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Trip Around the Garden

Hi everyone!  I can’t believe it is October already.  Time seems to be flying by this year.  It’s already fall.  Fall is really my favorite season of the year because it is such a huge relief after the heat of the summer to have cool weather.  I love the crisp air and the changes in color and light during this season.  The evenings seem cozier because the sun is going down earlier.  I start to think about baking things all the time because the house is finally cool enough to turn on the oven.  However, that did not happen last week.  Last week, we had a heat wave in which temps around here in New England reached almost to the nineties and we had our air conditioners on every day.  That wasn’t very fall-like weather!  I think the heat got to me because when I remembered that October is the month for me to plan the quilt for my charity quilt, I turned to bright summery-springy colors instead of autumn.

This month, I really wanted to keep things simple because I just don’t have a lot of time right now to do anything too complicated.  I also wanted to try this technique of making trip around the world blocks.  Basically, you sew strips of fabric together in a tube, slice them, and then rip out one seam in each slice to create a block that has a diagonal pattern to it.  When you put them all together, they can make a nice all over repeating pattern.  If that didn’t make sense, I’ll show you step by step.

First, you will need 7 strips of fabric, each 2.5 inch by 18 inches long.  For my Aspire Circle friends, I am requesting:

1 strip of white

2 strips of pink

2 strips of green

2 strips of yellow

Arrange them like this: Pink, green, yellow, white, pink, green, yellow

Using a Scant 1/4 inch seam sew them together along their length.  The last seam, you will sew the first and last strips together to get a fabric tube.  Pay attention to your scant.  If you are off a little, the accumulation of all the seams will make your block too big or small if the seam allowance is not just shy of 1/4 inch.  Ask me how I know.

Now, line up a bottom seam with a line on your cutting mat and trim a little off the edge to make it nice and straight.  Then, you want to cut 2.5 inch strips.  You should end up with 7 identical strips, each in a tube and two little trimmings to just throw away.

Now, here’s where it can get a little tricky.    You’ll need to make sure you go in the same direction when opening up the seams for each strip.  Pick one strip and open up a seam next to the white block.  Lay it on your work surface so that the white block is at the top.  Then, look at color at the bottom of the strip (pink).  Rip the seam that will make that color the top of your next strip (between the pink and green).

Continue in this way until you have 7 nice strips making a diagonal pattern on your table.

Next, you should iron all your strips, one at a time, with seams alternating directions.  This is important for creating those nice nesting seams.  Basically, I took every other strip to my ironing board, ironed them all at once in the same direction, and then put them back in the proper sequence.  Next, I took the remaining strips and ironed them in the opposite direction.  Nesting seams are not only nicer for quilting.  They also make it easier to sew the strips together because your machine doesn’t have to sew through 4 layers at once.

Lastly, sew the strips together in the same order as your layout.  You should a have a nice diagonal sequence of white blocks on the center, with other colors forming diagonals on either side.  The block should measure 14.5 inches square.

The white blocks will create a nice diagonal effect when they are all together.  Friends in my sewing circle should make at least 2, but 3 would be awesome!  I think this will be a cheerful quilt and hope that it will brighten up the day of the person who gets it!

 

 

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Finished Quilts

It’s done!

I was able to get the dining room table to myself for a few hours so that I could finish this up.

I think this might be the fastest I have ever finished a quilt, actually.  It helps that I only had to piece together two of the blocks!

I miscalculated the number of blocks that were coming my way, so I had a couple that had to be included on the back, but actually, I really like how these two are framed by larger pieces of fabric.  It highlights them.  Hmmm, maybe I see a kernel of an idea for a new quilt in there somewhere.

The weather has been less than ideal for outdoor photos, so I had to get some help to get a good picture.    I think he enjoyed the brief break it gave him from his work.

I was in a finishing groove, so I went on to quilt up this baby quilt that I had started early fall last year.

Lately, with my sewing, I have been trying very hard to use up what I have and this quilt used up some baby fabrics that were languishing.

I’m afraid the animals did not match the scale of the pattern, so they are a little lost, but the overall effect is ok.  There is still a lot for me to learn about choosing colors and patterns together.

On the upside, I do feel that my machine binding skills are getting much better.  I like to use 2 and 1/2 inch wide strips of fabric for my binding and that’s been helping me a lot.  A little extra to fold over the edge is just what I needed!

