Monday, June 27, 2011

Mom's Button Tin

What is your earliest sewing room memory? For me, it goes back to when I was a little girl. I remember Mom would give me her button tin and I would spill it out on the floor (gosh, I think she gave it to me! Maybe I just took it! Nah, surely she gave it to me.)
This was before I was old enough to sew, maybe four or five years old? I would sit on the floor of Mom's sewing space for hours sorting buttons. Mom will probably laugh at this and say it wasn't hours but minutes? But the way I remember it, I could play with her buttons for hours. Seriously! I would sort them by color, then by style, then by size.....

Years later I would give my own children my buttons to sort. Now I understand that this is a good way to keep a child busy so Mommy can sew! But when I was a little girl, I just thought it was a wonderful, fun thing to do.

About 10 years ago my Mom & Dad moved across country. They had a big garage sale back in Ohio to clear out some of the odds and ends they had collected in 40+ years of marriage. I asked my Mom if she was getting rid of her button tin.... and lucky me....
Mom brought it to me! So now I have a wonderful home for my buttons AND a constant visual reminder of my awesome Mom. Thanks Mom, for letting me sort your buttons.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A quilt for my sister

I probably didn't pick the best day to photograph my latest quilt! It's been really windy here lately. And Lexi was trying to get in on the act.... no silly dog, this is not for you!

Finally, after snapping away for quite a while (with poor hubby hanging onto the quilt behind the fence! His arms were getting tired I'm sure) we got some great shots.

The first time I saw the Sherbet Pips fabric I fell in love with it and knew I wanted to make a quilt for my sister, Diane. The little girls swinging on the swings, scooting on scooters, playing & having fun, so reminded me of her when we were little girls. She was always on an adventure, whether it involved swinging higher than anyone else or hanging upside down on the monkey bars. I don't think I appreciated it at the time, but Diane has always been the brave one of the two of us.

Me? I was the one hiding up in the branches of the crab apple tree, reading a book. I didn't mind reading about other people's adventures, but I didn't really create any of my own.

So I made this for my sis. I hope she likes it! Even now, all these years later, she's on one adventure after another. And I'm so proud of her.

Here's the scrappy back of her quilt.... with a scrappy binding too. Now that was fun to do! But then I love doing bindings. I know not everyone does!

I wish I could have gone to Ohio with my quilt to see everyone there, including Diane. I sent Miss Ally instead! Because, well, she loves a good adventure too!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A bag for a friend

I hinted that I was enjoying some hand stitching not long ago. Sometimes I just start playing with fabrics & thread and see where it leads me. This is how my hexagon flower looked when I was done playing: After I appliqued it onto a piece of recycled denim it really wanted to become a bag. Easy enough.

I sent this bag off to my friend Tracey in Ohio this week. I filled it up with some fabric & a pattern, haha, I hope she's not too mad at me for putting a project on her to do list? Wish I could pop on over to her house & help her make it. She does have my Ally there for a few days of entertainment, maybe Ally will help her sew?

Tracey is the kind of friend who would do anything for you. Thanks for always being there for me pal! And Happy belated Birthday. I miss you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

binding tips

Let me make something perfectly clear. There are many many quilters who are so much more talented than I am! I love to piece tops but you will notice that most of mine are quite simple. No curves. Occasional matching points.... I'm getting more & more courageous but it's slow. AND I have not yet mastered machine quilting. Generally, I quilt with my checkbook.... there is an awesome longarmer in Arizona who has quilted most of my recent quilts.

That said, when I do complete my quilts, I often get compliments on my bindings. I don't know why, but binding a quilt is my favorite part (maybe because it is the final step? I don't know) and I seem to have mastered it. So I thought I would share some pointers with you here...

There are many awesome tutorials, on the web, in books, in magazines, for how to stitch on a binding so I will not duplicate those here. I do my corners just like all the books recommend. Nothing different. I usually just cut my bindings on the straight of grain, as my quilts (thus far) do not have any curves. If the edge of your quilt is curvy, you will need a bias binding. Otherwise, I find straight bindings to be just fine. I like mine 2 1/2 inches wide (before folding). Others like them narrower. To each his (her?) own I say! Whatever makes you happy.

Recently I have really gotten into scrappy bindings. I buy 3 or 4 fat quarters that coordinate with my quilt top & cut enough 18 inch strips to make a binding for my quilt. I join mine on the diagonal, mixing up the prints. The leftovers from the fat quarters are perfect to make a patchwork back. But I digress.

