Friday, April 8, 2022

Springtime Blues

Spring seems really late in coming to Chicagoland this year. It's beginning to seem like the winter that never ends. Right now it's cold and raining. Yesterday morning, I let the dog out and brushed a few snowflakes off her when she came in.  It's April, for goodness sake. I looked at pictures of my "garden" from last year around this same time and noticed we had much more greenery then than we do now.

Everything is still brown and dull around here, compared to this photo of our yard taken in April last year. Makes me feel a little blue . . . . 

Speaking of blue . . .  I took some time to play in my scraps. Last time I blogged I wrote about some of the Small & Simple projects we were making in my Facebook group. Here's one I made for the group that was sort of just what I needed to perk me up - 

This one truly is small & simple. And a fun one if you love antique-looking doll quilts. I used 1 1/2"  x  2 1/2" rectangles and set them in rows, alternating blues and lights.  

The fun part was picking through my old blue scraps and sewing them together into rows. I couldn't stop and so kept sewing rows until I realized I had enough for 3 quilts, LOL. I'll finish the other ones someday. . . .

I quilted it with simple stitches across each row. I typically pin baste my small quilts, do not use a hoop, start the quilting in the middle and work my way outward. Low-loft, all cotton batting (Quilters Dream Request is my favorite). I use YLI hand quilting thread in light brown. For this one I also used a Richard Hemming Large Eye quilting needle in size 9.   

However, because the backing fabric I picked out was a little too stiff or starched, I had a heck of a time pushing my needle through the layers. So I switched to a sharper needle (John James Gold 'n Glide sharp) in order to get it done without stressing my fingers and hands. I probably should have washed the backing first or chosen one that was softer. What was I thinking?? I usually know better. 

If you're having a difficult time with hand quilting, check that your batting is light (but not polyester, please!), your backing soft and your needle comfortable. You may have to try a sharper needle. We're told by the experts that we need to use "between" needles for quilting. Everyone is different and there is no rule that says we have to use a certain type of needle. Try a few and see how they feel in your fingers. Sometimes a longer, sharper needle will feel more comfortable in your hand than a sort, small between. Do what works for you! Needles are pretty cheap so don't hesitate to use a nice, new sharp one instead of an old one that's seen better days.  The Gold 'n Glides are easy to work with and take the strain off your hands. They can be a little difficult to thread with waxed quilting thread, however, so I use them more for applique or sewing bindings when I use finer thread (like my favorite Aurifil 50 wt.). 

You can find the full pattern in the Files section of my Facebook group. 

Have a good weekend!

NOTE: If you're interested in seeing some of my small quilts on display at the spring Quilter's Hall of Fame exhibit, I may be making my way to Indiana on Saturday, April 23. We're still working out the details. But I'd love to see some of you if you live nearby.  Read more about it here.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

Small & Simple Does the Trick

Quilters -  do you at times get bogged down and lose your motivation for quilting? I think this happens to all of us at one time or another. Sometimes it happens to me if I spend a lot of time working on one certain thing (like a large project or trying to complete many projects for a book). I get burned out easily and then find I don't even want to quilt for awhile. What gets me going again is NOT looking at millions of photos of quilts on Pinterest, thinking it will get me motivated. This just makes me feel overwhelmed and now I've got a million projects I want to make but know I never will. Believe me, this just adds to your stress.  And, people, who among us doesn't have enough stress as it is right now??  


For years, I've noticed that I feel calmer, happier and just plain better when I'm creating something. When life gets stressful, it's even more important to do things that make yourself feel good. 

I love art and being "crafty" -stamping, card making, scrapbooking, painting, sewing :):

I know from experience that if I stop creating for a time,  it's that much harder to be creative when I get back to it. But sometimes all you have to do is jump in and make a little something and see if you can't get it back. What helps me the most is to slowly start playing around with fabric and make a few easy blocks. Then put them together to make something small. Sometimes I'll just buy a little bit of fabric while I'm at it. You'd be amazed at how quickly you'll perk up with some new fabric, LOL. 

Last year in my Facebook group, we made a few easy little projects I called Small & Simple quilts. The patterns for these are in the group files. 

Four-patch blocks are fun and easy - 

Small & Simple quilt #1 below was inspired by an antique quilt block I turned into a doll quilt.

