Sunday, August 14, 2016


This is going to be kind of a "catch-up" post this time because I have a lot to share with you.  This is going to be a long, photo-heavy post.

First up is a scrap project I've been working on.  I have a drawer in my cutting table that I've been putting 2 1/2 inch squares in as I'm cutting fabrics.  After quite a few years, it was getting pretty full.  I've been working on sewing them into "two-sies" for a while now.  I've kept changing my mind as to what quilt pattern they would become....there are so many possibilities!  4-Patches, 9-Patches or what??  I played with lots of ideas.  Then one day, my shoe box that I keep the "two-sies" in got too full to close and it was time for a decision.

Meanwhile I had seen this link from Ebay on Facebook:

This old beauty was intriguing to me.  I finally figured out what this block design is.  The big clue was that the blocks are set on point.  So, after a little while with a pencil and some graph paper, I had it figured out.

This is the block:

This is really just a rough sketch.  Imagine background rectangles in place.  The block will finish at 8 inches square.  That's gonna be a lot of 2 1/2 inch squares!  The inspiration quilt uses half square triangles, but since I already had plain squares sewn together, I thought I'd just keep it simple and use those.  I think there are a few HST's in there as well, just because they were in the drawer.  I'm using scrappy white-on-whites for the backgrounds.

I started out doing the "kitchen sink" approach and using any of my older fabrics in my squares, but when push came to shove, I had to edit out the old ugly fabrics that I just couldn't stand any more. Some of those squares actually went into the trash!  I figured "Why make a quilt with fabric that I don't love, when there is so much that I do love?" Right?  That still leaves me with a lot of 2 1/2 inch squares!  And I can always cut some more if I need to.

So this is now my latest long-term project.  I have a number of blocks sewn, as you can see in the top photo, but lots more to go.  And no rush on this, I'm just using up my scraps.  Really, only some of my scraps!  And now it's time to start cutting more 2 1/2 inch squares to replenish my stock of them.

I've also sewn some preemie quilt tops.  I still need to get them quilted up.

This was just left-over bits and pieces that I inherited from a friend 9 years ago.  Finally getting it together!

Remember back in April when I posted about playing with the Rail Fence block from Sujata's book? You can see my post here.  (scroll down a ways)  I determined that, to use the fabrics I wanted, I need to make a 14" block.  Well, this was my sample block to see if my math for the conversion was correct.  And, it's a miracle - the block came out the perfect 14 inch size!  Each Rail Fence unit in the block is a 3 1/2 inch square.  See, amazing math skillz!  I used an older true Madras plaid and a solid for this one.  This block didn't need much more to be the right size for a preemie quilt, just a couple of borders.  (The target size for a preemie quilt is 18" x 24").

I had more fabric left over, so I made one more to use it up.  This is a little different, but I hope someone enjoys it.  Now, on to the quilting.

The Tacoma Modern Quilt Guild was having a summer event to show off some of our quilts and sell some small items, so I made some potholders.  I was thrifty and recycled some bits and blocks as well as using some fun fabric.

Each of these is a one-of-a kind potholder.  Two are string blocks from the string bin.

Also one-of-a-kinds.  Leftover 8 inch squares from The Parts Department.

These two were someone's leftover strip sets that  I rescued from the quilt shop.  They're a set of two and are two sided with the same fabrics.

Another two pairs of rescued strip sets potholders and the top two potholders are also pairs (one blue pair, one red pair) of some cheater selvage fabric. 

The top left is a pair of potholders of left-over charm squares that I "inherited", while the top right pair uses some left-over 9-patches, also "inherited".  The bottom two are two pairs of a different cheater selvage fabric. 

All of the potholders!

Now I need to make more potholders for the other guild's upcoming quilt show, to sell at the Country Store we have at the show.  It's a good thing potholders are fun and fast!

I also did some "secret" sewing, for next year's Challenge quilt.  The challenge is ""Get Creative with Black"!  You'll have to wait until next July to see the results of that.

Now I have 3 quilts back from Shari, my long-armer, to get bindings on for the quilt show!  They need to be turned in mid-September for the show at the end of that month.  I was a slacker this year and only finished these 3 quilts.  My reveal of these quilts will be when the bindings are on, so stay tuned!

For my sewing this month I have to do those three bindings, make potholders and maybe some bags, make a baby quilt and work on my Liberated Medallion QAL quilt tops.  I hope I can do it all!  If the weather stays a reasonable temp, I can stand to be in the quilt studio.  It's cooled off today from the last 2 days, so that's where I'm headed now.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Gwennie Medallion QAL Part 3 - Update

Remember that my log cabin border wasn't done on Basket #1 in my last post?  Well, I couldn't let that just sit there mocking me.  Something had to be done.

