Sunday, March 26, 2006

Home Awaits...

I'm leaving on a jet plane... don't know when I will check back in again. Yup, I am headed back toward the North American continent.

In the meantime, I will leave this photo of a beautiful lighthouse at sunset to keep watch over my blog!
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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Fickle Spring

Have you ever noticed how fickle the weather can be in Spring? The other day, I was really enjoying the feel of air on my gloveless hands - wow, such a treat! Then, yesterday it was cold again. The weather goes up and down, up and down! No wonder so many people get colds this time of year. A big difference in Austria as compared to the US - people always seem to wear scarfs! Although winter scarfs are still being worn, many people have now switched over to the silk scarfs (which are also very warm - my favorite skiing scarf) and the stores are full of the light weight summer scarfs. I like scarfs! They are an easy fashion update - a plain white shirt (long or short sleeved) can look blue, green, pink, purple, etc. - all depends on the color scarf you are wearing. And I really think that a scarf around your neck helps keep the spring colds away.

And the fickle Srping weather? Well, I took this photo in Germany the 1st week of April last year - we were staying in a country hotel and this was the view from the balcony when we checked in.... it was a beautiful, warm Spring day!

And this was the same view right after I finished unpacking! So, if you live in one of these environments, take care this spring and to help avoid a cold - wear a scarf. You will look oh so fashionable!

Even if the morning is sunny and warm, you never know when the weather will turn. Yup, Spring is fickle!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Nooks and Crannies

I like little nooks and crannies! Doesn't this look peaceful? This one was "created" this winter when we decided to do some renovations... Believe me, it looked anything BUT peaceful a little over a month ago...

Mmmm hummm - my little nook is on the other side of that doorway that has just been bricked over in this photo (far left). We also moved another doorway down - see the new brickover by the bathroom? Expanded the bathroom so it now is wider than the width of the toilet and has room for the stack washer and dryer, plus room for a hand sink (in Austria, it is very typical for the sink to be in the next room over where the tub or shower is!). We did some wall work in the living room that you can't see in this photo too. Oh yeah, AND we took down the wall between the kitchen and living room (which is why we could brick up that doorway in the first place - don't need a doorway if you take down an entire wall!) - anyway that would be the wire mess and uneven floors you can see... did I ever mention that walls over here are usually BRICK - makes renovations really fun (and a bit loud).

But, I have a peaceful little nook now!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bars Quilt - Ready for Long Arm Quilter!

Maybe I should just call this "My Big Hairy Quilt". It is big - the directions say 88X101", but I haven't measured my version, so that would be an approximate measurement. And, it is hairy, I have spent a fair amount of time clipping threads - of course - it probably didn't help that I used that red/orang-y plaid that tends to ravel a bit! Next time around I think I will spray starch the heck out of the fabric before cutting! And, it does lie flat - my bed rail is rounded at the end - and this is a European bed which is low to the floor, so I have it reversed. In Canada I have a very high bed and the ends will drape over it just fine!

The pattern is Crossed Tracks from the book Save the Scraps by Gayle Bong. I paid $24.95 for this book from Big Horn Quilts. The pattern is also known as Railroad Crossing and I like to call it my Bars Quilt. And, even though I have seen this quilt pattern many times before (finn is working on a lovely version - take a look-see over on her blog at - click on February archives and scroll down to Feb. 15th), I was particulary drawn to the borders on this version. So off to work I went...

First, the cutting instructions have a handy-dandy chart to refer to, which includes all the pieces, including the borders, EXCEPT for the 66 3.5" scrappy squares you need for the border, which is listed in the Materials list for the quilt. So, happily cutting away at night, after the baby is in bed, every fabric that had... say 4-6" left, I cut into strips for my stash bin. Fortunately, I sew in bits and pieces because later I realized the need for the 3.5" squares and actually had enough fabrics left to cut the border squares. So, maybe the border isn't as scrappy as I would have liked, but at least I didn't have to piece fabric together to get those 3.5" squares! I wrote - in pen - in my book on that chart PLUS 66 3.5" squares for the scrappy medium/dark scraps.

OK, all cut out now! The body of the quilt itself went super fast! Staggering the strips and then cutting them was a new technique to me, so off I went, staggering 10" as clearly illustrated in the drawing. The directions say about 10". Never mind, I sometimes sew at night after the baby is in bed, and I admit - I might be a wee-bit tired at this point in the day, so I do rely on directions and I was looking at the illustration, not reading text buried in a paragraph! So 10" it was, not "about" 10". Until I got to the part that those same 10" needed to be cut into 3 segments, each 3.5". Ummm, 3.5" X 3 equals 10.5", not 10". So, right away I had a problem! And lucky me, at this point I didn't have too much sewn together, so all was not a complete loss, although I now have a fair amount of pieced 3" sections that are left over ~ (I have a limited amount of fabric on hand, and being in Austria - no, I can't just run out to the fabric store to get some more!). I ended up sewing all my long strips together 2 at a time, subcutting them into 3.5" units and then sewing 3 units together to get the 6 needed fabrics, per segment. It accomplished a scrappy effect! Plus, I don't know about you, but when I sew 6 1.5" strips together, they tend to wave - unless I am super careful about sewing 1 strip one way and the 2nd strip the other way. So, 2 plus 2 plus 2 to make the 6 worked just fine for me without the wave.

