Monday, January 28, 2013

Friendship Thimbles!

It was last year for my birthday that Karen L sent me this HUGE bag stuffed full of pre-cut thimble pieces.

They’ve been calling my name for a long time ----I’ve pulled them out to play, and then put them back again as I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do with these little guys.

These were cut way before accuquilt die cutters were invented…each one traced and cut by hand.

Fabrics in here range from what seems to be the late 1970s through the 1990s.

Karen, if you are listening ----was this a Y2K project?  Is there a template available for these guys in case I need to make more?  ((I suppose I could get one made in this size if I had to!))

I have had a great deal of fun looking at the print on each one, recognizing some – but completely unknowing on others!

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I’ve done a “Thousand Pyramids” quilt before ---


This is Millenium Pyramids, has 2000 pieces in the quilt center, and was my “Y2K” project made from charm squares that were traded with quilters all over the world.

This was a fun quilt to do with so many different fabrics.  Did you know I even have an “early” tutorial for it HERE?

What I learned from this project was how to “Pin, Baby, Pin!!”

And I think that is what has me daunted by all these little thimbles.  Pinning is not my favorite thing to do! LOL!  But I know I need to do it.

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I had to monkey with a few of these yesterday to find how just how much I needed to offset these so that when I opened them up, they would form a straight strip of thimbles --- not a jagged mess.  This was ANOTHER thing I remembered from Millenium Pyramids.  You have to learn where and how to align them

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I recognize BOTH of these fabrics!

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Since I’m pinning anyway I thought about pressing seams open.  I’m still not convinced that is the best way to go, but these guys are small! Would pressing toward every-other-one be better?

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Cute 1980s fabrics!

These are not a standard size, they are  2 1/4" tall, so they will finish at 1 3/4" tall.  I'm going to have to make a template if I find myself needing more because I have no idea how many there are in this bag.....so no idea how long to make rows, how many rows to make, etc.

And I do NOT want to count them!

This is where I need those of you who have done a tumbler or thimble quilt to give me a bit of advice.  Did you alternate light/dark? Did you sew everything randomly?  Did you press seams open or to one side or every other one?

This would be a great suit-case project for my travels!

It’s also begging to be a leader/ender project as well --- sewing these into pairs in between the lines of other things would be such a SIMPLE thing to do…pairs can be joined to pairs, 4s can be joined to 4s and so forth all with a simple little seam.

I found myself sewing 4 patches together on Mildred, the 66 treadle while I watched Downton Abbey last night.  And I stopped and couldn’t treadle any farther as soon as things took a turn with Sybil.  If you haven’t seen it yet, that’s all I’m saying.  I could sew no further.

Goodness, I am not even in control of my emotions this morning.

It’s a SHOW, Bonnie – it’s just a SHOW!

Yes, but still.
PS -- I have a bee meeting tonight, and I'm actually in town for it!  So there will be no Quilt-Cam tonight, let's shoot for Tomorrow night, 9pm Eastern, okay? I'll let you know for sure tomorrow.


  1. On my Apple Core quilt, for colour placement, I just made sure that I sewed them together dark/light/dark/light, so that each core would be distinct. It was all relative, though, one piece would just have to be "light" compared to the one next to it. That is how I am doing my leaders/enders, as well. It's a postage stamp quilt. Hmmm, I've been working on that for a couple of years, I think....I really should sit down one day and sew all the sections together, I could very well have a quilt's worth and not realise it!

  2. Anonymous9:16 AM EST

    MERCY... Karen must hold you in super high regard Bonnie. What is wonderful treasure/gift to receive. I like SandraC'c idea of light, dark, light, dark placement. If you have too many pieces, is there a way to use the extras in a border?

    You all us have to stop giving me these wonderful ideas for more quilts. I will just say I do not have an accuquilt!!! Imagine ironing the fabric, tracing and hand cutting each piece...this is a huge job.

    Can't wait to see what you do with it all.

  3. Off topic, but just wanted to let you know that you are responsible for at least one digital subscription to Quiltmaker magazine. I used to have a subscription, as well as to every other quilt mag out there. Then storage got to be an issue and frankly some of the magazines just didn't hold my interest anymore. All of them with the exception of two, were let to expire. Being old fashioned, I like to hold my reading material in my hands. Don't even have a Kindle even though I read a lot and am up on technology in other ways. But your new mystery quilt pushed me over the edge. After doing Easy Street, Lazy Sunday just seemed like a natural. I'm seeing the advantages to the digital subscription already - no storage issues!

