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August 2009

It's always amazing ...


... how this ...


... and this ... somehow turns into this ...



We're delighted to be showcasing these local designers during the Minnesota State Fair ... GE DesignsQuilt MomentsThis and That,   Maple Island Quilts,  Atkinson Designs,  and Perkins Dry Goods. You'll find patterns and books from some of our other favorite designers, too. We've been busy whacking away at new wool kits ... fat quarters and bundles including  Autumn and Halloween fabrics and the new Vine Creek line from Moda ... that just blew in the door. Your next quilting project is waiting for you at the fair ... we can't wait to see you at Heritage Square!!


Stuff on the cutting table for the Minnesota State Fair!


Having almost ten days between the end of the Quilt Minnesota shop hop and the start of the Minnesota State Fair this year is such a luxury. I don't feel totally whacked out! I've been using the extra time to goof around with my die cut machines and have come up with small wool projects to cut and kit for the fair. I've managed to pick up some beautiful hand dyed wools in fabulous Autumn colors ... working with them was perfect for the cold and rainy day we had today.

The pouch with the crow and leaves has a touch of wool eyelet across the top ... it's so sweet because of it's small size. I hung it on a door knob and it's darling. It was my favorite ... until I finished the pincushion!

I just put the last stitches in the sunflower pincushion. I found a bunch of brass bees in my stash ...  a great finishing touch. I cut the whole project on my Sizzix Big Shot cutter ... it's our project for the Creative Craft Crawl Friday ... everyone will get to cut their own so they can see how easy it is to use. Great tool to put on  your wish list for your workshop!

I'm auditioning floss for the button hole stitch on the penny mat ... I think I'm going with black. It stands out just enough.

The smaller pieces are going to be needle keepers ... fast to do for retreat gifts!

My helpers are lined up to cut kits this weekend so we'll be busy packing them up and toting them to the fair. It's hard to believe that a week from tonight everything will be in place waiting for the fair to begin! The twelve best days of Summer. Make sure you begin with our booth in Heritage Square ... I know these kits won't last through the whole fair!


Quilting the quilt!

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I'll be the first to admit that I am horrible at machine quilting my own things. I've never been able to get the hang of it ... or maybe haven't taken the time to learn to do it correctly. That's why I'm so glad there are machine quilters out there who get it. The really good ones instinctively feel what the quilt needs to make it come to life.

So here's my sew-along quilt on Randi's frame. She did a fabulous job on two quilts I sent to American Patchwork and Quilting so I know this quilt is in good hands. Usually I don't tell the quilter what to do but recently, I saw  something on another quilt she did and asked if she thought it would work on mine. She's going to use it in the setting squares and then 'goof around' on the rest of the blocks and borders. I'm excited to see how it will turn out!

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Randi sent me a few snaps to tease me. Look how pretty the feathers are on this block! You can see a little sneak peek of the action on the triangle to the left. Cute cute cute.

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And look what she did with my Spider block! I'm so excited about this ... now I want to make a Halloween quilt to go with the quilting!

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I know you're going to want your quilt finished just like mine. Randi and I worked out a deal for those of you who have been sewing along during the shop hop ... and I know there are a bunch of you doing it! She'll discount her prices 10% for those who send their Sew-Along quilts to her at Jublilee Quilting

And there's more! We both thought a contest was in order. I think it's important to get it done so here's the rules. Between today and September 16, bring me a photo of your finished quilt top ... include your name and phone number on it.  On September 17 ... which just happens to be the 33rd anniversary of my enlistment into the USArmy ... I'll draw a name and that person will get their quilting done for free by Randi!

I'd love it if you brought your pix to our booth at the state fair ... we'll show them off for you! (My finished quilt will be there so you can see it up close.) Drop them off at the store. You can mail your photo to me, too ... the Cottage address is on the web site.  I mostly want to see how fabulous they are! BTW ... winner pays Minnesota sales tax and any shipping costs if needed.

I'm anxious to get my binding on it now. (Eight strips ... 2 1/2" wide.) It will be wonderful to be using it on the couch this Winter and to always have the memory of this particular time of my life embedded in each square, triangle and rectangle!

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Last day of the shop hop ... finish up your quilt!


