Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Archive for the ‘Quilt Projects’ Category

Emma’s Pillow

Learning a new craft is challenging.  Teaching can also be challenging, trying to explain basic sewing principles in easy to understand terms.  My granddaughter, Emma, has been a willing learner, but she exhibits frustration when she doesn’t do something right.  When that happens, she needs a break and I allow for it.

Today’s project was a small charm square pillow with a hand stitched initial.  Emma has a keen sense of color.  She spent quite a bit of time selecting fabrics from my stash, selecting fabrics that appealed to her and looked nice next to each other.  Today’s lesson involved learning how to use rulers and a rotary cutter, including handling the cutter safely.  We handled the rotary cutter together, knowing that she needs close supervision until she is more skilled.


sewing the pillow together

I also allowed Emma to practice her previously learned skills.  She wound a bobbin, threaded the sewing machine, and stitched quarter-inch seams.  She also learned a new skill: how to use a seam ripper.  Interestingly, she realized during the sewing that she had veered out of the seamline.  She stopped and immediately reached for the seam ripper to tear out part of the seam.  No hesitation on her part to unsew and resew.  That may be the perfectionist coming out in her.

Emma completed the pillow project over the course of the day by taking breaks to do other things.  At one point, I thought that she had stitched enough for the day, putting the project aside and shutting down the sewing machine.  Later, I found Emma back in the sewing room hand stitching her initial onto the pillow top.  It is exciting to see her developing an interest in handiwork.


Emma’s Pillow

She’s already asking what our next project will be.  I’m ready to teach her how to cut out a paper pattern and stitch together a piece of clothing.  I made my first pair of pants in 4-H when I was 9 years old.  My plan is a pair of flannel pajama pants.  Emma is also learning to knit, from her other Grandma.  Someday, she will realize how fortunate she is to have learned these skills as a child, since many of our young people are not learning them.  If you’re a sewist, quilter, knitter, or embroider, pass that skill onto a younger person.  We owe it to the next generation.

Until next time…happy stitching!


a Little of This & a Little of That

This week has been very productive.  Early in the week I found time to hand quilt on the improvisational solids quilt.  I appliqued a few more hearts on blocks for the Craftsy class project.  The Sky Rocket blotto block is complete, although the dimensions are not accurate, but I am glad to have it done and will not fret over it’s imperfections.


Saturday, I attended an event at my LQS with my sister.  The shop held a Baby Gathering event and offered several ideas and patterns for baby items.  Of course, as a grandma, I couldn’t walk away without purchasing a kit to make something for one of my new grandsons.

But, my biggest accomplishment was basting my Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt top, a BOM by blogger Jacquelynne Steves over at The Art of Home.  For smaller quilts, I like to pin baste on my wooden floor.  I place the backing wrong side up on the floor and use painter’s tape to hold it in place.  I make certain that the backing is smooth and taunt.  Next, I add the batting.  I opened a new package of Warm & Natural for this quilt top, placed it on top of the backing, then trimmed it even with the painter’s tape using regular scissors.  Next, I folded the quilt top into quarters and centered it on top of the batting, unfolding it and smoothing it into place.   The photos below show the flow of this process.

Lastly, straddling the quilt, I place safety pins over the quilt top, every 3-5 inches around the blocks and along the borders.  I decided to snap a photo of the quilt outside in the sunshine today.  January was so dreary in Michigan, but the last couple of weeks have been wonderful.  The natural light brightens the colors showcased in the quilt top.


Now my quilt is ready to for machine quilting, which I’ll complete on my Bernina.  I am contemplating the designs I will use on the quilt to highlight the embroidery and fill the borders.  My goal for this quilt is a finish in time to send an entry into the AQS Grand Rapids quilt show, deadline April 21st, so I will be doing a lot of quilting over the next month.

Well, that’s my weekly update showing progress on my quilting projects. Hopefully you have been able to find time for stitching, too.

Until next time…

Emma’s Pincushion

Quilting and sewing is enjoyable only when you are able to share it with someone else.  I share my stitching with my two sisters, friends, guild members, and even acquaintances.  Now, I am sharing stitching with my eight-year-old granddaughter. She spent another Saturday morning practicing the sewing lessons I started a couple weeks ago.

Emma is learning to embroider.  She traced the heart pattern onto a piece of muslin and hooped it with flannel backing.  She selected three colors of embroidery floss and is learning to thread a needle and make a knot.  This isn’t easy for a newbie and is teaching Grandma patience.  She outlined the hearts using a stem stitch. Sometimes she made large stitches and had to take them out and redo them. Sometimes she didn’t catch the thread on the front of the stitch and either removed the stitch or kept it.  Sometimes she caught the corner of the fabric in her stitch as it folded across the back of the hoop.  All this is a part of the learning process.


