Born to Excel Camp 2018

2 07 2018
Our church just completed its annual week long Vacation Bible School called Born to Excel Camp.  There are Bible lessons and songs and snacks, but the extra time is divided into two tracks approximately 45 minutes in length. The children register for two hobbies/interests from Geology and Gem Mining to Cooking. I helped with Counted Cross-Stitch and Quilting. Ran helped with Woodworking. It was a great week, and it was a blessing to see the “old folks” in our church turn out in force to help and teach the “young folks.” 170 kids; 75 volunteers!
In the Quilting class, each of the nine girls had a seasoned quilter coaching her through the process. I worked with Emily as she learned about fabric selection, 1/4″ seam allowance, and operating a sewing machine.
Michelle, the Quilting group leader, worked for several months auditioning suitable easy quilt designs and adapting one for Excel Camp. She made a sample, wrote instructions, and purchased fabric in colors that would appeal to the children. Then she cut kits of squares and bricks of the various color groups, placing each kit in a gallon zip bag. Emily chose purple, and we worked side by side Monday – Thursday to create the quilt top. At the end of Thursday’s class, we sandwiched batting, backing (right side up) and quilt top (right side down). I trimmed all three pieces the same size with rotary cutting equipment and pinned all around the quilt top with straight quilting pins.
Friday morning, Emily sewed around the four sides of the quilt, leaving a 6″ opening for turning. The photo shows her tugging the right side of the quilt through the opening. What an exciting moment when she had completed that step! We poked out the corners with blunt scissors, rolled out the edges all around, and then used the iron to make it crisp. Next, Emily sewed all around the quilt, taking care to close the turning opening securely. Finally, I placed masking tape diagonally across the quilt in two places for Emily to sew along as she the sandwich together.
The Excel Camp Quilting class ended with nine happy girls, nine proud quilting coaches, and nine beautiful quilts!

Aidan’s Star Wars Quilt – A Beginning

4 01 2018

For Aidan, it was a Star Wars Christmas. Here he is, smiling as he poses with all his gifts.

Recently, while pawing through one of my fabric bins, he came across Kaleb’s quilt backing leftovers. (You can read about Kaleb’s Star Wars quilt here.) Inspiration dawned in the five-year-old’s mind – “Let’s make a Star Wars quilt for me, Grandma.”

I decided 12″ Saw Tooth Star blocks would be quick, easy, and would pack a lot of visual punch. I enlisted Aidan’s help in drawing diagonal lines on the wrong side of squares for star points. And he frequently operated the foot control as I guided the fabric under the presser foot. We made the required 12 blocks, and then Aidan insisted that we needed a brown star. I tried my best to talk him out of it since we already had enough stars . . . and whoever heard of a brown star, anyway. He protested that while brown would not show up well against a navy background, it would show up against a white background. So stay tuned as we finish up this quilt, you’ll see that a brown star does indeed replace one of the red stars we made.

Quilting with the Grands – a Summary

6 08 2017

A quick look-back at previous blog posts tells me that I need to bring you up to date on what’s been happening in my sewing room. I have been hosting grandchildren . . . and they have worked on sewing quilts!

Krystine enrolled in a “Prest-O, Change-O” class that I taught at Sew There! quilt shop in Angier, NC. I designed the pattern which uses two packs of 5″ charm squares and some yardage. Krystine sewed the squares together, and then we cut the quilt apart diagonally. Moved the pieces. Sewed it together again. Moved the pieces. Sewed it together again. And Prest-O, Change-O, the squares are on-point. She had fun selecting an inner and outer border, discovering that batiks are a favorite fabric to work with.

Kaleb worked with a Star Wars panel that his mom purchased at a quilt show. We used Electric Quilt software to figure out border widths, designs, and colors. Notice that the stars in the four corners of the second border are actual star colors: red, blue, yellow, and white. The corner blocks in the outer border are stylized X-Wing fighter jets. Kaleb plans to enter this in a 4-H fair next spring.


Not to be left out, 4 year old Aidan decided to make a rocket ship quilt for his little brother. I’ll post more about his quilt in the future.

I had a grand time sewing with the grands during the past few weeks!

Have you worked on a quilt project with a child this summer?

“Born to Excel” Camp

2 07 2017

For the past several years Crossroads Church in Lillington, NC has educated and entertained youngsters from 9 to 12 a.m. the third week in June. The kids register in advance, each choosing two “tracks” of interest:  from Woodworking I and II, to Cooking, to Crocheting, to Fun and Fitness, to Dance, to Science experiments, to Drama, to Quilting. I volunteered to help with Crocheting and Quilting. Besides learning new skills, the children sang songs and studied the story of Ruth in the Old Testament. “Born to Excel” Camp is our church’s brand of Vacation Bible School, and it is open to the community.

Space is limited to about 145 campers, so it’s first come, first served for the tracks. The Quilting class has 8 slots which were spoken for the day registration opened. My friend, Michelle, designed a lap quilt project for the girls this year, and leaned on the Sew and Sews church quilting group for adult volunteers. She cut 2 1/2″  bright strips donated from our stashes and divided them into kits in preparation for camp. My protégé was Lydia, age 9 or 10. She was so excited to make her very own quilt! We adult volunteers had to keep the girls encouraged and on task during the daily 45 minutes sessions so they would finish their quilts by Friday morning.

