Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sew & Little, Paint a Lot!

I’ve gotten this far.

The Irish Courthouse blocks were finished while Jill was here. 

I finished the row assembly during early-morning-before-blog-writing hours.  It didn’t take long!  That is the beauty of making a small-ish quilt.

But when it came to borders – THAT took some thinking.  I wanted something interesting, not just a hunk of blue or red fabric at the edge to call it “good enough.”

Graph paper and Scrap User’s System to the rescue!

Those neutral squares you see at the top and bottom of the border?  Directly from my scrap squares bins.  It makes the variety so instantaneous!  And while sewing the geese and other bits, I’ve been using the pairs of neutral squares as Leaders & Enders to push me further along.  Such a fun game to play while piecing!

There have got to be 100 geese here – or what feels like it!

I am using the same method as demonstrated in our Frolic Mystery.  I cut the quarter-square triangles and the half-square triangles from strips using my Essential Triangle Tool.  I just love how these come together so easily.  The right size, just cut, sew and go.

While Jill and I were sewing this past week, we talked about our favorite machines and things that we feel are absolutely crucial for successful patchwork.

She was on her featherweight, and I on my 301.  Both are straight stitch only machines.  The feed dogs are NARROW which helps with guiding fabric.  The needle plate is straight stitch only – single needle hole.  No triangles can get sucked down the zig-zag hole as with zig-zag machines.

If you are on a modern machine – PLEASE invest in a single needle plate.  Your triangles will thank you along with your sanity.

If your feed dogs are wide – needle over as far as you can to the right and mark your 1/4’’ seam from that needle position.  This will put your pieces up on BOTH feed dogs, and again your piecing will thank you.

It might mean you can’t use your standard 1/4’’ foot if you have needled over to the right – but you don’t need a 1/4’’ foot for a 1/4’’ seam.  Just mark your seam allowance on your machine bed with either masking tape, mole skin, or my best ever seam guide hack – double stick removable poster tape and a piece of plastic gift card, hotel room key or credit card.

You’ll see that if you look closely at the geese photo above. 

I sew with the standard “less than 1/4’’ foot” on my vintage machines.  I put the seam placement guide down.  I can see the fabric go beyond my foot to reach the guide. I know I am sewing a straight seam because I can SEE the fabric beyond the foot.

If you are struggling with a modern machine when it comes to sewing patchwork – especially triangles.  Try the above!  And remember the “ONLY” correct seam allowance is the one that gives you the unit size you need.  Don’t measure the seam. Measure the unit itself to tell if the seam is doing its job.

This happened yesterday!

Painting the back entry -

And starting in on the kitchen at Quiltville inn.

Masking Tape is my game – the job was to be just enough ahead with the tape that Dave could come back behind me and paint.

Ship lap can be a bugger.  The rollers don’t like to go into the grooves – that takes a paint brush to go in between the cracks first, then finish up with a roller.

And while I’m talking about rollers – look what we found in the attic:

Player piano rolls!

The boxes were damaged from years of being in a corner of the attic – but the rolls themselves seem in pretty good shape.  Evidently – there must have been a player piano in the house at some point.

By the compsers on the rolls – someone of a by-gone era loved classical music.  There is Handel, and Wagner.  Wagner’s Lohengrin is also known as “The Wedding March.” so can I suggest that there must have been a wedding or two in the house in its day?  The thought makes me smile!

Not sure what I’ll do with them – and no, I don’t want to find a player piano to go with them.  There is nowhere to put one now that we’ve set up for 12 sewing stations in the Quilting Quarters, and a table for 12 in the dining room.

Original square-head nail.

This was also found – this house was not built by nail gun, but by hard working hands with hammers. 1884 nail.  Amazing.

As soon as this posts, I’ll be back helping to finish up the kitchen walls – the trim painting will happen another time.  It’s my last day before heading back to Wallburg tomorrow to prepare for my trip to Arizona.

The digital pattern for Irish Courthouse is still priced at 50% off in the digital pattern section of the Quiltville Store.  It’s only $4.00 and no coupon is required – there are only a couple of weeks left of this sale, so don’t miss out!  You can be sewing, right along with me.

My quilt is aiming for table topper size, but Jill commented that it would also be just about baby quilt size by the time my borders are on.  (The pattern includes directions for the full quilt above, not the variation I am currently making.)

What two colors would you like to be working with? Or would you go completely scrappy?

We took a couple of days off of drawing due to the big Frolic Mystery release and yesterday’s “Day After” follow up post.  It’s time to draw again!

Thursday’s group – Lori Schmitz & The Stitchin’ Sisters have chosen November 12th as their weekend.  Only two available weekends remain in 2020:

Available retreat weekends in 2020:

Mar 5-8
Apr 2 –5

Both of these dates include the possibility of adding additional days to your stay should your group wish to extend your time at Quiltville Inn.  And of course I am available to add a workshop to your retreat experience should your group desire!

And the Random Number Generator draws:

Group 183! 

Annette Rogers and the Yadkin Valley Quilters!

Annette, I’ve just sent an email to you at the address you provided with your group entry.  I am so looking forward to welcoming your group to Quiltville Inn

Please reply with your chosen weekend ASAP so I can make the remaining weekend available to the next group.  These two dates are fairly close at hand and I know groups will need time to prepare to arrive so quickly.

For those groups that aren’t drawn:  I am booking the retreat one year in advance.  I have two February groups coming next month who have first right of refusal on keeping their weekend for the following year.  Should they decline, those dates will be available for someone else to be drawn and claim those dates.  

