Friday, July 4, 2014

Flying geese made with easy paper piecing.

I'm a little bit slow, but I've finally started looking ahead to autumn pattern making.  I pulled out bunches of scraps of those lovely warm autumn colors from my stash and waited for inspiration to strike.

There had to be leaves, of course.

Leaves swirling and blowing in the autumn wind.

And geese. Geese flying south like in one of my favorite poems.

Something told the wild geese,
 It was time to go, 
Though the fields lay golden. 
Something whispered, "snow." 

Yes, definitely flying geese. But there's a bit of a problem here. I have always liked flying geese borders, but working with all of those triangles makes me crazy! I am such a stickler for sharp points and perfect blocks, and I have ripped out seams and redone blocks so many times that I've often given up on flying geese.

Big blocks are easier, but I'm making a table runner, so the blocks have to be small - maximum 1 1/2" x 3".  Yikes!!

And, even for this small table runner I need a LOT of little blocks - 72, to be exact. Three triangles in each block, so that makes 216 little triangles with 648 points to make perfect!

But geese are what I want, so I'm going to make them the easy way.

Paper foundation piecing to the rescue!!

A number of my quilting friends tell me that they don't like paper piecing, that way they've always made their blocks suits them just fine.

For those of us who have been quilting for a long time and learned to quilt with more traditional methods, paper piecing may feel a bit uncomfortable. I truly balked at the idea. All of that upside-down sewing on paper looked downright weird!

Then a friend showed me a quilt she had made with paper foundation piecing. I was blown away! So, I tried it. Liked it, too. A lot! Perfect points, nice straight blocks, and all of it done quickly and easily.

Sew on the line. Cut on the line. Nothing to measure, nothing a tad too short or a little bit crooked, and perfect points every time!

This is what I've done in the past two days. I only worked for a couple of hours yesterday and a couple of hours today, but 26 of my flying geese are done.

Effortless points that even my perfectionist mother would approve. 

Here is a mini-tutorial for making these:

I started by making a pattern template.  

I worked in groups of four blocks. I made six sets of four, and one set of two flying geese blocks to give me the 26 that I needed for the top of my table runner. I may make a template for groups of six blocks as well. The larger the grouping, the easier it all becomes.

There is some waste of fabric, but if the pieces are cut just a bit larger than they would be otherwise, the fabric lost is minimal. 

Step 1: Photocopy the pattern templates. I use the cheapest copy paper I can find for this. It's lighter weight and tears away easily.

Cut out the triangles. 
4 5/8" squares cut twice diagonally are used for the geese.

2 5/8" squares cut in half diagonally work well for the background triangles.

Hold the first goose triangle on the wrong side of the paper with the right side of the fabric facing out. Hold up to the light to see that it is positioned correctly.

Place the background triangle for the number 2 piece about 1/4" from the stitching line. The right side of this piece will be facing the green goose segment.
Make sure that you are using a very short stitch so the paper will tear away easily. 

Sew directly on the line between pieces #1 and @2.

View from the right side of the fabric.
A little bit off? Won't matter at all.

Trim edges fairly even.

Fold the background piece back and press.

Lay the next background piece against the geese block.

Check agains the light to make sure it is accurately lined up.

Stitch on the line between piece #1 and piece #3.

Trim, fold back...

Not even? Not a problem.

Add the next piece in the same way as the others. 

Stitch, trim, fold back, press.

Continue until all the geese blocks in this row are assembled.

Trim right on the solid lines for the seam allowance.

Tear the paper away.
Sew the sections of blocks together.
Add the flying geese strip to the quilt.


I love paper foundation piecing, but it may not be your cup of tea. If you've never tried it, though, do give it a whirl. Who knows, it may prove to be a real time saver.

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A new grandson and a tooth fairy pillow

I'd like to introduce you to my new grandson!

This is Charlie.

Charlie is six years old, and I adopted him just two weeks ago. 

This wasn't an ordinary adoption.
You see, I adopted his parents and Charlie came with them. A package deal. 

His mom is my daughter's assistant, all around miracle worker, and saint. She also has a terrific sense of humor and is an absolute delight in every way. Her name is Becky. Charlie's dad, Bryan, is just as amazing. I adopted the whole crew. 

I love telling stories!
So, here goes ...

It was the second day after my son's surgery. He was doing very well. That morning he decided that he'd like some prunes. Prune juice that he could have ordered from patient room service wouldn't do at all. He wanted nice, moist, whole prunes.  I'm the mom whose son had just undergone a major ordeal, so I set off through the hospital on a search.

