Finished: winter snowballs table mat

For those of you who survived the crowds of the start of this crazy holiday shopping weekend, you can be grateful that people like me know ourselves well enough to know that we don’t belong in public on days like this.

Seriously, it would not be good for anyone.

Instead, I am thrilled to show you a quick finish, a winter table mat that I made a few days ago for the secret Santa gift exchange my guild is having for this month’s meeting.

We each brought three fat quarters with a list of ideas of things we might like our Santa to make, as well as whatever we definitely wouldn’t want to have. My recipient didn’t want anything Christmas related, and her FQs were snowy and wintry.

She asked for either a table mat or two mug rugs, and I chose to make the table mat.

DSC_0047No surprise, I got my inspiration from a number of snowball quilts I’ve seen on blogs and on Pinterest. My Santa partner collects snowmen, and knowing my applique skills aren’t up to the task, a snowball quilt seemed to be the next best thing.


DSC_0049I went with the reverse snowball look and some straight-line quilting (my go-to these days) to make it look a little more modern.

Here’s a look at the back:

DSC_0051DSC_0052Don’t you just love the snowmen in the vintage truck? The top fabric has snowmen on it, too, I just couldn’t get a photo that would do it justice. Scrappy binding from leftover strips completed the look.

Want to make one of these for yourself? It’s easy, and you can customize it to any size mat you’d like. Here’s how:

For each snowball block, cut a 6 1/2-inch square of solid white (I used Kona solid white), then cut four squares of contrast fabric at 2 1/2 inches each. One at a time, line a small square on the corner of the white and stitch diagonally from one corner to the opposite corner on the short side. You can use the photo above for reference.

Repeat on the remaining three sides, then trim each corner 1/4-inch away from the stitching line on the outside edge of the block. Set your stitches and press the fabric away from the center.

The remaining blocks are just a basic nine-patch composed of 2 1/2-inch squares in random order. I stitched some strips together and then sub-cut to save time, but you can make it more random than that if you like.

Sew your blocks together into rows, alternating a snowball block with the background block. If you’re making a larger mat or lap quilt, you could stack three snowball blocks together to make snowmen.

After you’ve sewn the blocks into rows, sew your rows together, then baste, quilt and bind! It’s a great way to use leftover scraps and you can make one easily in a weekend.



My last two Supernova blocks

I’m pretty close to a number of finishes these days, one of which is the final two blocks for the Supernova Friendship Block Swap.

2014-11-02 18.27.01I hope you’ll pardon the photo quality – I grabbed these really quick with my cell phone so I’d remember what they looked like before sending them off to Stephanie. (Yes, I cheated and sent these to her before finishing my copies.)

I admitted to her recently that while I’m pleased with the results, and the blocks have gotten easier to make, I haven’t had a lot of fun on this project. Lots of frustration trying to feed the corner points into my machine, as well as some stupid directional mistakes that have had me ripping things out.

Then there was the time I cut the wrong side of the triangle on the outside block, rendering all four pieces useless. The saying should be updated to “Look twice, measure twice, then cut.”

Good thing I’m getting a great friend out of the deal!

Here’s my last block, which is probably my favorite of all the ones I’ve made.

2014-11-02 18.55.04I can’t wait to see what Stephanie comes up with and to put the pieces all together. I promise, I’ll have better photos of everything soon.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday … probably the best image in the post. :)


Designing a quilt with Excel, part II

At long last I have finally finished the quilt top I began months ago where I used Excel to help me determine the size and block layout. I can’t take credit for the original design; it’s called “Patio,” and it’s by Monica Solorio-Snow who blogs over at Happy Zombie.

Before I show you the top, I’d like to digress for just a minute about the pattern. I saw it on Pinterest and at the time, the pin did not have Monica’s name or blog on it. I tried to find the designer at the time, but couldn’t. (I’ve since updated the original post.)

I say this because I really do believe in giving credit where it’s due. I hope others will feel the same about my work. That’s why I don’t think it would be right for me to do a tutorial for this block/pattern.

However, I do think some designs are pretty easy to figure out from the photo, even more so if you have the size/dimensions of the finished quilt. I’m no math whiz, but I’ve sewn and quilted long enough to have a pretty good idea of block size, especially when it’s a simple block like this one.

So, does that make me unethical for not buying the pattern because I could easily do the math? I don’t think so, any more than I wouldn’t feel obligated to buy a patten that was a set of nine-patches or similar traditional block. If my final quilt doesn’t match the original version exactly, I’m OK with that. If I didn’t learn any tricks in cutting/piecing/etc., by not buying the pattern, I’m OK with that, too.

Enough of my soap box. On to the quilt!

DSC_0033It was incredibly sunny yesterday, so it was tough to get a decent photo. I decided the shade was going to do a lot better than the bright sunshine of high noon when I shot this. I even got on a ladder so I could get a better angle.

Here’s a close up: (the colors are much truer on this pic.)

