Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Archive for the ‘Fabric’ Category

Life is more than just Quilting…gasp

The weather has been nice, so I’ve spent time outdoors working in my flowerbeds.  I cleaned up the dried stems & leaves from last year’s perennials and raked out the leftover leaves.  I split up some hostas that have overgrown and transplanted iris rhizomes that were being crowded by black-eyed susans in the same bed.  The heavy rains over the last three days should set the plants well.  My tulips have bloomed and the peony plants are growing.  What started as two lily of the valley plants some 15 years ago has spread through the back bed.  May’s birth month flower will soon bloom.  I transplanted a trumpet vine last fall and hope it takes root and sprouts leaves this spring. The rose bushes are sending out vines and needed trellises to control them.

Flower gardens give much inspiration for quilters.  The simple shapes & lovely colors offer a myriad of designs for applique.  I continue to work on my Craftsy class project. I finished stitching the petals on an applique flower block and the butterfly block.  Though my progress is slow, it continues weekly.

Flower & Butterfly blocks

Friday, my sister & I set out on a quilt Shop Hop.  We travelled over 300 miles to visit four shops in mid-Michigan.  We also checked out a new quilt shop that wasn’t on the hop.  It turned out to be my favorite – Park Bench quilt shop in Midland, Michigan.  I think the shop was well aware of the 3-day shop hop at their competitor down the street.  They offered the same 20% discount on purchases.  The fabrics are beautiful and the selection more the style that interests me.  I picked up Joan Ford’s latest Scraptherapy book, The Versatile Nine Patch, along with several fat quarters to use in my elephant baby quilt I have yet to begin.

Shop Hop Fabrics Closeup

Shop Hop Fabrics

Shop Hop fabric purchases

I always take along a list of notions I would like to try.  One in particular I looked for and found is the Kwik Klip. I have heard many rave about how well it helps with closing safety pins when pin basting.   Got one and hope it lives up to the hype.

Kwik Klip

The dreary weather kept me inside most of yesterday, so I also completed a bit of FMQ. I’ll have to share photos next time.  Tomorrow, I am going on a field trip with my granddaughter to Woldumar Nature Center.  All the rain has likely made the trails muddy and I’m praying the rain will hold off until the trip is over.

That recaps some of the activities over the last two weeks.  I’ve been busy with a lot more that keeps me away from needle & thread.  But life is more than just quilting.

Hoping to share more progress next week.  Until then…happy stitching!



Blotto Block

Thursday was guild night for the Capital City Quilt Guild.  I took the opportunity to sign up for the guild sponsored National Quilt Day event on Saturday, March 18th. Received a square of fabric for the blotto block with a theme of Out of This World and decided to work on a block today.

I found a pattern called  sky rocket in my Carrie Hall Blocks book by Bettina Havig – page 129.  Selected some coordinating fabrics and planned out the block.  The pattern uses templates and the sizes are not conventional block dimensions.  I managed to finish the central nine patch, but my corner sections do not fit correctly. I am not a math whiz – that’s my older sister.  So, I still have to figure out how to make the pattern work to finish my block.  I think the idea is that the yellow sections look like rockets.


I also took hand applique along to the guild meeting and completed some applique on one of the heart blocks, but that’s all the stitching I accomplished this week. How about you?  Accomplish anything more than I did; or struggling to find time to quilt?  Hopefully next week I can show some real progress on my WIPs.

Until then…Happy Stitching!

Just Checking In

As Monday rolled around this week, I realized that I wouldn’t have much to say about my quilting progress.  At first, I wanted to rush into my sewing room and complete something, anything, so that I could say something about it.  Then, I realized that part of this process is being real about what I have been able to accomplish.

Just as in life, there are times that our hobbies take a back seat to more important things: God, family, yoga, career, day-to-day tasks.  Really, only those that make a career of quilting should get into their sewing studios every day.  As much as I would like to, I know that there are more important things in life than quilting.  Gasp!  How dare I suggest that we could spend too much time in our sewing rooms.  I do not find true fulfillment in doing just quilting.  In my not so distant past, I’ve immersed myself into my quilting to the detriment of my marriage, family, finances, and friendships.  I find myself much more satisfied with my quilting, when the rest of my life is balanced.

