Monday, June 30, 2008

Hollow cube block

Photo: My trial-and-error hollow cube blocks, pinned to my draperies.

I'm working on my One Block Wonder quilt, and since I am so anxious to get started on this right away, I don't at the moment have patience to order and wait for the second book (OBW Encore) that tells the details of how to make the hollow cube. I played around with my scraps for a few hours (actually a lot of hours - buying the book would have been better, but I would have either had to take a trip into town or wait almost a week for it to arrive in the mail) -- and I finally solved most of the issues. Hurrah!

I made three trial blocks. The very first one, not pictured, was so bad that it now resides in my wastebasket. The one on the above left, which I thought I had so carefully measured, was too large, but the last one was just right. It basically involves cutting an inch off one side of the triangles and sewing inch strips back on. However, I plan to get the book anyway, because it has lots of variations, and probably has streamlined the process better than I've been able to figure out.

One thing I learned about sewing the OBW strips together is that the little eartags of fabric are wonderful for matching up seams. Match the ears, and voila! the seams are matched. No pinning required -- a good thing, since all my quilt pins disappeared when I mopped and shined my floor. That little mystery has lasted five days so far.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

9 little projects, all in a row

I have made excellent progress on my quilts, partially due to the fact that school is out, and in great measure due to my lovely Hideaway. Mmmm... love that place!

Here's the line-up of unfinished quilts (it seems I already posted this, but I can't find it) that I have promised myself will be mostly done before I let my brain wander too far into new ideas:
  1. Valentine quilt: top finished, will be professional quilted
  2. Friendship garden quilt: top finished except for border
  3. Aspen quilt: top finished except for border
  4. Time out for fun quiltlet (from Ruth B. McDowell's Piecing Workshop): top finished
  5. One Block Wonder: all 624 triangles cut and sewn into strips; currently devising how to make hollow cube blocks to put into the border
  6. Tumbling blocks quilt: still gathering more black/white fabric to make additional blocks
  7. Antique doily quilt: Will get to when the others are done
  8. Labels for all quilts I have made.
  9. Add photos and details to my quilt scrapbook.
  10. (OK, so I flunked math) Block-of-the-Month - from Beverly's. They are various stars, made of batiks. I am learning that though I love the look of the finished blocks, I hate the process. I want to be more loose and free with my creativity.
My goal is to finish all of these, except #7 and #10, by the end of July, since after that I will be traveling for a few weeks and I don't know when I can get back to it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Flagged Fence

Photo: "Flagged Fence" - a lap quilt I finished this week. It was quick and easy and will be going to the children's hospital, where I've been told they have a plethora of cute baby quilts, but not much for teen boys. I had some patriotic fabric on hand, so I'm hoping this will be enjoyed by someone. If not, I know one of their puppies would love it. Dimensions: 53x71.

I learn a little bit about design and construction with every quilt I make. If I keep this up, I will be an expert in, say, about thirty years. I've given myself a score on Flagged Fence on a scale of 1-10, 1 being blah, and 10 being fabulous: 2.

The plan was to finish two other quilts this week, but searching my stash reveals that I need to shop for border and binding fabrics. Therefore, I am now working on my One Block Wonder quilt. I am finding the stitching of the triangles quite tedious and can't wait to get to another project that doesn't require doing the same thing over and over again!

Taking a break from stitching, I am polishing my Hideaway (studio) floor. This job requires a lot of furniture moving, a lot of sweeping, a lot of mopping, and a lot of polish.

Taking a break from stitching and mopping, I am also spraying for spiders inside (guild members take note) , and dusting for spiders outside. This is supposed to take care of black widows, too. The grocery store had no snake repellant that I could see.

Taking a break from stitching, mopping, and spider extermination, I dug up a section of my garden, preparing for a replanting of cilantro and possibly some butternut or acorn squash. Did you know that winter squash improves in sugar and fat content after being picked? I learned today that if you put them in a dark room for two weeks after picking, they will reach their maximum levels and therefore be more tasty.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Quiz for Quilters

By Carol Bruce, Needlesongs

See Carol's patterns and tips , quilting wallpaper and screensavers at

You will want to write down your answers in order to score them.

1. If your house is taken over by UFOs, you-
a. Call the Air Force and request help from scientists at Area 51.
b. Call the local quilt guild for sewing assistance.
c. Ignore them and start a new quilting project.

2. Prairie points are
a. Squares of cotton folded into triangles.
b. Sewing secrets passed down by pioneer quilters.
c. Arrowheads plowed up in prairie farmland.

3. Stitch in the Ditch is
a. What you do on the side of the road while waiting for your husband to change a flat tire.
b. The name of a new music group.
c. Quilting on a seam line.

4. Binding is
a. Finishing the edge of a quilt.
b. Tying up all of the loose, left-over fabric scraps in neat bundles to give to the thrift shop.
c. The best way to tie up the kids and keep them quiet while you quilt.

