Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Running With Donna, Part 4

I'm still working on my binding ...

IMG_6867 Table Runner with Donna

... but I'm getting there! In the meantime, how about a look at Donna's runner?!? I always love seeing how differently people can interpret the same pattern!

Here is Donna's runner, pre-borders:

Donna's runner

Notice how her side end-logs had to be chopped before she could add the short sides, as well?!?  Like I said, there were HBO words flying both here and in Northern Virginia!  We both followed the pattern VERY carefully, but as written, you have to fudge!  That's just not right!!!  Moving right along ...

I love the fabrics she chose - and how her lights are where my darks are, and vice versa!  Very cool!

She did some great quilting - a combination of free-motion quilting (she has a Bernina 440QE also!) and echo quilting) and chose a coordinating red fabric for her binding:

Donna's runner, as she does the hand part of the binding

LOVE it!

We're going to be doing this runner together again - but with some changes.  I did some math, a handful of test blocks, and think I've got it to where our side logs won't have to be whacked off to fit the center "panel".  Yes, math.  As in "the class the original pattern writer could have spent more time in".  (Insert eye roll here.)  Math is my friend - except perhaps for that third semester of calculus that resulted in me changing my major  ... but that's a different story altogether.  Anyway, I'll post pix of our progress - and we'll see how my math does for us.  :)

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Running With Donna, Part 3

I thought I'd share my quilting process with you today - and the machine part of the binding.  I'm slowly doing the hand work.  Actually, I've gotten as far as tossing the runner on my dining room table and grabbing one of my hand-sewing baskets to bring upstairs.  Hey, it's a start, right?

My first step was to quilt 1/4" inside the "peaks and valleys", or whatever you'd like to call them.

IMG_6749 Table Runner with Donna

I used my walking foot for that. I'm in my comfort zone with the walking foot... and realized I need to break out of that habit and get some practice with my BSR, doing free-motion quilting.

IMG_6757 Table Runner with Donna
Don't fear the BSR!
I can only improve through practice ... right?  I did some swirls in the Kansas fabric:

IMG_6760 Table Runner with Donna

You know... like swirling Kansas winds! I think I should have made them larger or not as "tight". But it's practice.

I used a variegated King Tut thread -- Sands of Time. LOVE the King!

Here's what I made up for the background areas:

IMG_6796 Table Runner with Donna

I like how that came out better than the swirls - but the outer areas are always easier for me than the middles. And it was WAY easier to see where I was going and had been!

I decided to use the Kansas fabric for the binding:

IMG_6807 Table Runner with Donna

I've started winding my binding around one of my antique spools - just to keep it tidy. Of course, I usually knock it on the floor and it unwinds... but HA! I have a cool solution for that now! Check this out:

IMG_6809 Table Runner with Donna

Yes, put it in a bowl/pan! But not just ANY bowl!  A MAGNETIC bowl!

IMG_6810 Table Runner with Donna

It's from the auto parts department. I'd like a smaller bowl, but this is what I found; I knew I'd find a cool use for it! The spool has JUST enough nails in it to make it "stick" to the magnets, but it also just easily unwinds as I sew!!! VERY, VERY cool!!!

I'll be sharing pix of Donna's runner with you, too - I always love seeing different interpretations of a pattern and in different color ways!  As for now ... I need to get the hand part of the binding done!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Running With Donna, Part 2

Picking up from where we left off yesterday ...

... following the diagrams on the pattern very carefully, I kept piecing my blocks together and before too long came up with these:


Take a look at the block in the lower right-hand corner of the photo. Oops. My mistake. I made a few extra blocks, as I wasn't sure which pair of triangles-turned-into-rectangles I needed to slice up and sew together to make the right block. Does that even make sense? I just made a few, then found the right one and had this:


Yea!  Much better.

Before I forget, the main fabric is by Jason Yenter, one of my favorite designers! Click here for more info!

OK... so here's where my head was about to explode. Remember yesterday when I mentioned having a first clue that the pattern-writer should have spent more time in math class?  Here was my next clue.  I don't mean any offense; there are plenty of times when I have to fudge things a bit, ease the fabric in to make it fit, or even have to shave a TINY bit off (like 1/16" maybe...) but honestly! When you purchase a pattern, you expect the author to have done the math for you instead of giving directions like this:


See that part about having to trim away the EXCESS pieced border to length? Now she HAS to know that fabric is 44" wide, so that's the longest any of us are going to cut our fabric for the center. Both Donna and I, when we laid our side pieces up to our middle fabric, got this:


ON ALL FOUR ENDS!!! It's a good, healthy INCH!!! %$#&!!!  There were many HBO words being said both here and in Virginia. You can't "fudge" 2 inches worth (an inch on either end) to make something fit. Or I can't - and trust me, I can fudge things with the best of them. I had no alternative but to whack it off.


