Undercover Maker Mat Finished

Undercover Maker Mat finished
Undercover Maker Mat finished

Hooray! The Undercover Maker Mat is complete!

My plan is to use this mat at Retreats and Sew Days. I tend to put the tools I am using on the right side of the machine so they are easily at hand and don’t interfere with the fabric ‘products’ on the left. This works relatively well, but at Retreats, things can get knocked off the table or I don’t really have space to put tools in their usual location.  It won’t really work at home because I have a cabinet even though I could use it since I don’t have a lot of space on the right side of my cabinet.

Undercover Maker Mat with portable table finished
Undercover Maker Mat with portable table finished

I didn’t adjust the size at all, though I thought about it. The size of the mat, as you can see, fits my machine pretty exactly. I decided that my portable table didn’t need a mat underneath it. I also didn’t want a giant thing. It is usually better for me to make adjustments after I have made the project according to the pattern at least once.

I think that this item will be a good gift as well.

Bubble Pod

Mrs. K's Bubble Pod
Mrs. K’s Bubble Pod

Mrs. K, an avid and valued reader of this blog, gave me a gift last week. It is kind of  thread catcher. She called it a bubble pod.

Mrs. K said that the pattern is by Beth Studley. She is, apparently, a UK designer, but the pattern is PDF, so easily downloadable even if you have pay in pounds. With holiday swaps coming up, this would be a great choice for a small project.

Bubble Pod, close-up
Bubble Pod, close-up

It is really cute and great for catching threads. I think it would work on a sewing machine mat instead of the cup shapes that are often suggested.

She chose some very fun fabrics – the grey is a Tula Pink and the inside is a wonderful.

Thanks, Mrs. K!

Longarming Again

Last year I bought fabric to make a Christmas mat. The intention is that we will lay this mat on the floor and put our Christmas tree on it.

HQ Amara
HQ Amara

I was supposed to work on it and finish it last year, but stuff happened and I didn’t do it. I was able to use a friend’s longarm last week and I got the thing quilted. It isn’t finished.

My friend has a new HQ Amara on a large frame. I was excited, but also apprehensive as it has been a long time since I longarmed anything.

Quilting the Christmas Mat
Quilting the Christmas Mat

My intention was to free motion, but I ended up decided on a computerized pattern. Since the fabric is just one length of yardage – no piecing it didn’t seem necessary to spend a bunch of time on it. I thought choosing a computerized pattern would make the process go faster. Overall it took us about 2.5 hours to quilt a 41 x 44 inch sandwich. My friend is still learning and the software isn’t as intuitive as I expected it to be*.

Quilting the Christmas Mat
Quilting the Christmas Mat

We both worked on it and I was finally getting the hang of moving the quilt from a finished line of quilting back to the right to start the next line (no, it doesn’t do it itself) when we finished. I was glad to finish, because it was exhausting. I am VERY grateful to my friend for helping me quilt the thing and also for just getting another project quilted.










*SIL n.2 and I have discussed how longarm computer software manufacturers don’t have the market to make really great software. If longarm software sold as much as something like Microsoft Word, then there would be more development, but the market just isn’t that large. It is a shame, but business is business.


Undercover Maker Mat Continues

I spent some time away sewing this past week with Friend Julie. I didn’t get to sew as much as I thought I would because I had some social and professional obligations to conduct as well. Still, I made progress and that is a good thing.

As mentioned the other day, I started the Undercover Maker Mat along with the sew-a-long going on @Lillyellasworld. Julie worked on it, too, and spurred me along. I always feel discombobulated when I sew somewhere else, but I got myself together and started working on the pockets.

Undercover Maker Mat fabric tryouts
Undercover Maker Mat fabric tryouts

I had dome some work on them, but hadn’t finished the big pocket piece. I threw in a bunch of fabrics, so I would have some options if what I thought would work didn’t end up working. That was a good idea as I had to play around with fabrics until I got a combination I liked. My first group of fabrics is shown above. Somehow I found it to be too light or too much of the Michael Miller London Portfolio fabric. I also wasn’t sure about the turquoise binding.

Test group of fabric for Undercover Maker Mat
Test group of fabric for Undercover Maker Mat

I decided on the above combination. It has a good amount of London Portfolio, but some dots and Martha Negley as well. I did not make the foundation pieced center. I forgot to make it at home and don’t really like foundation piecing anyway, so it was easy to decide to fussy cut instead.

