A Memorable Barter

16 07 2018

My husband’s friend, Willie, is repacking the cylinders of our backhoe. This entails hours of greasy labor in the heat and humidity and multiple runs to the Napa Auto Parts store for parts and tools and to the John Deere store for gaskets. Ran is the go-pher, encourager, and junior helper, while my part is supplying ice water and watermelon slices at strategic intervals. Willie doesn’t want to charge market value for his know-how, so Ran asked me if I’d be willing to give him a quilt for his labor.

I do have a few extra quilts around the house. Just a few (cough, cough). I set out five for Willie to choose from. We thought he might select a red, white, and blue quilt since his wife decorates their bedroom with those colors. But when he saw the quilts, he immediately chose the very scrappy “Roman Stripe” quilt that I recently finished.

Willie chose this quilt because it reminds him of the quilts his mother used to piece in the evenings after the day’s work was done. She’d pull out scraps from clothing or curtains, whatever was at hand, and hand piece quilts. She pieced while the children were settling down, then she  retired to bed herself. If guests or cousins came to stay for a few days, Willie remembers everyone finding sleeping places on pallets made of quilts.

Our old backhoe is getting a new lease on life, and Willie is getting a new quilt full of old memories. I call that a memorable barter!


Scrap Quilts made by Blog Readers

16 07 2018

Home from college for the summer, Anna is raiding her mom’s fabric stash and piecing two quilts. “Picnic” is finished already, and a gray/yellow/blue quilt is in the works. (“Picnic” is published in “Scrap-Basket Sensations” by Kim Brackett.)

Doesn’t that Mustard “Grunge” make the perfect border?

Maridee sent pictures of two quilts she finished earlier this year. She writes, “A dear friend of mine passed away, and her sister asked me to take all of her quilting stuff. In the boxes, I found a Block of the Month from the Fat Quarter Shop that hadn’t been started. I made it up and sent the finished quilt to the sister, but I had a lot of leftover fabrics.

Pat Sloan does block of the week projects, and I decided to jump in to the Grandma’s Kitchen project. I purchased 2 yards of a fabric that went well with all the leftovers. It would be used in each block. This was to ensure continuity in case I ran out of the coordinating scraps and had to add others to the mix. It was bittersweet using my friend’s leftovers and thinking of my grandma’s kitchen.  Some of the blocks were changed to fit my grandma, and I didn’t do all 25 blocks. I wanted the quilt to fit a certain area in the house, and 25 blocks would have made it too large. As a side note: I did NOT run out of fabrics. I had enough to make two VA hospital quilts too.”
“The second picture is a ‘Wacky Web’ pattern by Missouri Star Quilt Company. It really helped clean up some scraps! The center pieces were from a charm pack of solids someone gifted to me, but the other pieces were from the scrap bin.”
Thanks, Anna and Maridee, for sharing pictures of your scrap projects. You have inspired us!

Quiltville’s 2018 Leader/Ender Challenge

12 07 2018

Those of us who follow Bonnie K. Hunter’s blog (quiltville.blogspot.com) have been waiting with bated breath for her to announce the Leader/Ender Challenge for 2018. If you remember, the challenge for 2017 was Checkerboard Rail Fence, the challenge for 2016 was Hourglass, and before that was Tumblers. Bonnie always chooses a quilt design in the “public domain” so as not to infringe on anyone’s copyright. Although she gives suggestions about piece sizes and colors, she leaves the details up to us.

This year, her challenge is “Jewel Box Stars.” She writes, “This project is to GROW SLOWLY in between the lines of chain piecing other things.  Don’t rush through it.  Enjoy the process!” Click here to link to Bonnie’s blog post about the challenge. 

I decided to accept the challenge, and here is the back story on the Americana fabrics I’ll be working with. As you know, I just finished quilting my “Confetti” quilt. After trimming away the excess batting and backing, I found that pieces amounting to about 1 yard of the polka dot print remained. Rather than folding it and returning it to my stash, I plan to use it as light background in my blocks. For the blue prints I’m using 2 1/2″ strips of Wilmington Prints tone-on-tones leftover from various projects as well as squares from my 2 1/2″ scrap container. The reds are also Wilmington Prints that remain from various patriotic and Valentine projects. Since I am making the larger 16″ size Bonnie mentions in her excellent tutorial, I’ll need only 4 or 9 blocks to make a nice size lap quilt.

