Thursday, September 26, 2019

Quilt Ladder Tutorial

I have a special guest blogger for you today! Recently my awesome hubby, Rick, build me some quilt racks for our home. They are simple to make and so sturdy. He has created this tutorial and given me permission to share it with you. Enjoy!

Material List
1) 3 - 2"x4"x8'      Select best looking, straightest pieces with the fewest knots and least warp
2) 12 - #2 Phillips 10 x 2 1/2" Wood Screws
3) 1 Quart paint color of choice or stain of choice
4) 1 Bristle brush or 1 pack of 1 1/2" sponge brushes
5) Adhesive Chair Leg Pads (Cut to size or use push pin types)

1) Saw (Power Miter Saw or Circular Saw preferred)
2) Power Drill (Use 1/8" bit for pilot holes and use Phillip head bit for wood screws)
3) Sand Paper to prepare surfaces for finish
          Sand by hand or with Power Sander (Palm Sander)
          Grit Numbers from 100 - 180 perform well with both hand sanding and power sanding
4) Small Level
5) T-Square for drawing straight, level lines

Prepare the Pieces
Cut 1' off each of the 3 - 2"x4"x8' pieces using the saw
      This is a total of 3 cuts, 1 for each board
      Remove / cut off the least attractive ends that have the most flaws
Select the best looking (with the least flaws) 2 - 7' long pieces to be used as the sides, considering which should be top end, front facing and side facing
      These will now be known as the "side rails"
      Use a pencil to note Top, Front
At the bottom of each side rail (2), make an angled cut so when the finished rack leans against a wall, the bottom of the side rails will be flat against the floor
      Lean each side rail against a wall at the desired "lean" angle
      Set the level flat on the floor against the rail
      Using a pencil make a line on the side of the rails using the top of the level as a guide
          This will give you the necessary angle to cut
Using the saw, cut along the "angled" mark at the bottom of the 2 side rails
Set aside the side rails

Cut the 1 remaining 7' long piece in to equal lengths of 14"
      Resulting 6 pieces will be the "cross bars"
      Measure 14" from one end and mark a line using the T-Square
          Continue measuring every 14"
          Should have a total of 5 lines
          Make 5 cuts, one cut on each of the 5 lines drawn

Sand all pieces (side rails and cross bars) as smooth as desired

When satisfied with sanding, paint or stain all pieces
      Apply as many coats as desired

Take one side rail...
Starting at the top of the selected side rail, on the wider (2 1/2") side that will be on the inside of the finished rack, measure down from the top of the side rail 6" and mark a line across using the T-Square
Then measure down 1 1/2" from the first line and mark a line across
      A cross bar will fit between the two lines just marked
Then measure 12" down from the second line and mark a line across
Then measure 1 1/2" down and mark a line across
Repeat marking the side rail for a total of 6 cross bars
Repeat all steps on the second side rail

Take one side rail...
On the outside of the selected side rail, drill pilot holes through the side raid in the middle of the lines denoting where the cross bars go
      You will have to approximate (eye-ball) where to drill
      One hole for each cross bar
Repeat on second side rail

Final Assembly
Attach cross bars to the side rails using the pre-drawn lines as guides (cross bars should be set inside each set of drawn lines
      Screw (using the drill) in to place using the pre-drilled pilot holes and wood screws
      Fasten (screw) cross bards to one side rail at a time
If desired, attach Chair Leg pads to the bottom of each side rail (on angled cut) to prevent scratching of the floor and sliding

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

grocery bag tutorial

Ten years ago (TEN YEARS! WOW!) I published a pattern for a grocery bag I had designed called the Nantucket bag. Since then I have modified and simplified it many times. I always get compliments from the ladies at the grocery store about my bags.... and they are so simple to make! Here's a basic, easy tutorial so you can make some of your own.
 2 bags I made from fabric I brought home from Africa

Materials needed:
fabric 20"x36" for outside of bag (depending on the weight of your fabric, you might want to interface this piece)
fabric 20"x36" for lining of bag
2 straps 20" long each (purchased webbing works great, or 2 pieces of fabric 4"x20" to make your own)

If you are making straps.....
Fuse a piece of interfacing (2"x20") in the center of each strap
Fold each edge to the center, then fold the straps in half....
edge stitch both long edges of each strap, then set the straps aside
Take your outside fabric. Fold it in half so that the folded edge is at the bottom. Then cut a 4" square out of each bottom folded corner
Refold your bag right sides together and stitch the side seams

Now box the corners by stretching out the cutout squares and sewing straight across. 

