Major Mistakes I Have Made

I just thought I’d share a couple of projects I have worked on that have major mistakes that, for whatever reason, I didn’t notice until the project was too far along to want to take it apart and repair it. Here’s the first one!

The quilt I made in my first class which has a major mistake in it.I’m not sure you can see it very easily since there is not a whole lot of contrast in the blocks. (This was my first quilt, and I just purchased fabric that I loved for it!) If you look at the far right column and the start block just above the nine patch at the bottom, you should be able to see that one of the HST units is not rotated correctly. I didn’t notice it until the entire quilt was assembled and layered and I started quilting it. Since it was a learning quilt and I was very ill (I had emergency surgery for a septic gall bladder before I even got this bound), I decided to let it stay as an object lesson to inspect everything very carefully before assembling and layering and quilting. (Okay, truth here: I was sick and anxious to be finished with this quilt!) This was obviously a lesson I have forgotten because…

Maybe this is why I like batiks

Lucky Star Practice Block with major mistakeCan you believe that I didn’t notice the mistake in this block until I had totally put it together? Geeesh! Obviously, this will not go into any quilt any time soon! Grrrrrrr! However, I was already thinking I needed a less busy background fabric, so…. I guess it is all good.

Do you have any quilty mistakes that you didn’t repair and want to share?

Quilt on!

Care to Join Me?

Last evening, my daughter and her fiance chose the pattern for their wedding quilt. It is from the book,  (Yes, that is an Amazon Associates link. Yes, I will earn a tiny bit of money to support this self-hosted blog if you purchase from that link. End of disclaimer.) I purchased this book shortly after it came out because I fell in love with all the quilts in it. They are all gorgeous. They are rotary cut. They look very difficult. There are great tips in this book for making them easier. Before now, though, I didn’t have an opportunity to make one. Now I have an excuse.


The one they chose is called “Aegean Sea,” and it is on page 86. Maybe it looks a little complicated, but as I looked at the directions, I think it may be one of the easiest in the book. For a queen-sized quilt, you make 6 Ohio Star blocks. Those are the only bias seams in the entire quilt! The rest of the blocks are versions of Log Cabin blocks or blank blocks. Yes, I am now excited. Not only that, with the colors they want, I can use lots of my batik stash!

So, here is my question for today, does anyone want to join me? I won’t be posting directions for the blocks or the quilt because that would be a violation of Judy Martin’s copyright, but I will post pictures of my progress each Monday and add a linky in case you want to show pictures of your progress. The pattern in the book is written for Queen, Twin and Wall sizes, so you can make whichever you like. If you are joining me, please comment here and let me know that. My goal for next week will be to get all the cutting done. (My AccuQuilt Go! will be very helpful with this part! Strips are why I bought this thing in the first place! And I have 1 1/2″ and 2″ strip dies!)

So leave a comment and join me in this adventure!

It Just Keeps Coming

Over the last week or so, fabric keeps arriving at my home! Look!

What is the excuse for all this? I keep having ideas. Not a good excuse and I must stop, but…
In the first picture, the blue batiks are all there because they were on sale and I collect them. Some day soon I will use them. (Seriously, how can you ever have too many blue batiks?) The cream Fairy Frost is there because it was on sale and, as anyone who reads this blog knows, Fairy Frost is my favorite neutral. The neutral batiks are there because they were on sale and neutral batiks are often hard to find. The Spa jelly roll was an impulse buy. (True confession: They were all impulse buys caused by a sale.) I am thinking of experimenting with using Jelly Roll Race quilt tops as fabric to cut up into pieces for other projects, thanks to Jaye’s Renewed Jelly Roll Race quilt. If I’m to be really truthful though, I think a Spa Jelly Roll Race quilt will actually grace my living room couch once it is done. 
In the second picture are some charm packs (not technically on sale but purchased on eBay so the price was much less than one might expect) because I am planning to try some small Scnibbles patterns soon (AKA after the Christmas rush). The two colorways of Rainbow jelly rolls probably won’t make Jelly Roll Race quilts, but I’m pretty sure they will look gorgeous in paper pieced Mariner’s compass quilts. 
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!!!!!

Yes, It Has Been Awhile

Yes, blogging was interrupted by the whole quilt sweatshop thing I had going on here for a while. Yep, 8-10 hours a day paper piecing, stopping only to eat. But I did finish the top, got it to the longarmer, and got it back in plenty of time to bind it and wrap it up for this coming Friday’s wedding. I’ll post a picture once the gift has been given. Later this week, I hope.