5. Batting is
a. One of your child's practice activities in gym class.
b. Pounding on the cotton layer to flatten it before sandwiching it into the quilt, before quilting.
c. The inside squishy layer of the quilt.

6. A Fabric Stash is
a. A rectangular plastic tub used for storing all of the fabrics for one quilt project.
b. A special closet outfitted to hold quilt fabric.
c. Quilt fabric that fills all available space in the house and garage.

7. Strip piecing is
a. Trying to quilt at odd times, even while changing clothes.
b. Sewing long strips of fabric together.
c. Strip mining on small pieces of land.

8. If, Heaven forbid! You prick your finger and bleed on the quilt, you should
a. Give it up as a lost cause and throw away the quilt because it isn't perfect.
b. Ignore it and keep quilting.
c. Spit on a scrap of cotton or wad of thread and use that to scrub the blood out immediately.

9. Yo Yo
a. An old-fashioned child's toy, often used as a template for drawing circles on fabric.
b. A special hello greeting among quilters.
c. A fabric circle with the outer edge folded and gathered.

10. Backing is
a. When a quilt is finished and won't lie flat, you cover it with a sheet and a large piece of plywood, and have your spouse back the car over it a few times.
b. The underneath layer of the quilt sandwich.
c. When you find "backers" to finance the fabric for the next quilt project.


1. a. 0 points b. 2 points c. 3 points
2. a. 3 points b. 1 point c. 0 points
3. a. 2 points b. 0 points c. 3 points
4. a. 3 points b. 2 points c. 1 point
5. a. 0 points b. 1 point c. 3 points
6. a. 1 point b. 3 points c. 10 points
7. a. 1 point b. 3 points c. 0 points
8. a. - 3 points b. 1 point c. 3 points
9. a. 1 point b. 0 points c. 3 points
10. a. 1 point b. 3 points c. 0 points
There is no pass or fail, but a score of

-3 to 8 suggests that either you are a raw beginner or perhaps you are more suited to bowling.
9 to 19 says there's hope, but you need to work on it!
20 to 29 says you're on your way to a blue ribbon.
30 to 36 tells the world you're definitely a pro!
37 is a perfect score! Why are you wasting time taking this quiz? You should be quilting!

Friday, June 20, 2008


Things I accomplished this week:
  1. De-spidered the Hideaway (studio). Things the spiders accomplished this week: Re-spidered the Hideaway.
  2. Picked zucchini daily. Things the zucchini plants accomplished this week: Produced more zucchini.
  3. Pulled and hoed weeds. Things the growing system accomplished this week: Grew more weeds.
  4. Watered the garden. Things the solar system accomplished this week: Dried out the garden.
  5. Dusted the house. Things California accomplished this week: Reapplied dust to the house.
  6. Washed the car. I haven't yet driven it since its bath, so it is still clean.
  7. Worked on the patriotic quilt for the children's hospital. All that's left is the binding. Multiple mistakes were made all through this one, including losing a block that could not be replaced and so forced the quilt to be smaller than originally planned. The block was only found today, too late. The mistakes forced me to change my original plan, and, as usual, ended up with a better product than I had originally envisioned -- although I usually don't have a concrete idea in my mind of what I will do. I just dive in and see what inspirations strike as I go along.
  8. Pruned some volunteer shrubbery around the house preparatory to pulling them out altogether.
  9. Planted the second crop of corn in the garden. They peeked out of the soil yesterday.
  10. Tried to flood out the garden gopher. Did not succeed.
  11. Picked and ate zucchini, chard, green beans, beets, onions, mulberries, apricots.
  12. Practiced all of Ruth B. McDowells' quilting techniques in her Piecing Studio book. I can't wait to try those techniques on a design of my own, but I have about four quilts still to go in my unfinished projects pile. I shall refrain from major fabric shopping for now.
  13. Repaired my crashing computer by removing Trend Micro Antivirus and reinstalling Norton Internet security. Five hours to download the updates.
  14. Avoided driving to town as much as was possible. $aving ga$...
Now that I'm out of school, I love getting up early, about 6 a.m. and working outside for an hour or two in the cool of the day, followed by breakfast and quilting (or etc.) in the Hideaway until I start perspiring, usually about 11 am.

When it gets too warm in the Hideaway for comfort (and I being too thrifty to run the A/C in a 1600 sq/ft room for just one person), I come into the house to do housework and cook (yes, I actually do those things), eat lunch with my parents who live next door (for now), have a nice siesta (to make up for my early mornings and late nights), and work on my scrapbooks until it's cool enough to go back out to the Hideaway, about 7 pm, where I have a great time stitching away until about 10 pm .

I don't know when I've had such a satisfying week, satisfaction gained primarily from items 3, 4, 6-9, 11-13. It's a good mix of physical activity and creativity, interspersed with my much-loved weekly guild get-together to provide social interaction.