Now follow those same steps with your lining fabric. The only thing you need to do different is to leave a 3" section of one side seam unstitched so you can flip your bag right side out later on.

Add your handles to both sides of your finished outside bag piece. I found the center of each side and measured out 3" in each direction, leaving a 6" gap between each end of the handle. Baste both handles in place.
Now take your outside bag (right side out) and place it inside your lining bag (inside out). Tuck the handles inside and clip or pin around the top of your bag. Stitch around the top of the bag, making sure you catch the ends of your handles in the seam.

Turn your bag right side out through your side seam hole and stitch the hole closed. Press the top of the bag and stitch around the top of the bag to secure your lining.....
yes, I realize my fabric is sideways. oh well. it's a grocery bag!

And there you have it! I like to have a solid bottom in my bags. To do this, I cut a piece of plywood (8"x11") and then make a little "pillowcase" to slide it into, and place it in the bottom of the bag. The pillowcase is removable if it needs washing and the plywood is lightweight but never bends or breaks. 

I'm thinking grocery bags will be my go to Christmas gift this year!

Friday, September 13, 2019


Sometimes I'm a bad blogger but that doesn't mean I haven't been creating. I tend to default to Instagram lately (follow me at Ellynz) but then it's always good to check in here now & then. I've been weaving lots of towels the last month or two. Always playing with color. And all of these have new homes now....
These are Christies.

Two of these went to Diana in exchange for some of her gluten free/vegan cookies. Oh man were they delicious! You can order some for yourself at Suspiro Bakeshop. Diana was part of our mission team in Africa this past summer. When she told me she bakes gluten free cookies I couldn't wait to taste them. She sent me chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies. Don't ask me which ones were my favorites - I could never choose! 

The other two of these towels went to Martha.

These were for my friend Chris.

And these are Mari's.

And so, my loom is currently empty. BUT..... I got to visit Hill Country Weavers for the first time last weekend and came home with delicious bamboo/cotton yarn that I can't wait to warp on the loom. More on this awesome shop and the yarn I bought there coming soon!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Plano Quilt Show 2019

The McKinney Modern Quilt Guild had a great showing at the Plano Quilt Show this year! We had encouraged our members to enter more quilts this year, and enter they did! You can see all of their entries here

I entered two of my quilts in the Modern Category. Left Out and Be Calm, which they hung right together. Be Calm got a ribbon for honorable mention!

And I was part of two group quilts, both of which received third place ribbons! My Gnome in the Christmas Forest, made with bee blocks from my Solid Seven Bee mates and a gnome by my friend Chris (Quilted by Jeff Loper at Happy Quilts), 
Chris and I together at the show!
and Seismic Log Cabin, made by my small group, the Comedy Club Quilters....
Some of our Comedy Club Quilters; Chris D, Beth, me, Chris S, Bonnie & Anne 

It was great fun to attend the show with my friends and see all of the fabulous entries! 

Saturday, July 27, 2019


I'm finding it difficult to put my recent mission trip to Eswatini, Africa into words. Here are some photos to give you a taste of our journey.
traveling with my daughter, Leigh Anne was awesome
meeting Phumla and Okuhle, my sponsor kids, was a huge highlight

the kids at the Children's Cup care point love selfies
enjoying a healthy meal at the care point

This woman is amazing. I'm thinking she deserves her own blog post...
I made fabric bracelets with the kids in the after school program. They loved it!

Safari at Hlane National Park
The lions were calm in the evening. In the morning? not so much!
picture perfect sunset
Huge thank you to missionaries Gethen and Bex Amos and their gorgeous children for hosting us

The Liberty Global Mission Team

You can learn more about Liberty Church and Children's Cup at their websites.

Monday, July 1, 2019


A couple of months ago, a beemate of mine made 2 adorable bird quilts and when I asked about them, she steered me to a free tutorial! So I made a bird.
And I really enjoyed it! so I made another.
And another, and another, and another...... another beemate said "let's swap a few birds!" and I thought that was a great idea. Before I knew what was happening, 14 ladies were signed up to make birds to swap with me as their fearless leader! YIKES! (check out our hashtag, #birdswap2019)

By the end of May (yes, ALL 14 ladies sent their birds ON TIME!) I had a huge collection of birds on my design boards ready to swap....

