Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Courthouse Steps Finished

Courthouse Steps
59" Square
For retiring co-worker Jean B.
Courthouse Steps Blocks
Original Quilt Design
Top from stash

I finished Courthouse Steps late Tuesday night, and gave it to retiring co-worker Jean B. today.  Jean is a paralegal, so I chose the Courthouse Steps block.  Jean uses a little ruler when she writes, so the bottoms of her letters are straight.  To imitate that straightness, I chose a horizontal layout of mostly light and mostly dark blocks. The contrasting centers create interest and draw the eye horizontally across the quilt, as well.

Although I didn't know what Jean's favorite colors were, blue and white were the colors in my head.  Jean's former daughter-in-law Jennifer has a few business cards on display on the office bulletin board, so I gave Jennifer a call to check on colors.  Blues, especially denim and country blues, are Jean's colors in her living room.  Wonderful news!

I pulled a bunch of blues from my stash, along with two identical bundles of cream on cream fat quarters.  To simplify and speed up the process, I limited each block to one light and one dark fabric.  As a result, I was able to make the quilt in one week, start to finish.

For more photos and details, please read on.

EQ Sketch.  Originally I wanted to make mostly dark blocks.

Organized Chaos Map for mostly dark blocks plan

Organized Chaos piles of blue and white fabrics

Design notes

Overnight I decided I wanted to do mostly light blocks.
EQ Sketch for mostly light blocks plan

Organized Chaos map for mostly light blocks plan

Piles had to be adjusted slightly for the new plan.

Design notes
I took some time figuring out how to get the most from the fat quarters.  Five cuts of 2" plus one 3.5" cut were needed for each block.

First mostly light block

First mostly dark block

Blocks laid out on design wall

Horizontal rows sewn together

My original plan was to do machine quilting, starting with the center row, adding a row and quilting it after joining...repeating until the quilt was put together.  I had plenty of scrap batting to do the job.  I went to Joann's to pick up a 36" ruler to cut the backing, as well as a package of batting for another project, using 50% off coupons for both items.  However, when I got to checkout, my coupons were good only on fabric!  The cashier was kind enough to give me 40% off on the ruler, which left me with just a few dollars in my quilting account, so I passed on the batting.

I had heard lately that Aqua Net hairspray could be used as basting spray, so I picked up a tall can last week.  For just a few dollars, it's a great savings over the $13 cans of 505 that I buy at the quilt shop, and I figured I could machine quilt more often.  I experimented with the Aqua Net, but it didn't work, no matter how many ways I tried.  What a bummer.  I made a decision to go ahead and finish the quilt pillowcase style.  To do so, I needed a bag of batting--which I didn't buy at Joann's a few hours prior.  Joann's was closed by that time, so I had to wait till after work the next day.  Arghhh!  In a hurry to finish the quilt, I was also bummed out that I wouldn't be able to take the batting out of the bag and let it breathe for 24 hours before sewing.  Oh, well...

Quilt top sewn together
I finished the quilt pillowcase style and tied with embroidery floss.

Completed quilt

Jean loves her quilt, and she actually cried when I gave it to her.

Enjoy retirement, Jean!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Courthouse Steps Update 7/27/2010

I read recently that Aqua Net hairspray can be used as basting spray.  I bought a bottle and tried it last night.  It didn't work.  Maybe I'm not doing something right, but I tried a variety of ways to get the spray to stick:  fabric to fabric, batting to fabric, different hairspray.  Nothing worked. Grrrrr.  I have a can of 505 spray, but at $13 per can, I'm not going to use it on every quilt.  So I decided to scrap the plan of machine quilting Courthouse Steps, and will use a pillowcase finish and tie with embroidery floss.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Courthouse Steps Update 7/25/10

I finished the Courthouse Steps blocks tonight.  The five rows of five blocks each are assembled and on the design wall.  Tomorrow I'll start joining the rows together, quilt-as-you-go style.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Hooky Thursday!

Today is Hooky Thursday!  What the heck is that, you ask?  I've been playing the piano at a large church for 32 years, and each Thursday we have an orchestra rehearsal.  That's a lot of rehearsals!  Every now and then rehearsal gets cancelled.  If I'm not on vacation, it's a freebie night off for me.  I go to my regular job during the day, but when I get off, I drive to the next biggest town of Stockton where I have dinner, shop at HomeGoods and Joanns, and end up at Borders until they kick me out at closing.  It's fun and kind of like playing hooky, so I call it Hooky Thursday.

