Thursday, December 10, 2020

It's Almost Sampler Time!

The Sampler Sew Along begins on January 1 in my Facebook group. Some of you who are interested in making the quilt along with us but are not on Facebook have requested that I post the weekly blocks for the Schoolgirl Sampler Sew Along here on my blog or on my website. So, in an effort to please everyone, I created a Schoolgirl Sampler page at Country Lane Quilts (my website)  and will update it with files listing the blocks to make each week as we go along (beginning January 1). I can't upload the files here too but I'll try to post some photos every week or so.

I uploaded a Welcome to the Sew Along file explaining how the sew along will work and exactly what you'll need as far as supplies before we begin. If you decide to join in and make the quilt, please read it so you can know what to expect. If you're like me, I'm sure you're all getting anxious for January to arrive. 



For those of you who asked, the border print I used is from Moda - Susanna's Scraps by Betsy Chutchian. I made the quilt last year and the fabric was a few years old at that time so you may not be able to find it now. If you cannot find it and would like a similar print for your quilt, look for other reproduction floral prints in a cream color.  After I finished putting the blocks together in my quilt, I picked up a few different fabrics for the border - a brown floral print, a light blue print and a darker tan floral print. I couldn't decide which one to use. Finally chose this one. But any one of the other fabrics would have worked as well. Take your time to pick something you love and it will turn out great.

If you have a little time before January gets here (hah!), sort through some of your reproduction fabric pieces to find suitable fabrics to use. Organize your sewing space to get ready. Clear off that sewing table. Get a nice box to store your blocks as you make them. I love these plastic project cases for storing blocks for some of my in-progress quilts. I bought them at Michaels in the Scrapbooking department last year and I hope they're still available. 




We'll be taking it slowly and making six blocks each week. There are 72 blocks total so if you keep to the schedule I created it will take 12 weeks to complete all of them. This will still give you time to work on some of your other projects as well and not feel too overwhelmed. If the sampler quilt is not for you, there are six charming little quilts made from some of the 4" blocks that are also included in the book. 



And, if you're all set to go and have nothing to do - have you made any little trees yet this year? Too cute, huh? I had very good intentions to put them all together into a quilt this year but so far have only finished 18 little trees. I keep rolling them over to the next year . . . . The paper piecing pattern is on my website under free patterns.   





Friday, December 4, 2020

Tips for My Sampler Quilt Sew Along

Quilters - If you are interested in joining us in the Schoolgirl Sampler Sew Along in January, I posted some info in the Facebook group and other group today. If you are not joining us on Facebook, look in the book for a section with tips on sewing small blocks on page 8. Here are some things you will want to practice if you are going to join us in making the sampler quilt in January. You have a couple of weeks to practice before we begin.

Most of the blocks are pretty straightforward. If you sew with a scant 1/4" seam, your blocks will turn out better. Many of the blocks use 1 1/2" squares. These may be small for some of you who are used to working with larger pieces. Practice cutting the small squares accurately and try sewing small four patches until you feel they are precise. A non-slip ruler is a good choice. I like the Olfa Frosted the best (brown rectangle) because there are fewer lines to distract or confuse me when I'm cutting.




A couple of other things you may want to practice are making small flying geese and half-square triangle units (HSTs). Follow the directions for making these on pages 8-9 of the book and practice until your blocks are accurate. Pick a few simple blocks that use these units, follow the directions and practice. Perhaps purchase a flying geese ruler to help. Bloc Loc makes these in different sizes. Pricey, but it may be worth it for some of you if you're striving for accuracy. Some of the shops listed carry recommended rulers and other tools.



I love these Mini rulers by Quilt in a Day as well as the Bloc Loc rulers for making flying geese and half-square triangle units. You can get the Bloc Loc flying geese rulers in all different sizes and if you can afford them they work great. The others are less expensive if you're on a budget. The one Bloc Loc ruler for flying geese you may use the most in making this sampler, or just small quilts in general, is the 1" x 2" size below. I got the ruler after I made this little tree mug mat so you can see my units are not exactly accurate here, LOL.  I have the ruler now so I'll definitely do better in the future! 



Christmas Tree pattern is available on the Free Patterns page on my website.

Less than a month until we begin the sew along! I'm excited, are YOU??






