Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Handmade Holiday Happiness {a tutorial}

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I can't look at those Santa-gnomes and not smile.  I pieced this table topper the other day, quilted it on Sunday and bound it yesterday.  An easy project!

I backed it with Paula Prass' Woodland Delight... 

And bound it with some Bliss...

The pattern is the disappearing 9 patch which is by no means an original of mine but I thought I'd show you how to make a quick table topper like this.  All you need is 36 6" squares and basic quilting/sewing notions.

 Lay out your squares how you prefer.  The center square will end up being the smallest square once the block is finished.  Balancing the colors is important here...

Stitch the squares into rows and then each row together to make a traditional 9 patch block

With a ruler find the center of your block and then cut it in half.

You now have two rectangular blocks...

Stack the rectangles on top of each other with seams matching and cut them in half again.

You now have 4 blocks from one 9 patch block.  See why this is a fast project? :) 

 Arrange the new blocks in a pattern that you like {there is no right or wrong way here, just try to balance your colors}

Repeat this process 3 more times to get a total of 16 disappearing 9 patch blocks.  Sew the blocks together in a 4 x 4 layout to make a 30" square table topper.

Quilt, bind, and enjoy... or give!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cyber Monday?

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... more like Cyborg Monday.

Why doesn't anyone quite seem to be themselves today?  Is it the post-Thanksgiving turkey hangover?  The oh-my-gosh-Christmas-is-less-than-a-month-away panic?

Whatever it is, it stinks.  I know I have a serious case of the blues.  Even Chaney was uncharacteristically blah this morning.

Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves during this holiday season?  I hate to say it but is this what it is really all about?  Obligation? 

Obligation to make everything perfect... to get the best deal... to find that hard to find toy... to shower your wife with diamonds and luxury cars... to have the biggest tree and the house with the most lights.  Really?

I love Christmas and I'm not a scrooge but count me out.  I just want to make some handmade ornaments and call it a day.  You know what Chaney was begging for last night?  Not the latest Webkinz or a new game for the Wii; she was asking for time.  We had a busy Thanksgiving week and she felt like she didn't get to spend enough time with us.  It made me a little sad to hear but at the same time it helped us re-focus as a family on what is really important... time with each other.

So, I want time for Christmas.  A quiet day away from the stress of obligation.  I quilt without obligation but I'm thinking that I could stand to carry that theme into other areas of my life as well... :)

What do you really want for Christmas?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

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Dear Black Friday,

I get it.  I really do.  You want me to spend money.  When I woke up this morning I had 32, count them, 32 love notes in my email inbox all begging me to shop at each and every store.  I won't be doing that though because I'm working today.

However, I did venture to Joann's today to buy quilt batting... because I needed it.  Who knew that there were so many people crazed by the thought of thread and other craft store knick knacks on sale??  I got my shoes {my cute dress shoes} run over by a crazy woman pushing a cart.  I nicely said "excuse me" and her only response?  "Door busters end in 10 minutes."

Black Friday, do you see what you are creating?  It's night of the living dead in each and every one of our stores.  Zombies walking around in their PJ's with their hair sticking up and un-brushed teeth mumbling something about busting doors; it's downright weird.

I got my quilt batting but believe me, I will plan ahead next year and buy my batting before hand to avoid the Black Friday zombies who have reduced Christmas to a % sign.  Black Friday, my toes hurt and I expect you to make it up to me in the form of a foot rub later tonight.

That Girl

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

WIP Wednesday

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I feel like I'm cheating on Thanksgiving by posting this today ;)  But aren't these Santa-gnomes the cutest?

As part of WIP Wednesday, I stitched this table topper together this morning in a disappearing 9 patch pattern.  Do you have a go-to pattern?  This one is mine. :)

I need to be heading to the grocery store but I can't without sharing a Steve story first...  I pieced this table topper and also finished a Christmas tree skirt this morning while Steve was rockin' out to his Pandora radio station.

