Monday, February 07, 2011

Little Monkey!

I received several emails and facebook friend page requests to put my instructions for the Monkey Wrench blocks from Little Monkey here! So I thought, why not? It is a fun traditional block and works so well with the sizes of scrap strips I already keep on hand, and that is what made it so enjoyable to dig and play with these, coming up with the craziest fabric and color combos that I could find!

My quilt has 36 blocks and finishes at approximately 51” X 51”.

The Monkey Wrench blocks finish at 5” and are SO cute. If you cut your scraps down into useable sizes like I do, you’ve already got all the makings for these blocks close at hand!

Click HERE for printer-friendly .pdf file!

You will need:

  • 2 - 2.5” strips (By about a 7.5” length) for the half square triangle corners, one background and one color.
  • 2 - 1.5” X 6.5” strips for the connectors – one light, one dark ((or shake it up and use two contrasting colors!))
  • 1 - 1.5” square from your box of 1.5” pre-cut squares for the block center. SEW SIMPLE!

littlemonkey 036

Place the two 2.5” strips right sides together ((You can use longer strips, but you need them at least 7.5” long to get the 4 triangles cut from the same set)) and using the 2.5” markings on the Easy Angle Ruler, cut 4 triangles as shown.

littlemonkey 038

These are the pieces needed for the block for the first pass of chain piecing through the machine! Have fun picking fabrics that DO NOT MATCH! I have the Little Monkey Fabric and the lime green with pink dots for my 1/2 square triangles, a funky white with black dots and a recycled blue plaid for the connector units! My center square is an 1870s chrome yellow repro from the 1.5” squares drawer! Quit looking at the PRINT of the fabric, and just look at the color--- HAVE FUN shaking it up! UNPREDICTABILITY is our key word here!

littlemonkey 039

Here are my 4 pairs of triangles AND my connector unit strip set being sewn. I run them through in one chain ((followed by a leader/ender or another unit from the quilt)) And take the whole chain to the ironing board. From there, I press everything open to the dark, THEN cut the units apart and remove the dog ears from the triangles. At this point measure to double check. Your 1/2 square triangles should measure 2.5” square. Your strip set should be 2.5” tall. If they are too short ((Say 2 3/8”!?)) You have got to skinny-down on your seam allowance. This is the time to check that before you go any farther. ((Ask me how I know!?))

littlemonkey 040

Cut 4 1.5” sections from the strip set. There is 1/2” extra built into the length of the strip set for squaring/trimming before you cut.

littlemonkey 043 littlemonkey 042

And this is where I throw in MORE chain piecing. Assembling these units this way keeps me from getting things turned around, it saves thread, and keeps everything together so even if I just get the block partially sewn before I have to pick up my stuff at retreat and leave---I don’t lose my CHAIN of THOUGHT!

To chain piece your block, look at the first picture, then the second. You will notice the center column of units is flipped right sides together on top of the first column of units. This is the first line of stitching we are going to be doing.

Pick up the upper left corner with the connector unit and feed it through the machine. When you get to the end of that unit, stop, but don’t lift the presser foot. Grab the connector unit that has the center square on top of it and feed that through after the corner unit you just sewed. Finally, pick up the bottom corner unit that has the connector unit on it. Feed that through as well. Your 3 pairs of units will be connected by two thread “links” between them!

littlemonkey 044 littlemonkey 045

See how the first two columns are chained together? The second pic shows the first two columns sewn, with the threads connecting them still intact, and the 3rd column ready to be added!

littlemonkey 046

Here I am adding the 3rd units to the rows with right sides together! I finished my seam with a pair of leader/ender squares, and can clip the partially sewn block off behind the presser foot.

littlemonkey 047

Here are the three rows of my block! ((Isn’t that Little Monkey fabric SO cute?!)) The three rows are webbed together by the chaining stitches between the rows. You can clip them apart now if you want, but I don’t. It doesn’t hurt to leave them there. At this point I finger press, and then flip the rows right sides together to complete the block stitching:

littlemonkey 048

Block assembly! Easy, Right!?

littlemonkey 049

One “Little Monkey” block done! All from scrap strips without having to cut into FQ’s or yardage…just digging into parts I keep easily on hand!

