Wednesday, October 31

TRICK or TREAT!!!

It's Halloween today and it's my day to share a block for Michele's Quilting Gallery Glorious*Autumn*Block*Party!! This block is a colorful Treat.........and at the end, there's a bit of a Trick that will make it even more of a Treat!  And here is my block..........Maple Swirl!!


I called this block Maple Swirl because that's what the maple leaves do here on our street...........they fall from the trees and swirl up and down the street and across the yard! Autumn is my favorite of the four seasons.  I love the cool, crisp days........ the harvesting of the crops.........colorful leaves on the trees and blowing in the wind.........the smell of a bonfire, caramel apples, popcorn balls, pumpkins, and the fun of Halloween. It was a childhood tradition that I always enjoyed as a kid, then with my own kids and grandson. And, of course, with the neighbor kids that come to the door all dressed up. My treats are ready and so is my camera! My camera (and me) have been very busy these last few days preparing my block and taking photos for my block tutorial, so now..........let's get you started!

Step 1. Fabric Choices!!  I was originally planning a Halloween themed block with some of the fabrics you see in the stack on the upper right. But then.......I found the stack of gorgeous solids when I opened my box of autumn fabrics and I knew I had to use them in my block. The line is called "Liberty Village" and is by Craz folk for Four Corners Designs.  You will need six solids for this project. I chose the green to use for the corners and the other colors for the squares that surround the center section. I pulled out four different leaf prints to "audition" and see which one I liked best with the solids..............
I decided on this beautiful Maple leaf print by Timeless Treasures. We live on Maple Ridge and surrounding our development are many maple trees that are so pretty when the leaves are at their peak in early October. Right now, most of the trees are bare because it's been a rather windy Fall.
Step 2. I cut an 8-1/2" square from the autumn print. And then, because I liked the fabric so much, I decided to make four of these blocks. You are getting a "sneak peek" at the Trick part of this project because, as you can see, I have cut four leaf-print center blocks. LOL!  I chose the green from the stack of solids and cut 16 - 2-1/2" squares. You will need four green squares for each block.
Step 3. I used a pencil to mark diagonally across each square, then pinned one square to each corner.
Step 4. Stitch the four squares to each corner and then trim away the excess.
 Step 5. Fold over the green triangle and press to make your center section.
Step 6. Take the remaining solids, stack them up and cut into 2-1/2" squares. You will need 20 squares for each block. Note here.........you could also sew long strips and cut into 2-1/2" sections but I only had 1/4 yard cuts of this fabric and I decided to cut individual blocks and not waste the fabric. I might need extra if I made a mistake. Which I did. So I was glad I played it safe. :-)
Step 7. Lay out the 2-1/2" squares by starting at the upper left corner and then going around the center section in the same order..........purple, deep red, burnt orange, burgundy, orange.  It is important to lay them out in the same order if you plan to do the "Trick" aspect of this project. More on that in a minute.
Step 8. Sew the four blocks together for the right and left sides of the center section. It is very important to take accurate 1/4" seams for this block.  I thought of the term "scant 1/4" seams as I sewed because that mistake I mentioned earlier.........it was because I was not being careful when stitching my seams!!  Also, I chose to press my seams open for this project because I wanted it to lay very flat. You may decide to press to one side or the other depending on your fabric choice.
Step 9. Next, sew the six blocks together for the top and bottom pieces that will be sewn to the center section. Press.
 Step 10. Pin, then sew the side strips in place and press
 Step 11. Pin and sew the top and bottom strips in place, then press.
 Step 12. Your block is finished!!!!
And now, for the "Trick" part of this project...............If you make four of the blocks in this tutorial, and then lay them out like this............
 and then sew them together like this............
then you can make a colorful Glorious Autumn tabletopper!!! If you make the four blocks and lay them out in two rows, the only blocks that will be the same are the purple ones (or whatever color you are using in your blocks).  One note on the colors in my photos.........they are brighter than what they are in person. And from one photo to the next, they seem to be different. Anyway, I liked the idea of making this tabletopper for my Thanksgiving table and so I had to make the four blocks and sew them together. Then came time to find just the right fabrics to sash/border and bind the quilt. Oh, that was difficult!  The brown swirly fabric that is in the background is what I will be using for the backing.

