Archive for the ‘FAQ’ Category

A Quick Note

You’ve probably noticed that I posted the alternate project for Block 2 yesterday — the Wildflowers Pillow.

I’ll be back tomorrow with Block 3 — I wanted to post it today, but I can already tell I’m not going to have time to get it posted because some things more important than sitting in front of the computer have been scheduled for me!

I’ve been working on catching up on the diary entries. I seem to only get further behind every day, but it’s quite a job, so I need to concentrate more on catching them up. I mean, this IS supposed to be a running transcript of my mother’s diary, not just quilt-alongs, and my family seems to get a little irate when I don’t post the latest entries — imagine that! (I think they just like seeing if they’re going to be mentioned . . . probably to see if they can remember doing whatever Hazel says they did! Uncle Larry always tells me he has “no recollection of that” — haha!)

I’ve also changed the sidebar to make it easier to find the patterns for each quilt-along. I figured that information might come in handy if you’re looking for past patterns (or have fallen behind like I have). Because . . .

I know we have quite a few new followers and participants. So, welcome all you newcomers — I’m anxious to see what you all do!

I made a new downloads page — something I never got done after launching my new web site and breaking them all, but hey, baby steps. It’s not finished yet, either, but I’m working on it slowly but surely. This is a lot of work! Please bear with me . . .

And remember, if you have a finished block you’d like to show, you can send me a picture and I’ll do occasional posts featuring them. I would love to see them, and I’m sure everyone else would, too.

I think that’s all for now. Check back tomorrow for Block 3. I hope you have Blocks 1 and 2 all caught up!

Read Full Post »

I’m back today with some close-up shots of the new Quilt-Along quilt, Hazel’s Summer Wildflowers (or Hazel Ilene’s Veritable Rubicon of Wildflowers, if you’re going with that moniker).

I still need to get some better shots of the quilt full out, but to get you started, I thought I’d show you some close-ups of the stitchery, and tell you how the quilt-along is going to work, and what your options are.

I’ll also give you yardage information, so you can start thinking about what you’d like to make your quilt out of, start digging through your stash, or plan that oh-so-necessary shopping trip!

The finished quilt measures 61″ x 78″.

There are 6 pieced blocks, all alike . . .

. . . and 6 embroidered blocks, each one different.

For the embroidery on my quilt, I used lots of different stitches and fills, just so it would look more filled in and “fancy” (for lack of a better word).

HOWEVER — I’m also providing instruction for a simpler version of the block, and will be showing you those as well. You can choose to do the “regular” version, or the “fancy” version, just depending on how much time you want to spend, and how well you like to do embroidery, or whatever you desire to fit in with your own plan for this quilt.

We’ll start with the embroidered blocks, and work through them 1 through 6. About every 3-4 weeks, I’ll post the next block, and at the end, we’ll do the pieced block, and I’ll post assembly instructions last. You should have a finished quilt top before the end of the year this way.

Along with the block pattern, I’ll show you the regular version and the fancy version, PLUS a bonus project using the regular version (since you’re seeing the fancy ones in the quilt). This will give you some ideas and other projects you can do in case you don’t want to do the entire quilt.

If you simply don’t like embroidery at all, then you can check back in toward the end of the Quilt-Along, and use the instructions for the pieced block to make your entire quilt just from the pieced blocks instead of putting in the embroidery blocks.

For my sample quilt, I used pieces from the Sugar & Spice line by Amanda Herring of the Quilted Fish for Riley Blake. I then chose my embroidery floss colors to match my fabrics.

Yardage requirements for the quilt as shown are as follows:

Focal print: 1 1/4 yards. This is used for the outer border and the centers of the pieced blocks.

Red tone-on-tone print: 2 yards. Used for the star points, half of the setting triangles, and the binding.

White background: 2 yards. Used in the blocks, and for the embroidery base fabric.

Blue print (where I used the argyle one): 1 fat quarter. Used in the blocks only.

Pink print: 1/3 yard. Used in the blocks only.