This is where I was on Monday.  The more I looked at the Courthouse Steps partial border, the less I liked it.  I decided that it might be best to just keep things simple.

Ta da!  I finally have the log cabin border done!  It is a simple log cabin-style border, with two light sides and two darker sides.  I think it gives the quilt some "breathing room" and kind of calms those crazy 9- patches, instead of getting too busy.  And now this will work better with the Star border that is our challenge for August.  I'm happy with this now.  And I already have some ideas of where I want to go next!

This weekend is my DH's big art show out in the garden.  He's been working like a slave to get everything ready, and tomorrow is set up.  Hopefully we'll have good weather, not too hot and not rainy.  We seem to be one or the other every year.  The weather report looks good for not too hot, but we may have some showers.  And I hope we get lots of customers!  Cross your fingers for us!

Have a great weekend.  I hope you have some time to be creative!

Monday, August 01, 2016

Gwennie-Inspired Medallion QAL - Part 3

Our challenge for the Gwen Marston-Inspired Medallion Quilt Along this month was Log Cabin borders.

Basket #2
19" wide x 22" high
The photo will supersize if clicked on.

Sorry this photo is so crookedy.  The quilt top really is straight and flat.  I just can't seem to take a straight picture these days.  (It may be all the "quilt stuff" on the floor in front of the design wall.  Shhhh....)

I was excited about this theme, as I love log cabins.  But sadly, I spent most of the month flailing about in the quilt studio.  Nothing seemed to "gel" for me.  I tried so many different things, and I have a pile of rejected 'orphan' blocks.  I know that the flailing is part of the design process and try to be patient with myself, but I do get frustrated at not making much progress.

And then, finally, it started clicking!  Yay!  I added the white border as a resting place for the eye, and a little breathing room. I also added a different color/fabric square in each corner of that border, just for a bit of whimsy.  Once I'd decided on the black polka dots for the centers of the cabins, then all those crazy colors and fabrics started playing well together.  I actually had a lot of fun just sitting and sewing all the log cabins.  And I thought it was time to repeat some of that wonderful vintage fabric that's in the basket in the corner squares.  I don't have very much of that fabric left at this point, so I'm not sure if or how it'll show up again.

These log cabins are very liberated!  It was a challenge to get the borders to fit.  I ended up adding coping strips in the bottom border, as I didn't have quite enough room for another log cabin.  Very Gwennie, right?  And, to add to the Liberation going on in this quilt, none of the borders ended up the same width!  

This quilt top is very, very bright.  I'm hoping that a good dose of the blacks and whites will calm it down to a reasonable level as it's almost too bright, which is not something you'll find me saying often.  *grin*   We're normally pretty overcast and grey here in the Pacific Northwest, even when it's not raining.  But now it's summer and the sun actually comes out once in a while.  Then those bright colors I love really show up.  Whoa, it's even brighter than I thought!  I may need sunglasses!  I just hope it's not too bright.

On the other hand.....

Basket #1
still unfinished
Click to super-size this photo too!

This quilt top is still not done, but I thought I'd show what I have so far.  I think I've decided on these Courthouse Steps log cabins.  I'll be adding these as only the top and bottom borders.  It's getting to be pretty wide and so I want to make it more vertical.  I'll be posting this again when I have the log cabin border completed.

To see what all the other QAL participants are doing with their medallions, click on over to Lori's blog Humble Quilts to see the link-ups.  

Our challenge border for this next month is Stars.  I've got my fingers crossed that the stars will go better (faster!) than the log cabins!  *wink*

Monday, July 04, 2016

The Twin Sister block - a Tutorial

This is my American Independence Day gift for you!  Happy 4th of July to all my U.S.A. readers!

I wrote this tutorial for the Tacoma Modern Quilt Guild, that I belong to, and I thought I would share it with you too.

12 inch Twin Sister block

This block is called the Twin Sister block, among other names.   This tutorial will make a 12 inch finished block.


* Red (background) – 1 square at 7 ¼ inches, then cut square into quarters from corner to corner, as in the diagram.

one 7 1/4 inch square, quartered

 * White – 2 rectangles at 4 ¾ inches by 9 inches
The white fabric can be solid white, white on white, or white with a blue or red print on it.