  4. I,too was mesmerized by Downton Abby last night. I never expected that. What a fantastic actress she is. I love all the complex characters!

  5. I don't pin or iron, that being said, I do smooth out by hand across my leg. My seams lay where they want and my joints line up almost perfect every time. Sewing light to dark will make a nice pattern, A hint that I like is to sew your first and last tumbler together and then cut that one in half. It gives you a straight edge. I have done several scrappy tops, one using Christmas fabrics and used the same starter material. Then all I had to do was add a narrow top and bottom border.
    Tumblers are fun, I am sure you are going to come up with something enjoyable with yours! cw

  6. I have done two. Most important is to sew each set through the machine in the same direction (small end first or large end first) Eyeballing the overhang will work.

  7. I just placed colors randomly. A friend told me I had to do dark light. I do like mine just like it is. Hers was pretty too.

  8. i alternated blue scraps with plain white...for quilting you know; and poor sybil, she will be missed. my guess is tom won't be far behind, but what will become of baby with no name?

  9. I let a 7 year old arrange the blocks. It is suppose to be light and dark but some lights are darker than the darks around them and it worked. I pressed the seams in one direction and then in the other on alternate roes b/c I matched heads for rows and the tails for pairs.

  10. I am currently making a tumbling block quilt from men's plaid shirts. (Wonder where I got that idea?) I cut the pieces with my AccuQuilt Go Baby. Obviously it was really fast to cut 100's of them but what is so awesome about the Tumbling Block die is the corners are cut off which makes lining up a breeze! Ha! Ha! I sound like an info-mercial! But it is so true! No pinning, no learning where and how to align them, just perfect alignment from the start. I pressed my seams to the dark makes nesting so much easier! Good luck with yours!

    From one of you students McKinney, Tx. Bricks in the Barnyard workshop, Mandy

  11. Oh no (but a good thing)..I'm getting BH BRAIN. Guess what I did yesterday...cut out the pattern for use in cutting out almost 5,000 thimble pieces. Was so excited I smuggled the book into church because we always get there 15 min. early. DID put it away when SS started. So on the same wave length. I've wanted to do one for so long but my pattern says at least 26 fat quarters in amount of fabrics. I of course want more colors. If I start buying treadle machines I will check myself in somewhere..ha. Really I like the brand new ones with all the bells/whistles that came off the assembly line YESTERDAY. I cannot believe we had the same thing on our minds.

  12. I tend to do grab-and-go with 4 patches/9 patches/tumblers and that sort of thing but will toss something back in the bag if it's too close in value to what it's going next to. And yes, Downton Abbey was mesmerizing last night. I almost wore my new Downton Tabby t-shirt from icanhascheezburger to watch it but it's short sleeved and it's too dang cold.

  13. I think you should start a fabric exchange for maybe charm squares so we could get LOTs of different fabric and the challenge would be to do them in a leader ender project for maybe 6 months to a year. What do you think?

  14. I've made a bed quilt with larger tumblers and three or four mini quilts with tiny ones. You know my "control freak" mentality, so of course I alternated light/dark--but very random on the scrappiness. I pressed my seams to the dark side. Here is where I am puzzled. Why do you say nothing nests? When sewing the rows together you have a narrow bottom match a narrow top, and the same with the wide ends, so everything nests. I may email you a photo of a small example.

  15. How tall are those tumblers? I have a 2" tumbler template that I would love to send to you if it is the right size. You can see them here https://www.etsy.com/listing/104823541/quilt-pattern-tiny-tumbler-trio-w

    Just let me know if you want one and send me your address. I'll pop it in the mail to you. How fun!!

  16. Wow, it took someone a long time to cut those pieces! I haven't made anything with that shape, but I have learned from you that value is relative. I also learned to not over think placement. I think it would work best to just grab a piece and sew it to the next, as long as there is enough difference in color or value to not lose the shape.

  17. my daughter made a beautiful, scrappy tumbler quilt with 3" tumblers. Random piecing yielded a gorgeous quilt. Just go for it!

  18. Your Thimbles are sooo cute! Love that olden fabric--I have a TON of that stuff--am getting on your scrap wagon tho'! I just finished your "Blueridge Beauty" --mine is called "Blues-ey" and it is all my old (well almost all) my dated blues and beiges--my DH says it's his favorite quilt so far...Thanks for all your tutes and books--love your stuff...Julierose

  19. I saw your post on FB last night and had to watch Downton live. I usually DVR it and watch "The Good Wife". So sad, but those DR's were so BAD arguing, no wonder women didn't survive childbirth back then. Fun Thimbles but way too small for me. I say go scrappy, just dump them in a brown bag and pull one out at a time. Have fun at your Bee Mtg tonight.