I haven't decided what I'll do tonight.  I'm trying to crank out Courthouse Steps, a quilt with a very short deadline, so I may not go to Stockton.  I'm thinking of having dinner at Red Lobster near my house.  I haven't been there for a while.  Then I could go home and start sewing.  We'll see how I feel in a few hours.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Courthouse Steps

Courthouse Steps -EQ Sketch

I've begun working on Courthouse Steps, a quilt for Jean, yet another retiring co-worker.  Jean is a paralegal so I chose the Courthouse Steps block, a Log Cabin variation.  Jean likes to write using a little ruler, which makes the bottoms of her letters very straight.  To mimic those straight lines, I'm doing alternating rows of cream on cream blocks, then medium blue--creating horizontal stripes of color.  For easy assembly each block will have one main fabric, plus a center accent in the opposite color--blue centers for the cream on cream blocks; cream on cream centers for the blue blocks.  I think it'll be pretty.  I'm hoping to do the whole quilt top from stash.

I had no idea what colors Jean would like, but I had medium blue and white in my head.  Jean's former daughter-in-law Jennifer has a business card on display in the office kitchen, so I gave Jennifer a call a couple of weeks ago to ask about colors.  It turns out that white and blue (denim blue or country blue) are perfect!  What do you know?

Jean retires within two weeks, so I've gotta get moving!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild

A short time ago I joined the Sacramento Modern Quilt Guild.  It's a small group, less than a couple dozen quilters.  I attended my first meeting today in Fair Oaks.  I enjoyed my time and got to meet several quilters from the Sacramento area.  It's a pretty laidback group, which I like.  We did a lot of show and tell, and I brought several items to show off.  I also passed around my phone which was loaded with photos of a few quilts that I've given away during the past couple of months.

I think the Modern Quilt Guild is a good fit for me.  I think it's my style...traditional with a twist.  Also, I don't have to worry about the quilt police telling me I'm doing something wrong.  I have my own way of quilting, and my funky ways are accepted in the group.

I'm looking forward to the next meeting.  Here's a link to the Sacramento group's website:

And here's a link to the Modern Quilt Guild:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Turquoise Strippie Quilt Finished

Turquoise Strippie Quilt
47" x 63"
Finished July 11, 2010
Pattern based on Quick Strippie at
Mostly from stash

Quilt focus fabric is leftover from this dress made for my granddaughter Reghan last year

For more details, please read on.

Design notes

Original color scheme: turquoise, pink, white, deep teal

Not enough turquoise floral for wide stripes, so auditioning orange print to supplement

Removed the pinks

Trying butterfly print as possible medium width strips

Butterfly too busy, trying out another aqua print

Aqua doesn't seem to fit in.  Kitchen sink audition.

Trying two turquoise solids--light and medium

Eliminated light.  Final color scheme.

Wide and medium strips on design wall. 

Design notes

Not enough dark teal for narrow strips, trying some navy in center

Navy seemed to be drawing too much attention, moved them out toward the edges.  Like that better.

Design notes

Narrow strips attached to medium strips

Strips assembled in two large sections to make trimming easier.

Navy strips shortest of the strips.  Marked edge with yellow flower pin (see far left just above the ruler).

Marking the other section

Laid one section over the other, ready to trim edges, then sew sections together.

Main quilt top

Top and bottom borders attached

Quilt top

After doing a pillowcase finish, used 1/4" masking tape to divide the quilt in four parts.  Tied knots in each of the medium and wide strips, using the tape as a guide for spacing.  The borders have knots as well.

Finished quilt

I gave the quilt to my church today.  The visiting pastor will give the quilt to someone who is going through a difficult time.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Blue and Yellow Crumb Quilt Given

Blue and Yellow Crumb Quilt

I finished the Blue and Yellow Crumb Quilt in late May, and gave it to my church to be distributed as the visiting pastor saw fit.  Pastor Cliff visits many sick and home-bound people, does most funerals in the church, and is responsible to distribute food vouchers to people going through hard financial times.  I knew he would find just the right person for the quilt.  I asked him to let me know about the person's circumstances when he gave name necessary, just a little about the situation.

Today I received an email from Pastor Cliff, which touched my heart:

"I am sorry to take so long to get your quilt to someone.

I have given it to a lady in the church who just found out she has breast cancer. She is alone and her family live 2 hours away. I gave it to her today and she was very touched and told me that this was a very down day for her and that she had already cancelled a luncheon appointment because she was so discouraged.

It came at a perfect time for her as far as I can tell.

Thanks again and God bless your efforts in this ministry.


This lady is exactly the kind of person that I want the Blue and Yellow Crumb and the Color of the Month quilts to go to.  I am making the quilts to bring comfort to those going through difficult times, and I'm so happy to know that the Blue and Yellow quilt will make a difference in this lady's life.

