Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christmas Lights, Part 3!

If You've reached this stage, you are ready to put this quilt together!

Click HERE for printer-friendly .pdf version!

*note* You must have adobe reader installed to view and print this file. You may need to right click to save, and then click to open it to print it!

Cutting The Setting Triangles!

I believe in specialty rulers! I also love on-point quilts, so this ruler really comes in handy. I remember exactly where and when I bought it -- it was 1999 and we had just moved to Sulphur Springs, TX. This is "The Setting Triangle" by Omnigrid, and you know what? I just did a web search for it, and couldn't find it, so I don't know if it is even made any more! Bummer if not....but I'm sure there are other rulers by other manufacturers out there that do the same thing.

Basically, it is a HUGE "Companion Angle" type ruler, and allows you to cut big triangles with the straight of grain on the longest side of the triangle from STRIPS, not squares. I find it really easy to use. You find the unfinished block size (9 1/2") on the left side of the ruler, and it tells you what width of strip to cut for your triangles (7 1/4") and you use the ruler to cut them down the length of your strip. I've learned to give myself a bit of extra allowance with the first cut at the end of the strip, and those cut off corners are big enough to trim for the 4 corners of the top.

But if you don't HAVE access to a ruler like this, we are going to be cutting squares!

From your gold fabric, cut:

(4) 14" Squares, cut diagonally twice from corner to corner with an X to yield 16 setting triangles.

(2) 7 1/4" Squares, cut diagonally once from corner to corner to yield 4 corner triangles.

Lay out the quilt as shown in the picture above, paying attention to the direction the blocks are turned. That said, feel free to play with them! Rotate them! Find an arrangement that is pleasing to you.

On-point quilts are sewn in diagonal rows starting in one corner. Each row gets longer as you get toward the center of the quilt, and then the rows diminish again.

Stitch the blocks into rows, with setting triangles on the end of each row. Join the rows.

I like to sew the quilt in 2 "approximate" halves, and then join the halves together to complete the top, this makes things a bit less unwieldy when putting so much through the machine.

Trim the quilt center, leaving 1/4” seam allowance beyond the block corners around the outside edge of the top. There might not be much to trim, but this helps get rid of dog ears as well, cleaning up the top before adding borders.

Adding The Borders!

Black 1st border: Cut (7) 2" strips across the width of yardage.

Red 2nd border: Cut (7) 2 1/2" strips across the width of yardage.

Paisley 3rd border: Cut (8) 5" strips across the width of yardage.

*Note* If you want your borders continuous with no piecing in them, cut them lengthwise from 2 1/4 yard lengths of fabric. You will need 4 Strips of each border fabric.

I prefer to cut mine across the width of the fabric unless there is a pattern that I want to preserve in a certain orientation in the border. I also like any remaining yardage to be "full width" in my stash so I know exactly how much I have and what I can get out of it. It's easier for me to plan a quilt with 44" wide yardage than 30" yardage that has had borders for a previous quilt removed from it, get it?

I could do this the easy way, and just tell you the length to cut your borders according to the "math-perfect" dimensions, but you know? I find more people have greater success if they work with their own measurements. I want your quilt to be successful, so you need to cut borders that fit YOUR quilt, not the prototype :c)

Follow this procedure for EACH of the three borders shown, adding each border individually to the quilt and repeating the measuring steps with each border added:

Join the strips for each border end to end with diagonal seams. Press seams open and trim dog ears.

Lay quilt out on the floor, smoothing it gently. Do not tug or pull. Measure the quilt through the center from top to bottom. Cut two inner side borders this length. Sew inner side borders to the quilt sides with right sides together, pinning to match centers and ends. Ease where necessary to fit. Press seams to the borders.

Repeat for top and bottom inner borders, measuring across the quilt center, including the borders just added in the measurement. Stitch top and bottom inner borders to quilt center, pinning to match centers and ends, easing where necessary. Press seams to the borders.

If you are really ambitious, you could sew all three border widths together first, and MITER your corners! If you want to do that, you can find directions for that HERE!

Here is a close-up of the fabrics in my top! Writing this tutorial has really urged me to get this quilt out of cold storage the closet and get my holiday decorating under way!

Of course, you are going to layer and quilt "as desired". Christmas Lights is edge to edge quilted in free-hand garlands of light bulbs and cords that wind and meander over the quilt surface. I used a variegated gold thread.


Cut 8 strips of paisley fabric (Or go contrasting if you want! I would have if the magazine hadn't already chosen this for me...I'm such a rebel and my binding is usually contrasting with the outer border!) 2 1/2" wide by width of fabric. (I know some of you are 2 1/4" binding girls, but I like mine a bit fuller and wider at 2 1/2, using the edge of my walking foot as a guide for my seam. It makes a nice 3/8" Binding instead of 1/4", which I like!)

