Diversions – lap quilt and crumb piecing

So I was supposed to work on one of Mom’s quilt tops next. At least that’s what I said I’d do. But I didn’t.

I decided I needed another lap quilt and pulled out three packets of charm squares from Mom’s old stash. Here’s what I made with them! It’s just the perfect size to use as “supplementary” warmth on my bed. Since Bruce likes to sleep cooler than I do, I add an extra quilt to my side of the bed. I’ve found that lap sizes are just perfect.

And here’s the back. I had four extra blocks so I put them on there. I don’t like having orphan blocks in my stash, so I generally like to do that. Besides, I really like the look, and I get a traditional side, and a more modern-looking side. My kitty Ansel approves (I swear I can’t get a photo of a quilt without him or my girl kitty Morticia stealing the show.)

The other diversion I went on was crumb piecing. OMIGOSH… what a fun way to find a use for tiny scraps! I had a whole box of them and just started sewing. Once I had a piece big enough, I’d cut a 10″ square then put the scraps from that one together into the next square.

I finished the box and have 43 of them now! I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with them. I do know I want to use them as if they were a regular piece of fabric.

Here’s a link to a Jenny Doan’s tutorial on how to do it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dx7iU689AuQ

But really, Mom’s quilt top is next. It’s on the machine and basted in place. I think I know what I want to do with it, and I’m getting the itch to get it done. I just need to buy some thread.


I love this tote bag!

In addition to Mom’s quilt tops that I’m working on this year, I inherited a number of quilt kits and a few unfinished quilt tops from her.

I was going to quilt another of her tops next, but I got side-tracked. I needed a bag to take with me to church each week. I play the organ, so I need space for a large hymnal (because small print just won’t do anymore), my scriptures, a pen, a notebook, hand lotion, wallet, etc., etc., etc. My purse just wasn’t cutting it.

So I dug out this Jinny Beyer kit for a tote bag that I inherited from Mom. Jinny is just magic with her fabrics and how she uses border prints, and I thought this was beautiful.

I’m not used to following detailed instructions, so I spent a good amount of time trying to digest the pattern. I finished the bag last night. Yay!

I think it’s just beautiful. The only thing I’m not happy with is that the star on the front is partially under the bottom of the bag. If I were to do this bag again, I’d eliminate the border on the top, or at least make it a lot smaller. That way the star is completely visible.

Or I’d just do the whole thing like the back of the bag. I love the border print on the handles!

And it’s HUGE! I put a BaliPop and a charm pack in the bottom for scale. I can haul a lot of stuff in this thing. But I won’t. I don’t normally pack a lot of stuff around with me.

I fully intended to do the next of Mom’s quilt tops after this, but I pulled out the backing I was going to use for it, and it’s not enough! I made the mistake of measuring the quilt in one direction and assuming it was square. I know better.

So until I can get to the quilt shop to buy the backing, I’m going to work on quilting a lap-sized top I just finished. I should have it done reasonably quick. I’m not really excited about how it turned out (it’s not bad, just “eh”), so I’ll probably just do some graffiti quilting on it for practice.

Back to my sewing room! 🙂

The first quilt is done!

I had originally thought that I would first finish Mom’s red, white, and blue quilt that I showed in my last post. But I just couldn’t get my head around how to quilt it. So I pulled out this one. It’s about 70″ x 85″ and old enough that the colors are practically back in style again.

First, I looked through my library of stitching patterns and found these cute little daisies for the sashings. All of these were stitched using the computer. No way am I that good at free-hand quilting.

Next, I outlined the flowers, including outlining each petal. I wanted them to stand out. Then I quilted a vein in the leaves. Initially, I had done it in white since that was what I was using on the background, but after I’d done five squares, I decided I didn’t like it at all. Phooey if the back of the quilt looked weird with only the vein in green. (It looks OK actually.)

Outlining the applique was challenging to do–sometimes the machine just didn’t want to follow the edge of it, and sometimes it wanted to stitch up onto it. That wasn’t my fault after all. Right? (Yeah, I know it is, but I got better at it as I went along.)

After I outlined the first coneflower, I really agonized on how to finish the background. I decided to add a feather to each of the leaves, which I really like, and I decided I wanted the feathers to stand out. That meant that I’d need to quilt the background either heavily, or using a contrasting design such as straight lines.

I didn’t want to quilt this heavily, so initially I decided straight lines. I tried it, and hated it! So I thought about it for a few more days and decided to try wiggly lines. And that made me happy! They’re so much easier, and they really looked good. They gave it a much more natural flavor.

When I finished the fourth block on the first row, I realized I’d forgotten to add the feathers. Rats! But then I realized I could make it a feature! Having random squares without the feathers would be interesting. So I decided which blocks on the quilt would be featherless, and went with it.

