Feb 012016

This tablerunner has been waiting for the binding for over a year. It didn’t take me long to finish it, but without the Finish-Along I would have ignored it for a few more years. tablerunner

I made it from scraps left from making cloth napkins for myself. Two years ago my sisters volunteered my house for a family get-together. They both came without husbands so it wasn’t quite as full a house as it could have been, but with my parents here also I had to scrounge a couple mattresses to put on the floor in my sewing room for my sisters.

I forget who had the idea, but we decided to try a napkin-making party. My mom had sent a box of fabrics she’d salvaged from some vintage blouses that had belonged to my sister’s roommate in college, plus some other fabrics, and we made her napkins from those. (My sister cut, I sewed.) I had pictured a group sewing bee but ended up being the only one sewing, working on my own pieced napkins. My other sister decided what she really wanted was fabric squares to dress up the tops of canning jars, so we cut up a bunch for her.

Anyway, mine started with a charm square pack I’d bought online from another quilter, plus a bunch of spring-inspired fabrics from my stash. The leftovers make up the central part of this table-runner. I think they were already pieced, being trimmings when I cut the napkins to the desired size. Or maybe I sewed up all the scrap first, my memory is already fading. Basically it is a stacked coins (shown above on edge, try tilting your head if you can’t see it) with the “coins” presewn scraps.

The binding is straight-cut and sewn on one side at a time, on the back first and folded over to the front and straight-stitched along the edge. The ends were done last and the end of the binding folded over for a finished corner.

And that’s my finish for this week. (List of proposed finishes HERE.)


 February 1, 2016  Posted by Abby at 9:52 am Finish-Along Comments Off

I’ve finished the first two quilts. Of course, the two easiest ones, but ya gotta start somewhere. They are numbers 4 and 17 on my proposed finishes list.

First up, 4-patches with yellow alternate blocks, lap size. I made the 4-patches as “betweeners” (also known as leaders and enders). I cut a lot of my scrap into 2 1/2 inch squares and keep them handy, then whenever I reach a point in my piecing where I would have to cut the thread, I sew two squares together instead. When I have a pile sewn up I iron the pairs and put them back by the machine, and make 4-patches whenever I am between other piecing. I’ve included a close-up to prove I really did get the binding on.yellow 4patch doneyellow 4patch edge

Second one is a stacked coins variation, in that some of the “coins” are rather tall. Scraps again, this time always 2 1/2 inches wide but various widths. The edges were uneven and I didn’t want to trim them all, so I sewed them onto adding machine tape to keep the rows straight. Some of the seam allowances ended up a bit scant on the sides, so I quilted with a small serpentine stitch down the vertical seams. It is crib-size. green stripesgreen stripe corner

Both of these will be donated somewhere, as soon as I have photos I’m happy with for my records.


 January 22, 2016  Posted by Abby at 8:09 pm Finish-Along Comments Off

Needing all the help and encouragement I can get, I’m going to join the Finish-Along again. This year it is hosted by a group of quilt bloggers and you can participate from whichever one you like. Here’s where I found the info.

And here’s my list of proposed finishes, all 17 of them (it will take a miracle to actually complete them all, but they are mostly small). Names are working names:

1. Confetti #4 – needs binding, sleeve, and label

Confetti #4

2. Corral – needs quilting.Corral

3. Cuddle quilt – needs quilting, this one is nap size cuddle quilt

4. Green stripes – needs binding and labelgreen stripes

5. improv piece, small. needs quiltingimprov color study 1

6. improv piece, needs quilting (which I am currently working on)Improv FGs

7. Lattice, small. An old UFO, I actually hand quilted this one! needs binding, sleeve, label.Lattice

8. Boxes on purple, needs basting and quilting.purple boxes top

9. Purple mess, needs binding, sleeve, labelPurple mess

10. purple spirals, needs binding, sleeve, labelPurple Spirals

11. QAYG project – one block shown, this one is twin I think. needs assembly.QAYG block

12. Red Stripes, another QAYG project, this one with strips sewn onto backing and batting. Needs the other strips sewn. Will be twin.red stripes

