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August 2009

July 2009

First block ... Shop Hop Sew-Along!

Quarter Squares 

The first block is actually part of the setting solution for the quilt. Because you have to make more than one, it seemed like a good idea to start here ... then you can sew all of them at once or do a few a day. As you can see, I drew all of my patterns out on graph paper and I'm putting them first ... colored photo at the end of the post. Sometimes it's nice not to have someone else's color selection influence you.


We are making 15 blocks. Cut 2 strips 10 1/4 x width of fabric from light and dark fabric. Sub-cut into 10 1/4 x 10 1/4" squares. Cut the squares in half diagonally to make triangles.

I like to lay my strips with the light and dark fabric right sides together, raw edges even. After I cut them into squares I treat them as one and cut them into triangles. When I'm ready to sew them together, they are sort of stuck to each other and are easy to keep lined up.



Sew the triangles together along the longest side with a 1/4" seam allowance. Press to the dark and trim the dog ears. This is optional ... some people like to leave them on but they annoy me so I lop them off ... carefully of course!


Cut the squares in half diagonally.


Turn the triangles so they look like this, pin, matching the centers and stitch the pieces together. Always with a 1/4" seam.


Here's a tip for you when you're joining intersecting seams. Make sure the seams are pressed in opposite directions so that they will nest when you line up the raw edges. Take a fork pin and poke the legs of the pin on either side of the seam, 1/4" down from the raw edge. This will keep your seams from shifting as you sew and they'll match up every time!


Trim the finished square to 9 1/2". Make 16 squares ... one will be extra which is nice in case you find a wonky one!

You can make these quarter square triangles out of scraps as long as there is some contrast between both pieces. It's just fine to have different colors as the triangle pieces. It adds to the scrappy look of the quilt. Remember that when you cut a light and dark square, it will yield two finished blocks so you'll have two that look the same.

My stack of blocks are waiting for friends to join them. Tune in tomorrow!


Shop Hop Sew-Along


Each of the posts after this blog post features a block. Click to the next block after you finish. If you sew one block each day, in 16 days you'll have a sampler quilt! Challenge yourself to sew a little bit each day. If your skills are rusty, I'll guarantee that by the end, you'll have acquired a lot more confidence!  Thanks for sewing along with me.

Tomorrow starts the Quilt Minnesota shop hop. The shop owners here in Minnesota are revved up and ready to go! But I decided to take it one step further and personalize it ... doing something I've wanted to do for a long time and now I have an excuse!

During the shop hop we're gonna build a sampler quilt!

You can accomplish so much by just sewing a little bit each day. I'm a firm believer in the theory that in order to enjoy a full life you need to do something creative every day. It inspires you ... it hones skills ... reminds you of what supplies you have available. Plus it's fun to make stuff!

The shop hop lasts sixteen days ... if you sew along with me and make a block a day, by the time it's over, you'll have a nice quilt to snuggle under in the cold months of Winter. I love remembering when I made things ... it lets me enjoy the time all over again. On some bitterly cold January night, you'll be able to think back to sewing this quilt in August 2009!

The shop hop blocks are based on a 9" finished block so that's whatI used for my quilt. The patterns you collect can easily be substituted for what I'm offering ... it'll add one more layer to the experience! Pick up some fat quarters or pre-cuts to incorporate into your quilt. I love remembering where I got certain fabrics ... it's like reliving the day all over again.

Most of the blocks will be some kind of variation of a Nine-patch. I've chosen them because they were blocks that I enjoyed ... or because I thought the name was fun ... or for their ability to use up small pieces.

This is a scrap quilt but is also suitable for an assortment of fat quarters. I shopped 'from the stash' for my quilt. Ok ... my stash is a bit different than yours ... I used Wildflower Serenade 2 from Moda ... but I included left overs from a honey bun, some fat quarters that had been cut into, a set of layer cakes and yardage off the bolt. I also pulled in pieces from Wildflower 1 and others from the stash that would work. Look around at what you have purchased and see what you can pull together. (Of course, it would be just wrong of me to not suggest buying new if you had to! Or purchase the darling pieces from the Minnesota hop fabrics.)

For the setting blocks you'll need 2/3 yards of two different fabrics ... 1 yard for an inner border ... 1 3/4 yards for an outer border ... 3/4 yard for binding. Pick out coordinating fabrics for the blocks that will make these fabrics come to life. You'll have to be the judge of what amounts those will be.  

Sew ... are you going to sew along with me?  Clean your machine ... put a new blade on the cutter and a needle on the machine. Wind a bunch of bobbins, too. Click to block #1 to start.  Let's quilt!