So, quilt #1 of 7 is done! I’m already behind, but the point is that I’m getting them done. Maybe it’ll go faster now that I’ve started.

Here’s the next one–another of her early quilt tops.

My 2019 big project

My mother created 50+ quilts in her lifetime.  For years, she just kept the tops in a closet, but then she learned about longarm quilting machines.  She researched and found one she liked, then got busy quilting.  Her goal was to get all her quilts done before she died.

But Mom wasn’t satisfied with finishing quilt tops.  She made more!  She always had something going, and most of the time, it was pretty spectacular.  I have a lot of photos of her work, and I plan on spending some time putting them up in their own section of this site.  But that will take me a while.

She had an incredible output, and quilted up until the day before she passed away almost three years ago.  Unfortunately, she didn’t quite reach her goal.  Out of the 30+ tops she started with, there were still six left to go.  It was quite an accomplishment!

Before she passed, I promised her that I would finish those last quilt tops for her.  And I’ve been completely daunted and overwhelmed.  So I haven’t yet.  BUT 2019 is the year.  I will get one done every other month so that by December I’ll have them all finished.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?

So my method of operation is to put the quilt on my design wall and think about it for a while.  Today, Bruce helped me put up the first quilt top.  Isn’t it a beauty?  Well, if I could take a better picture.  The dark areas are all blue.

Mom was born on July 4, and she just loved patriotic themes.  She loved it when we went down into Washington, D.C. for concerts by the armed forces bands.  Since she passed, I cry every time I hear the national anthem.  Well, I kind of did anyway, but I’m more likely to do it now.

I have one other quilt I need to finish before I quilt this one, so I’d better get busy!

Zucchini pizza saute recipe

It’s that time of year again–zucchini season!  If you’re overwhelmed, or if the zucchini fairy left some on your porch, here’s a recipe that will use up some of it for you.

Some time ago, I started the ketogenic diet, at my doctor’s suggestion.  (This link is to a site that has some good information. I have no affiliation with them.)  I’ve had some good success with it, too.

About three weeks ago, I had an event of some kind and went off the diet.  Then with the family campout coming in just a week, I decided to wait until afterwards.  So I ate like I used to.  Crazy thing is, the food wasn’t as good as I remembered, and it made me feel foggy-headed and tired.  I missed my diet!  How often does that happen?

So this week I’m back on it.

I’ve been working a lot of overtime at the office this week, and today I came home just exhausted.  It didn’t help that I’ve had an emotional week as well.  None of the recipes I had on my list sounded good, and most of them took time to make.  So Bruce and I thought for a while, and I remembered this zucchini dish I’d made up a few months ago.  Since I have a counter-full of zucchini, and this dish is fast and easy, that’s what we had.

I call this a zucchini pizza saute.  Bruce calls it skillet zucchini pizza.  Either seems to describe it.

Basically, you chop zucchini in thick half-slices, cook it in spices and butter, add all the toppings you like on your regular pizza, and melt mozzarella cheese over the top of it.  The recipe here is for one of our favorite pizzas.

We were generous with the butter on this dish because of the ketogenic diet.  If you’d rather not use as much, it will work just as well.

Zucchini Pizza Saute

Wash zucchini and slice about 1/2″ thick, then cut slices in half.

3 Tbsp butter
2 cups sliced zucchini
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 15-oz can black olives, drained and slice in half
1/4 c pepperoni
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder (or use a few cloves of garlic, minced)
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1 medium tomato, sliced
1 cup shredded mozzarella

Melt the butter on medium to medium-high heat in a large frying pan.  Add zucchini and spices, and saute until the zucchini begins to soften.  Add onion and bell pepper, and saute a few minutes more.  Add black olives and pepperoni.  Saute until vegetables are cooked.  Spread half the cheese on top then arrange tomato slices.  Spread the rest of the cheese over the tomatoes.  It’s ready to serve when the cheese has melted.  Serve with Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Makes 4 servings.  Nutritional information varies, depending on the “toppings” you choose.

I served this in the pan we cooked it in because it looked almost like a real pizza.  And I’m basically lazy, too.

This would also be good with banana peppers, mushrooms, and any other things you normally put on a pizza.  Fresh basil would be really good, too.  But then, fresh basil is good on nearly everything.

Hope you like it!

Baby quilt for Alexandra

After I finish a big project, a small one is a must.  A friend was expecting a baby, so a baby quilt it was.  I actually finished it the day before she was born–whew!

This is a disappearing 9-patch design.  It’s super easy, but looks like it’s not.  My favorite type of design!  I got out all my pink fabrics and cut 5-inch squares.  Then I cut 5-inch gray squares and white squares.  I sewed them all together as 9-patches with the grays in the center, then cut each 9-patch in half in both directions to get four smaller blocks.  The next step is to rotate each of those new blocks and sew them together again.  Looks pretty cool!