Blue paisley print: 1 1/4 yards. Used for half of the setting triangles.

You’ll also need 4 yards of regular yardage for the backing when the time comes, or if you’re using wide backing, only 2 yards.

For the embroidery floss, I can’t state exactly how much you’ll need, because it depends on how you stitch, and how many colors you decide to use, etc.

For mine, I used 8 different colors: 2 greens, 2 pinks, 2 reds, 2 blues. If you do your embroidery exactly like mine, using 3 strands of floss, you’ll need 3-4 skeins of each color, and at least one extra of each green.

You’ll also probably want an embroidery hoop to make the stitching easier. I used a 6″ plastic hoop for mine.

In addition, embroidery needles will be helpful. I always use size 7 or 8, but use whatever you’re comfortable with.

And finally, you’ll need a marking pencil to transfer the embroidery design onto your fabric background. Frixion pens work wonderfully for this, and come in a variety of colors, so you can pick one that you can see clearly.

Does that give you enough to think about for a few days?

Start gathering up your fabrics and tools, choose some floss colors, and if you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to contact me and ask. I don’t want anyone to be confused.

I’ll be back in a few days (possibly Friday) with the first embroidery block pattern and more information to go along with it. I can hardly wait to see some other versions of Hazel’s Summer Wildflowers!

Read Full Post »

Tools and Supplies

I’m including a list of the basic tools and other supplies you’ll need to make this quilt. I encourage you to use whatever your favorite tools are, but I’m listing what I use below. I did this for the first quilt-along, but since we’ll be doing some applique this time, there’s a few more things to add and talk about.

For the piecing part:

Sewing machine in good working order, with a new needle (to start out with) and plenty of bobbins on hand. The piecing is not difficult, so a simple straight-stitch machine will be just fine. I recommend a new needle because it makes such a difference, and I want your project to hum along without any stress. It’s also handy to have a few bobbins wound ahead of time, so you don’t have to stop sewing to wind more.

A rotary cutting mat and ruler(s). I always recommend to my students that they buy the largest cutting mat they can afford. While I assume that most quilters already have one, if you are a beginner, or are in the market for a new one, get a big one! I will also assume that most quilters have a ruler or two laying around somewhere, but just in case you don’t, the best size for this project is going to be a 6″ x 12″ ruler. Toward the end, a large square ruler, like a 16″ x 16″, might come in handy, and for straightening up fabric or cutting borders, a 6″ x 24″ ruler could be useful. However, if you don’t have any ruler at all, and want to buy only one, get the 6″ x 12″ one first.

A good rotary cutter. I use a Martelli ergonomic cutter, the 45mm size. I can cut for hours without even noticing. I’ve tried every kind, but I now think I can’t live without my Martelli. They say they’re in the process of redesigning it, so it should be even better in the future. My second favorite choice would be the Fiskars 45mm rotary cutter. And I wouldn’t be totally against using an Olfa cutter, either. I just can’t use one for an extended period of time without it hurting my wrist and hand. For this project, don’t get the little tiny rotary cutter. It’s too much work. The 45mm, whatever your favorite brand, will be the best. And since you’re only doing a little each day, you shouldn’t tire yourself out with cutting no matter which brand you’re using.

Thread. You’ll need a spool of thread in a neutral color that goes with your fabrics. I used white for mine, because my background was white, and I didn’t want a color to shadow through. This thread is for the piecing part. I’ll discuss applique thread farther down the page.

Storage bin. I really recommend a bin of some type to use for storing all the pieces and parts of this project all in one place. Since we’ll be working on it over the course of several months, you don’t want to have parts of it scattered everywhere, and you’ll want to be able to pull it out and yet put it away easily when necessary. If it’s all in one bin or drawer, that will greatly simplify things and hopefully prevent you from losing anything as you go.

In addition, for the applique part, you’ll need:

Freezer paper: For making slip-free applique templates. This is optional, however, and I’ll discuss several different ways of making templates as we get started. You can then pick your favorite.