Yes, I had used my walking foot the whole way to avoid stretching - and used starch, starch and more starch. (Never pre-starch fabs that you will store, by the way. The starch can attract bugs. Bugs aren't good.)

Anyway, here's how it looked, pre-borders:


Yes, I like it, but look at where the sides meet those end panels. Boo!

And if you read the part up there in the directions that I squiggly-marked about the 2" borders - I'm sorry, but just pinning a long length of fabric to the edge of your quilt, sewing it on, then cutting to size?  That is the best way I know to get wavy borders.  Knowing that the Quilt Police actually would arrest me if I did that (and I wouldn't blame them!), I measured the center and along each side - took the average measurement, then cut the borders to size BEFORE sewing them on.  Sheesh.   I mean ...

Moving right along and shaking those HBO words off... here it is with the borders added:


I like the design, I just don't like how those last logs have to be split. So to speak.

I didn't have much of the tone-on-tone sunflowers left, or I probably would have backed it in that - instead, I pieced my leftover blocks (the spare blocks I made after my "oops") with some fabs that coordinate with the Jason Yenter Kansas fabric and came up with this:

The back and the top

Yea! I will make this again - this was a practice for Donna, who is going to do the pattern again using some gorgeous batik fabric she bought. Next time around, I'll be making my own rules and will NOT be chopping any logs off! Seriously!

I did some echo quilting and some free-motion quilting on it and am currently sewing the binding on. I'll post Part 3 soon!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Running With Donna

Or at least making a runner with her.  Sort of.  She's in VA and I'm in KS...

To make a long story short, my friend Donna and I decided to make a table runner "together" - posting updates, tips, and encouragement via FaceBook and email.  It sounded like a great idea and actually was tons of fun.

It's one of those where you start with rectangles, slice them into triangles, sew them back together to form 2-tone rectangles, slice them up, rearrange the slices ... I learned a similar technique in a book I have called Start With Squares by Martha Thompson, only you ... start with squares. :) I did so well with the technique 10 years ago that the full-sized quilt is actually a throw pillow -- if you know what I mean.

The best tip this pattern writer gave was to starch your fabrics first.

IMG_6676 Table Runner with Donna

You're going to be sewing on the bias a LOT, so it helps tremendously.

IMG_6675 Table Runner with Donna
Rectangles cut, cut on the diagonal and ready to sew back up

My Guide Dog for the Color Blind was right there with me, lending moral support and making sure I took breaks now and then to play with him.  :)

IMG_6678 Table Runner with Donna
Sewing the rectangles back together

My tip is to use your walking foot to help you with all that bias work! It helps avoid any stretching.

IMG_6681 Table Runner with Donna
Preparing to slice the pieced rectangles into logs

She had us slice a bit off either side of the rectangle, then cut into 2.25" logs.  That having to shave a bit off either side should have been my first clue that the pattern writer could have spent a bit more time in math class... but that's OK.  

Slice the rectangles up and rearrange the logs:

IMG_6683 Table Runner with Donna

Pretty cool. Here's what a block looks like:

IMG_6686 Table Runner with Donna

I confess, I was pretty excited at that stage. I sewed two together and was anxious to see how it was going to look with the "center" of the table runner -- in my case, the same fabric as my focal fabric.

IMG_6688 Table Runner with Donna

Clearly, Dave was excited as well.

I'll post more progress tomorrow!  Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Runner for Sue

As I mentioned in my last post, the "secret project" I was working on was mailed out.  It is happily in the hands of its new owner now!  I posted about it on the boys' blog yesterday - for some great in-progress shots and Dave's (my Guide Dog for the Color Blind) take on the whole thing, please give that hyperlink a click.  All kidding aside, I would not tackle anything in the golds/yellow/autumny color area without him.  I cannot distinguish the shades and he apparently can.  And he's very good at making his opinion known.

I stretched myself a bit on this one, trying a couple new things, changing the pattern a bit, and forcing myself to use my Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR) and do some free-motion quilting.  Here are a couple close-ups of my stitching:

IMG_6582 Runner for Sue

IMG_6583 Runner for Sue

It was great practice and I'm very happy with how it came out. I really need to do more BSR work!