Time to imagine!


I'm in Wisconsin but needed a little break from the quilting scene ... so I got in the car with a few people and we visited some cute cute shops in Fall Creek. I'm going back on my way home tomorrow!! The nice person at Becky's Boutique let me take photos while he made me an iced coffee. Ya ... does it get better? Antiques and coffee.










And finally ... proof that sometimes the world does tilt on it's axis!


Quilt shop owners are sew competitive!


There's nothing more fun than a race ... unless the people you're racing with are waving rotary cutters and brandishing hot irons! Tonight ... after dinner ... and wine (not recommended for this event) ... Terry divided our shop owners into groups of four to do a race ... the theory is that the shop owners would all take the idea back to their stores and do it for a charity event. Each team was racing for prizes ... well actually because they're shop owners the prizes were secondary ... winning was primary.

Terry had kits made for Piecrust Pile-up in three different colorways. Each team had a few minutes to develop strategy ... wind bobbins ... heat up the irons. And then they were off to the races! My team had a handicap ... me! Nobody told me I was a team player!! I was handicapped myself because I shared the cutting table with Terry ... but ha! ... she misscut and then had to cut all her pieces smaller. She kept trying to trip me up by saying numbers or throwing her scraps on my portion of the mat. In spite of all of this, 38 minutes the first team was done! Wasn't my team but that's ok ... the quilts are going to charity after all.


The winners. Technically ... they shouldn't have won. Terry cut all their strips a 1/4" short and shaved off 30 seconds of each strip. Plus they're using batiks ... you don't have to make them match up. Ya ... I'm a sore loser.


This group was two minutes after the winners ... but that's ok 'cuz this quilt is really cute!


Our losing team was only a few minutes later. But we think our quilt was a winner! Each team gets to choose who will take it home, quilt it and and send it off to a charity. Not too bad for less than an hour of work! I think everyone should have a team event like this.

One last pic of what you see from the other side of the quilt. Nice group of quilters!


Where shop owners go to retreat!


Do you recognize your shop owner in this picture? They came from all over the US to work with Terry Atkinson at her annual shop owner's retreat in Augusta, Wisconsin. This group was from the beginning of July ... this afternoon we host an entirely different group. The owners discusss business, sew samples for new patterns and learn how to teach new techniques. One thing you should be hearing from their lips after this session are that zippers are no big deal! But the thing that gets them squealing each time is the dinner table. Not just because we have Jason, our own personal chef ... Terry pulls together a new table display each day and they are as different as day and night! Fun stuff.


Our first night is a beach party ... chinese lanterns ... mason jar drinking glasses with festive rosettes ... pretty tropical terry cloths for napkins. They'll need them to wipe their lips ... Jason's meal theme is an All American Picnic ... it includes his ribs with homemade rub and roasted green beans. Yum! One of our sewing stunts after dinner will be a group of make it take it projects that you could take to the beach. Terry's showing them how to use Texture Magic!



The only reason I can show you these photos now is because I know the shop owners coming to this session are on the road. Didn't want to ruin the surprise for them! Tomorrow night it'll be girls gone wild. After dinner, Terry has planned a charity sewing race using her Piecrust Pile Up pattern ... it was a wild event last time and probably will be true again! So ... dinner goes wild with a jungle theme and Jason making a salad sampler for dinner. Yum again! Hope he includes the roasted beet salad.


What I like about this table setting is how Terry jazzed up plain paper napkins. She had slinky striped fabric that she twisted into a napkin ring. Love the aligator nut holder ... the nut recipe is on one of her first blogs last fall ... the rubber salamanders add such a nice touch!




Our last night at the retreat we have a holiday theme ... think ALL the holidays at one table! During the day they'll be testing a new tree skirt pattern and at dinner, they'll be able to see how they can make it for one of the many holidays we celebrate. Jason had a challenge coming up with a holiday meal on this one but he came through as usual ... hope he brings the baked corn again. The plates are set so they match the tree skirt they are closest to.




After dinner we have a stocking exchange ... now does that first picture make sense? Everyone brings a pair of socks ... they put the extra sock in the toe and then fill the rest up to match the theme of the sock. It's fun ... great way to get to know each other ... nice ice breaker at the guild's Christmas party.

We make lots of little gifts for the shop owners ... they all get a notebook and intial pin when they arrive ... Terry supplies them with kits and patterns and fills their heads with so many ideas they can barely sleep! Wednesday afternoon they can goof around if they want and Thursday before we leave, everyone head's to Jason's drive-in for lunch. Fun times and a great way to get revved up for a busy Fall!


