Author Archives: Denise

About Denise

I am a baby boomer who is trying hard to stay positive, creative, curious, and maintain my sense of humor as time marches on, whether I like it or not.

2017 – A Tough Year

Those that follow my blog know that I’ve not added new postings this year.  That is due to the amount of time, effort and energy it takes to be a caregiver to my husband who was diagnosed with ALS.

For those that are not that familiar with ALS, there is no sugar-coating it, it is a horrible, incurable, fatal disease.  It is not known why or how people get it, and there is no treatment.  Although there has recently been a new drug made available that is supposed to slow the progression somewhat, it is not a cure.  But it may be helpful to those diagnosed early enough, to allow them a better quality of life a little bit longer.  So that’s hopeful.

This past year has been a whirlwind of activity as we found we needed to move to a smaller, single floor home, close to work, so that I can easily get back and forth to meet his current care needs.  That meant packing up my sewing room and storing away my quilting supplies and fabric, for now.

Luckily I have two creative passions, quilting and photography.  When I do get a couple of hours to myself I’ve found getting out of the house with my camera has been very fulfilling; but quilting has taken a back seat.   I plan to leave my blog up but wanted to let people know that I’m not sure when I will be quilting again and I may not have time to respond to posts.  Please don’t take it personal if you write and do not get a quick, if any, response.  Know that I still hope you enjoy what’s been posted and I plan to get back to quilting some time in the future.

Peace.

Calla Lilly 1

 

Last Quilt Top of 2016 – Squares & Diamonds

For a number of reasons, 2016 was a challenging year for me. However I still have many things to be grateful for so I’m not throwing myself any pity parties!

So I did not have a lot of quilting time available, but I did take advantage of a cold wintry weekend to make a top for which I had an idea brewing for quite a while.  This is the result:

quilt-1

This was made with what I call a “double-snowball” technique.  When you “snowball” the corners of a square, you take a small square, line it up in the corner of a larger square right sides together, and attach it by sewing a diagonal line down the middle then trim off the excess and press out.  You end up getting a somewhat round block that is commonly called a “snowball”.  Like the photo below:snoball-example

 

However I did a variation of this by first sewing a border around my center square, then I attached a smaller square on each corner, trimmed and pressed out, then attached a smaller square to the corners again to make a block that looks like this:

quilt-3

After I made several of these blocks I sewed them together, sewed on borders, and ended up with the quilt top pictured, which had a squares and diamond pattern.

If you would like to make a similar quilt, click on the following link to see a tutorial for my Squares and Diamonds quilt.  You can also click on the Tutorials tab and get to it there as well.

Quick, Easy Gift for Book Lovers

Do you have friends or family members that are avid readers?  Well here is a quick and easy holiday gift you can make them!

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This bookmark was made with cloth ribbon, a decorative button, and a cloth-covered pony-tail elastic.  Here’s how I made it. I used ribbon that was 7/8 inches wide and a button that was 1 1/2 inches round:

Take your ribbon and wrap it around the cover of a standard size book.  Lay your button on top of one end of the ribbon so that the bottom of the button is about at the end of the ribbon.

bookmark-3-1

Lay the pony-tail elastic so that the top is about where the button holes are. Trim the other end of the ribbon approximately 1/4 inch from the bottom of the elastic.  I cut the ribbon with pinking shears just to make sure there would be no unraveling.  The goal is to be able to “button” the bottom of the ribbon to the top using the elastic, so you want it to be a little snug at this point. Remember, it’s just wrapped around the book cover to get some basic measurements, not the whole book or a bunch of pages yet.

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Then with your ribbon right side up sew your button to the end. On the other end fold the ribbon about 1/2 inch around the elastic and stitch it closed.

There you have it!  A bookmark that won’t fall out or get lost.

bookmark-1

You can also make this with a spare 2 1/2 inch fabric strip from a Jelly Roll, however that’s a little more time-consuming.  You measure and cut the same way, but to have clean edges you need to fold and press them under (on the sides and ends) then sew them down before you add the button and elastic.  However it does give you an opportunity to sew some decorative stitches on it if your machine has them.  Here’s one I made.  I rushed this as I was just trying it out, but would probably be a bit more careful if I was really going to give it as a gift!

bookmark-jr-1

So using a left-over Jelly Roll strip is an option as well!

I hope you have fun experimenting with colors and buttons to make some custom bookmarks for your loved ones!

