Quiltmaker 100 Blocks

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks
My block is in the November 2015 issue!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Opposites Attract Blog Hop - Black and White Blocks

Hi everyone and welcome to Day One of the Opposites Attract Blog Hop!  

Do you have a quilting 'bucket list'? In other words, a list of quilts or quilting projects that you would like to make? I don't have a written list, but I do have a mental one. I basically have three requirements for a bucket list quilt - I want to learn the technique, I really like the way a certain pattern looks, or I want to try different color combinations.  I'm not sure that a certain color combination is a technique, and it certainly isn't a pattern, but it is something that I want explore, so I added it as a requirement. 

One color combination that I have been wanting to try is black and white. So when I first heard the title of this blog hop, I immediately knew what I wanted to do for it. Black and white! What is more opposite than black and white?

Two color quilts aren't new. A few years ago, there was a quilt exhibit in New York City of a collection of quilts from a woman who collected only red and white quilts. There were 650 quilts in the exhibition, and the collection included quilts from three centuries! It's hard to believe that there are so many red and white quilts! Take a look at this link:
Red and White

I was thinking about doing something similar for black and white quilts. Except that my collection will have to be a virtual collection, since I have neither the resources to purchase a bunch of quilts nor the space to store them! So for the time being, my collection is on Pinterest. I started a board to keep pictures and links for black and white quilts separate from my other all-purpose "Things I want to Make" and "Quilts" pages. Here is a link, if you are interested in seeing it: Black and White Quilt Pinterest Board

In the course of playing around with black and white fabrics for this blog hop, I've discovered that making black and white quilt blocks isn't as easy as you would think. For one thing, there are many different definitions of 'white'! Who knew? For example, milk is white, right?  But take a look at whole milk next to skim milk.  Whole milk is a creamier white, while skim has a grey or blue cast to it. But they are both 'white'. So you need to take a look at the undertone of the white fabrics that you want to use, especially if you are going to go scrappy. I found out from the owner of the local quilt store near me that 'white-white' is called 'optic-white'.  Be aware that, if you are going to use a lot of optic white in a quilt, any other whites in that quilt may end up looking gray or dingy.  

Similarly, there are variations in black fabrics.  A black fabric may look 'blacker' if there is less of a print and more solid black.  For instance in the picture with all the blocks below, the whirligig (my term, not sure what it is actually called!) in the block in the upper left hand corner really stands out.  In the closeup of that block, on the right, you can see that the whirligig black is almost solid, with only a few speckles of white.  The other black in that block has more of a white print, so it doesn't stand out as much.  

12 Black and White blocks
Whirligig Block

The two blocks below both use two white on black prints that are very similar in saturation.  I thought that the difference would be enough to make the pattern really stand out, but it didn't work.  When looking at them close up, the difference is obvious but from a distance, they mush together and blend in.  

Blacks blend together from a distance
Another example of blended blacks

You can use the differences in blacks and whites to your advantage, to help achieve dimension and definition.  If you want the blacks to blend together more, use one with more of a print and less solid.  Conversely, if you use a white with a black print, it can also help to either define that section of the block or help it to blend in.

The three blocks pictured below are a much better example of what I was hoping to achieve.  They show more of the definition that can be created by using fabrics with different amounts of black or white print to really make the design elements pop. 


I'm including the one below, not just because it is a great example of definition, but because I love it! I did some fussy cutting to achieve the center medallion look. Fussy Cutting is a technique I want to explore. Hmmm, another one for the bucket list?

My favorite black and white block so far!

