Mystery Quilt Step #4… finally!!

I have to assume Bonnie Sullivan has a staff of capable employees to pattern test, cut, prep, post, remind, assist, edit… etc. Some one to help her look GOOD! I love her stuff and she is always “Bonnie-on-the-spot”.

Me… not so much. I have a FABULOUS staff, but they are busy and they merely laugh at me when I say I am running late with a project. It’s true… chastising and ridicule… that’s all I get… just ask them. I tell Brianna that Martha Stewart would never go through what I go through, and she promptly replies, “But you are no Martha Stewart.” Hmmm, true.

So, finally, I have my blocks done for step four. We have a joke in the classroom that everything “takes five minutes” because it’s  “super easy” but the truth is the only thing I can do in five minutes is warm up my iron.

But these blocks… super easy. I think they are called “woodpile” blocks. If you peruse down the post, it will look like there are LOTS of steps, but that’s not the case. It is strip piecing five different simple strip sets, slicing into narrow strips, then sewing them back together into only 20 blocks;  8 are left to right stacked blocks, and 12 are  right to left (reversed) blocks.

There is nothing tricky about them, but you will want to press well, and you should make sure your 1/4″ seam allowance is spot on or your blocks will be too small, because there is no trimming…

So, to begin, cut your background (one color of background, or your mixed lights) into one 8″ strip x WOF (width of fabric), one 6 1/2″  x WOF,  one 5″ x WOF, one 3 1/2″  x WOF and one 2″ x WOF.

Next, cut a matching dark fabric the same way, one 8″ x WOF, one 6 1/2″ x WOF, one 5″ x WOF, one 3 1/2″ x WOF and one 2″ x WOF. You will also need a 9 1/2″ x WOF. I should mention that all of your background can be one color if that is what you like, but your “darks” should all be different. In fact, if you are using fat quarters and you have 21″ strips instead of the full 42″ in a strip, that will look terrific, but you’ll have to make two of each of the strip sets so that you have enough pieces.

Now, with an 8″ strip of background and a 2″ strip of dark, sew these together into your first strip set.

IMG_1689[1]Press to the dark. Then cross cut into twenty 2″ strips (these strips should measure 9 1/2″):IMG_1690[1]Next, sew your 6 1/2″ background strip to a 3 1/2″ dark. Press, then cut into twenty 2″ strips:IMG_1692[1]Next, sew your 5″ background to a 5″ dark. Press, then cut into twenty 2″ strips.IMG_1696[1]Do you find it interesting that each strip so far is sitting at a different angle? Almost like I am just messing with you….but I’m not…. it’s just our constant reminder… I’m not Martha Stewart! I have no photography assistant, no production assistant, and in fact, I am just trying to keep my ridiculous cat out of the shot… I had to give him a decoy project…  at the moment he thinks I am making a pillow…IMG_1670[1]

Ok, so, at this point you have three strip sets, that have each been cut up into twenty 2″ strips. You have two more strip sets to make. One is the 3 1/2″ background and the 6 1/2″ print and one is the 2″ background with the 8″ print.IMG_1698[1]Finally, you will cut the 9 1/2″ strip into 2″ strips.

make 8 (with added far left strip)
Now it’s time to put the strips together. Eight of them will be stacked left to right, and twelve will be reversed:This is a left to right stack (but you need to put the 2″ of dark fabric on the far left), and once this is sewn together, it will measure 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″. Then you will make 12 that are reversed (right to left stack):

make 12 (with added far right strip)
Press. Blocks should measure 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″IMG_1702[1]I hope you have fun piecing your blocks! They are super simple… just five minutes!  After this we just have one more block… then we get to put this thing together!! See you soon!

Snack Mat #5

This morning has been productive!! Finally!  I got quite a bit accomplished and I’m feeling like I may be caught up in a few short weeks! My sewing studio is a humongous disaster, because of course for some reason that’s how it goes, it just becomes a room filled with huge piles of pieces, but thats OK… I have a rake!

Speaking of rakes, I know leaves are an obvious choice for a November mug rug, but I just couldn’t resist. My friend Millie gave me a photocopy of a leaf from her yard that inspired her and of course it inspired me too, I even used the same batik fat quarters she used! I love the multicolored batiks with the interesting textures. This mug rug is just a mini quilt, super simple.

I started by tracing and cutting out my leaves so I would know how many I wanted to use.

cut leaves
Then I cut my background to 5 1/2 x 7 1/2 and placed my leaves where I wanted them. I started with two, then went to three.

IMG_1627[1]The “innards” I’m using this time is a piece of washed canvas. I had some left over when I replaced my long arm leaders. I washed it first, then pressed it. It’s very thick and I think it will work really well, it is crazy durable and seems to take quite a beating. I did test a piece for a few mornings in my office. I sat my hot cup on it and it protected my desk very well, it also worked with the condensation caused with my ice water. It should be golden when we add a few more pieces of cotton to it. I have been having fun using multiple different products in my mug rugs. So many customers want to “feel” what soft and stable, craft-tex, warm and natural, etc. feel like when they are quilted. It is nice to have our tiny little mug rug display so they can squoose them, fold them, and feel the difference.

So my next step was of course to stitch everything down. I assume at some point will decide to stitch something with some hand work or a different stitch… but not this time… I LOVE me some scribbles.IMG_1628[1]The hardest part was choosing a thread.IMG_1637[1]I of course chose the variegated 30 wt sulky. Selena Gomez says it best: The heart wants what the heart wants!!IMG_1630[1]I love it! Now time to trim. I want it 51/2 x 7 1/2″IMG_1632[1]I decided I wanted to add a piece of warm and natural just for loftiness and extra absorbancy. Also, I only had one piece of canvas in my sample instead of two… I am going to make a second one with two pieces. IMG_1631[1]

I layered my piece batting, then backing right side up, then mug rug right side down.IMG_1633[1]then stitched around all four sides, leaving a few inches open for turning. Finally I trimmed it one last time:IMG_1634[1]and turned the whole thing inside outIMG_1635[1]Final step is to hand stitch the opening closed. Boom! All done. The perfect tea for this mug rug would of course be “loose leaf”.