But I can do a little bit of ruminating on a few aspects of the experience. First, the paper piecing. I don’t ever plan to paper piece a quilt this big again. 256 sections to piece was a little bit of overkill for me. And I’m not sure what I am going to do with all the scraps from this quilt. Maybe more paper piecing.

Another problem was my math error. The original pattern was for a quilt measuring 40″ X 40″. I doubled that (and was going to add borders but it looked so perfect without!) and, instead of figuring on quadrupling the fabric amounts, I doubled them. Yep, forgot I was dealing with area. This meant several fabric store trips and building up my batik stash a bit. (Some of the fabrics I brought home didn’t really work so into the batik stash they went!) But I like the scrappiness of it for a wedding quilt.

My daughter asked me yesterday what is next since I finished my other daughter’s quilt and now my niece’s wedding quilt. I think she thought I didn’t have any plans. Ha! First there is the finishing organizing the former family room into a studio. Then there is the other quilt for the guest room to finish. Then there is the American Beauty BOM to finish. And the Fat Quarter Shop Designer Mystery BOM 2011. And soon I will be getting blocks for the 2012 FQS Designer Mystery BOM. And I plan to hand quilt the 2009 FQS Designer Mystery BOM.

And let’s not forget assembling the top for the church quilt for this year.

I think I have plenty to do! I’ll bet you do too!

Quilt on!

Making a Group Quilt, Part 4 – Assembling Block Kits & Distributing Them

I probably mentioned before that very few of the people who work on this quilt are quilters other than for this. Part of the original plan when this fell to us was to involve as many people as possible. We wanted more of the church to feel ownership for the quilts, especially since the person who buys a quilt is frequently one of the people who worked on it. Or her mother, in the case of one quilt where we had a couple of young piecers work on it. Also, of course, the more people who work on the quilt, the more quickly it gets finished. (You probably already had that part figured out.

To that end, we recruit anyone with a sewing machine or anyone who is willing to do a little hand piecing. We put together block kits (we use a lot of Zip-Loc bags for this part), complete with instructions that cover every eventuality that I can think of and color pictures of each step made with the fabric we are using. In order to emphasize the 1/4 inch seam, in later years I have included index cards gridded in 1/4 inch measurements to help people without quilting machines that already have the appropriate markings.The instructions emphasize the necessity of an accurate 1/4 inch seam, which directions to press the seams, and finished size. In years with more than block, this means several sets of directions, of course. All of this (except the directions so we don’t waste church paper making more sets of directions than necessary) goes into a numbered Zip-Loc bag.

Once the kits are assembled, I print up sign out sheets which include the kit number and columns for the name of piecer, her email address, the date the block was taken, and the date it was returned. I use numbered bags the first year, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t get them all back. But we learn from our mistakes! And, yes, because I am cheap (or to help the environment) we reuse the bags from year to year.

Then the kits go to church to be distributed. The first four years I stood up in each service (well, at least each English speaking service) and described what was going on. (I like microphones even less than I like cutting!) Last year’s top was already done so I got to skip this step. Over the years I have assembled a pretty comprehensive list of email addresses, so this year I just emailed everyone and before I knew it the kits were gone! 2/3 of them are already back!

The other thing we did this year was use block assembly as the craft for one of our church’s MOPS meetings. You may remember that last year the MOPS group made the “Brown Bear” quilt because they wanted to contribute to last year’s quilt but that had been already done by someone else who donated it. This year I held back some blocks, and we put them together at their meeting this week. Young future quilters!

Below is a copy of this year’s instructions. I saved them for the end because they are only an example and they can be pretty long and boring!

Thank you for agreeing to help assemble this year’s quilt for the Lottie Moon Auction. Here are the directions for putting together a block. But first, a couple of notes to get you started.
1.     These fabrics are batiks. This means that the color has saturated the fabric due to the way they were produced. This makes it hard to tell the right side from the wrong side. I look for sharper edges and slightly brighter colors, but if you think it is too close to call on the center square, everyone else will too, so don’t worry about it.
2.     The ¼ inch seam is imperative, whether you are hand piecing or machine piecing. If you have to draw a line on the back of the fabric to get an exact ¼ inch, please do so. No one will be seeing the back of the quilt top.
3.     One of the fabrics has shades of yellow, green and purplish pink. Your pieces may not look like the picture.
4.     Be careful with the directions the squares are turned when you are assembling the block rows. I had to unsew a little the first time I put this block together. Be more careful than I was.
5.     Also, if you are machine sewing, you don’t have to backstitch the ends. If you are hand sewing, you do need to put in knots.
Okay, on to the real directions. This block is technically a nine-patch block. It is made of 9 squares of fabric sewn together. In this case, 8 of the 9 squares are made up of triangles. These are the ones you have to make sure are turned correctly when sewing them together.
Here is an example of the 9 squares, in no particular order:



Now it is time to really get down to business. You will be sewing together three rows of three squares each, and then joining them to complete the block.