We took a break from stitching to practice on the sewing machine.  She threaded the machine and stitched a sample with straight, curved and V-shaped lines. Learning to start and stop at a specific point can be challenging.  She is also learning how to adjust the speed with the foot pedal.  After a couple of hours, I think Emma needed a break.  But, she was persistent and wanted to finish the project. So, she trimmed the finished embroidery, pinned it to a backing, and stitched the seams on the sewing machine.  After turning right side out, she stuffed it with some batting scraps and whipped stitched the opening.  Voila, a pincushion.  Quite an accomplishment.


As for my projects, I completed some hand quilting on Sunday.   Too many other activities going on in my life to allow much time for stitching.  But, sewing with Emma is worth more than finishing a WIP anyday.

Until next week…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!


Accountability to the Blogosphere

So, we meet again on the pages of my blog.  I said I would be here, so I needed to show up.  I made myself accountable to you all.  Hopefully, you showed up again too.

And, what have I accomplished?  I haven’t been lax, but quilting takes time.  I work a 40-hour per week job, so I have to find time in between everything else to do this craft that gives me such satisfaction.  And, you do to, with whatever you like to make with your hands.

The scalloped-edge binding wasn’t difficult.  I say this as an experienced sewist, but really, if you’ve successfully put a binding on a quilt, stitching a scalloped edge is doable.  Note: I use the word sewist because I like how it sounds, even though Merriam-Webster doesn’t recognize it.checkerboard-edge-treatmentI chose to make the binding single-fold.  For those that don’t know quilting terminology, that just means one layer of fabric wrapped around the edge of the quilt instead of a double layer.  With this small table topper, it seemed to make sense, but ultimately it made for an easier binding.

To make a single-fold binding, fold your strip in half with wrong sides together; press.  Open up the fabric and fold each edge in to meet the center crease and press again.  Fold together on the first fold line and you have the binding.  I like to give it another good pressing to make the folds crisp.  Don’t use a walking foot to attach the binding to the edge of the quilt.  I just used my 1/4″ foot because it was easier to maneuver, and I could see the edge of the quilt.  To stitch, open out binding and lay along front edge of quilt.  Stitch a 1/4″ seam, which will be along the first fold line.  When the binding is attached, turn it to the back and it will fold over the edge perfectly.  I started with a 1-1/4″ strip of bias fabric, choosing to use the border print for non-contrast.


The corners were turned just like you traditionally would, while the scalloped points were stitched by pivoting the foot at each turn.  I also clipped into the scallop point, just  through the thread on the initial seam line, before attaching.  Hopefully, my word pictures explain this process well enough that you could give it a try.  I love the finished project.

Image result for check mark symbol– one completed project off my checklist created by my 2017 blog posts.


Finished Checkerboard table topper

I also spent most of my Saturday afternoon working on a Craftsy class project.  It’s a basic hand applique class by Mimi Dietrich.  I’ll have to save progress on that project for next time.  Hopefully, you’ll meet up with me again next week and we’ll see what I’ve been up to with all those WIPs in boxes and bins in my sewing room.

Until then…Happy Stitching!

Not a New Year’s Project List

I make lists.  Lots of lists.  I’m the type of person that adds to a list just so I can cross it off the list.  I like to see that I completed something.  I like to look back at my lists and see what I accomplished.  At the beginning of each new year, I like to create a list of the quilt projects I plan to finish.  Generally, the list gets longer and the finishes are fewer.  I seem to spend a lot of time creating lists and less time doing what’s on the list.

Last year, I didn’t make a list.  In fact, I haven’t been working off a written list all year.  Instead, I focused on my current project and worked on it until it was done, then I moved on to the next project.  In 2016, I completed 3 baby quilts and 1 queen size quilt, from start to finish.  I made progress on several other projects.  I also stitched up several items for my grandchildren: baby burp cloths, baby bibs, baby blankets, doll clothes, and lined curtain panels.  I also didn’t post much on my blog.  Seems I get more done when I stitch and avoid the blogosphere.


Flannel elephant fabric with comfy gray fabric on back and satin blanket binding with heart stitching – baby blanket for my next grandson we are patiently waiting to arrive.

Lately, I hear more & more quilters are trying to downsize their stashes and complete UFOs, WIPs, or whatever you call them.  I’ve been trying to do that, as well, but find myself obsessing about the particulars.  I can be a perfectionist.  But, I’ve decided I need to jump in and just do them.  I can’t take too long making a decision.  So, now that I have caught up on current projects, I decided to jump into a WIP and get it done.