Will you accept the challenge to make a “Jewel Box Stars” quilt this year? If so, will you go totally scrappy or use a planned color palette?

String-Pieced “Churn Dash” Finished!

25 06 2018

I’m happy to report that the String-Pieced “Churn Dash” has been quilted, bound, and is ready for use! If you remember, this project was featured as Saturday Scrap Strategy #11. I used the same black polka dot fabric for half square triangles in the blocks, as corner squares in the border, and as binding. The black polka dot fabric acts as a resting place for our eyes as they dart from one cheerful print to the next.

I planned to use white quilting thread since the extensive background is white, but at the last minute, I decided to use pale gray. On the white areas, pale gray thread looks white, and it blends better than white would have in the colorful areas of the quilt. The quilt design is “loop-loop-meander” in an all-over freehand.

This project gains extra points in the scrap-using category:  I pieced together a backing leftover from another quilt project and I used batting scraps by machine zig-zagging trimmed, wide strips together. You would think that my stash is shrinking significantly as scraps are turning quilts, but, alas, the fabric bins are still overflowing!

It’s time to plan my next scrappy project! I need some suggestions. What scrap project(s) are you working on?

Saturday Scrap Strategy #12

23 06 2018

If your scrap collection is anything like mine, you have an eighth of a yard of this, and a 6″ strip of that, trimmings of quilt backings, leftovers from projects completed years ago, as well as an assortment of fat quarters. What to do with all of it? Today’s Scrap Strategy suggests incorporating coordinating scraps into a “Steppin’ Up” baby quilt. You will find a printer friendly document of this project on the Patterns page of this blog. Simply click the Patterns tab under the blog header; once on the Patterns page, scroll down until you see “Steppin’ Up” along with the pictured blue and yellow quilt.

Here is my fabric pull for a lamb-themed “Steppin’ Up.” Several months ago, I made a lamb quilt and purchased more fabric than needed. The leftover fabric is too cute to leave languishing in my studio, so I selected pinks, greens, and several neutrals that coordinated. Notice that the four fabrics at the top of the photo coordinate well, but I did not use them, feeling the intense colors shouted louder than my focus fabric. Perhaps the black print could serve as binding.

“Steppin’ Up” is a quick quilt, easily strip-pieced. In fact, only 19 seams are required for the quilt top! The instructions call for 10 strips cut 3 1/2″ x width of fabric (WOF). However, I cut strips for this quilt 4″ wide, and I cut 2 strips of the lamb theme print. On my work table, I alternated the colors of the strips, basically “pink, green, neutral.” I sewed them together and pressed every other seam to the right and pressed alternate seams to the left. This pressing tip helps greatly when sewing the quilt rows together. You can see from the photo that I used several fat quarter strips. I simply abutted them in the strip-piecing process.

The next step is making a tube by sewing the first strip to the last strip.

If you are sewing along, lay the tube flat, still wrong side out, on a large cutting mat. Trim off the selvage ends and then cross-cut at 4″ intervals. In case you use several fat quarter strips as I did, you’ll be able to cut 5 tube strips, trim away a little waste where fat quarters abut, and then cut 5 more tube strips.

Next, arrange the tube strips on your work table in successive order so that a different fabric print is at the upper edge as in the photo below. You will rip out the top seam and open up the tube into a strip of 10 squares.

Since the lamb print is my theme print, the entire reason for making this quilt, I thought I would arrange the strips with the lamb print stepping up from the lower right corner to the upper left corner of the quilt. However, the lamb print is not the strongest fabric in the collection; the darker green is. I am much happier with the dark green in the stepping up position.


After arranging the rows to my satisfaction, I sewed them together. The seams nested nicely due to the pressing technique mentioned earlier. The quilting motif is freehand, Es and 3s in pink variegated thread. I auditioned the black print for binding, but couldn’t bring myself to use it for such a sweet, pastel quilt. I found just enough gray swirl print in my scrap stash that fit the bill much better.