13. Red-eyed ghosts (isn’t that what it looks like?) – needs binding, sleeve, labelRed-eyed Ghosts

14. table runner, needs bindingtable runner qd

15. Three Stars, needs border, then basting and quilting.three star banner 1

16. Whacking through the Jungle, needs binding, sleeve, label.Whacking

17. Yellow 4-patches – needs binding and label.yellow 4patch

 January 15, 2016  Posted by Abby at 12:19 pm Finish-Along Comments Off

I hope you are following Patchwork Posse’s 30 Days of Sewing Room Organizing direct from her because I have totally failed to keep up! I’m having better luck with The Quilt Show’s Let’s Get Organized series on their blog. They post an organizing tip weekly. I can maybe keep up with weekly, daily is a struggle. (Tip – sign up with The Quilt Show – basic membership is free – and you’ll get their newsletters which will let you know when the next organizing post is up – otherwise you’ll have to keep checking the blog and they post a lot.) This week is purging your stash. I decided the fabric in the cubes didn’t need a review just yet so I am focusing on the fabric still in bins.

Meanwhile, this post is intended to catch up on the 30 Days but I am already two days behind again! (The main page which was going to have all the links to posts is no longer there, I will post again if I can find it, or will make one here.) The photos below show my system (such as it is) for some of the areas covered so far.

Here’s my ironing station – made with a scrap of plywood we had on hand. I wanted 18 inches deep but we had scrap that was 15 inches wide so what you see is 15 inches deep. And it is rugged – 3/4 inch plywood! If you buy plywood for this you only need 1/2 inch. See what you can scrounge. I added two layers of cotton batting and covered with a veggie print I enjoy looking at but was unlikely to use (and it was a big enough piece). While taking this photo it occured to me I need some baskets to organize the shelves underneath. I already had these two plastic shelves and they happened to be just the right height and just the right size to hold up my board. How often does that happen? The board rests on top, so I have to be careful not to lean against it or it shifts and I have to adjust it. But it is easy to move if I get to rearranging my sewing room again.

ironing board

This one (below) is my old ironing board, now serving as a shelf. I should clear it and put it away. The book under one foot is for stability, and the spotted cloth is pinned to the original cover to cover up worn out areas.old ironing board

Here’s how I store my quilting books – totally unorganized and overflowing.


Here’s the book overflow (on the left) and magazine stash (on the right). Notice they are on the bottom shelf of these cubes, which are not strong enough for books and magazines any higher.

book overflow

Eventually I go through the magazines and either load them into magazine boxes (on the bottom of the bookshelf for now), or tear out what I want to keep (most magazines get this treatment, and I recycle the leftover parts) and either file the articles and images or put them in binders. The binders are currently piled on my office floor.


And the files are here – two file boxes and a box of unsorted papers. file boxes

Rulers – The ones I use all the time are in this rack (bought at an office supply store), which resides under my cutting table. I haven’t figured out a better spot yet, but plan to do so as I keep bumping my toes on it here. I confess, I don’t actually use the wedge ruler often, it’s here because it’s a bit long for my other ruler storage.ruler rack

Here’s where I keep all the other rulers – in this bag hung on the wall. And when I took these photos I realized it hangs onto a picture hook by it’s teeth, I think a nail would work better.

ruler bag

Here’s the inside of the bag showing the sorts of rulers I stash here.ruler bag inside

And here’s how I store my batting – up high, mostly. The cardboard boxes on the top of this shelf all hold more packaged batts.

batting 1

Here’s another top shelf with packaged batts. The plastic bin is just the right size for this shelf, and holds 6 queen size cotton batts.batting 2

Here’s a big roll of cheap poly I bought for charity quilts. Not the handiest spot, I have to drag it out to cut off a piece, but it’s out of the way.batting 3