 I thought I liked this combination in the photo below........
but the narrow border of green wasn't quite what I was looking for and then I found a "tree bark" brown and it was just what I wanted. To see the finished project, you'll have to stop by next Monday to see it hanging "on the line" in my regular Monday feature. And also on that day.........
I will draw a name from the comments you post here and one lucky winner will receive a kit with all the fabrics to make this same tabletopper!!  Just leave your name (make sure you have a link back to your blog and/or your e-mail address) and tell me your favorite Autumn scent..........pumpkins roasting, fire burning, cookies in the oven. You tell me!
You may leave your comment starting now and through Sunday evening at midnight CST. Winner will be announced in my Monday "What's on the line?" post!
Thanks to Michele for letting me share my autumn fun! If you have any questions on the block assembly, please e-mail me.  :-)  And don't forget to hop over to the main page for all the other blocks that have been posted and more to come!  Just go here and you will find plenty of Autumn quilting fun!!
Sandi

Monday, October 29

What's on the line?

 Halloween fun is "on the line" today! And not just one Halloween quilt top............
but two Halloween themed quilt tops are "on the line"!!
Both tops measure about 36" square. The patterns are designs I did back in 2001 for my friends. I shared the original design for the pinwheel version here and the autumn version of the quilt above was "on the line" here. For the longest time, I have wanted to make these quilts again so I could put them into pattern format or a booklet. Finally, I am getting to it!!  They will remain unquilted for a bit, though, because I need a lot more practice on my new machine before I machine quilt them! I figure January and February will be a really good time to be snowed in and practice my machine quilting.
I set my Halloween fabrics aside and got out autumn leaf fabrics for my block that I'll be sharing over at Michele's Glorius Autumn Block Party.  You'll find some gorgeous blocks just by clicking here.  My day is this Wednesday, October 31........Halloween!!  My treat will be a fun block, that with a little bit of a "trick" can become a tabletopper! Be sure to stop by on Wednesday!
In the meantime..........have a great Monday! 
Sandi

Monday, October 22

What's on the line?

Halloween Cottages are on the line! It's another finished quilt project! Can you believe it? I have so many projects that I've started that it's about time I finished some of them! :-)

Only a few weeks ago, I showed you that this project was on it's way to being finished and I am thrilled with how it turned out! The little cottage pattern can be found over at Nanette's blog - just go here .  She did a Christmas cottage block exchange a couple of years ago and I had so much fun making the Christmas cottages that I decided I wanted to make some for Halloween.  This quilt is going to my daughter, Collette, for her daycare center. The kids will love it!
We had a busy weekend. It was MEA weekend here in Minnesota and teachers were at conference so kids had no school last Thursday and Friday. Our grandson, Jacob came to spend the weekend so on Saturday, we took an "adventure"!! We headed out to the Big Yellow Barn, home to Minnesota's Largest Candy Store, to check out the veggies and the candy.
 

Every kind of candy you could ever want is in that place! And if you don't like candy, there are apples and pies and just like the pig says above.......there's smoked meats. Oh, and puzzles. I never noticed the puzzles before and that's probably because I was only looking for the candy. I want to go back and buy a puzzle and may just do that later this week!  We bought a few yummy delights for sure. Jacob had to try a quarter in the giant gumball machine. I want one of these in my house. LOL!

Next stop was Emma Krumbee's in Belle Plaine where Grandpa Steve was helping Jacob find the perfect pumpkins to paint and decorate.........

