Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Almost two weeks ago, I basted this top so that I could start quilting it.

Guess what, it's still laying on our guest bed and hasn't been touched. I picked out a pretty thread color, Amethyst Frost by Isacord, but for some reason, I'm having trouble starting it. I'm just not sure how to quilt it. It's funny how most people choose to do a basic meander or allover pattern when the first start free motion quilting. Not me. I went all out and started custom quilting right out of the gate. After 2 years of quilt-making now I still have never done basic quilting. As much as I'd like to do an edge to edge pattern with this one, I think it just lends itself to custom quilting. I'm just a bit indecisive and have no game plan right now. Guess it's going to have to sit in the guest room a bit longer until I figure it out. Hope it's not too lonely in there.

Friday, September 5, 2014

September Compass Quilters Blocks

We are into month #2 for our compass quilters bee and our September queen bee is Nesta from Ella & Nesta's Little Room. For our blocks this month she wanted us to make these cute cross stitch blocks.

They were really quick to make and the color combinations are endless. Here is the tutorial that she had us use, requesting that we make the 6 inch blocks with pinks, yellows, or oranges with low volume or white backgrounds. I know my block in the upper right looks small but I promise, it's the same size as all the others. It's just an optical illusion from the camera angle and the placement on the edge of the ottoman.

I hope the bottom right one isn't too gold. It's definitely not as bright a yellow and the other two. Here are my 2 favorite blocks. Both of the crosses on these blocks are Riley Blake fabrics. What I really love about them though, are the background fabrics. I knew I'd be able to use this bicycle fabric someday, and the text fabric just matched perfectly.

She originally requested 2 blocks from each member of the bee, but we all agreed that we should do 8 since they were so small. I hope she likes them! Now to get working on my block for October.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

DIY Professionally Hemmed Curtains

I've been meaning to share this on my blog for a while now but kept forgetting to take photos. With moving into a brand new home, we have LOTS of windows that need curtains. Ikea is a great place to get some inexpensive ones but they're always really long. If you've ever needed to hem curtains then this tutorial is for you! Not only is it fast and easy, you get great looking results. How? By keeping the original hem. I wish my curtains weren't white for the purpose of my photos but this is what I had to work with.

First, when the curtains are hanging up, take a safety pin and pin the bottom up to the length that you want. Just a few safety pins will do, just to get an idea of where it should be. Pin it with the right sides of the fabric together. Take the curtains down and head to your sewing machine.

The trick to this method is in the math. Anyone who knows me, knows I'm mathematically challenged but if I can do it, anyone can do it! Laying the curtain flat on your ironing board measure from the fold to the hem (the curtain should still be pinned at this point). In my example below, it was 7 inches.

We need to take this number and divide it by 2. In my example, that would be 3.5 inches. Remove your safety pins and fold up the bottom of the curtain to be your divided number, again not including the original hem in your measurement. Press and pin as you go along.

Now it's time to sew right along the edge of the finished hem. I like to use my zipper foot - it presses against the original hem nicely.

Once it's sewn, it's time to cut off the excess at the bottom. If you're not sure that you measured correctly now is the time to hang up your curtain and check. But trust me, it will be perfect. I like to cut off the excess leaving about a half inch seam allowance. I just eyeball it.

If you want you can leave it like this, ironing it flat, but I prefer to sew down the seam allowance so there's no chance of the hem rolling up. It's never happened before, but I think it looks a bit neater. It's also helpful if the fabric tends to fray. I just use my regular foot and just sew along the edge of the hem.

That's all there is to it! Honestly, it took me about 30 minutes to hem 2 curtains. And did I mention it works great on jeans too? Yep!

Closeup of the new hem on the left. Curtains hung on the right.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Quilty Little Secrets

If you've not seen this on some of the other quilting blogs, you're in for real treat. Amy over at 13 Spools made a post about her 10 Quilty Little Secrets and it spread like wildfire. It prompted so many others to chime in with their list that she opened up a link party just to share our confessions. Some of them are hilarious, my favorite so far being Shauna's number 10 (I won't spoil the surprise, you have to click over to read it!).

I've decided to add my own little secrets to the list. You can find the others here.

  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE polka dots! Nothing makes me happier.
  2. Like so many others have confessed, I too, iron. Pressing is for sissies and triangle blocks cut on the bias. Then it's okay.
  3. I don't understand the craze for the Cotton + Steel fabrics. They're okay but I don't feel the need to possess any.
  4. I don't like appliqué. I'll do it if it's the best choice for a project but it's usually my last choice.
  5. I have an addiction to Mary Ellen's Best Press. I have no idea what's in it, but I love it.
  6. I'm not a big fan of scrappy or wonky. Correction - I can tolerate scrappy but wonky drives me nuts.
  7. I cringe whenever I see the word Accuquilt. Maybe because it's a tool I know I can never afford (or justify the expense) but if I see that it's a pattern or project made using one, I tend to stop reading.
  8. I really want to try glue basting but I'm chicken (and I don't have a super fine tipped applicator).
  9. I have attachments and accessories to my sewing machine that I have NO IDEA how to use.
  10. I've been known to sell my son's discarded toys and outgrown clothing and use the money to buy fabric.

Turning Over a New Leaf

I haven't gotten much quilting done in the last week due to some unexpected circumstances. A few weeks ago I had to have my car towed from our house because it was leaking transmission fluid. Somehow a hose had dislodged itself and gone missing, resulting in needing an entirely new transmission put it. Thank goodness I was the original owner of the car and it was covered under the 100,000 mile power train warranty so the only thing out of pocket was the tow. Given the car's age and some of the upcoming work that would need to be done, my husband and I started thinking that maybe it was time to get a new car. We are a Pruis loving family - we're currently on our 2nd one. I personally love the idea of an all-electric car to reduce our carbon footprint, but getting an EV with a long mileage range is just not in our budget right now. Luckily all of my driving is short range and thanks to the mad negotiation skills of my husband, we now have a shiny new Nissan Leaf!

We're leasing it for 2 years to see how we do with an all-electric vehicle. The range is only about 80 miles before needing to be plugged in so we won't be taking this on any long trips. We always use the Prius for that anyway. But it's perfect for trips back and forth to work, school, the grocery store, and the various parks. And it needs to be mentioned that it is SO FUN TO DRIVE! Can't stop smiling whenever I'm behind the wheel. :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Holiday Hexies

I'm so excited to finally share what I made with some of my hexies that I made last week. I made a holiday wall hanging!

I just love how this turned out and it was a fast project too. Well, fast for me, which was about 2 weeks. It measures 19" x 25" and I used all scrap fabrics. As I'd mentioned in an earlier post, I'm not really a fan of hand sewing but I still think the hexies are cute. After seeing this on Pinterest, I knew immediately that I wanted to make a Christmas tree using hexies. Here's how I made it.

After making the hexies for my tree, I rummaged through my stash to find some white fabric, a large scrap of batting, and some backing fabric. I basted it just around the edges using safety pins, determined where I wanted to tree to be and laid out my hexies. As usual, my assistant Oliver was close at hand to made suggestions.

After I decided on a layout that I liked it was time to secure them temporarily to my quilt top. I just used a dab of glue to keep them in place. Once they were all glued, I then finished basting around the tree.

Now it was time to start quilting. I just did straight line quilting for the hexies, just like in the project I found through Pinterest. After that was done, I stitch appliquéd a little square for the tree trunk.

 For the background, I liked the idea of snowballs at the base and gradually changing to swirls as I moved upward. My favorite thread for quilting is Isacord but what I had on hand was more of a cream color. Plus, I wasn't sure I'd have enough so I opted to use white Aurifil thread instead. I've never quilted with it before, only pieced. It wasn't bad but I think that poly threads (like Isacord) just glide more smoothly for free motion quilting, especially where you have to backtrack a lot (like pebbles). I chose a modern looking font for the Seasons Greetings saying and used a dark red poly thread to outline and paint it. Once again, I used my trusty Press'n Seal to copy the lettering from paper and then sew over it once I placed it on my quilt top.

(Sorry for the less-than-stellar phone picture)
This was probably the most time consuming part of this project. Since the plastic was on top, I couldn't bury my threads as I went along. I had to trace (free motion quilt) all the letters first, carefully rip away all the plastic, and then bury all of the threads. Once that was done, it was time to start thread painting. Not sure if that's the technical term for it but it sounds better than saying "next I quilted little mini hairballs all over the letters." I might go back over a few of the letters (SEAS in seasons) since they aren't as dark as the others. Here's the finished lettering:

When I showed it to my son, he immediately said that we need to get out the train to put under the tree. He's 4 and doesn't exactly have a great sense of calendar time and can't wait for it to be Christmas again so that we can put up our tree and set up our Lego train set around it. It got me thinking that maybe I should add a few gifts under the tree. It'd be easy to appliqué a few even after it's been quilted. So there you have it. A cute little wall hanging for the holidays using hexies.

In addition to the usual link parties (found here), I'm also linking up to Ho-Ho-Ho...And On We Sew over at Missy Mac Creations, Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures, and Free Motion Mavericks at Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Compass Quilters: August Block Finish

Here are my cute little hummingbird blocks sewn together to make two 10 1/2" blocks that will be sent to Rebecca over at One Wee Bird. As queen bee, she selected this pattern specifically to torture me. :) Okay, not really, but there were moments I thought that. I've definitely learned a lot about paper piecing and while it still doesn't come naturally to me I'm at least comfortable enough to want to attempt some other paper piecing patterns in the future.

Now I just need to get these packaged up and shipped to New Zealand. Wondering what adventures September will bring and trying to figure out what I will choose for October when I get to be queen bee.


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