Two Blocks, Two Machines

Windmill Blocks

Bees are interesting things.  I’m in a new one and am still figuring out how it ticks when this block arrived in the mail.  The instructions read to leave the quadrants unsewn as the bee-er wants to really make her quilt scrappy and move the blocks all around.  It’s paper pieced.  Seventy-two pieces per block (4 quadrants).  It took me over 7 hours, closer to eight hours, to finish the two blocks.  I began wondering about this quilter–who would send out such a complicated block to the bee and expect us to do not only ONE, but TWO blocks? I began wondering about what a sheep I was to follow along, when I should have just sent back the unused fabric after the first block and the scraps for the little triangles, and kept it to one.  The end result was that I didn’t feel very good about her, nor about myself–for not standing up and saying “This is excessive.”  I was more than happy to send that off this morning!

Steps Quilt Blocks

This is the blocks from another bee-er in the same bee.  Because my first batch of fabric got lost in the mail, I was doing her September blocks in October.  These blocks were already cut out, and both went together in under an hour.  I’m happy to spend more than an hour on a bee block, but the contrast between this quilter’s and her bee-mates was astounding.  I felt good about things as I mailed off her blocks this morning.

Green Sewing Machine

On our walk yesterday morning, we passed by the house of an older neighbor, who was downsizing and moving up to the high desert.  Stuff had to go, including this funky green sewing machine.  We continued on our walk, never mentioning it, but on the return loop, I said to my husband, “Want to go and get the car . . . and your wallet?”  He laughed.  When he came back there were two machines waiting for him to load into the car (I didn’t take a photo of the other), but I got both for $55, including the matching cabinet that the father-in-law had made for this green machine.

I took them right up to my Sewing Machine Whisperer, and he said they were worth tuning up, so into the shop they went.  “You know, you have no foot pedal,” he said, gesturing to the green machine.  In my defense, it was early in the morning, so when I went back, the older neighbor went up into her sewing room, but couldn’t find it.  I left my name and phone number, and hopefully it will turn up.  I’ll get these two older machine back in a few weeks; I plan to give one to my granddaughter, who wants to learn to sew.

Today I plan to sew my brains out.  And NOT on complicated funk-inducing, grumpy-generating bee blocks.

Queen Bee for Mid-Century Modern

Queen Bee

As Susan, one of our the members of our Mid-century Modern Bee says, I’m the Queen Bee this month.

And I’ve chosen to have my bee-mates help me on my Christmas Quilt.  But so that the copyright gods won’t be mad at me, I’m not showing the picture of the pattern and I’ve also chosen different green and cream blocks for my bee-mates to make, plus I made downloadable templates from my quilt program to serve as a guide for these 12″ blocks  (finished measurement–raw edge measurement should be 12 1/2″).  Below are the blocks, plus their templates for downloading.

Caution: These template prints out the correct size on my printer, but I don’t know what they’ll do on yours.  A general guide for making a half-square triangle block is to cut the finished measurement, plus 7/8 inch, before stitching on the diagonal and cutting apart.  So, I’d use that as a general gauge for how things ought to look when you print out your templates.  (In other words, for the corner squares for this first block, cut one white square and one green square to measure 4 and 7/8 inches.)

54-40 or fight

Fifty-four Forty or Fight • Template: 54-4o or fight

54-40 or Fight, version 2

Fifty-four Forty or Fight, version 2 • Template: 54-40 or Fight_version2

Clays Choice Variation

Clay’s Choice Variation • Template: Clay’s Choice Variation

Ohio Star

Ohio Star • Template: Ohio Star

Swamp Angel

Swamp Angel • Template: Swamp Angel

Peace and Plenty

Peace and Plenty • Template: Peace and Plenty

Mock Eight Point Star

Mock Eight-Point Star • Template: Mock Eight Point Star


Memory • Template: Memory

Martha Washington Star

Martha Washington Star • Template: Martha Washington Star

Flying Geese Block

Flying Geese • Template: Flying Geese Block

Double Star

Double Star • Template: Double Star

Crosses and Losses

Crosses and Losses • Templates: Crosses and Losses

Bird in the Air

Birds in the Air • Template: Birds in the Air

Autumn Star

Autumn Star • Template: Autumn Star

For my bee-mates, I’ve listed the blocks you’ve chosen on our Flickr group site, for reference.