For more on quilt binding...go HERE!

*Part 1!

*Part 2!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oscar is HOME!

**Note* Oscar passed away in the spring of 2011. I miss him dearly, and it is a comfort to see his photos pop up occasionally through random blog posts. Oscar, you are missed!

And let me tell you, he is NOT a HAPPY CAMPER!

He looks...well.....terrible. But better than he did when he went in to the animal hospital on Saturday.

The doc showed me his xrays...OY! You couldn't even see his heart or lungs hardly due to all the fluid that had built up. He said when the first started to syringe out the fluid, it just came and came and came, poor guy! No wonder his breathing was so labored. He couldn't GET ANY AIR!

He's been on mega antibiotics, and as soon as they got the fluid off, you could tell that he could breathe so much better.

However, he refused to eat while at the vet.....and I'm out to remedy that. I don't think it will take much to put the weight back on him, he made a bee-line for the bed-side table where his treats are found. He even jumped up there just fine and was purring to beat the band.

So now we just wait and watch. We give him antibiotics twice a day to make sure the infection is completely gone. We feed him to fatten him up and get his weight stabilized. We watch and we wait to see if the fluid returns, which is our main clue for how we are doing.

I know if he was still in bad shape, they wouldn't have called me to bring him home. So I'm thinking positive. It's a good day! It's a good sign...

It's a bad vet bill! >_< (But worth it!) Welcome Home, Oscar....you were missed!

Christmas Lights, Part 2!

Making The Blocks!

Click HERE for printer-friendly .pdf version!

*note* You must have adobe reader installed to view and print this file. You may need to right click to save, and then click to open it to print it!

In Part 1, we listed the fabric requirements, and all the directions for assembling the main units that go into Christmas Lights. Now we get to put them together into blocks!

Block 1, Block Quarter A!

From the Red Tone-on-Tone #1: Cut 120 Rectangles measuring 2" X 3 1/2". Cut 40 rectangles 2" X 5".

From Random Colored Scraps: Cut 40 2" squares of all colors (I just grabbed these from my pre-cut 2" squares bin!)

Grab 40 of the 52 4 patches (Say that 3 times fast!) and following the picture above, sew a red rectangle to one side of each 4 patch, paying attention to the directions that the colored squares in each 4 patch run. Press seam toward the red rectangle.

Join a 2" square to 40 more of the red rectangles. Press seams toward the rectangle, and add this unit to the 4 patch block quarter as shown. Press seam toward the red rectangle.

Block 1, Block Quarter B!

Following the photo above, Stack black/neutral triangle units as shown, paying attention to the direction they face. Stitch a red 2" X 3 1/2" rectangle to the right side of each triangle unit. Press seam toward the red rectangle.

Add the larger 2" X 5" rectangle to the bottom of the unit as shown. Press toward the rectangle just added.

Arrange 40 A-Units and 40 B-Units as shown and sew to complete 20 of Block 1! I love Asymmetrical blocks, they make really interesting designs as you rotate them in the quilt!

Block 2!

This Star Block also has a lot of motion/action going on!

For this block, arrange the Gold Triangle Units, the Mirror Image Triangle Units, and one center 4 patch as shown.

Stitch to make 12 Star blocks! (Yes, this is the same star as in the picture above, it is just rotated, and I'm feeling too lazy to take another picture! LOL!

On to Part 3!

*Back to Part 1!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Lights Part 1!

Click Here for printable pdf version!

*Note* You must have adobe reader installed to view and print this file. You may have to right click to save it, and then click to open it again before printing!

Quilt Size: 67" X 79 3/4"
Finished Block Size: 9"
Finished Unit Size: 3"

Last year, Quiltmaker Magazine published a 3 part Mystery that I designed called Christmas Lights! It's been on my mind to re-release it here on my blog for those who either never got to participate, or for those who never finished it!

Though it won't really be written as a mystery, more of a Sew-Along, you will find the steps here just for you! I am presenting this in 3 Parts to keep the posts not overly long. I'm posting each part as I complete it, so check back for part 2 and 3 to come soon! You will also find these linked in the Christmas Lights tab above, which will probably be moved eventually to the tutorials tab. For right now, we want to keep things easy for you to find!