And there’s another (smaller) roll in the corner. I think I’m set for batting for awhile.batting 4

 January 14, 2016  Posted by Abby at 12:34 pm Organizing and Decluttering Comments Off

I wasn’t going to do it this year. I have a full plate already, thank you, I don’t need a Challenge every other week. But I opened the Project Quilting email from Kim at Persimmon Dreams, and the topic of the first challenge was “Confetti”. My immediate thought was “where did I put those scraps I was thinking of using for a confetti quilt?” So of course I dug them out and scrambled to finish my little quilt in 3 days.

I used scraps I dug out of the waste basket after my sister left (I’d loaned her a machine while she was here), trimmings from her scrap project. They became my confetti bits and I chose a pale green background. I only had a half yard of the green which limited the potential size of the piece right off. The method is simple – sew all the bits to a strip (or two) of background fabric, then cut them apart and iron the seam. Here’s a few of the pieces at this point, with the edge of my 6 inch ruler for scale.conf4 step 1

Repeat until you’ve covered all sides of the bit. In the past I’ve put my confetti quilts together at this point, trimming and adding as needed to get things to fit. This time I trimmed all the blocks to the same size, which made for much faster assembly. conf4 step 2conf4 step 3conf4 step 4

In the interests of speed I skipped a border and kept the quilting simple. confetti 4

It didn’t turn out quite the way I’d envisioned, but it is done. I’m calling it “Waste Basket #2″ (Waste Basket #1 isn’t finished yet, and #3 is barely started) and it measures all of 12.5 X 17.5 inches. That was my excitement for this week, here in Deary, Idaho.

 January 9, 2016  Posted by Abby at 7:25 pm Challenges Comments Off
Jan 042016

We interrupt our regularly scheduled broadcasting to bring you this special announcement. [Am I dating myself here??]

I intended to post every day about my progress following along with the 30 Days of Sewing Room Organizing, but today was one of those days eaten up by running errands and other life chores. No organizing got done. But I did accomplish ONE important task today: mailed my QuiltCon entries. Yep, you read that right – plural! I was totally gobsmacked to get not one but two quilts accepted this year! (Too bad I won’t be there to see them, sigh.)

And I remembered I haven’t posted any photos of them! Quilts pics are more interesting than my messy studio any day, right?

First up is Treetops, made for the Triangle Design Challenge. It is about crib size. I like smaller quilts, I can finish them faster.Treetops full

And I made a little one (did I mention I like to work small?), carefully planned to stay within the “small quilt” size of under 36 inches. I call it Sprinkles.Sprinkles full

There ya go, a preview of QuiltCon 2016.


 January 4, 2016  Posted by Abby at 8:02 pm QuiltCon Comments Off

Day 1 of Patchwork Posse’s 30 Days of Sewing Room Organizing is thread storage. Easy enough, I already have my thread in drawers. But it occurred to me that my system could stand a fresh sorting-out. So I did.


Main thread drawer system. I dusted and rearranged the drawers, putting the heavy ones on the bottom. This rack is sold for holding papers for crafting, and it isn’t really rugged enough for thread, but I’ve used it for 4-5 years now and it hasn’t fallen apart yet [knock on wood]. The coil of plastic tubing underneath is waiting to be cut up to make bobbin clips.



I bought this particular drawer set because the drawers are the perfect height to hold my favorite thread, Essentials cotton from Connecting Thread. I buy more whenever it’s on sale, but after sorting my threads I think I may have enough for awhile – there are two more drawers this full.



This drawer shows how I keep the bobbins with the thread they were wound from – at least for this thread. Snack baggies! Only catch is, these are Pfaff bobbins and I now have a Janome. So far I’ve used other threads in it, but I may have to start writing on the baggies to keep the bobbins straight.