Giveaway Banner

And congratulations to Carla for winning Anne’s very cool pattern.  If the rest of my lovely entrants would like a pattern for their own, please visit SpringLeaf Studios, and you can download one instantly.  I have purchased both of hers, as I like buying quilt patterns that make me reach for new fabrics and new ideas.  (I hope to put her Cascade pattern on my To-Do for next spring.)

Many thanks to Anne for donating her pattern to this giveaway!!!

Working, and in Progress

Linking up to Lee’s Freshly Pieced with this post.

WIP on

First up, re-cover my pin wall.

New Pinwall

(1) How I built my pin wall: 2 sheets of 1/2″ foam core art board taped side by side, covered with gridded flannel bordered by plain flannel.  I wish I had more gridded flannel, but at the time, that’s all I had.  I have seen it at JoAnn’s.  Then I wrapped this layer to the back and stapled in place using really short staples, then covered that with tape. I then affixed it to my wall by using door jamb covers–long rounded metallic bars, each about six feet in length;I used four: two for each side, top and bottom.  I also put a flat washer on two screws and screwed them into the wall at a stud, at the midseam of the foam core art boards.

Pin wall 2

(2 & 3) Over that, I layered this Thermolam Plus, using straight pins to anchor it into place. The fabric really sticks to it – like magic, and when it gets all thready, use one of those sticky roller things that is used to clean off clothes.  NOTE the number on the upper left side (TP970).  That will save your bacon when you go into buy more, because now they’ve renamed it Quilter’s Batt or Fleece or Something or Other, and you just have to go through the bolts to find this magic stuff.

The little pin cushion hangs on my pin wall with giant corsage pins.  I am not a pin-cushion person, although I have many beautiful ones given to me as gifts.  This little one holds these pins which are helpful for holding large swaths of cloth, like when you are smoothing a quilt backing onto a quilt top already on the wall to check for size.  Or for holding necklaces, notices for doctor’s visits, etc.  I put all sorts of stuff along the edges of my pin wall.

Ironing Board Cover DIY

Next up was a new ironing board cover.  I fell in love with this sewing machine fabric when I saw it on the Fat Quarter Shop, and of course they had it to me within two days.  It’s by Timeless Treasures and is pattern # SEW-C1485, if you want some.

I just trace out my old cover, leaving GENEROUS seam allowance width all along the outside edge (like 1-1/2″ and that doesn’t even seem like enough).  Make a casing, leaving an opening at the bottom.  I thread through some old hem tape (notice the lady’s hairdo is right out of the 1980s) but warning: 3 yards is not enough (I had to piece some more on the ends).  I think the picture of the ironing board up on its end looks like one of those bugs that goes into that position when tapped (stink bugs?).  There are many good tutorials online for making ironing board covers, if you do a search.

Alberta Slab

What other works in progress have I been working on?  I made this “slab” for the Alberta Flood quilt block collection, hosted by Cheryl Arkinson of Dining Room Empire.  The deadline is July 30th, and so far she has 276 blocks!

MCM Block July 2013

Finished my block for the Mid-Century Modern Bee.  Deborah of Simply Miss Luella wanted a house block of any kind.  I made my favorite one, and happily, she loves it!  You can find a PDF to download here, where I made one for another bee.

Rhonda's Hot Mitts

And finally, hot mitts for my friend Rhonda for her birthday (which was in June–sorry, Rhonda).  Happy Belated 29th birthday, Rhonda!!  May you see many more 29th birthdays!  Tutorial is here.  It’s also one of my Finish–A-Long projects–that makes TWO down, and many more scary ones to go.

