Archive for the ‘quilting’ Category

Letting Go

I did something today that I never thought I’d actually do.

I don’t consider myself a hoarder, but my studio tells me that I’m in denial. So too, probably, would my husband. When you’re into genealogy, you have to document your research and that means paper, lots of paper (until you convert your stuff to digital) and after 25 years of researching, there’s not enough life left in me to scan all that stuff. I’ll have to do something about it sometime, but not now. I don’t have a large fabric stash, but I have more than I’d like to have and I need to make scrap quilts, lots of scrap quilts. I have 10+ years of quilting magazines.

At least I did. Until today.


I always thought these magazines had value to someone out there and I should have a yard sale. I just couldn’t throw them out. But then I saw the multitudes of magazines that had been donated to the group I sew with. I’ll bet nobody looks at them, they’re stored out in the garage. So I realized that the magazines really don’t have much value. Sure, they’ve got quilt patterns, but the fabrics featured and advertised are outdated, techniques and tools are outdated, and who has the time to go through them?

So I saved the ones that had patterns I’d flagged and took the rest (pictured above) to the recycling center. I’m going to review those flagged items to see if they still matter to me. If not, out they go, too.


So I unloaded about half my magazine stash. And a lot of dust LOL.

I divided the remaining mags by title and found that the largest stack was Quilter’s Newsletter, followed by Fons & Porter (which was a surprise as I really dislike their TV shows), McCall’s Quilting and Quiltmaker. The smallest stacks read like a time capsule: Miniature Quilts (those are really old), Quilts with Style. Do you remember that magazine? It was published by a husband and wife (in Virginia as I recall) and it was all about paper-pieced designs. Really complex designs. Beautiful designs. The magazine is no longer published but the couple now runs equiltpatterns.com. There was a Quilter’s Home issue, which went out of print in 2011. That magazine was started by Mark Lipinski, you either loved him or hated him. I don’t know what he’s doing now, didn’t he have a kidney transplant or something?

I love magazines of all kinds and I have to work hard to control the amount I leave laying around the house. I get comped on a number of magazines through work, which I bring home, and if I’m at Barnes & Noble, there is usually a quilting magazine or two that come home with me.

Next up, to go through my photography/Photoshop books.



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Design Wall Monday 10.21.13

On my design wall is the United Way quilt, still under wraps.

But I wanted to give you some more info on the Thangles.

For this quilt, I’m using 5″ finished, which are called Big Thangles. Unlike the smaller Thangles (pictured below), you get these small sheets of paper that you position on the diagonal of your rectangle (in this case 5.5″ x 6.25″), pin, stitch on the dotted lines, cut on solid line. Each paper yields 2 half-square triangles (HST).


With the smaller Thangles, your paper fits the entire strip/rectangle. Again, pin, stitch on dotted lines, cut on solid lines. Each paper yields 4 HSTs.


With the Big Thangles, I found that in order to really get HSTs that measure 5.5″ unfinished takes a level of perfection that I couldn’t always achieve.

After I sewed all of Color #1, I found that I’d actually been sloppy, so I ripped out and re-did about half of them. I learned that even though I thought I had all the lines matched up at the corners, the paper would shift when I inserted a pin. If I aligned the paper just a hair to the left of where it’s supposed to be, then it would line up after pinning (I’m right handed). That realization made the Color #2 units go together better and I didn’t have any I felt needed to be re-done.

Looks like the one I chose to photograph is not sewn precisely on the diagonal, but please pretend that it does. Most of them do. I also found that it helped to stitch just to the left side of the dotted line (inside the seam allowance). Again, I didn’t choose the best one to photograph for this. Geez.


After the units are cut apart and pressed, this is what the corner looks like if you didn’t sew precisely on the diagonal. If you can’t see it, there is a small “V” notch where the two points should come together. In this case, it’s not enough to mess with, so I’m not re-doing it.


There is only one dog ear that has to be trimmed:


I found that most of my HSTs measure about 5-3/8″ instead of 5-1/2″. So since they’re consistent, I think they’ll sew together just fine. I’m not worried.

I like working with the Thangles. I’ve made many an HST using traditional methods and they always come out wonky. The best technique is to make them larger than you need them and trim to size. But that means trimming all 4 sides of every single one. This way I only have to trim the one dog ear. And I found that process went much faster with scissors than with a ruler and rotary cutter. And they come out square and not wonky.

That’s all from Short Pump today, check out Judy L’s page for what everyone else is doing.

Till next time!


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Design Wall Monday 10.14.13

The United Way quilt has been started this week. Only a teaser shot for you, because I don’t want any of my co-workers to see it until it’s at the silent auction.


This pattern uses a lot of half-square triangles and I like to use Thangles for that. I was surprised that the package for 5″ finished Thangles is so small compared to the smaller ones. But once I opened it I understood. The papers are much smaller but they cover the fabric diagonally with markings to help you line them up. You still sew them the same way, up one side and down the other (or vice versa). Cut them apart between the stitching and press. Remove the papers after pressing to avoid stretching the bias.

