to my readers

This blog is now all about my personal life, including updates concerning Jerry's health. For quilt and pattern related posts please visit

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Surprise day!

It was just over a year ago when Marcia and I came up with the whole May for Me thing. She was always encouraging me to take some time for myself. Life was just a bit (lots) stressful back then. Time for myself? Ya, right. Marcia had this great idea--and thus May for Me was born.

Last year during May for Me I did a quilt a long, but there is no way my blog could handle that this year. Talk about overload between Ahhhh's and Lone Stars! So on Christmas Eve I took a shower. (I do take them more often than just Christmas mind you.) And I did some thinking. What could I do, what could I do? Then I thought of it!


I was so excited I ran out of the shower and sat at the computer emailing some blog buddies for help. Never mind that it was Christmas Eve and they probably didn't want to think Bingo. I am not a very patient person. Thankfully, they didn't tell me to go jump in a lake (especially since I was still soaking wet from my shower) and they decided that Blogger Bingo sounded fun too. 

So, here's the deal...

You need to make a Bingo Card. It won't be hard, I promise! 

Visit Sharon at Vrooman's Quilts for a step by step tutorial.

Visit Snoodles at Lily Pad Quilting to view her version of  Bingo Card.

Visit Marcia at Marcia's Crafty Sewing to view her Bingo Card AND Marcia has several novelty print charm packs that she has made just for this event. Enter to win one!

I made my Bingo Card out of one of Marcia's charm packs. Since I will be one of the Bingo callers, I can't actually play. Stephen just loved looking through Marcia's fabric squares, so I decided to put Stephen's name at the top instead of "BINGO". 

I know you will probably have more questions. 
I will give more details another day. 
What you do need to know is that you have until mid-April to get your card made.
And what you also need to know is that there will be PRIZES. 
Fun Prizes. 
Fabric and Pattern Prizes.
Other Prizes. 

I will talk more about Prizes on Friday and give more rules next week.
I will soon add a Bingo page up top for easy access to all things Bingo.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wild Wonky and Patience

I have a dear friend that I met through blogland. Pat was the first person that ever bought anything from me back when I had an etsy shop. I was so excited that I sold something that I just stuffed it in a box and didn't package it pretty or anything. Pat has since become my greatest encourager. Over the last two years she has purchased several things...seen my packaging get better...and has seen my sewing get better too. But mostly Pat believed in me when I didn't much believe in myself. (Sometimes a person's past can really get in the way of self confidence. Pat seemed to sense this from the beginning.)
This is the first item that Pat purchased from me, as it is displayed in her  home.

Over the last two years I've morphed completely. I ditched the original blog and now have this one--and you all know that I love every moment of it! I now find my confidence in encouraging others. I've learned to slow down and enjoy learning.
The second order from Pat--a table set. I had major machine problems with these, so the quilting is way less than perfect.
On this latest order for Pat, it has taken me FOREVER to get it finished. Well, that sort of happens with any order that I get. But Pat has so much patience with me. She never emails and asks when in the world that I am going to get them done. She just waits...patiently. I had another learning curve this machine. I had to figure out the best settings for machine applique. I also thread around all the applique might look nice. NOT!! So the first four items were thrown away and re-done.

Anyway, Pat, your order is now on it's way. Four pillow cushion covers size 16x16 and four sized 12 x 12. Oh I forgot to tell you all that Pat lets me be creative in anyway that I want, and she likes wonky, so I did creative wonky. These are very fun to make...once my machine and I came to an understanding of one another.

Now that another order is on the way I can catch up on reading your blog posts.
I have to balance things that way for now; and it's working for me.
Read all the posts, complete an order, read posts, complete an order...and so on.

The exciting part--I've another order! You know, this might just work out having my husband home evenings and weekends and not working two jobs. In the meantime though, I have to go to Sesame Street .org. My little one is a bit upset with me that I would not stop writing this post to go visit and sing Wheel's on the Bus with Elmo for about a hundred times in a row. He just shut himself up in his bedroom. I've some making up to do. 

Here goes: The Wheel's on the bus go round and round,
round and round,
round and round....

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Fabric Choices

I had a really tough time deciding what to use for my first star quilt in the book. I reduced the size of the original quilt by half, but still when fussy cutting it's hard to come up with 16 exactly the same diamonds when one is working from their stash!

So here's what I am using:

I took the photo four times using different settings and it still came out yellow.
But when my helper got in the way, the colors came out better.
Go figure!