* Blue - 2 rectangles at 4 ¾ inches by 9 inches
The blue fabric can also be a solid or blue with a white or red print on it.

Think patriotic!

2 blue and 2 white rectangles


Place a red triangle on top of each blue and each white rectangle:

Sew the triangle to the rectangle along the long side of the rectangle, stopping at the end of the triangle.

sew with a scant 1/4 inch seam

your unit should look like this

Press the triangle open, with the seam allowance towards the rectangle.  Repeat for all four rectangles and triangles.

Each rectangle now has a red triangle sewn to it.  Sew one white rectangle to one of the blue rectangles in the following manner:   Match the rectangles when sewing them together, orienting them so that the short side with the red triangle attached on the blue rectangle is matched to the long side of the white rectangle without the red triangle attached, as in the diagram below.

The finished unit should look like this.
Press the seam allowance to one side. 

Repeat this step with the other two rectangles.

Note that the second unit needs to be oriented the same way as the first – if you sewed the short end of the blue rectangle to the long end of the white rectangle, you must do the same for the second unit, or your units won't fit together correctly.

This is what you should have at this point: two units oriented and sewn the same way.

Match the center points and sew the final center seam.  Press seam allowance to one side.

Your block should now look like this.

Your block should measure 12 ½ inches across.  A little larger is okay too.  You can trim all the blocks to the same size before assembling them into a top,

my block came out a little over 12 1/2 inches across

You’re now going to trim the excess off of those long rectangles, like so.

Just carefully line up the ruler with the outside edge of the red triangle and trim away the excess.  Save that triangle!

The last step is to set your machine to a long basting stitch and stay-stitch the edge of those long rectangles.  The outside edges of the rectangles are now on the bias and the stay-stitching will keep them from stretching until you can sew them together.  Remember to handle these edges with care.


You can use those triangles you just cut off the block to make pinwheels or other units to be used in the border of a quilt, or to make a small doll quilt or tablerunner.

If you use my tutorial to make a block (or several!), please leave me a comment to let me know if you liked it.  And I would love to see what you made!

Please remember that all photos are copyright of by Indigo Threads.  If you share this, please give me the credit for this tutorial.  Thank you! 

Have a fun and safe holiday!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Gwennie-Inspired Medallion QAL - Round 2

This month's theme for the Medallion quilt-along's second round was Childhood.  I thought of games I'd played as a child, and two in particular came to mind right away.

Basket #1
19" wide by 17" high

For Basket #1, I thought of Hop Scotch.  My sister and I played a lot of Hop Scotch on our front sidewalk.  It was kind of a silly sidewalk because it just stopped in the middle of the lawn.  We lived outside of city limits and had no curbs, gutters or neighborhood sidewalks.  So the walk from the front door didn't really go anywhere.  But it was just the right length for hop scotch!

Basket #2
11.5" wide by 14.5" wide

Basket #2's border was inspired by Pick-Up Sticks.  It reminds of my aunt's house, which was the only place my sister and I would play Pick-Up Sticks, as we didn't have the game at home.  I do remember we weren't very good at it, but it was still fun.  I loved all the bright colors that those sticks came in.

And then, in the spirit of childhood, I played with my photos.  My smart phone has all kinds of fun effects you can apply to your photo!

This is Basket #1 in "Negative".  Kind of Amish-looking, isn't it?

And this effect is called "Magic Pen".  I like how the seams in the border blocks are highlighted.

Basket #2 in "Negative".  Again, kind of Amish-y.  I like it!

Basket #2 in "Magic Pen".  I hadn't realized, until I saw this, that the border dots were the same size as the dots in that corner square.  Amazing how color can affect how you see the scale/size in prints!

Last one, I promise!  This is Basket #2 in "Posterize".  It really pops in this version, doesn't it?

The round for next month was determined by Cathy at Big Lake Quilter and will be Log Cabins.  Hmmmm, my thinking cap is on!  I love log cabins!

Go here to Cynthia's  Wabi-Sabi Quilts blog to see the link-up of all the QAL quilts for Round 2.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ad Hoc Improv - Sharing My Improv

I've been so intrigued with the concept of Improv the last few years.  I don't do it as often as I would like, but every time I do it, I have so much fun.  I really enjoy it.  So, I decided that I would try to do more improv this year.  And what better way to spur me on than to have a link-up once a month?  So, welcome to my first post on Ad Hoc Improv quilting.  Visit both Kaja at Sew Slowly and Ann at Fret Not Yourself blogs for more information and to see what others are showing for their improv this month.  They've been doing this for 10 months did I not notice this before now?  I'm late to the party, as usual.  But, better late than never!