Me: I sure got a lot done!  Your music is great to sew to...

Steve: Oh yeah?  *looking a bit protective of his '80s music*

Me:  Yeah.  Pandora must think that you're a 30-something quilter...

Steve:  *refuses to acknowledge my joke with a response*

But I know I'm funny.

Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week 5 {Finishing your quilt top}

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Swell quilt top

Welcome to week 5!  It's time to finish our quilt top and get ready to quilt.  You should have your rows laid out how you plan to sew them together. {I know many of you have different number of rows so this tutorial is simply a guide.}

First, we need to stitch one row to another to form a two row block.  Pinning is very important to this step.

You want to line up the seams that connect your blocks together.  The wonky seams will not match!

When you place your row RST, the seams should "butt" up against each other.  Pin on each side of this seam.  The two pins at each seam should be enough to keep your rows together.  Don't worry about the ends of the rows lining up... it's much more important that your seams match as best as they can.

When sewing your rows, do not sew over the pins!  Slow down as you approach the first pin.  With your needle down, remove the first pin.  Sew to the next pin, leave the needle down and remove that pin as well.  Stitch to the next seam and repeat until you have your two rows stitched together.  Press this block of rows open and repeat this process until you have all your rows sewn together into blocks of two.

I find it much easier and more accurate to stitch your quilt top together in sections instead of row by row.

As you can see from my picture, I have 3 two row blocks and one single row.  To complete my top, I stitched 1 to 2; 3 to 4 and then step 5 was stitching the two completed sections together. 
Our next step is to prepare the backing and baste the quilt.  You want your quilt back and batting to be roughly 4" larger on every side that your quilt top.  The overage will allow for shifting as you quilt.  It's always better to have a little extra instead of not enough!

I want to give everyone a few days to finish their tops, the backing and to gather their supplies for basting so I am going to do a separate tutorial for basting.  You will need the following for basting:
  • quilt backing
  • batting
  • basting spray or large safety pins
  • masking tape
If you have any questions about this step or the supplies needed for basting, feel free to post here, email me, or ask in our Flickr group.  Thanks for quilting along... I am really impressed with how well everyone is doing!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

That Quilt Along {Progress}

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1. Quilt along, all my rows laid out, 2. That Quilt Along, 3. That Quilt Along, 4. finished top, 5. Quilt Along , 6. 100_2206, 7. Charm Square Quilt Along, 8. Blocks set out, 9. That Girl Quilt-a-long 1, 10. Done with the bloccks!, 11. wonky scraps, 12. Quilt Along squares

It's Thursday and it's time to show off your progress! 

It's been fun seeing everyone's progress in our Flickr group; especially this week because we are at the point where the quilt tops are starting to come together.  We have several first time quilters in the group and I am super impressed with how everyone is doing!

So link up and show off... no matter if you are ahead, on time, or behind!  See ya'll tomorrow when I will give the instructions for finishing the quilt top and getting it ready to quilt... :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

He's got jokes...

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I have a really hard time with the Wordless Wednesday theme.  I have lots to say.  Apparently, so does Steve.

Me:  I couldn't sleep last night because I had something in my eye.

Steve: Oh?

Me:  But then I fell asleep...

*Steve has a funny look on his face*

Me:  When I woke up my eye still had something in it so I went to the mirror and I had a long piece of sweater fuzz in my eye!

Steve:  But you didn't wear a sweater last night...

Me:  Yeah, but....

Steve:  It was probably a piece of thread in your eye.  You should blog about that...

Maybe Steve needs his own blog... ;)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

You + Me {the story}

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Grab a tissue and be ready to be amazed.  Not at the quilt but at the amazing woman this quilt is going to.

I have known Judy for years.  We went to Jr high and high school together, we were in our church youth group together, we were in the same Bible study together and then probably most memorably, we played basketball together all through Jr high and high school.  Judy was our point guard and I was the shooting guard. :)  Believe me when I say this, Judy could {and probably still can} shoot lights out.