Steve was fascinated by the bin full of gourds..........
and so he selected a few to go with my fall decorations because he said you can't have Halloween without gourds. I had no idea he even paid attention to that kind of stuff!
Just outside the pumpkin tent is this wooden chair guy so I took a rest.......... 
I think he's kinda fun and would like to have him in my backyard. :-)
 
We took a lunch break and then on to the Ney Nature Center just east of Henderson, MN. It was a farmstead that is now open to the public and hosts a variety of programs, plus walking trails, cross-country skiing, natural prairie, etc.
This barn is one of the many original buildings on the site. I love old barns. I also like cows. However, neither would fit in my back yard. :-)
 
There is a new building on the site that houses exhibits on the farmstead's history and information on wildlife that is found in our area. We were fortunate to arrive just in time for the program that was being presented by Jan Helgesen about the deformed frogs that have been found in the Minnesota River and other parts of Minnesota. If you love learning about nature, then check out this article for more on what Jan shared in her program.......just click....here
There were demonstrations of how to make a cornhusk doll, tractor rides, and cider pressing...........
and pumpkin painting for the kids. Aren't these cute and colorful?!
Our last stop was by the big fire for a bit of a "warm-up". The day was pretty dreary and colder than expected so we welcomed the warm fire!
 
We had a great day and we all slept well on Saturday night!!  Sunday was more relaxed which was good because I did something to my heel or ankle and if I stepped wrong, it was "ouch!"  Much better now and have no clue what I did. I guess I'm just getting old. LOL! 
So, what's on the agenda for this week. Well, I'm stitching on some more Halloween projects and then setting them aside on Tuesday to work on some wooly projects. Going to teach a wool ornament project at the Knitting Knest on Tuesday night and that is going to put me in the mood for Christmas! However, I must be patient as I have told myself that the Christmas projects are not coming out til the day after Halloween! And I am going to keep that promise!
Have a great Monday!
Sandi


Tuesday, October 16

Tabletopper Tutorial Part 2

Did you enjoy your break? I sure did. In fact, since I posted Part 1 (go here for Part I of this tutorial) on Sunday, I have cut out pieces for six of these tabletoppers for Halloween for next year!! That's right! I am going to be ahead of the game and plan to make some for my family and friends.  But right now, most of your quilt top is finished and we need to get to the next step.
Please read this part carefully and learn from the mistake I made when I sewed this sample topper. I managed to make this mistake twice........once last summer when I made the first topper with the Quilt Minnesota fabric (you'll find three examples of this table topper here) and again just a couple weeks ago with Jacquelynne's "Fruitful Hands" fabrics. Ugh! I was so mad at myself. Here's what I learned.......It's very important to cut your strips on the bias with a single layer of fabric. Do not double it if you plan to piece the strips together. The stripes run two different directions if you cut two layers. And sooooooo, cut carefully!
Step 11.
Cut four 1" strips of the striped fabric on the bias, two that are 18-1/2" long and two that are 20-1/2".
Sew the 18-1/2" long strips to the right and the left of the quilt top and then sew the 20-1/2" strips to the top and bottom of the top.  Press.
 
Step 12.
The final border is 2-1/2" wide and you will need two pieces that are 20-1/2" long and two that are 22" long. Note........because we all sew a slightly different quarter-inch seam, you may need to adjust this final round of strips.
Sew the two shorter strips to the right and left sides of your quilt top and then the longer strips to the top and the bottom.  Press.
 
And now your top is completed................
 
 
 And it is time to back the table topper, quilt it and bind it.
 
Step 13.
Cut one 24" square of fabric for backing or ........as I did, you can make your backing by cutting four 12-1/2" squares and sewing them together like this............
Make your quilt sandwich by placing your top, batting and backing together. I use Quilt Spray that allows me to position my pieces and keep them stationery.
 
