Anatomy of a disaster

Good grief.  How freakin’ hard can this dad-gummed block be??

1I made 4 of these blocks yesterday.

The first one was okay.

The second one was very skewed and looked more like a parallelogram (see above picture), and it wasn’t big enough to trim square.  I started starching the fabrics after that.

The third block I assembled backwards.  Dammit!

The fourth one I figured was going to be perfect.  Strips were starched.  Patches were laid out in order.  Strips were cut generously to allow for squaring up after assembly.  And the block DID turn out perfect, trimmed to 7.5″.  But something went wrong somewhere, because the block somehow ended up with no seam allowances!

At that point I realized it would be pointless to continue, so I allowed myself a good pout, poured a margarita, and went to bed.

I woke up this morning with the idea of sewing the strips together from light to dark, so the block would look like it was glowing.  I cut and measured carefully, starched carefully, sewed carefully.  But once my block was assembled I realized I had ONCE AGAIN made a mistake – instead of sewing the strips from light to dark, I had sewn them from dark to light.


Maybe the universe is trying to tell me that this quilt just isn’t meant to be!

peg large sigp.s.  You may be wondering why I only showed a picture of one block.  It’s because I took the rest outside, threw them on the ground, and ran them over with the lawnmower. I was going to keep the first one, since it was the best block.  But somehow the wonky parallelogram block was the only one to escape the lawnmower.

See?  I can’t even get destruction right.



Fire colors

More blocks for the birthday block exchange.  The birthday girl requested warm, light-filled fire colors: red, orange, yellow-gold, butter, and lime as an accent.  What fun!

First up, an appliqued flower.  I think I found this block in one of the Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks magazines.

chrissy 2 I don’t know the name of this next block, and the website I got it from,, no longer exists.  Bummer.  But the block is intriguing! chrissy 1chrissy 3Both these blocks were fun to work on.  Off to their new home they go!


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How to fix mismatched seams

Last week, Sabrina left a comment on my “Night Sky” quilt post, asking if a beginning quilter should attempt it.  I say why not?  The only way a beginning quilter becomes an expert quilter is to try new things.  Sure, it has triangles, and therefore that dreaded four-letter word “bias”, but bias can actually work for you.  Here’s how:

Here is a block with a mismatched seam.

1 aFirst, unsew that part of the seam.

Side note – you don’t always have to unsew the entire seam, especially when you’re working with bias.  The pink and orange triangles match perfectly at the top of this block, so I’m going to leave that part of the seam alone.

2 aBut I will unsew all the way to the bottom, because A) there’s extra purple fabric on the left that I want to move up, and B), that part of the block doesn’t need matching seams yet.

3 aMy seam allowances had been pressed open on this block, so I put both halves right sides together, straightened out the seam allowances, and pressed them back into their original form.

On a padded, pin-able surface, take a straight pin and stick it in the seam allowance of the top layer of fabric, right between the two patches.  The pin should be 1/4″ away from the raw edge of the fabric.

4 aKeeping the pin in the seam, slide the top fabric up the shaft  of the pin to reveal the bottom piece of fabric.  Stick the pin in the seam allowance, 1/4″ away from the raw edge.

5 aMake sure your pin is standing straight up vertically.  Push both layers of fabric down flat, and using your fingernail, kind of scootch the fabric out in all directions from the pin.  Yes, “scootch” IS an official quilting term, thankyouverymuch.

6 aHere is the part where the bias actually works for you.  With your iron, hover above the fabric about 1/4″ inch and give it a shot of steam.  You don’t want to touch the fabric at this point.

7 aDo that on both sides of the pin.  The bias has a mind of its own, and will move and shrink a tiny bit with the steam, but because you have stuck a pin exactly where you want it to match, that part can’t move.

Lift the top layer of fabric and dab a tiny bit of glue in the seam allowance.  (More about glue and glue tips in a minute…)

9 aHold the seam together for about 10 seconds to give the glue a chance to be absorbed by the fabric.  Then give it a touch with the iron to set and dry the glue.  Make sure as you do this that the pin stays vertical.

Sew the seam.

11 aThe glue will not gum up your needle.  It’s way over in the seam allowance, remember?

Next, I ran a stiletto between the top and bottom layers and popped the glued bits apart.  This is why I only use 2 or 3 tiny dots of it.