Also in one of the drawers was this box of hand quilting thread. I haven’t touched any of them in about 15 years, but I might take it up again one of these days. But secure in this thread box they didn’t need to be in the drawers so I stashed them on my shelves. That freed up a drawer that I put at the top of the set and use for a catch-all. It holds a few odd spools that don’t fit the system, plus a drop spot for whatever I’m currently using.




I bought this drawer set from Michaels when on sale, and ended up putting thread in it. Maybe someday I can reduce the thread stash and use these drawers for something else. Like more tops waiting for quilting.




These drawers don’t hold as many spools as the plastic ones. This thread I bought at a Ricky Tims Seminar about three years ago – and haven’t used yet. Surely I’ve got a project somewhere I can try them on!




My old thread system is represented here – June Taylor wood racks. I like these (easy to see the thread) but found it hard to keep the bobbins with the threads. With taller pegs the bobbins could sit under the spools, but it didn’t work well on these racks. All these threads went into drawers.



threadracks empty

I emptied the racks (which will be put back to use someday), and got rid of the ratty old box they’d been sitting in.



drawers labelled

Then, in a final fit of organizing energy, I dug out my label-maker and labeled the plastic drawers.

Good thing both sets are on wheels – I still need to find a permanent home for them both in my studio.

 January 3, 2016  Posted by Abby at 10:01 am Organizing and Decluttering Comments Off

   Every winter I take another stab at organizing my sewing room. And every winter I manage to make more of a mess without ever finishing the job. The room has reached critical mass – I’m having trouble working in it. So when I saw that Patchwork Posse was blogging 30 Days of Sewing Room Organizing, I decided it might be a good idea to follow along. Here are some photos of my room as it was yesterday:

room1 copyView as you walk in the door and look to the right. I’ve labeled a few things. The fabric wall looks pretty well organized, but it isn’t all my fabric. I fear I won’t have enough cubes once I dig out the rest.

room3The area barely seen on the right of the first photo – I call it my Etsy area. It’s for packaging and shipping but also collects odds and ends.

room2 copy  Now if you look straight ahead as you enter you see this mess. The vacuum cleaner usually resides in the guest room but until a week ago my sister and her hubby were living in it (the room, not the vacuum). The cube shelves hold up the sliding closet doors I removed from my office, serving as an extra table.room4Swing to the right as you enter, and now you are at the other end of my makeshift work table (currently serving as quilt storage). I’ve folded up a corner of the protective sheet so you can see the pile underneath. That colorful one on top is not quilted yet. The room’s windows are over your left shoulder at this point.

room5 copyWalking along the left side of the room, the quilt storage table is on the right edge of this picture. This space is full of bins of fabric earmarked for charity quilts, stray boxes, and a few UFOs. The work table on the left actually gets used.

room6 copyLooking over to your left is my smaller cutting table, and ironing board. And a few things on the floor. The trashcan is useful when I remember to put a plastic trash bag in it. The mending is my spouse’s clothes, I suppose I should make him happy and patch them ( and get them out of my room!). The maul is for splitting wood. It’s leaning against the wall next to the door to the outside, where the woodpile is. There’s a little woodstove in the corner I didn’t show (hard left as you enter the room) and I heat the whole downstairs with it.

My rulers are on the floor because I used to have a bigger cutting mat on this table and there wasn’t room for the rulers on the table. Still isn’t when I’m ironing yardage. The ironing board is a DIY version – cotton batting with a fabric cover over plywood. I’ve rested it on the two plastic shelves and it’s just the right height.

room7Here’s my store-bought ironing board, which serves as a handy shelf. I think I put it there to help hold a quilt I was quilting, but replaced it with the white extension shelf to the left of my chair. And now can’t put it away because where will I put the stuff on it? Not shown is the paperback book under one leg to keep the thing steady.

