Thursday, October 24, 2019

More Doin's

This quilt finish is the quilt I intended to enter in QuiltCon's Indah Batiks Challenge, but I messed up. I didn't follow the rules. Instead of adding only solids to the four batiks that were sent to us (a fat 1/8th of each print), I added two more Indah batik prints. It didn't come to my attention until I'd completed the quilt top! Ergh.

So, I'm naming this  32" X 39-1/2" quilt "Breaking the Rules: Jewels," since I not only broke the rules, but the design is cut and pieced in jewel shapes, using the Hex 'n More ruler.
"Breaking the Rules: Jewels," 32" X 39-1/2"

Quite honestly, I'm not only frustrated with myself for messing up, with the fact that MQG challenges are presented without any information about where to source more fabric to make a quilt. Certainly none of my local shops carry Indah batiks, and very few online shops do either. Add to my frustration the fact that I really don't like batiks. Yep, I'm sayin' it. I don't like them, nor do I like working with batiks. Admittedly, back in the 1980s I used them in a few quilts, but I'm over them. None are in my stash except a few leftovers from this quilt.

You'll certainly ask, "Then why did you sign up for this challenge?" Well. It's that palm print. It grabbed my attention. What else can I say? I wanted to feature those palms in my design. Did you notice I was very sure to cut all the palms standing upright, and bending in a particular direction?

Quilting is on a grid. I followed instructions in Christina Cameli's book "Texture Quilting" to walking foot quilt a 60-degree diagonal grid across the entire quilt, followed by free motion quilting several designs in those diamond shapes.

I joined leftover batik pieces to cut one large jewel that inserted in the backing. Also, I made faced binding using the tutorial on Bernina's WeAllSew blog. This is the second time I've used this method and I really like it.

A couple days were spent making these Zippered Snack Bags from some of a few months worth of saving snack bags, candy bags, and coffee bags.

Central Florida MQG spent a Saturday Sew-in learning how to make them from member Cindy (IG @cbubblesnsews). Many of us quickly discovered they're addictive! We've also learned that we don't look at food packaging in the same way anymore. We're eyeing our purchases not for the content, but for the packaging!

If you'd like to try making a zipper snack bag yourself, just get on YouTube and search for "zipper snack bag." You'll find quite a few videos. I recommend that you shop for fusible/iron-on vinyl that's glossy. (Vinyl comes in a matte finish too.) You can find it at JoAnn Fabrics either pre-packaged, or by the yard, the latter of which is how I purchased mine in the store.

Since I offered my selvedges tutorial in last week's blog post, I didn't want to muck it up with a book review. So I have two reviews for you this week.

"The Alice Network" by Kate Quinn is historical fiction that delves into the past of a WWII British spy, Eve, involved in France's Alice Network, and a young American woman, Charlie, who in 1947 is looking for her French cousin who's been missing since the war's end. While this is yet another book about the war, it's very well-done - the narrator does a fabulous job - and the story adds another dimension to my understanding of life in occupied France.

Linda's score: 4.8/5.0

I checked out "The House We Grew Up In" by Lisa Jewell as sort of an accident, when I was showing someone, on my iPhone, how to borrow an audio book using the Hoopla app. But it turned out to be a happy accident.

I've never before read a book about a hoarder, though I've watched them on TV a few times. This story is about more than hoarding though. It's about the Bird family, six people enjoying their lives living in the Cotswolds (UK) guided by a wonderful mother, Lorelei. Her primary objective is to create a home environment that's joyful and creative, and her greatest delight is Easter, when her children and others' children look for chocolate eggs in the backyard garden. However, one Easter Sunday turns to tragedy, and the family is never the same. Each person has to find himself/herself, and their journeys take many years. To me, these characters seemed over-the-top odd. I had a hard time believing a family could have this many issues.

Linda's score: 4.3/5.0

It recently struck me how beautiful our Bismarck palm looks. It began as such a small palm! Here it is in August 2014, when it was first plant. 

Now is as tall as the roof of our single-story house. This is really a show-stopper, and I love that it's in our yard. Those fronds are huge - like 5-6 feet across - and make a lovely "clack" sound when the wind blows.   