Yardage Requirements:


Assorted Neutral Prints: 1 1/4 yard

Assorted Colored prints: 5/8 yard

Black Print #1: 5/8 yard

Red Tone-on-Tone #1: 1 1 /8 yard

Green print: 1/2 yard

Gold Tone-on-Tone: 1 3/8 yard for blocks AND Setting triangles


Black Print #2: 1/2 yard for border #1

Red Tone-on-Tone #2: 5/8 yard for border #2

Red/Green paisley print: 2 1/4 yards for border #3 and binding.

Backing: 5 1/4 Yards

Batting: 75" X 88"

Making the Units!

Unit 1: 4 Patches!

If you know me at all, or have followed me over the years, you know how I am always using pre-cut pieces as leaders & enders between my lines of chain piecing. This gives me buckets and boxes of pre-sewn parts that can be easily utilized in scrap quilt making! My favorite? 2" squares that are quickly sewn into 4 patches between the lines of chain piecing other things. I stock pile these! They are so cute and versatile and were the jumping off point for this quilt. This little basket is just FULL of leader/ender 4 patches. I pin them together in stacks of 10 so I always know how many I have...it's easy to count that way.

You will need 52 4 patches for this quilt, made with either individual 2" squares, or strip-pieced from 2" strips. Each 4 patch has 2 colored squares, and 2 neutral squares, totally scrappy!

My 4 patches include ALL COLORS, not just red/green Christmas fabrics. I like colored lights on my tree! I like many colors of wrapping paper beneath the tree too! Christmas is NOT just a celebration of red and green at my house, my ornaments have all colors as well...I'm a color girl! I love how the many colors make this quilt sparkle!

Make 52 4 patches. They will measure 3.5" square and finish in the quilt at 3".

Unit 2! Half-Square Triangles!

I use the Easy Angle ruler A LOT for half square triangles. The biggest benefit is that it works with the sizes of scrap strips that I already keep on hand. This way it is easy to pair a light strip with a dark strip and cut my triangle pairs already matched with right sides together...I just cut and Sew! These triangles finish at 3", so if you are using any other method, take that into consideration. For instance, if you prefer to cut a 3 7/8" square, draw a diagonal line, and stitch 1/4" on each side of the center line, you can do it that way. You just have to know what size to start with to give you a triangle square that is going to finish at 3".

My directions will include use of the Easy Angle ruler!

Match a 3 1/2" strip of Black print #1 with a 3 1/2" strip of Scrappy Neutral, right sides together! Using the 3 1/2" marking on the Easy Angle ruler, cut 40 matched triangle pairs. My neutrals varied throughout the process. I'd get as many as I could from one strip, and then work with another one, and another one. If you want variety, go for shorter strip lengths in your neutrals to give you more to play with! For Instance, a short strip length of 9", one in neutral--one in black--will give you a set of 4 triangle pairs.

Stitch pairs on the diagonal and press seams to the black. You will have 40 half square triangle units. **Hint** It is a good idea to sew one, and measure one..just to make sure it is coming out at 3 1/2" square. Adjust seam width if necessary.

Unit 3! MORE Half-Square Triangles!

This time you will be matching a 3 1/2" Gold strip with a 3 1/2" random neutral strip! Cut 48 gold/neutral triangle pairs using the easy angle ruler. Stitch. Press seams toward the gold triangle.

Got them done? 40 black/neutral Triangle Squares and 48 gold/neutral triangle squares!

Unit 4: Quarter-Half Triangles!

The next unit is a bit trickier, we need half of them in Mirror Image! But that is easy to do with the Companion Angle Ruler!

Pair a 2" strip from black print #1 with a random neutral 2" strip, right sides together. Using the 2" line on the Companion Angle ruler, cut 48 matched pairs. To create the Mirror Image, so that the black will be on the right side in half the units, and the left side on the other half, simply sew half the pairs with the light on top, and the other half with the dark on top! Press seams to the black triangle. Trim dog ears! Make 2 stacks of pairs, one left, and one right.

If you don't have the Companion Angle ruler, and want to cut these the "regular" way, you will need (12) 4 1/4" squares of black print #1, and (12) 4 1/4" squares of random neutrals.

Match a neutral square with a black square with right sides together and slice twice on the diagonal with an X to yield 4 triangle pairs from each set of matched squares. You will have 48 matched pairs as above. Proceed to sew as previously shown, with half of the pairs with the light fabric on top, and the other half with the black fabric on top to give you the mirror image units required.

Using the Easy Angle Ruler, cut 48 Green base triangles from 3 1/2" strips of Green Print, using the 3 1/2" line on the ruler as a guide.

If you are sewing without the Easy Angle, cut (24) 3 7/8" squares from the green print. Slice squares on the diagonal from corner to corner to give you 48 green base triangles.

