More Donation Blocks

Last month I only made two donation blocks, but I did better this month. I went over my 2019 monthly goal of 30 this month. Since I only made two last month, however, I probably should have made 60 this month.

I know you have seen most of the scrappy community quilt blocks, but I also made some of the regular 16 patch blocks and have started on a new color for a Color Strip quilt top in blue. I am not where I want to be but I am making progress and that is all that anyone can hope for.

Various & Sundry 2020 #3


Barbara Brackman has a wonderful quilt she has been puzzling over with a friend. She is calling it Friendship Knot, but I get the impression they don’t know where the quilt design/pattern came from. Check out the block! It is so interesting the way this pattern is put together. I might want to make this quilt. 😉

This is not a political blog and I am not for or against any candidate right now, please no political diatribes. However, when I see a quilt on the wall of a politician’s office, I have to take notice. I really want to know the story behind the quilt on the wall. Is it his? Is it part of the office decor? Who made it? This is a NY Times article, so you may have to access it through your public library.

I saw a series of books on color by Michael Pastoreau. To date he has written volumes on blue, yellow, red, green, and black. I haven’t read any of these books, but I think I will need to see if the library has them.

According to a website, drawing is the fastest and most effective way to learn.

Doing Good

You have seen the Color Strip/Chunk quilt tops and the Color Improv quilt tops I have been making. I talk about them all the time. I recently saw Quilt Diva Julie’s blog and was inspired by some pieces she is making.

Classes, Lectures & Workshops

Weeks Ringle has a really great post on preparing for workshops.

I found a video workshop talking about box corners for bags. The presenter talks about creating box corners of different sizes with the theory behind the process. Sara Lawson, Sew Sweetness, also has a tutorial about boxing corners. It is focused on using her boxing corners ruler tool. The two methods are slightly different. In Sara’s tutorial, the choice of how large to box a corner seems a little arbitrary.

Sara also has a tutorial on tapering corners. For pillows and similar projects, tapering the corners actually makes the corners look more square. Not tapering the corners can (for some mathematical reason, I am sure) make them look very long and thin. In the tutorial, she shows a paper template, but she also, now, sells a rotary ruler version. I don’t see a link to the paper template, but you can make your own by looking at the example in the video.

Fabric, Supplies & Tools

Ever since I read Sarah’s blog post about the Janome M7 Continental, I am in love. I think I become enamored with each new machine that Janome releases!

Janome M7 Continental
Janome M7 Continental

Janome claims that “one of the favorite features is that the M7 has the industry’s largest sewing space available on any household use machine. With 13 ½” of work space, a total work area of 17.81”, more than 3” in the needle/needle plate section, your sewing capacity will improve all around. With an added extension table of 26.77” X 15.75”, you’ll have even more work space to utilize! Check out the M7.

Heidi Proffety has a 3 part series of videos where she gives an in depth look at the M7 and its features, all three parts of her tutorial can be found on their Facebook page or on YouTube.

I have a KAMsnaps installation kit. Crafty Gemini recommended it and I used it for my 4-Zip Organizer. I had a hard time with it, so I was pleased to see a video about using it. I am not sure if the video helps, but I will try again to get the KAMsnaps to work on my project.

Lauren Mormino has a selection of bag hardware.

Other Artists

I really like the interesting circles in this quilt.

Patterns, Projects, Tutorials & Designs

If you want to use Illustrator to design quilts, check out a page on the Adobe site.

Barbara Brackman has a block on her blog called Dog Star. She shows a quilt that is really cool looking.

Pouches have been on my mind. Perhaps because of the fabulous gift pouches I received recently. A long time ago, I visited Kelley and she gave me the zippers for a Triple Zip Pouch. I hunted down the directions and think it might be time to make it. I might have to make two and send one to Kelly. We’ll see.

