Saturday, December 22, 2012

A new (to me) technique for Flying Geese

I love when people are smarter than I am!! It's one of the things that draws me out of my private sewing room shell. I have a new favorite way of making flying geese. It's on the Connecting Threads website where I spend a lot of time due to my textile addiction. I found it through pinterest, though, (yea, Pinterest!!) Here's a link:

Anybody who quilts probably knows a bunch of methods for making flying geese. My first experience with them was for a Mother's Goose Quilt that I made in 2008, called "Silver Linings." The way that was done was with half squares, made with 1" Thangles. At the time, I thought they were so clever. Pulling off those little tiny bits of paper (256 of them,) was a labor of love, done at violin lessons. . That's the last time I'll do that, I can assure you. I love that quilt though. It serves as a reminder of where I started; prairie points are adorable, and I'm so glad that I went to the trouble to do them.

Oh, but back to flying geese; then there's the method with cutting rectangles and squares, sewing the squares on, and cutting off copious amounts of waste. I really hate that, since it goes against my Yankee nature. There's no Yankee like a Chinese Yankee. That method is a step up from the thangle method.
Then there was Deb Tucker's method, which is comparatively, GENIUS. I bought her Wing Clipper ruler and used her method, smugly and happily until today. I just recently figured out where I was going wrong in that there were often geese a little short on seam allowance at the background triangles. That method, however requires that you cut a total of 5 squares to get the 4 geese.

Oh, but this method! Here it is again:

It requires that you cut out two squares only, and from that you get 4 geese. It's faster than the Tucker method, but I still swear by Deb Tucker's ruler to do the final trim. Two modifications: One, I press these seams open because on little tiny geese, there will be many seams too close together, and quilting those will be a bumpy, bumpy ride. This precludes the need for clipping those seam allowances before the trimming. Two, on the trimming step, I don't cut these apart before trimming them. I use the Tucker ruler to trim both geese on the final product at the same time, being careful not to let my rotary cutter stray into the territory of the goose I'm not cutting. If anyone ever reads my blog and asks for a trimming tutorial, I will photograph those steps to make it clear. I also made a Word document with the most important photos and a table with the math all done for me so I never have to stop my audiobooks to calculate.

And here's my final "duh!" discovery: The geese and the background are opposite from the star points and backgrounds. My first experiment, I wanted to make red stars and cream backgrounds, but as you see in the bottom example, the colors came out inverted. Not to worry, that's what experiments are for!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chalkboard Mats

These are some of the best gifts for kids I've ever made. Who wouldn't love their own personal chalkboard?

Each requires a fat quarter of cute fabric and chalkboard fabric. I just so happened to have plenty of those in my stash...

Stash used: 3 yards
Stash used total: 67 1/8 yards
Stash acquired: 0 yards
Stash acquired total: 95.25 yards

Monday, December 17, 2012

Yankee Swap

Here is my first ever decorative pillow. It is for the Yankee Swap at work; the theme is "Red." It's not perfect, but I'm pleased with the Lemoyne Star.

Stash used: 1 yard
Stash used total: 64 1/8 yards
Stash acquired: 0 yards
Stash acquired total: 95.25 yards

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Two Quilts

I cut and started piecing "Fly Away" and "Crystalline Frost." It's my way of managing the major slip in my stash busting project.

Stash used: 17.5 yards
Stash used total: 63 1/8 yards
Stash acquired: 0 yards
Stash acquired total: 95.25 yards

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Like One Drink for an Alcoholic

"Hi, my name is Ophelia, and I'm a fabricoholic."
"Hi, Ophelia."

It's been twelve hours since my last purchase. It all started with a sale at Connecting Threads, where I've had some almost solid background fabrics in my wishlist, waiting for just the right sale. Well, that was 14 yards, but that and two spools of quilting threads were only $50; the fabric averaged $2.93 per yard. Then, the Architexture fabrics came in at Hawthorne Threads, my favorite website for funky modern prints. But they didn't have some of the best prints, which were at Fabricworm, though more expensive. I bought 7.5 yards at Hawthorne and 5 at Fabricworm. This is bad. Total 26.5 yards acquired.

I've been sewing as fast as I can, but I just can't use it as fast as I can buy it. Well, Merry Christmas. I'm going to make some more!!

Stash used: 0 yards
Stash used total: 45 5/8 yards
Stash acquired: 26.5 yards
Stash acquired total: 95.25 yards

Sunday, December 9, 2012

All Day?!

How is it possible that it has taken me all day to finish a quilt top and prepare a backing when the top was pieced long ago? This is a Quilt of Valor, pieced using a mystery quilt pattern provided so generously by Nancy Dennis from the yahoo group called MysteryQuilts4Military. It was a recycled pattern, written when the size criteria for QOVs was smaller, so it required some framing borders. I used the scraps from the flying geese units and made this border, but it STILL wasn't quite big enough. One of my problems is that I didn't have any extra fabric, except the solid red.