If you want to make your quilt the size I did, you will need 36 Little Monkey blocks.

You will also need the following:

Sashings: 84 rectangles 2” X 5.5”

Cornerstones: 49 2” scrap squares in bright colors ((These all came from my 2” square box! Instant variety!))

littlemonkey 014

Lay out the blocks with the sashings and the cornerstones in between-- the way you want them to appear in the quilt. I lay out the whole quilt this way, and then chain assemble it in rows as described in the chained block assembly above. It is no different, just more units and bigger size!

littlemonkey 016 littlemonkey 017

Assembly goes very fast this way, and there is NO WAY my pieces can get rotated and turned around on me. I pick up one column at a time and add those pieces to the previous rows, then go pick up another column and add it on until the whole top is webbed by the chaining stitches in between the rows like this:

littlemonkey 019

When the top is sewn into rows, I just flip the rows right sides together and stitch, usually finger pressing seams in opposing directions as I go.

littlemonkey 020

For borders, I added a 1.5” cut inner border in a light aqua blue, and then cut my outer wild print border at 4.5”. Experiment with different border treatments/widths to finish your quilt your own way.

littlemonkey 021

I think we as Quilters ALWAYS enjoy a Little Monkeying Around! Rolling on the floor laughing

This quilt came together over Super Bowl Sunday Weekend! For close ups of the blocks and quilting detail check out THIS POST!

littlemonkey 050

Last night I got as far as getting the binding ON, but the handwork is still left to do! Maybe tonight? Because today I’ve got more of THIS going on:

littlemonkey 051 littlemonkey 052

Getting those book orders out to you ASAP!

Free Kindle/Nook E Book, and a Quilt Update!

I love 3 things.

  1. My Kindle
  2. Free Ebooks
  3. Quilting! ((You know this already!))

This morning in my email was a notice for a free e-book that sounds perfectly fine to hit all THREE on my love list today. If you have a Kindle click HERE to download it now from Amazon, but hurry…you never know when these will not be free anymore!

Click HERE for the free download from B&N.

A Time to Love, by Barbara Cameron, the first in her Quilts of Lancaster County series, is free on Kindle and from B&N, courtesy of Abingdon Press.

Book Description
War correspondent Jennie King thinks she’s just a temporary guest in her grandmother’s Amish community while she recuperates from the devastating injuries sustained in a car bomb attack that changed her world. But when she meets Matthew Bontrager, the man she had a crush on as a teenager, she wonders if God has a new plan for her. Jennie has emotional and physical scars and though she feels she has come home to this man and this place, she's not sure she can bridge the difference between their worlds.

littlemonkey 025

It was SUCH a great weekend to stay in and sew, and I got so SEW so much done! After Half Time ((Which I must say was the worst half time show I have ever seen---Or that must just mean that I am “officially” old now?)) I finished the quilting on the Little Monkey Quilt! Oh oh oh, it turned out so cute!

littlemonkey 027

And yes, I can see why so many people LIKE making small quilts. Instant gratification, and the ability to try many different patterns and variations in layouts and colors and….quick fix! I don’t think this will cure my love of BIG quilts, but it was sure fun to throw this together and have it done in a day. All that remains now is the binding.

I took pictures of the different quadrants so you can check out the fun mis-matched fabrics in each block! You can click the slide show to view them closer. I went as silly as I could while making these. They are fun to look at! For instance we have things like recycled plaids sewn next to batiks…novelties sewn to civil wars, etc. It was all about COLOR and DIFFERENCE. Hopefully it will be fun for the baby to look at ((And wonder about her crazy Auntie Bonnie)) as she grows.

And yes, I stuck with the name that was on that cute fabric! The first Monkey Fabric that I tried for sashings, but rejected. I could use that for a label, right? It’s just too cute!

I make baby quilts BIG too. This one is about 50” square, which will be great for floor play time, and for snuggling under even up to 7 or 8 years old and beyond.

So what’s in store for the binding? About as far away from mint green as I can get! LOL! ORANGE of course! If I have learned one thing ((Or learned it more than once)) Is that Auntie Bonnie needs to follow her own muse and do what the quilt needs. It just NEEDS Orange, don’t you think?

littlemonkey 034

Happy Quilt, indeed!