I actually do my sewing in this spot, which is why it is somewhat clear. The boxes on the table behind the machine were put there when clearing the guest room, I guess they could go back now. If you look in the back, there’s another chair, and another sewing machine.

room8 copyNow we’re standing at the wobbly ironing board looking back at my big cutting table. The tote bag sits where I set it when I arrived back from QuiltCon15 last February. Maybe one of these days I’ll unpack it and do something with the half-done projects. The strip bin collects stray strips when I cut fabric – usually edge trimmings. FUFOs is my sister’s term for Future UFOs. Isn’t that optimistic? We’ll just call them future projects. Although some are beyond the raw fabric stage.

room9 copyHere’s the middle of the sewing room. The boxes can go back in the guest room now (they contain some family artwork). There’s a pile of strips leftover from a recent project. Various bins, and yes, my Mom sent me a pile of blocks she made. Thanks Mom, like I didn’t have any UFOs myself! That pink and gray is a finished quilt – you’re looking at the back of my Riley Blake Challenge quilt. Pout – not even a finalist. And not accepted to QuiltCon either. Now what do I do with it?

room10 copy

I guess you could call this the UFO corner. Not that they are all here, but a lot of them are. Along with another sewing machine, some fabric, and even some finished quilts. There’s a folding table somewhere under the pile. It was pushed up against the other tables (where the chair is) and from the other side I lost track of how many tables I had pushed together. I spent weeks wondering where our third folding table was (the other is in my office), even asked our son if he had borrowed it. He thought I’d find it in my sewing room – ha ha – he was right! Buried under a pile of quilts.

And there’s my fancy electric fabric cutter – still in the box. There’s a challenge for myself – actually use the thing this winter!

room11 copyLooking to the right from the last shot (the fabric cubes are on the wall opposite the windows), this almost looks organized. There’s a drawer rack full of tops waiting for quilting (or in some cases a border), the fabric cubes, a [gasp] empty bin, a thread rack, my scrap system drawers (half empty, while several bins of scraps lurk here and there), and a corner of my fat quarter drawers.

room12 copyOh, don’t turn around now! Go back to admiring my stash cubes! This space is the back side of the filled space between work tables. You can also see my over-flowing bookshelf here. The two white shelves make a small work surface when placed on top of four big bins stacked two high. Except I no longer have the floor space to set it up.

room13And in the middle of it all is this plastic shelf unit, which usually holds a dozen Rubbermaid bins. I cleared four of them to give me a little space to sort out quilts, but I didn’t get very far. The stack on this end are finished, the rest not.

So there you have it, the “before” pics. My sister vacuumed in here while she was in residence and said it was a labyrinth! I wanted to use the name, Labyrinth Studio, but it’s already in use. Maybe I’ll just refer to is as my labyrinth in stead of my studio or sewing room or playroom.

 January 2, 2016  Posted by Abby at 8:46 pm Organizing and Decluttering Comments Off

When I first saw the email announcing the Riley Blake Fabric Challenge, I said to myself, “nope, not doing that.” Then I read an excited email from my sister saying, “hurry up and sign up, we can do a joint project.” So I did, and we came up with a plan while we were at QuiltCon (which I haven’t written about yet, oops). Then a week after we got home again she emailed me and said, “sorry, I can’t do the Challenge thing after all, too much else on my plate.” Or something to that effect. I could have dropped out too, but by then ideas were racing through my head. Once I have an idea I have a hard time not diving in and starting it. (Finishing is another story, hence the fleet of UFOs flying around here.) After too much time spent comparison shopping online, I bought a Fat Quarter bundle of every fabric in The Cottage Garden line. My sister had bought a yard each of three prints at QuiltCon and shared them with me. Those plus the six 8th yard pieces Riley Blake sent out provided the material for the quilt I made: front, back,  binding, sleeve and label.

After all those ideas I’d had, and when I ironed the fabric (after washing, which I always do) I had another – wouldn’t it be fun to make nests with the red/pink flowers inside instead of eggs? I cut out the flowers in rough ovals, cut a whole bunch of random width strips, and made nests sort of log cabin style. I kept sewing strips on until I started to run out.