Thread: For applique, it’s best to match the thread to the piece you’re sewing down, NOT your background fabric, so you’ll need thread that matches each of your applique fabrics. I generally use Mettler Metrosene Poly Plus, but I also have a few spools of silk and cotton that I use when the color suits me. The silk is expensive, but hides the stitches well. I’ve found that the poly is the next best thing for me, and is much more reasonably priced. It’s all a matter of personal preference and finding what you can afford and what works for you.

Scissors: You’ll need paper scissors and good fabric scissors, and I’ve found that in most quilting households, these are not one and the same. My daughters always knew not to use the “good scissors” to cut anything but fabric!

Marking pencil: You’ll need a fabric marking pencil that washes out or disappears with ironing. For dark fabrics, I use the Clover White Ball-Point Marking Pen. It rolls on liquid, and the line shows up after it dries. To remove the lines, you press. It makes an easy-to-draw fine line that shows up well on dark fabrics. For light fabrics, I use a Roxanne’s silver marking pencil, and mark as lightly as I can. There is also a new Sew-Line Mechanical Pencil out now that marks really easy fine lines and comes in several lead colors. There are so many choices of marking pencils out there to choose from, you should just experiment with as many as you can to find what you like and what works best for you.

Needles: If you’ve never tried applique before, I would not suggest starting out with the tiniest of applique sharps. Try something easy for you to hang on to, and easy to thread; then as you gain experience, you can graduate to the tinier ones (much like you would with hand quilting needles). I use applique sharps, size 12, but they’re very tiny and not easy to thread. Jeana Kimball makes a line of applique needles (straw needles) that are wonderful. If you’re just starting out, however, regular sharps in a size 10 would be a good place to start.

Thimble: Your favorite thimble might come in handy for the hand-stitching part. I use these: Greatest. Invention. Ever. But feel free to use what works best for you. Everyone has their own preference.

And of course you’ll need your fabrics that you chose, and a healthy dose of enthusiasm. Are you ready?

Read Full Post »

A Fabric Discussion

Today I’m going to talk about “Bouquets for Hazel” a bit more, and tell you what to expect and what fabrics you’ll need for your quilt-along quilt.

Here’s a repeat picture of the quilt, so you can refer to it while reading.

The design for the applique in these blocks is floral in nature, and is very loosely interpreted from pictures and samples of linens from the 1940s and 1950s — linens I imagine the Hyde household might have had during the time of the diary’s writing.

I wanted the quilt to have a bit of a retro 50s feel, but at the same time, I “moderned it up” with bright colors, so it would also be a happy quilt. One thing I noticed when researching old linens, is that the designers were not so very concerned with leaves being green, stems being brown, flower centers being yellow . . . they had every color doing every thing, and it seemed very liberating.

So I made all my stems and leaves in unexpected colors, and mixed up all my colors within each block to make it fun.

I then designed the center block and the setting triangle blocks to pull the quilt together using all the same colors from the applique.

I’m also quilting along with you again this time, making another version of the same quilt in another colorway, so you’ll see those colors of mine as we go along.

If you’re new to applique, never fear. I’ll be posting lots of pictures, explanations, tutorials, and related information as we go along, which will hopefully answer any questions you have, and teach you the hand needle-turn method of applique as we go. I’ll also discuss the fusible method of applique as well, should you decide you’d rather use that method.

When we get to the piecing part, I’ll still provide step-by-step instructions and lots of pictures, so you don’t get lost.

If you’re a more experienced quilter, you can just download each pattern and set to work. If at any time you have any questions, you can always contact me and ask.

Now, here’s what you’ll need to make your quilt:

Keep in mind that I’m estimating generously, so if you have shrinkage, mis-cuts, or changes in decisions, you’ll still have plenty of fabric to work with.

For the outer border, setting and corner blocks, center block, and some of the applique, pick a focal print. This is the pink print with the circular flowers on it in the picture. We’ll refer to it as Fabric #1, and you’ll need 3 yards.

For the inner border, block frames, and some of the piecing and applique (yellow in the sample quilt), which we’ll refer to as Fabric #2, you’ll need 1 1/4 yards.