As I've mentioned before, this hospital is a huge complex of several very large buildings connected by large hallways, wide underground tunnels, and numerous elevators. I knew of two cafeterias, a restaurant and a Starbucks. I had also found two little convenience shops, a drugstore, and a couple of gift shops. Prunes should be easy. Hospitals are all about good health, aren't they?


If I had wanted candy, cake, pie, ice-cream, cookies, chips, or anything else that is loaded with fat, sugar, and salt, I was in just the right location. But dried fruit? Trail mix? Not to be found. If I'd only had my car I'd have ventured out into Omaha to find prunes, but I was living in the hotel in the hospital and my car was at home in Lincoln. I gave up. We'd just have to order the prune juice.

I mentioned the lack of prunes in an email to my daughter. She works in Omaha but on this day she was in Lincoln with a large number of other folks, including Becky. They were in the middle of a training session for work when my daughter got my email.  She told Becky about the prunes dilemma.

Becky came up with a solution. No surprise there. This was Becky, the miracle worker. She picked up her phone and texted Bryan, who was at home in Omaha taking care of Charlie. Charlie wasn't feeling too well that day, but his daddy bundled him into the van and off they went to the grocery store. Within half an hour this lovely man, whom I had never met, arrived at the hospital with a smile, a big hug, and a bag of prunes!

Whoa! I was blown away by the kindness of this family! Who goes out of their way with a sick child in tow just to buy a bag of prunes and deliver it to a stranger?

So you see, I really did have no choice. I adopted the whole family immediately! I sent another email off. With this one I informed Becky that the three of them were now part of my family and, like it or not, they were stuck with a new mom, mother-in-law, and grandma.

My lovely new family members.

The story isn't finished, yet! 
Keep reading.

My new grandson just lost his first tooth!

Charlie didn't have a tooth fairy pillow and he needed one right away - before another tooth fell out!

And who's the lucky grandma with the sewing machines?  

A chance to sew for a brand new grandson! Ooh, happy dance time! 

Charlie got his tooth fairy pillow in plenty of time for the next tooth!

And I hope we all live happily ever after!

Charlie's tooth fairy pillow.

One more thing:

Since I'd already made the pillow, I made a pattern, too. 

And a tooth fairy mug rug, as well. 

                          who knows ...

I just might adopt a granddaughter one of these days.

Happy Stitching, Everyone!!

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Summer has officially arrived!

How are you spending your summer? 
At the beach? 
By a pool? 
In your garden? 
In a cool air-conditioned indoor space?

Summer is barely here, but the holiday season begins in just a few months! I will need to start thinking about fall and winter patterns very soon! So I went browsing through my patterns today, taking an inventory or what I have and what I might add. 

As I looked through my files, I suddenly realized that I've produced a huge number of summer themed patterns in this past year. It is only June, so there is still time to whip up at least one more summer project before the madness of holiday sewing begins. 

I decided to post just a few of those patterns to help you get ideas for a final summer quilting adventure. Remember, I'm not the only pattern designer out there. Craftsy is filled with wonderful patterns by numerous indie designers. Check them all out. 

But, I hope you start with mine!

At the beach: 
Beach Summer

August Plunge

In the garden:
Quilt Along Block 2

Baskets for Mom

On the Road

Yummy summer fruit:

Cherry Pie, Christmas Pie

Keeping cool:

Flippity Flop Mug Rugs for Everyone

Totally relaxed:
Sun Down, Feet Up

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Time to Celebrate!

With a mother's happy heart I'm definitely in the mood for celebration.

My son is doing remarkably well following a truly major and frightening surgery. The doctors are sure they were able to remove all of the malignancy, and though he'll need follow up with an oncologist, we are feeling tremendously optimistic. He's come home to our house for a week or two to regain his strength and mobility. Such a change from the two weeks after the diagnosis when we were so worried about the surgery and it's outcome!

For the first time in several weeks I've had the time and the motivation to work in my sewing room. My first project could be nothing other than an expression of my relief and happiness.

I can't think of anything that speaks to celebration more than the vision of glasses clinking together cheerfully.  This newest mug rug makes me feel all warm and happy as I count my blessings and remember to take life one day at a time. 

Cheers, everyone!

"Cheers" mug rug

This was one of those rare patterns that flew together without a hitch. I did have to pick up three new fat quarters of purple fabric, so you'll be seeing purple in another project or two one of these days.

When my children were small I never imagined that I would still worry and fret about them when they were nearing fifty years old, but problems arise at every stage of life and parents remain parents forever. Right now, I'm enjoying the chance to pamper my son a bit and giving thanks as he makes daily progress on the road back to good health.

That's everything for today
from a very happy mama!

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!!