All in all, I am liking the way it is looking. I am really super pleased with my choice of colors and the tan on cream background print and the red/orange plaid. And, excited as I was, I got a good start with the borders too. But, ran into a problem, feeling that the setting triangles were a tad too small - and not wanting to chop my points OR have a tiny seam allowance, I set to work with the seam ripper. Scroll down to a previous post to read about this - and thanks for all the offers to help me rip - it did give me the gumption to keep at it! A fellow Stashbuster sent me the formula for setting triangles and I double checked over at Bonnie's site, AND sent an e-mail to Gayle Bong, author of the book. Turns out, those setting triangles should have been cut at 5.5" squares and sliced 2X diagonally instead of the 5.25" squares the book says. So, my intuition was correct in questioning it! I think that Gayle might have even had enough time to let the publisher know the error since the book is just about ready for republishing! Yeah, I took my pen, crossed out 5.25 and wrote in the correct 5.5" in my book. Am I the only one who writes all over my books?

OK, fine, I thankfully have enough of my background fabric to cut more triangles! I am out of the colorful scrappy squares fabric though so I have to resort to the seam ripper to salvage those. And, off I go, piecing those borders. But at this point in time, I think my seam allowance might be slightly off because I had a different foot on the machine, or maybe I was overcompensating due to the previous error, or whatever... because - when finished - those border strips are a few inches longer than the quilt top. Hummm. And at this point I am absolutely kicking myself because before I even started this quilt I made a mental note to lay it all out on the floor before cutting the first border, so I could make any necessary changes to make it fit the pieced border. But, did I write this in my book at the beginning? No! So, I add a skinny strip of red. And it doesn't set off the pieced border nearly as well as my green and DH thinks it looks like a mistake - I agree, and again, use the seam ripper.

My solution is to take a slightly larger seam just about every other square to ease it all in. This way - the corner squares won't look "chopped" at the corners. And that almost works! With a little coaxing! Can't put the baggy on the bottom in this case for fear of chopping the points, so I am watching the slightly larger border race ahead of the sewing machine needle. And, I always cut my borders LONG instead of piecing strips together - so they tend to be a bit less stretchy when it comes to easing. What is one to do? Well - don't look at this if you sew on a fancy-dancy computerized machine because I wouldn't want you to fry the thing... but, what I did was grab a spray bottle of water and absolutely soak that top border and bottom fabric into submission. Yup - when the fabric is wet you can mush it down with your fingers just fine and still pull the bottom one a wee bit and it will iron out without any puckers. I wonder how those new machines with even feeds would like this system? Anyway, it is one of my last resorts, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do!

I also tried following the mitering directions (which are about the same as everyone elses), but for the life of me, I never can get a smooth miter with these directions! I tried! And then I rip that apart too and sew it my usual way - 1 seam right to the end of the fabric, the 2nd seam right up to the stitching of the 1st seam. I don't leave the recommended 1/4" before the ends - it just doesn't work for me. Then I fold the top fabric at the mitre angle and right where I need to sew it - and press. That is my sewing line. After sewing, and repressing open, if the stitching line isn't exactly on the final pressed fold - I just go back and restitch on the fold. Perfect mitres every time - nice and flat! Yes, I almost flunked home-ec sewing for not following directions! Maybe I am a teacher's worst nightmare, but I accomplish what I want in the end!

So, now I have that finiky pieced border on - and the 2nd border water sprayed into submission. Only that final red border left to go! And those are the pictures you saw the other day with Little Boy helping me. And, don't worry about my back - I usually only pin borders when he is napping - he just helped me on that one and I was 1/2 way down that side before he climbed on my back! And he really is my Lucky Charm because guess what? Those final red borders didn't need any easing at all! Amazing!!!

I am pleased with this quilt. You might have noticed that 2 more versions are on my Top 25 list - one in blues/yellows and another in mauves/sage greens. I have my notes now! I have the correct measurements! I know how to do the 2nd and 3rd versions. So, yes, despite some troubles, I am very pleased with this quilt top and am looking forward to making it again! Oh, and did I mention - it is BIG!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Busted Stash

These are my scraps left over from my winter of sewing. Believe it or not, all the fabrics in this photo fit into that tub - I just had to smoosh down the strips in the tub a little to put the bigger scraps on top.

And this photo shows my left over yardage, which will give me a good start when I come back to Austria next year.

