Category Archives: Gifts

FNSI January 2012

So much to do, so little time.  This is the story of my life.

I did take a little time last night to work on my youngest son’s Christmas present (ahem).  You see, when I realized that his quilt wasn’t going to get done for Christmas, I boxed and wrapped it and presented it to him with the promise that I would get it done soon.  All that was left was the binding.  My sewing machine pretty much keeled over from exhaustion while I was making his (and his older brother’s) Christmas present and I barely finished quilting it.  Getting the binding on one side was a real challenge.  I could bore you with the details but hopefully I’ll soon be able to show you a new sewing machine instead.  Anyway…

Today I present my progress from last night’s Friday Night Sew In.  This is all I have left of the binding:

Can you see the white in the upper right corner?  That’s actually a mistake that I can’t quite figure out to fix (the backing slipped down from the end when I was quilting it), but you can see where the red binding ends on the right and the left.  Once that’s sewn down I’m done!

So, just a sneak peek for now.  I can’t wait to show the whole thing wrapped around his little body once it’s done.

Note to self:  change the header already!!



Filed under Friday Night Sew-In, Gifts, Quilting

Kitchen Window Quilt Done!

I’m so happy with the way this turned out.  I really liked every aspect of the creation and I think my friend will love it.  I finished it over a week ago now, but have been too busy (working a lot, getting ready for vacation) to post it.  Here goes:

The backing is an Ikea twin bed sheet that I bought last year for about $7.  The prints are all Anna Maria Horner, primarily from Innocent Crush.  The binding and window borders are Kona Berry and the sashing fabric is Quilter’s Only Solids in Tea Dye.

I was unable to free-motion quilt it, though that’s what I really wanted, because the tension on my machine is all messed up.  I quilted it at our quilt guild sewing day a few weeks ago and was all prepared to dig in without practice or preparation when my friend Amy said, “Um, have you ever free-motion quilted before?” (answer: no) “Don’t you want to make a practice piece first?”  In my mind there was no doubt in my ability to do it (mind over matter, you know, and a rare burst of confidence), I just figured I’d dig in and see what happened.

Thank God I had brought a baby quilt to practice on.  I totally messed it up.

In fact, my hands were able to make the free-motion quilting movements and I was really psyched about that, but every once in a while I’d hear a “clunk” from my machine that sounded suspicious.  Sure enough, when I turned over the baby quilt, there were huge amounts of thread that the machine threw out when it made the clunk noise.  Either that, or it would just make little knots here and there.  My friend Kait suggested turning the tension up to 9 (maximum) and see if that helped.  It actually helped a lot, but then the machine had a death grip on my quilt so I had to dial down the tension just to remove it.  I knew I couldn’t do the whole quilt that way.

I made a quilt sandwich from the remains of the bed sheet and practiced again.

Practice piece front


Practice piece back

You can see the front looks fine.  Not great, but fine.  The back looks OK too, but only at the bottom where I turned up the tension to 9.  At the top you can see all the little knots that were created from the loose tension.  I’m afraid that this problem isn’t going to fix itself, so I’m going to have to take the machine to be tuned up, or simply straight line quilt all of my quilts which isn’t a good solution.

In the end, the Kitchen Window quilting is diamond-patterned and really looks just fine.  It’s not what I wanted but it got the job done and overall the quilt turned out really pretty.

By the way, I think I mentioned this before but it’s worth mentioning again, the Kitchen Window pattern is from The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman.


Filed under Gifts, Learning Curve, Quilting

Kitchen Window progress

Nine of 12 blocks completed.  I don’t have a design wall, so I photographed each block separately against white fabric in my sunroom and then cropped each picture to approximately the same size.  Not quite the same as a design wall, I know, but it’s the best I have right now.