Quilting it was fast and easy.  I’ve been working on my free-motion quilting, and saw this as a perfect opportunity to practice.  I found a simple, pretty quilting design using hearts that worked absolutely perfectly for this quilt.  It was easy, fast, and so much fun!  Here’s a close-up of the quilting.

After all these years…

I bought an awesome four-poster queen-sized bed probably 20 years ago, and I’ve never had a quilt that fit it.  I’ve been using a cream-colored chenille bedspread all this time, and it’s pretty worn out. That worked, but when people came to stay for a while, I didn’t have quilts or blankets that were big enough.

So I determined to make a quilt for it.  I had just spent a few weeks cutting all my odd-sized and small scraps into strips, so I decided to make a scrap quilt.  Here’s the pile once I was done. It doesn’t look like it’s that much, but I figured if I’d bought the same number of precuts from the quilt shop, it would cost me about $600!

I saw this video from Jenny Doan at the Missouri Start Quilt Company and decided it would be quick and fun.  So I figured out how many squares I would need to make a queen-sized quilt and got busy.  It didn’t take long to get them all done, but when I put it up on the design wall, I realized that the design would be off-centered because the quilt wasn’t square.  So I added another row and made it a king-sized quilt.  I just can’t seem to avoid making quilts bigger–just like Mom.  🙂

But you know, it worked out great because the quilt fits the bed better with that last row.

Since I made the quilt bigger, I didn’t have enough backing.  So I sewed a bunch more strips together into one tall, wide strip. Then I cut the backing off-center and inserted the strip.  I love adding something to the backing that reflects the front in some way.

I also determined that since I’m not terribly in love with this quilt, that I would use it as a free-motion quilting practice piece.  I also decided I would just go for it and I would forgive myself of all the mistakes I would be making.  It was nice not to constantly worry about making it perfect.

The quilting on this is a mix of ruler work and free-motion quilting.  I went through the lessons in Angela Walter’s book, “Free Motion Meandering”, and it helped tremendously. I used rulers to make the scallops on the borders, and free motion for the pebbles around them.  The squares that define the diamond-like design of the quilt were quilted with straight parallel lines in two ways using a ruler.  Each section of the rest of the quilt was done with a different meandering pattern.  The outer corners were plain old stippling, the next section in was loops, then I did swirls, next was a feather meander, and in the center I mixed them all together.  That part was fun!  I have a baby quilt to do next, and I may do the whole thing that way.

Here are some pictures of the meandering.  The first is of the middle section where everything is mixed.  The last picture shows the border that is partly done.

I wish I had used a different color of thread instead of black.  I probably should have matched the backing. It would have blended better with all the scraps on the front as well.  But it was a learning quilt after all!  I definitely learned a lot.  And my free-motion work improved as I went along.  Now I just need to continue practicing.

And here it is on the bed!

Merry Christmas (late again!)

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season, whichever holiday you celebrate.

This year I determined that I would make as many gifts as I could instead of buying them.  So for the last month or more I’ve been sequestered in my sewing room after getting home from work as much as possible.  Trust me, that didn’t hurt my feelings at all.

Here’s what I gave to my kids.

Kelli’s sewing kit

For my daughter-in-law, I sewed a large tote for helping her organize her sewing.  I picked one of my favorite fabrics from my stash and found a bunch of other fabrics to coordinate with it.  I wanted it bright and cheerful, and I think I succeeded.  In fact, I think it kind of overwhelmed her.  Oh well.  She may not have totally loved the fabric, but she loved the tote and all the accompanying pieces.  I included five vinyl pouches with fabric tops and zippers for holding all the little sewing things like ribbons, zippers and thread. Here’s the pattern I used.  She also got a sewing machine mat with pockets to help her keep her tools nearby as she sews.  Here’s the pattern.  And finally, a thread catcher and a chicken pincushion filled with ground walnut shells.

I had such fun making it!  The pattern for the tote and for the thread catcher are mine.  It’s on my list to put the patterns online, but not today.

For another daughter-in-law, I made a long table runner.  I wrote about it in my last post, along with a quilt I made for my brother and his family.

For my step-daughter, I made a yoga bag.  And I forgot to photograph it.  Argh!!!!  It was quilted using a deep red print on the outside with a happy black-and-white print on the inside.  It zipped along the side and had two pockets on the outside.  I also included a little zippered pouch.

My daughter got two gifts, one of which Bruce worked on with me.  And I didn’t photograph it.  (I should be grounded.)  We made her a little cabinet for hanging her earrings in.  We started with a shallow shadow box that had a door on it that latched.  We bought some 1/2-inch square dowels and cut them to make a little frame inside the shadow box.  We also bought a piece of plastic canvas for her to hang the earrings on.  We painted the plastic canvas and the dowels an antique bronze color.  Then we took out the background of the shadow box, mounted the plastic canvas between the frame and the dowels, and finally placed a black panel behind it all.  There is about 1/2-inch of space for the back of her earrings to hang.  So she can hang this on her wall instead of fishing through her jewelry boxes for her earrings, and because it has a door on it, her cat can’t get to it.