Now I need to work on a to-do list for all the things I want to add to the mix.

Tonight: Sixth grade graduation.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friendship Garden Quilt (top is done)

Photo: This is progress as of about noon today. Much better without the white sashing, don't you think?

I am thinking of not doing a border on this one, so all I need to do is to make the quilt sandwich, quilt, and add the binding.

Looking at this quilt just makes me feel happy. My two blocks in the middle are surrounded by the blocks of my friends, who have surrounded me with love and support during the past several years, just when I needed it most.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Friendship Garden Quilt (continuing evolution)

Photo: The next stage, separated blocks on my new "design wall."

As per my plan, I made a simple design wall by nailing the right side of a discarded flannel-backed plastic table cloth to the plywood wall in my studio. The blocks cling to the flannel back of the tablecloth just fine, but I do need something I can stick pins into.

In my vast three years of quilting experience, such vawst experience, m'dear, I have never ripped apart so many seams, not so much because of a technical mistake (unless you count ugliness as a technical mistake), but because I didn't like the sashing colors I had used. I did not photograph the second version, that with the dark-blue shadow frames with the almost-dark-blue sashing. There was just not enough contrast between the two colors to make the shadows effective. After stitching just a few rows, I ripped them apart, picked all the thread pieces off the fabric with blue painters' tape, and replaced the almost dark-blue with a lighter fabric. You can see pieces of it here in the upper left and lower right corners of each block.

Close inspection of this photo will reveal, besides the shadow-frame changes (burgundy to dark blue, white to my new fabric (which I can't describe and wish I hadn't thrown the selvage away), narrow 1/4" borders around each block.

Now that I think of it, I wonder if making a scrapbook of selvages and fabric samples would be helpful. Hmmm...

I just noticed that the signature block, lower left, looks like a face with blue lips. Ha!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Friendship Garden Quilt (more)

Photo: The next step on this quilt was to sew on the sashing, and here is the result. I don't like it. I think the white sashing detracts from the overall effect. (I took this photo with my cell phone, just cuz it was handy.)

The guild made suggestions on rearrangement of the blocks, which I did, and I removed the little blue squares (see previous photo), moved the blocks closer together, and sewed it together with the aforesaid hated white sashing.

I pulled it all apart yesterday, stitch by stitch. As long as it was in pieces, I had noticed how well the narrow border looked around the two too-small blocks, so I decided to border all of the blocks in the same way. For the needed fabrics, I went to the new local Beehive Quilt store (nice, friendly place, with great fabric choices) to add a different narrow border around each block, and dark blue marbled fabric for the shadow frames, less dark-blue for the sashing.

What I really need is a design wall. I think I will make one this week.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Friendship Garden Quilt

Photo: Rough layout of my current project on my design wall.

This is not the traditional "friendship garden" quilt. I am calling this "Friendship Garden" because it is being made from blocks created by the five members of the Friendship Garden quilt guild that meets weekly at my place. Someone, I won't say who, calls us the "guilty girls."

We each made five sets of two 12.5" blocks and one 4.5" signature block, and swapped them around, giving us ten blocks each. The 4.5" signature blocks go together to make an additional 9-patch, and each of us made an additional block for ourselves. My quilting friends are quite talented, don't you think?

You can see that two of the blocks (top right, middle bottom) have a very narrow border around them. That is because they turned out slightly smaller than the rest, and adding the border made them all the same size, or close enough to it to trim the shadow frame to make them all exactly the same.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Time to create

Photo: Look at this 15-foot long table runner I made for my studio/entertainment area in May. Ain't it wunnaful? Anyone want a tie to match? :)
  • I'm always excited when I can make something out of scraps on hand. I still need to quilt down the center. My idea is to apply some micro-Velcro every couple of feet down the middle, then make seasonal patches to apply to the runner. With the colors I have in the border, any seasonal theme should fit just right.
  • School is over, and I have retired. Woohoo! My students wrote me some sweet good-bye notes, and they all seem to wish I were coming back next year.
  • A rabbit crept under my garden fence and ate ALL my soybean plants.
  • The mulberry tree is still producing yummy, sticky fruits for me to munch on.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Valentine quilt

Photo: During May I finished the top from the Valentine charm swap I participated in last January.

This one is a color combination I wouldn't naturally choose, but I got all the five-inch charms from an internet swap, and it was fun to put together, using the similar techniques to those that I used on my quilt, "Lost in the Woods," from the book, Thinking Outside the Block. Though I had originally planned to cut the edges straight, all viewers have voted for me to keep them as is (see above). I whined about the amount of time it would take to put on the binding, but I must admit I like it that way, too.

I think I will look for a long-arm quilter to do the quilting on this one. It will be a new experience for me, to have someone else put their mitts on my work. I hope it will be a positive experience!