Misc. 1/2 and 1 yard cuts over the right and front left. Geometrics, florals, plaids, stripes - yikes - just a general hodgepodge, which is why they didn't get used! Got to remember to bring back some fat quarters of each grouping so I can put them to good use next year.

The pile on the back left is 2 5 yard cuts of background, 1 3 yard cut of background, 4 yards of a nice hollyhock print (I was going to use this for the backing of Desperado, but have decided to go with a flannel backing instead) and 3 yards of the brown swirly print - I bought it for borders for my TATW, but it doesn't really match. Oh yeah, and 4 yards of that "lovely" black/green swirly fabric that I opened up especially for your viewing pleasure!Hummm, will have to ponder that over the summer so I can be sure to bring back something to make that fabric work with something - I am thinking maybe an Irish Chain so I can use up a big chunck of it in one shot (yup, it was an internet surprise purchase)! All of this fabric fit into the bottom drawer of my desk.

So, that's it. I will have to meaure up the tops I have made to report in yardage used.

In case you are wondering, the fabrics are on top of one of my heaters - just for the photo. You aren't supposed to put anything on your heater (when in use), but I will confess, it is a good spot to dry off your wet mittens. This one is in my bedroom and is really pretty - it has a marbel top. The one in the living room is not as fancy. The box "charges" with heat during the night (during low energy cost time) and holds the heat all day long, giving off a gradual heat throughout the day. They are really nice!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lucky Charm

You know, you don't get such a good helper just any day! Here, we see Little Boy helping to smooth the border - just like Momma does.

Moving right along here - you can see we are a bit further down the quilt. And - Little Boy has changed positions to a safer vantage point - away from the sharp pins with those bare little piggies. And you think your back aches when you have to do floor work? Sissy!

Almost done now, phew! When I look at this photo - all I can do is laugh! Amazingly enough, when I get to the final borders somehow are usually nice and square. He must be my lucky charm - and what a lucky Momma I am!!!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Easter Eggs

One thing I really enjoy about living in a city full of stores is... window shopping! The windows definately herald each season, whether it be Christmas, Valentine's Day, Fasching... or the current announcement - Spring! The store windows are full of the most elaborate displays of Easter eggs... Take a look at some of the ones we saw on our walk early this evening...

Little Boy is standing in front of a wonderful display of eggs decorated with itty bitty pieces of wood cut into shapes to make the design. Wow! Such detail. This window actually has 2 trees displayed - the other tree is full of eggs that have designs cut out of the shell to form the pattern. Can we all say - very fragile! Good thing I like window shopping as opposed to actually being crazy enough to enter such a store with a toddler!

Here we see a plate of glass eggs - they range in price from 11 Euros for the plain ones to 24 Euros for the more elaborate ones.

Or, maybe Faberge eggs are more your style? About 1200 Euros PER egg - depending entirely upon the egg, of course (and no, that doesn't include the necklace chain!)

I like the cross stitched eggs. I actually set about making a few of these eggs last year and got as far as making a few cross stitched roosters and some tulips too. Now I just have to buy the plastic form, glue it all down, add the trim, but Martha Stewart I am not - so - yeah, maybe next year!

And last, but certainly not least, our very own Easter Egg pussy-willow tree! Oh so practical me - I bought 15 plastic eggs for a 3.50 Euros - and 2 little wooden flower sticks for 70 cents each. So, Little Boy can bat at them to his hearts content and this Momma isn't worried one bit! Yes, all those other beautiful eggs are really wonderful to LOOK at, but for my own house - you better believe that I really do love our unbreakable Easter Egg tree!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

New Quilt Magazine?

Little Boy and I walked to the magazine shop today. Ah yes, typical Europe - a seperate store for each item on your shopping list! In anycase, my intent was to see if there were any new quilt magazines on display... and indeed, there were! Yippee! I eagerly flipped through several - and put them all back. An American quilting magazine costs 11 EUROS here, so I often think 2X before purchasing one. And, on the way in, I had caught sight of the new Puuh (or Pooh) magazine, which just happens to be Little Boy's favorite magazine! And this Momma can even read enough elementary German now to sit down and read/invent the stories for him! An added bonus - this magazine always comes with some sort of toy (last issue it was a clock and there was a page about telling time), AND it only costs just under 3.50 euros (can't remember the exact change amount off the top of my head). There are always a few stories, a few learning games (like shapes, matching colors, etc.), a craft project, a cooking project, photos of wild life, etc. So - here it is, my new quilting magazine. Although, at this point in time, after listening to Little Boy happily toot away on that flute, a quilting magazine would have been the more peaceful option! Don't worry - he is safely sitting on the couch - I don't want him running with that thing in his mouth!

I could have just as easily bought myself a magazine and the Puuh one too, so what stopped me? It all goes back to that shopping list I posted - it includes lots of fabrics for works in progress (mostly borders) and some fabrics to get me started on some other quilts I want to make- and I didn't quite include everything in that list. There are already so many quilts that I want to make... so why would I want to buy another quilting magazine full of new, tempting patterns??? No thank you, for now, I will stick with my lists and try to stay on track!

