Picking Up Where I Left Off

It has been a long time since I’ve done ANY sewing.  It was the summer of walking and walk we did, but now it’s time to get back to business.

When my husband Jim retired in July, he had never taken more than one week of vacation at a time so we planned a trip to change take advantage of his new found leisure time. We hiked England’s Coast to Coast path. To prepare for walking 10-18 miles a day, we walked all summer long.  By the time we left on September 16, we were regularly walking 10-12 miles or 3-4 hours every day.  That’s a lot of time walking and it didn’t leave much time for other activities.  It paid off though and we successfully hiked over 200 miles from St. Bees on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood’s Bay on the North Sea.  We had a wonderful time, met lots of really nice people and saw spectacular scenery.  If you are interested in our trip, I blogged about it here (you’ll have to scroll backwards on the blog to get to the beginning since it’s chronological).

Ever since we got home, I’ve been looking forward to getting back in the sewing room. When we left, I had just “fixed” some blocks that were sewn wrong.  I’m still working on the 40 yard dash (marathon) quilts and am making rectangle chain blocks.  For some reason, I was thinking that the blocks just needed to be rotated to make the chain. Once I started laying the blocks I realized the blocks need to be mirror images in order to make the chain.


stairstep rectangle

Does not equal this:

stairstep rectangle 2

Fortunately, it was an easy fix and I was able to arrange the blocks and get the top sewn together.  I’m hoping to find enough time to audition borders tomorrow.

stairstep rectangle 3

It’s really nice to travel, but the hum of the sewing machine is music to my soul!

Everything But Sewing

My husband, Jim, retired July 10 and it has been a summer of major adjustment for me.  For the past 35 years I have been used to him being gone from home for at least 12 hours five days a week.  Now he’s here all the time and I’m not getting anything accomplished.  It isn’t necessarily that we are doing things together all the time, it’s just more of a distraction.

Since his retirement we’ve taken a few short trips and gone to more local events so it’s not all bad. All the fun and games, however, have left little time for sewing.  Because I haven’t had large chunks of time I’ve been doing more piecing and less finishing.  Surely 2015 has been the least productive quilting-wise that I’ve had in the 26 years I’ve been quilting.  The 40 yard dash I started in March has become a marathon and I’m anxious to get those quilts finished so I can move on to other projects.  Blocks are made for four more quilts pieced from all those strips and now I’m sewing the tops together so I’m beginning to see the end of this project.  For anyone who doesn’t know about my 40 yard dash project, I pulled 40 yards of fabric from stash and cut it all into 2-1/2” strips.  I should get 12 or more quilts from those strips.  My other self-imposed rule is that all backgrounds, borders and backings must also come from stash.  It’s been a great project for getting rid of some older stuff.

This is the latest one on the design wall.  It is a circle log cabin.  I’ve made a few of these over the years and always like how they turn out.
circle log cabin

I used the same background throughout.  It is from the Barn Dance collection by Country Threads.  This is an old favorite and now I just have a little bit left that will be cut up for my scrap bins.  That way it will be a fond memory in a few more quilts!

barn dance fabric

A Little Patriotic Project

I received a charm pack of Moda’s Red, White and Free fabric as a gift and had been thinking about how to use it when I came across a tutorial using charms to make chevrons.  I had used this particular technique in the past but shied away from it because all the outside edges of the half-square triangles end up on the bias.  I’m happy to report that it worked great for this little wallhanging and didn’t take any time at all to finish it.

The tutorial I used was Herringbone Pillow Cover by Lauren Terry for Moda Bake Shop.  It was fine for a small project but I think you might have to be more careful with a larger quilt so the outside edges don’t stretch.  I have some more charm packs that would make nice chevron quilts so I’ll probably try it for a lap size.

There are some patriotic charms left over and I’m working on another project that is not as quick and easy as this one.  Hoping to find some time to finish it before the 4th!

DWM: Sweet and Simple

My big design wall news is that I actually (finally!) have a design wall.  In all my years of quilting I’ve always made do with whatever flat surface was available…mostly the floor.  I have a small piece of batting hung in front of the fabric storage cupboards in my sewing room but it’s kind of a pain because it only holds a few blocks at a time and I have to move it every time I need to get in the cupboards.  The house we live in has never been my dream house and it has small rooms that are chopped up with very little wall space anywhere so there isn’t really a place for a permanent design wall.  Recently I saw the Cheryl Ann’s Portable Design Wall from quiltaddict.com and ordered it.

design wall

It arrived the very next day and I set it up in about 10 minutes.  So far it is working really well and I love that I don’t have to get down on my hands and knees to arrange blocks.