Tip number 1: Do not cut off the excess batting and backing around your quilt top before stitching on your binding. Stitch your binding on using your walking foot with the excess still attached. I find that this helps to prevent the layers from shifting. Tip number 2: joining the final binding ends. There are tools that help you do this. I have bought them all and mastered none of them. Not bashing the tools or their designers. I'm quite sure it is user error on my part! I typically do things "the old fashioned way", no tools involved. First of all, leave a 12 to 15 inch tail on each end unsewn. Overlap the binding edges.

Now trim the top binding piece so that the overlap equals the original width of your binding strips. So, if your bindings were cut 2 1/2 inches wide, these pieces should overlap 2 1/2 inches. If you cut your bindings a different width, use that measurement now.

Now open up your binding ends and lay them together like this, right sides facing. Make sure you don't twist the binding in the process! Draw a diagonal stitching line, just like you do when you join your original binding pieces.

Tuck your quilt out of the way and stitch your diagonal line. Make sure you have sewn it right and not twisted anything before you cut off the corners (learned this one the hard way!)

Your binding should fit perfectly now & you can stitch down that last bit on the machine.

Tip number 3: NOW you can cut off your excess batting and backing. Be very careful at the corners to tuck the folded edges out of the way. You don't want to cut through those folds!

Tip number 4: press your binding away from the quilt on all four edges.

Tip number 5: I like to use binding clips (the ones that look like hair clips) to hold my binding in place while I hand stitch it down. BUT... I only use four or five. I clip one section of the quilt, placing the clips 4-6 inches apart. As I stitch, when I get to a clip, I remove it and clip it after the last clip. I find if I clip the whole quilt at once a couple of things can go wrong: A) clips fall off and the dog eats them B) I wind up moving them all around & adjusting things as I go. So why bother? Just do it as you go.

Tip number 6:Now stitch the back of your binding down with an invisible hem stitch. This takes practice, but you will get better and better, faster and faster with time. First of all, do not cut your thread too long! 18 inches is plenty. I know it's tempting to make it longer, so you don't have to knot it off as often, but there is much less chance of tangles or knots with a shorter thread. Bury your knot in the batting like you do with hand quilting, take a tiny stitch in the fold of your binding, then a stitch through the batting, about 1/4 inch before taking another tiny stitch in the fold. Be careful not to poke your needle all the way through to the front of the quilt! I usually keep one finger behind the binding so I feel the needle if it goes through too far.

There you go! A lovely binding for your quilt. And just like everything else, practice makes perfect.

What's that? You want to see the finished quilt? Not yet! Soon, I promise.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

well look at that!

Rachel included my quilt shop house block in her Flickr Friends Roundup over at One Pretty Thing. Have you checked out One Pretty Thing yet? You really should, tons of inspiration over there. Go on, I know you want to!

Friday, June 17, 2011

waiting for the ups man

quilt binding, ready & waiting for the quilt to come home from the quilter in Arizona today. A special quilt for someone I love. Can't wait to show it to you!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

House block challenge complete!

Last week I shared this block with you & told you about a challenge I had taken. I want to tell you what became of my block. First of all, it came to me in the middle of the night (does this happen to everyone? Please say yes!) that my house needed to become a....

The first thing I put on my block was this:

To which Ally said "right Mom, because all you old ladies ride your bikes to the quilt shop!" umm excuse me? Oh well, I quickly forgave her for her old lady remark. Someday she'll be old too & she'll understand the way we think. Maybe. I hope.

Anyways, I worked very hard on my house/quilt shop block for several days. Adding little details here and there, a bird in the clouds, a quilt hanging on the wall (which I hear could be mistaken for a window. Either way, it works for me).

Sandy shared her house block tonight at Quilt Guild too, so cute! I promise to get a picture of it to share with you in the next couple of days. Diann seemed to enjoy our finished blocks (after we tortured her all night & wouldn't show her until Show 'n Tell which is LAST!)

Birthday Boy

Happy Birthday Honey! Thanks for being the greatest husband, friend & Dad to our kids. They don't make them any better than you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Craftsanity magazine

Have you ordered your copy of Craftsanity magazine yet? You can get a print copy or the pdf version. The link to order is over here at Jennifer's blog. I am impatiently sitting by my mailbox waiting for my copy. Inside the magazine you will find tons of fun summer crafts. Including.... ta da! My summer watermelon hair clip pattern! Isn't it fun? Perfect picnic-wear I think.