Now, for the giveaway!  The friendly folks at The Fat Quarter Shop have generously donated a $25 gift certificate to be given away each day of the hop. To enter to win today's giveaway, use the Rafflecopter link below.  Good luck to everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 25, 2016

Deadlines and Dilemmas

In the last year, my extended family has grown rather quickly.  Three of our nieces and nephews have either started a family or added to their families. Which has created a bit of a dilemma for me.  I started a tradition with the first great nephew.  Being a quilter, I made him a quilt, of course. So 'of course', I 'have' to make his sister a quilt, right?  But  how can I make quilts for the two of them without making quilts for other nieces and nephews' babies?  That makes it sound like an obligation, but it is only a self-imposed obligation.  None of them expected me to make them a quilt, but I opened my mouth and told them I would. 
Not that that is a bad thing. Quilting (especially the piecing part) is one of my favorite things to do. It's just that all of a sudden, I have three baby quilts in process.  One of them is partially quilted, one is a top, and one is still being pieced.  I don't know about you, but sometimes, time gets away from me. I think that I am making good progress on something only because I am not looking at the calendar.  So I was procrastinating a bit, because I figured that I had lots of time.  Then yesterday we received an invitation for the baptism of the youngest nephew.

Oops, it is less than a month away!  A month where I will be traveling with my husband for the two weekends before the baptism, and babysitting my grandson another weekend.  Yikes!  All of a sudden, I am waaaaaaaaay behind! Because the logical thing to do is to give the baby his quilt as a baptismal gift, right?   But he is the youngest and his two cousins don't have their quilts yet. So how can I give him his quilt and not give the older ones theirs?  Especially since they will all be at the baptism.....

So I'm making this a short post, because I need to get those quilts done!

Oh, just a quick note - I will be participating in a new blog hop, starting in June. See the logo at the top right - it is going to be fun!



Monday, April 11, 2016

Online projects and losing things again.

I really wish that I had more space in this house, but since I don't, I use my dining room as the sewing room.  So, as I've mentioned before, every holiday and special occasion, the sewing room has to be converted back into the dining room so that we have a place for everyone to eat together around the table. Yeah, we could use tray tables in front of the TV, but doggone it, I have standards!  At least for holidays.  ;-> 

I usually have several projects on the go at the same time in said dining/sewing room.  So when I get bored (or frustrated) with one, I can pick up another one. And I almost always have a "thread-bunny" (a.k.a. Leader/Ender) project in the works.  And, of course, there are usually pieces/parts of various miscellaneous "stuff" spread around the room.  I call them "stuff" because they aren't really projects, but they might eventually turn into projects.  The "stuff" could be an interesting block that I saw and tried out, or perhaps a piece of a new novelty fabric that I am trying to figure out what to do with, or the latest quilt magazine that I haven't read yet.... You get the idea.  Stuff just accumulates.  

But it all has to be moved for when we use the dining room for its intended purpose.  Since Easter was a couple of weeks ago, I did the usual "pack-it-up-and-move-it" to someplace out of the way, but logical.  That's so I would remember where everything was when I needed to move it back.  Yeah, right. <SIGH>. I really tried hard this time!  But somehow, I still managed to lose a project.  

I've been working on at least 3 online projects, two baby quilts and the monthly $5 Quilt block from a local quilt store (The Quilt Company, in Allison Park, PA).  The online projects were fairly easy to find, since I had stored them together in a portable stack-able bin set (like theseand put them together. Yay, me!  So I found my 365 Block Challenge project, the Splendid Sampler blocks and the blocks from the Aurifil Designer of the Month.  I even found the $5 Monthly blocks from The Quilt Company. Which is good, because if you don't complete the monthly block, it costs you $5 for the next one!  If you do complete it and bring it in to show, the next one is free.  I like free ;->

The baby quilts were easy to find.  They are assembled, and just need to be quilted. So I just moved them to the living room and draped them over the back of the couch.  Voila, instant decor change! 

What I can't find (yet) is my Leader/Ender project.  And that is very frustrating, since I hate stopping and starting.  I try to chain piece whenever possible, and then I throw a Leader/Ender block through whenever I need to change from one type of block to the next.  I know that I will find it eventually, but ya know, it's just not worth all the time that I am wasting while searching for it.  I'd rather be sewing, and I know that it will turn up eventually.  And there is no rush, since there isn't a deadline for finishing it.  