Next is cutting. 
Use LOTS and LOTS of starch.
Especially if you are fussy cutting. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ahhhh 15-- The Oklahoma Star

small print is pointing to the exact middle of the diamond that we needed for the next step

You can find out more about Ahhhh's on the English Paper Piecing Button up top.
Don't forget about flikr! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thread Wars

I was finally able to get away from using my old C & C thread. Someone gifted me some Aurifil thread for Christmas. I will tell you that I know not everyone enjoys this thread...but it was a HUGE improvement over C & C. (and a word about C &C--I have used it for years. I wish it were better quality. I really do. After all, they allowed the crew of Couragious to use their factory. I do think that I will continue to use them at least for my cheap basting thread for Ahhhh's. But about lint...that cannot happen anymore. I won't do that to my machine.)
This stuff--out the door.

For applique, all I have in the way of thread is what is left over from when I had an embroidery machine. And I'll tell you there is alot of that thread! But it really is only suitable for machine applique...not for hand. In fact, I've been tossing the idea in my head about selling it on ebay. Not sure yet. I know I won't get what it's worth, but I sure could use the jump start on getting other thread that is more user friendly for me.
This really is the best machine embroidery thread. Love the stuff.  Hate to let it go but it is rarely used now.

So here's where I am at...a thread war going on in my brain.

I like YLI silk for hand applique. I've only used one spool but I do really like it. Those stitches are hidden as people say.  It does fray easily though, and it is slippery stuff. It likes to jump right out of your needle. It does NOT work for whip stitching on EPP. EPP is here to stay for me I think. I just love it. So I cannot decide if it is worth the cost to start investing in some colors for applique.

Aurifil thread--50 weight. After trying this thread in the machine as said above, I do like it much better than C & C. Way way way better. I've also used it for whip stitching and for applique by hand.. It's ok in that category. It does like to get knotted up while working with it by hand--something the YLI didn't do. BUT, as an overall thread, it might be the way to go for me. I can use it for hand whipstitching, machine piecing, hand and machine applique. It would suit all purposes. I could start collecting colors at Red Rock Threads. That is the cheapest place I've found them at. A color or two a month is better than none at all, right? I know there are mini spools offered elsewhere but comparing the price it is certainly more cost effective to go with regular size at Red Rock.
An all around thread that will work for most of my projects.

Then there is Superior. I really really wanted to go with Superior when I started  replacing  C&C. They seem like a really good company. I think Masterpiece would be great for machine and hand piecing, and machine and hand applique. I've never tried it though. The downfall--it costs quite a bit more than Aurifil. It is less expensive at Red Rock than it is at even the Superior website, but like I said, I've yet to try it.

So there you have it. While I would rather buy YLI for hand applique and Masterpiece for my all around machine/hand piecing, machine applique thread--I will probably go with Aurifil 50 due to cost--I'll purchase a spool or two when I can and build up my supply.
(BUT I really want Superior--maybe I SHOULD just go with it--there goes the brain war again!)

Rapid fire comment section--what thread do you use for each of these uses?
1) Machine Piecing
2) Hand piecing or whip stitching for EPP
3) Hand applique
4) Machine applique

We'll address quilting threads another day :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's Award Time Again!

It's time again for the Golden Quilter Awards. 
SewCal does a great job organizing this event, and it is fun to see who everyone votes for. 

Categories are:

Best Quilt Designer
Best Quilt Teacher/Instructor
Best Quilt book Author
Best Quilt Store (physical)
Best Quilt Store (online)
Best Longarm Quilter
Most Innovative Product (physical)
Most Innovative Product (software)
Most influential person in the world of quilting to-date, aka "Lifetime Achievement"
Best Quilt book publisher

Now I doubt that I'll ever make it into one of those categories (but who knows?). 
That doesn't matter as I've great some great blog friends.
Last week I was awarded two more blog awards.

Snoodles, over at Lily Pad Quilting awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. Since I just shared 7 things with you...I'll save 7 more until May for Me. 

Then, Debi over at Peace by Piece awarded me the Leibster award. That was very sweet of you Debi! 
Debi only has a few followers. Stop by and show her some love!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Marcia, Marcia!

You know, I just couldn't help myself from saying that...even though I was kind enough not to say Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

(To Marcia: Have you heard that entirely too many times in your life? I bet you have!)

You see, the whole Brady Bunch thing is very fitting for these quilts. When my acquaintance asked for me to make them she said that I could make them however I wanted, but that they had to be identical because they are for sisters and the two of them would fight over them. That's very Brady, don't you think?

Then there are the colors. The quilts were made from little girl homemade dresses--from right around the late 60's. Very Brady again.