Step 14.
Here's that phrase so often stated in quilt patterns......."Quilt as desired". And that's exactly what you should do. Even though I use a quilt basting spray, I also pin the pieces together. I chose to stitch around each pair and then did "stitch in the ditch" along all other seams. Because this is a small tabletopper, I did not wish to do a lot of quilting. I really wanted to see the fabrics and the block design. You may wish to do more machine or hand-quilting, and that's why we say......... "Quilt as desired!"
 
 
Step 15.
I cut my binding 2" wide. Most times I cut it 3" wide (for large quilts) but I was short on fabric because of my earlier cutting error, plus I wanted a narrow binding. I pieced several sections together in order to get a piece long enough (I made piece about 100" long so that I would have plenty for my binding) to use for the quilt binding. I found the best binding information at Kaye Wood's site. If you go here and follow her directions, you can obtain perfect mitered corner binding!
 
And with the binding finished, your tabletopper is ready to be used!

I'll be sharing a variation on this tabletopped in early November when I make another sample with Jacquelynne's Christmas line.......... "O Holy Night!"  There will be fabrics to give away so be sure to stay tuned!

Monday, October 15

What's on the line?

This is my quilt called "Brick and Tile". I made the top in 2005 and I finally had it machine quilte by Anne Tuma last winter. After church yesterday, I took the quilt out to the line for a picture. It was windy. I knew it could be difficult to get a good picture. I was right. It was so windy about noon yesterday, that it snapped the clothespins right off the line so I thought I'd try later in the day. Well, the wind had died down by about 4:00 p.m. but then there was too much sun!! And that meant a big shadow of the tree nearby cast itself upon my quilt!

So, I thought........hmmmm...........I'll just hang the quilt on the other side and take my photo toward the house. The first picture was okay but seemed a little dark..........

so I thought I'd take another one, and then guess what? The wind came up again............
and I mean, it really was blowing..............
so while these pictures aren't the best, it's the best I could do on another windy day here in Minnesota!

There's a story behind this quilt...........

My friends, Sandie and Gretchen were hosting a retreat and asked me to design an easy quilt project that guests could make in a weekend. I had a couple old quilts that belonged to my Great Aunt Marian that provided inspiration. I thought about those quilts because my mother had seen them "on the line" at Marian's one day and she said they were old and was going to get rid of them. My mom was interested in them, so Marian gave them to my mom. And then I bought them when my folks had an auction when they went from their acreage to an apartment. I thought of those quilts and of Lehigh, the little town in Iowa where I grew up. The hills of Lehigh were filled with clay and the company that anchored the town was Lehigh Brick and Tile. I wanted the quilt to be a comfy lap quilt, one that would remind me of growing up in such a wonderful little town. And so............the larger square blocks are the "tiles". The "bricks" are the rectangular blocks. The smaller squares are a reminder of the trees that are found in all corners of the scenic Des Moines River Valley in Lehigh.
I spent four days in Lehigh last week and enjoyed every minute of it. The town is like so many small towns in America......empty buildings as businesses closed when shopping centers and big box stores became the place to shop instead of Main Street U.S.A. but I still see Lehigh through the eyes of the girl who left there in 1967. It was a great place to grow up. I loved Saturday nights on Main Street, a visit to the library, a bag of popcorn from the popcorn stand on the corner near the bridge, visiting with friends, all the things that make a small town so fine. Many friends and family still live in Lehigh. But many are gone, too. I'm just glad I grew up there and that I can visit from time to time. One of my favorite things to do when I visit my mom is to take a drive around Lehigh and to the little towns nearby. Much of the corn has been harvested and farmers have let the cattle out in the fields to graze on the remaining corn. These cows were laying down when I stepped up to the fence to take their picture, but then rose as if to say..........Glad to see you!!!!!!!
And I was glad to be there. More pictures of my visit to Lehigh later on this week. You all have a great Monday and an awesome start to this week!
Sandi

Sunday, October 14

Tabletopper Tutorial Part 1........