  20. oooh we're a series ahead of you on Downton, keep watching... don't try and guess what happens next you are unlikely to be right. Just go with it. My Y2K is all put together and is enormous, so daunting to layer it up, might have to wait until my friend gets her long arm quilting machine and beg time on it...lol Enjoy your thimbles.

  21. Bonnie, I just completed a queen size quilt for my son using 3 1/2" tumbler blocks (or thimble) and I did light/dark paring and I pressed my seams first one way then next row the other and they fit really well. I did it as a charm quilt and there are 1470 different pieces of fabric. It is being handquilted now. I did use the Accuquilt cutter which was so much faster - may not have completed it if I had to draw and cut these pieces. Good luck on your quilt - your quilts are always amazing!! Thanks for all you give us.

  22. I have two of these going...need to find the containers.
    One is a 3" tumbler and another is a tiny one...maybe 2" not sure...I have many of these templates.
    I will see if I have one in your size.
    I pressed my seams open...
    XOXOXO Subee

  23. I had another thought....
    use these as a center medallion type, add a border to make the math work and use a more standard size tumbler as the border.
    XOXOXO Subee

  24. I've wanted to do a tumbler for a very long time, now I'm really really fighting the urge to go start this very minute!

  25. Downton Abbey is going to kill me - I bawled, I absolutely bawled! I've never done pyramids or tumblers but I made a quilt of six pointed stars composed of 60 degree triangles with diamonds between the stars and rows. It's pretty but it was very time consuming and nerve frazzling.

  26. I have a template for this! It was a give away during an anniversary at the LQS. I actually have two of them. Made out of the same heavy plastic as rulers. I believe the templates are for sale.

  27. Just finishing up a tumbler top this a.m....it was a kit that I bought at a quilt show. There were 12 precut tumbler pieces, 8 of each one, that they had all tied together, and placed in a plastic tumbler! I laid them out in the order that they had them #1 - #10 across, then #11 and 12 started row two, then #1,2,3,4 Etc...and I just continued on for 9 rows. The instructions were to press seams in one direction, and alternate rows. But, my tumbler pieces were much bigger that the ones that you pictured here (6.5" long). Cutting inside border, outer border, and binding strips this afternoon.

  28. I just did my tumbler quilt randomly. It was for a friend's granddaughter -- and was a "charm" quilt -- no two prints alike. It was named "Prints Charming".

  29. I have a template coming from Amazon that has several sizes for tumblers...2, 2.5 and so forth.You'd have to trim some.
    DA was a lot to take in last night....and yes, it was that stupid doctor's fault! What an idiot!....yes, it's only a show; it's only a show....calming down now :-)

  30. You may not need a template Bonnie. I just used Darlene Zimmerman's 7 1/2" Easy Dresden ruler and cut my tumblers from strips of fabric, flipping my ruler and rotary cutting them. I just had to decide how wide I wanted them at the top and bottom and how tall and cut my strips accordingly. They were fun and fast to put together. I made several donation wheelchair lap quilts and alternated some light and dark and did others randomly. They all turned out just fine!

  31. yep i've done a tumbler quilt from indigo blues and ecru. my tumblers were 3 1/2 inches high but i do have a smaller sized one as well.
    As far as templates go, if you know the height of your pre-cut tumblers, just cut strips to match that height and use any tumbler to get the correct side angle. just put the top of the tumbler template at the top of the strip and cut away.

    For your end tumblers, just fold the ends of the fabric strip in half lengthwise,(right sides facing)and cut the tumbler angle on the opposite side from the fold. So if your fold is on the righthand side of the strip, then cut the tumbler angle on the left side of the template.
    With the template still situated on top of the strip, (which is still folded) put a small pencil mark in the top seam allowance of the tumbler where the center of the tumbler falls.
    Take your tumbler template off the strip and use a regular ruler to align that small pencil mark with the quarter inch mark of your ruler. cut along that edge (right hand side of the tumbler) and unfold. You will now have a pair of matching end tumblers; one with the tumbler angle on the left, and the other with the tumbler angle on the right.

  32. I'm making a tumbler quilt. My pieces are a little bigger. I've done a whole row (all the way around all four sides of the quilt) in one color and tried to alternate lights and darks within the color. But, notice I said making, it's not done yet. I did drag it out recently to work on and made some progress.

