“Cozy Cabins,” a UFO Finished!

15 01 2018

“Cozy Cabins,” designed by Lynn Lister and published by McCall’s Quilting magazine caught my eye in the fall of 2016, and I began making blocks. The darker, muted colors struck a chord with me because I have plenty of those types of fabrics in my aging stash. Click here to link to the McCall’s blog for October 7, 2016; you can download a free pattern for “Cozy Cabins.” Click here to read my blog post when I began this project.

I modified the pattern by increasing the cut size of the center black squares to 3 1/2″ and increasing the cut width of the surrounding strips to 2.” It was fun to coordinate colors/fabrics, and I managed to decrease my stash of scrap strips and fat quarters. Did you notice the black triangles in the corner block pictured below? Each of the four corners looks like this; the triangles are my solution to the not-quite-enough-strip-to-go-around-the-entire-block dilemma!

As you can imagine, the blocks were easy to assemble. I enjoyed sewing one or two at the end of a busy day. For me, simple sewing is a great way to unwind!

A black 4″ border handsomely frames the project, and I pieced together strips of binding leftover from other projects. I used an old gold quilting thread, knowing it would blend nicely with all the scrappy fabrics yet show up richly in the wide black border. I used a pantograph called “Happy Times” designed by Hermione Agee (Lorien Quilting/Urban Elementz). The backing is a brown calico, purchased cheaply, that I’ve had forever. I am happy to have found a way to use it!

Do you currently have a “simple sewing” project which helps you unwind?


“Garlic Knots” Finished

8 01 2018

Since finishing my “Dresden Plates” quilt, I have poured sewing time into finishing my “Garlic Knots” quilt. You can read about the beginning of this project and a strip piecing hack here. The patchwork block was popularized by Bonnie Hunter in an “Addicted to Scraps” column for Quiltmaker (Jan./Feb. 2014 issue). I saw this arrangement of blocks on Pinterest which motivated me to make the quilt.

I had about 3 yards of the shirting background fabric and so decided that my total of blocks would be determined by the amount of background fabric on hand. Fortunately, the fabric stretched for making 100 blocks and an inner border. As usual, I auditioned fabric for the outer border and settled on this wavy stripe. It forms a dark frame around the multi-colored patchwork blocks, achieving a calming finish, yet the unusual orange and white stripes add zing.

Construction Tip:  Before adding the inner border, I turned the quilt to the wrong side and stay-stitched 1/8″ from the edge all around the quilt. By turning the quilt over, I could see all the pressed seams. The stay-stitching ensured that the pressed seams would not flip out of place when I attached the first border.

Surprises:  I usually think of Civil War fabrics/quilts as a bit faded with muted colors. Intellectually I know that quilters of that generation selected bright colors that have merely faded over time. But practically, I expected this quilt to look faded even though I selected CW reproduction fabrics. Silly me! However, I do like the bright, bold appearance of the quilt, so it’s a keeper. Another surprise was the way the wavy stripes misbehaved in the mitered corners of the outer border. I expected the stripes to mesh in an orderly fashion as they would in a mitered border of straight stripes. Instead the corners of the outer border are a riot of zigs and zags!

I was tempted to quilt an all-over feathers design with an old gold polyester thread as I did on my recently finished Dresden Plate quilt. However, the gold thread would contrast too much in the dark navy stripe-y border. I want the viewer to appreciate the unusual border fabric without being distracted by gold thread. The solution was quilting rounded, back and forth lines about an inch apart with navy thread in the border and meandering with the gold thread in the quilt’s interior. The binding is solid black, an understated finish for a vibrant quilt.

A New Leader/Ender Project

18 12 2017

My newest scrap project is inspired by Bonnie Hunter’s current Leader/Ender “Rail Fence” project and the “Jelly Basket” header on Karla’s blog (mysewfulretirement.com).

Karla’s blog header features the “Jelly Basket” pattern popularized by Missouri Star Quilt Company. Click here to view a tutorial that uses a Layer Cake (10″ squares) and a Jelly Roll (2 1/2″ wide strips). Karla used Cotton and Steel “Playful Tens” for the center rectangles and Cotton and Steel “Basics” for the narrower side strips. The blocks are quite a bit larger than mine, so I am sure Karla will finish her quilt in record time.

I have an overflowing container of 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles and a shopping bag of strips and strings that I want to whittle down. By cutting the strings into 1 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ lengths and sewing them to both sides of the rectangles, I’ll gain blocks that finish at 4.” I’ll call my blocks by the traditional name, “Roman Stripe.”

I’m sewing light strips to dark centers and vice versa. I plan to alternate the blocks as I lay out the quilt, so I need an equal amount of each. Therefore, as I sew the blocks and press them, I’m piling those with dark centers together and those with light centers together to keep roughly an even tally as I work on the quilt.

I love this block – two seams and you’re done. I keep a stack of matched block pieces to the right of my sewing machine. It is surprising how many “Roman Stripe” blocks I can assemble (while working on another project) by feeding the strips under the presser foot when I would normally clip the thread.

What is your current leader/ender project?

“I Spy” Placemats

20 10 2017

Several days ago during mealtime, my 16 month old grandson was sitting at the table pointing to the various squares on his quilted placemat and identifying colors and shapes in baby talk. His attention and interest gave me the idea of making “I Spy” placemats for both boys. I enlisted Aidan’s help with designing, i.e. placing the thirty-five 3″ squares in a grid of 5 x 7.

For the prints, I raided my container of “I Spy” fabrics and added in tonals of the colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, and brown), cutting two of each. Aidan used a portable Olfa cutting mat/ironing surface as a design board. Once all the squares were in place, I easily transported the board to my sewing desk. Chain piecing the squares with Bonnie Hunter’s web technique kept everything in order, but Aidan was aghast. “Grandma, the placemat has holes in it!” Zoom in to see the bits of thread connecting the squares of row 1 to the squares of row 2, and so forth.