The first blocks I used it for were these Turnaround log cabin blocks.  The top is now finished, backing and batting cut and it is in the ever-growing stack to be quilted.

Be sure to check out the links at Patchwork Times to see some great design wall projects in progress.

Mini Lotus Quilt Finished

Yesterday I finally managed to squeeze in some quality sewing time and finished this little quilt.  During the quilt retreat Jen and I attended in March the woman sitting next to me was working on a mini Lotus quilt. I loved all the little pieces and the way they fit together to make optical illusions.  I bought the Mini Hex N More ruler at retreat and pieced a top from some fabric scraps. This ruler was so easy to use, and both cutting and piecing the units were effortless. The top has been sitting unfinished in my sewing room for over two months because it always bothers me to cut off pieced units.

I just couldn’t bring myself to square up those sides–until….time ran extremely short and I needed a small project to show at my quilt group on Thursday.  With no other project in the works, I realized it was finish t.his or have nothing for show and tell.  Since it is such a small quilt, it wasn’t too painful to make those cuts on the side. I didn’t have time to quilt it before my group met, but I got to it yesterday and it only took a few minutes to quilt and bind

I enjoyed making it so much, I’m planning to make the big version.  The pattern and ruler are both by Jaybird Quilts.

By the Numbers: Week of June 7, 2015

This week’s numbers for sewing time are dismal:  3 hours, 42 minutes.  I started the week in Kansas City, ended the week in La Crosse and had work days in between so there was little time left for anything but laundry and errands.

All the sewing time I did get was for one new project, called Sweet and Simple.  It is another quilt from my 40 yard dash fabrics.  It doesn’t look like much yet, but it should be a nice donation quilt when it is finished.

We went to La Crosse to cheer on our daughter as she competed in her first triathlon sprint. Here she is, looking pretty chipper, leaving for the staging area.

Jen-pre race

Up first-a 4/10 of a mile swim.


Swim cap off and bike helmet on, she’s ready for a 17 mile bike ride.


Still smiling, it’s time for a 5K run.


And crossing the finish line an hour and 42 minutes later.


Her goals were to finish and not finish last and she accomplished both!  See “Linda’s” in the background above? That’s where we waited for her to finish the bike part of the race.  Linda’s is a local bakery!!

Our entire time in La Crosse wasn’t fun and games.  We also had a little time to visit the quilt shops.  This was my first time in River Road Quilt Shop and for sure we’ll go back.  One part of the shop has garden items, flags and gifts and the other part is quilt shop.  Jim browsed through the garden section and found something he had been looking for–a rotating flagpole that is supposed to prevent the flag wrapping around the pole.  He hasn’t had a chance to put it up yet but I hope it works.  In the quilt shop I found the new Wisconsin State Shop Hop fabrics and picked up a charm pack and a few fat quarters.

Just to be fair to everyone, I got a couple of fat quarters from Olive Juice Quilts, too!

Total stash added this week:  2-3/4 yards

Total stash used this week:  10 yards (Emma Lee’s Chevron Candy Quilt) + 12 yards (Mint Condition-Blue Skies) = 22 yards.

Net this week:  -19.25 yards

Total for year:  +46.5 yards

At least it went in the right direction this week.


Mint Condition Finished

Last week I finished quilting the Mint Condition top before I went to Kansas City and took it with me to hand stitch the binding.  I’m happy to say that it is now finished.




It is a gray, gray day and I just can’t get a decent picture of it–the colors are so much prettier than they show here.

I think it was a good choice to quilt straight lines on this one and they ended up looking pretty straight!

MC close

The pattern is Blue Skies by Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique.  The fabric is from Camelot Fabrics and if you like them, I have a couple of fat quarter packs available here in my Etsy fabric store.

On the Frame: Mint Condition

I fell in love with the gray, mint and white color combination in this fat quarter bundle and used it to make a quilt for myself.  It is Mint Condition by Camelot Fabrics.

fq bundle


It is on the frame and my plan was to simply quilt straight lines.  It was a good idea but it turned out to be harder than it looks.  I started out by locking the machine in place but unless the quilt top was perfectly straight all the way down the length of the frame, the lines were not straight.  I float my tops on the frame and for this one it probably would have worked better to load the top on the rail.  In the end, I just eyeballed it and stitched freehand as straight as I could.  Still not perfect but I’m pretty happy with the results.

Mint Condition frame

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