I'll probably just end up cutting up scraps for another Leader/Ender.
In fact, the WPA Quilt-Along block just came out this week, so I think I cut up some scraps and use it as my new L/E.   Just what I need - another project! But projects are like potato chips - you can't have just one!

Here are the links for the online projects I mentioned above, in case you are interested in seeing what they are all about:

365 Block Challenge - one unique block a day, all year, and you end up making a 90 inch square quilt. hint - If you liked Dear Jane, you will love this!  It started on January 1st, but the designer is planning to repeat it next year.  So you can start now and pick up the blocks that you've missed next year.  She starts with simple blocks, and works up to more complicated ones so that even beginners can make this beautiful quilt. One thing to be aware of - the website is from Australia, so for those of us in the Western Hemisphere, the blocks are always dated with tomorrow's date. It's a little disconcerting until you get used to it. 

The Splendid Sampler - This is a project organized by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson.  There are 2 6-inch blocks released each week, one on Sunday and one on Thursday.  Each block is by a different designer, and there is a mix of techniques involved.   There are also bonus blocks and projects and tutorials on the different techniques on the website.  The layout for the finished quilt hasn't been revealed yet.  All the blocks that have been released are still available. http://www.thesplendidsampler.com/

Aurifil Designer of the Month - this is another one that Pat Sloan is involved with.  Each month, there is a 12 inch block released mid-month. Make the block, post a picture of it on the site before the next block is posted, and you are entered to win a box of Aurifil thread.  Each box has 12 spools! 

WPA Quilt-Along - This is mostly local group in the Western Pennsylvania area, but there are some online only members.  A quilt block is released in April, and the idea is that if you make one block a day, by the beginning of August, you will have enough blocks to make a queen size quilt.  There is no pattern, just a concept.  So you can make your blocks in any size, any fabric, lay them out in any orientation, add blocks, modify the block, etc.  We have a picnic at the beginning of August at a local park to show off what we've accomplished.  The admission to the picnic is 'at least one completed block', so no pressure! The variety of projects is always amazing!  If you want to check it out, it is a Yahoo! Group. Go to  Yahoo, click on Groups and search for wpaquiltalong.  It is a closed group, so you need to ask the moderator for admittance. You can tell her that I sent you ;->

Oh, and the stackable bins - I have no affiliation with the company, I just love those bins.  They are the perfect size to keep the pattern, fabrics and completed blocks together.  I think I have about 20 of them.  But that's another post...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Vinnie Loves Maude

A couple months ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a pattern testing group for a quilting acquaintance of mine, Beth Helfter.  We've actually never met, but I feel like I know her.  She was a member of the Quiltmaker Magazine's Scrap Squad the year before I was a Scrap Addict for that same magazine. And I participated in her pattern testing group last year, as well, so we've had some interactions.  I admire her slightly-off-the-wall humor, and I appreciate her relaxed attitude toward quilting. "Perfection is overrated" is a oft-repeated mantra in her blog, Quilting Hottie Haven. 

This year, the project was a scrappy one - right up my alley!  We were instructed to use scraps of "modern" print fabrics  and "low-volume" backgrounds.  Modern was defined as "if you've bought fabric at a quilt store in the last 4 years that isn't a 30's or Civil War reproduction, a novelty or tapestry-like border print, it's probably fine".  LOL! check, got it.  

But what the heck is "low-volume", I wondered?  Beth said that she meant "modern-feeling prints or tone on tones on white, off white, grey, or light pastel background."  I admit that this was the hardest part of the project for me. What is modern-feeling?  I didn't have a lot of grey, which has really been in vogue for the last year or so (and thus is modern, right?) A lot of the pastels that I have are reproductions, which she didn't want for the 'modern' prints, so I was guessing that they would also be off limit for the backgrounds!    

