Category Archives: Machine Piecing

Two Purple Trees

I kept working on my Stash Bee blocks in RSC colors this week and came out of it with two more purple improv trees.

I think I’m getting better at it.  The tress didn’t take nearly as much background material, though I still ended up with substantial scraps.

I’m generally happy with these three trees, though piecing them wasn’t a lot of fun for me.  I don’t think I’m going to make a quilt of just RSC improv trees.  I’m going to stick with my original plan of integrating them into a year-long quilt of improv-leaning blocks from the Stash Bee in the RSC’s colors.

I still have another block or two that I’d like to make from this month’s Stash Bee hives, and I’ll probably get one done this coming week, but the other two need more thinking (and possibly a die-cutter).  They’ll go on my Project List (see the menu bar up above) under “Someday”.

In the meantime, I like my trees!

And I can’t wait to see what else will join them.

I’m linking up with RSC at so scrappy.

Purple Heart and Tree

Today was a dark day for our democracy here in the US.

I did some hand-sewing for Grackle Party, which I’m not ready to share yet.  I don’t want to associate that piece in my mind too much with this part of history.

A few days ago, I did my first Stash Bee blocks in that month’s Rainbow Scrap Challenge (from soscrappy) color.  January is PURPLE.

First up was Hive 2’s January heart block:

I didn’t quite hit the final measurement of 8 1/2″ square, mine’s more like 8 1/4″, but it’s close enough for an improv-ish block.  It wasn’t supposed to be improv, but it’ll likely fit better with the improv blocks than the more traditional ones.  I also learned that I need WAY more light in my sewing area to cut accurately.

Second was Hive 6’s January improv tree block:

I didn’t even bother with her width and height requirements and my top’s uneven, but I think I nailed her look.  I enjoyed this one so much (though it had a steep learning curve for me) that I have trunks cut and pieced and purples pulled for two more blocks.

I’m going to have lots of neutral scraps for other projects or blocks when I’m done with these trees:

It was a mess, but I think I understand better how the angles go together now.  The back’s less of a mess than the front, amazingly.  I did press after each seam, which helped.  Unfortunately, the purple fabric’s been in storage for a LONG time and I could not get that crease out.

I’m linking up with RSC at so scrappy.

Finish Along 2017 Q1

For a more complete list of my WiPs, look above my header image at the “Project List” link.  That list is a work in progress, too.

Before the end of March, I hope to finish (or work on or think about):

  1. The Star Wall Hanging on black, for my mother.  Two more years and it’s still not done yet.  Argh.
  2. Tiny Flower Garden for Prim.  It’s a lot more done now than it is in this picture, and I have more pictures of its assembly which I have yet to blog.  I think if I really push, I can get it quilted and bound and ready for hanging in under three months.  I’m dreading the applique to the borders, but I think I’ve done enough hand-sewing by now that it’ll be fine.  I have no idea how I’m going to quilt it beyond “simply”, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

3. Pumpkin Patch for Sec.  I’d decided that this would be a twin-sized quilt, but I’m going back to my toddler-bed-sized plan.  It’ll be a faster finish and he’s not super-into pumpkins anymore, so this can go into storage for someday when he moves out and takes it with him.  Or he can use it on the couch.  Or both.

4. Red and white twin-sized bed quilt for Sec.  Not blogged (or named) yet, I’ll add a link when I post about it.

5. Improv linen throw quilt.  Chunky rectangles of color, accented with black and white.  1/2″ seams, not blogged yet.

6. Toddler placements.  I promised these to the kids’ (old) school, and I’d like to get them finished up and mailed.  Not blogged yet.

7. 16″ square epp pillow cover.  It’s currently just paper shapes, not blogged yet.

8a-d. Four 7.5″ x 8″ drink/snack mats for the kids’ new drink station.  These are EPPed and I’ll have to redact the photos, since each features its owner’s first initial.  I have Prim’s ready, but I need to re-do the binding as I rushed it and it’s not great.  The paper for Sec’s is cut out and I’m in the basting stage.  These are four separate projects, since they’re time-consuming, but they’re part of a series so I’m listing them together.  Not blogged yet.

9.  Four 7.5″ x 8″ alternate drink/snack mats.  These will be machine-pieced and are much simpler, so they count as one project.  I have the top of Prim’s sewn together and Sec pulled fabrics for his, but that’s about as far as I’ve gotten.  Not blogged yet.

And I’ll leave it here, since I don’t want to miss the link-up for the first quarter.  I’ll keep updating my “Project List” link, since I’d like a master list of my WiPs to work from.

Linking up to the Q1 2017 Finish-Along.

Finished Nightstand Topper!

Berries with Lemon Action DONE HPDone and in use, my first A Lovely Year of Finishes finish, the nightstand topper for my son Sec, “Berries with Lemon”!