Despite it’s shortcomings, my “design wall” shows me what I like and what I don’t like, which is the whole point of a design wall.  The dark green pieces of the blocks really stand out to me, and not in a good way.  I think I would have liked them better if they were heavier on the blue.  I also thought I would not like the blue/gray part of the middle left block, but that doesn’t bother me too much from afar.  That said, I’m going to substitute something else for the blue/gray pieces I’ve already cut for the final 3 blocks.  Maybe I’ll add more of the pink AMH Shattered.  That’s kind of appropriate for blocks of windows, no?

I’ve got too much invested to undo the green/blue pieces of blocks 1, 2, 3, and 6 so I’m going to have to live with them.  I’ll rearrange them on the quilt so they’re not so close together.  I do love love love the aqua parts.  Perhaps they’re opposites on the color spectrum and that’s why they draw my eye in(?)

Note to self:  need a real design wall soon!


Filed under Anna Maria Horner, Gifts, Quilting

A new project and March do. Good Stitches

I decided to cut into my stash of Anna Maria Horner fabrics.  I’ve been hoarding collecting them for some time now and finally found a worthy project to make, and someone for whom to make it.

It was my birthday last week and one of my gifts was Elizabeth Hartman’s book, The Practical Guide to Patchwork.  Elizabeth is the most amazing quilter – everything she makes is perfect and I have gone to her website for block ideas, free-motion quilting help, and just overall inspiration many, many times.  She is also, incidentally, a member of do. Good Stitches, though she’s not in my circle.

I wanted to make a quilt for a good friend in Cincinnati who I’m going to visit in April (I know, I’m biting off a lot with little time to chew).  My friend Gwyn and I are going together.  We planned this trip back in November when Jo El was visiting during a rough patch for my family.  Jo El is the kind of friend who will hop on a plane in a moment’s notice and will show up with laughter and love, and her friendship is truly a gift.  She is also a world-renowned heart researcher.  I am not kidding.  She is impressive in many ways.

Gwyn and I made this trip 2 years ago for Jo El’s 40th birthday party and spent a fun weekend just hanging out together.  We’re really looking forward to this trip again and I want to bring a little something as a thank you to J.

AMH stash

These are mostly AMH Innocent Crush with a few Good Folks in the mix.  Missing from the picture is my all-time favorite, Filigree in Meadow.  I’m not quite sure about the print 5 from the left, Good Folks Festival in Dusk.  It doesn’t really go with the solid border so I might have to substitute for that one – I’ll make that decision later.

Selvages saved, organizer cards ready

One tip I really appreciate from the book is how Elizabeth suggests cutting the fabrics and grouping them right away onto organizer cards.  It’s really a brilliant idea – it keeps everything together and there’s a real sense of accomplishment as each card is cleared and the block is completed.  You can use anything for the organizer cards; I used old file folders that I tore in half.

A 12-card project is very doable; my mind doesn’t bend around a 64-card project.  The pattern I’ve chosen is Kitchen Window.  This is a 12-card project.

12 organizer cards, organized.

I finished cutting last weekend but didn’t have time to sew anything together until last night.

The solids are Kona Berry and Quilter’s Only Solids in Tea Dye.  I hope I don’t regret the Quilter’s Only fabric (upper left).  I’ve never used it and it’s a bit see-through, but just a bit.  I don’t think that will be a problem.  I hope not.  Keeping my fingers crossed about that.  Trying to convince myself that it will be OK.  I just didn’t like the Kona neutral color choices available to me in the store and I really wanted a linen-look.  I think got it with the Quilter’s Only Tea Dye.

I finished 3.  Six Nine more to go [I don’t know what’s wrong with my math!].  These are really big blocks.  You can see one almost completely covers my cutting mat:

Moving on

March’s do. Good Stitches block for the Faith Circle (organized by Alecia) was the Stashbuster Block from Material Obsession Two.  To be honest, this was probably the most challenging bee block I’ve made.  I won’t say it was a hard block, but it required a lot more of my attention than usual.  Most of the time I can envision an entire quilt out of the bee blocks I make, but in this case, I am not so sure.  My points weren’t terrible, but they certainly weren’t as beautiful as Rita’s inspiration quilt over at Red Pepper Quilts.  To combat the points-not-lining-up problem the author suggests putting a doodad (yo yo, whatever) in the center of each block after the whole thing is quilted.