Friendship Block Quilt – a Reminder of What I Love About Quilting

My daughter and her husband are a military family.  They have lived the last 3 years in Anchorage, Alaska, initially to my daughter’s dismay (she hates cold weather).  But once there she embraced the natural beauty and outdoor adventures available, skiing, ice fishing, hiking, and more (picture a moose walking up to her patio door) and made some really good friends.

They are now being reassigned to a new base and she asked if I would make a going away quilt for one of her best Alaskan friends.  She chose a Friendship Star block and picked a variety of fabrics with prints that reminded her of shared interests and the fun that they had together.  Since she wanted to pick out the fabrics herself and ship them to me, the only direction I gave her was to try to get contrasting colors for each block so the star shapes wouldn’t blend with the background. It was a fun challenge to get the fabric in the mail and put the quilt together.

The end result is pictured below.  I left one square plain white so that she could write a message for her friend in that corner.  Her friend cried and cried when she received it.  A reminder that something made with love will always be a masterpiece!

Photos are from my phone as I forgot to take pictures with my real camera, LOL.

If you would like to learn how to make a Friendship Star block, here is a link to a great tutorial: Friendship Star in 5 Sizes.

friendship-star-quilt-for-anna

friendship-star-quilt-for-anna-back

 

Happy National Quilting Day! Rising Star Variation Block.

To celebrate National Quilting Day I decided to put my spin on a block pattern I learned from the Missouri Star Quilt Company that they called the Rising Star.  After I made a test block based on their tutorial I decided I wanted to change some things to reduce some of the fabric bulk that occurred using their sewing and cutting techniques; plus make the center of the star different.

So here is my block which equals 6 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches square:

Rising Star

Which can be laid out like this to form a big star block that finishes at 12 1/2″ x 12 1/2″:

Rising Star Block

I’m working on designing a quilt with the star block which is still in progress, but here’s two examples of quilts you can make with the 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ block:

Using the Star layout:

Quilt Layout Example

Using a zig-zag type of layout:

Rising Star Block Variation

You can click HERE to learn how to make this block or go to my tutorials tab at the top of my site and look for Rising Star Variation.  Have fun!

Fast Scrappy Four Patch Baby Quilt

This little quilt top came together really quickly by using a short-cut for making four patches.  I learned the technique a few years ago and thought I’d share it for those of you who need/want a fairly quick project.

To make the top exactly as pictured you only need one charm pack (pre-cut 5 inch squares) and a little white fabric and solid color fabric.

I actually only used 20 squares of patterned fabric from one Charm Pack (normally there’s 42 squares in each pack) then cut 20 more 5″ squares from different colored solid fabric that I thought would go well with the charm squares.  But you could certainly just use all squares from the charm pack and it would work just as well.  My personal preference was to break up some of the pattern with some solids.

The finished size for the pictured top is 40″ x 35 1/2″.

Click on this LINK to go to a step-by-step tutorial for how I made this quilt top (or click on my Tutorials tab at the top of the page).

My Other Passion

As you may tell from how the frequency of my posts and tutorials have declined, my other long-time passion has taken over a bit.  I got the opportunity to visit Alaska in June of this year and in the process of being excited about taking pictures of that beautiful state, my somewhat dormant passion for photography resurfaced (click on the photo to see it larger).

Reflections on Otter Lake-1

So I joined a local photography club to help pull me out of the house and give me inspiration.  I also decided I would start putting a portfolio together and offer photos for sale.  Right now my interests are very diverse, but I think I will soon land on subject matter and/or techniques that will become my personal style.  I will definitely be seeking out opportunities to add photos of quilts I discover whether at a quilt show, antique malls, flea markets, wherever, to my blog.  I also plan on doing a series of photographs on “hand-made” items to add to my portfolio.

The photos below are of some antique quilts I recently came across while wandering through an antique mall.Antique Quilt-1

3 Quilts-1

So if you have an interest in looking at what I have on my photography website, just click on the link I’ve added to the sidebar of this blog.  If you would like to purchase something on that site I have made a special 20% off discount coupon code on the price of a print for my followers to use.  Just join the e-mail list on my photography website and I’ll send you a coupon.  This is not applied to any frames, etc. if chosen.  Just the print itself.

When you click on one of the images on the site it will show you the different options for printing and the prices.  Thanks in advance, even if you just visit to take a look!  I’ll be adding a lot of new photos in the coming weeks.