I then took forever to piece a backing with some American Flag fabric bordered by a Japanese-looking navy blue print, also a scrap, so it took a lot of piecing together of odd sized pieces. Still, I managed to use at least four yards of fabric.

Stash used: 4 yards
Stash used total: 45 5/8 yards
Stash acquired: 0 yards
Stash acquired total: 68.75 yards

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Love Letters

My Love Letters quilt is too nice for me to quilt. I've prepared the flannel backing and will give it to Donna Dahl to work her magic. Having something quilted by Donna in my home will serve as inspiration and tutorial.

Stash used: 5 1/8 yards
Stash used total: 41 5/8 yards
Stash acquired: 6.5 yards
Stash acquired total: 68.75 yards

And now I've gone and bought a bunch of Kaffe polka dotted FQs, on sale at The Rabbit's Lair for $2 each:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it...Go

I ran out of time yesterday at home, as paying the bills and "moving the papers" from one place to another took all day. On my list of things to do was to cull some fabric. I was reminded to do so when I received my order from Hancock's, and 4 of the fabrics I'd ordered were, well, awful. It's very hard to gauge how much metallic is in metallics, and the "Gilt Trip" fabrics from Dear Stella were a mess of metallic, reminding me of the old Floridian grandmother-wear, that is, before Floridian grandmothers started looking hip and much younger than I remember them :)
When receiving these, I immediately went into my mother's mode of "what can be done with this?" wherein she relegated really ugly clothes into a "wear it around the house" collection. I'm not doing it. Anything ugly is not worth sewing, and one woman's ugly is another woman's treasure. I've heard tell of women at the Goodwill coming close to blows over the fabric that is donated, so I'm starting a collection of "Let it Go" fabrics, some of them really expensive good quilting stuff, that just isn't going to make the cut when I'm quilting.

Dear Stella Gilt Trip Line Work Navy Dear Stella Gilt Trip Fish Scale Orange Dear Stella Gilt Trip Cobblestone Orange

The last one I also have in Navy.

Stash used: 4 yards
Stash used total: 36.5 yards
Stash acquired: 0 yards
Stash acquired total: 62.25 yards

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A weekend without sewing...

Is a weekend without sewing necessarily a weekend without joy? Absolutely not, though I did find myself longing for the leisure creative time in my studio. I went, among other places, to my sister's open studio in Somerville, Massachusetts, where an entire old factory building has been re-purposed into artists' studios. It was inspiring to see so many people who make art such a part of their lives. Many of the people there are exclusively artists, but many create art as their hobbies.
I've always so envied people who could use their hands and some sort of paint or writing instrument to make art. Clearly, Christine got that talent in our family. I'm glad she is making use of it and creating beautiful art to share with the world.
I kept busy enough not to buy any fabric, so at least my stash count is stable for the weekend.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quick! Use More Fabric!

It's clear to me now that the fastest way to use stash is to prepare backings for already-pieced quilts and get those babies quilted. Quilting has been a bit of a challenge since I've been holding myself to unattainable, (for me,) standards. Today, I put the Tulane Picture Frames quilt onto the frame and made the backing. I quilted it up lickedy split with free motion spirals, which came out even bettern than I'd hoped. I was inspired by Denyse Schmidt's quilting book that shows a lot of great modern quilts with really simple or monotonous quilting. It really is ok for the fabrics and the piecing to be the stars of the show. Since this is a casual, "throw it in the car for impromptu picnics," quilt, it is perfectly adequate.

Stash used: 4 yards
Stash used total: 32.5 yards
Stash acquired: 0yards
Stash acquired total: 62.25 yards 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Busy weekend

Despite the holiday, I was able to steal upstairs to work on a few projects. This is a computer case for Lizzie, Alexandra's friend.
I also finished this mini quilt, Little Red Goose Migration. It's been awaiting quilting for almost a year.
Another quilt, Stars and Fish, finally got put on the frame with a backing, and is now quilted. Binding is attached but not hand stitched.

Stash used: 5.5 yards
Stash used total: 28.5 yards
Stash acquired: 0 yards
Stash acquired total: 62.25 yards

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

Even though I'm working today, I've succumbed to some cybersales. I have wanted to make this quilt, and the kit was reasonably priced to begin with, but I wanted to use stash. I figured out the pattern, but then the kit went on sale for 60% off, and wouldn't it be a waste of time not to buy it? Yet I won't then be using stash to make it. Too bad.

and while I'm at it, I love this quilt and the fabrics... is a weakness of mine. I know, I know. This stash blog isn't curbing my temptations much, but at least it's keeping me honest. 18.25 yards for $52. That's $2.85/yard and 2 patterns to boot.