I pieced a background to use the blue flowers, also using a yard of birds in the trees print, cut and pieced to provide the shape I wanted. The nests, after several days of playing with arrangements, were appliqued on with a narrow zigzag stitch. For the back I used the rest of the prints, mostly pinks, which I had played with to try a Ricky Tims Convergence style quilt. I wasn’t pleased with the outcome so using it on the back was perfect. I made it big enough with the last of the FQs, saving out one for the sleeve. I’d had free-motion quilting in mind as I pieced it but by the time I had it layered and basted I’d decided to do something easy with the walking foot. The walking foot and I are old friends, but I hadn’t done any free-motion work in months and knew I was rusty. The tangled branches in the background fabric inspired my improvisational intertwined zigzag quilting.

The quilting part took twice as long as I had scheduled, but I got ‘er done before the deadline. Then mis-sewed the sleeve and had to rip out the seam. I nearly ran out of thread for the binding, but didn’t, and IT IS DONE! YAY! No new UFO here.


You can see all the entries here. Mine is number 206 or so.

 July 31, 2015  Posted by Abby at 12:14 pm Challenges Comments Off

I made a travel pillow for my upcoming trip to Austin for QuiltCon.


I’d been thinking about making one but left the thought in the back of my head without doing anything about it, until I saw the Project Quilting email with this week’s challenge – to finish something with orphan blocks or UFOs. Right up my alley! But with less than a week to  make something I thought, hmm, something small – oh – the travel pillow!

A quick google search found plenty of patterns and tutorials, and I downloaded a template from The Cottage Mama at www.thecottagehome.blogspot.com. A quick search of my UFO bins turned up a pile of leftover 4-patches – perfect. After playing with layout I decided to find a background fabric to use with the 4-patches to round out the shape needed. I choose a leaf-print brown from my fat-quarter stash. I figured brown was a good color for a travel pillow – it won’t show the dirt.

My 4-patches were 4-inch (finished), so I cut the following pieces from the FQ: 2 rectangles 4 1/2 by 6 1/2, 4 rectangles 2 1/2 by 4 1/2, and 4 strips 2 1/2 by 8 1/2. Here’s the layout for all the pieces, top shown but I also made a patchwork bottom (so I can use either side).


I sewed the pieces into columns first then sewed those together until I had this panel:


Next I layered with scrap cotton batting and light-weight interfacing on the bottom (pieces about 11×17 inches), and quilted the sandwiches. I kept it simple, about 1/8th of an inch to either side of the seams. I also worked fast – don’t look too close.


Once quilted I place the two sections face to face, pinned them after some fussy alinement, then pinned the cut-out pattern on top. I had to modify it slightly because my panels were a hair too narrow.


My pattern was for half the pillow, which I used as is, but if you do this you could trace it onto freezer paper and iron in place. I pinned it down, stitched around the edge leaving a couple inches along what becomes the back of the pillow. Then I unpinned and reset the pattern for the other side (yes, right on my sewing machine bed with the needle down) and stitched that, stopping about 2 inches from the end of the pattern. After unpinning, I stitched the seam again.


I cut out the pillow about 1/4 inch or so from the seam, then notched the seam allowance.


I wasn’t sure how well this thing would turn given the several layers in the seam, but it was fine. My only problem was the approximately 4 inch opening was not quite enough to fit my hand inside, but it turned okay anyway. The seam, once pushed into place with my fingers, was fine. If this were going to be a knife-edge finish on a quilt, I’m sure I’d be swearing at it, but for a pillow it worked.


I stuffed it with leftover poly batting (I have years of trimmings saved up) and stitched the opening closed by hand. I had folded in the edges and ironed them down earlier to make this easier but it still isn’t my best example of hand workmanship.


It’ll do – and – TAH DA – it is DONE!

 February 8, 2015  Posted by Abby at 9:13 am Uncategorized Comments Off