Tonight I'll work on the turquoise Color of the Month quilt some more, and deliver it to the church as soon as possible.  I know Pastor Cliff will find just the right person for that one, too.

Current Projects 7/7/10

I'm working on the turquoise Color of the Month quilt.  I plan to finish and donate it to my church this Friday.  I decided to do's Quick Strippie, based on a turquoise floral leftover from a dress I made for my granddaughter Reghan.

When the turquoise quilt is finished I plan to get back to Piper's Polka Dots, a quilt for my new granddaughter Piper (Reghan's baby sister).  The scrappy green background is finished.  The next step is to machine applique big pink polka dots to the background.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Jennifer's Fairies Finished

Jennifer's Fairies
Original design
56" square
Partly from stash

Jennifer's Fairies, completed June 30, is for co-worker Jennifer F., who retired July 1.  The title is a play on Jennifer's name.  This was the last of three quilts made for co-workers all retiring on the same day.  I started it on Monday, June 28 and finished it late Wednesday, June 30--working evenings only.  The design was chosen to save time yet deliver high impact.

I began with a fat quarter of the fairy fabric (left).  I needed to add another fabric and chose the pink butterfly print, also a fat quarter.  The colors work with the fairy fabric and the wings are a common element.

EQ Sketch
It's a rough sketch.  The framed areas are rectangular, not square.  The quilt has simpler frames of yellow, too, with less piecing

Design notes

Trying out different yellows for background.  Dark (from stash) seems too dark, discard it.

Trying out fat quarters against yellows.  I like medium yellow(from stash) with pink; seems to provide a foundation.  Pale yellow is new fabric, bought because there wasn't enough medium, and looks fine with fairies.  From far away you can't tell the difference.

Need 5 rectangles of fairies.  Centered as well as possible on cutting mat, cut into 6 fairly equal sections, in a vertical orientation.  (I previewed a horizontal orientation but didn't like it as much).  Extra section will be placed into the grocery bag of scraps to be given to Project Linus.  I keep more tone-on-tone scraps, but I generally give away theme print scraps.  Note:  The rectangles probably aren't exactly equal in size, but I'm not worried about it.  They're close.

6 sections laid out on design wall.  Need to decide orientation--which way is up?

I like the dark pink fairies sitting right side up.

Grouping similar cuts together (top and bottom left/center/right)

Rectangle featuring dark pink fairy placed in center.  Yellow spiky skirt fairies seem dominant in remaining four rectangles, and are either centered or way on the left--two of each.  "Twins" placed kitty corner from each other for balance.

Design notes

15.5" template made of tracing paper laid over fairy rectangle
Trying to estimate width of yellow strips needed to frame the recangles.

Ditto for pink butterfly print

Narrow blue fabric strips (1.5" unfinished) sewn to sides
Blue strips will help theme fabrics stand out against yellow background and make them look important.

Blue strips trimmed even with bottom

Horizontal blue strips attached

Butterfly rectangle trimmed up

Repeat for fairy rectangles

Rectangles laid out on design wall

Design notes

Oversized yellow strips sewn to sides

Trimmed even with rectangle

Yellow strips sewn to top and bottom
Block is oversized, to be trimmed to desired size of 15.5" unfinished.

Yellow strips attached to top and bottom of fairy rectangle
Note this is the opposite of the pink butterfly, to make assembly easier later.

Yellow strips trimmed even with rectangle
Not shown:  Side strips attached.

15.5" template centered over fairy block.  X marks the middle.  I look for balance in corners of narrow blue frame; I eyeball.

When I think it's centered well enough, I use my TV remote as a weight.  It's big and heavy enough to hold the template in place, and it's easy to place and remove.  No pinning!

Mark the corners about 1/4".  See the tip of the pencil.
With all the corners done, I remove the remote and template, then make two vertical cuts.  Then I walk around the corner of the table to make the horizontal cuts.

Here's a trimmed up fairy block

Fairy blocks laid out on design wall

Pink butterfly blocks trimmed in the same manner as above, and placed on design wall.

Intersection of four blocks.  The blocks will go together easily without worrying about matching seams.  Ta-dah!

Blocks joined together

 Quilt top finished
Wide border is same fabric as narrow blue frames

I used a pillowcase technique to join the batting backing ($3 sheet from Wal-Mart to avoid piecing), and quilt top. I closed the opening with topstitching, continuing all the way around the quilt to disguise the closure. The quilt was tied with embroidery floss.

Finished Quilt
Along with Sweet and Sour and David's Plaids, Jennifer's Fairies was the third quilt I made from scratch in 30 days.  With many late, late nights involved, I'm exhausted but glad I made the effort.

Enjoy retirement, Jennifer!