The blocks are made and the quilt top is sewn together. Let's finish with some borders.


I decided to add corner stones to add some interest to the borders. For the inner border they finish at 3" and for the outer border 6". Four-patch blocks were my choice.

For the inner border blocks, cut 2 - 2x2 from a background and cut 2 - 2x2" from scraps for each blocks. Mine are very scrappy and don't match at all.

For the outer border blocks, cut 2 - 3  1/2 x 3  1/2" from the background and cut 2 - 3  1/2 x 3  1/2" from scraps for each block. You need four in all.


Lay the squares out into four-patch configurations and sew together.  Press the seams whichever way you want but you may have to press them again later if they don't nest.


I layed my four patch blocks so the dark fabric led out to the corner. It looked good with my quilt center and border choices. You may find that just the reverse is true for you quilt.

You'll cut your borders to the size of your quilt. Measure both the length and width through the center of your quilt and write down the numbers. Round up to the next 1/8".

For the inner border, cut  strips 3  1/2" x WOF.  Sew strips together so you have enough length for all four sides. You can angle the strips or sew them straight across ... your choice.

Cut the sewn strips so they measure 3  1/2" x __________. (Fill in the blank with your measurement.) Two for the top and bottom and two for the sides.

Sew the side borders on first and press toward the border.

Sew the four-patch blocks to either side of the top and bottom strips. Press them toward the border fabric.

Stitch the top and bottom borders on, matching the seams where the four-patches meet the side borders. Press toward the border.


Do the whole thing over again for the outer border. Measure through the center to get your length and width.

Cut the borders 6 1/2" x WOF. Sew enough strips together to get your length and width.

Cut the sewn borders 6  1/2" x _________. Two for the top and bottom and two for the sides.

Sew the sides on first and press toward the border fabric.

Sew the corner stones on to the top and bottom borders pressing seems toward the border.

Now you can sew them to the top and bottom and once you press them ... you're done!! Well ... except for the quilting and binding. But you're soooooo close now.


Here's what I had left from my layer cake pack. Not much ... but I know I can squeeze something out of them! Stay tuned for my quilted quilt.


Holy cow ... it's Block #16 already!

Roman Square 

I saved this block for last because I knew I would have a ton of little pieces to use up at the end.


See what I mean? And these are just the smaller pieces that are just the right size. I sorted them out into colors so I'd have a place to start when it came to picking pieces for the block.

For each block, cut 1 - 1  1/2 x 3  1/2" from light medium and dark fabric. Sew the pieces together and press the seams in one direction.

If you're working with longer strips, for each block cut 1 - 1  1/2 x 14" from each light medium and dark fabric. Sew together, press all one way and subcut to 3 1/2" segments.


Lay the blocks out like this. Keep straight which way they'll get sewn together so you don't have to rip. Trust me on this. The pieces are small. Hard to tear apart.

Sew the units together.

Press the top and bottom rows in one direction and the middle one in the opposite direction.

Sew the rows together and press.

Another 9 1/2" block completed! Yay!!

But you aren't done. Next up will be putting the rows together, then borders and a little bit more piecing to keep them special. My quilt is at the quilters and hopefully will be done before you're done!


I know you're anxious to begin putting your quilt together. I don't blame you ... it's so exciting!

Sewing long strips of blocks together is kind of boring to me. What I like to do is sew the quilt in sections first. For this quilt I stitched four blocks to each other and then six together then joined them into one big section. I did that two more times with the rest of the quilt and then sewed the three sections to each other. The good thing ... I didn't mess up and turn a block or a row the wrong way. If you're used to sewing the traditional way switch up and try this method!


From the 'bread basket' of the world ... Block #15 celebrates farmers!

Farm Friendliness 

Do as I say and not as I do! I switched my triangles when I was sewing them and they aren't the way they're supposed to be in the drawing. But actually, they don't look too bad. Always the hazard when you're sewing blocks ... and just goes to show no one's perfect and mistakes like this really don't matter in the big scheme of things. My quilt looked just fine to me! Never noticed it.

Ok ... before you begin ... look at this! Jody Sanders from American Patchwork and Quilting is taking the sew-along to a whole new height! I'm jealous ... both because I didn't think of some of it first and also because I don't have the time. But it sure is fun to see what she's up to!! 