For the applique and pieced blocks background fabric (I used a solid white), you’ll need 1 1/2 yards. We’ll just call this one “background” and not use a number.

You’ll also need 3 other colors to do the piecing and most of the applique with. I chose a pink, a blue, and a green. You’ll need 5/8 yard of each one. You can also just use a variety of scraps in colors that coordinate with your border print, as long as you have the correct amounts of the colors you choose. Feel free to be creative here. We’ll number these Fabrics 3, 4, and 5, and keep them in order using the swatch sheet I’ll make available a bit later.

You’ll also need binding. You can choose one of the colors you’ve already got and get an extra half-yard of it, or you can choose something completely different. You’ll need 1/2 yard.

Then, of course, you’ll need backing and batting when all is said and done, but you don’t have to worry about that right at this moment.

Here is the grouping of fabrics I chose for the sample quilt:

Tomorrow I’ll do a review of all the tools and supplies you’ll need as we make the quilt, and before we start, I’ll once again make available the downloadable swatch sheet for you to use to keep track of your fabrics on. So . . . I’ll see you tomorrow!

Read Full Post »

Well . . . where to start?

I knew at the outset of this project that committing to writing a post a day for almost 4 years was a huge undertaking. I was certainly willing to give it a shot, though, and I did pretty good for awhile, if I do say so myself.

What I didn’t expect was that when I fell behind, that I’d fall behind so badly!

I took a sick spell back in September, and was pretty sick for about 3 weeks. That put me behind on just about everything, and I simply couldn’t keep up. The poor diary project was one of the things that I let go.

I’ve been riddled with guilt about it this entire time, but with the “Christmas rush” of getting quilts and commission jobs done for customers, I just haven’t had time to get back on track yet.

But now, I’m hoping to do that very thing, and I sincerely apologize to those of you who came to expect the daily entries and they weren’t there. I also want to thank you for sticking with me this long, and hope you continue to come along for the ride as I catch up and move forward.

I have big things planned for the diary blog for 2012. I know I promised another Quilt-Along to go with 1952, and I just never got my act together on that. So . . . for 1953, I’m planning to offer TWO Quilt-Alongs. Please join me in one or both of them.

I’ll have more details and pictures on both of them a bit later. For the next couple weeks, I’m going to concentrate on catching up on the daily posts, and hopefully, by the end of the month, I’ll be able to announce the first Quilt-Along, and we’ll get started in January. How does that sound?

Please accept my apology, and I hope you’re up to joining in next year’s Quilt-Alongs!


Read Full Post »


I got a bit behind last week posting the entries. I’ve been so busy, and my computer is so slow — it’s not a good combination for getting things done online . . .

But I’m caught up, and it’s time to make some big changes.

I said at the beginning of publishing this blog that I would never remove any of the quilting instructions without letting you know in advance.

I’m just about ready to start posting the information for the next Quilt-Along. It’s a small quilt, with some applique and some piecing, and it’s not going to be a mystery. So I’ll be showing it to you soon, and at that time, I’ll tell you how it will go and what you’ll need in order to Quilt Along with us.

Meanwhile, it’s time to take down the instructions for the previous one, since I’ll be having a new one posted. To that end, I will begin removing the instructions for the 1951 quilts (both options) on August 15th, probably a month at a time.

If you’re in the middle of making one of these quilts, this should give you time to print out any instructions you’ll need to finish it up, because it’s not my intention to leave anyone hanging.

I will be making the patterns available later, I’m just not sure in exactly what form yet, so you can still get the patterns, just keep checking back here and I’ll make sure to let you know how you can get them.

I will not be removing tutorials on techniques, so those will remain. I’m not removing past diary entries at this time, and the recipes will all still be posted for now as well. If that changes, I’ll be sure to let you know.

If you have any questions, just leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you with an answer.

Read Full Post »

Sometimes I think I can’t stand it here any longer. When I’m out of school & working I want to join the Catholic Church and become a nun. I’ve always wanted to but no one knew.