FinishALong Button

And lastly, thanks for you all your sweet comments about going to a retreat.  I’m working my way through replying, as it seemed to strike a chord with many of you.  I appreciate the time you took to write and leave your thoughts–it enriches us all.

WIP–Bee Blocks (post revised)

UPDATE: I’ve revised this post, because this morning I realized that TODAY is Wednesday, not yesterday (when I’d originally written it: we’re a little foggy on life over here), so today I am linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.


I joined a new bee (newby! newby!). I am honored to be included in the Always Bee Learning bee, and the first block’s fabrics have arrived to be sewn (they have different rules than the Mid-Century Modern bee).  But Linda’s blocks for the MCM bee still hadn’t been made, and I like to honor my deadlines.

sewing situation

So I gimped down to the sewing room, pulled out a drawer and put a pillow on it for the left foot, got out my portable iron and pad and put it on the table on the right.  I figured it was good to be sewing as long as I wasn’t putting any weight on the foot, right?  (I’m really hoping that MY idea of “partial weight-bearing” agrees with the doctor’s).

Linda block 2

But had to stand for a few minutes on my right leg while I cut the strips, then I sat and sewed.  And twisted to iron, but finished up one block before dinner.

Lindas block signature

After dinner I finished the other one (normally we only do one, but everyone else was doing two and I didn’t want to be a slacker);  I packaged it to mail tomorrow, hopefully making it to Florida by July 1st.  That small block in the front?  We do signature blocks with our Mid-Century Modern (MCM) bee.


This is what Linda is doing with them: using them to border another set of blocks from another bee.  She says she’s stuck about what to do in the corner–maybe a rounded version of the stack?–so if you have any ideas, head over to her blog and leave her a comment. It’s always interesting to see our bee blocks being used.  Another quilter in this bee finished up her quilt (scroll down to the Mid-Century Modern quilt in neutral fabrics); I hope when it’s my turn I can be as successful.

As I lay in bed yesterday, I did make a button for that new bee:


At least I can be somewhat productive when I lay around here.

Village Faire pinned

What else am I working on?  Well, another July 1st deadline is for this month’s Schnibbles quilt.  My husband brought up a camp chair (small chair we use when we go camping) and I could slide it in the cubby hole of my sewing desk, and yes, I did get some of that top quilted last night.  While I can only quilt for a short while, it feels good to be productive and to see a quilt take shape.

hanging Kaleidoscope Quilt

Thanks, all, for your nice comments about Kaleidoscope (in previous post).  My husband hung it up in the hallway this morning.  It brings a smile to my face as I slowly make my way up the stairs.  Here it is again:

Kaleidoscope Front

Final thought: Happy Birthday, Rhonda!  You are an inspiration, always.


MCM5 Feather Block

When Suz of PatchworkNPlay said she wanted to do an Anna Maria Horner Feather for her monthly block (I think that link will get you there or just Google it), I started in on some new territory. For one thing, this block is really tall–like 17 1/2″ tall and about 9 1/2″ wide.  On the screen it always looks so dainty.  This is not dainty, but bold and much more interesting than I had thought.

Laying Out Feather Fabrics

Because Suz lives Down Under, as we Americans call it, or OZ, as they like to call Australia, and she sent us her background fabric via air mail, I was desperate not to screw this up.  So I laid out my fabrics in the colors she’d requested, then printed out TWO copies of the pattern and laid it all out, too.

Feather sewn

As per Suz’s advice, I followed *this visual tutorial* to paper piece the feather blades.  What I learned: thinner through the middle works better than thicker.  Work really hard to keep on the angle suggested on the pattern.  And even if you biff on those two things, it will still come out just fine.  Our group has made several:

Feathers Grouped

Mine’s on the top, laying sideways.
Making Signature Block

We each also including a signature block.  I have a template I use because I’ve spelled the name of my blog wrong more than once  (which is why if you want to reach me you can just type in OPQuilt and it will get here).

Blocks all done

Done! for the month of May.  Now I want to make a bunch more!