All finished, just in time to give to my friend who is expecting!  Oops, just found out she’s having a little boy. Guess I’ll be making another “Steppin’ Up” quilt very soon . . . in boy related colors and fabrics.

“Roman Stripe” Bed Quilt Finished!

18 06 2018

I am ecstatic to share photos of “Roman Stripe” in all its glory. It’s great to be finished with this Leader/Ender project begun six months ago. You can read about the beginning of this project by clicking here and here.

At the beginning of the project, I didn’t pay much attention to how many blocks of each color that I constructed. I was only concerned with making about an equal number of light blocks and dark blocks. Actually, I needed more lights than darks because light blocks were placed at both ends of each diagonal row. As I worked on the last corner of the quilt, however, I purposefully planned each block. I wanted a balanced yet random distribution of colors. Truly, attaining a random look takes more planning than a regular alternating pattern!

I added a 4″ light tan border of the same fabric as the setting triangles. Since the quilt was already queen size, I did not add an outer, dark framing border. For quilting, I used a medium tan thread and a freehand meandering style similar to contour plowing. The tan thread blended nicely with all the patchwork fabrics yet showed some texture in the border. Zoom in to better see the quilting texture.

There was plenty of border fabric leftover for binding, but I chose to keep with the scrappy theme and sew short lengths of colorful 2 1/2″ wide strips together. First I raided a reclosable bag of leftover binding strips already pressed in half, and then I supplemented from my container of 2 1/2″ strips. I cut most of the strips about 20″ long so the variety would keep the viewer’s eye moving around the quilt. With so many colorful binding strips I was in a quandary about which color thread to use for machine top stitching. However, I remembered purchasing a spool of Aurifil 2372 at a quilt show. The vendor assured me that this shade blends happily with most colors. It did!

Hooray! This quilt is finished and ready to snuggle under!

Saturday Scrap Strategy #11

16 06 2018

How are you progressing on our Second Quarter’s challenge of cutting up your scraps into usable squares and strips? Just when I think I’m about finished cutting through one scrap container, another bag or box that needs attention surfaces. I am definitely going to need a new rotary cutter blade!

Beneath my sewing table sits an overflowing bag of strips and strings which I am gradually sorting by color into a large, shallow, plastic container. Most of the strips are too narrow to cut into squares. (The smallest square I save is 1 1/2.”) However, these strips are perfect for string-piecing projects, and I recently saw a “Churn Dash” comprised of lots of tiny, scrappy squares and rectangles on the Crazy Mom Quilts blog that I wanted to try. Do check out Amanda Jean’s blog post – her Churn Dash blocks are really cute!

I decided to construct the multi-fabric rectangles by string-piecing  on a phone book paper foundation. I trimmed the width of the papers to 6 1/2″ and sewed and flipped, sewed and flipped, until the paper was covered. Of course, I decreased my stitch length so the paper would be easier to remove. I decided to make 4 blocks, and figured I could cross-cut each fabric covered page in four equal pieces. Since each “Churn Dash” requires 4 rectangles, I needed 4 foundation papers.

Prior to removing the paper, I sliver-trimmed the width to 6 1/2″ and divided the height of the phone book page by 4. I found I could cross-cut the string-pieced fabric in 2 3/4″ segments. After cross-cutting and removing the foundation paper, I cut 2 1/4″ x 6 1/2″ white rectangles and sewed them to the 2 3/4″ x 6 1/2″ string-pieced units, pressing toward the white rectangles. Since these patchwork units measure 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2,” I cut 6 1/2″ white block center squares and made a total of 16 black/white half square triangles that measure 4 1/2,” unfinished. On my worktable, I laid out the components of the blocks and assembled them in three rows of three units each.

It was fun to see these four blocks come together! I gave them some “personal space,” separating them with white sashing and surrounding them with a white border. With so many strips and strings on hand, a scrappy string-pieced border is in order. I’ll post a picture of the finished quilt in a week or two.

Have you tried string piecing on a paper foundation? What have you found to be the pros and cons?