Showing posts with label Quilt Along Mystery Quilt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quilt Along Mystery Quilt. Show all posts

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The "Home" Quilt Along quilt top is done!

I am really excited about the way this little mystery wall hanging has turned out!  I do hope you like it as much as I do.

Thank you, everyone, for contributing your ideas as we designed and made this together!

This project was more than a bit scary for me!  I was as much in the dark about the finished product as the brave, faithful folks who bought the block patterns and stitched them up without knowing what the end result would be.

What if it turned out to be a disaster? What if everyone hated it?

What if... what if... what if ....

What ifs counted for more than one sleepless night. But now it's done!
Well, except for the finishing, but that will come later.

The Layout

The final layout that I settled on uses narrow (3/8") dark borders around the blocks to make them pop and wider soft green sashing to pull all of my colors together. Any two colors that bring out the best in your blocks will be wonderful.

I arranged and rearranged the blocks at least a dozen times. In the end, I balanced shapes, sizes, and colors in the best way I could. If you are making this, your block arrangement may be very different, and that is just fine! Who wants a quilt that's identical to everyone else's?

Then came the math. Oh my goodness!
All of those fractions!

Measure, measure, calculate, calculate.
Sew, write, check for errors - I thought I'd never get it right!
Thank goodness that part is done!

I've posted the layout pattern on Craftsy as a free pattern. If you like the layout, you could also use it with any other blocks of the sizes in this quilt. You might use some of my blocks and toss in some of your favorite blocks from here and there. Why not? We quilters are all creators of art, and art is definitely personal.

I said that the finishing will come later. I need to sandwich the top, batting, and backing, then quilt and bind. Sometimes waiting is a good thing! Do you see me smiling?

This quilt is pretty large for quilting on my little sewing machine, but I plan to get a new machine with a wider throat space within the next couple of months. Not a long arm or anything that fancy, but a machine with a 16" throat space so my quilts won't be quite so squished when I work on them. If all goes as planned, this will be my Christmas gift!

That's why I'm smiling!

When I have the new machine set up "Home" will be the very first quilting project.

Wishing all of you happy stitching and a very happy home!

And, please send me photos! I'll add them to the Quilt Along Photos page at the top of this blog. Can't wait to see what you do with this!

Monday, September 29, 2014

An Alternate Quilt Along Block and My Layout Plan

I've known for quite some time that the fabrics in my cookie jar block didn't fit in very well with the other blocks. As the quilt grew, the colors in the cookie jar stood out more and more as being out of place.

I couldn't deal with it! Not at all!

No choice but to make it over in fabrics that coordinate with the others. I chose chocolate cookies, too, this time. Because they added more contrast. And because I like chocolate. A LOT.

Since I was remaking it the block, I made a few other changes, as well.

First off, I thought I'd like the cookie jar better if it were smaller. Of course, when it was smaller it didn't fill the block completely, so a cup was added.

Oops! Others might prefer the changed block, too, and I can't expect anyone to pay for the block twice!

So it's FREE!!

All the changes inspired a new name for the block - Cookies and Cocoa.

My Layout Choice:

I'm now ready to begin putting this little wall hanging together. The plan with the house block in the center was by far the most popular with all of you, so that's what I'm using. I've added some little details for my own quilt that you may or may not want. For that reason there will be two sets of instructions. 

I've chosen to work with green sashings because greens pull the colors in my blocks together better than anything else I tried. I'll outline each of the blocks in a 1/4" dark green and then I'll separate everything with light, apple green sashings. 

As soon as I can, I'll post instructions for my layout (with 1/4" narrow borders) and for a similar plan without those little borders. 

This may still change a bit as I go along, but I'm hoping to have the quilt top finished within a week. Fingers crossed! 

And, if you do want the plan with the house block at the top center of the quilt, please let me know and I'll try to prepare that, too.

Now, back to work!!

Happy Monday, everyone!!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Quilt Along Layout Ideas

"Home" Layout Options

I planned to make progress on this purse today, but Glenda finished the last of her quilt along blocks and asked about a layout plan. So the morning was spent on ideas for the plan. I actually came up with a three plans and a new idea, too.

I really want to hear your opinions on this so I'll know how to go about writing the instructions.

This is what I've sketched out so far. I like all of these plans, but the layout might be dictated by size.

One of the 48" x 48" plans would be fine for a wall hanging.

Layout 1: 48" x 48"
This plan has the house at the top of the quilt with the word, "Home" appliqued above it.  The photo shows an arrangement that could work with my blocks. The diagram below it shows the plan measured out to scale.

