Friday, October 24, 2014

another divided basket

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to take a class from the ever-so-lovely Anna of Noodlehead. She taught her divided basket class at the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild. It was wonderful to have a full day dedicated to sewing with few other distractions. You know it's bad when you have to take a class so you have time to sew! (hahaha!)
The divided basket is a fun pattern to sew up! I actually took my time for once, making deliberate decisions every step of the way--rather than trying to speed my way through things and try to make 100 of them. It was a nice change of pace! I also liked having sewing time with fabric choices were better because I had their input. It was a fun, fun day and I have an awesome divided basket to show for it. I'm already using it for scrap storage, which, I am sure, comes as no surprise!
I had a few other finishes this week, but they are gifts that I will be hand delivering when I am at quilt market in Houston (!!!) so I will have to wait to share them next week.
Now, it's your turn! Please link up your finishes. Thanks, as always, for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Monday, October 20, 2014

sew together bag (with modifications)

I made yet another sew together bag! (This is my 5th one in less than a year.) It was a gift for my friend Brianne, who had a birthday last week. When I took the photos I had to laugh, because it looks like they were taken in black and white, but don't be fooled, they ARE in full color. That girl loves some gray! :)
I used my friend Steffani's zipper end modifications, which I explain in more detail below. The tab ends makes the assembly a little bit easier...which is welcome! 4 zippers in one pouch is nothing to shake a stick at. This is the first sew together bag that I've made where I didn't break or bend a needle. Practice makes better!
I had fun picking out the fabrics...mixing and matching ones that I knew she would like. I love the little bits of aqua in the pockets--it adds a nice contrast.
This is scrap project # 91/101! Only 10 more to go!

Now, for the I said earlier, I learned these from my friend Steffani and are
used here with permission. (Thanks Steffani!)
For each 9" zipper cut a piece of fabric 1 3/4" x 3". (left)
Fold in half lengthwise, then in half again toward the center. (center)
Fold in half again, so the raw edges are hidden inside. Press well. (right)
Take each strip of fabric and cut in half as shown. (bottom)

Cut each 9"zipper down to 8 3/4". Be SO careful after you shorten the zipper. Do not slide the zipper off the end!!! (It's a painful lesson...)
Sew the tab end on as shown.
Do the same thing for the other end of the zipper.
Trim tabs equal to the width of the zipper. Insert zippers according to the pattern directions.
I hope that helps and makes sense! If you have any questions, I will try to answer them in the comments.
Oh, and THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your kind comments on my latest quilt. I read and appreciate each and every one! You guys are the best! :)
Happy Monday to you!

Friday, October 17, 2014

"you can't rush art" quilt finished!

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

I finished my quilt! This one took me on quite a journey. It feels so personal and like such a milestone for reasons I can't express. I will say, however, that I am absolutely pleased with how it turned out. I think the amount of photos to follow prove that. :)



The top is made up of 100% scraps. Mainly Kona cottons, but several other brands make an appearance including a few shot cottons and a few Oakshott scraps.
Spiral quilting was done in a light gray Aurifil thread (color 2600).
Binding is Kona Pepper.
Finished size approximately 70" x 90".
Heavily inspired by Gee's Bend quilts. (Obviously, right?)

This is scrap project #90/101!

Now it's your turn! Please link up your finishes for the week. Thank you for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Machine Quitling 101: batting

It's high time I get back to my machine quilting 101 series and finish it up! I have a few more topics to cover. Today's topic is batting. I've been putting off writing this post for a L O N G time, because it's so much to cover, but I'm going to give it a shot. Here goes!
First off, when selecting a batting, read the labels! There is so much information on the label: fiber content, maximum stitch distance, care/washing directions, loft, shrinkage, whether it is ideal for machine or hand quilting, etc. These are all things to consider when choosing a batting.
When I first started quilting, I used polyester batting. Those quilts are still around and they have held up surprisingly well over the years. In fact, these are used every day (I actually snatched these off of beds for the photo) and they are some of my family's favorites! Eventually I switched to Warm & Natural/Warm & White. After about 200 quilts, I got kind of sick of using the same type of batting all the time. (Can you imagine?) One of the main reasons I wanted a change was because the fold lines in my quilts were so pronounced. I experimented with many different batting options. Do you know what? I think I'm back to where I started. Figures!

