A Birthday Lap Quilt

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At Christmas time, I made lap quilts for three of my children but wasn’t sure the older son would want one.  Then, I decided he might like to have something to throw over himself and his two dogs when he naps in his recliner.  I wanted to use scraps and made his quilt using my 1920s Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt book.  I had made a wall hanging back in 2010 when I first received the book, but for this quilt made blocks I hadn’t tried before – all with blue scraps.  The blocks were of various sizes and I used borders to make them all the same size and maroon sashing to put them together.

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The backing/batting is a pretty blue fleece.

The quilt measures 48 x 60 inches and took on a nautical look without my intending it to be that way.  I think it will be a nice 60th birthday gift for my son and his dogs.

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Cozy Afternoon – Free BOM – Block 5


Jacquelynne Steves has offered another series of free blocks-of-the-month called Cozy Afternoon.


There were five blocks in the series, each with a pattern to embroider or applique for the center.  I have a large hassock with a lid which I’m going to cover, using five blocks – one for the top of the lid and four for the sides.

My version of Block 5 is shown in the top picture.  This will be one of the sides of the hassock cover, using a vintage embroidery pattern for the center.

011I made all of my blocks with a beach or nautical theme.

Jacquelynne has completed the series with suggestions for setting and borders, but since I will not be making a wall hanging, I will work out how I want to place these blocks using one top panel and four side panels to make the hassock cover.  More on that in a week or two.

Jacquelynne always offers interesting blocks that are simple and easy to make but very pretty.  I’ve enjoyed this quilt-along.

A Vintage Chair with Cushions


I’ve been wanting an extra chair that I could  bring into the living room when I have company.  Normally, I only sit comfortably in one corner of my couch and I really needed that space for guests, so I was looking for a lightweight chair that would fold and store easily, and also that was configured to my particular back problems.  I found just the right chair in an antique mall.  I estimate it to be 1930s era (the same as I am), it folds, is lightweight and is made of a vintage wood that looks nice in the living room.  The only thing I didn’t like was a recent canvas strip seat replacement that was bright orange.  Naturally, the orange peeped out from under any cushion I used.


I solved this problem by buying a remnant piece of heavy, dark brown flannel and cutting/hemming two strips that would cover the orange material.  For right now, I’m just pinning the underside of the strips and when I’m sure they’re the way I want them, I’ll hand stitch with a heavy-weight thread.

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I had recently made a couple of 16-inch cushions, using up scraps, and they work out well for the chair.

The top cushion is a Variable Star block from my EQ6 software and a small embroidered panel.
The bottom cushion is a pattern called Delft Star from Judy Martin’s Stars and Sets software.

I believe I have exactly the chair I needed and I’ll have fun making up different pillow sets.

Small Projects and Tutorials

Deanna at Wedding Dress Blue posted five days of small projects last week, along with links to tutorials.  I made two of the projects and was very pleased with them.


These card holders were easy and fast to make.  I like to have something handmade to hold gift cards and these were perfect.  I chose to use snaps as closures and I thought they turned out very cute.


I also made the Cathedral Windows pincushion.  I had tried a Cathedral Windows block years ago without much success, but this one turned out pretty well.

It was fun to check in each day to see what Deanna had for us.  Here are the other three projects she posted:




LeMoyne Star Blocks

I love LeMoyne Stars but have never felt completely satisfied with the ones I made.  I decided to devote some time this week to making some LeMoyne Stars and trying to get more comfortable with them.

I have a piece of software by one of my favorite designers, Judy Martin.   Stars and Sets has over 200 blocks for several types of stars – Ohio, Variable, Lone Star, Compass, Spikey Star and LeMoyne.  The software is difficult to find but the patterns I chose are also in her books as noted.

The patterns are rated 1 to 4 stars, with 1 star being the easiest.  There is no one-star LeMoyne block so I chose four two-star patterns to try.  I made all them in the 8-inch finished size.

SALSA – I combined rotary cutting and templates and it went together fairly well.  There are a couple of points that are a little short, but otherwise I like the block.  This block also appeared in Judy’s book, Block Book, pg 38

LAKE OF THE WOODS – I used Judy’s suggestion of cutting the center triangles from the same pattern of fabric to form a kaleidoscope.  The block went together well and I really like it.  Also in Judy’s book, Scraps, Blocks & Quilts, pg 33

BUILDING BLOCK – Made this block completely from templates.  Judy provides piecing diagrams for all of her blocks which made it go together fairly easily.  The center hexagon was quite small and difficult to sew with a partial seam.

While I was working on this block, it didn’t look promising but it was like a puzzle and other than wishing I had made a couple of different fabric choices, the block is impressive.

Also in Judy’s book, Judy Martin’s Ultimate Book of Quilt Block Patterns, pg 31

THE RIVER JORDAN – I used both templates and rotary cutting.  A nice pattern and not too difficult.  Also in Judy’s book, The Block Book, pg 34

I had a fun, challenging week, but now I’m ready to piece something a little easier.  Some day, I hope to actually make one of the 3-star or 4-star versions.

A Mini Quilt Becomes a Table Cover

Deanna at Wedding Dress Blue has a really nice tutorial for a “Sew Small Sampler Quilt” with 3-½ inch unfinished blocks.  She has directions for 12 old favorites plus measurements for background blocks to set the quilt on point.  The blocks are not difficult and Deanna offers to help anyone who needs a little more direction in making the quilt.

I decided to add borders and size the piece to fit my 1930s era sewing table.

I chose to use up a lot of green scraps to steer this piece in the direction of St. Patrick’s Day.

I did very simple stitch-in-the-ditch quilting along with a free-hand pinwheel motif in each block…

…and decorative stitching in the borders.