It all started with his fabric picks and here we are with a functional piece.

Berries with Lemon Front DONE HP

It’s a tiny bit wonky, but it almost perfectly fits his night stand.  I ended up just doing bar tacks at some of the brick intersections by hand.  It’s not going to be washed much (as you can see from the first picture, he doesn’t like putting his water cups on it), so it should hold together just fine.  No, he doesn’t really use the clock for anything.  He claimed it from another room and now it’s his.

The bar tacks were partly because I couldn’t bear to drag out my sewing machine to do the quilting.  I despair of ever being able to sew a consistent, straight line without a struggle.  Good thing I like hand-sewing now, though burying the knots and ends of all of those bar tacks was no fun at all.

Berries with Lemon Back DONE HPI do like the back.  I don’t want to mess it up with a big ugly white label and I’m not sure I can easily match the red for a Spoonflower-printed label, so we’ll see.

But it’s done and getting used, so YAY!

Linking up with ALYoF’s January finish post, just in time.

“Berries with Lemon” Progress

I didn’t make as much progress on this nightstand topper for my son Sec as I would have liked, but some progress is better than none.  I got the binding sewn on the front.

Berries with Lemon Progress HP

I really, really like the back.  It’s much cooler than the front.  No label yet.  That’ll have to wait for my next Spoonflower order, so it might be some time.  It’s not going anywhere and I’ve documented it here, so I’m not too worried.

Berries with Lemon Progress Back HP

I actually made a bunch of mistakes with this project.

First, I didn’t make the backing significantly bigger than the front on all sides (there was some leeway on the long sides, but none on the short), so spray-basting it all together was a nightmare.  I was afraid that it would shift badly if I machine-quilted it, so I decided to hand quilt it, but I wanted to get the binding on while I had my machine out, so I did that.  It’s a little project, so I think it’ll be fine.  I think I’m only going to tack it all down at the corners of the squares.  Warm and White says you only need to quilt every 10″ and I don’t think it’s going to be washed often, so it’s likely okay.

Berries with Lemon Progress Oops HPSecond, you can see where my machine sewing failed when I was adding the binding.  I sewed too narrow a seam allowance, so it wasn’t hard to fix, just annoying.

I cut everything very carefully, had my (new) walking foot on, and went super-slow.  I’m beginning to think my 1/4″ seam allowance woes aren’t all me, but may be at least partially due to my machine.  I’m going to have to try out a new machine at the quilt shop.  I realized that I’m having no fun at all doing the piecing because I dread the wonky seams.

At this point, I’d rather hand-sew than drag out the machine.  <sigh>  I don’t want anything fancy, just a machine that feeds evenly.  Yes, I just had it serviced.  Argh.

Well, I only have hand-sewing left on this one and then it’s a finish!

Handstitched Class Quilt Decisions

I’ve been agonizing too much about what I want to do for the Handstitched class quilt “Modern Medallion”–I’m going to call mine “Bold Tranquility” and I’ve tagged this post and the first with that name.

Black and White Prints HP

Even though I bought this third print, thinking to use it for the central dogwood blossom, I’ve decided not to use any prints at all, just fabric and pearl cotton for quilting in white, black, and a few greys.

If I hate how it’s turning out, I can make it into table topper and try again with the prints.

I got my freezer paper and my spray starch (and sizing, just in case).  Tomorrow, I’ll iron and start cutting.  I hope to do the hand sewing on the central dogwood blossom over the weekend, but I doubt I’ll be able to take my machine out for joining the next three rounds until Monday.


“Berries with Lemon” Top is Done!

Berries with Lemon Top HPHere’s the untrimmed top.  The picture has some weird perspective issues.  I mean, the top’s pretty wonky, but the photo has problems, too.

Berries with Lemon Top Reverse HP

And the back after pressing.  I could not get the seams to stay flat.  This photo’s more true.  I’m not sure how I’m going to quilt it.  probably simply in the ditch.  The back fabric has a big, red and gold all-over pattern, so I’ll match the  thread to the red and hope for the best on the top.

Berries with Lemon Binding HP

Speaking of the back: it’s just about an inch too narrow.  I made a little too much scrappy binding, so I’m going to add the last bit of the blue in the above photo to the back as a stripe.  I think it’ll look good.

I’m going to use Warm and White batting, since that’s what I have on hand.


“Berries with Lemon”

When I was at the fabric store yesterday looking for an older fabric (Pepe in Paris Main White–which they had long ago sold out of) that my son, Prim, saw and loved in a charm pack I was cutting up for hexagons, I ended up filling out my medium blues.  I hope it’s enough, but that’s a post for another day.

Today’s all about my two year old, Sec.  He came with me to the fabric store, and since it was the first Friday of the month, fat quarters were on sale for half off.  Not only that, they had a whole slew of extra FQs for sale aside from the usual display.  I need to go every first Friday.