We grew up and went our different ways while our mothers have remained close friends.  When I heard Judy was pregnant with her son, I was thrilled for her.  And then my mother called one morning and told me that there had been an accident involving Judy's husband, Keith.  Here is the link to their story and Judy's online journal of what she went through.  Take some time and read it; if you ever thought that supernatural faith didn't exist you will see it in her writings.  And unconditional love?  I don't think I have ever seen a more pure example than Judy's love for Keith.

Judy has an adorably handsome son, Brooks who was born in the midst of all of this.  Given my own background of being pregnant alone, from the moment I heard about the accident those old, familiar feelings began to resonate within me.  Now, our situations were completely different and I can't feel or speak for Judy but I can relate on some level to a good and happy world full of plans for the future being turned upside down while you have no say in what happens. 

When I heard of Keith's accident, I distinctly remember thinking "babies are so good... they are so healing... I'm so glad Judy is going to have Brooks".  Babies are good, healing and they need their moms; I know this because of my own daughter Chaney.  She was born in the midst of pain but in many ways because of her smile, her laughs, her kisses, she saved me.  I lived because she needed me.  I lived and thrived and now in tiny ways, I can hopefully give back even if it is in the form of a quilt.

As a single mom it often felt like it was Chaney and me versus the world.  Of course that's not entirely true but single motherhood is no joke and there are times it does feel pretty overwhelming.  But the best parts of my days in those early months were the times I nursed Chaney to sleep and then held her while she slept.  I'm not much of a singer but I would rock her and whisper "I've got you and we're gonna make it".

I know nothing about Judy's deepest thoughts and feelings about being a single mom but as I was stitching the blocks together and then quilting the quilt I couldn't stop thinking about the relationship between a single mom and her child.  It's different and it's a special bond.  In it's simplest form, it's You + Me.  And then you mix in the faith that Judy and I share and You + Me takes on a even deeper meaning.  But how ever you figure it, Judy and Brooks are going to be OK because of Judy's strength, her faith, her love, and her trust in God.

As I have shared in the past, Chaney and I are OK because of the very same reasons.  Were there scary and anxious moments?  Definitely.  If I had been a quilter back then I would have made a You + Me quilt that I would have wrapped around us until those moments passed.  I know this quilt won't cure every fearful moment that Judy might have but I do have a small hope that it will make things even just a little bit better.

Thank you to my fellow do. Good. Stitches bee members for making the blocks and helping me make this quilt for an unbelievably deserving mother and son.  I truly hope this quilt will be used, cherished, and loved for years to come.  May it bring comfort and warmth and then joy later on when Judy and Brooks are able to look back and see that they did, in fact, make it.

And one additional note, the friend that Judy blogs with is also a widow.  She also happens to be my neighbor.  I can hardly call that a coincidence.  I'm working on a quilt for her and her girls as well but in the meantime when you have a moment, say a prayer for both of these incredibly strong moms and their children...

PS: Yes, this is the quilt that I quilted my sleeve to... ;)

Monday, November 15, 2010


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I finished two quilts this weekend.  YAY!  But in my feverish free motion quilting yesterday and in the spirit of full disclosure:  I had a bit of a sewing emergency. 

Steve was outside supervising the hanging of the Christmas lights {which is another post for another day...} and Chaney was down the street at a friend's house.  Buddy & Gus were in the back yard howling at the people on our roof and I was in my studio sewing away.  And then it happened... my needle went through a few extra layers of fabric and I was stuck.  I quilted my sleeve to the quilt.

I'm a bit of a whirlwind when I'm quilting and my scissors were no where to be found.  My phone was across the room or I would have taken a picture of my predicament and then I would have called Steve.

So with one arm stitched to the quilt I started to panic... no scissors, no phone, no one around.  By chance, with my free hand, I reached underneath the quilt and found my seam ripper.  PHEW!  It took me several minutes to extricate myself from the quilt and the machine but I lived to tell about it.