So, checking in today, I completed very little.  I appliqued some stems on my Craftsy class project on Friday night.  Sunday, I hand-quilted two rows of stitching around one of the center blocks of the liberated solids quilt.  Although this isn’t much, it is progress.  I will take it.

Just so I don’t leave you without some eye candy, I’ll share some pictures of my sewing room.  I could call it a studio, but it really is just a bedroom overflowing with sewing and quilting paraphernalia.

Whether your space is at the dining room table, like early in my marriage; a corner space or a well lit studio; your sewing space and mine is a haven, a place to retreat from everyday cares and create.  I hope you find time to relax and sew something this week.  Meet me back next time when I check in with more of my weekly progress on finishing up WIPs and UFOs.

Disclaimer: These photos were taken a few years ago after reorganizing my sewing & quilting space.  The room has overflowed out the door and into the next room.  It will probably never look this organized again.

Until next time…


And the Hearts Have It

Here we are in week four of the new year and I continue to document my quilting activities.  Over the last week, I basted several hearts for my Craftsy Hand Applique class.  And, that wraps up another blog post.  Wait, here’s a view of all the hearts that I have basted.


Actually, I could say a bit more.  I basted most of these while listening to the business part of the guild meeting last Thursday night.  Although it doesn’t look like much, I did accomplish what I set out to do for the week.  I applaud anyone that keeps moving forward with a project.  Each stitch leads to the final stitch.

As for the guild meeting, I am a member of the Capitol City Quilt Guild in Lansing, Michigan.  This month’s program featured quilter Debbie Grifka, of Esch House Quilts, who spoke about her modern quilt style.  She had lots of great quilts to show.  Debbie designs her own quilts, making many into published patterns.

As I was thinking about what project I would work on this week, I recalled a WIP from just over a year ago.  It’s a block of the month that I finished putting together with the exception of the borders.  My plan is to cut and stitch the borders and get the quilt top ready for machine quilting.  Check out the border fabrics.


I love the dot fabric, and the whimsical bird fabric is a South Seas Imports designed by Debbie Mumm.  It’s been in my stash since the late 90’s, picked up off the clearance rack on a guild bus trip.  I finally found a quilt to use the colors and design in.  The cream muslin is for an inside border to offset the blocks, while the gold will be used for the binding.

Hope all of you are finding something fun to stitch on this week.  Next time I will reveal the quilt these fabrics will border.  See you all then.

Happy Stitching!

Hand Applique Class with Craftsy

Progress on quilting projects has been slow this week.  But, I have a great excuse for putting my needle & thread aside: my fifth grandchild was born.  I spent three days and two nights caring for my 4 1/2 year old grandson, while Mom & Dad were at the hospital.  Then, I had to catch up on everything at home.

This week, I am sharing a new project from a Craftsy class that I purchased.  I love to applique and have taken several classes, even started a club at a local quilt guild.  I love the Craftsy platform and finally signed up for a class.  I can work at my own pace, review the information as much & as often as I need to, and the materials are excellent.  This particular class is called Hand Applique Made Easy by Mimi Dietrich.  I chose the class because I wanted to learn applique from this teacher.  This is a basic class for all levels of stitchers.

I began by selecting fabrics, mostly from my stash, but I did search out a theme fabric to use for the borders, then pulled colors from my stash to blend in.  Here is my color palette.


I started the lessons after the new year began.  I decided to allot time each week-end to work on this project.  Here is my progress so far.


I began by tracing all the applique designs onto my starched, white muslin.  I really like the hand feel of Legacy Studio muslin at JoAnn Fabrics.  I completed the first lesson on how to make stems, which also includes the basket & teacup handles.  Then, I moved into the lesson on freezer paper applique.  I really like appliqueing with freezer paper, but this class has provided additional tips that have already improved the shape of my heart.


Here is a large heart already basted and ready to applique.  I have prepared several more smaller hearts for different blocks.  I cannot wait to get to the applique process, but preparing the shapes correctly makes a world of difference.  Basting is also a great take-along project.

So, I am continuing to meet my goal of stitching a little each week, and sharing it with you all.  Hopefully, you are finding time to quilt, as well.  See you back here next week.  Until then…

Happy Stitching!


Quilting or Blogging

Quilting is a passion of mine.  I like to share what I do with others.  But I have found blogging to be time consuming and takes away from the time I get to make quilts.  So, you will see only a few posts when I have more time in my life to visit this site and input another quilt story.