It's time to get this tutorial rolling!  I have been to Iowa for a visit with my mom and everything is finally unpacked and the laundry is done, so I can get to some sewing and blogging.  The winner of the fabric pack is Sandy/ScottyLover. She is a longtime follower of my blog, so I was delighted for her when my husband drew her name. She's been notified and was thrilled to win! 
This tutorial will be posted in two parts. As mentioned in one of my previous posts, I really wanted to double-check my math before I published the tutorial. I've made plenty of math errors in my time but it is not fun to make one when quilting!  I decided to make another version of this tabletopper in Halloween fabrics which will allow me to make sure you don't have to contend with a math error I may have made. The finished tabletopper measures approximately 23 inches square.

You may be planning to make this project in fabrics from Jacquelynne's fabric line, Fruitful Hands, but you may also be planning to make it in holiday prints or just fabrics in your stash. A few fat quarters will work for almost all pieces except the outer border (shown above in the green pear fabric) and the striped border and binding pieces. More on the striped fabric in a few steps. Read through the steps in this tutorial first, then come back and begin cutting and sewing your fabric pieces.

Step 1. Gather your fabrics. As mentioned above, fat quarters work great for this project. I used the pear fabric and fussy cut pieces that were fused to the center block. If you are using Halloween prints, perhaps you will cut pumpkins for the applique or stars for Christmas, etc.

Step 2.
If you planning to applique items to the center block, cut the pieces you want to use, then back with iron-on fusible product. Follow the manufacturer's directions on the fusible product you use. When pieces are fused, then cooled, you may cut out your shapes and set them aside to use later.  You can also applique the shapes in traditional applique with turned-under seams.
Step 3.
To create the center block, choose two fabrics and cut two 5" squares from each fabric. In the photo below, you can see that I have chosen the green polka dot and the orange polka dot. I also decided what color I want to border this section with so I cut a 1-1/2" strip (width of fabric) from the green solid, then cut two pieces that are 8-1/2" and two that are 10-1/2". Set those strips aside. Get ready to sew the four center squares together.
Step 4. Sew the four squares together (all seems are 1/4"), press, and then trim the block to an 8-1/2" square. I like to make the square slightly larger and then trim to the exact size I want as when the center square is exact, then the rest of the topper will likely be more accurate. :-)
Step 5. Sew the 8-1/2" strips to the right and left sides of the center block. Press.
Next, sew the 10-1/2" strips to the top and bottom. Press.
Step 6.
If you are planning to do applique, this is the step when you will add your shapes. If you using fusible method, be sure to remember to remove the paper backing.  Place your shapes where you think you want them.......
I used a pin to mark the corner of the center block so that all my shapes would be positioned from the same spot...............
When you are satisfied with the position of your shapes, iron them in place per directions for fusible product you are using.
Step 7.
Now it's time to make our triangle corners.  Cut four 5" squares, two of one color, two of another color..........
For my tabletopper, I chose green and orange. With right sides together, I placed the orange squares on the green squares. Then I drew a pencil line from corner to corner diagonally as shown in the photo below.....
I stitched 1/4" seams to each side of the pencil line, then cut them in half on the pencil line. Open the sewn triangle sections and press.
Step 8.
I chose yellow and orange for these pieces. You will cut strips that are 2-1/2" wide........... four 10-1/2" orange strips and four 10-1/2" yellow strips (or your color choices).  You can use fat quarters for these strips, or you can cut two strips width of fabric and then cut into 10-1/2" sections.
 
Sew the yellow and orange strips together and press.
Step 9.
Sew one set of 10-1/2" strips to left and right of center block section. Press. Then sew corner triangle units to 10-1/2" sections for top and bottom and press.
 
Step 10.
Carefully pin the top and bottom sections to your center section...........
 
 Stitch in place and then press. This section is complete.

Time to take a break. Part II of the Tabletopper Tutorial will be posted on Tuesday.
Tomorrow, I'll have a little something "on the line". See you then!
Sandi
"Peace can be found in the piecing of a quilt."
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