Right now I’m in the process of writing a tutorial on how to make a quick, fun, scrappy four patch baby quilt (which of course can be used for any size quilt by adding more four patches).  Look for that to be posted within the next two weeks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accidental Quilt Block Variation – REDO 2015

I have received some requests to write out a step-by-step tutorial for the variation of the block I made in my posting titled Re-thinking My Accidental Quilt Block from January 19, 2014. Because I just showed various pictures, folks trying to make the block became confused. Then I discovered there was an unintended quirk in the way the quilt was turning out based on some cutting instructions! So I deleted that post and wrote this new variation that works out the way I originally intended!  So if you read the original post and wondered why you couldn’t find it – it’s gone!

I feel this new variation is way easier to make, so I’m posting a tutorial on how to make that one instead. I think everyone will be happy that I did, LOL.

Pictured below is a new sample block and two potential layouts that could be used for a quilt. You may notice the colors changed in the quilt layout samples because I didn’t realize I was low on the fabric I used for the block sample. 🙂  To cut my pieces I used 2 ½” wide strips from a Jelly Roll which resulted in a block that equaled 6 ½” square.Block Pieces-9

Block Pieces-10

Block Pieces-11

Click on this link to get to the tutorial, or just click on my Tutorials link at the top of the page. Look for the Accidental Quilt Block Variation – 2015.

Sorry I’ve Been Absent – But New Pattern to Come!

I have woefully neglected the blog due to several commitments that have kept me away.  One of which included a quilt I’m about to finish as a gift to someone.  However since I over-bought the fabric I needed for the quilt design she chose, an idea for another quilt using the leftover fabric has emerged.  I will be posting that soon so hang in there!

 

 

Part 3 – Deconstructing my Friendship Star Quilt – Lessons Learned

I have been sick with a nasty virus folks, so my brain hasn’t been available to add part three of my posting.  But antibiotics finally kicked in and I’m starting to function again, so on to the last posting on the quilting and binding of my Friendship Star quilt.

First, I want to talk about my challenge doing machine applique on the inside curves of a circle cut into the center of a rectangle block.

Now I’m no expert at applique in the first place; only doing it twice before and only on the outer edges of circles.  So wrapping my mind around sewing down the inner edges of a circle cut into a rectangle was a bit challenging for some reason!  You can see the “messy” result below.

Friendship Star 2

Plus, my sewing machine allows me to choose “applique” stitches. The one above may also be known as a “blanket stitch” on other machines.  My machine also allows me to do “mirror images” of stitches, so basically, I could choose the blanket stitch that makes a stitch falling to the left, reverse that and make the stitch fall to the right or vice-verse just by pressing a button.  That makes life pretty simple,  huh?

Machine Setting for Applique

However I think I really just went too fast and lost control of my curves.  I ended up missing some stitches and had to go around a second time.  The stitches ended up looking more like a sunburst, with lines going out in random different angles instead of clean, more exact stitches as you would  normally see on an outside curve.  In the end, I was okay with this and considered it a “design element”, LOL.

However I just had to try it again on another sample after I had finished my quilt, which actually turned out better.  So again, the key is keep your needle as close to the inside edge as possible, go slow, stopping after two or three stitches then lifting your presser foot to readjust the position of your block so you can keep moving around the curve.

Inner Circle Example

The one above turned out better than the one in the quilt itself :).

Machine Binding a Quilt

I am not the best at hand sewing so I have always sewn my bindings on by machine.  There are several good tutorials on how to do that, but I recently came across a new one that I tried and liked the result better than what I had been doing.

Normally, I was sewing the binding to the BACK of my quilt first, then to the front.  This time I sewed it to the FRONT of the quilt first, and liked that even more.  However, you have to feel VERY confident that you can sense, or feel where the folded over edge of the binding is falling in relation to the binding on the front (it has to fall past the stitching on the back) to know you are not accidentally sewing a very wonky seam or sewing into the front of the binding.  It’s kind of scary because you can’t see whats happening on the front, but I found I could actually feel where I was and didn’t mess this up.  Plus, if you are using a color of thread that matches the front of your quilt, it’s probably less scary. Here’s a link to an excellent tutorial on the Cluck Cluck Sew blog, a wonderful blog with great information and inspiration.

I always use 2 1/2″ strips for my binding. Below is a sample of what mine looked like.  Because I already had some straight stitching in the border, this additional line of stitching did not look out of place in my opinion.  So part of making the decision to bind in this manner might depend on what else is going on in your front borders, or the color of your thread and how much it might stand out.

Binding example

So that’s it for deconstructing this quilt to provide a little insight on my thought process behind designing and quilting this project.  I hope it may give you some ideas and tips as well.