I have not made a Bionic Bag; I have made several Sew Together Bags. However, I found a video (I know! Why I am watching videos is a whole different issue) that I thought compared the Sew Together Bag with the Bionic Gear Bag. I was wrong. The video compares three versions of the Bionic Gear Bag: The Mother Lode, the Bonza and the Original. I don’t know the sizes, but the Mother Lode kind of looks like it might be comparable to my All Rolled Up Tote. The presenter also mentions a baby version. You can find the pattern for the Baby version on the downloadable products page. If you want to make the Bonza version, check out the page of workshops and video tutorials. That page has a good close-up of the features of the bag as well.

Recently, I mentioned the Knot & Thread Hello Pouch pattern. While checking out other videos, I saw a free tutorial for a similar pouch tutorial from Olfa. I haven’t made either bag and I can see some slight changes, but essentially they look the same. This presenter, Lauren Mormino, does everything on camera. The sewing was great, but I sped through the opening of her new rotary kit and all the cutting. She doesn’t have any step-outs prepared in advance. This is a really quick project. I would definitely bind the raw edges on the inside. She deals with the vinyl in a different way than I do. Check out my tips and tricks for using vinyl if you don’t have a similar machine to hers.

I also found a slightly different vinyl bag from So Sew Easy. These make great project bags or ways to organize your fabric closet or supply check. This video has a very interesting method for enclosing the zipper. I want to think about how I could use it for other projects.

There are a whole bunch of zipper pouch tutorials in one place at Threading My Way.

A long time ago, I participated in a Sew Sweetness Purse-a-Palooza. I was looking through her older blog posts and I came across my post on her site. It was fun to see my work out there in the blogosphere.

My eye doctor asked me to put a heated compress on my eyes each night, which I thought might be easier if I had an eye mask. I went looking for a tutorial since I have fabric and rice here at home. I found one which starts out talking the author’s optometrist as well. Chloe of Nurturing Creativity has tutorial called “How to Create  a Heated Eye Mask.” How perfect is that?

If you like Zen Chic, I stumbled onto her free pattern page.

As I wandering around the web, I also came across the Moda Blockheads 3 project. I am sure most of you know about this, but I wasn’t in the loop. Lots of interesting blocks. The Zen Chick LOVE block would make great pincushions.

I saw this super cute coffee cozy.

Frolic! Straight On

Frolic! - February 2020
Frolic! – February 2020

I am backtracking. I worked hard on piecing Frolic! over the weekend. This is no different than other Bonnie Hunter Mystery quilts in that there is a lot of piecing. I think I pieced 1.5 blocks total. I worked for about 6 hours on this piece and don’t feel like I made a ton of progress.

Regardless, I had a lot of time to work on this piece and look at it. I think it may need to be on point. I may still set it straight, but I am thinking it may need to be set on point. Stay tuned.

More Blue Donation Blocks

Blue Donation Blocks- no sashing
Blue Donation Blocks- no sashing

I spent more time on Frolic! over the weekend. In addition to making slow progress on that piece, I also made a lot of progress on my blue strip donation quilt.

I now have all of the blocks finished and the sashing cut. As I mentioned before, I am going to make this piece slightly larger than some of the others.

It seems like it is an odd shape – more rectangular than square, but it may be the lack of finished seam allowances.

Blue Donation Blocks- with sashing
Blue Donation Blocks- with sashing

I am pleased with the yellow I chose. This was a half yard of fabric I have had around for awhile. I thought the color worked well with the blue even though light yellow is complementary to darker blues.


Thinking About Frolic!

Half and quarter blocks are not my favorite. As a result, I have been thinking about setting Frolic! in a straight set in order to avoid those pesky half and quarter blocks. Since I haven’t had the time to actually move any blocks around on my design wall, I went trolling for examples of the Frolic! quilt on IG.

I saw a number of blocks sets laid out in a straight set. Jeff Rutherford took a straight on photo that really helped me visualize how the quilt might look. Little Bunny Allison also posted a straight on photo.

Finally, I saw a previous Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt, On Ringo Lake, by Sew Angela. She has some setting triangles, but they are just a few pieces. This layout keeps the quilt on on point, but avoids me having to make those half and quarter blocks.

Perhaps I am just being lazy? There is a lot of piecing in this quilt (and all of Bonnie’s mystery quilts!) Barbara Reeves had a particularly nice example of the quilt as Bonnie intended, so it is still a possibility.