After my Warm & White phase, I purchased a bolt of Nature's Touch by Pellon. It is 100% cotton batting and it's fairly dense. It is even heavier than Warm & White-which I think is pretty heavy-and it tends to shrink a bit more than most battings that I've used. (The package says 3-5% shrinkage is expected.) This isn't really a problem, as long as you plan ahead. If you are making a quilt that needs to fit a bed, make the quilt a few inches larger to compensate for shrinkage, because it's better to be safe than sorry! This is a good all purpose batting and it is definitely my go-to batting when I do spiral quilting. I've had great success with it, even on a king size quilt, so I'm sticking with it.

Price point and availability: I bought a roll of it which was 25 yards (that's a bit of a commitment) when it was on sale at JoAnn's, so it ended up being about $5/yard (a few years ago). It also comes pre-packaged which avoids the cutting line and it is a bit cheaper than buying it by the yard. I think the sales on the pre-packaged BOLTS are worth taking advantage of.

Most recently I bought a (25 yard) roll of Soft n Crafty batting by Fairfield at JoAnn's. It is considerably lighter weight than both Warm & White and Nature's Touch. Soft n Crafty is easy to work with and has a nice crinkle effect after washing. I used it in the quilt shown above, and loved the results, especially for a baby quilt. It is also 100% cotton. The shrinkage is less than 3%. I think it is a good and economical option for making charity or "everyday" quilts. Since it is on the lighter side, it is a great option for spring and summer quilts.

Price point and availability: I bought this on a super sale last January at JoAnn's and it ended up being about $4/yard for 90" wide batting. You really can't beat that price!

Quilter's Dream batting is wonderful! It is very high quality and I've only seen it sold in quilt shops. (It is available on line, as well.) There are many options of quilter's dream batting, but I like the request weight 100% cotton batting. It is thin and warm without being heavy. It quilts up beautifully. I have only worked with it a little bit, but when I did, I was impressed. Shrinkage is minimal. I think this type will be my next bolt purchase. (What can I say, I like to have lots of batting on hand!)

Price point and availability: It's a bit more expensive than some batting, but the quality can't be ignored. Again, I've only seen it in quilt shops. It comes in white and cream, but my LQS only carries the cream. I wish I could get it in bright white locally.

Hobbs 80/20 is another batting that I've used off and on. It has a bit of a loft to it, so I've had some troubles with it shifting when trying to straight line quilt, but I've also had some success. I used a bit of each in this quilt and I love the texture! The stitching is more defined because of the loft and it quilts up beautifully. It washes and dries a bit flatter than you might expect, but in a good way. It's on the lighter side, so perfect for spring/summer quilts. I am extra careful when I baste, because this batting shifts a bit more than 100% cotton battings that I've used. It may be prone to puckering on the back just a bit more for that reason, but the puckers can be avoided by quilting carefully and keeping an eye on the back as you quilt. Shrinkage is estimated between 3-5%.

Price point and availability: I've purchased this type of batting at quilt shops and at JoAnn's. There IS a difference in quality between the two. The product I've bought in quilt shops was of better quality that the product purchased at JoAnn's. (I have no idea how that works and I don't claim to.) But, I have personal experience of getting a noticeably better product at my local quilt shop.

If I had to use one and only one type of batting, it would be Warm & White. It's just a good basic batting. Not too expensive, but not too cheap. The quality is just fine. It works well for straight line quilting or for free motion quilting. It is low loft, but still warm. Substantial, but not bulky. It is 87.5% cotton and 12.5% polypropylene. It has an approximate shrinkage of 3%. It's a good basic staple, like having flour in your pantry. :)

I get a lot of questions about wool batting, so I had to see what it was all about. I tried Wool premier batting by Pellon for the first time this spring. I put it in this quilt, which I haven't washed or dried yet, but I am anxious to do so to see what happens. I like it, but I can't see using it all my quilts. I think it's a great option for a special quilt here and there. Wool is warm but lightweight. It is a natural fiber, so breathes while it keeps you warm. It is loftier (1/4") than most batting I use, so the quilting is more pronounced. The wool that I used had some visible fibers in it, which could show through if I had a lot of light fabrics in the quilt. I don't think I will have any troubles with it, but it's something to consider. I think wool battings vary quite a bit by manufacturer. This particular brand says there is 0-3% shrinkage.

I tried bamboo batting, and just once, for a baby quilt. It was expensive ($9.99 yard/45" wide) and while it was soft when basting and working with it, after washing I wasn't impressed. It didn't seem as soft as cotton batting would be after washing. So, while I didn't feel like it ruined the quilt, I don't foresee myself using it in the future. (I only used one brand of bamboo batting, so my experience is limited.)