One new (to me) technique I tried was to fold a square of muslin in half, write your labeling, then sew it into a corner as you add your binding:

IMG_6587 Runner for Sue

When you bring the fold of your binding around to the back of the quilt/runner, it's all neat and tidy:

IMG_6599 Runner for Sue

DSCN3133 Runner for Sue

Wow, is that ever one of those "Why didn't I think of that??!!?" moments! I'll definitely be doing that again!

I pieced the back, using the fabs from the top:

DSCN3131 Runner for Sue

The back needs to be interesting, right?  Oh, and the binding, too.  I did a scrappy binding, using all the fabrics once again!  Here's the front:

DSCN3127 Runner for Sue

If you didn't see the pix on the Ao4 Digest, please do go take a look. I always like the process photos!  There is also a link to the runner in Sue's home!

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Let's Eat!

The big quilting project I've been working on is in the mail and should arrive at its destination today or tomorrow.  After it's in the hands of its new owner, I'll post pix!  In the meantime, I tried a new recipe that I thought I'd share with you.

Here's what I got from Pinterest:

Looks good - and the recipe sounded great! You can click it for the original recipe ... but frankly, I changed it. A ton. So click there, if you must, but then here's how I did it!

BBQ Pineapple Chicken:

DSCN3114 BBQ Pineapple Chicken
My BBQ Pineapple Chicken

     6 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts (The recipe called for 3.  3!?!  Use 6.  There's still oodles of sauce.)
     1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
     1 large onion, chopped (The recipe called for 1/2.  No half measures!)
     1 cup crushed pineapple (I drained it a bit.)
     3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
     3/4 cup whiskey (I used Jim Beam because that's what I had.  It was so old, I don't even remember when we bought it, but I'm guessing it was to put in a cake.)
     1/4 cup molasses
     2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
     1/4 cup brown sugar
     3 Tablespoons lemon juice
      1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
     salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in small saucepan.  Add onions, garlic and whiskey; cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.

The recipe THEN said to remove from the heat and ignite.  I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to that step.  Setting food on fire!  How exciting!  I was all set with the camera!   Sadly, mine did not light.  Despite many, many attempts.  (insert frowny face here)  I think the alcohol burned off on its own... so next go-round, I won't sauté my onions as long.

OK... if your sauce lights, let it burn for 20 seconds.  If it doesn't, pout, take a picture, and text it to your friend who is also on stand-by waiting to see your food on fire.  (Thanks for being there, Macon Bag-a-holic!)  Add remaining ingredients (except for the chicken), bring to a boil, then turn heat down to low.  Simmer 10 minutes.

The original recipe called for you to strain it and throw out all the lovely chunks of onion, garlic and pineapple.  WHAT?!?  No way.  I left it as is.

Now you're supposed to chill the sauce overnight.  Hmm.  OK, I did do this, but mostly because I wanted the chicken for the next day anyway and it would give the flavors time to mingle together ... but I really don't think it's totally necessary.

The next day, throw the sauce and your chicken in a crockpot.  The directions on the original recipe confused me so really - just cook it on low for 5-7 hours, shred the chicken, let it soak in the sauce for a while, then it's time to EAT!!!

DSCN3115 BBQ Pineapple Chicken

Throw it on a nice, hearty bun, and enjoy! I served ours with some chips (hey! I was quilting all afternoon!) and my cabbage salad.  (If you follow the link to the recipe, I also tossed in 6 ounces of Cherry-Flavored Craisins.)  The chicken was tender, sweet, yet with a little bit of tang. Both the hubster and I loved it!  The only let-down was that I couldn't get it to catch on fire - but there WILL be a next time!  (And yes, I'll have the camera standing by!)

If you give it a try, let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

(It Doesn't Have To Be A) Diaper Pouch

Hi everyone!  I've been keeping busy sewing a couple bindings on lately - not a very exciting part of the quilting process, unless you think of it in terms of almost being DONE!  :)  One project I did sneak in a little bit ago was a Diaper Pouch!

Remember the Sitia Marie tote I showed you at this link?  Shortly after I mailed it to my friend Laura, I saw a cute diaper pouch on Pinterest - complete with a great tutorial!

(Click on the photo to get to Pinterest, then click there to go to the tutorial!)  I wanted to give it a try ... but linen?  Just isn't a good fit with me, nor do I have any. I put the idea on the back burner, turned the heat down, and let it simmer a bit. THEN ... I got a package from my friend Laura! Included were a couple pairs of BDU pants her brother-in-law wore when he was in the Air Force. It hit me right away -- use a hunk of the BDU fabric instead of linen, paired up with some of the fabs left from making Laura's Sitia Marie tote! PERFECT!!!