152 birds, if I'm counting correctly. And they were ALL fabulous! I sent them flying off to their new homes and set to work on my own bird quilt.

Back when I posted my first few birds, my friend Martha said they had her singing "Come on Get Happy" by the Partridge Family. Remember that song? and it's cute bird logo? Well that was all the inspiration I needed! I used Heather Givens (Crimson Tate) Noteworthy pattern for the improv letters. I love her pattern! 

My Get Happy quilt fits perfectly with my word of the year.... JOY! It was quilted by my friend Diann of Happy Quilts with whimsical music notes and I absolutely love it! oh, and the upside down bird? yes it was intentional. 

As if that wasn't enough, for my Fifth Saturday Challenge project for Not Your Mama's Quilt Store I had to make more birds....
whew! now on to the next rabbit hole! stay tuned

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

preparing for Africa

In 24 days I leave for Africa! I think I've mentioned the trip a couple of times here on the blog, but I have not given much detail. I will be traveling with my daughter, Leigh Anne, and a team from her church, Liberty Church, to do mission work in eswatini. There will be 11 of us going, and we will work with Liberty Manzini and Children's Cup, helping at children's care centers, visiting families, hosting a family day for families of disabled children.... oh and a safari! 

I have 2 sponsor children over there who I am hoping to meet, Okuhle, an  8 year old girl and Phumla, a 13 year old boy. Both of them write to me frequently. In fact it was Okuhlel who wrote 2 years ago "wouldn't you like to come see my beautiful country?" which set this trip in motion.

I've been collecting little gifts for my kids and wanted to take something to their moms as well. So, I set to weaving....
This woven piece became dish towels that I can take as gifts...
The color palette came from a piece of quilting cotton I found in my stash. It looked African to me. I'm really pleased with how these turned out. One for each of the moms, including one for my daughter's sponsor child's mom, and one for me to keep.

I plan to write each mom an encouraging letter. Being a mom is hard work in the best of circumstances. I can't imagine doing it in extreme poverty. 

Meanwhile, I needed to make a new improv quilt as a shop sample for Not Your Mamas Quilt Store where I teach. Why not continue my color story? 
I'm calling this Okuhle's wish. I had fun with the quilting, matchstick quilting some of it and wavy lines for some.
I'll be teaching Improv Quilting next week at the shop and there are still some spots open. We have great fun! If you're local I encourage you to come.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

2019 colors of the year

I always look forward to finding out what the colors of the year are. This year, Kona hit the ball out of the park with Splash! As soon as it was announced, I ordered several yards of it for my stash, knowing I'd want to play with it and it would be hard to come by later on.

Then Pantone announced Living Coral and I thought, wow, those look awesome together!

So, when the McKinney Modern Quilt guild announced a color of the year challenge for this year I couldn't help but make two entries which I'm calling Mirror Image. Each mini is about 12" square. The guild minis will be on display at the McKinney Library in October so we all kept them small. I used a grunge for my coral and a spotted for my splash (solids for the contrasting small squares and kona black for accents.) I quilted them with my walking foot and added a faced binding.

I can't wait to share all of the guild quilts with you later on!

So, yes, I do love the colors this year and I can't promise that you've seen the last of them from me! I've entered both in the Pantone Quilt Challenge.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Block lotto quilt

A couple months ago, I won a big stack of block lotto blocks at the McKinney Modern Quilt Guild! The blocks were navy and white rectangles. At first I wasn't quite sure what to do with them. Then, at a sew day with friends, they helped me shape them into bigger square blocks! Here are five of those big blocks, each one containing 8 small rectangle blocks....
I played with them on my design wall at home for quite a while before I came up with the final layout. Putting them on point and adding coral "kisses" triangles was just the ticket!
Tonight hubby & I went up to the park and took some photos on the bridge.

My friends Jeff & Diann at Happy Quilts did the beautiful long arm quilting which accents the angled blocks
The finished quilt measures 48" x 64", a great lap sized quilt to donate to our guilds charity projects, quilts for local cancer patients.

And just to make you smile.... here's a mama duck and her babies who swam by while we were photographing quilts...
I think I count 11 babies! Bless her heart. What have you been up to lately?