These are two of the dresses that I cut up for the dresdens

Then there is the fact that they are now in the mail to one of the most talented long arm quilters I've ever seen.
But there is not one quilt, there are there we have Marcia Marcia--no, I don't really want to make a 3rd so it can be Marcia Marcia Marcia. 

I really didn't mind making these; just that time got away from me. That's not entirely my fault either. The customer originally wanted photos on the quilt and I waited for those for months. Then she changed her mind, I had to redesign, add some dresdens...but they turned out more beautiful in the end than if they would have had photos. I've decided I am no longer doing any large quilts with photos. They are always more trouble than what it's worth. 

Anyway, Marcia, Marcia! Two of these are on their way to your house. I can't wait to see you perform your magic on them!

And for those of you that have no idea what I've talking ya go:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gradient Star: Week 1

Edit: Sharon shared a FREE Lone Star pattern, and it is small/ easy to do. Not nearly as large as other patterns, for those of you that don't have the book this would be a great starter design! I think I am going to make one as well. The pattern calls for 3.5 strips--but Sharon suggest using 2.5 leftover strips. Perfect I have some! Here's the link:

This uses strip piecing techniques, which we won't be getting into until project 2 but you all are familiar with strip piecing and it's much faster.

For those of you that are new...we are just beginning to work our way through this book:

I chose this book as it takes us step by step through the learning process. Each project builds upon the last, so that by the time we are finished, we will have some great quilts, but even more valuable....we will no longer fear these stars!

Today as we begin project 1--The Gradient Star--please keep in mind that you need to "Make it your own!"

For instance, the gradient star is fussy cut using batik type gradient fabric. Due to the nature of the quilt, and the fussy cutting involved 3 1/2 yds is needed for the blocks. Since I am working from my stash I needed to choose a different option. 

Also, Linda shared with me that she hates using templates. You don't have to! Let's see how...

Remember last week when I taught you how to cut on the 60 degree diagonal? Well, this is just as easy. You can make all the diamonds by cutting the strips the same widths as mentioned in the book for the template (which I won't state here because then the copyrighted pattern would be shared. Through out our studies I will omit sizes when I am teaching you so that people will have to purchase the book to do the project.) Anyway, cut the strips ____________ width. Then using the technique I shared last week, cut your angle on the 45 degree line. And then flip that strip over and measure every _______inches (same as width) and cut. 

To help you with fabric calculations, I cut some just from one strip, selvage to selvage. I got 4 diamonds--width of fabric. 

There are 32 diamonds total so I could have cut an entire quilt with just 1 1/2 yds (instead of 3 1/2 yds according to the fussy cut pattern.)

Of course, then there is me. I still couldn't see using that much fabric for a 'learning project' for me. So I cut the size in half. I took the size the block would have finished at, divided by two then added a half inch for seam allowances. Then I made a fussy cut template:

 I am kind of into the fussy cut thing lately :)
Now which fabric will I choose?
I'll show you next week!

You now get to decide:
 Fussy cut or not?
Full size or not?
Fabric selection.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ahhhh 14-- Diamonds and Arrow Points

Remember way back in the beginning I told you that as we went along the hexagons would get harder, then easier again?

When I discovered all of these hexagon blocks the first thing I did was see what shape they were basically divided into. Lately we've been working with an asterisk shape. And I've several more to show you with that shape--but they are much harder than we've been doing; so I am going to step away from them for a bit and start with a new basic shape.

Yes, just a simple star. But this simple star has a fancy name. It was published in the Kansas City Star in 1945    as the Diamonds and Arrow Points Block.

I didn't have time to fancy it up. I'll show you mine sometime later when I get it finished...after the Dresden Quilts are done :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The 50

The dresdens are of about 3 a.m.! Here they are:

8 blue/red plaid

8 blue red polka dot

4 tan

4 red/green

4 brown/peach floral

4 yellow/navy

8 corner fan

8 small fan

2 large multi print

Lessons learned:
1) How to do EPP!! I started out using the machine and found it really hard to do non cottons so EPP was much easier. Also learned to use interfacing on non-cotton!

2) Roxanne's applique glue works better than Sewline for applique.

3) Older black fabric disintegrates really easily. I've learned this through research. I will hand wash this quilt before giving to the owner to remove applique glues, but I will tell her that it should not be washed very often. The fabrics in this quilt are 40 years old, so they should be handled carefully.

