believe how uplifting a patch of flowers can be.

It’s past time to finish and review Block 9 for Joann Fabric’s Persian Plum Block of the Month.  I am excited about getting this quilt finished, the fabric is so heavy and will make a fantastic, long-lasting quilt that I’ll really be able to enjoy during those cold winter months.

Block 9 is ALL triangles and as beautiful as any of the rest of the blocks.  This one went together very easily and I’m very pleased with the outcome.

And then the it was finished and I am only three blocks from the end!

Learning and Loving are two of my favorite things

I was going through comments as I usually do, some black tea in hand (a Seattle blend that I’ve grown addicted to) and went to someone’s site {Stretchy Hannah}…  There are so many things that make me smile, but some can even light up my day all day long.  Though I love to quilt and enjoy blogging about that and other things I really don’t know if I’ve pulled back the curtain on who I am.

Not to be too awfully blunt, but… I’m not generally someone who shares much about myself.  My children and my wife are the only people who truly know my more hilarious traits.  Reading Hannah’s blog made me think about opening up a bit and sharing some of my crazy with other people…  blame Hannah!!

  1. My wonderful wife of 16 years who not only supports my craziness, but is my partner in most of my shenanigans!
  2. I’m a voracious reader, though at times I go through lulls.  Favorite book is “The Book of Flying” by Keith Miller followed closely by Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.
  3. I have not always been a cat person, but now live in a place where a grey cat named Oliver reigns.
  4. I’m fiercely protective of my younger brother who is in his mid-forties now, but will always remain 11 to me.  I can’t tell you how many fights I had growing up that were his fault.
  5. Christmas…  too much to even start a sub-list
  6. Snow and Winter should go together and I miss them both when Spring brings the thaw.
  7. I have traveled to many parts of the world because I love exploring other cultures and connecting with other people.  Luckily for me my wife shares this passion.
  8. I LOVE the color orange, and the fruit come to that… but Midnight Blue is my favorite color, like the color of the sky just after the sun has set.
  9. My favorite flower is the Daisy…  I could never feel too sad looking at such a happy flower.
  10. Texas will be in my heart no matter where I find myself on a map.
  11. I like watching French films, but my three favorite movies are:  Gattaca, V for Vendetta, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory.
  12. I love being in the woods and camping in a tent and whether I’m there or out on the ocean, those are the two places where I will always find my center.
  13. I have had a heart condition from the age of 19 that has put me in the hospital over five times that I never really talk to people about.
  14. I believe firmly that gingerbread cookies and pumpkin pie should be prepared all year long and not made for the Holidays alone.

When I was in kindergarten my school district was trying out a program for choir that put most of the boys in girls in a singing class.  I spent the rest of my school days in choir and even now, when I know my voice will go out of tune, love singing.  I walk down memory lane and think about all kinds of memories that I cherish of growing up and realize how lucky I am to have so very many of them.

I love Poetry, but rarely share it with others.  Here is one of the poems I wrote quite a while ago and I’ll close the post with this…

The dawn’s dewdrop
Has honeyed my tongue
With the sweet tastes
Of new beginnings.
From honeysuckle smell
To sweet apple blossoms
My senses are aroused
As the day grows long.
The trilling brook races
As onward go my thoughts.
In tortured patience I await
And Constance be my guide.
Unbridled and unbidden
My future so severe
Turns north from lands fall
I am sailing onward.
Past shores of knowledge
The new day has dawned
And I must away
The voyage never done

I hope you’ve enjoy a break away from the quilts that I make and to focus on a glimpse into the person behind the posts.

A lot of Spam and a finished quilt

What a busy weekend!  I completed a lot of work for my company… and for my own company.  I knew that would sound a little weird!  What I mean is that I had to “work from home” most of the weekend, but that I also completed a lot of work for BistroQuilts as well.  As the busiest weekend that I’ve yet had, I really didn’t have a chance to post up anything that I accomplished.

The purple quilt that is now completed for my daughter Amanda is simple but very beautiful.  I’ve taken pictures, but they are slightly wonky and don’t show how nice it really is.  I have to send it off to the long arm now, but will have it back and bound by the time her birthday rolls around.  Here are the pics, even though I’m not too happy with the how the pictures turned out.

I also finished two of the persian plum blocks that I’ll be posting up tomorrow and then later this week with the accompanying reviews.  I cut out the fabric for the additional 10 blocks needed to finish the blue pinwheel quilt as well.  Those blue pinwheel blocks I’ll be starting to sew together tonight and should be able to finish that quilt this weekend and start on the Christmas quilt that I’m dying to make.

In other news, Kay is finishing her version of the purple explosion quilt.  I really can’t remember if I’ve mentioned, that is the name we’re using for the purple quilts… Purple Explosion!  When I talked to my daughter and told her what we were doing, I explained that we used almost 20 different variations of the color purple and we both loved it so much, we knew that we needed to make one to be able to keep at home.

When I finally got to my computer to post this up, I was astounded at how much spam had been sent to my site and caught in the spam filter… I guess some people had a little more time on their hands than I did.

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