More Running with Scissors

I am working on another Running with Scissors Tote and am heading towards finishing. It is another gift, so I can’t show the whole thing right now.

Running with Scissor Tote -Mesh Tape Trick
Running with Scissor Tote -Mesh Tape Trick

I did want to show my tape trick, though. The directions say to mark where to sew – to divide the mesh pocket in half. It is difficult to mark mesh, so I had a brainwave and used blue tape.

I did not sew through it, but sewed next it, where I would have marked a line on regular quilting fabric.

I am kind of proud of myself for this little idea. I hope you can use it, too.

A Very Small Dent

Blue Strip Donation Blocks - mid-February
Blue Strip Donation Blocks – mid-February

I am up to 21 blocks for my latest Color Strip donation quilt. I plan to make another 14 so it is slightly larger than the red and orange donation quilts.

Regardless, I have barely made a dent in my blue scraps. Of course, I generate them at a faster clip than other colors, except, maybe, pink, but still. I’d like to be able to see progress. Perhaps I will be able to make 4 quilts out of this drawer.

They went very quickly as I worked on Frolic the other day. There were a lot of small fiddly seams to sew on Frolic!, so I needed leaders and enders. They come together very quickly once you start and some strips I have are very long, so I can cut 2-3 blocks out of a strip set.

Mom’s Handquilting

Mom's hand quilting project
Mom’s hand quilting project

Mom stopped by the other evening and brought her quilt project. She is hand quilting the quilt because she didn’t want to pay for longarming. The quilt will be for her, for once.

The opposite side is a panel we bought together. The other side looks like a BettyCrockerAss design and I really like it.

She is making good progress and I think she will done soon.

Frolicking a Lot More

Frolic! - mid-February
Frolic! – mid-February

After the update the other day, the piecing on Frolic! went a lot faster. I think I reached a tipping point and was able to zoom right along. I made some more progress and feel like I am making good headway, though it looks like a mess right at the moment.

Frolic! Reveal in process
Frolic! Reveal in process

I believe I need 25 full blocks. The 7 I have are in various states of being sewn. The spaces are because of the seam allowances or missing pieces.

I haven’t dealt with the half and quarter blocks yet. I don’t like quilts where there are half finished blocks, in general. I am seriously considering a straight set. I laid out some of the pieces in that way before the Reveal. When I have a few more blocks finished, I’ll lay it out that way and see what I see. The corner pieces with the 4 patches make a very interesting secondary pattern.

Sewing Antiques

On our way back from the North Coast, we stopped in Santa Rosa for lunch and a peek at the antique shops. We are looking for ‘new’ dining room chairs.

I saw 2 or 3 Featherweights. One was only $125, but it was such a hideous (1970s cafeteria green) green, I didn’t want to buy it.

Antique Fan Quilt
Antique Fan Quilt

I saw a fan quilt that was pretty, if a little old fashioned. I especially liked the border, which was curved – kind of large scallops – to mimic the fans.

The pink quilt behind the fan had appliqued figures. I think they might have been storybook characters, but I didn’t recognize any of them.

Both quilts could have been tops that were recently quilted. I didn’t look that closely while I was in the shop.

Antique 'Toy' Sewing Machine
Antique ‘Toy’ Sewing Machine

I also saw a small sewing machines. I know these are collectible, but I do not have a collection of them, nor do I know anyone who does.

We did not find chairs and it was a fun interlude after being in the car for several hours.

Back to Frolicking!

Frolic! block
Frolic! block

Frolic!, or what there is of it, has been on my design wall since earlier this month. I said then that I didn’t want it to become another UFO, but I didn’t made any progress. I don’t want it to become a UFO, so I worked on it over the weekend.

I determined that I needed to start piecing in order to get interested in it again. I haven’t finished Clue 4 (still!). I don’t want that lack to drag me down.

I thought I would start from the corner and cut and piece as I went along, chunking the top together. The corners are a conundrum and I left them off after awhile and worked on the blocks. You can see that my progress doesn’t look like much, but it feels like progress. I am still contemplating a straight set.