Cami’s car ditty bag

I also made a little ditty bag for her car.  She studied music in college, so I pulled out all my music fabrics and picked a few.  For some reason, I always seem to have a little failure with each gift I give to her.  On this one, I put the white music fabric upside-down.  *sigh*  Here’s the pattern I used for this bag.

For my friends and family, I made our traditional homemade turtle candies.  These are made with the best chocolate I can find, fresh pecans, and homemade caramel made with real butter.  The caramel is the best part of these candies, and makes them really delicious.  mmm!

Craft Club gift

For the annual Christmas gift exchange with my crafting friends, I made this quick little table runner.  I found some charm squares that I liked, sewed them in rows and trimmed them so that I got the right shape.  Then I added the strips around the outside and quilted it.  At our exchange, we play a game where someone can “steal” a gift that has already been opened, and mine was “stolen” that day.  That was fun.

And last but not least, I made “office chair” quilts for my boys.  My oldest son is going back to college, and doing it online, so he spends a lot of time at his computer.  My youngest son works from home, so he also spends a lot of time at his computer.  And apparently, they both get pretty cold.  So what happens when you tell a quilter you’re cold?  You get a quilt!

I wanted to make them so they fit comfortably in the chair with them, and since my youngest says his legs get cold, I decided to make them so they wrapped around the legs.  They were really pleased with them, and I hope they work out well.  I really had fun with the flag motif on the one.  I need to do some quilts for Quilts of Valor.

Whew!  That was a lot of sewing and crafting, all in the last month, give or take a week.  Now I’m feeling a little lost, same as I always do after finishing a big project (or series of projects).  That won’t last for long, though.  Bruce wants an office chair quilt and I have that tatted doily to hunt down and finish.

PS, I just remembered something else I made this season.  For my twin grandsons’ birthday, I made them “Angry Birds” towels.  Here’s the pattern.  And I forgot to photograph those, too.

Happy Thanksgiving (a bit late)

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!  We had a great time, and the food was awesome.  And now that the kids have all gone home, we can decompress.

When we got back from dropping our youngest son at the airport, I went in the kitchen to see what we could have for lunch.  There was absolutely nothing we could just pick up and eat, which was what I wanted to do.  So I did what he used to do as a teenager and stood there with the refrigerator door open, hoping for inspiration.  I opened the freezer and found it.

A few weeks ago, I cooked up the pumpkin from the garden.  Part of what I do is to let it drain in cheesecloth for a few hours.  I had frozen the juice that I collected, and that’s what I found in the freezer.  So I put that in a pot, added all the little bits of vegetables that were in the fridge, added a few spices, and made myself a soup.  When it was cooked, I added the last teaspoon of cream cheese, some heavy cream, and some Parmesan cheese.  It was tasty!  I’ll put the recipe at the end of this post.  Maybe I’ll make it again someday.

So the other day I went to start tatting on the last row of the latest doily row-of-the-month.  And it’s gone!  I’ve looked everywhere for it!  My search continues, and I hope it shows up soon.

In the meantime, I’m working on Christmas gifts.  I’m trying to make almost everything we’re giving this year and since time is short, I’m quilting and not tatting.  Also, since Bruce is the only person in my family who subscribes to my blog, I feel pretty safe posting pictures of the items I’m making as gifts.

Here’s what I have so far.

Maggie’s table runner

I watched Jenny Doan’s Wallflower Quilt video and had to do it for my step-son’s wife.  I thought at first I’d do a whole lap quilt, but decided against it when I realized the time it would take for this pattern.  So now it’s a table runner–a long one that should fit the beautiful kitchen table he built for her.  I used gold since it is one of her favorite colors.  I wanted it to be kind of modern-looking, so I made two of the wallflowers then added strips of different sizes.  I really like how it turned out!

And for my brother and his family, I made a lap quilt.  This one went together really fast, and I used another Jenny Doan video.  Her stuff is so fun and easy!

Bob and Robyn’s lap quilt

His family is very musical, so here’s how it’s quilted.

Two down, a bazillion to go!

And here’s the recipe.  I can’t figure what to call it.  Maybe “Clean Out the Fridge Vegetable Cream Soup”.

2 cups pumpkin juice or vegetable broth
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped carrots
1 Tbsp chopped jalapeno or serrano peppers
1 cup slice baby portabella mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
pinch paprika
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp dry cilantro
1 to 2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Put everything in a saucepan except the heavy cream and cheese.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.  Add the cream and cook the soup down a little, stirring occasionally.  Add the cheese and stir until it has melted, then serve.

More later!