He immediately started touching stuff while I was looking for blues, but I realized he was trying to take a particular red fat quarter.  I decided to get it for him.  He also wanted another red, and a light blue.  I told him to pick one more, maybe a yellow, and he did:

Sec's Fabrics HP

First, I’m amazed at how true to color this photo is, except for the blue.  Second, he has really good taste.

When we got home, I freaked out about what to make for him from these fabrics.  Four fat quarters (essentially a yard of fabric) isn’t even enough for a new, bigger couch blanket for him and I didn’t want to ruin his color story by adding prints from my meager stash.

The prints are old(er)–only three had selvages.  The top one didn’t, then below that are Magic Vine by Eleanor Burns (which I think I’d bought a FQ of previously), Sand in My Shoes by McKenna Ryan, and Stonehenge Starry Night by Deborah Edwards.  I could have sworn I just saw that last one on clearance online somewhere.  I searched and quickly gave up on ordering more of any of them.  I could go back to the fabric store for more FQs (I think I saw some of each) to make a twin bed quilt for him (he needs two bed quilts since he’s a little kid), but I also like a challenge.

I thought about adding some color-matched FQs and featuring large swaths of each print, since I’d like to get something done for him soon.  I considered making Boho Girl by Amy Smart, but the quilt ends up a weird size (I’d like my twin bed tops to finish at about 74″ x 92″ before quiling) and it isn’t FQ friendly.  Then I thought I’d do a large-scale improv herringbone, with just five long strips of the herringbone and narrow white borders, but that would take a bunch more fabric and wouldn’t be quick.  I’d like Sec see the fabric he chose become something soon so he can make that connection.

Then it hit me.  We just got him a twin bed AND A NIGHTSTAND!  I’ll make him a little quilted topper for the nightstand.  Four FQs is probably enough to make the top, piece the backing, and have some left over for binding.  If not, I can pull a smallish piece of coordinating fabric from my eBayed scraps or use the matching yellow FQ I bought previously, if nothing else.

It took me five hundred words to say: A small quilted nightstand topper, “Berries with Lemon”, using Sec’s fabrics is my January goal for 2015’s A Lovely Year of Finishes.  I’m thinking about doing tumblers, since I’ve never done them before, they seem fairly simple, and they’re not squares.  Alternatively, I’ll do bricks, since I won’t have to match any corners.  Yeah, I think I talked myself into bricks.

“Pumpkin Patch” Change of Plans

Sec, my toddler, has decided it’s time for him to move out of his toddler bed and into a bigger bed.  I should have worked on his toddler bed quilt more.  Now it’s going to be a twin-sized quilt.  I’m a little sad I couldn’t make it for him faster, but I’m happy because he’ll get more use out of a twin-sized quilt.

Pumpkin Quilt Cutting HP

Also, I get to make more bigger pumpkins and/or use a lot more floaty white-on-white background for a more modern look.  I haven’t decided yet, but I’m leaning toward more pumpkins (or maybe adding some machine-appliqued leaves), since too much white on a little-kid quilt is asking for trouble.

I have a cut a bunch more pumpkin bodies, leaf units, and half-stem units (they need background on the other side).  I also have a stack of various-sized white-on-white print pieces.

I’m all ready to get going on this again in the new year, and I plan on powering through until it’s done.  I need to get a cabinet for my sewing machine so I can take advantage of fifteen minutes here and there during the day (Ter’s naptime, after the kids are all asleep, etc.) to sew.  I’m browsing cabinets and sales now.

Pumpkin Block 3

Pumpkin Block 3 HPAnd the third!  This one’s looking nice and stumpy, like a pumpkin should.  Well, a little more wrinkly than a pumpkin should, buy you know how it is.

The broader stem looks better to me than the thinner on in the second block, but I’m going to keep changing it up.  Same with the leaves.  I like that they’re different for each block.  I think that’s the kind of variety that would interest a toddler.

I love the green fabric for the leaf.  It’s from my eBayed scraps.  I have a feeling those are going to be the scraps that keep on givin’.

I’m thinking three more of these big pumpkins (the very first one is going to go on the back) for a total of five, then I’ll lay them out on the floor (no design wall yet) next to a tape measure and figure out the range of sizes I can use for the smaller pumpkin blocks.

I’m really excited about this project now that I figured out that my seam consistency problem was really my machine’s problem all along.  When I was using my 1/4″ foot, the feed dogs were too wide to both grab my fabric, so it would shoot off to the side as I sewed, even slowly.  I switched back to a regular foot and just moved my needle position so that I can line my fabric up with on the of lines on the needle plate and be sure of a 1/4″ seam.  I also bought a walking foot, which helps.  My lines are still a little curvy, but THAT’s where practice will make (almost) perfect.