    I also paper pieced one that used much smaller pieces. For that one, the placement was random, except I made a border of reds all along the edge (whole pieces on top and bottom, halves along the edges). That one is complete, but it's only 10" x 15". Lois

  33. it is monday afternoon and i'm STILL thinking about downton abbey! that was a very gripping episode last night. and yes, i cried. so so sad. i have about a dozen different scenarios running through my mind on what will happen next!

  34. If you don't want to have to match the seams, just stack them up with the wide end always down. I have seen pyramid quit patters done like that! And, NO, I refuse to start one! (must keep repeating to self!)

  35. Bonnie I made a small wallhanging by hand with small thimbles, they probably ended up just over 1 1/4in. finished. It was a scrappy quilt. I'm trying to recall how I made it because I can't lay my hands on the wallhanging right now to check but I think from memory I pressed seams in opposite directions and pieced it in rows.
    If you are going to make a template then you don't have to worry how far that bag will get you, just cut more thimbles if needed.
    Maybe you could jus decide how big a project you want and use that bag as a starter?

  36. I made a tumbler quilt (top really -- not quilted or borders on it yet), and I just placed the fabrics willy-nilly. That's the fun of scrap quilting. Just go for it and have fun! :o) Here's a pic if you want to see...


    1. Suzy, I love your tumbler quilt. The colors are so soft and pretty. I may have to consider making one some day. I took a look at your block....very interesting. I will have to check it out some more tomorrow. I am from Minnesota. I visited Melbourne, FL years ago. It's a pretty area. Happy Quilting!

      Linda R

  37. Ah yes, it's a show, but it broke my heart nonetheless!!! It is still broken and probably will be for quite a while. Especially when I think of the poor women who have suffered such a fate - for real! Sad, just Sad.

  38. I think Gwen could have a solution using the Dresden ruler or Bethany Reynolds wedge ruler.

  39. oh my goodness , I was lucky enough to watch all of season 1 and 2 this weekend and the first part of season 3, only to be so depressed by last night's episode. All of the ladies that watched it with me this weekend while we had a mini retreat are all in a tangle of emotions today...
    Have fun with your tumblers... I can't wait to see what you create...

  40. I missed Season 1, but I am so engrossed now it doesn't matter. I guess everyone was crying. Can't wait til next week.
    I finished Step 4 of Easy Street about half way through, then had to shut down so I could finish watching.


  41. Bonnie - Hi. I've made a few larger tumbler quilts.
    The best thing to do is sew together and press seams to one direction and the next row in the opposite direction so you can pin the rows together. I've done that on all and always had good luck matching the seams. I've also done patterns with repeating fabrics but I am not sure you can do that with yours. I can't wait to see how it looks!!!!Toni

  42. Pvr'd Downton last night. Guess I won't need to watch it now. Thanks Grace. :(

  43. Hi Bonnie,

    I think there was a 'tumbler-revival' since the book of Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms came out: small blocks, stunning quilts. In the Netherlands, many people started on these quilts. I have a link here, if you'd like to see some:
    It's a link of 5 specific posts, but you have to scroll down a bit in the first post. Placement is very simple: just alternate light-dark. If you'd like, you could keep a colourscheme; but I think you are a scrappy girl, so everything together would be lovely too ;-)

    love from the Netherlands,
    Christine S,

  44. Yes, Bonnie, it is a show,but it is a representation of the times and so very real. I am also watching Upstairs/Downstairs on my Kindle Fire and I am very into it. The Titanic played a part in that series also. Sybil's situation indicated the childbirth problems of the day. Very realistic and emotional.

  45. I've never made a tumbler quilt. It looks interesting.

  46. I am a new follower in this blog, and I'm so glad to be here. I will follow with interest your posts, your blog is full of information!!!! Bonnie I love the dynamic you have with all your followers, I'll be looking closely at your next post, thanks for all the information you give us.

  47. I haven't made a tumbler quilt but I plan on it. A friend of mine has the die cut for the Accuquilt cutter that I hope to use to cut the blocks out but first I have to finish 3 other quilts and get more motivated with my quilting.

    Thanks for sharing.

  48. Yay! Gonna break in my accuquilt go, finally, and what better project to begin with than a one patch leader and ender! I think 2.5" tumbler is a bit small as I want to finish before I die of old age, so I'll be using the 3.5" Go die. Thanks Bonnie for all the inspiration. Cottonwood Cathey


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