DSC_0043I’m really thrilled with how this turned out; now I just have to decide on the quilting. Initially, I toyed with the idea of doing something fancy in the white areas, but I really love the simplicity of straight-line quilting, even if it takes forever. I’ll probably wind up doing either that or a simple meander. I really want to show off the beauty of the fabrics here.

Speaking of which, here’s what I think is my favorite fabric of all. It’s a Kaffe Fasset, called Peony, but after more than 10 years, I think it’ll be pretty difficult to find.

DSC_0042The gray flower has such a cool art deco/nouveau kind of feel to it, don’t you think? And I love the lavender shading in it.

What do you guys think? Are you willing to pay for a pattern that seems simple enough to determine from the photo? Do you think I should have bought Monica’s pattern? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.


Supernova Friendship Block Swap: the final question

supernovabuttonWe are finally at the last question for The Supernova Friendship Block Swap. Stephanie and I hope that all our participants have not only enjoyed making their quilts,  but have also made new quilting friends for life.

Friendship is definitely a blessing so this last question seems like an appropriate way to end our swap:

What are the unexpected blessings in your life? What are the things that maybe you at first thought were a terrible twist of fate, but then turned into a lovely gift?

For me, the twist on this question is thinking about the unexpected. Certainly, I have many things for which I am very grateful and blessed, but something bad that turned out not only well, but became a blessing? I’ll definitely have to give that some thought.

In the meantime, I’m working on my next tutorial — an easy lap-sized quilt that you can make in time for the holidays!



Finished: My 1956 slipstitch knitted shawl

When the poncho craze hit a number of years ago, like a lot of knitters, I hopped on the bandwagon and made a few, but I was never really happy with the triangular shape with the points hanging down the middle.

What I really wanted was a shawl/cape, but preferably one that was long enough to cover my bum, for warmth, as well as a little vanity. I also wanted it to work with some yarn I inherited that I knew wasn’t quite enough to make a complete sweater.

After doing some digging online a few years ago, I found this pattern from the Bernat Handicrafter Book No. 58, “Fast and Fun to Knit Bulkies,” from 1956.

1956 slipstitch capeIsn’t it just darling? It’s also quick, due to the  large gauge (9 stitches = 2 inches), and the pattern is a basic slip stitch that couldn’t be easier.

Since I had enough yarn, I decided to go for one color, rather than the two tone version:

DSC_0017DSC_0018 DSC_0019 DSC_0021I made the buttonholes a stitch smaller than the pattern suggested, since I knew they’d stretch a bit. I also didn’t face the front edges with ribbon as the pattern said to do since it didn’t seem necessary.

Now that I have my stylish new cape, I am ready for fall, my favorite season!



Supernova Friendship Block Swap: Question 4

The other day Stephanie and I were on the phone chatting when we realized that we’d both whizzed by the August deadline and getting question number four to you for our Supernova Friendship Block Swap.

We both hope this is better late than never. Here goes:

Forgiveness is an integral part of any healthy relationship. What does forgives mean to you? Share with your partner an example of a time you had to forgive someone — or someone had to forgive you — and how it strengthened the relationship.

Seems kind of an appropriate question about now, doesn’t it?

Since I had a bit of free time this weekend, I decided to take the fabrics I was going to use as a redo of block number one and use them for number three instead. I’ll go with my original idea for the first block, since if I don’t like it with the rest of the blocks once I have them, I can always throw it on the back.

DSC_0022Gotta say, I love how using a pale color around the center square creates a kind of halo effect from a distance. Here’s a closeup:

DSC_0023I’m just about done with the redo of block one, and putting what I have so far on the design wall, it’s pretty exciting. I’d show you now, but a cranberry red room with pale gold curtains does not for a good photo make. One of these days I’ll get around to painting it.



Shhh … It’s a secret

Amy over at 13 Spools recently confessed some of her dirty little quilty secrets and asked her readers to do the same. Here are 10 of mine:

image1. Sometimes I press, sometimes I iron. Most times it’s a combo deal of the two.

2. I don’t like my machine anymore, but I’m too cheap to buy a new one. At least for now.

3. I absolutely detest and despise basting, almost enough to stop me from quilting entirely. If I had the money, I’d send my quilts to a longarmer just so I wouldn’t have to baste them.

4. I love coming up with ideas/patterns for my stash, but I change my mind a million times before they ever get made. Sometimes the perfect idea doesn’t stay so perfect.

5. I’m not a big fan of the crinkled look on washed quilts so I don’t usually wash mine until they get really dirty. I don’t pre-wash my fabrics either.

6. I don’t love every quilt I’ve ever made. Quite a few have just been learning experiences.

7. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to consistently sew a perfect scant 1/4 seam, but it hasn’t stopped me or anyone else from enjoying my quilts.

8. I am so grateful to the bloggers who post tutorials and process posts. I have learned so much from them, and I hope to repay the favor through this blog.

9. I don’t like fat quarters and prefer to buy half yards so I can have the full width of the fabric.

10. Since I’m too cheap to get rid of the traditional fabrics in my stash, I like using them in modern ways. If that makes the quilts not truly modern, I don’t care.