Get your pattern for  SnackMat #5IMG_1636[1]

Enjoy. Happy stitching!!!


How far behind can I get before I need a time warp or worm hole to find my way back to any possible sense of normal?

I wonder who holds the secret to time management and time organization? I can’t imagine there are too many books and articles I haven’t read. I tried the time diary, but that just took too much time. I manage all of my lists (a master list for the week with a daily list of necessary items, a grocery list on the fridge, a pocket list for daily notes and the list of lists in my office… not kidding), I keep an eye on my calendars (one I carry with me, the mat calendar on my desk, the family calendar on the fridge and a write on/wipe off in my sewing studio… again, not kidding), and I set my timers/reminders every morning (I love that little ding on my phone… it saves me at least twice a day). But sometimes those things are just not enough.

I read that 8.4% of Americans suffer from “emotional chaos”; 40% of us do not take our allotted vacation time because we don’t want to deal with the mountain of work when we return, and a full 65% have daily feelings of “being overwhelmed  by inadequate time.” I can be found in all three of those demographics.

There was a good article in the Huffington Post by blogger Vanessa Loder about a new book by Brigid Schulte, who is an award-winning journalist for the New York Times. She is the best selling author of a new book: Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has The Time. In her book, Brigid discusses how time pressure and modern life have led to a constant feeling of being overwhelmed which is affecting our health and even the size of our brain. She shows us how role overload, something called  “time contamination” (I’m sure I suffer from this), social structures, and even our own subconscious beliefs can lead to this constant sense of urgency, consuming guilt, and a certainty that we are inadequate both at work and home.

The article is very interesting, and if Brianna gets ahold of this post, maybe she will link it for you (yes, I am inadequate both at work and at home). It compares American mothers and workers to Danish counterparts. We stay late to get everything done but if a Danish employee stays late they will be reprimanded as it would seem they must not be as productive as a fellow employee who can get all of their work done in the same 8 hours. Interesting. How can they be so much more focused?  It is certainly true I am distracted by all things shiny and anyone who speaks to me. We call it ADOP (attention deficit… Ohh Pretty!!), and it is equally true I could never complete my daily work in only 8 hours. That it just funny.

I wonder if I just take my leisure time for granted. My job is also my hobby so I think I forget to count all of the classes, samples and patterns I work on at home as “work”.  I sew in the evening but I never seen to get everything done that is on my list. And when I stay home during the day to get something done, people wonder if I have retired because they don’t see me at the shop.  A slippery slope down a mountain of sewing. A rough life….

I am going to spend the next two afternoons at home catching up. The tutorials, posts and patterns I have on my “to do” list are important. My secret weapons are loud music, ginger tea and warm socks.  I have to get caught up so I can enjoy my weekend. I have a retreat planned that I am hosting at the retreat house and I am REALLY looking forward to it. We have a fun group signed up and the casual comfort of a house vs the classroom will be fun.

so… watch for my videos and blog posts… my plan is to be caught up by Friday morning… (but no breath holding… just wishful thinking and prayers will do).

Mystery Quilt Step #3

First let me apologize for my delay, I can’t believe it’s already Friday. I have been chasing my tail all week! I love the shop, the classes, the long hours… I especially love telling Brian I have to sew in the evening because “it’s my job”,  but the one part about being a business owner I will always dislike is end of the quarter balance sheets, filing and quarterly taxes. Yuck!!

But… all done. At least for now. So on to more important things… quilting!! Time for our third step in our mystery quilt! As I mentioned before, this is a pretty simple project that you have some control over, because it is four different blocks that you will construct then put together in a beautiful configuration. And it’s such a wonderful way to use up all of those leftovers!

Two weeks ago  we started our floating stars. I hope you are done with them! Here is a picture of my friend Charisma’s:IMG_1609[1] I love her colors with all of the mixed backgrounds!

This time we are going to make a block called Jacob’s Ladder.  It is a simple block that is really a nine patch with a mixture of HST’s, squares and  four patches.IMG_1608[1]

You will start by making the strip sets for the four patches. Cut 2″ strips of lights and 2″ strips of mixed darks. Sew them together lengthwise and press to the dark.

IMG_1606[1]You will need about 10 full length strip sets. I would make each one a different color so you have lots of mixed colors.

Once they’re done, cut off 2″ sections.IMG_1610[1]I think when you cut these you should measure with the ruler, not the mat. It is far more accurate.IMG_1611[1]Keep cutting these sections until you have enough to make some four patches. You need alot of them…  you will need three four-patches per block,  so you need 96 four patches for your twin sized quilt, or 108 for your queen. That sounds like alot, but it goes pretty fast. I love making little four patches. I should mention they will be 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ when done. Remember pressing is important so your seams will nestle.IMG_1607[1]Next step is to make the HST (half square triangles). You need four per block. I start with a 4″ square of light and a 4″ square of dark and stacked them RST. Draw a line diagonally, then sew 1/4″ from the line on both sides. Cut on the line you drew, the press open the two HST. You may have to trim them just a tiny bit. They should measure 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ when done.IMG_1605[1]Your last step is to add the two dark squares. They of course measure 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. Place all of your pieces in a nine patch and sew the block together. Your blocks should measure 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ when you are done. You will need 32 of these blocks if you are making a twin, and 36 if you are making a queen.

And that is that! A simple block made up of three simple units. Get busy… we’ll chat in a few days. Send pics!