Bee Projects, et al

I’d participated in the Far Flung Bee last year, and although one member never sent her blocks, I had enough to make a project for Spring.
FFB Tablerunner

I’d been to my local quilt shop (LQS, for you non-quilters) and picked up some cute button-like fabric from Riley Blake’s latest line.  When I got home, as is so often the case, I had another piece tucked away in the stash.  I needed both pieces to finish this off, even stitching the binding on by machine because I was just so ready to get those blocks sewn into a project.

FFB Tablerunner back

I used Jane Sassaman fabrics (from the stash) for the backing.  I was listening to a fascinating book and couldn’t stop (my mother had already finished and was waiting for me to wrap it up) so I had to find projects to keep my hands busy while the book took me on its adventure.  Read this, or better yet, listen to it while you quilt.


(P.S.  Because of this book, I finished the Lollypop Trees quilt top.)

MCM March fabrics

Next, I compiled this stack of fabrics, mostly new, to complete my latest Mid-century Modern Quilt Bee block.

MCM March block 13

Debbie of A Quilter’s Table had asked for “low-volume,” or neutral, fabrics using a tutorial she’d found online to make this block.

MCM March cut out

I took a photo to remember where I thought all the fabrics should go, then sewed it together.  I’m pretty happy with the result, and hope she likes it too.

Sofa Cushions

I’d finished the book, but kept going on some long-delayed projects.  We’d gotten a new sofa in November 2012, and I’d purchased some random fabrics to brighten up the room, but had merely draped the fabrics over the pillow forms.  It stayed that way all through the holidays until today! when I finally sewed all the cushions — with zippers, I’ll have you know.  As my daughter will attest, I’m no decorator, but she approved these fabrics before I sewed them.  I’ll probably re-arrange them 45 times in the next week, trying to find the order I like best.

And last night, I sat down and watched the old movie Possession (a favorite), then The Piano Guys concert (complete with TV pledge breaks) in order to finish all the hand sewing on my EPP quilt.  Hopefully today I’ll get the borders on, right after grading a stack of homework and prepping for class. I’ve been in a finish-it mode for a little while now. I like starting projects, but it’s also nice to finish some things up.

Undead Bee

I had just about given up hope — no, I HAD given up hope of our Far Flung Bee block exchange ever finishing its run, so I put up a note on Flickr.  So I was pretty excited today to get a wee package in the mailbox, all the way from New Zealand.

Inside were there incredibly cute Bee Blocks from Deb.  Ah, Deb, they are wonderful!  I like the accent of the dark text block in the center of the tulip–a variation I hadn’t seen before.  I think that’s the beauty of Bee Blocks.  Each quilter brings her own vision and stash to the creation of a block, and that’s why I was pretty dejected when I wrote on our Flickr group that I thought the our bee had joined the dead.

I think some of our members have struggled with deadlines because of busy family lives, which can also include full-time employment, a full load of classes at school and other life-absorbing experiences.  But have you been in a bee that sort of petered-out?  How did you feel about it?  Do you stay away from Bees?  Join them whenever you can?  Love the interaction?  Bemoan that you’re not getting your “own stuff done” because of all the bee blocks you agreed to crank out?

So, Bee Block Exchanges.  Love ‘em?  Hate ‘em?  And why?

All My Far Flung Bee Blocks

Krista and two of her Instagrammies started it, invited three others and by early this summer, we were busy sewing and sending out blocks.  Some had other things interrupt them (isn’t that how a lot of bees go?), but I have seen pictures flashed about on IG, so I know we’re still cooking.  Thought I’d do a wrap-up slideshow of my blocks, now that they are all sent.  That’s our logo, above.

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While I truly admire those who make Dear Jane quilts, and they are amazing and gorgeous, I learned I never want to make one for myself.  Cross that one of the Life’s Goals list.  As always in these swaps, you learn a lot about others and yourself, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  I’ve received back from two, have three to go, and hopefully I’ll be quick in getting something together to make our deadline of a completed quilt project (although I think we’ve blown past it).