Relay for Life ... Paint the Town Purple at MarketFest in White Bear Lake Thursday!


Coming to MarketFest this Thursday? Well ... you really should because White Bear Lake's Relay for Life is kicking off next week's event this week! Come to MarketFest and Paint the Town Purple ... lots of downtown merchants are taking part in this event. Throughout downtown, there will be balloons, banners and ribbons announcing the participants. Some have discounts and are donating the difference to the Relay. Volunteers for the Relay will set up in the parking lot at Premier Bank. There you'll be able to donate, decorate luminaries, purchase Relay t-shirts ... and get more information about what the Relay for Life is all about. There's still time to pull together a team for the event on July 31. 

Many of you know that both of my parents died from cancer ... my mom from pancreatic and dad from lung cancer. And now my mom's sister ... Aunt Lucille ... is doctoring for ovarian cancer. It seems non-ending the number of people who have been touched by this disease. And that's why the Relay for Life is so important ... it raises awareness and raises funds.

For our part during MarketFest, you can come into the Workshop on Banning and decorate a luminary in honor of or in memory of someone you know with cancer. Cut out their intial ... you can write their name on a tag and attach it all to the bag. The bags will be given to the coordinators and will decorate the track at the Relay on the 31st. A $10 donation is suggested.

I hope to see you sometime on Thursday. Help us Paint the Town Purple!


Those tricky binding strips!


Ok ... this is more for me than for you! When quilting, the last step is always the binding. Each time I have to remember which way the diagonal line goes. I got the dreaded 'picture frame' twice when I was quilting the other day so thought if I had a visual on my blog, I'd always know where to go to do it right.

I always make sure the ends of each of my strips are square. Then I take my 4.5" OLFA frosted ruler and lay the center diagonal line on the edge of  my cut edge. You can use any ruler that has a 45 degree angle. Draw a line with a pencil or your favorite marking tool. I have a Clearly Perfect Angle cling from New Leaf Stitches that I can use, too ... but I need something on the fabric to help me get it in the right position.


Lay the strip you're joining to on a table ... right sides up. Lay the strip with the diagonal line on top with the fabric extending to the left ... right sides together. Make sure the raw edges are even. Pin on either side of the line to keep the pieces in place. If you feel like you've done it wrong run pins up the diagonal line and open it up just to be sure.



Stitch right on the line.


Flip it over to make sure it looks right and the edges are even.


Press it open to reveal a little box. I scissors cut 1/4" from the seam after that. I usually chain piece all my strips and then press at the end. At this point you fold it in half lengthwise and press it to make your double-fold binding.

Joining the binding ends when I sew the binding to the quilt is usually a source of frustration for me ... which is probably why I ask Jeri or Chris to do it ... they seem to have it down pat. I like how it looks when the binding is flat and you can't see where it started. I've printed out these instructions including the large images and keep them right in front of me. Or I'll watch this video on my computer and pause it as I do each step.

The reward from all of this work is putting in the final hand stitches on the quilt. Sometimes I have to peek and see how the quilt looks ... motivation to get to the finish line!  


Machine work is sew overrated! :-)


Well ... tonight we tossed the sewing machines out and went back to the REAL way of quilting ... just like Grandma! Ok ... technically we didn't do things exactly like she did ... someone did invent rotary cutters you know ... but other than that our class was done totally by hand!


Tonight's class was the Confetti quilt by Mountain Patchwork. They have a method called 'double-stitch' where you hand piece the segments and then come back and hand quilt that same piece before adding to it. Check out their site for a better explanation. My favorite is the Log Cabin pattern but this one is shaping up to give it some competition!


We've had so many requests for hand work lately so I knew this one would appeal to a lot of quilters.  Like Barb ... she came to the class from Australia! We attract an international crowd you know. Tomorrow I have a group sneaking across the border from Wisconsin, too. It's a perfect project for the Workshop in White Bear Lake as we don't need machines.


Intially the pieces seem so big!


But then you start piecing them together and they become really small. Two inches across. It's so fun to see the rows begin to come together ... even though it does take a bit longer than if you shoved them under the sewing machine. But that's the fun of it!


I love looking at a table filled with all the components of quilting.


Its cool when you discover that two quilters have the same thing in their sewing box ... in this case it was a needle keeper that was given out at the Minnesota Quilters Christmas party a few years back. I helped pull the idea and supplies together for it ... it was fun seeing it as I had forgotten about that event.

With life as hectic as it is, it's so nice to sit down and watch the needle and thread travel across the fabric. Grandma knew what it was all about, didn't she?