With right sides together, match a green triangle to each of the black/neutral triangle pairs. Stitch. Press seam toward the Green. Trim dog ears.

Assembly will begin in Christmas Lights, Part 2!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Love Shack!!

Sew-Saturday was a complete Success!

Lisa arrived bright and early about 8:30am and we commenced to setting her up in the basement with her featherweight. She had a couple of gift projects with her, and her sweetie dog Shelby also joined us for the day!

Karen came a long a bit later...and all 3 of us had machines whirring as fast as our mouths were gabbing and laughing!

My main project? A little combination sampler for a class I'm teaching in Stuttgart in February. I pulled blocks, letters, stars, a crumby heart, left over 4 patches, some extra string blocks and Voila! It was together in no time, and I even was able to get it quilted. All that remains to be done is the binding/sleeve and I think I'll leave that for tomorrow :c)

I've thought of calling it LOVE SHACK, but I don't know how that will go over in Germany ((remember the song from the 80s?!? Loved that song!!)) so the name for this class is still up in the air.

But it did turn out cute, yeah?? :cD

After I got this one quilted, Karen's quilt for her brother was ready to put in the machine, and we got it under way. 2.5 hours later...DONE! Sometimes you just gotta love a cute and scrappy simple utility quilt that will be loved on the couch by its intended recipient. And we used a very bright neon green thread to quilt it with! Awesome!

While that was in the machine, I was back to piecing pineapples. Only 2 of those got done, but 2 is better than none.

As for the Nonsense blocks, I'm so happy you like them! I think they will be adorable. I haven't had time to play with them, and I'm really not up to writing directions for that when I am still writing directions for the mystery and giving that to you as well.

I will tell you that it is a traditional block, the name IS Nonsense, and if you have block base or Barbara Brackman's encyclopedia of blocks, it is readily available there.

Sometimes it is really difficult to want to post something that I just started because before I can even make headway on it, people are begging for the pattern >_<

I'd really like the joy of finishing a project before I am whammied by people begging for the pattern, instructions or cutting measurements. If it's a traditional pattern, I'll gladly tell you where you can find it, but it is up to you to size it to where you need it to be, okay? I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed between the mystery questions (btw, 120 matched pairs of half square triangles will give you 120 half square triangle squares when they are sewn) and the requests for this block when I've barely begun to play with it!

And I am also feeling overwhelmed because Oscar had to go to the vet today and is still there. He has an infectious pleurisy type illness. He was lethargic, has lost a lot of weight, his breathing is labored, and they had to drain off the fluid from his lungs today...he is on mega antibiotics to hopefully kill the infection, but we don't know. We just don't know if he will be able to return home to us, or if we will have to make the choice of putting him down if he doesn't improve.

Oscar has been the best cat I've ever had...He's not quite 10. He should have half of his life left to live, and he is hanging on to what little he's got right now. So please send purry thoughts for Oscar to respond to meds and come home where he belongs.

I want to share things on this blog...I want you to see what I'm working on. But I can't supply the pattern for everything.....can't I just sew for a while first please? Can't I make something.....see how it comes out? My only other option would be to share nothing, until it is completely done and then only put finished items out there. What fun is that?

More Nonsense!

As in BLOCKS named NONSENSE that is!

Aren't these just the cutest things?! They finish at 3"!! And I think I'm addicted, or I could be!

I was puttering around while Lisa's quilt was in the quilting machine, and thought I'd make just ONE to see how they would turn out in this scale, and before I knew it, I had FIVE! Well, five is not enough to make anything, it doesn't use enough scraps, I know I can do better than this so....there will be more to come!

My only dilemma....I was hoping for another block inspiration that would use up more of the CRUMB STUFF that I've got boxes of, but these require strips. It's still putting scraps to good use, so I'm up for it!

Why? I dunno! Just CUZ! Just because I can, because I want to, because they are calling to me. Simple little blocks with a 100 on the Cuteness Scale, don't you agree?

I've tried different variations, and so far I like the one with the contrasting middle square the best. I tried one with all different lights, and it was okay but...just not as cute as those that have a different color for the centers.

It's midnight as I write this, and I'm about to go to bed...but I'm so excited I could easily stay up and piece some more!

Tomorrow is a Sew-day Saturday at Chez Quiltville...Lisa and Karen are coming over to work on projects and the basement will become a NO BOYS ALLOWED zone! I've got turkey soup already made and ready to be reheated in the crockpot for our lunch. Karen is bringing dessert, Lisa is bringing rolls...and we will be ready to ROCK!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

More Pie, Please!