When sewn together, the first row looks something like this:



The first row seams should be pressed away from the center square. Please try to keep the diagonal seams from the triangles flat under the vertical seams you sewed. You may need to use a pencil tip or something to keep it in place while you press so that you don’t burn your fingers.

Row 2 looks like this when you have assembled it:

For the second row, press your seams toward the center square

The third row will look like this:



In the third row, please press your seams away from the center square, being careful to keep the diagonal seams as flat as possible again.
Now that you have the three rows sewn, you can sew them together in exactly the order they are pictured above. Because some of the seams are pressed toward the center and some away from the center, you should be able to butt the seams up against each other pretty tightly.  When you have sewn the rows together, press those seams both in the same direction, either toward the top or toward the bottom of the block. (If you are making more than one block, alternate some of the blocks so that some are pressed toward the top and some toward the bottom.)

Your final block should measure 9 ½ inches square and should look pretty much like this:



Making a Group Quilt, Part 2 – Beginning Choices

When we started that first quilt, we wanted to make sure that people understood that the quilt that year was under new management. We wanted people to know that we weren’t the experienced quilters who had previously made those beautiful quilts. I was probably the most experience and I’d only been quilting for a couple of years. (And yes, this whole thing made me very nervous!) We also wanted to involve as many people as possible in making the quilt, hoping to stave off the dwindling quilters problem.

So one of our first jobs was to decide how to do these things. Before we even chose the pattern, we decided to go with batiks because those had not been used before. We also decided to recruit people (even nonquilters) to put the blocks together. Then we would publicize the hand quilting times, doing some in the afternoon and some in the evening to encourage a wide variety of people to come and quilt. In the year we made the Log Cabin quilt, we asked people to bring in fat quarters (after explaining in church what a fat quarter was) in various shades from cream to brown and lightest green to darkest green.

All of these efforts to involve as many people as possible required making announcements in church. Unlike the rest of the family, I am not fond of microphones. This may have been the most difficult part of these quilts for me.

We needed to move fast on the first quilt, so one other friend and I chose the pattern from one of my quilt books. We chose Repeating Crosses, from the book Encyclopedia of Classic Quilt Patterns by Leisure Arts. We chose it because it was one block (which looked easy!), looked pretty, and what church group wouldn’t want to do a pattern called Repeating Crosses?

In subsequent years, we have gotten together as a group sometime between Christmas and the second week of January to choose the pattern for the quilt. (We go out to lunch as part of this!) In early years, we passed around every book and magazine I had. Lately, I have started to narrow down the choices to streamline the process. (Of course, my library has gotten much larger also!) We ended up choosing our second quilt from the same book, a Double Irish Chain. We try to choose something different each year. We chose Double Irish Chain so that we could do some more noticeable quilting in the larger blank spaces. The following year we chose a Log Cabin with an appliqued star in the center of each block because we wanted to make something a little scrappy. The following year it was back to batiks with a quilt from the book Batik Gems by Laurie Shifrin. And last year’s quilt was made from a top donated by the mother of one of our church members.

Some things we have learned about choosing a pattern over the years are:

  1. Be careful about bias seams. The Repeating Crosses block is almost all bias seams. This was not a smart way to begin our career. I cannot tell you how many extra blocks we had to make because of varying sizes and stretched seams. (We did, however, use the extra blocks in pillow shams, so they did not go to waste.)
  2. Be careful about how many seams there are per block. The Log Cabin block was a bit of a nightmare because there were so many seams that if a couple were sewn a bit off, the whole block was off. (I actually ripped and resewed many of those blocks.) We also had more people return unfinished blocks on that Log Cabin than any other quilt.
  3. When possible choose a pattern where one or two people can do some strip piecing. The Double Irish Chain quilt could have been much more difficult if we hadn’t used strip piecing. This year’s quilt is mostly HSTs. It just made sense (to avoid bias problems and consistency problems) to have one person sew all those HSTs into little squares before passing out block kits for assembly.

The next big choice is, of course, fabric. Everyone on the quilt email list is invited, but the most people we’ve ever really had are 4 or 5. The truth is I have twice chosen the fabric all by myself. Luckily both times involved the batiks and colors I love. We have learned a few things about this process also.

  1. People loved the year we went scrappy and they could donate fat quarters. More people were able to get involved even if they were not able to sew or hand quilt. 
  2. Even though our quilts are sold at a Christmas auction, Christmas fabrics (or colors people associate with Christmas) do not seem to bring in as much money.
  3. Batiks are very popular.