I scoured Red Pepper Quilts’ website for pointers (no pun intended) and realized that Rita didn’t use the pattern’s paper templates on her quilt; rather, she used a special acrylic template that she had on hand.  I think that might have made all the difference in how beautifully hers came together.  I think when cutting fabric using a  paper template you eventually end up with uneven measurements.  And we all know in quilting a little difference in seam allowances means a lot.  That said, I’m sure Alecia’s quilt will come together very nicely because there are a lot of talented sewists in the group.  And we’ve got good juju on our side.

Anyway, back to the basics.  We were asked to make two of these babies.  The finished size should have been 9.5″ according to Alecia.  I made mine and they were relative monsters at 10.5″ unfinished.  So I wrote to one of the authors of the book, Kathy Doughty,  and she replied (how nice!)  She said that her finished block was 10″ so I seemed to be on the right track.  In the end I didn’t even trim the sides because Kathy said the blocks could really be any size (finished) as long as they were all the same size when sewn together.  I’ll leave the final trimming to Alecia.

This is the block as first assembled.  I sent this picture to Alecia in desperation because my measurements were so off compared to hers.  After re-measuring her block and doing the math, Alecia decided that her blocks were the ones that were off.  So she remade hers (of course, I wouldn’t be a Catholic if I didn’t feel guilty about that. Grrr.).

I tried but no amount of ripping and re-sewing could make those points come together nicely in the middle.

My blocks were finished last Sunday.  I hope to get them in the mail today if I can get this post finished!

Stashbuster blocks without the doodad in the middle

Stashbuster blocks with the doodad in the middle


Filed under Anna Maria Horner, do. Good Stitches bee, Gifts, Stash

Curse you infernal snap tape!

My sewing machine does NOT like snap tape.  For the life of me I could not get it sewn in by machine.  I used my zipper foot as recommended, but the foot just kept pushing the snap tape to the side, so the stitching is all zig-zaggy and really doesn’t look nice.  I ended up spending an hour sewing it in by hand (and I’m still not done).  I’m not sure I like the results.

On the plus side, the fact that I’m ready to sew in the snap tape means that I’m almost done – yea!!  It even fits the duvet.  I’m so excited!

I managed to get the quilted coasters wrapped and given to the teachers today.  Another gift finished and given!

Tonight I’ll finish up Primo’s duvet cover and piece Segundo’s backing.  If I’m really ambitious I might get it sewn on too.  Tomorrow night I’ll have to sew in the closure – I’m using individual snaps this time.  I’m sure snap tape serves a useful purpose, but it sure is hard to sew.

Since my mom does lovely needlepoint, I ordered two patterns from Sublime Stitching as part of a Christmas gift to her.  They just came today and I can’t wait to get them all wrapped up for her.  I’m going to try to whip together a pincushion for her too.  That’s possibly the kind of thing I can finish while we’re driving to my parents’ house on Christmas.  Am I crazy?

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Filed under Gifts, Learning Curve, UFOs

Quilted coasters

I’ve had to knock out some gifts for the boys’ teachers in a hurry.  It’s not that I didn’t realize that the kids were out of school for Christmas/winter break; I did what I always do and shop last minute.  In this case they’re also getting a homemade gift.  So the teachers are getting these cute quilted coasters as well as a gift card from a local bakery/coffee shop.  I hope they like it.

I used a pattern from Joelle Hoverson’s book Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts for my first set of quilted coasters (image on left below).  I used Insul-Brite insulated batting.  It squishes down when it’s so thoroughly quilted.  They’re quite simple and the results are fun.  For the second set, I modified the pattern which made it easier to add the batting.  I used some scrap fleece for batting and the end height was the same as the first set but it was a lot softer than the batting.  It wasn’t quilted across the entire coaster so I was able to complete the second set faster.

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Filed under Gifts, Learning Curve, Quilting