I picked up a table topper I put together last September, from a kit I bought several years ago.  I bought the project so that I could try my hand at a scalloped edge treatment.  I spray basted the top, batting & backing together and started quilting.  After stitching around an inner border with a walking foot, I started free motion quilting organic designs.  In no time, the topper was finished.  I marked the scalloped edge, stitched the line, and trimmed away the fabric edge.  A couple rows of echo quilting along the scalloped edge and I’m ready for the binding.

Well, I’m feeling pretty satisfied with my progress and excited to have a finish in sight.  Makes me want to pull out another project and get it done.  So, meet me back here next week and I’ll show you what I’ve accomplished.  And, maybe after several more weeks, I’ll begin to see a dent in those UFOs and WIPs.

Happy Stitching!




Quilt Trail Blocks

Today, we hung quilt trail blocks on the facade of our business.  We own a small bakery in our hometown and decided to paint our own quilt blocks for the Gratiot County Quilt Trail.  We started the project in January and finished today with the hanging.

DB Quilt Block Trail

As you can see, we finished two quilt blocks.  To create a 4’X4′ block, we needed to purchase a 4’X8′ piece of marine plywood.  Since  we ended up with two pieces, we made two blocks.  They fit perfectly on either side of the business sign.  The paint is Resilience exterior  paint by Sherwin Williams in goldfinch, gladiola, and forward fushia on the Sister’s Choice block; and the addition of blue chip  on the Sunbonnet Sue block.  The background of both is in dover white.  I chose bright, autumn colors that blanket the landscape in October here in Michigan, for the blocks.  Sue wears blue & gold as a Yellowjacket fan, the local high school mascot and alma mater of both myself & my husband.

Sister's Choice Quilt Trail Block

Sister’s Choice block: Gratiot County Quilt Trail

Sunbonnet Sue Quilt Trail Block

Sunbonnet Sue block: Gratiot County Quilt Trail

As an avid quilter, I chose the quilt patterns as a reflection of my personal quilting history. Sunbonnet Sue is a favorite pattern and has become my avatar.  One of my earliest quilts was a sampler of various Sunbonnet patterns.  Quilting wasn’t passed down through my family.  I don’t have quilts that my Grandmother made, although she sewed and taught me to crochet.  Rather, I’ve introduced both of my sisters to quilting, and we bond regularly over sewing and quilting activities.  I originally stitched a small Sister’s Choice quilt for a guild challenge, then gifted it to my oldest sister, Roxanne.  The pattern seemed a fitting choice to represent my family quilting connection.

The Gratiot County Quilt Trail is producing a brochure that will be available in the Fall, so that enthusiasts can travel through the area and view each of the 50 blocks on display.  If you’re in the area, stop and visit our local city.  Enjoy a cup of coffee and a roll; it’s definitely worth the trip.




I recently read a comment by a blogger that said, “I’m a quilter that blogs, not a blogger that quilts”.  I wholeheartedly agree.  And, for several months, I have been quilting and not blogging.

I found myself at my blog site today and decided to write a few words and post a few pictures of quilts that I have finished over the last 6-7 months.


Galaxy, my NQA 2014 Block of the Month, was finished in time to display at my local quilt guild show in September 2015.  Some of you may know that the NQA has dissolved it’s organization.  I received a final member letter December 29, 2015, outlining some of the final steps taken by the board.  It is sad to see the organization go, but not surprising.


Medallion is my entry into the Circa 1825 quilt challenge for the American Quilt Study Group.  I finished the quilt in July and it was displayed at the annual Seminar in September 2015.

Sugar & Spice Quilt finished

Sugar & Spice is a queen size quilt I began last summer and finished just before Thanksgiving.  It is a pattern from Joan Ford‘s book Cut the Scraps and uses her Scraptherapy method.  The quilt was finished for my niece and her new husband, who were married in October 2015.

I also finished have finishes for projects that I did not photograph, but some of you may have followed the progress on my blog.  I completed two Feather Tree Advent calendars for each of my daughters to have for my grandchildren.  I was so determined to finish them to be used in December, that I neglected to take photographs of the finished feather tree quilt with all the wool ornaments attached.  You can look back at several blog posts about the wool ornaments, here, here, here, here, and here, that I made throughout 2013 & 2014.

I also completed two Christmas table toppers from my Groovy Girls Club days with my two sisters.  I spent November and part of December machine quilting both of the Advent calendars and table toppers.  And finally, I finished the binding on my second Dotty Quilt…finally.  I sent the quilt out to the long-armer in January last year.  I attached the binding, but never completed hand stitching it down until New Year’s Eve.  I decided that I wouldn’t move on to another project until the binding was finished.  As I think about it, the quilt really isn’t finished, because I still need to add the label.

I am on to other projects.  I always set quilting goals for the year.  Some are new and others are UFO’s and WIPs.  Maybe I’ll find the time to come back here and let you know about them.  Hopefully, I won’t be away for so long this time.

Happy Stitching!

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