So, I came home and wrote out a list of the Top 25 Quilts I want to make (including some UFO's). Of course, the list is subject to change, but these are the patterns I want to make for now - and you might recognize some of them from the shopping list of fabrics I need! Hey, it really works - keeping lists do keep you organized.

New quilts that I already have the patterns for:

Scrappy Squares, Economy Patch and Triangle Manic (all on finn's blog)

2 more bars quilts (crossed tracks or railroad). I am making great progress on my current one and want to make one in blues/yellows and another in sage greens/mauves

Another Shakespeare in the Park (I have already made a blue/cream version, plus a purple/whites version). This pattern looks complicated, but goes together like a dream! I just have to decide on a color!

A scrappy Robert Calahan pattern - it is a bit like a scrappy chain -can't remember the name of the pattern, but I have it in Canada

A scrappy 16 patch or 25 patch or 36 patch - we will see when I start putting it together

Another Broken Dishes quilt - I did one this winter and really enjoyed the technique

2 more Stars quilts using my WonderCut ruler (I made the Cars & Stars this winter with this pattern and want to try it out using different fabrics)

Barrister's Blocks quilt in pastels

Bear's Paw

(that is 13 NEW projects that I already have the patterns for and even some of the fabrics - depending on the pattern)

UFO's I would like to work on/finish (NOT my WIP's which I have been working on over this winter)

2 Ocean Waves quilts
1 pinwheel quilt
2 whirly gig quilts
string tulips
HST stars
Tropical shells table runner
little dresden sunflowers

(that is 11 more!)

And I still want to make that Fiesta Wear pattern from American Jane patterns (have to get the pattern). Plus, a Buggy Barn book is on my original shopping list - so add at least 1 more quilt from whatever is in the book I buy (so that is 2 more).

Altogether: The Top 25 Quilts I Want To Make!!! (well, actually 26 if you count the 1 unknown from the Buggy Barn book!) I think I can live without a new quilt magazine for awhile.

What is on your Top 25 list? Go ahead - post it on your blog! I had fun thinking about my Top 25 and hopefully this list in conjunction with my shopping list will help keep me on track. And yeah, my list was longer than 25, but these are the ones on the top... for now!!!
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Saturday, March 11, 2006

About that longarm dream...

Several of you have asked if I send all my quilt tops out to be quilted or if I ever quilted some of them on my own. I think that the answer deserves an entire post all of its own. So here goes... (said with a deep breathe and no offense meant to anyone - these are just my thoughts and feelings for where I am right now in life)...

I very occassionally will free motion quilt a small top on my sewing machine. Small being the important word here - nothing larger than small toddler size! I am actually fairly decent at it and the results are always well loved by - say - 2 year olds! A small quilt really doesn't take too much time at all. I stick with an easy small meander (free hand), put on some music and away I go! I might even try free motion quilting some pieced fabrics to make purses over the summer. But, I have no plans for anything larger on my current sewing machine.

Which brings up the subject of - a bigger machine! Over the past few years there has been a huge increase in the amount of long arm quilting ads in quilt magazines. Just as an example, my recent issue of Country Quilts (which is all of 68 pages including the covers) has ads for commercial long arm machines from Gammill (full page), Nolting (full page), NuStyle (full page), Prodigy (full page), plus in the home quilting set-ups - 1/4 page from Grace and 1/4 page from Hinterberg. As a side note, there is a 1/4 page ad for a hand quilting frame from Pleasant Mountain Woodworks too. I have other magazines that feature ads from long arms, mid-arms and short arms including APQS, A-1, Handi-Quilter, Hobby Quilter, John Watts, Viking Mega Quilter, Ken Quilt Princess, the list goes on and on and it is daunting!

With so much advertising, the purchase of a long arm machine must be the answer to a pile of unfinished tops, right? Ah, the power of advertising! All of a sudden, I am thinking about a huge machine that I didn't even know existed not so long ago in my quilting past. Think how much money I could save by having my own machine, make some money on the side, live the quilting dream. A dream come true, right? And truthfully, I have seriously considered the long arm route. Really! Except for a few small details...

1-2. Money and time. A top of the line APQS Millenium costs $16,800 and then I can add some extra goodies for additional. Circle Lord kit is over $700. Pantos run about $18 each. Do I want to quilt all my tops with the same panto? Nope, so figure more than 1 panto here! And I need to learn how to use the machine. Practice, practice, practice, and practice free-hand too. Plus, lots of other supplies, rulers, threads, books, dvd's, classes, what have you. There are other top of the line machines too and every long arm quilter will swear by their own brand and prices vary depending upon the machine and options you get. If I were in the market for a machine today, I think APQS would be my first choice, so I started there. And since we are talking dreams here, why not start at the top model?