Saturday, November 21, 2020

Sampler Sew Along



Get ready for some fun! The Schoolgirl Sampler Sew Along Facebook group is now open. We'll begin the sew along in January. It's a closed group for those who have the book and want to sew along with us and see the progress of others. Join here if you have the book. You can always jump in at any time after you get the book. Each week I'll post suggestions for making the blocks in the group files. (I'll probably post suggestions here too and also in my other small quilt group but you will miss out on the sewing together part so it won't be like a sew along at all. It will be a sew ALONE . . . .)

If you're used to making larger quilts, my sampler book includes lots of tips for making small blocks  I think you'll find it's an enjoyable project and the 4" block patterns can also be used to make a variety of little quilts or other quilted items.  I know some of you will love doing this sew along. Sewing along with others and sharing your progress really motivates you to make these larger projects. I may sew along on my Dear Jane quilt while the rest of you make these sampler blocks.



If you would like to purchase a book, I have signed copies available on my website and in my Etsy shop. Amazon also has copies. My publisher Martingale has copies and your local quilt shop may have copies too. If they don't, ask them to order it for you and you can save on shipping. International friends -  Sorry, I am not shipping outside the U.S. Try Amazon in your country. Someone told me you can purchase a book from The book Depository. Apparently, they ship worldwide. If they're out of stock, don't worry, they'll be ordering more within a short time so put your name on the list. Also, Martingale has e-books available which is a great option for those who live outside the U.S. Just download to your computer or tablet and print out the pages as needed. Also, much cheaper.

                      
I'm working with a few quilt shops to supply the group with a variety of reproduction fabrics for making these little blocks. My quilt was made using 72 blocks and if you want to use a different fabric for each block, then you'll need a nice variety of scraps or prints.  I made many of the blocks from scraps or fabrics I already had but also bought some new fabrics - just because, LOL. Pretty prints are fun and motivating for sure. Some shops to try - 

Ye Olde Schoolhouse in Cedarburg, Wisconsin
 Pieceful Gathering in Fox River Grove, IL
The Quilt Merchant in Winfield, IL
Two Thimbles in  Bellingham, WA
The Woolen Needle in Williamsburg, Iowa

These shops are all providing nice fabrics, bundles or starter kits to make the sampler quilt. Some also have kits available to make the smaller quilts in the book. 




Ye Olde Schoolhouse has some kits available for quilts in my other books. 

 
We'll also be doing another Mystery Quilt next year in my online groups. A very simple, scrappy quilt with easy blocks that will be posted each month. I'll also post the different parts on my website again so check back here for info on that. 






Have a good weekend!









Saturday, November 14, 2020

Orange Peels and an Easy Quilting Design

I fell in love with Orange Peels when I made this quilt for my book Remembering Adelia. That was 10 years ago but I honestly think many of the quilts we make with reproduction fabrics stand up to the test of time, don't you? I will never get tired of them, no matter how old they are. 




This was such a fun quilt to make and really good practice for hand applique with the simple shapes. Here's an entertaining link if you're interested in the history of this pattern. Some historians say it dates back to the American Revolution. 


I used that peel pattern as a quilting design on the Pink Patches quilt in my book, The Civil War Sewing Circle, which is the small quilt challenge for November in my small groups. The last one as a matter of fact. We worked our way through this book this past year, making some of my favorite small quilts. 


Instead of using a stencil or making my own from template plastic, here's what I did:

I marked the center of the block and then traced around a small bowl with a water soluble marking pen to make a half circle on one side. Then I turned the quilt and used the bowl again to trace intersecting half circles around each side of the block. Better than a template because you can do it easily with any size block, large or small - just find the right bowl with a nice arc. Here's a sample square:


Then turn the block and mark on the other two sides the same way.


The half circles intersect and you get this peel design when you mark each side of the block with an arc.



Then, just quilt on the lines and dampen or wash the quilt gently to remove all traces of the marking pen. It was easy to do this on a small quilt and it turned out very nice, I think. I'm not sure I'd try it on a larger quilt unless I had a lot of time. You can also mark circles between the blocks to get the same Orange Peel design but doing it this way gave me a little more control as I was working on each block. I especially like the way it looks on the plain blocks where the stitches stand out a little more.


Oh, and if you haven't tried it yet, my favorite quilting thread is YLI quilting thread. Not sure if it's still available in this color but I'm very partial to the light brown as it gives a nice antique look when stitched on both light and dark fabrics. 




Enjoy your fall weekend!  I'm still planning on doing a sew along for my Schoolgirl Sampler quilt in the Facebook group of the same name beginning in January so check out my earlier Sentimental Quilter blog post about that for details. I haven't decided yet but I may use my website or this blog to post some info every week so that those of you who don't do FB can still follow along. Stay tuned.