I chain-sewed these and they went together quickly. But one thing I’m afraid of is that maybe what I needed to do instead of sewing right on the dotted lines, was to sew one thread to the right. My test blocks came out ok, but when I finger pressed some of these, they didn’t seem to open to the full size. Maybe it will be different when I use the iron.

At any rate, I expect the top to be finished pretty quickly but the quilting will take longer. I will do it myself so that I can take all the credit! Bwa hahaha.

I didn’t get much sewing done today as we drove to Charlottesville to pick apples on this finally dry day off.

That’s all to report from Short Pump, here’s what everyone else is doing over on Judy L’s site.


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This is my 501st post! I didn’t even realize I’d hit a milestone last time.


The top is done! Hip hip hooray!

It has a number of problems but is surprisingly pretty square. So I don’t think I’m going to trim much off the outside edges.

The side setting triangles don’t match.


The top setting triangles are all consistent. But I don’t know if they’re right. They look nice, though.

This bottom setting triangle had to be eased in and it isn’t pretty. I’m surprised there was only one that didn’t fit right.


The bottom triangles are a mess, too.

It’s a good thing this was a test and not a commission. Ha!

What did I learn from this? Find someone who’s done it before and done it well. (Preferably with a book or published pattern.)

A points trimmer would have been handy. I have one, but I didn’t think to use it. I think it would have helped fit a lot of those points together and taken the guesswork out of it. Would it have taken all the guesswork out? I wouldn’t think so, but wouldn’t it be ironic if that’s the only thing that would have taken this quilt from near-disaster to perfection?

I’m willing to try again. When I made this one, I used the cutting measurements straight out of Electric Quilt the way I designed it, not knowing there was more to it (and no, it’s not in the user guide). By specifying that the diamonds measure 6″ finished, the actual cutting was done with weird-sized strips and the markings on the Fons and Porter diamond-cutting template/ruler I used (sorry, don’t remember the name of it) didn’t help. I had to use blue masking tape to mark the spot to line up with the cut edge of the fabric. Next time, I’m going to size the quilt based on the size of the strips I want to cut (a whole number on the ruler) which means doing some math and inputting a fake dimension to make EQ calculate it the way I want it. At least, that’s my theory.

That’s what’s going on in Short Pump, go to Judy L’s page to see what everyone else is working on.


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I’m in the home stretch! There are only two more seams to sew!

The next challenge, which ended up not being very challenging, was sewing the rows together so that the sashings line up.


Since the sashing are 1″ wide and I just happen to have a 1″ ruler, it seemed easy enough to just line up the sashing this way and make tiny pencil marks on the connecting sashing. And yes, that was easy. But I found that I could eyeball it just as well.

But the last rows I joined this morning have a big problem:


I don’t know what I did wrong with the upper left cornerstone block. I can see that I will need to re-do the short sashing strip because I obviously cut the angle wrong. But even if I’d cut the angle correctly, it looks to me like the setting triangle is too short no matter what. The upper right cornerstone block looks pretty danged perfect.

Yikes! I’m not sure how I’m going to fix this, if it’s even fixable at this point.

And I was feeling so good about this project.

That’s all the excitement from Short Pump, check out all the action at Judy L’s blog.


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Ok, it’s time to trim the rows so that I can add the sashing strips. I’m feeling more confident now, let’s hope my optimism is warranted.

This is the upper right corner unit. I discovered after measuring that if I trimmed off the 1/2″ overage, the top of the triangle measures 6.25″ which is exactly what it should be.


This is the next row to the left. If I put my ruler at the 1/4″ mark, it lines up with the raw edge of the attached diamond. Sweet!


This is a short row from the left side. I don’t know what measurement the block should be, so I held my breath and trimmed it even with the diamond’s raw edge. I hope that was right. 🙂


Well it looks good, anyway!


So I got one long sashing strip sewn onto a row before I left for work this morning.

Stay tuned, this quilt might actually work!


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I’m still whining about how these units are to be sewn together, but I’m feeling a little more confident that I’m on the right track. The blocks in all the rows are attached to each other now. After showing that corner unit to a friend, she feels that it’s correct and that there will just be some trimming before I sew the long sashing strips to the rows. I did some measuring and compared that to my layout in EQ7 and it appears there will also be some trimming around the perimeter after the top is constructed.

Another discovery we made is that the designer of the original quilt made her setting triangles by cutting extra diamonds in half both lengthwise and crosswise. Margaret says that’s not the way to do it because it doesn’t allow for the seam allowances. Looking closely at the photos in the tutorial, we can see where her units came up short in the places where mine overhang. She must have just made up for it in the seam allowances, but I’d rather have mine too big and then cut it down.

Margaret and I talked about a new project or two, sewing baby quilts for our company’s United Way auction. I’ll share details later.

That’s what’s going on in Short Pump, check Judy L’s page for everyone else’s projects.

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