3. A new business. So, if I spend this much money on a machine and all that time learning how to use it, do I really have $16,000 plus dollars worth of my own quilts to quilt? Am I going to start piecing huge 9-patches just to have something to quilt - this might be something like owning a Bently car and driving it to the corner store just to buy milk so you can say you drive it! Which leads to - quilting for money! Don't be fooled. Most businesses take at least 2 YEARS before they start generating any kind of substantial income - so don't quit your day job just yet! And quilting for the public can really complicate your life unless you are in the mind-set and really prepared for what lies ahead. You are now a business! You need a business license, extra insurance, get to fill out special tax forms, all kinds of stuff! You are going to get quilts you might not like, quilts that smell like smoke, quilts that aren't flat, quilts where the customer is just an all around P.I.T.A. I am used to running my own businesses so have lots of experience with that aspect, but for some people, this is a whole new learning experience. And that isn't to say that you wouldn't get some really wonderful customers, really wonderful quilts and have a really good time doing it. I am just the type of person who likes to look at both sides of the coin.

4. Space. And I haven't even gotten to the space issue - you need a BIG room. Just imagine a 14' table sitting in your living room and now you still need room to walk around it. Some people have extra bedrooms or convert a garage into a studio or rent office space. Whatever. I don't think I would want one of these machines in my living room though! Dust, noise... I mean really, would you want your DH to have a Harley Davidson in your living room (which happens to be a bit smaller than a long arm)? So, additional space, in my instance, would be needed.

So, I added all these things up. I looked at the price that I pay my long arm quilter to quilt almost all my tops. An added bonus - she even has a BINDING machine (ummm - those run a couple thousand dollars) and I happily pay her the extra money to bind my quilts. I know some people like their bindings done by hand, but the machine method works just fine for me. Do I really care that her turn around time is on the long side? Maybe a little, but it isn't the end of the world. When I get them back - they are beautiful and wonderful and finished (except a label). She has experience. She is good. She doesn't just meander a simple design on my top (but she would if I asked her to). It is her business. I am thankful that I ever found her (ah, but that is another post)... and for all of this, no I don't think she charges too much. And have I mentioned lately... I have a very lovely little 2.9 year old who likes lots of Momma attention? Shocking, I just realized today he is no longer 2.5, he is actually 2.9! Time is flying by so fast. Wasn't he just learning how to walk yesterday?

Right now my sewing time is limited, so I will stick with piecing tops. I enjoy it, it relaxes me and hey! I am even fairly good at it! I love to look at patterns, buy fabric, piece a top and see it coming altogether. I might try my hand at handquilting this summer -but that too is a topic for another post. I will continue to buy quilting magazines and books and try out new patterns. I might even buy a super-sonic fast sewing machine so I can piece my tops even faster. The smaller quilts I will keep pushing through my sewing machine and the bigger quilts I will keep sending out. My goal here is to get my hard work to a usable stage - not an unfinished top sitting on the shelf! And I will continue to be thankful that someone else has the spent the time to learn, has the space for a machine, and is my long arm quilter! Down the road, things may change. Little Boys grow up. But right now, I am clinging to every sticky baby hug and kiss while I marvel at how much he has changed in a mere 2 years, 9 months.

So, here's a toast to my long-arm quilter and the next time I see an ad for a long-arm quilting machine, quick! I am going to turn the page. But, I will still enjoy wondering about it for some day...

It is nice to have a dream. It is also nice to be able to realize that something is a dream and that the reality might not be a dream at all (I think the reality would be more like a nightmare for me right now)! That's my story and I am sticking to it, but it is subject to change without notice! .... Maybe a long-arm quilting machine IS a nice addition to the living room? -grin-

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wonky House Block?

Hummm, well, not as wonky as some of the houses the rest of you guys are working on, but here is my first attempt following Tonya's wonky directions (can be found at - scroll down and click on Tonya's pages). It is 11.5" X 11.5". Much bigger than I was expecting when I started out with a few skinny 1.5" strips, but the big roof really made it grow in a hurry.

I was determined to use that black swirly fabric for the background even though I had just a few strips left over from the sashings on my Cot Quilt - so I pieced the strips together for the needed width. Not that I had any idea how big those pieces needed to be - I just kept adding to them as I went along. I had to piece the roof together with 3 different pieces of fabrics too.

It was fun! I think I see some more houses in my future, so I will have to add some good "sky" fabrics to that shopping list of mine. So, a special thanks to Cher for being the motivating factor in getting me started - I am swapping this house block with her for a magazine, and Tonya for the fun directions.

P.S. - scraps from 3 quilts from this winter - black swirls = cot quilt, red plaid = Crossed Tracks/bars quilt and the green, red stars and orange = cars & stars. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Desperado - Ready for Long arm quilter - photo!

