Washing my finished block

Once I finished embroidering all the ropes with 2 strands of floss, I was ready to wash my block.  I must mention at this point that I prewash all of my fabric in Synthrapol before I even think of putting it in a quilt.  That way, the fabrics do not run in this washing process.  Why do I wash my blocks?  When I trace my pattern onto the background, I use a Clover water soluble marker and a Frixion marker.  To prep my applique pieces, I use starch and Roxeann’s Glue.  All of that stuff needs to be removed from the block before it can be stitched into a quilt. Oh….and did I mention the cat hair?


It was in a class with Pearl Pereira at the Applique Academy that I learned about washing blocks.  By the way, have you seen Pearl’s new Block of the Month on her website?  It’s called Forever Blooming and it is free!  I have downloaded my patterns and I am raring to get started!  I am also super excited to be attending this years TESAA!  I will be taking classes with Rita Verroca and Sandra Leichner.  Only 42 more sleeps!

So, this is how I wash my block.  First, I check to make sure all the pieces are stitched down.  You really don’t want this to happen!


Oops!  Can you see that I did not stitch all of the bias pieces down?  There are bias strips in between the leaves and they are not stitched yet.


They should look like this.


You only need a clean sink, some mild soap and a block.


First, fill the sink with hot water and add a bit of soap.


Now, place the block in the water.  If this is the first time you are doing this, you are allowed to hold your breath and close your eyes!  I usually let it soak for a couple of hours.  No need to check on it, it’s not going anywhere!


Next, drain the water and rinse the block with clear water.  Gently press some of the water out.  I like to leave the block fairly wet.


I place the block out on a thick towel and smooth it out.  From experience, I have found that leaving the block wet means less wrinkles when the block has finished drying.  I like to pin the corners of the block to the towel, just to keep it as flat as possible.


Once the block is completely dry, I flip it over on the thick towel and press with a hot iron.




Til next time…


OK…where was I?

Now that I have finished Civil War Bride, I have some spare time on my hands.  What will I do?  Will I work on finishing some neglected UFO’s or start something totally brand new?  Well…since I like to work on a number of projects at once, the answer is…both!  I am going to work on finishing up Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore” and I am going to start Sue Garman’s “Ladies of the Sea” tomorrow.  I have been wanting to start this quilt for a while now.  I showed the pattern to my son a couple of years ago and told him I would like to make it for him.  He said “Sweet”.  A couple of months ago, he actually asked me if I had started it yet.  I said I hadn’t.  Last week he asked me again if I had started it and I told him I was getting ready organizing my fabrics and I would start it soon.  He said  “Sweet.  Make sure you make it long enough to cover me”.
(He is 6′ 5″.)  I was torn between mortified and ecstatic.  Mortified because he wants to use the quilt.  Ecstatic because he wants to use the quilt!

I try to keep all of my unfinished projects organized in clear containers.  That way, when I am ready to pick up where I left off, I know exactly where everything is.  How is that for organized? This is “Friends of Baltimore”.  I have just 2 blocks left, then I can start the borders.  (Have you seen the borders? Yikes!)


So, the fern block is finished, but still needed a bath.  You can read more about “Washing My Blocks”   here.


While that block was soaking, I started the next block, the fruit bowl.  First, I traced the pattern on to my background with a Clover water soluble marker.  I used my light box to do all of my tracing.


I started with the base of the bowl.  All I can think about is how nice it would be to go whale watching right about now!



Next, I added some circles.



Now I was ready to add some leaves.  I have been thinking about leaves lately.  Probably because we have been raking them up before the snow falls.  Leaves come in more colours than just shades of green.


I have been keeping my eyes open for some really different leaf fabrics to add to my stash of applique fabrics.  Check these out!  I especially like the second one from the left and decided to use that one in this block.


Here it is….DSCN4848


Til next time…


All that fuss!

Of course I was procrastinating!  Three of the four ferns were prepped and stitched in place. I even distracted myself long enough to make some berries.  I knew what I had to do….make another fern!

needs another fern

For those of you who wondered,  I do remove the freezer paper before it is stitched in place!

freezer paper

So once the last fern was done, everything quickly fell into place!  Some pretty red flowers…

4 ferns

…and a really spiffy vase!

no berries (1)

Next. more berries.  Lots of berries!


And,  finally….. another completed block!  Makes me wonder what all the fuss was about!!


Til next time….


Dishes Fit For A Quilter!

For a while now I have been shopping for a new set of dishes.  I only had one thing in mind…I wanted a white set of dishes.  So whenever I would go shopping, I would always keep my eyes open for a white set of dishes.  Well!  There are a lot of white dishes out there! Nothing really caught my eye….until last week.  Look what I found!  Spiffy!