I've dabbled in Improv and liberated, or wonky, quilting for awhile now.  My first example is a quilt top that was started in 2005.  The blocks were made from a pattern, and I showed the improv border I'd started in my last post.  Now it's all done and sewn onto the quilt top.  Yay!

I'm really happy with the way it came out.  It still needs a good press before it goes to the quilter.  And, of course, I need to make a back for it.  

I made too many pieced triangles for the border, because more is better when you don't know how many you need!  I think this will be inserted in the back, once I get it all sewn together.  This is not a great picture, so you'll have to take my word for how good this looks.

These are my Block Lotto blocks for June - improv circles.  They were easy and great fun.  Sewing those wonky curves is sooo easy!  I'd love to win these, so my fingers are crossed. 

I think I need to play with improv pieced circles some more....more ideas keep coming to my mind. 

Finally, the other day I decided to purposefully start a new improv project.  Originally the thought was a baby quilt for my hairdresser, but now I'm not so sure that's what it will be.  It might just be whatever it turns out to be.

Those pieces aren't really big enough to be a baby quilt without a LOT more work.  This might be a smaller wall quilt.  I'll do something with bigger pieces (read: easier and faster) for the baby quilt.  I'm really liking this so far!  My initial plan for the color scheme was bright colors with lots of grey, because that was the request for the baby quilt.  I may add more colors or something else along the way.  Whatever the piece tells me it needs.

I'm also working on my Gwen Marston-inspired Medallion Quilt-along (see my side bar) piece, but that is more secret.  You'll have to wait until Friday for the reveal of the next border....but I'll tell you that it is kinda improv.  At least liberated/wonky, for sure.  I'm furiously working and hoping that I'll have it done in time for the reveal!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Welcome to Palindrom Week!  Today's date reads the same forward and backward.  Isn't that cool?

This post is an update on what I've been working on lately, so lots of "this and that".

Not the final layout, just a tease
I've finally gotten all my black and white blocks made, sliced, re-sewn and trimmed to size.  I started this project way back in January 2015.  This was a long-term project...and it really hasn't taken that long!  That kind of surprises me when I realize when I started it - only a year and half.  That's record time for me!  I've decided on the layout, gotten my blocks marked and I'm hoping to get it sewn together soon.

I had a little brainstorm while I was laying these blocks out and came up with an idea to mark my blocks easily.  Remember VHS tapes?  Remember they came with labels for the tapes?  Well, I dug in my tape storage and unearthed some of those labels.

I thought they would make great *free* labels for my quilt blocks, so I don't get the order they're laid out in mixed up when I pick them up to sew them together.

"action shot" of the labels 
Here they are, in use.  I go by row (letter) and block (number).  I always put the labels in the upper left hand corner, so I know which way is "up" on the block.  They work pretty well and the free part is good.  I'm being "green" and utilizing my resources.  Unfortunately, those resources are limited, so I don't know how much longer I can use this particular system.  I may have to find some blank price stickers or something.  Those would work just as well, they're just not free.  Hope you like my little tip!

Here is another quilt top laid out on the design floor.  I'm working on the border of this older UFO that was a block exchange with my friends in Calif. a *few* years ago.  10 or 15 maybe?  I don't even remember!  You can read more about this project here.

 I've been waiting for some border inspiration to strike, and it finally did thanks to Gwen Marston.  She used this border on one of her quilts and I really liked it.  Believe it or not, I still had the scraps from making some of these flowers and they were big enough to use!  Can you tell I never throw away anything?  I tell ya, folks, it's a blessing AND a curse!  *grin*

And....I'm letting myself start a new project!  I'm going to do the 'Basket Case' quilt by Cluck Cluck Sew.  I even got a jelly roll just for this - the first jelly roll I ever bought for me.  The jelly roll had 40 strips and the pattern calls for 42, so I had to add a couple of strips from my stash.  I did such a good job, color-wise, that I can't even tell which two strips those were.

Here are my jelly roll strips all laid out and paired up.  They are all batiks (Hoffman Bali Pops) and the color way is called "Lorikeet".  Very tropical and summery.

And here are my first two blocks.  You make two blocks at a time with this pattern, and it's so easy!  Now if only I wasn't so distracted with all my other projects so I can get back to sewing this!  I just can't seem to sew fast enough to do everything I want.  How about you?  Do you have the same problem?  Do you start or work on multiple projects at a time?  Inquiring minds want to know!