Long Beach, part 2

Leaving behind the Twelve by Twelve exhibit, IQA has a several other mini-shows within the big show.  There was a general quilt section, some small created houses on a platform, SAQA, a series of quilts from the book Masters (and their accompanying sample books), and a series of antique Log Cabin quilts.  A lot to take in.  No photography allowed on some exhibits, which makes me less inclined to “interact” with it, as I’m definitely one who likes to take photos, but they were all interesting.

Day and Night, by Grace Errea, depicts a day at a Southern California beach.  It was a lovely riot of applique and quilting, so interesting to look at.

Diane Goff drew on her memories of childhood to create Clovis Bounty, a tribute to her grandfather’s farm where they grew amazing Elberta peaches.

I love the pintucks on the dress bodice, and the quilted curls along the top of her face.

“Yeeee-ha” It’s the Texas State Fair, was created by Karen Harting.  There are lots of nice details here, but as I mentioned before the lighting was a challenge and I hate to post blurry photos.  I thought the use of fabric to be quite creative, esp. that blue in the background.

This one is titled Capital Hardware, even though the inspiration was the Texas State Capitol building.  I couldn’t decide if it was a typo, or if Frances Holliday Alford was making a statement about the importance of the hardware–maybe both?  Alford had her photographs printed up by Spoonflower into fabric that she used to create the quilt. I could relate–I have lots of photos of the nation’s government buildings with their decorative hardware.

Full view of the quilt.

These blue oblongs, sticking straight out from this quilt are the first thing you notice.  Then you step back, look, and . . .

…Kathy York’s Central Park comes into focus, with those blue oblongs representing the tall buildings around the perimeter of the park.  Since I’ve taken two trips to New York this past year, I was intrigued and delighted by York’s work.

Detail. Note the transparency of the bushes in the lower area.

A highly graphic design, Karen Eckmeier’s Black, White and READ Village has text taken from her morning journals.  She created the fabric, then built the town.

Detail of the buildings.  She’s layered tulle netting over the town and machine-stitched the applique pieces down.

Love the found phrase: “CHANGE your life Princess Today.”  I’m a sucker for text.  Always.

In An Orderly World, by Linda R. Syverson Guild was inspired by an Art Deco picture.  At the bottom of her sign she writes “In An Orderly World, the borders aren’t the end” reflecting her breaking of the borders with her design.

After twelve years of living in a leafy Baltimore suburb, Cheryl Sleboda moved back to her hometown of Chicago, with its bright lights. I liked the composition of the quilt, Road to Home, with its bold hues in the foreground and the larger shapes in gray in the background.

Detail of the quilting.  I liked how the green patches and their row quilting imitated farmland.

Answering Nature’s Call, by Kathy Augur Smith (quilted by Wilma Cogliantry) pays homage to an earlier time in America, when homes didn’t have indoor plumbing.  A poem around the outside edges makes a rosy reference to going outside for Nature’s call.  Frankly, I am happy to have indoor plumbing and a hot shower every morning.

Detail of the hollyhocks.  They were created separately (I’m guessing) and appliqued.

Quilting detail.  I love the texture of this “jaggedness” in between the smooth lines. She notes that there is photo transfers as one of the techniques, but I kept wondering if the outside writing was stenciled onto the quilt.

Aryana B. Londir created Compartments #1 of blocks and strips in just four colors.  This graphic design was then channel-quilted in rows.

Detail of the quilting.  According to her statement, this quilt is an allusion to the tight housing found in “big cities and poverty-stricken areas of the world.”

I’ve got some more to show, but I wanted to close (and watch the final of the Women’s Beach Volleyball) with these photos from a vendor of her quilts (yes, I obtained permission).  One quilt is a bunch of dirndl dresses and the other is matryoshka dolls.  Loved them both, with their individual details and charming subject matter

Detail. This would be a great Christmas quilt, made up in holiday colors.  My friend Judy, who has a German heritage, would broaden the red and green to include blue, commonly seen in Christmas decorations in Germany.