Not sure why the photo didn't post with my last message - only a little white, blank box showed up. So, I am trying again! Scroll down to the last post to read the details! Posted by Picasa

Desperado - Ready for my long-arm quilter!

I am not sure that I am exactly friends with this quilt top right now, but it is finished! Seriously though, I really do love it. It is perfect, perfect, perfect for the person for whom I made it for. It is about 57X75, but I haven't taken a measurement so that isn't set in stone. In anycase, whatever the size, it is finished, finito, fertig and that makes me happy, happy, happy! Or at least, my part is done - now it gets sent on to my long arm quilter.

Problems? Not too bad - I already wrote about putting together the initial blocks and pattern source, so onto the setting... The only changes I made was to add an extra row for additional length and also the orange-y border is 1/2" wider than called for to better showcase the fabric I used.

As a side note: The seams were fairly bulky where all the points met sewing the blocks into rows, so I ironed those seams open - it will help out in the quilting process. The seams joining the actual rows together I pressed to the side, as pressing to the side is my usual preference.

OK, I "squared" up the rectangle blocks by trimming 1/4" from the point edges. This way, almost every single point stayed fully in tact when the blocks were sewn together. So, no, I didn't measure each block to an exact measurement on purpose - can we all say... ease! Not too much easing, but anytime you ease blocks together you better believe your outside edge isn't going to be perfectly flat.

So, of course the orange-y border was a bit wavy (but not too bad and I was expecting that) and then I added a 5.5" border to that. Can we all say... ease, one more time!! Adding a wide border to an already wavy edge only makes matters worse! This is the technique I use for easing -

1. The longer piece goes against the feed dogs of your machine. The feed dog will "help" hold the longer piece while you pull the top piece as you sew along. How much of a "help" is subjective to how much you need to ease! So figure out what side goes against the feed dog before you start pinning!

2. Pin the first part normally. Nice and flat. About 1/4 of the way down start your easing. You want the ease to be from 1/4 of the top to almost the 3/4 point of the top length. So - think - ease through the middle. This will keep your outside corners - well corners! By easing through the middle, if you need to extend it a bit into the last 1/4 of the top, you still have room to do your easing. If you have to do lots of easing, pull the bottom fabric taunt with both your hands before and after the pressure foot to help feed the fabric through. This would be the part where the feed dog needs a bit of help from you!

3. Use a bit bigger of a seam. Using a bigger seam allowance will give the fabric a place to ease into. I learned this from... private tailoring lessons, plus a garmet contruction course at college. It is like setting in a sleeve. I couldn't use a bigger seam with the orange border because I would have chopped points, hence the extra easing needed on the green border. I am not talking a huge seam here, just about a smidge under 1/8" bigger than the 1/4" seam you already use.

OK, so can you tell I had to use all 3 of the above steps - just a bit? But, I am almost positive that the final top is now square and lies flat - which was my goal! I've said it before, but it bears repeating - you want your top be be as flat as possible before quilting - your long arm quilter will thank you and you will be much happier with your finished quilt!

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Snowy Day

Some photos from our snowy excursion to the park yesterday. Excuse the snowflakes on the lens - the snow was coming down fast and furious! The park was fairly empty - a few people walking dogs and way off at a hill - some kids sliding. And boy! did we ever have FUN! Little Boy rolled and rolled in the snow (I pull his hat down over a scarf to keep the snow off the back of his neck). We tried making snow angels, but after about 3 - he decided that he didn't like the snow falling on his face so we were back to rolling - much better just to smear your own face into the snow than having snowflakes randomly fall on you, right? A 2 year olds logic! He tried his hand at throwing a few snowballs at Momma, but thought it was more fun for me to try to hit him as he ran and ducked and screamed - a regular moving target. But the real fun was squashing Momma's snowmen. I made tons of them - all especially for squashing. Nothing huge - just a few big snowballs stacked on top of each other - up to about his waist - ah, the perfect size for falling on and squashing!

We stayed at the park for a record 45 minutes - basically until our mittens were wet through, came home for a hot lunch, and then the Little Darling took a 3 hour nap. Aha - now you know my secret of how I get so much done with a toddler underfoot - I tucker him out with lots of fresh air and exercise and he almost always sleeps at least 2 hours, sometimes 3 in the afternoon. Grin!

As nice as that snow looks, I still think it is 100 times easier to go to the beach - a bathing suit. How simple can that be? (OK, I won't mention the beach wagon full of toys, coolers, sunscreen, umbrella, towels, etc.) But seriously, do you know how many layers he is wearing? It is a wonder he can move at all. No wonder he needed a 3 hour nap to recooperate!