Layout 2: 48" x 48" 
I don't have a photo example, but I did make a layout to scale. The big difference is with the location of the house. In this plan it's centered.

Layout 3: 54" x 54"
With secondary sashing and a double border, this quilt layout has grown into a good size for a small lap quilt or a larger wall hanging. Again, I've shown the scale drawing below the photo layout.

A final option: I haven't made a sketch to go with this idea. I was thinking of taking Layout 3 and adding to both the top and the bottom with some border additions. If it grew to 54" x 72", it would be a larger lap quilt, but it would also look lovely when laid over a plain bedspread on a single bed. I have just such a bed, so it's an idea in the works. 

With borders going all the way around this quilt could grow to a bed quilt, but it would immediately become too large to quilt on my little machine. 

Do you have preference? 
Waiting to hear from you!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Quilt Along Blocks # 11 and # 12, Tools and a Bookshelf

I can hardly believe that the last two blocks of this quilt are finished! I suddenly feel lighter, like I've lost a few pounds! The next hurdle will be choosing a layout and putting the quilt top together. I won't even think about the actual quilting and binding just yet. For the next few days I'm going to savor the "doneness" of the blocks.

Block 11

The tools block will come as a surprise to a lot of folks. I don't know that tools were ever mentioned in our list of ideas. But, it is so fitting!

I love how it adds another dimension to the overall theme. The idea was inspired by my friend, Midge, of course.

My little camera doesn't allow me to adjust colors, so the bright, white background always looks gray. :(
Over our weekly coffee we chatted about what was needed to complete those last two blocks. "You've represented children and pets," she said, "and, there are several blocks that show women's interests, but what about men? Shouldn't there be something that has a more masculine feel in this quilt?"

She was absolutely right, of course. There are lots of very happy homes that have no men in them, but I would guess that there are at least as many homes in which the husband and father is very central to the meaning of family and home.

We brainstormed ideas. Lawn mower? Backyard grill? Fishing gear? Tools?

Tools won, hands down. How can you keep a home without a few tools?

Block 12

What to do with the last little block? I posed the question on my Facebook page and offered a choice of teapot or bookshelf.

The bookshelf won the vote by a large margin.

That would have been my own first choice, too. If I'm addicted to anything, it's books. 

And chocolate, of course, but we won't go into that today. 

I didn't even try to count the actual shelves holding books in my house. It's enough to admit that I have four large bookcases that are absolutely stuffed. Library books are scattered everywhere, too.

A home without books? Not for me at all. 

A quick little sidestep here

Have you ever used a hera marker? It's a lovely little tool, and very inexpensive. I marked the lines for lining up my books with a hera marker instead of a quilt marker.

So slick! It makes a tiny, visible crease, but leaves no residue that needs to be removed! I also like using the hera marker with anything that needs to fold smoothly and evenly - even for making my own bias tape. The crease creates a natural fold line that presses with beautiful ease.

Oh, something else! My friend, The Patchsmith, has a very clever idea for adding book titles using selvages of fabrics. Be sure to check out her bookshelf mug rug in Craftsy patterns.

Going back to the bookshelf now

I liked the bookshelf so much in all it's bright colors, and it really is the exact size for a mug rug. So I made one of those, too. 

I chose a totally different color concept for the mug rug. Black and white with just a splash of red can lend sophistication and elegance to almost anything. Even a mug rug.

But what if you want a teapot or a coffee mug in your quilt? 

Can you wait one more week?

I'll be posting a pair of mug rugs - just the same size as the quilt block. These will be mix and match. A teapot, a coffeepot, a cup, and a mug. You could easily use one of those to replace either the bookshelf or the spools block.

Now to choose a layout. Hmm....

I need better lighting for these photos!!
The original idea?

Something a little bit different?
I think I may want to redo my cookie jar in different fabrics.  When I made it I didn't know how my colors and fabrics would come together, but now the cookie jar stands out as different from the other blocks. Fortunately it's a very easy one to do over.

I need a couple of weeks to get to the layout plan. Other projects are screaming for attention!

Wishing you a lovely month of September!!

And, happy stitching!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Quilt Along Block # 10 "Window View"

More silhouettes? I thought I was finished with those, but it seems I was mistaken.

Okay, these aren't solid black like all of my silhouette children and their pets, but still. A silhouette, even with color and a collar, is basically a silhouette, isn't it? 