As soon as I can get these packed up and find the address, these are going off to a charity that supplies quilts to women and children’s shelters.  I hope they cheer someone up!

Triple Sawtooth Star Block

The past few years, I have been part of a charity quilting group called do.Good.Stitches.  It’s run by Rachel over at Stitched in Color.  There are multiple groups and they each have quilters and stitchers.  Everyone makes quilt blocks every month that the quilters organize.  This way of organizing allows anyone, even the most time pressed or beginner sewer to join a circle and sew for a good cause.  It was a great way for me to have something to sew on a regular basis without the pressure that comes with choosing colors, etc.  I have learned a lot being a sewer and have discovered some new and fun techniques in the process.

My group, the Aspire Circle just went through a little reorganization and I decided to try my hand at being a quilter this time, not because I feel especially skilled at quilting, but because they needed more quilters and I could use a little more help in developing my quilting skills.

Quilters are responsible for choosing the colors and design of their month’s quilt.  All other members make blocks and send them to the quilter of the month.  Then, the quilter assembles the top, quilts it, and sends it off to the group’s charity of choice.

October happens to be my month for organizing and it has been quite a learning process already!  My first idea was a total disaster and had to be scrapped.  Sometimes, I get myself in a situation where I try to reinvent something that doesn’t need to be redone.  Basically, I was trying to figure out how to regular piece a block that is normally paper pieced.  It’s not that I mind paper piecing (that much), but I wanted a different sized block.  Anyhow, after I basically made two blocks that didn’t quite fit together, I decided I had better do something simpler.

Then, this past week, I had two sources of inspiration for our October quilt.  First, on a quilting show on the telly, I saw a layout of a quilt with varying sizes of sawtooth star blocks, from small 4 inch ones to really big 16 in ones.  I liked the look of lots of big and little stars all in one quilt.

My second inspiration came from this leaf that I found on a walk.  I loved the vibrant veining and the color combination.  Fall colors are starting to show up everywhere now and I thought it would be appropriate for October to work with the shades of fall: oranges, greens, yellows, orangey reds, and deep purples.

I also liked how the green veins in the leaf were enclosed within the red orange perimeter and thought it would be fun to try to get a similar effect with the sawtooth stars.

What do you think?  It took me several tries, but I think I finally got the cutting list and sewing order right.  For the Aspire group, I would like two blocks.  One should be with a white background like the first picture above.  The second should be reversed, like the one below.

Please let me know if you have any trouble putting these together.  Each block should finish to a 16 1/2  inch square and use two fall colors in addition to white.  My directions below use the no waste way of making flying geese blocks, but you can use whatever method you prefer.  Also, if you want to make it scrappy, that would be fine as long as you stick with just two colors (plus white) in a block.  The photos are a bit dark as I was working on them at night and there aren’t as many as I would like.  I guess I must have gotten carried away with the sewing and forgot to take a picture of each step.  Still, I hope you can figure out the layout, but just ask if you have a question!

For clarity, the cutting list below is ordered beginning with the smallest star and ending with the largest.

For the 4 1/2 inch star 

Color A (or white for reverse):

One 2 1/2 inch square for the center

Four 1 7/8 inch squares for star points

White (or Color A for reverse):

One 3 1/4 inch square for geese

Four 1 1/2 inch squares for the corners


For the 8 1/2 inch star, you will need

One assembled 4 1/2 inch sawtooth star

White (Color A for reverse)

Four 2 7/8 inch squares for star points

Color B (White for reverse)

One 5 1/4 square for geese

Four 2 1/2 inch squares for corners


For the 16 1/2 inch star, you will need

One assembled 8 1/2 inch star in a star block

Color B (White for reverse):

Four 4 7/8 inch squares for star points

White (Color B for reverse):

One 9 1/4 inch square for geese

Four 4 1/2 inch squares for the corners.


Assembly:

Beginning with the pieces for the 4 1/2 inch star, make 4 flying geese blocks as follows.

Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of each of the 1 7/8 in blocks.

Take the 3 1/4 inch square and lay two 1 7/8 inch blocks in opposite corners, lining up the drawn lines like this.

Sew a line 1/4 away on both sides of the drawn lines.

Cut on the line.

Press the seam towards the colored side.

Place another 1 7/8 inch square in the remaining corner of each piece, with the line going in the other direction.

Sew, cut, and press as before.  You will have 4 flying geese blocks that measure 1 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inch.  Check this and do any necessary trimming before going on.  I like to trim those little triangles that stick out.