And today - warm enough (but don't be mistaken - it is still cold) for all that snow to be just about gone now. Good thing we ran right out yesterday and enjoyed it while it was here.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cars & Stars with 2 borders

Nope, no new and exciting quilt to post - I am chugging right along on finishing up some works in progress. This is Cars & Stars - with 2 borders and fabric for the final 3rd border is on my shopping list. And, this photo is proof positive that even with a 2.5 year old jumping on bias edges - they don't stretch as much as people think they do. This quilt is square, square, square! I didn't have to ease that green border - not even 1 milli-inch (I did a tiny bit of easing with the orange border, so was pleased that the green border fit exactly - I must have done something right!).

It is snowing like crazy here today and down to 1.5 C. As bad as that sounds - this is 100% better than the -7 C we had for most of last week! Last night when Little Boy and I went for our evening walk it was 4.5 C and that felt cold. We were only out for 45 minutes and came home sooo ready for some hot soup, so I am not sure how long we will last outside today! But, with our snowpants on, I am thinking that it might be long enough to make some snow angels in the park. I will have to remember these cold days when I am complaining of the heat in the summer - grin! But seriously, it has been a cold winter and I will be happy when it warms up enough to be outside for several hours at a time instead of in 1/2 hour increments!
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Saturday, March 04, 2006

My Shopping List...

OK, so this photo has absolutely nothing to do with my shopping list - but hey! it features ANOTHER one of my big log cabins... and what kind of photo do you post with a shopping list anyway? A notebook? In anycase - this is Little Boy last July at 25 months old - I am happy to say that since this photo he has finished the teething bit - for the time being anyway - so we are past the "shove everything into my mouth" stage.

Samantha was wondering about my shopping list so I thought I would share. I absolutely must have a list in hand when entering any fabric store - otherwise I get so distracted by tons of beautiful fabric that I forget absolutely everything on my "need" list and end up with a bunch of "now whats!". So, here goes...

THE BASICS (some of this stuff I brought to Austria with me this year and I am NOT going to lug it back and forth around the world in my suitcase. Easier to buy a duplicate set)

6.5 X 24" Easy Rule II (I LOVE this ruler because a) it has little dotted lines on the edge for the 1/4" mark which makes trimming blocks with points so easy - just put the 1/4" mark on the say - star point - and trim. You will not chop your points off when you sew the blocks together because you already have a perfect 1/4" trim. And b) it has an extra 1/2" on the width.

18X24 cutting mat - the green one.
45 mm Olfa rotary cutter
sewing machine needles
thread - unless I buy more thread over here to bring with me

THE B's (borders, backings, backgrounds) - this is ALL for quilts that I have made over the winter and I NEED this stuff to finish the tops so I can mail them to my longarm quilter - and yes, I do send ALL my tops out to be quilted, but that is a post for another day. There are photos of each quilt top in my blog archives - and this list is in no particular order...

Trip Around The World - teal skinny inner border, wide brown outer border, backing

Mitre Boxes - border(s) - I am thinking 1 border in hot pink and backing

Broken Dishes - Final border and backing

Cars & Stars - Final border (red) and backing

Cot quilt - backing

Grandmother's Choice - backing. No idea about the borders! I was going to do a checkerboard border, but ended up using those scraps in my Crossed Tracks/Bars quilt! Whoops! But, I love how Crossed Tracks is turning out.

Crossed Tracks - Backing

Octagon Flowers - navy blue mottled fabric for setting triangles, border fabric, backing (still need to piece a few more octagons)

The Desperado blocks - I have the border fabric and am fairly certain I have the backing fabric, but I might need to get a backing fabric - not sure!

OK, the above list will finish NINE quilts!!!

Fabric needed to BUST MY STASH... (think Joanne's calicos here - I busted lots making 5 big log cabin quilts (aha! my leading photo DOES go with this post somehow!), but still have lots left, and lots of medium tones too)

Solid lavender fabric - I am going to make at least 1 16 patch using 2" squares and I want to use lavender as a wide sashing.

Solid blue? fabric - needed for a Robert Calahan pattern - I don't have the information here - otherwise I would share more. So - stayed tuned over the summer for this one.

Black and White - because you always seem to need these

Very cheap, lightweight fabrics for foundations for string piecing

Dark blue star points for Economy Patch (based on a quilt photo over at finn's blog ( - in her August 2005 archives). I am going to use my Wonder Cut ruler to make all those HST (half square triangles)

Light pink solid or light yellow solid for another one of finn's tops - Scrappy Squares which can be found in her November 2005 archives.

Just a side note here - if you have never visited finn's blog - go visit - it truly is a scrap quilter's dream! I am so happy that finn left me a comment today about my Mitre Box top - for one thing, I really admire her work and for another - it means that her eyes are feeling well enough to visit around in blogland (she has been having eye trouble, but thankfully is on the mend).

That would give me what I need to make at least an additional FIVE quilts!

You might notice that on that segment of the list - there is mostly background/sashing/accent fabrics... I already HAVE the stash to bust to finish up the patterns, but NEED the stuff on the list to start.

TO FINISH AN OLD UFO, that I happen to love, love, love...(so why haven't I finished it already???)