Stash used: 0
Stash used total: 23 yards
Stash acquired: 18.25 yards
Stash acquired total: 62.25 yards

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hancock's of Paducah

But they were having such an awesome sale!! Lots of Dear Stella, and a few other Kona prints I could not resist...18 yards for $95. That averages a little more than $5 per yard. I'll try to consume faster!! Perhaps backing a few quilts and quilting them will get me out of this hole I've dug.

I've made a few little squares using FQs and scraps, amounting to very little consumption. Also, I finished that Scrappy Star top. Photo to follow...soon.

Stash used: 1
 Stash used total: 23 yards
Stash acquired: 18 yards
Stash acquired total: 44 yards

Monday, November 5, 2012

Scrappy Stars with Pat Harrison

I had a terrific time in a little quilt class at the show in Manchester, formerly held in Nashua, NH called A Quilter's Gathering. It was taught by Pat Harrison, who has her own method of piecing these blocks. I am going to count the fabric scraps that I used as stash busted, since there was also a lot of yardage that I had to tap to get it scrappy enough. I may not be an enormous fan of the scrappy quilt. I like other people's more than mine, which tend to just look like garbage. Others in the class had fabrics that read more like solids. As I am learning, that is not what I tend to be putting in my stash...good information to know.
 This is Pat's prototype, with the four-pointed Friendship Stars in Yellow
 These are mine. A little busy, but Pat says to just keep adding more scraps to scrappy. I must try to have faith.
These are some made by classmates. My favorite are Jane's which read as solids, in the middle. Alison, a perfectionist, planned every batik (right) and ended up with much more intentional blocks. She judges quilts, organizes shows and retreats, and was an information analyst for the NSA at one time. Cool.

 For stash count, I'm going to count the approximate yardage for top and borders. Much came from the scrap bin, but that should count, no?

I also bought some fabric from Lola Pink. They've got a few PUL fabrics, meant for diaper making, that I'm going to experiment with for lunchboxes and maybe pencil cases. I love new textiles! I love old textiles, too. 

Stash used: 5 yards when taking into account the piano key border. That thing is a lot of work.
Stash used total: 22 yards
Stash acquired: 6 yards
Stash acquired total: 26 yards

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Stash Just Happened

SewMamaSew is having a sale on Kona cottons. I want more yellow in my life!! So I ordered 4 different yellows and threw in 2 purples, along with the new Kona color card, which I feel I need in order to keep my solids inventory in control, (it's an OCD thing.)

It was so sort of just happened.

Stash used: 0 yards
Stash used total: 17 yards
Stash acquired: 7 yards
Stash acquired total: 20 yards

I started the Paul Frank knit PJ pants for Alexandra but have yet to put on the waistband. I cut the waist shorter in front by almost 2 inches, and 1 inch in the back. She tried it on and that is, in fact the length of one camel toe. I can't count it as stash used until the waistband is on, so for now, that's just what's on deck.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Home for Saturday

I really needed a day in my sewing room. I awoke early and staked my claim...four hours, please, undisturbed. It's since been eight, with short breaks for sustenance. I have 6 pencil cases, 3 pillowcases, and two pairs of pj pants to show for it. The pjs aren't done, but I must stop to take Sophia to a soccer game in which she cannot partake. OK.

No time for photos now, but will edit and fill in later. Couldn't resist the stash count though...

Stash used: 7.5 yards
Stash used total: 17 yards
Stash acquired: 0 yards
Stash acquired total: 13 yards

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Del Ray Fabrics

Yes, Pam at Del Ray put a bunch of good stuff on sale. I bought some fabric, but I left some there for you. Go shop!!
My only criticism of her site is that it's a little hard to navigate. Also, if you are like me and you scroll using the space bar, your orders will be entered multiple times and the only way to fix it is to remove the item and add it to the cart again. Go to the section labelled "Del Ray Specials."


Stash used: 0 yards
Stash used total: 9.5 yards
Stash acquired: 5.5 yards
Stash acquired total: 13 yards

Monday, October 15, 2012


It's Halloween season! I have always loved making the costumes, but I thought this year the girls might be too old to want them. Alexandra outgrew this a few years ago, alas, but this year, being on her strict budget, she asked me to make her a tutu for her Nicki Minaj costume. Yea!! I get to buy tulle!! We spent a few hours in Joann's having a really good time...the Halloween decorations are 60% off, which is still more than most are worth, but we found some cute stuff. Oh! and you should see what I didn't buy!

Here's the count:
Stash used: 5 yards
Stash used total: 9.5 yards
Stash acquired: 7.5 yards
Stash acquired total: 7.5 yards

This is not the whole costume, don't fret. The devil horns are just for her to wear to classes for this month. She got an outrageous pink wig with bangs. It's horrible and very Nicki Minaj, if google photos are to be trusted. I will try to get pictures but she won't be anywhere near home on Halloween, so I'm at her mercy in that way.

I bought some microfleece and knit for pajama pants. The giraffes were a hit, though the rise was STILL too long based on where they like the waistband to sit. They told me the term for the bump that shows below the waistband is called a camel toe. OK. I'll shorten the pattern by exactly one camel toe. Now where did I put that camel?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Electronics Junkie

I am hopelessly dependent on electronics. I also love to make great soft cases for my electronics and everybody else's, too. Here are some of the iPad and laptop cases I've made:

 Oh! and if you could only see the linings. Always sew things that make you happy.

 Mostly, I've used the pattern from the book, "One Yard Wonders," which allows you to custom fit to any device. I once made 12 iPad covers all at once because I got, well, carried away. They all found homes with my friends and relatives.
If you don't have that book, and you have a fabric stash that looks like this:

times about 10 or maybe even 20, then this book is a very small start at using up that stash.
All of this fabric sort of showed up in my sewing room over the last few years since I started quilting, but guess what? Even a big quilt does not require very much fabric.
iPad cases use even less.

It's a good thing that fabric makes me feel good. I love to look at it,
touch it,
wash it,
iron it,
fold it,
unfold it,
sort it,
cut it,
sew it,
photograph it. And it goes without saying, buy it.
My favorite place to buy fabric is Hawthorne Threads, but one can't achieve this level of obsession without Hancocks of Paducah, Fabricworm, and lately, Connecting Threads.
I have added knits to my collection lately, as previously I really couldn't find knits worthy of my time and effort. Go to Fabric Fairy and Girl Charlee for those terrific knits that make you feel like doing that again. (I learned to sew with knits originally. My mother worked at a place called Stretch and Sew in Hartsdale, NY, where she collected most of her stash. It was mostly polyester double knits. 'nuff said. One day, I'll do an homage to Maboo with funky pencil skirts in PolyDK and show you all what retro means to me.)

Locally, I love Quilted Threads in Henniker, NH. That's where my people are. I believe in supporting my local quilt shop, but I also believe in shopping in my pajamas. The internet is good, even if I didn't invent it.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Random Finished Projects

 Fresh Squeezed, #2, 6/21/08
This was the second quilt I finished. I used Sandy Gervais' Fresh Squeezed fabrics, which were in large part responsible for my re-entry into the fabric world. Great designers like Gervais, Tula Pink and Heather Ross brought me back to sewing. Who could resist when there were such artful, creative and beautiful fabrics available? The pattern was Pathways Batik, which I modified a little to accommodate the fabric I had stashed. I love this quilt to this day. For a long time, it protected my mother's grand piano from danger, a worthy cause.

 Posh Twin Big Flower, #51, 7/20/2011
If you've  ever used the Posh Tot pattern, you know that this quilt goes together lickity split! The thing that took me the longest on this quilt was doing the math to convert it to a twin, and figuring out yardage of a giant print. The inspiration for this fabric combination came from Peggy Anne...she inspires much of what I do!

Undercover in Chicago, #57, 10/5/11
This was a Debbie Caffrey Mystery Quilt, begun in a class at Quilted Threads. I used the Sweetwater fabrics from their first line, (I think,) Authentic. I still have a lot of stash of this, because I loved it so much. I'm not sorry! Looking that up, I discovered that Sweetwater also created the "Lucy's Crab Shack" line of fabrics, too, which I've hoarded a bit. I love that line. It speaks to me. In fact, I made a bag for Valerie from it, after she told me how meticulously Nick hung their laundry, one piece at a time, in and out of the house, while vacationing together. Here it is:

 So, now that I've opened the subject of bags, want to see some more?
I thought so, and thanks for asking!

Also for Valerie, Gallery Fiore Bag, using Peggy Anne's pattern and oh! I love that Soft and Stable batting from ByAnnie. It makes the best stable bags I've ever done. I'm planning on re-making some of my old favorites with it because the difference is THAT significant. It's expensive, and the shipping is outrageous, but I'm going to try to convince my local quilt shop to stock it; I'm thinking a whole roll, (15 yards,) would be so crazy that my loved ones would be justified in looking into some sort of institutionalization for me. Unless someone wants to share a roll with me?
These were for Mary, who is so good at being green, I think of her as the best combination of Yankee frugality and environmentalist. She has a heart of gold, and I absolutely adore her. I made these shopping totes from Alexander Henry's Natura, (I think) collection. If you can't tell, it has brightly colored peas in green beans. I love this fabric so much that I had to hoard some more after using some for these bags. I know, I know, but it's cheaper than therapy.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Two Mini Quilts

Mini Sawtooth, #32 8/3/09

Starry Nine Patch Mini, #59 11/26/11