Kathleen's Undercover Maker Mat
Kathleen’s Undercover Maker Mat

I was surprised that Kathleen knew the pattern, but she had made one and was using it for her longarm head. I shouldn’t be surprised She knows and makes all of the most popular modern patterns. She used some really nice fabrics.



To Nest or Not to Nest

I got a question about nesting seams from a guild member the other day. She wanted to know whether she should nest seams or not. Nesting seams has a purpose. You don’t just press seams open because the Modern Quilt Guild or someone else says you should.

Press seams open when you want to reduce bulk. This is often used in garment sewing.

Nesting seams is used to line up your seams. You will get better and easier precision if you use this technique. Caroline of SewCanShe writes on her blog post “Nesting your seams will help you get your perpendicular joints matched up and with practice the intersections will be perfect looking…. most of the time. :)” People say they don’t care if their seams are aligned. I care and so I nest seams unless there is so much bulk that it is impossible.

If you press seams open you are also in danger of developing holes in the quilting process. I press my seams open when I make pieced backs to reduce bulk. When I press my seams open I backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam line to prevent holes.

Sometimes, like in a Four Patch block, there can be quite a bit of bulk in the areas where the four patches meet. You can ‘pop’ the seam to also reduce bulk. Check out the tutorial on how to do this with images illustrating the technique.

I find it easier to get good precision when I put my quilts together using ‘Chunking’. Check out the tutorial.


  • American Quilting “Pop the Seams”tutorial
  • Patchwork Posse Nesting Seams and Other Tricks – good information and some pictures that illustrate the topic.
  • Quick Tips for Quilters – nesting seams tutorial
  • SewCanShe Nesting Seams Basic tip tutorial

And many others


The creativity posts I have been posting on Fridays will return soon.

FOTY 2018 AGAIN…Finally

FOTY 2018 -October 2018
FOTY 2018 -October 2018

I finally got enough squares to make an interesting post for you. The last time I posted was in August, so not horrific, but long enough. I am not cutting up fabric and the pace I should be. I keep just piecing.

You’ll notice the MetroScape fabrics mostly missing. I am waiting to finish the top before I cut up many squares, because I’d rather have those fabrics missing from FOTY 2018 than not be able to finish the MetroScape quilt. I think I’ll have plenty.

Metro Scape Block n.8

MetroScape Block n.8
MetroScape Block n.8

I finished another block over the weekend. I like the foreground fabric. That light green (sage or light aqua??) is really nice and unusual.

I have 8 of these now and cut the rest of the foregrounds, so I could spread out the colors. I have enough of the dots so that each foreground will be unique unless I decide to make extra blocks. We’ll see how large I want this quilt to be.

Undercover Maker Mat Begins

As mentioned the other day, Nicole over at Lillyella’s World is leading a Sew-a-long making the Undercover Maker Mat. I’ll be heading out for a few days of sewing next week, so I wanted to get a few of the fiddly bits done and lessen the amount of stuff I needed to bring.

Undercover Maker Mat small pocket
Undercover Maker Mat small pocket

I started making the selvedege pockets. I am not sure I wanted to use selvedges, but the pockets on the sample look really cute. I thought I would try it out. I can always cut some fabric and use that if I decide I don’t like it.

I am still on the fence about selvedges. They can be pretty and fun, but I don’t see myself making a selvedge quilt or using them in a large way. Small touches, yes.

For the small pocket, I tried to pick selvedges that I really liked or meant something to me. I also wanted a little bit of color. I don’t know what I will get when I sew the pocket into the whole piece.

Undercover Maker Mat large pocket
Undercover Maker Mat large pocket

For the large pocket, I followed the directions and put the selvedges on the diagonal.

Now both pockets are on the design wall and I am looking at them. I want to make sure I like them both.

The other thing is the size. I think I need to make mine a little bigger, because my machine is 19 inches wide. I think it would better just slightly bigger. I am thinking about how to do that.

EPP Stars

Hexie Stars -Big Piece
Hexie Stars -Big Piece

I haven’t talked about this project in a long time. I have been working on bunches of EPP stars. It wasn’t until last week that I actually put some of them together in groups and then attached them to my big piece.

I also laid the whole piece out on the bed and found that I have to double the size to make it even begin to fit our bed. I am feeling a little daunted by that effort with all of the other hand projects I have. Still, my friend Faye said that I have to think about this project as a long term, slow project.

Hexie Stars -Big Piece detail
Hexie Stars -Big Piece detail

There is a certain amount of satisfaction in getting even a few bits of this top done. When I add 4 stars to the larger piece, it feels good. It feels like I am making progress.