Sewing half-square triangles made from reproduction fabrics can be soothing to the soul - and this one was also inspired by an antique quilt.

Nine patches and reproduction fabrics - Ahhh, what more can I say??  Another one inspired by an antique doll quilt. 

We also had a fun sew along in the group that involved working with wool (or learning how to do wool applique.) It's fun to sew along together in a group. Even though this sew along has ended it's still fun to look at the photos of projects others have made from one of my books and maybe decide to get going on one by yourself. 

Make it your way . . . .

Right now in the group we're still working on hexagons for a quilt of your choice. Thanks to so many of you for participating in the Valentine Mystery we did last month. We'll do another simple little sew along in a few weeks or next month.

The lesson in all of this really is - sometimes we have to take the frenzy out of our heads in order to feel good. Making something and tapping into our creativity helps with that. Do yourself a favor and make something small and simple this weekend and see what happens. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Small Quilt Exhibit

 A few months ago, the Quilters Hall of Fame contacted  me to ask if I would send them some of my quilts for an upcoming exhibit on small quilts! The museum is located in Marion, Indiana. 

Little Beauties: The Art of Miniature Quilts opens on  February 22 and continues through May 7. Check out the Hall of Fame website for more info. Click on Exhibits for hours and details.

I'm so excited! I have to say, it was difficult to choose which quilts to send them. 

Even though it's a small quilt exhibit, there's one space in the gallery with the rest of my quilts for a larger one so they'll also display my Aunt Addie's Mystery quilt from 2019. It was made with small blocks and they said that it would fit in perfectly with the theme. Plus, it's really become another one of my all-time favorite quilts.

Time for a road trip to Indiana this spring?? I may stop by the museum sometime in April to teach a class or give a demo. And maybe bring my Schoolgirl Sampler quilt for Show & Tell. Of course, this will all depend upon the Covid situation in April.  I'll keep you posted. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Valentine Mystery Quilt - Step 3

If you go to my website and click on the Valentine Mystery at the top of the page, you'll find Step 3 of my Valentine Mystery quilt. This is the last step in this little spontaneous sew along. The file will show you how the block is made and the rest of the quilt put together. You should be able to make it in time for the holiday.

 This was fun! I hope you had a good time sewing along with me. Thanks for joining in! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Valentine Mystery - Step 2

Instead of writing everything here on my blog and trying to get all the pictures to fit, I decided that it's a little easier for me to upload the directions for the 2022 Valentine's Day Mini Mystery Quilt as a .pdf onto my website.  Also easier for you to print out. So, for the remaining steps, click here to go to my website and then go to the Valentine's Day Mystery page and download the file. 

You're going to take the 3 1/4" squares of light fabric and 3 1/4" squares of red fabric that you cut last week and make some hourglass units. The directions in Step 2 will give you a couple of options for making them.

I'll show you how to put the blocks together next Wednesday, January 26. Have fun! 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Valentine Mini Mystery Quilt

To combat all the gray days and winter doldrums here in northern Illinois, I decided to whip up a simple little Valentine's Day project just for fun - and as a Mystery sew along for my Facebook group. If you'd like to join in, here's Step 1 for the 2022 Valentine's Day Mini Mystery Quilt. Look through your pinks, reds and shirtings or light prints and pull out some scraps of fabric to make the blocks. You don't need much. 

This will be a pattern for a quick and easy little quilt for you to display around the house, on a table or doll bed or hanging on a wall. Won't take you much time at all. Over the years, I've found that there are two things that help us to successfully finish a project - taking it in small steps and sewing along with friends. Always more fun in a group.

Cutting instructions:

From a pink print, cut

            4 squares, 2 ½"  x  2 ½"

From a red print, cut

            4 squares, 3 ¼"  x  3 ¼"

             1 square, 1 ½" x 1 ½" 

From a light print (or 2 different light prints), cut

            4 squares, 2 ½"  x  2 ½"

            4 squares 3 ¼"  x  3 ¼"

            4 rectangles, 1 ½"  x 4 ½" 

Here are all the pieces you should have cut. Borders will be an option later.