What about you? What are some of your quilty secrets?


The one where I redo Supernova block #1

I shared with you in my last post how I really wasn’t crazy about the first block I made for the Supernova Friendship Block Swap Stephanie and I are hosting. it was OK, I just knew I could do better.

Mine’s the one on the right. I’m using this photo that Stephanie took since I didn’t even bother get a photo of it before I sent it in the mail!

Thankfully, she likes it just fine, and I think it works with her cooler color palette. We’re using Splendor 1920 by Bari J along with pieces from our stash.

I’m just being a picky perfectionist, and I’m glad to have her blessing on the redo.

DSC_0016I didn’t veer too far from the original, I just switched one palette for another. The geometric print will still be on the outside, and the yellow will be next to it. The centers will have the birds and feathers, and the green will be in the very middle.

I just need two more fabrics and I can start sewing. Wish me luck!

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.



Finished: Supernova block #2 and my cotton infinity scarf

I have two finishes to share with you today, my second Supernova block and the cotton infinity scarf from last week. Let’s start with the block:

DSC_0011I decided to go a little bolder this time; I also didn’t use Lee’s directions for choosing fabrics but just picked them as I sewed. I’m much happier with the result than with my first block. In fact, since I hadn’t made a duplicate of that block before I sent the first one off to Stephanie, with her blessing I’m going to redo the first one for my quilt.

What’s really cool about the block above is how when you look at it from a distance, the pale yellow fabric creates a kind of halo around the darker colors. I got the idea from some the photos on our Supernova Flickr page.

So, are you ready for the question for August? This time, Stephanie did the honors, and it’s all about making memories:

During this last month of the summer, your assignment is to sit back and think for a minute. Think about your childhood summers …

Our memories make us who we are. They provide us with a sense of self. This month, Stephanie and I invite you to write about your best childhood memories and share them with your partner in the Supernova Friendship Block Swap. You can share one, you can share five — whatever you’re inspired to do.

When you share a memory with a trusted friend, it’s like giving a little gift, a small piece of yourself. These are the gifts that truly allow friendships to deepen and flourish.

I hope you’re enjoying the beautiful blocks and the friendship you’re developing with your partner. Don’t forget to post photos on our Flickr page. Even if you’re not participating in the swap, there’s some wonderful quilty eye-candy to enjoy!

For the scarf, I powered through the rest of the weird shiny polyester string-type yarn I had so I could finish. Let me just say I was glad it was long enough by the time I decided I couldn’t take any more of the yarn’s splitting and slipping. I didn’t even finish the entire skein. I. was. done.

DSC_0013On the far left is the Rowan cotton that I began the project with (and that makes up the back side), followed by another Rowan cotton in a slightly lighter weight. Next is the bouclé, and last is the string stuff.

One of the other things I didn’t like about the string stuff was that it showed even the slightest problem in tension. Since cotton doesn’t have the same stretch and bounce that wool does, which is what I typically knit with, this meant there were more issues than I would have liked.

Still, when it’s double-wrapped around my neck, no one will notice.

DSC_0014I mentioned last time that I didn’t anticipate the edges curling knitting stockinette stitch in cotton, but it turned into a happy mistake and make it much easier to hide the ends that I wove in.

I love it when that happens!




WIP Wednesday: cotton infinity scarf

Do you ever have a project that starts out as one thing but ends up as another? That’s what’s happened with my latest knitting project.

DSC_0003I have a bunch of white cotton in my stash, of varying types, and I thought a good way to use it up and do some mindless knitting would be to make a hand towel.

What I didn’t bank on, since I had no idea how much yardage this would take, would be that I would run out of the particular kind I was using (Rowan) just before the finish.

I also stupidly did not believe all the knitters who said stockinette stitch would curl on the edges. I knew it did with wool, I just thought it wouldn’t with something that didn’t have any stretch. Oh, silly me.

After sharing my Pinterest board with a new knitting friend, Kim, at work that had both of us drooling over an infinity scarf on Etsy, I thought to myself, “Why not make an infinity scarf out of the cotton?” It’s always freezing in my office, even during the summer, so I could use it to warm up and not look like an idiot for running my space heater in July.

Yes, I have run the space heater during summer. More times than I care to admit …

DSC_0002I threw in a few rows of garter between the varying skeins, whenever I felt like it. I really enjoy knitting scarves for that reason; you can make up your own pattern on the spot.

The second skein was similar to the first, just a lighter weight. (Unfortunately, not all the skeins in my stash have tags, since many were inherited from my mom.)

Then I moved to a kind of bouclé:

DSC_0004Now I’m using some sort of polyester shiny, silky-like string stuff, only it’s not quite as soft as the real thing:

DSC_0008Best of all is now the curling on the ends will work to my advantage by hiding the back side of the scarf, saving me from making a tube in the round.

DSC_0007I’m about two-thirds of the way done on this, so I probably won’t get to wear it much this year, even though we have warm weather well into October. In any event, I’ll definitely be ready for next year.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.