More Gifts for Me

Officer Thank You Gifts
Officer Thank You Gifts

These are not birthday gifts or any sort of holiday gift; this bag was given to me by the officers in the guild for coordinating the thank you bags at the end of their terms. They made me a bag and it is fabulous.

The bag itself is a Poolside Tote and it is in perfect colors for me: turquoise and scarlet. The blocks, which fit perfectly are from a mystery quilt the guild did on my first retreat. My blocks were less than stellar and have long since been made into a donation top.

I received a number of pouches, some chocolates, candles, pens, a journal and a few other odds and ends.The fabrics chosen were fabulous and I think I will be able to use everything included in the gift.

I was completely surprised and somewhat mortified as I really don’t like to open gifts in front of people. Also, I don’t do things in the guild that I don’t enjoy. I feel very strongly that the officers should be thanked in a meaningful way and the bag idea is very fun. It leaves a lot of room for creativity. Everyone can contribute in the way that works for them. the officers don’t end up with an ugly quilt or a bunch of blocks.

Book Review: At Home with Modern June

At Home with Modern June: 27 Sewing Projects for Your Handmade LifestyleAt Home with Modern June: 27 Sewing Projects for Your Handmade Lifestyle by Kelly McCants

This is an older book, but it came to my attention again when I was looking through my books for patterns for raffle prizes. I had plowed through the books I used for my gift grouping for Mary. I looked through other books for interesting patterns that would intrigue someone who makes quilts themselves. I am sort of rearranging the non-quilt books into a group. These books include patterns for pouches, pincushions, bags and other accessories.

The first thing to appeal to me was the color scheme. Red and turquoise is a favorite of mine, as you may have noticed. 🙂

Second was the organization of the book. The table of contents shows projects room by room. The main rooms in any standard house – kitchen, living room, bed, and bath – are all covered. The author also includes sections on creative space, closets and pantry, which are useful additions.

Third, a line in the Foreword appealed to me, “whether you’re moving into a new home, launching a home makeover, or just sprucing up one room at a time…” This line told me that the book could appeal to a variety of different readers and makers.

After the Foreword (pg.4), an introduction (pg.5) and a discussion of mood boards (pg.7-9), the text starts in earnest with a ‘terms and techniques glossary’ (pg.10-19). This section has basic definitions as well as longer explanations. Part of it is illustrated (pg.12, 13, etc). The section is super comprehensive, including topics you may never encounter anywhere else. One tip I thought was very useful was about modifying a sewing machine foot to work with oilcloth (pg.15). I am not sure if this tip would work with vinyl, but it is worth a try.

Ms. McCants also talks about cross-pinning (pg.14). I have done something like it, but never knew it had a name. Other things I like in this section are a bias tape finishing instructions (pg.17) and a chart that provides yardage calculations in decimals, yards and inches (pg.19). This is definitely something to copy and pin to your wall. Very useful.

After the glossary, the author dives into Kitchen and Dining Room projects (pg.20-53). This section has normal projects that fit into the theme with twists. The twists are things like different materials, techniques or tools. The first project in the Kitchen and Dining section is placemats (pg.20-25). Big deal, right? The project uses chalkboard fabric! Other projects include pot holders, a curtain, a reversible floor mat and others. The apron (pg.37-43) is pretty and would make a great gift. I like the barstool makeover (pg.44-49), mostly because I need to redo my kitchen bar stool. Kelly tells the reader how to make the pattern to fit the barstool you own (pg.46).

Living Rooms – inside and Out (pg.54-83) comes next and I thought this section was a little weird. The chapter includes the expected living room projects, such as pillow covers (pg.63-67) and basic upholstery (pg.54-59). In addition, there are a lot of outdoor projects like a picnic tablecloth (pg.69-73) and a potting shed ‘coverup’ (pg.77-83). I guess there wasn’t space for a backyard section and she decided to combine the concepts.