I love pumpkin pie! I adore pumpkin pie! Is there anything else that smells better baking? I don't think so. Something about the spicy cinnamon-y goodness filling the air and I'm a goner.

In my house, left-over pumpkin pie is considered the perfect breakfast food! It has pumpkin which is a vegetable, right? It has eggs, and milk....which are wholesome, right? There ya go! Left-over pie...I've got my sights set on you!

Today was a lovely laid-back affair with plenty of food, plenty of Nap Time after. I love Nap Time ALMOST as much as I love Pie Time...and I got BOTH! Pie time came after WALK TIME..which came after Nap time...it's a Trifecta of Perfection!

This is what it looked like on my walk about 4:45 this afternoon post-nap. It was kind of drizzly, but not really cold, and I was amazed at how much things have changed since I left for Maryland about 10 days ago. Enough rain and wind has come through that the trees are now mostly bare with just a few stubborn ones hanging on to the leaves that remain. While I was gone last week, a doozer of a storm rolled through and took out two big trees in our front yard. They fell across the driveway with a crash, and there was much chain-sawing the next morning to enable the cars to get up the driveway and out onto the road.

Sadie and I walked and walked, and then when I doubled back for another loop, she cut back to the house and left me to finish on my own! Silly dog! As I walked I noticed things....houses with full driveways, signaling to passers-by that a lot of extended family had gathered there to share the warmth of the holiday. Nice. Some houses had fires going in their fireplaces. I could smell the wonderful wood smoke and I had to giggle to myself ((Okay people, it's probably still over 50 degrees here, and you are burning wood?)) that temperature has little to do with it, it's all about Ambiance!

Someone was BBQ'ing what smelled like ribs off their back deck. ((Hey, it IS North Carolina! We can be thankful for ribs too!))

Further down the street I could smell someone's laundry....you know, that smell of "downy" from the drier vent on the air? Work never stops for a busy mom. It might be a holiday and day off for everyone else, but the MOMS just keep it going....cooking, cleaning, laundry, dishes, planning what is next for the crowd...

I walked until dark in the misty not-quite-rain that was hanging low, and came back in for my much longed for pie. This getting dark at 5:30 is for the birds, but I kind of like the settling in feeling of winter evenings too...the slower pace.

On the Quilty Front:

The multi-decade quilt is quilted! And as I quilted it, I kept finding OTHER blocks that became my new favorites just for the quirkiness they presented!

I chose a panto by Hermoine Agee of Lorien Quilting called "Country Garden". It was perfect! I wanted something leafy/viney because of the many floral fabrics in the quilt, but not something over-done. It still needed to fit the time period and feel of the quilt....

My first thought of course was BAPTIST FANS! But...come on...it's a busy busy quilt, nothing is going to really show anyway, and why not have some fun with the quilting texture?

This block is also one of my new faves! Look at that adorable shirting!

And this one!

I want to thank everyone who posted with their expertise regarding the time period of these fabrics! My good friend Mary Koval, quilt historian and textile-expert-extraordiare left me a post on my face book!

This just tickles me so much! But I tell you, I had the jitters when the machine quilted through that 1870's patch of fabric. I kept telling myself.."IT'S JUST FABRIC, IT'S JUST FABRIC" But you know... :c/ It's a very OLD fabric! Still. It's in good shape, and the top was machine pieced.

It's not a Paducah quilt museum piece. It's a utility quilt. It deserves to be finished. I don't have time to hand quilt everything, nor do I want to. Seeing this machine quilted and finished and preserved so we can enjoy it makes me happy.

This is also one of my faves....see that rectangle pieced every which way?! The patches are not even cut on grain. They are cut however the template would fit on the scraps of fabric. Weeeee! Today I'm grateful for this maverick quilter who made this top...even unfinished...so that I could have it in my life!

The turkey carcass has been simmering in the crock pot. It's time for ME to get back to the kitchen and separate the meat from the bones, strain the broth, and set it in the fridge to separate the fat as it cools for tomorrow's soup!

And then I'm coming back down to the studio to put the binding on the Fungly Thanksgiving Churndash!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fabric Dating Help, Please!

This is one of those multi-decade blocks that just has me wondering!

The corner triangles with that brown print, and the rectangles are definitely 30's era. The plaid? Undetermined.


It looks late 1800s to me...it's a green-y brown background with a grecian key design embelished with pink flowers. The texture of the fabric is a bit coarser than that of the 30's prints.

Anyone want to take a stab at dating this piece? I'd love to know more. It's a gorgeous little print!

((Click the pic to view it in biggie-size!))

There are no "reproductions" in this quilt. Even though some of these may have been copied and re-printed lately, this quilt top is OLD!