Here it is:

DSCN2984 "Diaper Pouch"

Complete with coordinating lining:

DSCN2985 "Diaper Pouch"

I used polypro and Velcro to keep the pouch closed.  CUTE!

Laura has delivered a beautiful baby girl named Raven, and both bags are already in use!  (Insert major smile here!)

I will definitely make this again.  Not just for diapers - my Kindle Fire with cover and iPhone fit in here together.  I think this would make a great protective sleeve for any eReader, your iPad, etc.  The size might need a little tweaking to get it just right, but that's easy enough!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 6, 2012

New Fabrics!

Since I've been so good about scrap-busting lately, I treated myself to some new fabric!

IMG_6497 Dave and me

My Guide Dog for the Color Blind and I are very happy.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Scrappy Not-Really-A-Jelly-Roll Quilt

I mentioned the other day that I'm also working on a scrap quilt!  I'm trying to make an effort to use all those great scraps that are taking up way too much room in the Studio, so I'm always on the hunt for "scrap buster" quilts that aren't just "scrappy".  What?  There has to be some kind of rhyme or reason to them - a theme, a design... something that allows the Type A in me (that would be 99% or more...) to go "See?!?  There's a pattern to it!"  My Frenzy quilt (still unquilted, but I'll get to it) was a great scrap buster - and was all patriotic themed prints!  Yea!  It was fun doing paper foundation piecing - and I'll actually probably do something like that again before too long - but this time... something else!

I LOVE the video tutorials the Missouri Star Quilt Company puts out!  Especially the ones done by Jenny - she makes it look so fun and easy and you just want to join her in her Studio and sew along!  One of her videos was for The Amazing Jelly Roll Quilt Pattern by 3 Dudes!  I watched it over and over and HAD to try!  Oh, not with a Jelly Roll (not yet, anyway...) - with my 2.5" scraps!  Right?!?  And OK, they had to be the soft, comfort colors that are overflowing the scrap baskets!  The country blues, tans, reds, greens... love the combo!

I watched Jenny for the 12th time, and got to it! Here's how one of my first blocks turned out:

IMG_6245 block!

Very fun! I did decide that after you sandwich your striped blocks together and sew on all four sides (watch the short video; it will make sense!) that it helps to trim your corners off:

IMG_6209 Cutting corners

I just like everything neat and tidy.

I made a few more blocks:

IMG_6302 Scrappy Not-Really-A-Jelly-Roll Quilt

...and realized that not only did I really like the process, but I was going through my scraps mighty fast! YEA! Then it hit me. See how, in the last two photos above, I have to match up the diagonals where all the strips meet? Well! If I don't limit myself to 2.5" strips, they wouldn't need to match up. I started grabbing from my 1" basket on up. (I have baskets for strips starting at .75" up to 3", in .25" increments. My name is Karen, and I am a Type A.) It made the process go MUCH faster and before I knew it, I had this to show for myself:

IMG_6415 Scrappy Not-Really-A-Jelly-Roll Quilt

Sure, when you put the blocks together, you're dealing with the stretchy bias, but just take it slow, use your walking foot, and it'll be fine.

I've been having fun with this quilt over on my boys' blog, too. If you're interested, please click here, here, and here. I kid you not - Dave normally does not touch a quilt in progress at ALL - but he was so adamant about knocking that one block down from the design wall. It tickled my funny bone that it just happened to have cat fabric on it. Coincidence? You decide!

Speaking of Dave, I got a wild idea at this stage in the quilt to put about a 2.5" inner border around the quilt, then do a Piano Keys border.  I started working on it, and ran the idea past him:

IMG_6417 Scrappy Not-Really-A-Jelly-Roll Quilt

It was hard to read him.  He seemed otherwise occupied.  I asked my FaceBook friends instead, letting them know if they really liked me, they'd talk me out of it. ☺ While we were deciding, I did these:

IMG_6418 Scrappy Not-Really-A-Jelly-Roll Quilt

I really like them, but as one of my friends said, it could be too busy. I decided to go for one more vertical row of blocks (so it is 5 blocks by 6 blocks, instead of 4x6 as above) and deep-six the Piano Keys idea on the front. They will make a swimming addition to the back, however!

I'll keep you posted on my progress!  I've suspended work on the Scrappy Not-Really-A-Jelly-Roll Quilt while I work up a quick project I want to do for a friend, then I'll be back on this and the Wonky Stars!

Thanks for reading!