Bed and Bath (pg.84-121) has more expected projects for the theme. The first is a duvet cover (pg.85-89) in which I am interested, though more so if it were quilted. It is pieced, though, so that is a start. The shower curtain project (pg.90-95) is a good use of laminated fabric as well as a good way to coordinate decoration in a bathroom. The Candy Knot Guest Towels (pg.96-97) would be good handwork project. The Makeup Tray (pg.97-101) could be used for any number of items or purposes. Random cooking packets or spices could be organized in a pantry. Quilt pieces could be organized in anticipation of sewing them together using such trays. I like the button detail on the corners. The part also includes a fairly comprehensive section on binding (pg.104-106, 114-115) including directions on finishing the ends.

Closet and Pantry (pg.122-139) has some projects that would be useful, but would also make great gifts for non-quiltmaking friends or house warming or visiting gifts. I particularly like the lined basket project (pg.123-128) and the Clothespin Bag (pg.128-133). I don’t suppose people hang clothes on an outside line anymore, however I have fond memories of my grandmothers having bags like this. Hers was not nearly as cute as the sample shown in the book. The Lined Basket project is customizable for the baskets you may already have around the house. As I was just in the Container Store, I can see the possibilities. 

Throughout the book the author has included “June Suggests” tips boxes. In the Closet and Pantry section, she gives fabric options. A lot of the tips throughout the book discuss fabric usage, but some of the tips also cover bias binding, re-use of patterns and why similar directions for projects differ.

The final section has projects useful on your creative space or studio. Projects include a basic sewing machine cover (pg.152-155) and a hang-up Sewing Supply Case (pg.159-167). The sewing machine cover’s size is customizable so you can make it fit your machine. Take a look at the Undercover Maker Mat and other sewing machine covers about which I have posted so you can review and compare your options.

The Sewing Supply Case remind me of the Board Bag Amanda made for me. The main difference is that this one closes up like a notebook for easy transport. The instructions are quite detailed and the drawings enhance construction. Webbing is used for the handles. I would cover the webbing, as directions in the Running with Scissors case suggests, in order to make them more comfortable to carry. Again, I think it would make a great gift. 

Kelly McCants seems like someone who came to sewing through a different route than quiltmaking. Her patterns for home decor seem more complete and the customization options she offers make the projects less rote. The patterns also require more thinking, but it doesn’t make them less usable even for new sewists.

The author uses bright and cheerful colors in the projects. The tone of the book is positive. This is, in the end, a project book. There is very little information about what inspired her to create these specific projects beyond the house remodel she discusses in the Foreword. Still, I like this book and find the projects useful and interesting. It is a worthwhile addition to your library.

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Scissor Cozies

Mom's Scissor Keeper
Mom’s Scissor Keeper

I have been thinking about the Scissor Cozies I made recently.

I went on a mini-rampage flinging things out of my fabric closet and filing other things away. At the end of it, I had found an already quilted piece of fabric/ Soft & Stable left over from the Cargo Duffle.

In general, it has been a week of tidying and tossing things into the donation pile. One thing I found that I put into my new Sewing Machine Suitcase was a pair of Fiskars scissors I used to keep in my office (I would sew there on my lunch hour). I have several pair and didn’t need another in my sewing room, so I thought the suitcase would be a good home.

Scissor Cozy for Julie
Scissor Cozy for Julie

This led me to think about making a Scissor Cozy for them, especially after I saw another IG post about the free tutorial from sotakhandmade.

I might need to make the template larger as those Fiskars are on the large side. I can cut it out from that extra piece of fabric, though the piece is large enough to use in a Running with Scissors tote, so I might want to rethink. Regardless, I’d like to use that piece for something and get it out of my fabric closet. It is one of those things that floats around without a real home.

Donation Block Updates

Blue donation blocks, February 2020
Blue donation blocks, February 2020
Here is a brief update of the blocks I am making for the blue version of the Color Strip quilts. This is also being sewn from scraps. I haven’t made many blocks, but there is no dent in my scrap drawer. Do you think they multiply in the night? More likely I have just not made a concentrated effort to deal with them.


Fortunately, there are a lot strips, so I have been able to make a number of strip sets that yield more than one block.

You can also see the in progress blocks as well.