So hop on over there and order your copy. Come on, I know you want to! Ok.... commercial over. I'm off to my sewing room to work on my challenge project. Talk soon.

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Last night our small group had a sewing gathering. There was lots of laughter, snacks, music, crocheting, embroidery, binding stitching and machine whirring. And we had a new friend join us. Diann fit right in with our crazy bunch! She was making house blocks for a quilt out of a mixture of solids. After she finished 2 blocks Diann decided she didn't like them. At all. We all suggested ways to make them pop, black sashing, etc, but she was DONE with them. Tossed them aside & started making something else out of the rest of the solid pieces she had cut. Well I wouldn't let it rest. I kept telling her that something could be done to save those house blocks from the trash.

As I was packing up my stuff to head home, Diann pulled out the house blocks and challenged me to take one home and make something of it. Well! You know me. I love a challenge! So this block came home with me and I am already hard at work to transform it! You'll have to wait to see what I come up with.

What are you working on this weekend?

Friday, June 10, 2011

some days.....

you just have to set aside the to-do list, put on some peaceful music & stitch. Today was one of those days.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June Birdie Stitches done!

I finished my June Birdie Stitches block this morning. June 7! Not bad. This one had lots of stitching on it! At first I was a little overwhelmed by it. It's really busy! And really different from the first five blocks. Then someone commented that this is kind of like the label block for the quilt! That it documents the date and name of the blocks.... hmmm great thought! So I decided to add my first name. See it there, below the birdie's tail? What the heck, it's already busy! Why not make it more busy?

And when it was finished, I really liked it! Wow, six blocks done. That means we're halfway finished. I'm really enjoying doing this, and looking at everyone else's blocks too. Check out the flickr group. It's so cool how people interpret the block differently.

Have a happy Tuesday friends!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Quilt top finished

I fully intended to share this quilt with you as I went along. However (go ahead & laugh Joellen! You know this is true) once I get rolling on a project there's no stopping me until it's DONE! Thanks to Joellen for saving me and giving me a strip of each fabric when I ran short. You can come over & snuggle under the finished quilt anytime you like! It's partly yours. It will live on our couch when it's finished, the designated snuggle quilt. So for all of you who have been badgering me to put the Christmas Quilt away, this is it's year round replacement. Happy?

This quilt top used 1/2 yard (plus a 3 1/2 inch strip!) of 6 different Denyse Schmidt fabrics that I got at Joanns. Plain white cotton borders on 6 1/2 inch squares of prints and lime green solid cotton squares bordered by the prints.... I was going to use all white, but I think the green adds another dimension to the quilt.

I finished the top today. It's about 60x70 inches without borders. It does need borders. I am thinking maybe a narrow green border & then a coordinating print around the outside? Not sure yet. And of course a scrappy binding, because that's how I roll these days. It'll be a while before you see it finished because I plan to take it to the quilter I love in Arizona when I take the kids to college in August. YIKES! Did you see what I just said? Take THE KIDS... plural! to college. Yup, Steve will be joining his big (little) sister at ASU this fall!

Ok, back to the sewing room! I have lots of projects going on right now and I can't wait to share them with you! I promise to share my Craftsanity project very soon.... happy crafting!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

secret project complete

If you hop on over to Craftsanity, you will see that Jennifer has the next issue of her terrific new craft magazine almost ready to ship! Lots of fun summer crafty ideas. If you look down a few paragraphs you'll see the surprise I've been working on. I have a project in her new issue! I'm very excited to have a sweet summer hair clip pattern featured, something every little girl will want to wear to picnics this summer. I'll post a picture for you as soon as Jennifer sends out the magazine...

Meanwhile, I've added another fun summer hair clip pattern in my shop. It's this bright & cheerful sunshine clip. And... it's a pdf file, sent directly to your computer when you order. So, no shipping charges and no waiting by the mailbox for it to arrive. Here's a picture of the new pattern which is available now:

Didn't Kelsey do a terrific job modelling for me? My plan is to introduce a new hair clip pattern in my shop every week this summer, so stay tuned! Meanwhile, you can get started on the sunshine while you wait for your issue of Craftsanity to arrive! What? You haven't ordered one yet? You better scoot on over to Jennifer's shop right away then! You won't want to miss it!