These little guys weren't ever a part of the plan for the Quilt Along, but I simply couldn't resist. 

Our quilt has things to represent children, items that reflect traditional women's interests, but there were no pets. We needed some furry friends. There was one vertical 6" x 10" block needed, and these two fit the bill. So I placed a dachshund and a cat in the window. 

Wonder what they're watching so intently. 

I also turned these little guys into a mug rug. The size is right, the theme is fun, so why not?

With winter not far off on the horizon, I gave the mug rug pair some snowflakes to watch, but a person could choose anything. Falling leaves in the autumn - just a few embroidered stitches. A flock of birds for any season - black "v"s stringing across the window. Rain - slanted lines of quilting. Whatever one might imagine catching the interest of housebound pets.

It's time to go back to work on this quilt. It's almost done! 

I keep moving things around. Every time a new block is added, a change seems to be needed.
There are two blocks to go, one 10" x 10" in the space between the pets and the watering can, and a horizontal 6" x 10" above the current position of the cookie jar. 

Several ideas are in the works, too.

My friend, Midge has an opinion. "Things to show women, things to show kids," she remarked over our weekly coffee. "There's nothing masculine in this quilt."


Wise woman, Midge. 

I think there may just be another surprise coming along. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quilt Along Block #9, Clothesline

Finally finished! The clothesline block has always been part of the plan, and I do think it turned out awfully cute, but oh my goodness! What a headache in the making! More about that later.

If I had to choose what I like best about this block it would be the pink and green mini-quilt. It's a real quilt! Pieced and everything! I only cheated on the border. It's satin stitched. The little blocks are just 1/2" square, and I loved making it!

But on to the problems. Sigh...

It isn't that the block is hard to sew. Even though it has so many little bits and pieces of laundry, it goes together just like the others. Or, at least it should go together just like the others. Not for me, though. Not this time.

It all began when I ran out of stabilizer for my applique. I was in a bit of a hurry, so I grabbed something inexpensive from a nearby craft store. I thought it was similar to a more expensive stabilizer I'd used before, but when I opened the container, it was altogether different. Not in a good way, either! Word of warning - do not get the water soluble stabilizer that feels like a plastic bag! It sticks to the bed of the sewing machine and totally messes up the length of zigzag stitches!

I stopped everything and went out to the quilt shop to buy some good stuff. More expensive, but so worth it. This one is a tear-away and works beautifully.

Stabilizer, though, was only the first of my problems. Next came the thread issue. I have thread in every color imaginable.

Only one portion of my thread collection. 
I matched something up with the jeans fabric and appliqued away. This was the first mistake. the thread was very, very old, and rather poor quality to start with. I should have thrown it out long ago!  It broke after sewing just a couple of inches and the tension was all off. So, I finally tossed it and decided to use something different - maybe not quite so close a match. Of course I had to do a bit of stitch ripping, but I hadn't got very far, so it wasn't a horribly big deal. That might have been okay, but the new thread didn't show up at all for showing the pockets and seams on the pants. The next best thread I had was navy blue.

It wasn't till I had done all of this sewing with a very short triple stitch, that I realized how awful it looked!

What a mess!

An hour and a half later I had it all unstitched, but the jeans are looking a bit the worse for wear. I might have been better off drawing those lines with a permanent marker in the first place. I definitely would have been better off simply starting over!

Well, it's too late to do any of that now. The block is finished and it stays as it is! A small imperfect piece won't ever be noticed in such a busy quilt. Will it? Nope. Not going there at all. It's fine. So there!

Truth be told, my sigh of relief at having it finished was huge. The block is done, the pattern made, and aside from the mishaps and mixups it really was loads of fun.

This quilt is really coming along!! I may move blocks around, but it's not looking half bad! What shall we add? We only need one large block and one or two small ones, depending on the size of the larger one.

There is only one little niggling worry about the clothesline block.
That other yellow sock ...
         the one not on the clothesline ...

It had better be in here somewhere!

Unless the washing machine ate it.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Quilt Along Block #8, Birdhouse

I've really rushed to get this block finished up ahead of schedule. I don't want anyone to run out of work to do on this quilt while I'm otherwise occupied.

I'm afraid that I won't be doing much sewing in June as our son is having major surgery next week. I'll be spending a lot of time in the hospital at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where he'll be kept for a week or more. He's a bachelor, so when he's released he'll be coming home to our house for his recuperation.