String tulips - I string pieced 20 tulips in 1989? - these need to be made into a quilt - you should SEE the old fabrics - truly something to behold! Anyway, this UFO needs a few things to be finished... light weight interfacing, background fabric (white?), sashing fabrics (light blue?), corner stone fabrics (a darker medium blue?). I don't want the sashing to overpower the actual tulips - so maybe light green with light pink - not sure yet!... and, maybe some greens if I decide to applique some leaves.


Novelty prints - cars, construction trucks - and now he wants a Thomas The Train quilt!


Buggy Barn books
Fiesta Wear Quilt pattern (at - click on one of the quilt pattern numbers at the bottom and it will bring up a list of all their patterns - scroll waaay down)


KN pink ribbon signature collection fabric to make 10" quilt blocks to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation - details can be found at - click on Shop KN and then select Paper Goods and Crafts - Deadline is May 1st for blocks - so just figure TAX DAY to mail your blocks and they should get there in time.


A super-sonic fast sewing machine! Ha, ha. But honestly, I would LOVE to have an industrial speed sewing machine! I will shop around - maybe I can get a used one somewhere...

So, that's my list. It doesn't seem too bad at all. I am staying focused on finishing what I have started and busting my stash! OK, I admit - I might end up throwing in a few co-ordinated fat quarter packs, but I really don't think that I need much more. I will make a NEW list once I complete the quilts on THIS list!!!

Actually, I have already started LIST 2, but I won't buy anything on it until I have LIST 1 checked off and those tops completed. Lists are a good thing for me!

What's on YOUR LIST???? (Like that ad - What's in yoooouuuur wallet?)! Inquiring minds want to know.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Mitre Box Progress

It turned out that I had enough fabric for 42 blocks - this top currently measures 47.25 X 55.12 inches (or 120 X 140 cm). I thought about making it 1 row narrower and 1 row longer, but I think I like this size better? I think! Anyway, the borders still have to be added so that size will change depending upon what I end up doing.

The stripped fabric is very wonky-ish because it makes the blocks look lopsided, but in fact, they are straight. I like the effect - got to remember to add some more fun stripes to my shopping list...

Where the block rows join together the seam is very bulky - I think we are talking 6 or 8 layers of seam fabric here if pressed to one side... so I took pity on my long arm quilter and ironed those seams open. This way - she won't be so apt to break a needle.

I will buy border fabric(s) and a fun backing when I am in the US. Oh yes, you better believe that I am making a fabric shopping list!

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1000 Meters of Thread

I hate running out of thread mid-way through a project, so I buy 1000 meter spools. The other day I bought a spool of dark gray and a spool of off-white - those are basically the only 2 colors I use when piecing tops, but this thread does come in tons of colors. The spool says 1000M Bistol - I have no idea of the fiber content or anything like that (it is industrial thread, if that means anything to anyone). But, I do know that a spool will last me about a month. And, it doesn't have too much lint. And, it costs only 3 Euros a spool! I don't think I will be running out of thread anytime soon.
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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Fiddle Faddle - Mitre Boxes ala Bonnie

I have a nephew who likes the phase - Fiddle Faddle. Basically it kind-ov means maybe a bit of this, maybe a bit of that. I was casting about for a sewing project and would pick up one thing, set it down, pick up another, set that down too. Sigh. Fiddle Faddle. I wasn't really in the mood to rip on my Crossed Tracks quilt or put the final borders on my Cars/Stars quilt (although the orange borders are now completely on, so progress is being made!). So I decided to do something with this little pile of 1/2 yard cuts of geometrics...

I ordered these geometrics to go in the quilt that eventually became 3-Times a Charm. Except, I had my pieces all cut and sewn together before this shipment arrived, so I set this fabric aside for another day. Now what to do? It is an odd little assortment of geometrics! I considered using it in my Octagon Flowers that I blogged about on January 9th. And, actually, I did cut 2 strips from each fabric and set them aside just in case I do decide to do that. But, really, I think these fabrics are a tad bit softer than the fabrics in the Octagon Flowers, so of course - that calls for a new quilt, right?

Well, Bonnie has a neat little tutorial over in her archives at (click on the link to her blog and then click on July 2005 archives) - using the Wonder Cut ruler (which I just happen to own) for these mitre boxes. Hummm - They look cute. They look easy. I think my geometrics will look good in this pattern. So, I cut a few 1.5" strips just to see how it goes and I am instantly hooked!!!

This pattern would look good in soooo many scrappy fabrics or themes (orientals, countrys, Americana, 30's, Civil War repros - what have you?). Unlike a log cabin that generally uses only lights and darks - this is a good pattern for your mediums too. A great stash-buster pattern no matter what fabrics you have on hand!

I have just enough fabric to make a few more blocks and then it will be ready for borders. Fiddle Faddle - aren't they just the cutest little blocks ever!?
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