4) On a personal level--not to take on large projects! I did this as a favor, and won't be earning a profit. But, I have learned from this quilt (or quilts rather) and that I don't regret at all

5) Also on a personal level--I do so very much enjoy blogging and reading blogs. I missed you so much that I almost got depressed for a few days. Well, actually I did. But I can also say that peri-menopausal stuff helped in that dept. Seth said he would like to move out until this is over. I told him that he better just get used to it. I have to deal with 3 men all the time with only seeing a female face (my daughter) about once every two weeks, so they better just deal with this. Their fault for taking the apple, I say! Ok, there's my little bit of humor for today.

All that is left is sashing/borders. I cannot easily work on that except during sleepy toddler times so I can now start visiting each of you again! Yay! I am so excited!!!!!!

There are 883 posts in my reader...I am going to take my time and enjoy catching up.

Mostly, I am just ecstatic to say, " I'm Back!!!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The Leap Day Surprise 
is coming....

Keep your eyes on
Snoodles at LilyPad Quilting

It's Big, and it's Fabulous..
after all, Leap Day only happens once every four years!

Monday, February 13, 2012


Since several of you have emailed and asked here's where I'm at:

50 dresdens finished and appliqued down.

38 circular centers still to go...

Thanks for the support and understanding of my silence at your blogs. You guys are the best!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tutorial: Tumbler blocks/ Y-seams

Today is Saturday--Lone Star day! So why the tumbler blocks? Why not? Those of you not doing a Lone Star might want to make tumbler blocks someday. By the way, thank you for all your comments last week saying that you learned something even if you are not doing a Lone Star. That made my day, because really, what I like more than anything is to teach.

 Using my normal very step by step high visual method lets learn tumblers and Y's. Keep in mind that triangles and Y-seams are not all the same size of angle, so your diamond shapes may look a bit different than shown, but the Y principle is the same.(The Lone Star angles WILL be different).

For those of you joining me on Barbara's book: She shows how to make Y-seams on pages 20,21. I tried her method first (because remember, I am learning too) and didn't like marking the pieces, A, B, C. It was a bit of a pain to me to keep referring to the book.."Am I folding C over A like I should?" etc. Also, I press my seams open...a tip from Jan. I tried both and I was more accurate by pressing them open. You'll see as we go. So you get the Hillbilly Tonya method today :)

Pick three different pieces of fabric and cut them into strips of the same width. I cut 2" strips. We are going to cut the corners off of one end of the strips at a 60 degree angle. You can do this one of two ways.

The little arrow is pointing to the dotted line on my mat. That line is 60 degrees, so I would just line up my ruler along it. 

My favorite method though is to use the straight lines on my mat and the 60 degree line on my ruler. Line the 60 degree along the top edge of your strip and cut off the little angle edge.

Then flip that little strip piece over and line it up on a vertical cutting mat line and make cuts every 2" (or whatever the width of your strip is)

There, easy peasy tumbler blocks.
 Now lets get to piecing Y-seams.
I found it easier for me to mark little itty bitty scores in the centers so that I would remember which corners were to be in the middle.

Now get out your handy dandy Jinny Beyer ruler I talked you into buying, (or get out your ruler and measure exactly 1/4" up from center) and find the edge that matches the shape of your piece. Line it up just right and then put a little dot in the center. The other dots are not necessary unless you want to use them. The center is our crucial point here.
(A word about pencils and the Perfect Piecer ruler--I tried 3 different ones, with the lead breaking in the little holes on all 3. Moved to a mechanical and did fine. I wanted it dark for photos but would have used my sewline pencil normally.)

Put a dot in the center of all three pieces.

Turn the top piece down and place over the left piece, right sides together. Then pin right through both dots matching them up exactly.

Put in your machine and lower needle down right where that pin is, removing pin before you sew.
Two very important things to remember:
ALWAYS work from the center dot out, and ALWAYS tack your middle stitches by sewing two stitches, then reversing two then sewing again, or using a tacking stitch if your machine has one.

Press your seams open

Now pick up your third little piece, place right sides together, and pin through dots. This is where the pressing open of the seams will help you. 

Here is a view from the back:

Sew from the center out again.

Press your seams open 

Fold your block so that you can sew the remaining side

When you sew this side, you have to be very careful to keep all those seam allowances out of the way. (experience speaking...I got to use my seam ripper on my very first Y attempt).
Sew from the middle out, press open your Y seam

And there you have it!

Practice, Practice, Practice!
You will want to perfect these before you make your Lone Star quilt.

Want to make a tumbler quilt?
You can find a coloring page RIGHT HERE to aid in your design.

Next week: We will be looking at fabric ideas for quilt number one: The Gradient Star