One more word about poly batting. It's not something I would recommend for every quilt, but if you are going for a throw back, cozy, warm, tied quilt, I would recommend poly batting for that. The one drawback is that it really doesn't breathe well. But other than that, it has a nice poof and it is cozy. I slept under one of these types of quilts when I was a little girl, so I may have a soft spot for them.

This may seem like common sense, but still I think it should be noted. When using white fabric in a quilt, use white batting. A creamy colored batting will tone down the white, but a bright white batting will enhance the look of your white quilt top. It DOES make a difference!

At the end of the day, I would say experiment with different batting and see what you like best! Take notes on what you like and what you don't. There are certainly a lot of options out there and I've only reviewed the few that I've worked with. I hope that it has been helpful!

Friday, October 10, 2014

"you can't rush art" quilt top

I'm quite excited that this quilt top is finally finished. I am no where close to running out of solid scraps, but I was growing tired of adding "just one more row". I think that happened about 3-4 times before I felt like it was done. The quilt top measures about 70" x 90". That is one big lap quilt! It makes me wonder if I should trade in my king size design wall for something smaller? Hahaha!
It was definitely a labor of love and perseverance. But totally worth it! (The quilt is sideways in the photo, because my quilt holders are only so tall, (ha!) but you get the idea....)

Did you know? I started Finish it up Friday three years ago this month? It's so crazy to think that we've been at it for that long. I appreciate you being a part of the journey as we work toward our finishes together! SO....thank YOU, as always, for being a part of Finish it up Friday!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

oh clementine pillow

Guess what? I made another pillow! Aren't you shocked?
I started with an oh clementine charm pack from the lovely Alison of Cluck Cluck Sew. Then, I added a healthy dose of scraps from overflowing bins to round things out. (I'm nothing if not predictable, right?) I love the color and fabric combination that I ended up using. I plan to use this as a teaching tool at my upcoming "Make Good Choices" workshop at Modern Textiles on Saturday. See, I HAD to make it! The pillow cover measures about 20" square or so.'s scrap project #89/101.

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep I started thinking of 10 reasons why I love to make pillows:
1. They are small, so they are a nearly instant gratification project....easy to finish in a day or even in a long afternoon of sewing.

2. They are a good way to play with a fabric line (or fabrics scraps) that you may have, but in a limited amount.

3. They are a good way to play with a technique that is new to you. (I tried a slightly different technique for making half square triangles and I liked it a lot!)

4. They use up scraps of batting. (Who doesn't have plenty of those laying around?)

5. They make good gifts (if you are able to part with them).

6. They are a quick way to freshen up/change up a room.

7. They are good for napping, obviously! (Oh, a that's a great idea.)

8. The pillow cover itself is much more compact to store than a quilt. (We know that in some households that could be a problem.)

9. The more you make, the better they look as a collection. (Who needs to sit on the couch anyway?)

and my favorite reason of all....

10. It's fun to watch my husband to launch them off the bed every night. (For some reason he doesn't see the need for 13 pillows on the bed?)

This is not my entire throw pillow collection, although it is a large part of it.
They are normally scattered around the house, I just rounded these up for the photo.
My husband doesn't launch pillows off the bed EVERY night, but there is a lot of muttering about why one would need to have so many pillows on the bed.
(We literally have 10 bed size pillows on our bed at this time.)
I MAY have a pillow problem and apparently it's not exclusive to throw pillows.
I don't plan on seeking help for this problem any time soon.
My husband has come to accept it.
For that I am very thankful.

Monday, October 06, 2014

giveaway winners

The prize winners from my HUGE 250th quilt finish celebration are as follows:

Beach House Thread Set from Connecting Threads-- Becky N.

50 pack of Clover Wonder Clips in PINK from Connecting Threads--Carla

FQ bundle of Lion's Share Fabric by Cotton and Steel compliments of Connecting Threads--Nancy

FQ bundle of Leo Lounge by Cotton and Steel compliments of Connecting Threads--Francine

FQ bundle of Calico compliments of Dear Stella--xquisite

Sewing Makes Me Happy mug compliments of Modern Textiles--April W.

Splash rotary cutter compliments of Olfa and two Moda charm packs--Suzanne, dutchess county, NY

Tinkerfrog soap compliments of Tara Rebman--Sarah Barratt

Mini charm packs compliments of Moda--Amanda K.