Off to the quilt store I went, so I could discuss the topic with the owner and the staff.  I came away with a better feeling of what I needed.  And, of course, some low volume background scraps. ;->

One of the cool, little known features of the quilt store I frequent is the scrap bin.  The bin contains cast-offs and small cuts, left overs from the owner's projects, etc.  And it also contains a box of gallon sized plastic zipper bags.  You can stuff the bag as full as you want (as long as you can still 'zip' it!) for a given price.  I think the current going rate is about $10.  If you are good at it (which I am, of course), you can get a couple of pounds of scraps in the bag, which is about 3 yards of fabric.  

As usual, Beth's blocks challenged me to go outside my comfort zone.  That's one of the cool things about doing pattern testing - you can really learn some things that you would have never tried.  In this case, Beth had us using the stitch and flip method of making corners with one inch blocks.  Yep, you read that right, ONE INCH!  The good part about that is that I didn't need to mark the stitching line before sewing them.  The stitching line was so short that it was easy to stay where I needed to be. The bad part is that I kept losing those tiny blocks!  I was finding little one inch background blocks everywhere around the house for weeks afterwards. Which reminds me - don't wear flannel or fleece while you are sewing.  You become a walking design wall with little pieces stuck everywhere....just saying.

Beth got a lot of mixed feedback about the sizes of the pieces - some people loved them, some hated them.  So in her final pattern, she gives directions for both a 10 inch block (using the 1 inch squares) and a 20 inch block, which uses 2 inch squares.  Either way, I think you will love the pattern!  

Here are my tester blocks, one before it was sewn together, and the other is of four blocks set 2x2. I like the setting, but Beth came up with a really unique one that you'll love!

You can see pictures of it on her blog.  And as a bonus, for today only (March 25th) it is available on Craftsy for only $5! Here is a link, check it out!



Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Welcome, everyone, to my day on the Quilt Qwazy Queens blog hop!

We were asked to write about why we are crazy about quilting, our first quilt project, and things like that.  So (deep breath) here goes!

I only started quilting 'for real' about 15 years ago, though my interest in creative pursuits goes back much further than that. 
Remember these?

I was always interested in working with my hands and making "stuff".  I remember making pot holders on a toy loom when I was 5 or 6.  I really loved making them!  

Like many people of my generation, I learned to sew in Home Ec in high school. During that time, I saw articles in magazines like Family Circle and Women's Day with quilt patterns and was intrigued enough to cut them out and save them. I had a vague idea that "someday", I'd like to make a quilt. So I kept cutting out patterns and I filed them in a file box along with my other "someday" projects.  I had a folder for quilts, one for knitting, one for crochet, one for counted cross-stitch, etc. etc.  While I was thinking about those folders for this post, I went looking for them.  And I actually found them!  Yay!  OK, I freely admit to being a pack rat. But at least, I'm an ORGANIZED pack rat. ;->
You can tell these clippings are from the 70s - look at those colors!
My first attempt at actually making a quilt was when I decided that I needed a bedspread for my dorm room my freshman year in college.  So over Christmas break, I bought some red, yellow and blue cotton prints and dove right in, without a pattern or anything.  How hard could it be, right?  The result was an eye-assaulting nine patch sashed with a navy blue polyester-cotton blend with many unmatched corners and puckered seams.  It was what I would now call gawd-awful, but it kept me warm for the four years of college.  And it was used as a picnic quilt and a beach quilt and a swimming pool quilt for many years after that until it finally fell apart.  

After graduation, I got my first job and got married. I did some counted cross-stitch, knitting and crochet while watching TV in the evenings with my hubby. But after the kids came along, I was just too busy with my family, working full-time, being a Girl Scout leader, choir member, Mom's Taxi, etc. to do much of anything craftsy.  I still ripped out and filed interesting patterns from magazines figuring that my "someday" was going to happen someday :->.  