After pressing the seam allowances in the odd rows (1, 3, 5) to the right and the seam allowances in the even rows (2, 4) to the left, I sewed the rows together and pressed seam allowances to one side. I layered the patchwork with cotton batting and a large scale dinosaur print for backing and quilted a grid “in the ditch” with muted blue thread. Aidan asked for orange binding, and we plan yellow binding for David’s placemat. Incidentally, Aidan placed the prints and tonals differently for his brother’s placemat. The label on the back reads “Designed by Aidan . . . Quilted by Grandma Dolinger . . . October 2017.” Aidan and I are pleased with our projects, and I am dreaming up new “I Spy” games we can play at the breakfast table!

Click here to read a previous blog post about similar placemats designed by children.



String-Pieced Pumpkins

20 09 2017

Grandson Aidan’s birthday is near Halloween, and he is enthused to decorate (already) for both celebrations. We decided a pumpkin quilt that he could keep “forever” would be fun to make. For inspiration, we used Bonnie Hunter’s string-pieced pumpkin design published in the Quiltmaker September/October 2017 issue. You can see pictures of a table runner Bonnie made with string pieced pumpkins here.

To begin with, we dumped my shopping bag of strips and strings on the sewing room floor, searching for all the orange, rust, tan, and green. After ironing the selected strips and cutting paper foundations from an old phone directory, I changed my sewing machine needle to size 90 and decreased the stitch length to 1.5. Piecing the four pumpkin blocks on the paper was quick and easy; in a couple of hours, all were complete.

Aidan decided he would prefer a long, skinny wall hanging rather than a Four Patch style block layout as pictured above. This layout makes the quilt more versatile as it can also be used as a table runner. Sashing and border strips were cut 2 1/2″ wide from Wilmington Prints black “Criss-Cross.” The quilting design is a spider web pantograph with metallic gold thread. (I suggested metallic silver thread, but Aidan’s choice of gold turned out just fine! Click on the picture, zooming in to see the quilting details.) Lime green binding makes a lively finish. With a hanging sleeve on the back, we are ready to decorate for fall and Aidan’s birthday!


“Scrappy Patch” Published!

29 08 2017

I am very excited to tell you that my quilt, “Scrappy Patch,” was published in the October/November 2017 issue of McCall’s Quick Quilts!

My inspiration for this quilt originated with a Block of the Month challenge issued at my quilt guild. We were instructed to make totally scrappy “Aunt Sukey’s Choice” blocks with a white background. To speed construction along, I dove into my container of  2 1/2″ squares and my container of 2 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ rectangles. Click here to read the blog post about my disappointment in not winning all the blocks submitted by guild members. But since I liked the idea of turning my scrap squares and rectangles into a quilt, I made eleven more blocks which resulted in a large lap quilt, 57″ x 71.” Click here to read about how I assembled a kit for each block during a car trip. And Click here to see a photo of the quilt and instructions for ordering a digital pattern from McCall’s. If you are not yet a subscriber to Quick Quilts, you can order a copy from  the online Quilt and Sew Shop.

After completing the blocks, I debated what color to use for sashing such a “wild” quilt. I felt a neutral or solid color would be best. Black would work, but might lend the finished quilt a somber air. I settled on white to add some modern “negative space” with the added bonus of a secondary “Nine Patch” pattern. I thought a black print would frame the quilt and help settle down the multitude of colorful prints. I found the black print with zigzag lime green lines in a quilt shop’s sale basket. Perfect! And I decided a coordinating lime green tonal would make a great inner border.

To repeat and accentuate the triangles in the quilt blocks, I overlaid some Prairie Points on the wide black border after quilting the quilt, enclosing the raw edges in the binding. The Quick Quilts magazine gives excellent, step-by-step instructions for making the 3-D Prairie Points. As you can see from the picture below, I folded back the triangles about 1/4″ and hand-tacked the Prairie Points to the border so they would lay nearly flat but still give a 3-D effect.

Using lime green thread, I free-hand quilted spirals over all the quilt. Alas and alack, I didn’t have enough of the same lime green print used in the inner border to bind the quilt, but I found another stashed lime tonal to conclude this very scrappy quilt!

Would you like to win a copy of the magazine? If so, leave a comment below stating if you would make this quilt totally scrappy or employ a limited color scheme. I’ll draw a winner on September 5.


“Confetti” Progress

19 07 2017

Earlier this summer I posted about being inspired to make a “Confetti” quilt designed by Augusta Cole. Click here to see the original post. I pieced Four Patches from my bin of 2″ scrappy squares; I strip-pieced some two-sies for Four Patches; I attached white rectangles as leaders/enders while piecing other projects; and I attended my guild’s Sew Days for the purpose of making a dent in the patchwork.

Here are some pictures snapped at our Sew Day in early July. Drusilla, using 30’s reproduction fabrics displays a corner of the quilt, demonstrating that it is assembled in diagonal rows. Nancy generously shared squares from her scrap bin. And my little Featherweight bravely puffed along.


I have decided it is time to finish this 1000+ squares project, so I’m arranging the 99 blocks on my design wall. Here we go! Looks like I need to make a few more blocks . . . Stay tuned!

Remember that the 12 Days of Christmas in July blog hop is happening. Here are the list of blogs for your convenience. You’ll find all kinds of projects: overnight duffle bag, sparkly ornaments, table runners, fabric baskets, etc.

 Friday, July 14th
 Saturday, July 15th
 Sunday, July 16th
 Monday, July 17th
 Tuesday, July 18th
 Wednesday, July 19th
 Thursday, July 20th
 Friday, July 21st
 Saturday, July 22nd