Today’s story will be short and contain few pictures.  Sorry!  Many of my quilts are for gifts.  And, in the process of finishing a gift, I often forget to take a picture before wrapping it up.  I recently made another Charm Squares Baby Quilt as a gift to my niece’s son born in October.  I also made a flannel baby blanket with that bumpy, plush fabric on the back as a gift for my nephew’s son born in November.  Now, my attention is on making a baby quilt for my soon-to-be-born grandson.  I know, I had a grandson born in July with my previous post about that quilt finish.  Now you can see why I don’t have time to blog about my quilts.

I have a great pattern picked out for this grandson’s quilt.  It has rows of elephants, which is the theme of the baby’s room.  Check out the pattern here.  I have fabrics selected with an emphasis on grays and teals.

I cannot wait to get started on this quilt, but I have another Christmas project to finish first.  I am making bedroom curtains for my two granddaughters.  Mom made a special request to have them as Christmas gifts.  So, I must end this post and get to work on these curtains.  I have an entire week free of regular work to sew on them.  How great is that!

Happy Quilting!

Challenge Quilt

I started a new quilt project. Unfortunately, I cannot show you any pics of the progress. As a member of the American Quilt Study Group, I am participating in the Past & Present Circa 1825 Challenge.

I purchased fabrics for this project in the fall. They are from the Circa 1825 fabric collection by Sharon Yenter and Jason Yenter for In the Beginning fabrics. Below are pics of fabrics from the collection. They are lovely prints. I have chosen the large floral fabric as a central block and designed a medallion style quilt around it.

Here are more of the lovely fabrics.

Designing a quilt can be challenging. I tend to have several ideas jumbled together in my brain. When I finally take the time to sketch out a design, I use traditional graph paper and pencil. As the pattern takes shape, I am able to determine the dimensions of the quilt and quilt blocks. Sometimes, I plan in advance and purchase the fabric needed. In this case, I planned the design after purchasing the fabric. Now the trick is to make the quilt with yardage from at least eight of the fabrics that I purchased.

If you haven’t participated in a challenge, you should give it a try. Guilds, fabric companies, and bloggers offer opportunities to get involved.

Happy Stitching!

Rearranging Quilt Blocks

Have you planned a layout for a sampler quilt and had difficulty keeping the blocks properly arranged while sewing them together? Or, have you changed your layout and realized later that your rearrangement placed identical blocks next to each other? Well, that’s where I am with my NQA BOM quilt. I initially completed ten blocks, one for each month of the BOM. After viewing the layout, I decided to make the 20-block quilt and produced a second block of each design. Some of the blocks are identical, using up the extra strips of fabric cut for the first block, while other blocks use completely different fabrics. After my sister helped me plan the layout, I carefully stacked and pinned the blocks together into rows and put them aside for awhile.

Here was the initial block arrangement.

Here was the initial block arrangement.

I stitched together the sashing strips with stitch and flip corner triangles, making friendship stars in the cornerstones. Some of these sashing strips have one triangle, while others have a triangle on each end of the strip. As I began sewing the blocks and sashing together, I made the mistake of sewing a single triangle sashing on upside down. Rather than unsew, I decided to flip the block over and move it one position to the right – Mistake #1. T the corner block was made from the same fabric as the star I re-positioned, so I moved the block to the bottom row of the quilt. But, as you may guess, I noticed another odd arrangement, and thus began a multiple block and switch. It wasn’t until I finished stitching all the blocks together and returned to look at the quilt top the next day, that I noticed the two checkerboard stars stitched next to each other. You may also notice that two other identical blocks are diagonal from each other on the left side.

Close-up of identical blocks next to each other.

Close-up of identical blocks next to each other.

I had other issues while putting together the blocks. One of the star blocks used the the red fabric as the background and created a white star. As mentioned, the fabric for the friendship stars in the sashing is also used in the quilt blocks – Mistake #2. When I stitched the sashing strip together next to the star with the red background, it created a red blob. I had to replace that friendship star with one from a different fabric – more unsewing. I stitched the rows of sashing strips to the bottom of each row of sashed star blocks. Mistake #3 – After stitching together row one and two, I realized that I had stitched the sashing to the top of the row, thus the blocks were backwards – more unsewing. With all of the unsewing and resewing, no wonder I have misarranged blocks.