20 charm pack bundle compliments of Moda--Random Thoughts Tracy

FQ bundle of the new Kona cottons, compliments of Robert Kaufman--whatknotgirls crafts

If your name is on the list, please send your address to so I can connect you with your prize! Thanks again to all the wonderful prize sponsors that made this HUGE giveaway possible!

Thank YOU to all of you who entered the giveaway last Monday. I am still working on emailing the patterns, as you could probably imagine! I will not be honoring emails that have been
received after the giveaway was closed. I apologize, but I have to draw the line somewhere. I also feel the need to state that I am not responsible for undeliverable emails due to various reasons (no reply commenters, typos/incorrect email address that were left, etc. Unfortunately, there were several.) Thank you for your understanding!

Happy Monday to you!

Friday, October 03, 2014

teal socks

Welcome to finish it up Friday!

This week I finished my 9th pair of socks to date! Do you know how hard it is to photograph socks alone on a gloomy day? It's not easy! After several failed attempts I popped out onto my front step and I had an acceptable photo in no time. Hurray for fall! :)
It's cool and blustery here, so these babies are going to get broken in (and covered in a whole lot of thread)!
Now it's your turn. Please link up your finishes. Thanks for joining me for finish it up Friday!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

how to make a pineapple block (without paper piecing!)

Thank you all SO MUCH for your kind words about my pineapple blocks. I've been working on them off and on for a few months and it's fun to finally share them with you! I LOVE my quilt so far...and just like I had hoped, it keeps getting better as I add to it!
Here's a photo heavy tutorial for you so you can make a pineapple block (or 20!) of your very own.
Cut a 2.5" square for the center.
Cut another 2.5" square in a contrasting color. Cut the contrasting square in half on the diagonal once to make 2 half square triangles. Arrange the pieces as shown.
 Sew pieces together and press.
Trim off dog ears and cut two more triangles to add to the center piece. These will need to be slightly larger than the first set of triangles.
 Sew second set of triangles to center piece and press.
 Trim up the piece to form a square.
Cut two strips of light fabric. These strips are 1.25" wide. Varying the width of strips throughout the block is a good idea (I used strips between 1.25" to 1.75" wide throughout)....HOWEVER....I suggest adding the same width of strips on each round. So, all the lights added to this round should be 1.25" wide.
 Sew the strips to the block and press.
Add two more light strips. The width of these strips should match the width of the strips in the previous step. (In this case, 1.25" wide.) The goal is to keep your block as square as possible.
 Sew and press.
 Trim off the triangles as shown. Use your ruler to make the cuts 90 degrees from the center square.
 Discard the triangles. (Can you believe it? I actually threw them away!)
 The piece should look like this when it is trimmed up.
Cut a round of dark strips. These are all 1.5" wide. Again, the width of the strips for each round should be consistent.
 Sew and press.
 Trim off the triangle ends.
 Do you see how the block isn't quite square?
 No worries. Just trim a sliver. That little sliver makes a big difference later on.
 Add two more light fabrics to the sides.
And two more light fabrics the to top and bottom.
 Trim the triangle corners once again.
 And add another round.
 Sew and press.
 Add another round.
 Add another round, trim. You get the idea!
Once the block measures 16" from side to side and 16" from top to bottom, it's time to add the corners.
Align the block on a cutting mat and measure the size of triangle needed to fill in the corner. The measurements here were about 5 3/4", so I added 1". I cut a square 6 3/4" and cut it in half once on the diagonal.
 Measure and cut the triangles for the remaining two sides.
Sew all the corners on and press. Trim up the block to 16" square.
A few things to note:
I varied the strips in the block from 1.25" wide to 1.75" wide. I think this adds a lot of interest to the quilt! It is harder to predict the final size when you are "building" the block, but once you make one or two, you will surely get the hang of it.
These blocks can be made any size...I started with 14" blocks but bumped up the size to 16" after I made a few. This seems to be an ideal size for this strip width and 20 blocks will make a perfectly sized lap quilt.
Keep an eye on your values (lights and darks), so the pattern emerges and is consistent throughout.
These babies take TIME! I think each block takes me a few hours. (Totally worth it, though!)
This is my favorite...the more scraps the better!
Here's a progress shot. I've got 9 done so far! The one in the middle right is on point. That was a mistake, but I love what it adds to the quilt!
If you have questions, I'll try to answer them in the comments.
Happy scrap sewing!