This is another project where I find that there are not enough colors in the rainbow. I guess I’ll have to think of it as a design challenge.

Sewing Machine Table Mats

On Instagram, @Lillyellasworld has a sew-a-long happening for the Undercover Maker’s Mat. The pattern is free. People have made the whole mat and they are showing some great versions of this pattern. I also saw one with a heart instead of a butterfly. Despite the foundation piecing, I am thinking of making one for retreats. I can’t see using it at home, but it would be really useful to keep everything organized while I am away.

As a result, I was thinking about sewing machine mats in general. Before I madethe Undercover Maker’s Mat, I wanted to see what else what out there.  As I am wont to do, I did an image search. I found a lot. Still, after sifting through the duplicates, I found a few that were interesting.

I know you are wondering about the Crafty Gemini Sewing Machine Table Mat & Organizer. I made it (and am not showing  it to you yet, because it will be a gift, so stay tuned) and am not super happy with it. I didn’t do a crappy job and it isn’t ugly, but it isn’t for me. It’s possible I won’t like the Undercover Maker’s Mat either in which case I will try one of the other free tutorials that are available.

One that was interesting was a tutorial from Michelle of Creatively Blonde. I like the way it looks tailored and hangs down in the front of the machine.

I also like the way the We All Sew tutorial has a long length. I also like the rainbow.

Katie from Katie’s Quilting Corner has a tutorial that clearly shows how to customize the tutorial for the size of your sewing machine.

The thing that is great about the Crafty Mummy pattern is the scissor loop.

I like the pattern in issue 35 of Love Patchwork & Quilting – free pattern not available. I like the way the front hangs down. I don’t know that I would put all vinyl in the front, but I know why the vinyl is used.

And then, I found that someone did a list of table mats already.

More Bulk Cutting

More bulk cutting
More bulk cutting

Craft Night was at my house again on Monday. Nothing about my scrap bins has changed. They are still overflowing and I need to refresh my Blue Lemonade stash of squares. That meant that I hauled the Accuquilt downstairs and cut up scraps.

I didn’t get through my entire bin of blue, which was a disappointment, but not a surprise. Still I made good progress in adding to the 2 inch and 2.5 inch squares.

I found that I saved a lot of really tiny scraps. They went into the pet bed.

Allison's Blocks
Allison’s Blocks

I also found that I had a lot of strips. Alison showed some blocks a few months ago made from strips. I want to make some of them to make a donation quilt, but now it is not the time.

Continuing to Sparkle

With Spark #30, we finished working our way through Carrie Bloomston’s book, The Little Spark. Buy it. Support the artist. Our journey here is done, but the posts will remain and you can work through the book and my comments at your own pace. There is much more to each spark than what I wrote. The original chapters will help you.

Included on the very last page of the book was a list of books and movies that Carrie suggests we read. I am listing some of them:

I haven’t read any of the books listed above. I have seen a couple of the books she lists, but would watch them again. Go buy Carrie Bloomston’s book, so you get the full benefit of her fabulousness!

Ring Toss Thoughts

Ring Toss (Halo Top by Jen Kingwell) Template Set
Ring Toss (Halo Top by Jen Kingwell) Template Set

Now that I seem to be okay with starting new projects, quilts are being thrown in my path in such a way that I can’t seem to say no.

The official name of this quilt is Halo Top. I plan to call this quilt Ring Toss, once I get around to making it. I am not a fan of the word Halo in very many contexts and this is one I don’t like. Ring Toss sounds like a circus and fun.

The other thing is that the pattern is referred to as “Jenny from One Block.” I really don’t know what that means and haven’t had any luck with Google yet.

There is a lot of cutting to do, which, as I said, requires some Hunting & Gathering, so I might not get to it immediately.

I went out and searched the web for photos of the blocks to get some ideas. I came up with one from A Crafty Fox that was helpful. It is easy to see the block structure from this photo.

FQS Halo top example
FQS Halo top example

Fat Quarter Shop had a photo, which was interesting as well. It showed a grey quilt in the same pattern under the brightly colored scrap quilt. It made me think that a monochromatic border might be interesting. I’d have to work hard at showing contrast.

PIQF 2018 Thoughts and Purchases

I still have a lot to write about PIQF. My post about my quilts barely scratched the surface of my experience. Writing about the MetroScape block n.5 yesterday made me think about all the other things I wanted to talk about.


There were noticeable changes to the vendors, as there were last year. The Mancusos has moved some of the vendors to new locations.  Others were no longer vending. SIL said that there were changes to the offerings of longarm vendors as well. She is still in the market for a longarm and was pleased at the changes.