When Steve came back inside I told him what I did and he just shook his head and laughed.  And then as he was walking away I heard him say, "if I had a blog, I'd blog about that..."

I'll show one of the new quilts tomorrow.  I'm SO excited about how it turned out and I can't wait to share the story behind it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week 4b {sewing your rows}

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I hope everyone is having a great weekend!  I'm pretty much caught up... thank goodness.

It's time to make the rows of our quilt top!  You should have 40 blocks that are squared up to 9".  I know some of you are making different sized quilts so if you are just stick with the techniques and use your own math.  Our quilt is 5 blocks by 8 blocks so you will make 8 rows of 5 blocks each.

Lay out 5 blocks as shown above.  If your blocks are wonky, try to alternate the ways they are tilting.  However, try not to over-think your overall layout. 

Once you have your blocks the way you want them for your first row, follow the numbers. 

With right sides together {RST} stitch your two blocks on your left together first. 

Next stitch {RST} the two blocks on your right together. 

You will now have two pairs of blocks and one single block in the middle.  Stitch your pairs to both sides of the single block and press the seams. 

You have completed your first row!  Repeat this step until you have all 8 rows completed.

Next week we will be finishing our quilt top and getting ready to quilt.  Let me know if you have any questions and look for this Thursday's post here when you can link up and show your progress... :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

In the neighborhood...

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Free motion flowers
I finished this quilt this morning.  But I can't show it to you... yet. 

Shut the front door kind of cute!
So instead I'll show you the mug rug that I made with a few of the scraps from the secret quilt!

A selvage address
I think the address block is pretty cute.  It's inspired by Cindy's love of selvages of course {who happens to be having a giveaway on her blog right now...}

I hope ya'll are having a wonderful weekend!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Week 4 {squaring up your blocks}

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Guess who's behind on their blocks??  Me!

I was off of work yesterday and had grand plans of finishing my blocks and this tutorial but you know those days where there are other things that happen that are more important than *gasp* quilting?  Yep, it was one of those days...  Without getting into great detail, I do want to say that Steve is a pretty amazing husband. :)

So back to quilting... 

This week we are going to be squaring up our blocks and sewing them together.  Because I'm running a tad behind, I'm going to do this tutorial in two parts {squaring & stitching your blocks together}.  I will post the second part on Sunday.

To square your blocks you need either a ruler that is preferably 10" square or a template that measures 9" square.  The ruler shown above is probably my favorite ruler because it makes squaring so easy but I don't want you to feel like you have to run out and buy a new ruler.  So if you don't have a ruler, grab a scrap of sturdy plastic or cardboard and make a 9" square.  That square will be your template for squaring each block.

Place your ruler or your template on top of your block.  To make your block slightly wonky just tilt your ruler or template slightly up or down on one corner.    This doesn't have to be perfect or exact, remember that it's supposed to be wonky!

Once you have your ruler positioned, use your rotary cutter to trim two sides.  I always trim the right side and top of the block first but this is just my preference.

After those sides are done, turn your block and trim the remaining two sides. 

One perfectly square yet slightly wonky block with very little fabric waste!

A few notes...  I alternate the direction that my blocks "wonk".  Some tilt up, some down, and then I leave some square. 

If you don't want the wonky look at all, just use your ruler or template to square your blocks without tilting your ruler. 

No matter if your blocks are wonky or perfectly straight, your blocks will measure 9" square once you are done with this step which makes sewing your blocks and rows together SO easy!

Please let me know if you have any questions!  Have fun squaring and I'll see ya'll on Sunday!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

That Quilt Along... Show your stuff!