It’s another full day in Quiltville. I’m actually running errands this morning, and meeting up with my friend Jen for lunch, and then back at it again here at home.

Tomorrow? Dentist. ((oh fun! I’ve got a molar that is zinging me and needs to be seen to!))

Wednesday? Lisa is coming to SEW! WHooot! ((I guess this means I need to put all this fabric away so there is room for her and Shelby-Girl))

And that is as far as I am thinking for this week!

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Scraps & Shirttails II Trunkshow!

*Note* This post is a re-cap of an early post on another site. These are the quilts in my new book Scraps & Shirttails II.....also featured in my new header above! I wanted to repost this so I could link the images on my website and my book store pages so people could see what was actually IN the book.

So how bout a TRUNKSHOW?! I am always up for some quilt-eye-candy at any time of the day or night! Click each photo to biggie-size them!

BricksintheBarnyardfinal FairSquarefinal

Bricks in the Barnyard and Fair & Square

Quilts color my world: Every piece a vivid tone, much like acrylics or oil paint on canvas. I surround myself in tints and hues and values, creating every day art with needle and thread. Quilts ARE art, whether they are traditional in nature, or contemporary. I find joy in my piece-by-piece world, listening to what each quilt wants to be as it is created. I can not imagine my life without quilts in it! And I am so happy to share this love of quilts with YOU!

CrissCrossfinal GoosePuddlefinal

Criss-Cross Applesauce and Goose in the Puddle

HawksNestfinal HolyToledofinal

Hawks Nest and Holy Toledo

We’ve heard it over and over: “Use it up – wear it out – make it do, or do without!” My love of using recycled fabric from clothing started early on as my boys grew, ((they are 21 and 27 now..I can’t believe it..)) and If that label on their shirts said 100% cotton, by the time they had out-grown the shirts ---into the quilt room they went! I loved stitching the memory of their boyhoods into my quilts and every time I see those fabrics in my quilts, I remember “When”! Fabric has MEMORY! Isn’t that true?

RectangleWrfinal SmithMountfinal

Rectangle Wrangle and Smith Mountain Morning

Whether store bought or re-purposed, the fabric is the largest part of your quilt. Re-purposing fabric for your scrap quilt starts with fabric collecting. This involves more fore-thought and planning than searching your favorite quilt shops for the perfect pre-matched fabric line. You need to know where to look, what to look for and how to spot a bargain when you see it. Think of it as a treasure hunt, and be on the lookout!

Tumalotrailfinal StarsOverShallottefinal

Tumalo Trail and Stars Over Shallotte

Here are some logical places to begin your search. As you continue your journey, you’ll come up with more sources.

• Thrift shops such as Salvation Army or Goodwill
• Garage and yard Sales, church and school rummage sales –check the newspaper for ads.
• Your friends and family
• Your own closet
• Your stash – always your stash!

OldKyalbumfinal OrOrBustfinal

Old Kentucky Album & Oregon or Bust

When shopping for bargains, look for the largest sizes of men’s shirts. There is a lot of fabric in a 3X men’s tall, long-sleeved shirt! I figure the shirt back to be larger than a fat quarter. In addition to the back, you get two fronts, two sleeves, cuffs, a collar and pockets making about 1 to 1 1/2 yards of usable fabric per shirt. Compare how much you pay for 1 to 1 1/2 yards of fabric in your area to how much you pay for one gently used shirt. Many times, you’ll be getting a true bargain from the shirt – especially if you are in love with the color and the pattern.

CarolinaChristmasfinal CarolinaChristmasD6back

Carolina Christmas Front Carolina Christmas Back

I do read labels just like I would a can of soup at the grocery store. I want to know what the fiber is. There have been times when I have let a really good color go because it had spandex in it. I prefer 100% cotton, but there are a couple of other things I will use that are still natural fibers and give a good result. A cotton/linen blend is still a natural combination and will behave nicely. I also like the texture it gives. A cotton/ramie blend has a feel much like homespun and I have used it with good luck.

Cut it up!