I tried to stick to a list of items I really needed for projects or had a purpose. I bought more than I planned, but almost everything has a project attached to it.

Aunties Two Poppins Bag Pattern
Aunties Two Poppins Bag Pattern

I saw a new (to me?) line of bag patterns and really wanted to buy the Poppins pattern. I loved the shape and the style, but I resisted. I have another carpet bag type pattern AND the stays and must make that one first. One of the booths, Monica’s, had the pattern with all of the interfacing (they use Bosal) cut and available for purchase with the pattern. It was sooooo tempting. As mentioned, I resisted.

On my list was a roll of 2.5 inch batting strips. I want to make a Jelly Roll rug with the jelly roll I won at QuiltCon. No dice. I didn’t see any. I saw a roll of fusible batting strips and emailed Gretchen from 120 Blocks to ask if that was what she used. She said that product would be overkill and I didn’t buy it.

Art Gallery Knit for Westchester Dolman top
Art Gallery Knit for Westchester Dolman top

I found some fabulous fabric for the Westchester Dolman top. Crafty Gemini has a free PDF pattern of that top, but the link above leads you to the bundle of video and print pattern.

Buying fabric for this pattern has been on my mind, but wasn’t on my list for PIQF. Still, I was thrilled to see fabric I liked that was also of good quality. I didn’t really want to buy something online. I wanted to be able to feel the fabric. Julie pointed out that I needed to see how sheer a knit was, as well, because some knits were very sheer which means you have wear a camisole or something under it. This is an Art Gallery knit and thick enough to not be see through.

I have run out of solid white background fabric, which I like to have around, especially for donation projects. I wanted the Art Gallery Pure Elements Snow fabrics, but Colleen was there and carries American Made Brands. I bought 5 yards of their white, which I do like. She is one of the few vendors that brings bolts to the show.

Sewing Party purchases
Sewing Party purchases

My big impulse buy was from Sewing Party, a shop that I almost didn’t enter, because the woman looked so dour. I think she was tired and her resting face was not attractive. As soon as we entered the booth, she cheered right up and was very sweet.

I bought two FQs and a template set. I’ll use the text fabric for En Provence n.2. The Halo Top templates were not on the list, but they were so attractive. My friend, Sue Arnold, made a ring quilt years and years ago. Since then, I have wanted to make one. I seem to be getting into the sewing curves groove , so I wasn’t daunted by the curves in the block. The weird thing was that the shop did not have the pattern. When I asked about it, the lady said that I didn’t need the pattern. She was very confident of that even though I don’t think I have ever seen her before. 😉 She said with the templates, I could figure out the piecing. It is a Jen Kingwell pattern and I have heard from reliable sources that her patterns are not very well written. I’d like to take a look at the pattern, but I think the vendor is right. I don’t want to spend $28 on a pattern when I can figure out the piecing for myself. If someone I know has it, I will take a look (not copy, don’t worry). If not, I will figure it out for myself.

I plan to use the green in the Halo top and I will need to do some hunting and gathering for fabric in order to make it scrappy.

Threads & Ewe Yarn 2018
Threads & Ewe Yarn 2018

I also bought some yarn from Threads & Ewe. I love that booth. They have nice yarn, but the ladies are so friendly and helpful. They also wanted to see the scarf I made from the yarn I bought from them last year. I bought three skeins to make a shawl. I may have to finally get on Ravelry to find a free pattern. I have to finish my other project first, though. And NO MORE YARN!

Quilt Show

The best part of the quilt show was wandering around it with Friend Julie and looking at everything.

The quilt show, generally, looked the same as it has in years past. They still use the black drapes, which just looks depressing too me.

I was, again, disappointed by the New Quilts of Northern California exhibit. I didn’t see very many quilts (perhaps one or two) that were new, fresh or exciting. I must not understand that point of that exhibit anymore. I would have liked Down the Drain to be in that exhibit, but missed the deadline.

I didn’t see any Quick Curve Ruler projects, which was interesting. I wonder if people consider curves to be too hard. I am not finding my MetroScape project too difficult. It has gotten easier the more blocks I have made and I pin like a demon, which helps.

We met up with Kathleen late in the day and walked around with her a bit. She commented on how much “bedazzling” was on the quilts. I had to agree with her. The show winners were all covered in sparkling gems (Swarovski crystals?).

I was glad to be able to spend Friday at the show and not have to cram everything into a Sunday visit as originally planned.