So, as my family pointed out, not only do we have quilts all around the house, and quilting fabric all over the house, and quilting stuff in almost every room, now we are eating off of quilting dishes!!  Life is good!

I just turned the last corner on Sue Garman’s “Bouquets For a New Day”.  Just one last border to go and I will be finished!


Not sure where Bruin is going to sleep, but he will have to find a new spot!


This block from “Friends of Baltimore” is no more time-consuming that any of the other blocks in the quilt…I am just dragging this one out a little longer that usual!DSCN4370

Til next time…


Parallel and Perpendicular

I was raring to go!  I finished another 4 blocks of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore”, which meant I was ready to stitch together another row!  But first I had to add the embroidery to the schooner.

Before the embroidery…

schooner 1

…and after the embroidery!

schooner 2

Once all the ropes were stitched in place, I started to “square up” my blocks.  When I say “square up” I mean any straight lines are running parallel and perpendicular to the edges of the block.  Here are a few (hopefully!) helpful hints…

First of all, if you have ever wallpapered, you know that before you start, you have to use a plumb line to make sure you begin with a straight line.  The same holds true for squaring-up a block.  First you have to find a straight line somewhere in the block.  It sounds easy, but there are no straight lines on this block!

block 1

So…using the schooner block as an example…here are my thoughts!

Luckily, there are some pretty obvious straight lines in this block.  The masts!  So, I want the masts to be parallel to the edge of the block.

trim 1

Next,  I placed my window template on the block.  You can read more about that here.

So, I measured the distance from the bottom of the mast to the template.

trim 2

Then I measured the distance from the top of the mast to the template.  Both of those measurements need to be the same!

trim 3

Then, I took my 6″ ruler and made sure that there was an equal distance from the applique to the template on both sides..

trim 4

trim 6

…and top and bottom.

trim 8

trim 7

When I was sure the block was square and centered..(and I mean really sure!)  I marked  along the inside of the template with a marking pen and then I cut on the line with my rotary cutter and ruler.  Easy peasy!

So, once the blocks were trimmed, I started to sew the row together.

rows 1

And, finally, 3 rows sewn together!

rows 2

Til next time…


Itching to finish!

I was just itching to get this next block of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore” finished!  But it just seemed to go on and on.  I started working on the red ribbons.  As you can see, this section of the ribbon was really skinny!  Here is how I tackled it.  Even though the freezer paper template was barely an 1/8″ wide, I still cut my 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around.

block 4

Once I prepped the first side, I trimmed the seam allowance so that I could  just see the edge of the template.

block 6

Next, I prepped the other side and trimmed it down also…

block 7

…and stitched it in place.

block 2

Then I prepped and stitched the second ribbon in place and added a pretty bow.

block 3

I thought I was done (and was high-five-ing myself!) and realized, no, I still had the bluebird to stitch.  So, here is the finished block…all tidied up after it’s bubble bath!

block 1

I took a close look and saw that,  once again, I forgot to stitch a tiny piece.  Drat!

oops (2)

Now, on to the exciting part!  The reason I wanted to finish this block so much, is that I now have enough blocks to sew another row together…I know!!!  So I dusted the cobwebs off my sewing machine, and started to make some half-square triangles.  You can read a little more about the method I use here.

It’s one thing to sit and sew a bunch of half-square triangles together.  It is another thing entirely to stitch them together in a row and arrive at the measurement it is supposed to be.  Here is a little tip I use to make life easier.

First, I sew my half-square triangles (HSTs) together in pairs.  Then I press the seam open.

stitched togethe in pairs

Then I stitch the pairs together to make sets of 4.  And I press the seam open.  And then, I measure the piece.  These HSTs finish at 1″, therefore, 4  HSTs sewn together should measure 4 1/2″.

four and a half

Then I stitch the sets of 4 together to make sets of 8.  I press the seam open and measure the piece.  It should measure 8 1/2″.  This section needed a nip and tuck!

eight and a half

Now, I take my sets of 8 and stitch them together to make 16 HSTs.  And, hopefully, it measures 16 1/2″.

sixteen and a half

So, now I can start to sew the row together!   Bruin always likes to be in on the action!

bruin helping

First, I sewed on  the bottom sashing, and then the side sashing on both blocks.

bottom and sides

And…two blocks sewn together!

2 rows sstitched together

I would like to continue, but look at the time!

nine o'clock

Keep stitching…


Echo Quilting

Every night around 9 pm, I stop whatever I am doing and take my usual place on the couch and hand-quilt for an hour or two.  It isn’t a lot of time, but it sure adds up and I am making some  steady progress on Sue Garman’s “Bouquets for a New Day”.

The block I am working on needed a bit of extra-special quilting.  The  cross-hatching in the background causes anything that isn’t quilted to puff out and look baggy…like the vase.