Now that you have made your way through this long post, here are some pictures of the last five quilts:

 Repeating Crosses
 Double Irish Chain
 Log Cabin with Stars
 Our Batik Gem (All Tucked In was the official pattern name, I think.)
 Ruby’s Christmas Stars

Next December’s Auction Quilt

As readers of this blog may remember, I am sort of the quilt project manager for our church’s annual Lottie Moon Auction Quilt. This involves getting started about now in order to have it pieced and hand quilted by the first Friday in December. (Well, I really prefer to have it completed by the Sunday before Thanksgiving so we can show the completed quilt in church.)

Last week a few of us got together to choose the pattern for this year’s quilt (and go out to lunch). This is the pattern we chose  – Woven Links. Of course, it is not a queen-sized quilt so math is involved. And to avoid having to cut with a template (which we all know I hate) I edited the block so that it is made of mostly half square triangles. And the colors were not exactly conducive to a bed quilt so we will be changing those. And here comes the first question: Setting squares in the light color as in the original or in the border color? Here are a couple of pictures that show the choices (please note that these colors are not the quilt colors.

So which do you like better? Care to weigh in? Would it help if you saw a picture of the actual fabric? Here it is:
The top fabric is the fabric for the block center squares and the borders. The second fabric from top is the light fabric for the blocks. Does that help with the setting squares choice?

I Take It All Back

Well, I don’t exactly take it all back, but allow me to update you on my FabShop Hop prize. Tonight I got the following email:


First of all, I am sorry that your experience has not been what we would want it to be.  For some reason I was under the impression that the shop hop through FabShopNet only did $10 gift certificates.  But in 4 shop hops in 2011 they did the $100 gift certificate or kit.  I was not aware of this change.  I have been very ill and recovering from recent surgery.  I had tried to contact FabShopNet to verify, but along with my delay, I had a hard time connecting to them with my schedule.  We are not a full-time store.  We are online only and it is our second/third job.  This made it difficult for me to make connections.  Again, I am very sorry. 

Please use the “***” code at checkout for the $100 coupon.  If you complete your order by Monday morning, we will expedite the shipping, so that you receive your package before Christmas.

Again,  I apologize for the problem with the coupon.  We sincerely hope that you will give us the opportunity to fulfill our obligation.

Thank you,

(Yes, I blanked out the code for this purpose.) Needless to say, my feelings about this online shop are no longer totally negative. Actually, having forced myself (dripping sarcasm) to spend that $100, I am feeling quite positive toward the shop.

And guess how long it took me to shop after I read this. Right, not very! At all!!!!

7 Charm Packs!
2 Yards of solids!
12 Batik Fat Quarters!
And no real plans for what I will do with any of them.
But when did that ever stop a quilter from buying fabric with a gift certificate?

Quilt on!


I am a horrible blogger slacker! It’s just that when I have no exciting pictures to post, I don’t want to post.

On the quilting front, the MOPS quilt is now assembled. As soon as I assemble the backing, it can go to the longarmer. Yes, it does seem kind of strange to machine quilt a quilt that was hand pieced, but I think it may hold up better through many washings and it is a crib/kid’s quilt.

One of the guest bedroom quilts is slightly more than half assembled. I really like the way it’s looking. The Fairy Frost is playing very nicely with the batiks and I think it really makes the quilt pop. I would like to get this one completed so that it can go to the longarmer also. Pictures coming soon.

I thought I was going to have to clean the whole studio/basement to find my 120 Blocks book because I had apparently buried it under something, but I found it. I will cut the next block soon, especially since I think my machine needs a doctor’s visit. Sigh.

So here is a post so that I don’t feel quite so much like a slacker. Sorry it is so boring!

What I’ve Been Up To

I can’t believe how long it has been since I updated this blog! Shocking! Whatever have I been doing?

Shopping for furniture and paint and television.

Okay, I confess the last two pictures are only there to show you the tables. The chairs are ancient. 
I also started a new project to turn what used to be our bedroom into a guest room, or Janni’s room, depending on who you are. 😉 As I started that, I realized it would need some sort of covering for the beds so….. I started a new project.

I am making two quilts based on the Nine Patch Lattice pattern from Oh, Franson! Since I wanted to use up some 2 1/2 inch batik strips (mostly Bali Pops, but a few others too….), I had to do math. I also had to do math because I am making two twin sized quilts. Thank goodness for Quilt Pro! The blank blocks will be some of my favorite Fairy Frost by Michael Miller fabrics, of course.
And now you are updated.