I'll  be taking books and crochet along to keep me busy through long hours of waiting. I'll also have my computer and pencils and paper with me so I can sit quietly and work on new pattern designs whenever the mood arises. I hope that I get enough designing done that I can make up for lost sewing time in July, but such things are terribly unpredictable.

Working on the birdhouse block

What is it about birdhouses that makes people happy and makes quilters want to depict them on quilts?  Is it the reminder of cheery twitters early on a summer morning or something more? There are hundreds of birdhouse quilts out there, and somehow birdhouses fit right in with our theme of "home".

I considered putting many other items in this block, but they simply weren't going to fit unless I made the birdhouse and the bird pretty miniscule. So the resulting block is quite simple - a birdhouse, a bird, the branch of a tree. After making the block I've been thinking that I should add a real birdhouse to the tree in my front yard, the one that I now see from my sewing room window. Goodness knows there are enough birds in that tree! Someone should take residence.

A mistake in my block? Absolutely!

There was an unintended lapse in my thinking. When I first ironed the applique pieces onto the block, I had it just right. Then, I looked at it again and thought that the branch looked bare above the birdhouse. I had totally forgotten that a string to hang the birdhouse from the branch would fill that spot.

So I added another leaf. I didn't realize my mistake until everything was stitched and I was getting ready to sew the string.

Oops! The extra leaf was in the way! Nothing to do but let the leaf float behind the string. It works, but I would have preferred it the other way. Some quilters add an intentional mistake to every quilt, but I truly have no need to make any mistakes on purpose. I unintentionally make more than enough! Sigh...

Wishing all of you a wonderful and productive June! May all of your quilts be at least almost perfect.

Happy stitching!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Two Quilt Along Blocks

For quite awhile now, I have been promising a sewing machine block for this quilt along. I was going to make it earlier, but the cookie jar idea took root and the sewing machine was set on the back burner.

Better late than never, as they say, and it's finally done!

Block 6: Sewing Machine

I have to confess that I was having so much fun with this one that I couldn't stop adding details. To show the threading, or not to show the threading? To show the details of the needle and it's holder, or not? Well, duh! I had to show it all! How could I not once I'd thought of it? So, it added a bit more time. Didn't matter because those details really brought this little sewing machine to life. 


The block was finished, but I wasn't. If you've been following this blog, you may have noticed that there are a number of smaller blocks planned. These are needed in four areas to fill out spaces that will finish at 10" x 16" each. I really wanted something in some of those smaller blocks that would go with the sewing machine. 

A number of thoughts came to mind - 
a pincushion, 
a spool of thread, 
scissors .... 

This was beginning to sound exactly like the pieces in my "Sewing Stuff" mug rug. Those would all work great. In fact, if you are joining in this quilt along, there is no reason that you couldn't use those templates in 6" x 6" blocks or in one 6" x 10" piece. 

But, no. I wanted something a bit different. Something new

What to make, what to make? I needed something green for sure. 
Something green...
             Vines? Vines are good.
                      Flowers?  Maybe not.
                             What then?


Spools of thread growing on the vines! 

Happy Dance Time!

And here it is! One 6" x 10" block instead of two or three smaller blocks. 

Block 7: Spools

The two blocks can fit together side by side ...

or over and under.

For now, I have them pinned to my design board like this, but that could change. It all depends on what comes next. Only the house needs to stay where it is. Everything else can be moved around, and I'm sure that there will be some changes.

What does come next?

Oh, my!


But don't leave yet. This story isn't finished!

I looked at that companion block with the spools on a vine and realized that it was exactly the same size as many of my mug rugs. Actually I could see that it would make a darling mug rug.


You get the picture. Since I needed the spools block for the quilt I just made another one and turned that one into a mug rug.

So there you have it. Story complete.

The patterns are both ready to go, and I provided choices - 

the two quilt blocks (including mug rug instructions) in one pattern for one price, 
 the mug rug as a separate pattern. 

I hope you like these!

Happy Stitching!!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Cookie Jar, Quilt Along Block #5

Have you ever been traveling down a road and suddenly been tempted to take a little side road just to see where it leads?

Happens to me all the time.

That little side road has always intrigued me. It knows my name. "Karen," it whispers. "Karen, come see what I can show you."  I'm always up to an adventure and I find these calls so hard to resist.  I've wandered off the main path over and over. I've left it on foot and in I've left it in my car. Sometimes there is nothing of interest of all, just a dead end, but you can never know unless you look.

Now and again, though that little path can lead a person right into a bog. Literally. Like the time I loaded up my mom's car with teenage friends and we went on an adventure! 