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tutorial: Selvedge Block and Quilt

In September I shared this quilt finish. For want of a name, it's my "Selvedges Quilt" that finished at 59" X 72". I designed the block. Several blog-followers let me know they'd like a tutorial to make this quilt, so here you are!

  • Lots and lots of selvedges! I used approximately 560 selvedge strips - only the parts with color, text, and color windows - to make 80 rectangle units, 5" X 9½" (unfinished).
  • Scrap fabrics, approximately 3½" X 6" for print pinwheels
  • Solid white fabric:
    • 12 - 5" X 5" squares
    • 18 - 5" X 9½" rectangles
  • 60-degree ruler
  • card stock, for a template
Assuming you've never cut and saved fabric selvages...

Each selvedge strip should be cut 1/2" beyond where the selvedge ends and the print begins. So most of my selvedges are approximately 1"-wide strips. I've saved them for years - more than 15 years - so I had (and still have) lots to work with. 

Prepare Selvages
If needed, press selvedges.

Sort by color. Six to 8 selvages are needed for each rectangle-shaped unit, so 24 to 32 selvages for one four-unit pinwheel.

Lay the selvedge strip on a cutting mat and select the section with the most color, text, or color windows (those little round circles of color). 

Cut roughly 10" to 10½" long until you have a total of 24 to 32 selvedges of one color family.  

This color range runs from pinks to rose.

Sew Selvedge Strips

With the finished side of a selvage strip on the left, position the finished side of another selvedge strip on top, leaving approximately ¼" print showing on the under strip. Using a straight sewing machine stitch, edgestitch along the left side of the upper strip to join two strips.

With the finished side of a selvage strip on the left, position a third selvedge strip on top of the right selvedge strip, again allowing ¼" of print to show. Stitch along the edge of the third selvedge to join.

Continue to add strips to create a rectangle of selvedges that's 5" to 5½" wide. Press.

Trim the unit to measure 5" X 9½".

Note: If necessary, it's perfectly acceptable to piece together two selvedge pieces to come up with a 10" to 10½" length.

Make Selvedge-Triangle Unit

Position a 60-degree ruler along the bottom edge of the selvedge rectangle. Align the left side of the ruler with the left corner.

Note that I chose to arrange all my rectangles "left-readable." It probably doesn't matter which direction you position your selvedges; just be consistent.


The triangle piece that's removed can be your template to cut the print fabric that will become one-fourth of a color-coordinated center pinwheel.

Cut print fabric flush with the bottom and right side of the selvedge triangle, but be sure to add 1/4" along the top/long side.

After making one like this, I got smart and made a paper template that I taped to the back of my ruler.  I used this template to cut the bottom and right sides...

... and made a second paper template, positioning it to a ruler to align the top/long side of the unit with the ruler's edge.

This sure made cutting easier.

The selvedge-triangle unit is pieced this way. 

With right sides together, align the raw edges of the cut selvedge piece and print triangle. Allow 1/4" overlap at the top and bottom of the seam.

Use a ¼" seam to join.

Press seam allowance toward triangle. 

The selvedge unit should have a ¼" seam allowance at the triangle end.

Completed selvedge unit measures 5" x 9½".

Choose selvedge colors to continue making four selvedge units using four different prints for triangles.

When you have enough units to begin playing on your design wall, you'll quickly see that though this is the layout you want... 

... the actual block to be sewn together looks like this.

At this point, I  auditioned different solid fabrics as center squares: two grays. I settled on white. 

Piece Blocks With Inset Seam

Assemble the block in counter-clockwise order. Refer to diagram below.

On the 5" X 5" center square, mark one corner 1/4" from two raw edges. 

Position selvedge Unit 1 in the "readable" (horizontal) direction, with the triangle at the right end. With right sides together, place the 5" x 5" square along the lower left sides of the non-triangle end of the selvedge unit, aligning the square with the left and bottom of the selvedge unit. With the square on top, stitch from the 1/4" mark to the end of the block.

Press seam allowance toward selvedge Unit 1.

With right sides together, position Unit 2 along seam 2 of the square, aligning the triangle end of Unit 2 with the edge of Unit 1, and the bottom end of Unit 2 with the bottom of the square. Sew a 1/4" seam along the length of Unit 2.