Sew ... back to Farm Friendliness. I like this block just because of the name! Growing up in a farming community ... having friends who are farmers ... I can attest to the fact that farmers are the friendliest people around. So here we go ... a block to celebrate those people who are out there in sleet and rain and dark of night keeping food on our tables.


This block isn't very complicated ... I was running out of fabric from my Layer Cake so I had to use what I had to get my darks and lights going ... I just had to remember which one went where!

Cut 1 - 3  1/2 x 3  1/2" for the center square.

For the half-square triangles, cut 2 - 3  7/8 x 3  7/8" from both light and dark fabric. Cut in half diagonally to form triangles.

For the side units, cut 2 - 2 x 16" from each light and dark fabric. Stitch together and subcut to 3 1/2" segments. Or cut 4 - 2 x 3  1/2" from each light and dark fabric like I did.


Stitch the side uints and triangles together and press toward the dark fabric. Trim the dog ears.


Lay the block out like this.

Sew the units to each other and then sew into rows.

Press the top and bottom rows away from the center.

Press the middle row toward the center.

Sew the rows together and press however you want. You know the drill!

I love the scrappiness of this block and am thinking a quilt made just of this one and my stash would be kind of cool!


The Lone Star in the quilt ... Block #14!

Lone Star 

Ok ... I'm going to be frank with you ... I left this block until near the end because I was sort of afraid of it ... all those triangles to cut and explain made me nervous ... what if I did the math wrong or something! But looking back, it wasn't as bad as I thought ... it all worked out perfectly thanks to knowing you always add 1 1/4" to the finished size when you cut quarter square triangles. Once again picking out the fabrics was the hardest part of the block. I'd like to make more of this one!


When you choose your fabric pick one for the triangles around the center square that will contrast sharply ... either lighter or darker. I didn't have enough of the blue fabric so I combined two that were similar. It works just fine.


The tan is my background and center square.

Cut 1 - 3  1/2 x 3  1/2" for the center.

Cut 2 - 4  1/4 x 4  1/4" then cut in half diagonally twice to make eight quarter-square triangles.

The red fabric surrounds my center square.

Cut 1 - 4  1/4 x 4  1/4" then cut in half diagonally twice to make four quarter-square triangles.

The blue fabric surrounds the star.

Cut 4 - 3  1/2 x 3  1/2 squares.

Cut 1 - 4  1/4 x 4  1/4" then cut in half diagonally twice to make four quarter-square triangles.


To cut the squares into quarter-squares cut diagonally once from corner to corner ... without moving the fabric cut diagonally the other way. You'll end up with four pieces. The best tool for this? OLFA's Rotating Cutting Mat! You can't live without it ... and guess what? We have a bunch at the Cottage!


Lay out the block so it looks like this.


Sew the triangles first. To do this, sew two sets together first and then press toward the darker fabric. Next put the triangles together so the center seams nest and stitch that seam. You can press in either direction after that. I trimmed the dog ears.

Sew the blocks into rows paying attention to where the colors should be in the big scheme of things.

Press the top and bottom rows away from the center and the middle row toward the center.

Join the rows and then press the seams either way.

Another 9 1/2" x 9 1/2" block done! Cute, huh?


Block #13 makes a baker's dozen!

Split Nine Patch 

This block ... Split Nine-Patch ... allowed me to clean up the cutting table a bit. I searched out square pieces that were easy to cut to the right size. With only two half-square triangles to make, the block went together super fast!


When you pick fabrics for this block, all you need to remember is that the darks are on one side and the lights on the other. They don't have to match!

Cut 4 - 3  1/2 x 3  1/2" from four different dark fabrics.

Cut 3 - 3  1/2 x 3  1/2" from three different light fabrics.

Cut 1 - 3  7/8 x 3  7/8" squares from one light and one dark fabric. Cut in half diagonally to form two triangles of each color.

Lay the block out as shown in the photo.

Piece the triangles together and press toward the dark fabric.

Sew the units together into rows, then stitch the rows together.

Press the top and bottom rows in one direction and the middle row in the oppostie direction.

That's it! Not many more blocks left to do!