Saturday, May 14, 2022

Scrappy Stars - Again

Some of you may remember this - In 2018 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 several blocks each week. Then I planned to sew them together into a lap quilt. I ended up making about 40 stars. 


Well, as the story always goes, I became involved with other things and put it aside. I did put some of the blocks together and then decided I didn't really like the fabrics I chose for my setting.  Last year, I ripped out some of the stars and left a center section of nine blocks. Framed it and then put it aside again.  


Moda's Words of Wisdom

Last week, Robin finished her stars quilt and showed it to my Facebook group. A few quilters were interested in making these stars so I've challenged them to a Scrappy Stars Sew Along again. And I'm going to make a few more myself and then decide what to do for a setting. Who knows if I'll even finish with all of the other quilts I still want to make or finish. Isn't that always the case??  But I figure if nothing else I can use some of the stars to make a small quilt or runner someday. 

These stars are really fun to make. You can find my FB group here.  The details are in the group files.

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 for several blocks one day, cut the pieces, lay them out on a cutting mat, set the mat aside and then sew them together another day. It's been fun to resurrect these blocks. 

Here are my latest endeavors from this past week -  using some 
fabrics I've been holding onto for years. 

Have I really had this Judie Rothermel pink print since 2000?? That was the year I started quilting. 

Cutting into some of these fabrics and actually putting them into blocks feels great!

You never know when you're going to need some scrappy stars . . . .

Have a good weekend!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Scrappy Hexagons

Have any of you been making hexagons? I finally made some progress on mine. This sew along has been ongoing for awhile as I've gotten distracted by so many other things. I know some of you can appreciate how slow I am. It's never too difficult to keep up with me while I  finish my projects! I AM making progress on my Dear Jane triangles (only 8 left!) and a few other large quilts that have been sitting around.  Little by little  . . . 

I decided to make my quilt a little different and more scrappy this time. These hexagon flowers were so much fun to make. The original quilt is from my old book The Civil War Sewing Circle.

All of my scrappy hexies were then hand appliqued onto light background squares and the squares sewn together last month. I have to say I struggled a bit with the border. More than usual. It always takes me awhile to decide. I go back and forth for days, trying all different fabrics until one really hits me. At first I leaned toward red . . . maybe with blue corners. But brown gave it more of an antique look . . . Decisions, decisions. I'd forgotten how much fun it was to make this little quilt.

Eventually, I listened to my gut and went with a soft brown for a more antique look. But I just couldn't let go of the red so I used it for the inner border to frame the blocks. This is a good lesson if you're making a quilt with scrappy or busy blocks such as these - use an inner border to frame and separate the blocks from the outer border so they don't get lost in the scrappiness. If I had used the red borders I brought out first they would have dominated the quilt more than the hexies. I put a lot of work into hand sewing those and wanted them to shine. The brown border sure helped with that, don't you think?

 Ready to go. I'll post a better photo after I quilt it. In case any of you are interested - I pin baste, do not use a hoop, use Quilter's Dream Request batting, YLI quilting thread in Light Brown and right now am using a Richard Hemming large eye needle, size 9.  But I've been known to use a sharper needle (or a Gold'n Glide needle by John James) if stitching through the layers is difficult or my hands are feeling a little stiff. Try various types of needles until you get a feel for the one that's right for you. Remember that sometimes a longer, sharper needle will work just fine if you can't use a small "between" needle. Or, if you're just starting out hand quilting. The sharper needle will be easier to push through some fabrics. (This is a good reason to not use starch on your blocks and try a very low-loft cotton batting. Polyester will make your quilt puffy.)

Always good to keep those needles organized! 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter

 "If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."

~Anne Bradstreet

Easter brings the spirit of hope and is a time of reflection and joy for me. 

"Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again." ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

Have a happy and blessed Easter, my friends. 

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. 


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