Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year

Happy New Year, quilters! I hope you all had a good Christmas.

Wanted to let you know that we're starting a brand new Mystery Quilt for 2019. It's free. No patterns to buy. I hope you'll join me. We'll work on it in small bits each month. The first block has been posted in the Files section of the FB group and also in the Files section  of  my online small quilt group.  I'm working on getting it up on my website as well. Look for the Mystery Quilt tab at the top of the page.

The Mystery is called Aunt Addie's Blue Ribbon Quilt and it will run through July. This is a Spool and Bobbin block. I've never made one of these before and had fun picking through my scraps. 

Here's how the Mystery will work: I'll give you directions to make a particular block each month and you make as many blocks as the directions tell you to make. (PLEASE read  the instructions.) Then, after 6 months, I'll tell you how to put all the blocks together into a quilt. C'mon - it'll be fun. EVERYBODY can make a few blocks every month. 

We're also working on our Small Quilt Challenge for January. Little Log Cabin Doll Quilt from my newest book A Prairie Journey.

One of the most familiar and beloved of quilt patterns from the nineteenth century has to be the log cabin pattern. I love this little quilt, with its light and dark strips resembling the logs in a cabin.

(Made by Sue Bennett and inspired by an antique doll quilt.)

It's a true scrap bag quilt, don't you think? I found it interesting that the "logs" were not arranged in any sort of order, just stitched along at random to give the quilt a wonderful scrappy look. Scrappy quilts often look more complicated than they really are. If you make one or two blocks per day you'll have the whole quilt finished by the end of the month. 

Remember my Scrappy Star Sew Along from last fall? We made the blocks and now this year we'll make some time to put those 6" stars together into a quilt. 

Your choice of setting, depending upon how many stars you've finished. Can be big or small. I'm making a simple lap quilt, using 33 stars and some setting squares. (This particular pattern can be found in Files in my groups.)

I didn't make any New Year's resolutions but I do have some goals -  I'm hoping to finish my "Birthday Quilt" I started last year.  Maybe I'll have a better chance of getting it done this year, ya think? I'm more than halfway though sewing the blocks into strips and not quite half finished sewing the strips together. Sheesh. Now I remember why I like making small quilts so much, LOL.

I used to be pretty good about finishing my quilts and limiting my UFOs but now I have  another simple nine-patch lap quilt I need to put together. And then there's Dear Jane. Oh, Dear, Dear Jane. Not giving up just yet.

Lastly, if January always puts you in the mood to organize those fabric scraps (so you can join us in making some fun quilts this year?) check out the front pages in my book Small & Scrappy. It contains lots of good ideas for keeping it all under control. I've done a little organizing myself this week. Needs to be done on a regular basis and if I don't keep it up I find myself avoiding walking into that room  . . . . So clean it up for even a few minutes every day to keep your creative urges going in the right direction.

For me, a set of neat scrap bins and a clean sewing table makes everything I work on go a lot smoother. 

Have a good week and make some time to clean up your space if it needs it. You'll be glad I nagged you. Just ask my kids . . . .

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Christmas Quilting and Other Stuff

I've been having a little trouble with photos on Blogger lately. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. (My sister said "Don't you blog anymore?? What's wrong?") Oh, just give me a call sometime, ha ha. Yes, I've been too lazy to blog. Here are a few things I've been working on this month - Christmas trees and Snowflakes.

You can find the free pattern for the block for this tree mug rug on my website under Free Patterns or in the Files section of my Facebook and other small quilt group.

We had a cute Mystery quilt challenge for December in my Facebook small quilt group. It was a surprise snowflake based on this antique quilt block that was probably cut from a larger quilt and made into a doll quilt. I crafted my own pattern for it using small nine-patch blocks and strips. The pattern is in three parts in the Files section of the FB group and also in Files for my online small quilt group.

My top is finished but I haven't had time to quilt it yet. This one was made (rather quickly!) by Sue Bennett. So adorable.

 The real reason I haven't finished quilting my snowflake quilt -

I found some little trees made by Anna Jantina on Instagram and needed to make some for myself.  I could not read her directions since her post was written in Dutch so I drafted my own paper pieced pattern. You can also find that pattern in the Facebook group files. I'm hoping to make enough for a little forest! But even one tree block standing alone makes a cute ornament or mug rug, don't you think? If you're on Instagram just search her name and you'll find her tree quilt. If you're not on Instagram, why not? It's fun, quick and easy and that's probably where I post most of my pictures nowadays. Grab your phone, sign up and follow me there. 

If you don't do paper piecing, try the pattern that Amy Smart put up on her blog Diary of a Quilter for patchwork trees. Very cute and slightly different from mine. 

Some little Christmas stitched ornament patterns from a few years ago that are also available (for purchase) on my website. (The bird is actually a Gail Pan design, not included with my ornaments.)

I started a new Christmas cross stitch (an old Prairie Schooler design called Woodland Santas) and had hoped to finish it this year (hah!) but wouldn't you know it I got slightly distracted by making my little trees . . . .