Aerial view

Aerial view

Here is an overhead view of the quilt blocks stitched together with sashing. I really don’t want to unsew anymore of this quilt. I would rather put my efforts into other quilts and have more finishes. This quilt will be for my personal use and having a perfectly pieced quilt is not that important in the scheme of life. Now to add the inside and outside borders.

Hopefully you don’t experience as many struggles with your piecing as I did in this quilt. But, if you do, don’t give up. And, don’t try to be perfect with everything. Sometimes, finishing a quilt is the most important thing.

Happy Stitching!

Snow Dyeing Fabric

Last Winter, I read a little about dyeing fabric with snow. The idea sounded interesting, but I was planning to try my hand at other types of fabric dyeing. So, I spent a few days in the summer trying some resist dyeing techniques, namely low water immersion and shibori. You can read about these attempts HERE.

With so much snow this Winter, I decided I needed to take advantage of it and try out the resist dye technique of snow dyeing. After the idea settled in my head, I passed by some powdered Rit Dye on clearance at Meijer. I picked up some Soda Ash at Hobby Lobby and watched a couple of You-Tube videos on the topic.

I use muslin at a low cost to try out these dyeing techniques.  After learning the technique, I may choose to purchase fabric and dyes of a higher quality to prepare more fabric. To begin the snow dye process, I soaked the muslin in a Soda Ash solution for 20 minutes. This allows the dye to take to the fabric better. After wringing out the excess solution, the fabric was bunched up and place on a slotted surface over a tub. I made do with a plastic shoe rack from my closet and placed it over two tubs. The entire setup was placed inside the bathtub for ease in rinsing the fabric and cleaning up. I gathered snow from the back deck and placed it on top of the fabric. Powdered dye was sprinkled across the snow, which acts as a resist until melted. The dye colors I used were Fushia, Golden Yellow, and Dark Green. My choices were based upon the selection on the clearance shelf.

Snow Dyeing Setup

Snow Dyeing Setup #1

Snow Dyeing Setup #2

Snow Dyeing Setup #2

Fabric after snow melted

Fabric after snow melted

After the snow melts, the fabric is rinsed until clear. I didn’t get the results that I was hoping for. Maybe the fabric pieces were too large, but the dye did not penetrate through the pieces. Large areas of white muslin remained untouched by the dye. I chose to re-dye one of the pieces. Another piece was flipped over part way through the melting and the snow added to the other side to finish melting. Here are the three samples I created.

Re-dyed Fabric #1

Re-dyed Fabric #1

Fabric #2

Fabric #2

Fabric #3

Fabric #3

I probably won’t be trying snow dyeing again anytime soon, although there is plenty of snow outside. The technique was time consuming and the results were less than satisfying. I would really like to try Batik dyeing and additional attempts of Shibori dyeing.

Happy Dyeing!

Riley Blake Challenge for MQG Completed

I’ve finished my Riley Blake Challenge quilt for The Modern Quilt Guild. I provided an overview of my design process in an earlier post. I used three-quarter inch white strips to separate the bargello strips, rather than more bargello strips, as the pattern called for. This variation, along with the improvisational borders add a modern look to this traditional pattern. I’m naming my creation Modern Bargello.

Modern Bargello - Riley Blake Challenge for The Modern Quilt Guild

Modern Bargello – Riley Blake Challenge for The Modern Quilt Guild

I designed the borders improvisationally. The batting was marked through the center to provide orientation lines for adding the bargello strips. Placement of the center bargello strip along the orientation line offset the design. I used this as an opportunity to make borders of different widths. I stitched extra fabric into sections similar to bargello units to use as two of the corners, while the other two corners used solid fabric pieces. White border strips with corners were added in a QAYG fashion, just as the bargello strips were added.

Center of Bargello

Center of Bargello

Top of Bargello

Top of Bargello

I quilted the borders to mimic the quilting on the back of the quilt, making two rows of straight stitching a quarter inch apart. I separated these rows of straight line quilting by different widths, just as the bargello strips are different widths. The stitching changed directions from corner to corner. A white binding was added to maintain the white color along the edge and keep the eye focused on the center of the quilt.

There’s still a lot of snow here in Michigan. I used the sunshine today to take a couple of outdoors photos.

Riley Blake Challenge-Modern BargelloRB Challenge-Modern Bargello

I am happy with the results of my challenge quilt. Enjoy!

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