Well, we know now! Luckily for me and my siblings, she didn’t follow through with this plan. But how funny! I wonder what happened to make her think she couldn’t stand it here any longer? Or maybe it’s just teenage-girl hormones? She hasn’t said anything up till now that would have made you think this was coming . . .

It’s another day off from quilting. But I’ll fill you in on the plan for what I hope we’ll be doing next . . . if all goes as I have it planned.

Now that we have all the blocks done (with the exception of a little bit to do on Setting Block 6 for you Option 1 folks), the next step naturally is to set them together. However, we have a bit of work to do before we’re ready to do that part, so there will be a little bit of prep work to do to some of the blocks, and at least one tutorial on the techniques we’ll be using to get this final big part accomplished.

My plan is to be finished with all the steps of the quilt top before Thanksgiving. That way, you won’t have to be trying to keep up with a daily Quilt-Along during the holidays. Or, if you’re extremely behind, you’ll still have lots of time to get your quilt top completed before the end of the year.

I’m planning some more give-aways with a couple of “grander” prizes, just because you deserve them for having stuck with me this long and done so much work. I’m so proud of all of you, and grateful that you participated, even if all you did was read along every day. (I know my family isn’t all that interesting at times!)

I’m also trying to decide how to continue from here, so I’ll be mulling all that over in the next month or two, and am open to suggestions. I want to have a “Quilt Show” of sorts, so that everyone can see everyone else’s finished quilts, possibly have the chance to tell a bit about themselves, their quilt, and their participation, or something along those lines. I’m still thinking . . .

And before I forget, I’ve been asked several times: “What was in the Domestic Bliss package?” I hope Balinda doesn’t mind me spoiling the surprise, since I doubt the package has reached her yet, but it was “something for every room in the house”. For the kitchen, a tea towel; for the living room, a candle; for the bathroom, handmade soap; for the sewing room, a piece of fabric; and for the bedroom, chapstick to make those lips all kissable!

And I’ll leave you with this story from the local paper, published on this day in 1951. You remember Hazel talking about listening to Horace Heidt on the radio? How’s this for a news flash? . . .

Wife Gets Divorce From Horace Heidt

Bandleader Horace Heidt’s wife, Adaline, has been granted a divorce and half of community property estimated at $600,000.

Mrs. Heidt, 38, testified yesterday that her husband’s career as a radio and television headliner has become more important to him than anything else, and that although she sought a reconciliation, he spurned her. She said he telephoned her from New York that unless she gave him his freedom, he would never return to California.

And there you have it . . .

Read Full Post »

Blog Addition

I keep forgetting as we go along to tell you the names of all the blocks we’ve been making once we’re finished.

So I finally had a good idea . . .

I put a list over in the right sidebar that tells you what each block is called.

Each time we finish one, I’ll update the list, so you’ll know.

It’s down below the list of participants.

Then I won’t have to try to remember to tell you . . . since I can’t seem to accomplish that.

Read Full Post »

Pressing Matters

I’ve been asked by several people how come my blocks look so flat, and if there’s any trick to the pressing, so I thought I’d tell you how I do my pressing, and offer any advice (however feeble) that might help you with your pressing.

* I use steam. I love steam. Steam is my friend. If steam doesn’t turn out to be quite enough help, I also enlist Mary Ellen’s Best Press for some additional assistance. (I use the Lavender scented one.)

* I press after EVERY seam. I’m fanatical about it. I keep my iron right next to my sewing machine, and it’s always on when I’m in my studio . . . unless it shuts itself off, and then I turn it right back on. But do get the auto-shut-off if you can, because it lessens the stress and worry of being in the grocery store later, and then trying to remember if you actually shut it off or not.

* I use a heavy iron. When I purchase a new iron, one of my requirements is that it have some weight to it. I don’t want to have to be the one doing all the work of “pressing”. The iron should help me some. If it’s too lightweight, I have to push down too hard, and that’s more work than I want to do. Pressing should not make your shoulders hurt!