As I was piecing the blocks, I used 1-¼ inch scrap blocks as leaders and enders, and by adding a few extra strips of fabric, had enough to make the backing.

The piece measures 26x 16 inches and will be nice for my March sewing table cover.

Check out Deanna’s tutorial for a good project.


“Yee-haw! I Get My Quilt!”

That was my daughter’s reply when I e-mailed that the quilt was ready for her to pick up.  After one year, twenty-five days and fifty-three blocks, the Barbara Brackman Civil War Quilt is completed.

I’m not good at free-motion quilting, so the quilting was stitch-in-the-ditch with decorative stitching in the sashing and borders.

The finished quilt measures 63×83 inches per my daughter’s specs.  She prefers a fleece backing and I used a pretty, gently-used fleece blanket as both batting and backing.  This made a very heavy quilt which was difficult to wrestle through my Bernina, but it will be a toasty-warm quilt for my daughter to use.

I used the label that Barbara Brackman provided and made it into a pocket big enough to hold an 8-½ x 5-½ list of all of the block names by row, printed on a sheet of printable fabric which was cut in half and sewn together so the printing shows on both sides.

It was quite an adventure throughout the weeks of 2011 and I thank Barbara Brackman for the series and thank heaven the quilt is finally finished and in its new owner‘s hands.

Quilt Blocks and a Bag from Leaders and Enders

For years, I’ve heard about leaders and enders (little scraps of fabric inserted at the beginning and ending of a seam to avoid tangled threads and to save thread), but my attempts to do this were always distracting and I’d give up on it.  Lately, though, eye problems have made it difficult to thread the needle and I re-evaluated the leader and ender pieces of fabric.  I know a lot of quilters keep a box of scraps near the sewing machine to use in this manner and eventually have enough scraps sewn together to make a quilt.  Anything that will use up small scraps appeals to me and I got out my jars of scraps which are sorted by color and cut several colors into 2-inch squares.  This size accommodates a lot of my fabric pieces and is easy to stitch together.   I carried it another step further and put the pieces together to make a 9-patch rather than having another box full of 2-inch patches to put together – SOME DAY.

Before I begin to sew, I put two 2-inch squares right-sides-together and stitch them.  Then, without breaking thread, I sew the seam on my current project.  At the end of this seam, I insert another two squares and stitch them together.  I cut the thread on the first set of 2-inch squares, add another square to make a row and this becomes my “leader” or “ender” as needed.  I keep the rows for one block on the ironing board beside me until a 9-patch is completed – then it goes into a basket and I start another set of patches.

I used this technique on a recent mini-quilt project and when I had finished the quilt, I had made 19 five-inch blocks   They are all in coordinating colors so they can be put together easily as needed for a pillow backing, small quilt or wall hanging backing, gift bags, etc.

Now, I’m so accustomed to putting 2-inch scraps together as I’m sewing that I use the process for any project, including making clothes.  No more birds’ nests at the beginning of the seam, no more wasted thread and a minimum amount of needle-threading – plus, I’ve used up some scraps and have nice blocks on hand to use with other projects.

I was able to use some of the blocks recently to make a lining for a small bag I made to give to some friends with jars of pickles and blackberry jam.  I used 1-1/2 inch sashing between the 5-inch blocks.  The lining is pretty enough to make the bag reversible.

For the outside of the bag, I used two orphan blocks.

All I had to do was add straps and facing around the top to make a nice little gift bag.

I also have strips cut 1-1/4 inches wide which I like to use for log cabin blocks and pieces cut in 1-1/2 inch squares.  I make sure my basket is full of scrap leaders and enders before I begin any project.

P.S.  My friends liked the bag and the home-canned goods.

Emily’s Quilt Cabinet

Heidi is a fellow Ohioan who lives in Holland.  She has a blog where she shares some of the greatest decorating ideas.  I loved this post where she took a miniature armoire, refinished it and used it for storing her doll quilts.


I don’t have a small armoire and I’ve only made a couple of miniature quilts, but I did have a little cabinet (8 inches tall x 7 inches wide)  that was hand painted by my oldest daughter and given to me several years ago to use as a jewelry chest.

My daughter also gave me a handmade doll which sits in a twig chair and holds seasonal items.  Her name is Emily (the name of two of my great-grandmothers) and the dress she is wearing is one that my mother had made in 1942 from an old school dress of mine.

I have several 5-6 inch blocks that I’ve made through the years to place on Emily’s lap.  So, when I put the two elements together, I had a small version of Heidi’s charming armoire.

Each week, I look forward to Heidi’s “Make do and mend Mondays” to see what other good ideas she has.

Heidi also has a wonderful needlework blog:


Victory Quilt – 1940s Sampler – Completed

On Mother’s Day, I received Eleanor Burns’ new Quilt-in-a-Day book, Victory Quilts – 1940s Sampler Quilts.  I made each of the 20 blocks in the book and posted them (see my Quilting category). 

I made sashing and completed assembling the quilt which fits a queen-sized bed.  I chose darker colors because it was going to be on a bed where a dog and children play quite often and I was mainly looking for something sturdy which would stand up well to pets and kids.

The top went together very easily but I made major problems for myself by deciding to use as much as possible of my big pile of scraps to do the backing.  I used dryer sheets as the foundation for every scrap I could find and also used some full-sized orphan blocks down the center of the backing.  This was very time-consuming but I was happy to have so many bits and pieces of the last six years of quilting stitched into the back of the quilt.  Then, I started a simple meander quilting pattern on my Bernina and had nothing but trouble.  Needles broke, thread broke, and generally it was a nightmare which I’d never attempt again.  I assume the many ridges and edges of small pieces added to the foundation made it too cumbersome for the machine. 

Now, that the quilt is finished, I’m satisfied with it and learned some useful lessons in the process.