We were on the highway going nowhere in particular when one of the girls saw a small gravel road leading into some trees. With much encouragement from my giggling friends I slowed down and turned onto that gravel road. It did look interesting. 

This could have been us except my mom's '49 Ford was dark, forest green.
Soon we came upon an even narrower road. It was just a deeply rutted pat that wound through deep weeds. Of course, we simply had to see where it led. Where it led us was to a stop. We were suddenly mired deep in mud. Up the hubcaps! Soundly stuck. 

We couldn't just sit there, so we all piled out of the car and trudged through the muck, across a field, and up to the farmhouse to ask for help. The farmer eyes went to our mud-covered shoes and legs as he listened to our story. I'm sure I heard him snicker, but he just nodded, straight faced, and headed for his tractor.  He drove to our car, hauled it out of the field and pointed us back to the road. As we climbed back in the car he turned away shaking his head and mumbling something about "girls".

That's the one and only time I've been stuck in mud. But even that didn't cure my curiosity when I see an interesting path. The temptation to follow never leaves. More often than not, taking that turnoff has taken me somewhere wonderful - a beautiful meadow, an almost hidden fishing hole, a charming little town. 

"Ok, nice little story," you say. 

"But what does it have to do with the Quilt Along block?" 

It has everything to with the block! Truly. 

You see, I was planning to make a sewing machine. I had the sketch all planned out in my head. But, when I sat down at my desk I couldn't draw it. My mind kept wandering away from that idea. It wanted to explore some other direction. I didn't know where it all might lead, but I gave in and let my pencil doodle around. 

Before I knew it, I had drawn a cookie jar. 

A cookie jar? I had known from the beginning that I would make a cookie jar block some day, but I hadn't planned it for this block. It just happened. 

So I stitched it up, and here it is - a cookie jar for Block 5.

I filled it up with frosted sugar cookies because those are my grandson's absolute, all time, forever favorite cookies! 

In fact, when he was in first grade he begged me to bring frosted sugar cookies to share with everybody on Grandparents' Day.  My grandson proudly passed out cookies to all the students in his class and to the other visiting grandparents, too, all the while bragging that his grandma made the very best cookies ever.

Enough of the stories! I must be boring you to tears!

I think I'll go to the kitchen and bake some cookies. Frosted sugar cookies, of course. 

Want one?

Maybe I'll make a sewing machine next time. 
Maybe not.
Wherever the road leads...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Quilt Along Block # 2 - The Watering Can

When the vote was counted there were exactly equal numbers of votes for each idea - watering can watering the plants or watering can resting on the ground. So, I had no choice but to make both of them.

I had a super time making this little block - both versions! And, truthfully, I don't know which I like better.

After seeing the house block photos from all of you, I decided that I like the blue background that some of you used. It has real potential as an alternative to the plain white I'd chosen for my quilt. So, off I went to the fabric stores - every store in town that carries fabrics, and we have at least seven! I didn't even limit myself to the quilt shops this time.

Would you believe that I couldn't find a single piece of blue that I wanted to buy?

I needed a particular kind of blue to go with my Civil War reproduction fabrics and my French General pieces. I thought that a quilt in bright colors on white would be lovely, but if I had the right blue I could use a few bits and pieces from my humungous stash of muted, old-fashioned, colors.

I finally found the perfect blue online at The Fat Quarter Shop. It's Riley Blake's Vintage Blue. Now, why does it look gray in this image when it's blue on my desktop?

 It looks absolutely lovely with my fabrics, but the color just isn't projecting well anywhere today. Wish you could see how pretty this is in real life.

At some point I need my other house block, but I'm not anywhere near ready for that right now. I'm determined to finish my yellow purse, so extra blocks will just have to wait.

Do, please, send me your photos as you finish  your blocks! Send to either my email address or my facebook page: or

If you haven't already done so, hop up to the top of this blog and click on "Quilt Along Photos". Such great blocks are being sewn! I discovered that I used the word "love" over and over when I commented on your pictures.

That's two large blocks down and seven left to go. Here's another look at our plan. The house is in the big middle block and the watering can will go in any one of the 10" squares.

Now, onward to Block 3. Indoors or outdoors for this one?  Take a look at our list so far.

What do you think? I can wait a few days for ideas for the next block, but then I'll need to start planning.

needle, thread, etc.
yarn and knitting needles
rocking chair
plate and silverware
teapot or coffee pot
cookie jar and cookies
potted plant
sewing machine
bird nest
baby crib