As you can see, The quilts were “pillow turned” to avoid a lengthy lesson on binding, and minimal quilting around the cross and around the outer edge holds all the strips in place. Michelle embroidered each girl’s name on a heart and appliqued it in place after the quilt was completed. What a great memento of a fun week!


1930s Four Patch Baby Quilt

28 01 2017

This past Thursday I enjoyed a sew day with my friend Heather. We worked on various projects and caught up with what is going on in each other’s lives. While Heather trimmed some patchwork blocks, I rotary cut borders for a lap size quilt and sashing for my Splendid Sampler of 6” blocks (more on that in the future).

fullsizerender-10Another of my projects was making a Four Patch baby quilt. As always happens, I have scraps leftover from a recent quilt top finish. If you remember, I purchased a roll of 2 ½” strips of 1930s prints and solids to make the 6” blocks for a Vintage Farm Girl lap quilt. I decided to use my scraps to make a baby quilt.

I was inspired by a sweet quilt on Pinterest featuring Four Patches each made from four different 1930s prints. The Four Patches combined with white sashing for a pretty, fresh finish. My quilt does not look quite as soft and sweet because of the solids I included. (I HAD to use those solids in order to use up my scraps.) Note the Four Patch in the bottom right corner of the photo; you can see that I pressed the final seam open to reduce bulk.

img_0580 Before beginning my project, I calculated that I needed 32 Four Patches and 32 white 4 ½” squares. Placed in an 8 x 8 grid, the dimensions of the patchwork would be 32” square. By adding 4” wide borders, the quilt measures 40” square – just the right size to fit on 42” – 44” wide backing. I considered purchasing 2 1/4 yds. of 1930s print for borders, backing, and binding, but decided to check my stash first. There I found enough of my favorite lil’ chicken print for borders and a multi-colored polka dot for backing. Neither print is 1930s repro, but both blend with the colors and playful nature of the baby quilt. I am not sure yet what I’ll use for binding. Click on the picture to zoom in for a better view. I draped the quilt top over the front porch of our new home. Here’s hoping the contractors finish in the next week or so.

I had some help from Heather’s five year old daughter with laying out the squares and sewing them together. If you are wondering how such a little girl could reach the sewing machine foot control . . . Christina found a little stool on which to rest the foot control. I pinned and helped her guide the pieces beneath the presser foot. Teamwork at its best! After lunch, when she tired of helping with my project, Christina worked on her own quilt in progress from 6″ floral charm squares.


What a fun sew day! Including Christina in Heather’s studio was so rewarding – It’s great to motivate and encourage the next generation of quilters!


Kalea’s Quilt Finished!

8 09 2015

August was a busy month in my sewing room! On several days two machines were humming while sisters Keona and Kalea constructed original quilt tops, and I was the main rotary cutter, pinner, presser, and cheerleader. I blogged about Keona’s quilt here on Sept. 2. Today I’m happy to show  Kalea’s finished quilt. As she transferred her design idea from paper to fabric, we talked about the fact that it’s okay to modify your original design as you construct the quilt.

2015 photos from nikon 449

The original idea was to sew borders of all the colors, twice, around the central purple square. The modifications included beginning with a blue, modern floral print in the center and substituting a red and pink floral border for solid red. Because the border strips were cut 4″ wide, the quilt would have been super large if we added all the planned borders. So we again modified the plan by decreasing the number of borders. Kalea requested swirly quilting. If you click on the photo below and zoom in, you can see that I quilted spirals surrounded by curvy spikes. I used a variegated thread of primary colors. Even with the modifications, Kalea is rightfully proud of her wonderfully vibrant quilt!

2015 photos from nikon 536

P.S. I never would have thought of including the blue floral and the red/pink floral in the same quilt. But, you know, they look great! The style is similar even though they are from different fabric lines and color families. This old quilter is learning from the young one.


From Graph Paper Designs to Quilts

9 08 2015

Regular blog readers will remember the “Quilting with Kids” posts during July. As part of the weekly classes in July, I provided graph paper and markers, encouraging the children to design a quilt block or a quilt. Three enterprising girls accepted the challenge.


Keona and Kalea asked if they could come over to my house and translate their designs from graph paper to fabric. At Loving Stitches quilt shop, I found solid fabrics in the hues of Keona’s drawing. I bought 1/2 yard of each and cut them in 4” strips for her to sew together. We will cross-cut them in 4” increments and use the pieces to make a “Trip Around the World” quilt.

 Keona's quilt, beginning

Kelea wanted to use all the colors of the rainbow with purple in the center, but then she saw a blue/green large scale floral print in my stash. I cut a 12 ½” square of the print and 4” strips of various tone-on-tone colors.

 Kalea's quilt, beginning

I was the pinner and quality control and presser. Surprisingly, the girls concentrated on their projects for 5 hours during our first sewing session. By the end of the second sewing session, the quilt tops lacked only the borders.

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Unwilling to be left out, Sarah and Jasmine joined the sewing fun by hand quilting several pre-made potholders each.

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Way to go, Junior Quilters of America!