I am using beige quilting thread for the background.  When I am quilting on top of a shape, I like to match the color of the thread to the color of the fabric.  If I can’t find the color I am looking for in  Dual-Duty quilt thread or YLI quilt thread, I use Mettler 40 weight, which is a machine quilting or hand-quilting weight thread.  Mettler 40 weight does not have a coating on it like true hand-quilting thread.  So, to make the thread glide through the fabric easier and to protect it from knotting and shredding, I use Thread Heaven.

thread and thread heaven

First I quilted around each point of the star, and then surrounded it with Echo Quilting.

echo quilting

And here is the finished block!

quilted block

Til next time…


Stitching the Night Away

Most evenings you will find me on the couch, hand-quilting the night away.  Once my needle hits the fabric, all the stress and tension of the day just seems to melt away.  Here is the latest block of Sue Garman’s “Bouquets For A New Day”.  So, now  I have 6 blocks quilted, and 6 more to go…oh… and a border.  (Heavy Sigh)

hand quilting

I have started working on the next block of Civil War Bride.  It can be tricky to figure out what order to place the stems on the background.  If the raw edge of “Stem A” is going to be covered with “Stem B”, then “Stem A” needs to be glued in place first.  (It’s easier than it sounds!!)

First, I put a few dabs of glue along the traced line, rather than putting glue on the actual stems. This will be “Stem A”. You can see that this stem will be covered by another stem.

cwb 3

Next, I carefully placed the stem on the line.  Because the stems are cut on the bias, they are easy to curve along the line.

cwb 4

Then,  I used the line that the next bias strip will be placed on as a guide to trim the stem to the correct length.  I have added a few dabs of glue to hold the next stem in place.

cwb 5

Now, another stem is in place….This is also a “Stem A”.


And, finally, the longer stem that covers these shorter stems is glued in place.  This is “Stem B”.

cwb 6

So…here are a bunch of “Stem A’s”, waiting to be covered by one long “Stem B”.


large stem

And, finally…all the stems are in place!

all stems in place

I thought this block needed a really special vase!   So I fussy-cut this fabric…

fabric 1

…and ended up with this vase!  Spiffy!

vase 4

Next, I added some buds….


…and leaves and flowers!

buds leaves and flowers

Til next time…


A Good Way to Spend the Evening!

It was going to be a very exciting evening!  I have completed another four  blocks from Sue Garman’s “Friend’s of Baltimore” and they are ready to be stitched together into a row.  I already have one row stitched together.  You can read about that here.  When I cut my background blocks, I always cut them 2″ or 3″ larger than the finished size.  So, before I could stitch the blocks together, I had to trim them down to the correct size.  Here is what I did to make the job so easy and stress-free…The best part is, I never had to measure anything!

I made a window template  with the opening the exact measurement of the unfinished size of the block.  The finished size is 15″, so I needed to trim the blocks down to 15 1/2″, therefore I made the opening 15 1/2″.  (I hope that makes sense!)

trim 2 (1)

So now I could place the window template on the block and make sure that everything was centred nicely.

trim 4 (2)

Next, I traced around the opening with a marking pen.

trim 7

Then I trimmed the excess fabric away by cutting on the marked line.  Easy peasy!

trim 5

trim 6

So, once I trimmed all the blocks to the correct size, I started to stitch the blocks together in a row.

r rows (2)

Ta da!   An evening well spent!

r rows (1)

Til next time…


A Bit of Catch-up….

This block from Civil War Bride needed a butterfly in the bottom right hand corner before it could be considered “Officially Finished”.

bird block

However, I wanted to find a really interesting fabric for the wings.  A fabric  that would do the butterfly proud!  So I waited patiently.  Then, I came across this chunk of fabric in my stash.  (For those of you who are wondering, I am taking every bit of fabric for this quilt from my stash.)  I love this type of fabric!  The pattern repeat is symmetrical, rather than asymmetrical.  These fabrics are rare, so grab them when you find them!

fussy cut 3

This dark curly part caught my eye.

fussy cut 1

I cut the butterfly wings out of the fabric so that the wings would be mirror images of each other.  I placed the pattern so that the black curly part would be somewhere near the middle of the butterfly.  The beauty of doing this, is that you never really know what you will end up with!

fussy cut 2

And here is the proud butterfly!


So once I got that off my mind, I continued on with my “Friends of Baltimore” block.  I added some buds, stems and leaves.  If you look closely, you will see that I used 2 different greens for the wreath and the stems.   (Between you and I, that was a bit of an oopsy on my part.  Mum’s the word!)

wreath 1

Then came the  flowers, complete with buds and centers.

wreath 3

Next, came a pretty little bow…

wreath 4

… and, FINALLY, a couple of love birds!

wreath 5

Til next time….