I will be drawing for groups for available February 2021 dates when we hit February. (4 weekends are available)  So we will be drawing for them SOON!

Quiltville Quote of the Day

Quilt shared by Kevin the Quilter.

After our painting escapades, I plan on spending much of my time today listening to the wind howl while creating with fabric and thread! How about you?

By the current mess at hand, I can say that there is definitely a scrappy storm of creativity happening!


  1. Judging by the mess I make, I must be a creative genius! I have the Irish Courthouse pattern, but will finish Frolic before starting on it,

  2. I must be very creative because it's a disaster in here! LOL
    I always use your seam guide tool to find the 1/4" seam on my vintage machines... maybe people would like to see you demonstrate how to use this on a Quiltcam episode. I used to use only 1 machine for each project and this ruler/tool made me more confident to use any machine and give all my machines periodic workouts.

  3. Your creativity is amazing! I appreciate you every day. Thanks for being you!

  4. bonnie hunter....border whisperer...LOL...love it!

  5. Wow, that geese border really woke me up..... everything else on pause today while making a sample strip of that border so I will remember it for the next border needed.Thank you for another great Mystery and all the fun you bring to our lives!

  6. I LOVE the border for your small-ish Irish Courthouse quilt! It's so dynamic!

  7. You have become my creative muse and lifestyle philosopher as I must check in with you daily now. Retired and living alone and learning to quilt has become my creative focus. Thank you for all you do and all you represent. The border is lovely. Do you have instructions anywhere on best way to obtain the blue rectangle with the red triangle corner?

  8. Love your quilts! My grandparents had a player piano. I remember as kids my brothers and I loved playing it. When they retired to Florida my parents got the piano. It is HEAVY! My parents still have it along with many of the rolls.

  9. I am NOT creative but still make a huge mess. It's taken over the house (since I'm the only one living here!!). I LOVE that cute little woven look border on your little quilt. And I've NEVER found anything cool in an attic. Those are neat!

  10. I would have to frame the nail in a shadow box and hang it at the Inn.

    1. Absolutely frame it - that's history right there! Never had a house with an actual attic where you could find neat stuff - just a low space between the roof and the ceiling that NO ONE wanted to crawl up into - and I've done it, so I can swear to the fact.

  11. Set aside the unique finds and put them into a shadowbox. You could start a pickle jar where everyone who visits signs a little slip of paper with the date too

  12. Thomas Jefferson used the boy slaves he had to make nails in his nailery. Bit of history for the day. I have a box of square head nails from my great grandparents home in Illinois, scraped up out of the dirt where it stood.

  13. I bet you could sell those piano rolls on ebay! I would think they would be hard to find.

  14. Hi Bonnie:
    I am loving your finds at Quiltville Inn. The Player piano rolls are a great find. The square nails remind me of when we were remodeling the attic of the "Big House" on the farm in Oregon. It used to be a turn of the century golf course club house. My former in-laws had made many changes to the house before we got it, but we remodeled the attic into a library and found lots of the square nails it had originally been built with, in the wood we removed.

    I have spent the last two Saturday's in class working on my "Curvaceous Cabins" in teal blue batiks and neutrals. So no sewing for me today. I will try to do some tidying up, and switching machines out as to where they should be. My sewing room is a complete disaster, so that must mean I have lots of creativity floating around! LOL.

    Kasilof, AK
    Where it is still super cold (-6 right now) and it has clouded up, so we may get some snow like they are predicting.

  15. QRS, the last maker of piano rolls, located in Buffalo, NY where I live, just ceased production at the end of 2019. Truly an end of an era.

  16. I was just give a Singer 301A and I am really excited to be able to start using it. It needs a couple of minor repairs and a good oiling and greasing and she will be ready. A Singer 301 was what I learned to sew on!

  17. Bonnie, I don't know how you come up with your ideas for quilts, but you are truly amazing! I'm loving this quilt as I have on the other mysteries. This one is so different. Thank you so much for sharing.

  18. That border is beautiful, I bought your pattern last week and can't wait to get started on it. Will this border pattern be added to the pattern later on?

  19. Bonnie, I hope you won't mind if I copy your piano roll picture for my memoirs. We had a player piano on our enclosed front porch. Our challenge was the William Tell overture. By the way, I really enjoy the layout of your blog pages. Marie in Portland OR.

  20. You should put your piano rolls in your shop. Lots of people like to use them to make their junk journals.

  21. I like that border, and want to make it sometime. I am using the light squares to the 4 p's in the Frolic clue 10 page 2 as leaders and ends between making the blocks. I'm happy how Frolic is turning out. Thank you for the mystery. I haven't gotten to the sashing yet or the qrt t's and half sq t's to put it together yet just trying to get the 25 blks made. I'm not used to such small pieces. But I'm getting through it. :)

  22. How I wish I had the time to quilt but I don't right now. However, I love, love, love that border. I need to try new things like that. I also love your sayings. There are days when they hit home and other days when they touch the heart. Thanks for posting them.

  23. Hi Bonnie, busy week in Garden Valley! I have a non-quilty, ski-loving friend visiting till Thursday. Come Friday going to hit the Frolic hard. My Step-dad has a player piano, no TV or radio. It is the only entertainment! We love it.


If you are commenting as "anonymous" please leave your name at the end of your comment.

Did you know that ad space on this blog provides for all of the free patterns and free mysteries and challenges at no cost to you? Without ads, this blog would not be possible.

Thank you for understanding the many hours that go into this blog 6 days a week, 52 weeks a year. :)