Then, about 15 years ago, I discovered the world of quilting on the internet!  I live in a part of the country where there weren't any quilting shows on TV, so I had never heard of shows like Eleanor Burns' "Quilt in a Day" or "Simply Quilts" on Home and Garden TV.  But I came across their websites and found out that some of the patterns from the shows were available online! My world changed forever at that point! I also stumbled up a Yahoo Group dedicated to swapping quilt blocks, and another one for making mystery quilts.  By then, the kids were old enough that I had some time to myself.  My "someday' had come, and I dove right in to my quilting adventure!  

Here is a picture of a corner of my first "real" attempt at quilting - with a pattern and everything!  You may not be able to tell from this picture, but the points are awful, lines don't match up, and the binding is simply the backing wrapped around to the front.  But boy, was I proud of those matching diagonals on the upside down maroon calico heart!  And see that red bandana heart?  It was made from a piece of the red fabric left over from my college bed spread!

Since that heart quilt, I have lost count of the number of quilts and quilting projects that I've made.  Table runners, purses, baby quilts, lap quilts, quilts for charity, quilts for grandkids and for great nieces and nephews... I am always in need of inspiration!  So I still collect interesting patterns that I may need "someday". There is a wealth of free patterns on the web and it isn't hard to find them!  Try typing "free quilt patterns" into your search engine and see how many hits come up!  I collect many free Block of the Month patterns but I now save a lot of them electronically.  (Speaking of free BOTM patterns, Marian at Seams to be Sew has a tab on her blog with links to TONS of 2016 BOTMs! Check them out when you visit to enter to win prizes for the Qwilt Qwazy Queens Blog hop!)  OK, where was I?  Oh, yeah - electronic patterns! Fortunately, it takes a lot less space to save patterns when they are electronic. If I kept paper printouts of all the electronic patterns that I have, there wouldn't be room in the house for anything but file cabinets!  OK, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but here is a screen shot of the files on one of my flash drives.  

My current filing system for quilt patterns
Each line is an electronic folder. Some of the folders have only one pattern in them, but others have many, many more than that.  For example, the Block of the Month folder has about 60 quilt patterns in it. The "Quilt Patterns" folder has about 3 times that many.  It's an obsession.  Or maybe an addiction.  Do they have 12 step programs for quilters? ("Hi, I'm Barb and I'm a quilt addict") ;->

So the reason that I can call myself a quilt qwazy queen is that I am crazy about saving quilt patterns.  I know that there is no way that I could possibly make all of the projects in my lifetime, but I still save them. I think that fits the definition of crazy, right?  

Make sure to visit the rest of the Qwilt Qwazy Queens on the Blog Tour the rest of this week, and leave comments on each blog to be entered for great giveaways! The schedule for the rest of the week is listed below.  

If you comment on my blog today (before 6 a.m. EDST on March 23nd), you'll be entered to win a Quilter Dream Batting - Dream Pink! I will be using Mr. Random Number generator to pick a winner.  Please include your email address in your comment so that I can contact the winner to get a shipping address. You can use words in place of the '@' and the '.'  in order to hide from potential spammers.  (For example, yournameatgmaildotcom)

As a special gift to the blog hoppers this week, one of the sponsors is offering a 10% discount on any order (except gift certificates)  To redeem the offer, go to the Fat Quarter Shop (http://www.fatquartershop.com/) and use the code seamstobe316

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Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Excavating, Sewing and Time Portals

A friend of mine posted on Facebook about an unfinished quilt that she found while 'excavating' her sewing room.  I loved her choice of words and can really relate to the concept.  It especially hit home because we recently had my grandson's first birthday party at our house. I'm sure you are all cocking your heads to one side and saying "huh? what's the connection?"   

Well, a little history will make things a little clearer.  I have three kids, two daughters and a son.  The girls shared the 'big bedroom' growing up, while our son had the 'little bedroom'. Because of they way their birthdays fall, they are all 4 school year's apart in age.   So our oldest daughter graduated from college the same year that daughter #2 graduated high school and our son graduated from 8th grade.  We had a heck of a graduation party that year ;->  Anyway, back to explaining the connection between excavating and birthday parties...