This is the back of a quilt by Julie Herman, of Jaybird Quilts.  I had purchased her book, Skip the Borders, the day before and in my quiet night at the hotel, read it from cover to cover.  I was quite intrigued at how she constructed her backs, piecing in her label, then sandwiching the “label strip” into between two other large pieces of fabric, securing the label from being cut off if the quilt was ever stolen.  So I went back the next day and took a photo.  I just like how it looks.

And today’s happy news?  My Far Flung Bee blocks arrived from Holly of TwoCheesePlease in Australia.

I love the look of all the postage and Holly’s washi tape decor.

Yes.  I’m a mail dork.  I love the back too.

And yes, I’m going to torture you with all the photos of the process of discovery.  I like how she taped a little note to the package for me with more washi tape.  The design for the Far Flung Bee logo is one I put together and I’m glad she liked it.

Holly’s the organizer of our bee.  Yes, Holly–I’m glad I joined too!

I had asked for text fabric to be used in the design–either in the background, or in the tulip.

So very cute, both of these!  Thanks, Holly!

Now, off to see who wins the gold: May-Treanor/Jennings or Kessy/Ross.


A couple of things on this post.  First–a gallery of ginghams from our Project Gingham.  I liked how Sherri did this on her blog and I guess I just wanted a record of all the projects spawned from that long line of garage sale boxes (and by the way, my quilter said she inherited about 20 of those boxes, and will look to see if there’s more gingham in there).

Stacked Coins from Krista of KristaStitched

My Granny Loves Gingham, from Cindy of Live a Colorful Life

Gingham Geese, by Rachel of The Life of Riley

Hucklebuck from Suz of PatchworknPlay

Kris from Duke Says Sew What has two projects: the wall hanging (above) and the yet unfinished gingham curtains (below)

and the last one:

Despite the Memo re: Gingham Day, Sue Does Her Own Thing

from Becky of SarcasticQuilter

Each of these quilters has told about their creative journey in using up the gingham they were sent, so if you’re curious, pay their blogs a visit.


You know how when your 9th grade teacher assigned you summer reading, of say, Beowulf, an epic ancient poem, and you ended up frittering away your days reading comic books and teen magazines?  I’m about there right now.  The Beowulf is equivalent to my Lollypop Trees, and the comic books?  Polaroids!

These are untrimmed, of course, because I’m participating in the *Picture-Perfect Polaroid Swap* of these little cuties over on Flickr, and they specify UNTRIMMED blocks.  Last night when it was a about a bazillion degrees outside and the day was expended, all I wanted to do was some mindless sewing while I listened to This American Life podcasts.  This was a perfect project.

This photo is from Karen of capitolaQuilter and she has a great tutorial on her blog if you want to whip some up.

Rachel of Stitched in Color (above) has a bunch of these little gems made up into a quilt.  And maybe Amy of Little Miss Shabby started the whole craze, with her invention for her Ringo Pie Bee?

At any rate, they are addicting. Here’s my first line of snaps, about 16 to a WOF (Width of Fabric) cut.

I cut out the 2 1/2″ squares for a while, then pieced them.  This is only half of the squares I cut.

After you sew on the top (or bottom) strip (refer to capitolaQuilter’s instruction) there’s a few pieces jutting out, so I laid down my ruler and cut them off.

I guess we could also call these things baseball cards, after the look of these 1910 rareties, inspired by that story about the grandson who found a treasure cache of early baseball cards in his grandfather’s attic.

Beowulf, aka Lollypop Trees, will have to wait because another piece of summer fun is a gathering of our little quilt group: Good Heart Quilters, started at least a decade ago by Lisa and a few others.  We seem to be too busy lately for our regular First Friday meet-up, so we planned an Open House of quilting tomorrow, with a potluck lunch.  I’ve already got my bag packed and ready to go.

And yesterday, this arrived, all the way from Australia!

I held the first two blocks of the Far Flung Bee Swap.

I pulled them right from their package, so forgive the wrinkles.  I was too excited.  Many thanks, Erika!