Sew the block together, trying to press towards the color side as much as possible, if you can.

Next, get your pieces for the 8 1/2 inch block.  Make four flying geese blocks in the same way as before but this time you will use the 5 1/4 inch block and the 2 7/8 inch blocks.  The finished geese should be 2 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches.

Assemble the 8 1/2 inch block as before.

Lastly, add the final layer by making four more flying geese blocks with the 9 1/4 inch square and the four 4 7/8 inch squares.  These blocks should measure 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 inches when done.

Assemble the final block together, press,  and admire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping a Toe in

Lately, there hasn’t been much sewing in my life. Once I finished the Swoon quilt, I had a lot of ideas to start another one or finish that duvet cover project that I started last winter, but I just haven’t been able to get in the groove. However, last year I joined a charity quilt group. Each month, everyone in the group makes a couple of blocks and sends them to a designated quilter to assemble and quilt. This has been a great way for me to keep a toe in the sewing room while I gather some mojo for my own projects. It’s also a great way to try some new skills.

Here are some of the blocks we have done.

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These were my first real experience with paper piecing. It was fussy, but I have to say, a good way to get precise blocks!

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This one was a huge 24 inch block.

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With these blocks, I learned how to make flying geese blocks without creating any waste fabric. Love that!

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These were fun improvisational blocks. No measuring, just sewing and squaring up as needed. I very rarely do this kind of thing, so it was both challenging in a good way and fun to play with it.

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Whee! Windmill blocks! These 12 inch blocks were super easy. It was tempting to keep going.

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These are this month’s blocks. It was fun to play with a couple of different methods of making a lot of half square triangles at once. I am not sure I love any of the methods I have tried yet because there is that trimming step that I always find annoying, but I do love how you can do all kinds of fun designs and shapes with HSTs.

I think I must have missed taking pictures of one or two months of blocks, but you get the idea. The group I am a part of is the Imagine Circle, which is a part of do. Good Stitches, a charity quilting group started by Rachel at Stitched in Color. All the quilts we make go to underprivileged kids through Threading Hope. I know it’s a small thing, making these quilt blocks, but I think it is not insignificant to give something handmade to child who has very little. We stitch our love and prayers and hopes into these quilts, and that, I think, makes these blocks very significant indeed.

Cookie Dough Factory

Last week was the beginning of our third annual cookie dough fundraiser. We started this a couple of years ago as a way for the boys to be involved in some sort of service project that would help them to think outside of themselves. Back then, it seemed like much of the opportunities for serving were more appropriate for older kids. In several years, we will look into other opportunities for the boys to serve people locally and face to face, but for now, we make cookie dough and sell it.

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Lots and lots of cookie dough.

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All the money we collect, we send to Samaritan’s Purse, an organization that helps disadvantaged people all over the world, even in our own country. You might be familiar with their popular Operation Christmas Child Box drive in which they collect shoe boxes full of toys, candy, books, and whatever else you can fit in it. They then distribute these boxes to kids in countries all around the world. Last year, I think our box went to a boy in the Ukraine.

First, the boys set a goal. This year, they hope to raise enough to pay for a village well, among other things. The well is about $400, according to Samaritan’s Purse. The boys get really excited when we get close to the goal and they are over the moon when we surpass it.

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The great thing about this project is that everyone in the family has an opportunity to use their strengths to make it successful.

The husband handles the forms and other technical jobs such as forming dough logs.

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My elder son is in charge of taking orders and organizing the labeling and containers.

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I do most of the mixing and measuring while the youngest in the family rolls dough balls, counts, and bags the orders.

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Of course, there is lots of taste testing that goes on during the drive itself and all year as I periodically test new recipes. Quality control is extremely imortant to us.

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In addition, our offerings have been expanding every year. The first year, we offered 8 different kinds of cookies. Last year, we offered twelve. On our list this year, we have 5 different kinds of Giant cookies, 4 different kinds of regular sized cookies, 3 types of cookie logs, 2 varieties of pre-cut cookies, and granola! That’s a lot of stuff to make!

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Right now, our entire house if overrun with stuff for this project. So far, we’ve used 14 pounds of butter and 20 pounds of flour and we are nowhere near done yet.

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All this work is worth the effort, though. The lessons of sharing our wealth, helping others, and working together are priceless. A cookie or two every once in awhile doesn’t hurt either.