 Here's hoping that all of you are having a wonderful holiday season. We had a magical snowfall in the Chicago area a few weeks ago but that didn't last very long. I grabbed the chance to get out in it for a bit. All I want for Christmas this year is more snow! And new boots . . . .

Puppy got her new Christmas sweater just in time! I have a red jacket too so now we all match.

Friday, November 9, 2018

First Snowfall

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?"  - J.B. Priestly

The first snowfall of the season always thrills me and makes me feel like a child again.

Is it fall or winter? 

I think it's going to be a good day for sewing . . . .  

Finishing up my stars and will put them together into a quilt early next year. 

Still need to sew a border on this one before we begin a new Mystery Quilt in 2019 -

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Dear Jane Progress

Marian and Jeanne brought their finished DJ tops to my retreat here in the Chicago area last month. What an inspiration that was!

Seeing these lovely quilts really motivated me to get back on track and finish putting all of my own blocks together. So, now my Dear Jane quilt is half sashed. I'd say half finished, but I still have to make the triangles. Sashing first - or maybe I'll take a break from that and make some triangles. Who knows? I do have to tell you that I am so proud of myself for not giving up! It's been "only" eight years since I started my Jane journey . . . . 

So, if you think you're finished with that DJ when you're actually not, or you thought of starting one but never did, there's still hope. Drag it out or buy the book and make a plan. Believe me, it will be worth every frustrating stitch. Make sure you take advantage of every website and tip available. The Dear Jane website has lots of tips and lessons to help you so check it out. When I first started making mine, I printed out the lessons and tips and placed them in a notebook. Lots of help there if you find you're struggling. The Dear Jane software by EQ was also invaluable to me. There are lots of lessons and tips included with that too. It's a stand alone software so you don't need Electric Quilt for it to work. That Quilt is another good resource for making the blocks. Then, just take it block by block, one at a time, and they'll add up. 

The very first Dear Jane quilt I saw up close, made by Karan Flanscha of Iowa, had 1/2" blue cornerstones. I was impressed with the way they looked in the quilt and so decided to use the cornerstones in mine too. 

Some of my early blocks look rather wonky. I was never happy with the way my first version of this F-13 block turned out. It's different from Jane's original block. See? When I made it years ago, I followed the design in the book, not the pic of Jane's block (duh) and it's slightly different. It's always bothered me that the circles don't touch. Silly of me perhaps, but I took the time to redo it last week and now I like it much better and in brown. I knew it would always bother me if I didn't change it. And it really didn't take long. I use the starch and no-melt templates method of applique to make the shapes, then stitch on by hand. That's pretty fast and easy with a little practice. Makes applique fun too.

So here's my almost half-finished quilt. I'm sewing it into unequal quadrants and then sewing the quadrants together. Two down . . .

*  *  *

Fall has arrived here in the Chicago area but it's leaving fast . . . . Glad I was able to get out to a local forest preserve one day last week to take some pics before all the leaves fell. I think I missed the really vibrant colors by a couple of days.

Have a good week - Don't forget to vote tomorrow! 

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Scrappy Stars Sew Along

I decided I really needed to make a simple, scrappy lap quilt so I started  making some 6" stars for it. I challenged myself to make the blocks by the end of  this year, a few at a time. Then sew them together into a quilt in January or February. I'd like to get it done before the winter is over so I can actually use it.

I know from experience that if I really want to accomplish something, I'm better off starting small, then build up momentum as I go along. Start like gangbusters and I'll be stressed out and unproductive in no time. If I set small goals for myself, like, say, just make a few blocks a week, I might actually get something finished. These blocks will add up. They're so much fun to make. I've already gotten 12 done in less than 2 weeks. No stress, just having some fun. I'm also trying to finish my larger 3" nine-patch lap quilt at the same time and so alternate projects.


For this one I need 30 diagonal rows. I've already gotten 15 rows sewn together but still have to add the rest to this finished part. Little at a time. . . . 

Anyway, I've challenged some in my Facebook group to sew along with me on the stars. I'm aiming for 50 - 60 blocks but you are all welcome to join me and make as many as you like. Make 6 star blocks and put them together into a small quilt. Or, make more for a larger quilt. Just see how it goes. It's fun to see what everyone has made and the fabrics they've used. 

I'm trying to make at least 5 blocks per week, give or take. I know there will be some weeks I'll get nothing done. But, by the end of the year, I should have a very nice pile of stars. Then I'll decide on the setting. I'll probably alternate the stars with plain squares. Indigo, maybe. We'll see.

Join our sew along and get the printable star pattern in .pdf format here

Or, here are some simple cutting directions to make one 6" block - 

Cut one  3 1/2"  x  3 1/2" square for the center
Cut eight 2"  x  2 "  squares for the star points
Cut four rectangles - 2"  x  3 1/2" - for background
Cut four 2"  x 2" squares for the background corners

This will give you a finished 6" x 6" block. 

I like to choose my fabrics one day, cut the pieces, lay them out on a cutting mat, set the mat aside and then sew another day. So far so good. 

Before you know it, they'll accumulate.

The small quilt challenge for September is American Crossroads from my new book, A Prairie Journey. You can order a signed copy here.


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