Press seam allowance toward Unit 2.

In the same way, add Unit 3 to side 3 of the square. Press seam allowance toward Unit 3.

Add Unit 4 to side 4 of the square, being sure to move Unit 1 away from the seam. Do not sew over Unit 1.  Press seam allowance toward Unit 4.

Sew the short 5th seam to join Unit 4 to Unit 1. Press seam allowance toward Unit 1.

From the back, the block looks like this, with seam allowances pressed toward selvedge units.

Each block is 13½" X 13½" with a plain square center that finishes at 4½".

Plain Rectangles

I could have finished the quilt layout with more selvedges, adding 5" by 5" selvedge squares to the outside edges, but instead chose to add plain rectangles so the design seemed more "floaty." 

In the same manner as piecing blocks, mark ¼" on two ends of a solid 5" X 9½" rectangle. Sew inset seams to join. 

Join blocks to complete the quilt top. Press seams open.

I chose to pin-baste my quilt, using rulers for domestic machine quilting, and embellishing with big stitch hand quilting. 


I used my favorite binding technique: No Tails Binding: Mitered Corners by Machine - found here, and here, and a PDF here - to complete my quilt. 

I hope you enjoy this tutorial, and making something fun with your collection of selvedges. Be sure to let me know how it goes! Linda

Note: Measurements for the finished block size was updated September 20, 2021. 

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Finishes and Starts

Since coming home from retreat, I've tried not to slow down in the sewing room. Though I've had medical appointments right and left, due to anemia and doctors' concerns about finding the reason for it, in between times I try to keep going in my escape room - my sewing room.

Needing to get that 36" X 48" String Diamond quilt finished and sent off to a new grand-nephew, I quilted it this past week. I was happy to do spiral quilting as it's an easy way to create quilting texture with a walking foot. My Bernina 770QE handled it beautifully.

I used variegated blue 40-weight YLI thread for quilting. I've had this fun fleece fabric for years and decided it suited this quilt top. I didn't use batting since the fleece has a nice weight. 

While on retreat I made a tote that's a new pattern from Christina Cameli @afewscraps It's her  "Sunbeam Tote." She asked me if I'd be interested in testing the pattern. The front is foundation pieced onto muslin using scrap fabrics. I love that! 

The tote back is a single piece of fabric and I thought this Kaffe Fassett print was perfect for it. I'm not at all fond of Kaffe prints - I usually avoid them! - but this one has been in my stash for years and needed to be used. 

Did you notice the orange base and detail on the straps? That's "vegan leather" (Ha! It's vinyl) purchased from a QuiltCon vendor earlier this year. The pattern is meant to be piece with cork, but this works too. I like that Christina thought to add the accent to the webbing straps. 

The tote is open - nice and roomy - with two pockets on one side. I'm pretty sure I'll be using this bag fairly regularly. After all, it does look a bit like Florida!

Also this week I caught up on my 2019 temperature quilt. This is every day from January 1 (upper left) through September 30 (lower right). As you can see, quite obviously, the days went orangey-red starting in May. Those pops of "dark days" are amethyst and bordeaux (Painter's Palette solids) and represent the hottest days: 95-97 F and 98-plus F, respectively. I'm sure hoping for some lower temps to give the quilt balance, as I add more days to the right-hand side.

This is my temperature quilt color key. It's apparent that the two hottest temps (upper left) should have been swapped around.

I've begun quilting the batiks quilt I reluctantly made (I really dislike batiks), intending to enter the QuiltCon challenge. However, this is the quilt I made without carefully reading the rules. I added prints to the four challenge fabrics when only solids are permitted. Sigh. But I'm finishing it anyway. I first walking-foot quilted 60-degree angles across the top and am now filling in diamonds with free motion quilting designs suggested in Christina Cameli's "Texture Quilting" book.

And then there's this! The mess I left last night when I went to bed can only mean one thing. Something scrappy! I'm digging through two canvas bins worth of solid fabric scraps to make something new. It takes a lot of effort to sort through these rumpled piles, press fabrics, and cut what I want. I'm not very good at keeping fabric in a ready-to-use condition. How do you keep your scraps neat and tidy?


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