That's it for this week. You can see that I used two different red prints and two different light prints for a little variety. You may cut yours from the same red print and the same light print if you choose. Use the same print for your four pink squares, however. Place these pieces inside a zip lock bag and put them where you won't lose them. Next week I'll show you how to make the blocks. You'll also need a coordinating fabric or two for border(s) to finish the quilt. We'll talk about border options in 2 weeks.

                         Hope you all have fun!


P.S. Friends, just so you know - I set the comments on my blog to be moderated so that every time you post a comment I have to approve it before it appears. This may take me awhile until I see it. I have been getting so many stupid spam comments from nasty people that I have no choice. So I apologize if it is an inconvenience for you. It's so annoying but I am not going to let the spammers win . . . .

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Dear Jane Progress

Seems like I'm off to a great start this year.  Considering I started my Dear Jane journey in 2010, that's only 11 years to get the center completed LOL . . . . 

I'm hoping that, in between sewing hexagons for the sew along that started in January and the upcoming little Valentine's Day Mini Mystery Quilt, maybe I can get some more triangles finished (31 down, 21 to go plus the 4 corner blocks). Oh dear. It always sounds so daunting. I make some progress and I feel good about it, but then - there's still so much more to do. How DID our friend Jane Stickle even manage this? And in the 1860s no less, without the EQ Dear Jane software for help with directions and paper piecing! I know for a fact I could not have done it without that help. 





I keep my poster up in my sewing room for a constant reminder.


If you are thinking about making a Dear Jane quilt but can't find the book . . . .  Did you know that Brenda Papadakis, who wrote the Dear Jane book, has come out with a second edition of Dear Jane? It's the 25th Anniversary edition. The original one with the yellow cover has been out of print for quite a few years and is really hard to find. My own copy is all dog eared and marked up after ten years and so I treated myself to a brand new one (with a blue cover LOL). Hopefully, this will renew interest in The Quilt and some of us will get inspired to finish the ones we've started when others begin theirs for the first time. 

If you feel you need a little motivation to work on your Dear Jane or maybe begin one, here's a post I wrote several years ago about my journey.


Oh yeah! Join me this month in my Facebook group for a Valentine's Day Mini Mystery Quilt.

This little sew along begins on Friday, January 14, 2022 in the group. It will be another small and simple design and won't take you too long. We'll do this in quick steps every week so it won't interfere too much with hexagons or anything else you're stitching right now. Bring out your pink and red reproduction fabric scraps along with some shirtings or light  prints. I'll give you the cutting directions on Friday. The following week we'll make the blocks and the week after we'll put the quilt together. Simple and fun and you'll be done in time for Valentine's Day. You'll need one pink print, one red print and one or two shirting prints. If you like scrappy, then choose two different reds and a couple of different lights for variety. But use the same pink fabric. Have a fun weekend! 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year

We're kicking off our Hexagon Sew Along in my Facebook group today!

Those of you who know me know how much I love snow. I know, I know, it's so messy, cold and bothersome and everyone hates it. But I missed having snow at Christmas this year. No winter wonderland like we've had in years past . . . .. But more snow is supposed to be on the way!

Pics from other snow-filled years.

If it does snow, today will be a perfect day to begin a sew along. I'll be staying home, sewing hexies, all nice and cozy . . . . split pea soup simmering in the crock pot. My mother always made pea soup on New Year's Day - it was a tradition her mother taught HER - that it was supposed to bring good luck in the new year. I say we need all the luck we can get in 2022 so pea soup it is. While waiting for the soup to cook, I'll be serving up some of these yummy hexies I made.

If you're not on Facebook, read about the group sew along on the Hexagon page on my website and perhaps do it alone - 

I'm making scrappy hexagons from a variety of reproduction or Civil War-type prints and will probably sew them onto light background squares. I prefer the look of  the hexagons lined up on backgrounds. Plus, it's a lot easier than connecting all of them with spacers. 

I actually love the scrappy ones better than the other ones I'd already made. I'll save them for a rainy day . . . .

I've got my "sophisticated" set up here near the sofa - My supplies are all in one place in a project box from the Dollar Store, paper plates keep my pieces organized. Hexie shapes cut out and waiting to be basted over papers. Wonder clips to keep 7 hexagons together for sewing into a flower. I'm ready.
Where's the remote?? 

Happy New Year! Stay safe and healthy in 2022. Have fun sewing hexies! Looking forward to seeing your hexagons in the Facebook group.


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