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1. quiltalong, 2. Bliss Charm Square Block, 3. That girl...Quilt Along Continued, 4. GEDC0384, 5. Charm Pack Quilt A Long, 6. First four blocks of quilt, 7. Four test blocks done, 8. DSCN1372, 9. Charm Squares for That Girl ...That Quilt Along

As you can see, it's been a busy week in That Quilt Along!  Tomorrow we will be squaring up our blocks and making them wonky.  This might be my favorite step... :)

Quilt along members, please link up and show your progress and your blogs off!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

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Don't forget to thank a veteran tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mug Rug {tutorial}

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Originally posted over at Stash Manicure, you can find my mug rug tutorial here. Mug rugs are so fun to make... one of those quick gratification quilting projects. And the best part is that you can make them with nothing but scraps, including all those batting scraps we quilters tend to collect.

And don't you love that little pocket??

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Follow {me}

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Steve's favorite pair of shoes...

Me: I'm one follower away from 300 followers!! Will you follow me, honey??

Steve: Why do I need to follow your blog? I live here, in the midst of it.

Me: Because I'm at 299 followers! You could be 300!!

Steve: I have an expert insight already...*pause*... but sometimes I do find out what's going on in our house by reading your blog... :)

I bet he's in the study right now figuring out how to be a follower... ;)

Love him!

PS: don't forget to enter to win my mug rug...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mug {rug} of Scraps

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I'm guest blogging over at Stash Manicure today and I'm so excited about it!!  Have you seen that blog?  It's full of great ideas for managing, sewing from, and utilizing your stash.  I'm inspired in some way every time I read over there.  And Madame Samm... she is one of the funniest, most genuine people that I have met blogging...

Today I posted a tutorial on making a mug rug from scraps so go take a look! 

And see that cute mug rug up there? 

I'm giving it away!

Just leave me a comment here for one entry.  For a second entry become a follower or tell me that you already are.  Mug, tea, and spoon are not included... ;)

I'll announce the winner Monday evening at 10 pm CST.  Have a warm, wonderful, & cozy weekend!

Friday, November 5, 2010

That Quilt Along Week 3 {piecing your blocks}

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Are you reading to start sewing?  This week we will be piecing our blocks! 

Here we go...

Take your charm square and two of your inner border strips that measure 5"x1.5".  With a 1/4" seam allowance, stitch the strip to one side of the square. 

I highly recommend chain piecing whenever possible when you are piecing blocks.  It is more efficient, uses less thread and helps you keep the piecing steps straight since you are doing the same step over and over on each block until that step is complete.

So to do that here you will take 1 5" strip and stitch it to the charm square.  Instead of lifting your presser foot, you will stitch to the end of that block and feed the next block under your presser foot.   The feed dogs will grab the fabric and you will be stitching your next block without having to raise the foot, cut thread, etc.

If you choose this method you will do this step on all 40 blocks before moving to the next step.  It goes super fast like this!

 The thread you see between the two blocks is the "chain" that gives this method its name of "chain piecing".  You will snip these chains once you are done with the step and are ready to move to the next step...

Once you have your 5" strips attached to both sides of your charm square you will need to press the block open.   There are two schools of thought here... one is pictured above and that is pressing your seams open.

Shown here is pressing your seams away from the lighter fabric so the seam won't show as much.  To me, which way you press the seams is a personal choice and it doesn't matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of things in a quilt like this one.  Where it would matter is when the blocks are small and/or there are lots of seams...

Once you have your seams pressed you are now ready to attach the 7"x1.5" strips to the other two sides of the charm square.  You can either chain piece this step at well or sew each block individually.

Once these strips are attached, press your block open and you will be done with the inner border of your blocks!

Following your chosen piecing method, attach your outer border strips that measure 7"x2" to opposite sides of your block.  It doesn't matter which sides...  Once this step is done press your block open.

You are now ready to attach the strips measuring 10"x2" to the remaining sides of your block.  Once again either chain piece or sew each block individually. 

Complete all 40 blocks, press them open and you now have your blocks pieced!  Congrats!

As always, please let me know if you have any questions.  Be sure to post your progress pictures over in our Flickr group!

Next week we will be squaring our blocks, making them "wonky", and sewing the blocks together to make the quilt top!

I have posted each week's instructions on the left sidebar of my blog but here are the individual links as well:
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