Daughter #1 went straight from college to graduate school in another state and Daughter #2 started college the same month.  All of a sudden, we went from two girls in the big bedroom to no girls in the big bedroom! AN EMPTY ROOM!!! Woohoo!  It immediately became my sewing room. I LOVED it!  Lots of light, lots of room; I was in heaven! 

When Daughter #2 finished her undergraduate degree, she moved home.  And stayed while she went to graduate school. And while she was job hunting.  And after she got a job because the job doesn't pay well enough for her to afford an apartment.  Talk about mixed emotions!  I love having her here. We have really interesting conversations, she helps out around the house, and she house-sits whenever my husband and I travel for his job. But that means that I no longer have a sewing room. <Sigh>  

If you're counting kids and years, you're saying "wait, didn't your son leave for college when your daughter moved home?"  Yes, but. The 'little bedroom' is aptly named. It is so small that the bed, dresser and chest of drawers take up just about all the floor space, and there is no room for anything else.  The big bedroom has lots of floor space, even with the normal bedroom furniture.

The only other room in the house that is 'available' is the dining room.  We usually eat at the breakfast nook, so the dining room is not in use as a dining room very often. So I adopted it as my sewing room.  But on family occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas (and grandson's first birthday.... see where I am going here?) my sewing room has to transform back to the dining room.  So all the projects-in-process and the ironing board and my sewing machine and the magazines and books and the rulers and notions and doo-dads had to find a new, albeit temporary, home.  Mostly that means in boxes and bags in the basement, but I've been know to squirrel things away in closets and under beds, etc.  Which means that every holiday, I lose at least one project.  

After the birthday party (which was a lot of fun!)  I started to move everything back to the sewing/dining room so I could get back to working on my most recent project.  Darn, where did I put it?  I know that it was in a PERFECTLY LOGICAL place  ;>  So there I was 'excavating'  the basement, and I found the project I lost after Christmas LAST year.  Yay!  But, I still want to work on that quilt I put away (somewhere.....) while I was moving for the birthday party.

I've come to the conclusion that there is a wandering time portal in my house. How else can you explain the solo socks?  Two go in, one comes out.  And the mate only shows up months later.  Or how about that extra canned goods that I bought?  I know I bought them, I know I put them in the right place on the shelf.  But when I try to find them - gone!  But when I'm not looking for them - they are right on the shelf where they belong.  The time portal obviously moves things around in time.  I can't swear to it, but I suspect that some of the towels in my closet belong to the future inhabitants of my house. I don't recall buying them, so that is the only explanation - right? ;->  So my formerly 'current' quilt project became a victim of the time portal. I just hope that it pops up before we decide to move!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Free Online Projects

Is anyone else doing any quilt-a-longs or Block of the Month quilts?  Not the ones where you have to pay for the pattern and/or the fabric, but the free ones that you can find online? 

I collect the patterns for free online Block of the Month quilts.  I've collected A LOT of them.  The earliest ones I have are from 2007 - almost 10 years ago! That is when I started quilting in earnest, and I had all good intentions to make each one of them...someday. 

I checked the flash drive where I store the BOM patterns.  Good grief, I have the patterns for over 60 BOMs!  I didn't manage to collect all the blocks for all of them, so I think that I will delete the incomplete ones.  That will probably still leave me with 45-ish BOM collections.  Am I really going to make all of them? No, I just can't imagine that I will.  Will I still collect them?  LOL, yeah, probably!  

Anyway, I plan to blog about my progress on the three projects that I have decided to do this year - The 365 Block Challenge, The Spendid Sampler and the Aurifil Designer Block of the Month.  Tomorrow I will post a description and links to each of these projects.

I may post once a day or once a week, but I hope you will join me on my journey this year!  We can share our progress (or lack thereof ;>) frustrations, successes, etc.  See you soon!