Sunday, November 8, 2020

It's Fall and Change Is in the Air . . . .

Fall is definitely a time of transition.  I've heard it said that life seems to start all over again in the fall . . .  Almost a rebirth. But not like an exciting springtime rebirth. Fall is a quieter, gentle season that embraces change, reflected in the changing colors of the leaves. 





"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."

~ Elizabeth Lawrence


We spent a day at the Chicago Botanic Garden recently. Here's a view from the top of the waterfall looking beyond, into the Japanese Garden. Because of the pandemic, the garden now limits the number of people allowed to enter at any one time. You have to reserve a time slot in advance now so I don't go walking there as often or spontaneously as I used to.





Here's a quilt I think you'll enjoy. I don't often go crazy with scrappy pieces and borders but I had a great time with this small flying geese quilt, our challenge for last month  - 


Lots of swirling colors and movement; just perfect for fall.
















If you have the time, why not get out some of your fall-colored prints, play around a bit and then hurry up and make something "fallish" before winter gets here?  It will be here before you know it.



Sunday, October 11, 2020

Schoolgirl Sampler Sew Along

My Schoolgirl Sampler book was released last week. If you ordered a book from me, you should have already received your copy. Or, it may be on the way! 


Thanks to all of you who purchased a book. I'm really excited about this one. Love how it turned out and hope you do too. I just sold out of copies but ordered more and they should be here sometime this week. If you would like a book, Amazon has copies, Martingale has copies and your local quilt shop may have copies too. If they don't, ask them to order it for you and you can save on shipping. International friends -  someone told me you can purchase a book from The book Depository. Apparently, they ship worldwide. If they're out of stock, don't worry, they'll be ordering more within a short time.


                           

I'll be starting a Schoolgirl Sampler Sew Along in January for those who want to make the sampler quilt and sew along with like-minded quilters. I'm creating a new Facebook group just for this sew along and I'll let everyone know when I open it up so you can join. Waiting until January to begin will give everyone a chance to get the book and get past the holiday rush. 


I'm working with a few quilt shops to supply you with a variety of reproduction fabrics for making these little blocks. The quilt was made using 72 blocks and if you want to use a different fabric for each block, then you'll need a nice variety of scraps or prints.  I made most of the blocks from scraps or fabrics I already had. Charlotte studied the book and said she thought I didn't repeat any prints in the blocks. I'm sure I did but I didn't actually check, LOL. Just make it however you like. I heard someone say they might make it in 2 colors and blue and white or red and white would sure look wonderful, wouldn't it? 

I know some of you will be eager to get started before January and that's fine. Everyone can work at their own pace.  But remember that the organized sew along with suggestions for making blocks each week won't begin until January. And the info on where to buy fabric will be posted in the Facebook group soon. We'll use the coming weeks to get organized and prepare. 

When I began working on my Dear Jane quilt it was an on-and-off kind of thing for years. Hard to get motivated and stay on course at times. So many other things to do. It wasn't until I created an online group with other quilters who also wanted to make that quilt that I made a lot of serious progress. Sewing along with others and sharing your progress really motivates you to make these larger projects. I may sew along on that quilt while you make your blocks.
 


So, when we do this in January, I'll give suggestions for making certain blocks along with tips every week and we'll sew along together. Everyone will work at their own pace but making a few blocks each week will still give you time to work on other things as well and not feel overwhelmed. It took me all of last summer to make my quilt. 


And, as far as the applique goes, if you don't do applique you can make the sampler quilt without it.  I designed it so that the center portion can easily be replaced with nine little 4" blocks and sashing if you prefer to make it that way. 


It will be a journey but a fun one, I predict. Using up a variety of my favorite reproduction fabric scraps to make a rather simple sampler was so much fun and I knew it was something other quilters might really enjoy as well. Both beginners and those with more quilting experience. The book includes lots of tips for making small blocks if you're used to making larger ones. I think you'll find it's an enjoyable project and the 4" block patterns can also be used to make a variety of little quilts or other quilted items.  I hope some of you will join me in this sew along. Grab some of your reproduction fabric pieces and whip up a nice collection of 4" blocks that are easy to stitch and start your own Schoolgirl Sampler quilt. 




If the sampler quilt is not for you, there are six charming little quilts made from some of the 4" blocks that are also included in the book. Get ready for some fun!





 

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