* I use ONLY distilled water in my iron. “They” say that these days, this is not necessary in newer irons, but the cynic in me says that they’re only telling you that so that “they” can sell more irons. Tap water is bad for your iron; it causes build-up inside and then makes your iron start puking brown stuff all over your quilt top.

* I’m an old-school piecer, so I usually always press my seams to one side or the other. I press toward the darker fabric whenever possible, but sometimes, it works better to have the seam in a certain direction, even if that is not toward the darker fabric, so I’ll do whichever works best for the situation. In the Quilt-Along instructions, I’ve tried to mention which direction to press your seams when it matters. If it doesn’t matter, then I either say that or don’t mention it at all. 

* Some quilters prefer to press seams open, as is done in the making of clothing. In certain instances, this works well, and helps to reduce bulk in certain areas: for example, if you’re making an 8-pointed star where all eight points come together in the middle, pressing at least half of those seams open will help get those lined up much more accurately by reducing the bulk at that point. In the “olden days” of quilting, it used to be bad to press seams open in a quilt top, because batting was such at the time, that if you pressed the seams open, it left the gaps between stitches exposed, and the batting, over time, could leach out through those gaps. In today’s world, batting is manufactured in such a manner that this is not as strong a possibility as before, so that is no longer a valid argument. I do personally believe, however, that pressing seams open weakens the seam, so if the quilt is one you intend to use a lot and launder a lot, pressing to one side or the other will add to the quilt’s strength and durability over time. In addition, if you intend to do any quilting “in the ditch”, having the seams pressed open will not be conducive to great-looking ditch quilting. Having a “ditch” to actually quilt in comes from having the seams pressed to one side. This does requires you to think ahead a bit, and I can hardly ever claim that I know exactly how I’m going to be quilting something right when I’m first beginning to piece. 

* When pressing, be sure you are doing just that: pressing. Do not scrub the iron back and forth over your patchwork. Treat it gently, so as not to stretch or distort your patchwork with the iron, especially if you are using steam, or working with bias edges.

*Paying attention to good pressing practices helps your machine quilter do a better job of quilting your quilt. I like to try to have the back side of my quilt tops looking as neat as possible. Don’t leave hanging threads, trim dog ears, and try to have all your seams pressed in the proper direction. Your quilter can only do so much . . . don’t force her (or him) to try to be a miracle worker.

Time for the disclaimer . . .

The tips above are only my tips, and my personal opinions. Barely-solicited advice, worth, as my best friend says, every penny you paid for it! Grandma always said: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat,” so you can take all this with a grain of salt. I always find Aunt Ruby’s advice to be THE best advice I’ve ever been given:

“Take all the advice you can get, then do as you please!”

It’s my personal motto now . . .

Read Full Post »

Before you begin quilting, there’s one thing you should do in order to be ready . . .

Test your 1/4″ seam allowance on your sewing machine.

Every machine is just a bit different, and some have a 1/4″ foot attachment that works really well, but if you don’t have the attachment, and sometimes, even if you do have the attachment, you need to test your 1/4″ seam for accuracy. If your seam allowance is off, even just a fraction, then as you sew, this only gets multiplied over and over again, and then things start to come out wrong and not fit together neatly.

For this exercise, you’ll need 3 strips that are cut 1 1/2″ wide by at least 6″ long. First of all, make sure your cutting is accurate, because if errors occur at this stage, you can still have problems, even if your seam allowance is perfect.

Sew two of these strips together down one long side, and press the seam to one side.

Sew the remaining strip to this piece down one long side, and again press the seam to one side.

Now, take your ruler to the finished piece. The strip in the middle should measure exactly ONE inch wide.

If it’s more than one inch, then your seam allowance is too small, and you need to take a bit deeper seam.

If it’s less than one inch, then you’re taking too deep a seam, and need to make your seam closer to the raw edge.

Make any necessary adjustments, and repeat the above sequence until your middle strip comes out exactly one inch. Make sure you mark or know where this spot is on your sewing machine so that you can repeat your perfect results every time, and you’re all set to go!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »