Monday, July 19, 2021

August Challenge and Praying Mantis Babies

At our August guild meetings we have a pot luck dinner for members and their families and a challange with prizes that go to the ones voted the best.  This year it was a 16 inch square mini quilt, that would be used on our mini quilt display that is displayed monthly through out the area to retirement homes and other facilities.
I decided to make this little piece I had taken a picture of it and stashed it away in my binder of future to make ideas.  Simple appliqués and some hand stitching on their little bodies and button eyes.  
Next some grasses.  I found that 12 wt thread and a small zigzag works really well.  
I like the results, just some pulling the thread ends to the back tying them and hiding them in the batting.  I do not like machine knotting them as it leaves a big lump on the back.
Then green stems, flowers and leaves.  Great use of all those fancy stitches on my machine that one rarely uses.  I was really impressed with how well they worked for me.  
And a finish!   Well not completely, but just a bit of quilting on the borders and binding it, adding a sleeve and label.  But, lots of fun to make.
Our praying mantis babies are growing up.  A few weeks ago we had one little guy just barely an inch.  Yesterday my husband found another, but double or more in size.  This guy looks to be maybe three inches long.  It dropped by to visit, so we quickly snapped a photo and transferred it to one of our mini citrus trees.

Monday, July 12, 2021


 I have spend this last week perfecting my appliqué skills.  Things are going well.  I have found Floriani Stitch N Wash to be the solution to my woes when it comes to turning the edges under on appliqué pieces.

My first two completed blooms, leaf, and bias vine look great.  Vines have never been an issue for me.  I use the Clover bias tools for the bias vines.  

On to the next bloom.  I am very pleased with all those nice curved edges.  Every once in a while I spy a bit of a not quite rounded area, but I have come to the decision that not everything will be absolutely perfect.  Also if one steps back just a foot or two your minor flaws seem to disappear.  

This one will have to extend out into the border, so this week time to get that border on to work on it.  

So it is on to adding a border, the last two flowers and adding lots of leaves.  I think I might just have managed to get some new skills down with this project.

A new surprise addition to the clan!  Normally my daughter gathers eggs up daily to avoid any surprise additions to her 20 plus chicken families.  However, some how this hen slipped one in this past week.  This particular hen has been escaping from the large fenced in pen and hiding eggs under various bushes and trees in the yard.  My daughter thought she had found all her hiding places but somehow missed this one, only to discover this little chick strolling out with mother this past week.   

Monday, July 5, 2021


I have spent the last couple of weeks working on perfecting my appliqué skills.  Most often I do raw edge fusible appliqué by machine.  I have done some hand appliqué that requires you to turn under the edges but kept to very simple pieces.  I just was not very good at more complicated appliqués with curves and points.  Why, was the question.  So this past couple of weeks I decided to really work on that and see if I could not manage that skills better.  

I decided to use Floriani Stitch N Wash Fusible a water soluble tearaway.  It seemed easier than using freezer paper that has to be pulled out.  It can be left in and over time it softens.  I am making a table runner, so I am not concerned with the pieces being a little bit stiffer.  Plus I did cut away the center of the flowers fusible as additional pieces would be added on top of it.

Well, I found I was pretty successful.  So I am off to see how all this goes. 

Things are moving along really well.  Tools of the trade, especially those two Appliquick Dual-Ended Rods and the trusty glue stick.

I finished dealing with the remaining 12 Spinning Spool blocks this past week.  These did not have the dot wedges on them.  So I just sewed them into this table topper and did a fast quilting job.  It is now on my dining table. 

The garden is overflowing with quash.  Eating, freezing, and give away to neighbors.  They literally grow overnight.  So far the neighbors are still willing to take some off our hands.  They really do look pretty.

Monday, June 28, 2021


 It is always nice to finally finish something and move on to something new.  I have a habit of having several projects all going at once.  Variety is the spice of life, at least in the sewing room for me.

I finished my Spinning Spools runner.  Lots of thread changing to match colors to these strips.  It is bright, cheery and fun for a summer table.  I still have another 12 block finished without the dot wedges.  Not sure what I will do with them yet.

As is pretty usual for me I started another project, pleated blocks.  Seemed like an easy thing to do.  However, both my sewing machines gave me fits with these.  I have a Bernina 750 and Bernina 480, both wonderful machines.  But, I found neither of them liked sewing straight seam lines with the needle moved all the way to the left in order to make the 1/2 inch seams.  Lots of breaking thread, shredding thread and skipping stitches.  I finally gave up and screwed on an extra plate as a guide and got the job done.  Not sure how I will quilt these things, but I do like the project so far now that I solved my thread issues.  

I could not help but laugh when I saw the cartoon on the internet of Pre-Rinse Cycle, here is my little Pre-Rinse Cycle, Zoey our 4 month old Yorkshire Terrier puppy, she helps get the dishes into the dishwasher every evening. 

Monday, June 21, 2021


This week I set most other projects aside to turn out a couple of charity quilt tops with some matching prepared bindings for my quilt guild's charity group.  Their October Give Away to 5 different agencies takes place then.  Last October 2020 we gave out 302 quilts.  Covid hit production pretty hard as we could not get together, but many of us did do quilt tops at home and we should have around 200 to give out.  

Here are my first two finished quilt tops.  I was gifted with yards and yards of fabric from Nancy and her husband Lloyd.  Lloyd's mother passed away and left them with boxes and boxes of fabric.  Most were of clothing quality, but there were plenty of quilting fabrics too.  
As you can see I still have plenty of fabric still left to do more tops.
This past week I threw in the towel and decided that 8 finished spool blocks was enough.  I am not going to make 20 of these things.  However, I didn't want to throw them out or give them away and they make a perfect runner.  I still have 12 blocks, minus the polkadot wedges on them that I can make a small quilt with by just adding borders. 
This winter we found a Praying Mantis egg case on our BBQ cover.  We carefully protected it all winter hoping it would eventually produce some babies.  Sure enough this past week while sitting out in the garden I felt this little guy crawling up my arm.  I carefully moved it over to one of the garden plants and snapped a picture.  It is just around one inch long.  Have no idea if it has some brothers and sisters hatched along with it, but hope so.  

Monday, June 14, 2021


 This past week my daughter called me to meet a friend with her.  Her friend Nancy had a number of boxes filled with fabric that she wanted to donate.  Her husband's mother had passed away and left boxes and boxes of fabric.  We meet on Thursday and spent some time going through box after box of all sorts of fabrics.  Most of them were clothing quality fabrics, but I did manage to get several quilt quality pieces.  She was happy to know they would become charity quilts.

Most of these are 3 and 4 yards pieces.  So lots of fabric to work with.

I couldn't wait to get in and start something.  I added some scrap strips of white fabric in between these simple 4 squares blocks.  Just 5 more rows to add and we have a quilt top done.  It did not make even a tiny dent in the the fabrics she gave me.  This is going to take a while to get this job done.  

I have managed to get three rows of Confetti blocks put together.  So I am half way through.  I love it!  

Our youngest daughter, yes the one with all the ducks, chickens, and peacocks, also has a Secota Tortoise.  Morty was just a baby when we snapped this picture, she now weighs easily 70 pounds.  Peanut her Jack Russell seems to be having a bit of an issue about whose dinner this is.

Monday, June 7, 2021


This past week I set aside my Confetti and Spinning Spools projects  to get more done on my Rose quilt.  

At last I have all the flowers on and one of the final borders.  Lots of leaves to appliqué yet.  I do plan to quilt this myself.  

I happened into JoAnn's last week.  Our oldest daughter Monique sent me a $50 gift certificate so thought to take a look to see what was available.  Their batiks were on sale at 25% off, so I took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on some blues.

Additionally I pulled some pinks and green along with a couple new pink additions from our local quilt shop.  I have an artsy piece in mind. 

I saw these ideas in an Art Quilting magazine, so has me thinking somewhere along this line.  Wish I was more creative, but I always need a picture idea or a pattern.     

Meet Lisa the dog and Pip the cat our oldest daughter's two pets.  These two are great friends.  Apparently Liza seems to think that Pip is a pillow. I can't tell if Pip is just tolerating this or likes it.  My daughter says that Pip is the boss, so if she isn't happy she would let Lisa know.

Monday, May 31, 2021


I have been eking out a bit here and there trying to accomplish getting some Spinning Spool blocks and also Confetti blocks done.  The spools have me less than thrilled with the project, but the Confetti blocks are fun to work with all the scrap fabrics I have all over the sewing room.  It looks like a bomb went off in there.

Spool wedges are under major construction.  This particular product I am using is Quilters Select Print & Piece Fuse Lite. 

I like the project because I was able to tape the wedge pattern on to a piece of paper then copy it on to the product.  Made things go really fast, rather than tracing them.

Then it was a simple task of folding over the edge with a bit of glue and the iron.  However, I am not a huge fan of the project.  It is rather stiff, and was hard to remove once sewn on to the spools.  They say it softens with water, but all in all it seemed like a lot of fussing.

Well I have 8 of the 20 done and this is the layout.  I actually am pretty happy with the background.  I did not want to buy any fabric for this project so finding 2 yards of a background was a bit of an issue, but this is pretty interesting.

This is what the project should look like in the end.  I think once the appliquéd flowers are on it using some of the fabrics in the spools it will be a fun finish. 

On a happier note I have managed these Confetti blocks.  Row one is done and these have me headed to rows two and three of the eight I will need in the end.  

This is a basket of cuteness.  Along with our daughter's chickens, ducks, and peacocks she has 5 cats.  These 3 found a nice cozy spot in the morning sun coming through the bedroom window.

Monday, May 24, 2021


I have been working for a couple weeks now on my Confetti quilt.  The blocks are paper pieced.  I had done a little paper piecing, but never this much.  I have had an interesting learning curve on this project and thought to share a bit of it.  While paper piecing isn't rocket science these few little tips have made things so much easier.

In the beginning when I folded over the paper to trim my seams to a quarter inch I found that it was difficult to stay on the line.  I remembered a tip given in one of my on line classes to use a post card that is just a bit thicker than normal paper.  Folds were very accurate to do perfect trimming of the seams.

In the beginning I was using glue sticks.  Unfortunately I found they are used up fast and they were costly.  I have had this Roxanne Glue in my stash of tools for ages, but never used it.  I decided it might be time to give it a try.  

This was just the greatest thing ever invented.  You can apply it within the seam allowance so no excess smears of glue.

I also found that just a bit of a press before going to the sewing machine dries the glue so no slipping or sliding on the area.

This particular pattern has some pieces joined before paper piecing them.  A bit of a different system than I every dealt with before.

It works really great, and while other patterns might not use this method I thought it certainly could be used in similar situations.  

I did find that my patterns did not include the seam allowances.  I decided that the best plan was on the original patterns I would draw them in and also indicate where seams should extend beyond the seam lines.  Plus I even made a note of the one or two seams that should be folded and pressed in a different direction to join the two block parts.  Once all that information was on the original pattern pieces it was easier to not get confused when doing multiple blocks.  There are 64 blocks in the quilt top and each block has two parts.  So, having that information when make 128 block pieces made things easier.  

I spent some time doing some heavy duty housework these past few weeks.  We have travel a good deal over the last 4 or 5 years and one of the drawers in our guest bathroom was loaded with various travel size shampoo, lotion, bar soaps, as well as toothpaste, floss, and toothbrushes our dentist gives us at each visit.  I did a major clean out and our daughter took them to a couple that does a good deal of assistance for the homeless in our area.  As I was doing all that clean out I also found several old quilts and blankets in our linen closet that I added to the donation pile for that couple.  I was sent this photo of one of the quilts I donated for their cause.  They told me that they wanted it to go to someone special.  This photo was taken when the woman received  it.  It was nice to pass on to someone happy to get it.  It was one of the very first mystery quilts I ever made.