  • I find the best tools for deconstructing to be a seam ripper, for quickly removing buttons, and a good pair of sharp dress shears.I save the taking apart event for an evening when I am couch-bound watching a chick flick movie on TV.
  • Remove the buttons. I save them in a pretty glass jar for decoration. I have dreams of using them to tack a quilt. You can also gift them to someone who collects buttons, and spread the love.
  • Remove the neck band and collar. Throw the neck band away, saving the collar fabric if there is no stiff interfacing bonded to it. I cut the layers apart on the seam, saving the one piece that is not interfaced.
  • Remove sleeve cuffs. Cut through all the layers on stitching lines to separate them. Toss the part with the fused interfacing and save the one layer that is not interfaced.
  • Remove the pockets. The seam ripper will help to get this process started as there is usually triangle backstitching at the upper corners. Collars, cuffs and pockets are the perfect size to cut up for string piecing projects.
  • Remove the button plackets. I usually just snip and rip these, and toss. There isn’t much that can be saved there.
  • Turn the shirt inside out and simply cut off all the seams and hems.
    Discard the yoke if it is bonded to interfacing. Often it is a good source for fabric because it is two layers.
  • Finally, discard ANY parts of the clothing that are too worn to be used.


And this is just the START!! There is so much more that I wish I could tell you but I’ve probably already taken up more space than I should!

Don’t you know – Quilting isn’t just a “hobby”! It is a life style choice! It’s who we are --- not just what we do. I’m a Quilter! And my life is so enriched because of it!

Happy Stitches, Everyone!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Drawing A Winner --- It’s Half Time!

Are you ready??? 458 of us agreed that it is NOT the outside that counts, but what is in the INSIDE! ((Yes, more life lessons in here I’m sure….but I still draw the line at wearing Snuggies to Costco!! Flirt male))

And the Winner of the first “Scratch & Dent Give-Away” for a copy of Scraps & Shirttails II is:


She writes:

I wouldn't mind a book with a little damage to it's back; it's what's inside that counts. Learned that lesson well when I was 13 and diagnosed with scoliosis (my own "damaged back"); it didn't change what was inside me. Maybe it did: I'm stronger because of it, inside and out!

Neverbored, please email me at Quiltville@gmail.com with your name and snail mail address and this copy will be off on its way in the mail to you tomorrow! Congrats!

Wow, has this been fun! I’ve been thinking about what to do for the next Give-Away and I think we should save it for Valentine’s Day, don’t you? Wouldn’t that be the perfect gifty excuse? ((Especially for those of us who have had to live down such things as a gas dryer for Christmas, and an “as seen on TV” pasta-pot birthday present, still wrapped in it’s CVS bag---therefore giving us NO HOPE ever for such romantic holidays as Valentine’s Day! Don’t ask --- You don’t want to know!)) SO be watching….We’ll do this again as Valentine’s Day gets closer!

Wanna know what I’ve been up to today?

littlemonkey 016

Quilt Top Assembly! I like to chain sew my tops together by row, so each row is complete, and they are hooked between the units by the chaining threads. This keeps EVERYTHING secure and then it is really impossible for me to get a block rotated or in the wrong place.

littlemonkey 017

The rows are assembled ACROSS the quilt, then I simply just have to join the rows! Once the rows are assembled and webbed this way, you can cut them apart to press and attach if you want. I don’t. I just finger press and go.

littlemonkey 019

Here is the whole top with the rows webbed together ----just ready for the rows to be joined to each other.

littlemonkey 021

And the TOP finished!! Whoooo!! I tell you, I really had to hone some fudging skills with this thing thanks to that crazy bad seam allowance!

littlemonkey 022

Again I tried and tried and tried different fabrics for borders, and this is the one I liked the best! Isn’t it wild?! Just wait til you see it quilted!

And my project for tomorrow? I get to put away all the stash that is covering every flat surface in here from auditioning everything in sight!

littlemonkey 023

I think this is the part I hate the worst—Putting yardage away! I hate having to refold and sort by color or whatever and put it AWAY. But it’s on the list for tomorrow.

I’ve got a binding to finish, and more game is on, so I’m going to hit SEND and see ya’ll later!