12 aPress and there you have it – perfectly matched seams.

13 aA word about glue.  I use Elmer’s Washable School Glue because it’s available everywhere.  I have nothing against Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It or any of the other good quality sewing glues on the market, it’s simply a matter of availability.  I can get Elmer’s at ten o’clock at night on a Sunday, and it works just as well.  Just make sure it says “washable”, meaning it will wash out.

I bought 2 metal tips from Sharon Schamber’s website a few years ago, but apparently she doesn’t sell them anymore.  However, I believe you can get them at art and craft supply stores next to the glues.

Someone once said she didn’t like the metal tips because she didn’t like having to constantly take them off and clean them out every time she used the glue.  Well, I have never taken the tip off mine.  I simply stick an applique pin in the hole!

14 aIt fits perfectly, never sticks, and keeps the glue from drying out.  Just make sure you use a pin that is rust-proof.  I used one of those yellow flower-head pins once and it rusted.

15 aWhat is your favorite method for fixing those pesky mismatched seams?

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Night Sky, finished

I finished the “Night Sky” shop sample quilt – after I fixed the mistake, of course.  Here’s the before and after:

before n after

Fortunately, it was an easy fix.  I simply had to rip the seam at the pink arrow (it goes all the way down, right through the center of the green and blue stars), flip that column 180 degrees, and sew.

night sky 2night sky 3Vibrant.

This quilt was a lot easier to make than I had anticipated.  I thought I was going to struggle a bit with matching the seams, but 90% of the time they matched immediately.  Can’t beat that kind of accuracy!

So I decided to make another one, this time in a pastel colorway.  I’m ready for some spring colors, how about you?

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Doodling a new blog header…..

cropped-Tangleheader31.gif Oh spring, where are you?? I’m no artist, but a doodler, and love to draw. This is the new header I drew for our blog. Of course, I can’t draw a straight line to save my life, but a few years ago I came across the Tanglepatterns site, and I was hooked! Having simple instructions to draw almost anything you can think of? Maybe I CAN be an artist!! Since it’s been waaaay to cold in my sewing room lately, even with the space heater, I decided to draw some quilting-related pics in the comfort of my living room, wrapped up in my warm quilt and watching movies. I started out with a spool of thread:

ThreadThen tried a rotary cutter:

Rotary-cutter….and a pair of applique scissors:

Scissors…and a thimble:


Peggi saw these, and said “Let’s make these into a new header for the blog!”. I thought, why not create a new header?? So I did. I took a quilty tangle I was in the process of drawing, and with Photoshop added the scissors, thread, thimble, the Blog name and our pics (because I’m certainly no portrait artist, LOL!), and voila! A new blog header!!

cropped-Tangle-Header.gifIf you want to learn to draw tangles, I highly recommend the Tanglepatterns website. Not only does Linda Farmer have hundreds of instructions for patterns, she’s also got a list of other “tanglers” who do amazing work with even more patterns and instructions. It’s a site you can spend hours looking through. Lots of people are doing “Zentangles“, and while I adore Zentangles, I like drawing pictures of THINGS, so I’ll take those patterns, find free clipart pics, trace them in pencil and fill them in with all kinds of patterns. Give it a try when you need a break. You can still quilt – in a different way!

Cindi 100


Can you find the mistake?  Look carefully…..


I’m glad I spotted it before taking it to be quilted!

Give up?  Look carefully at the blue and green stars on the right hand side….

Fortunately, it’s an easy fix.  Only one (long) seam to rip, then just flip that strip and re-sew.

I love how it turned out.  The stars are very vibrant in person.  I can’t wait to show Cheran!

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Night Sky

The sun was out yesterday, and that energized me.  I was VERY busy. Last month, Cheran Bee, the owner of FiddleSticks Quilt Shop, asked me to make a sample quilt for her store.  What a fun opportunity!!

1The pattern is “Night Sky” from Jaybird Quilts.  Bright, vivid, bold colors against a black background.  I love it.

Quilt confetti!

2Once I made a couple of blocks, I really fell in love with this quilt.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out!

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Blossoms Quilt

blocksIsn’t this just the cutest?? (Sorry-had to take indoors and didn’t turn out so well) I fell in love with Amanda Murphy’s Blossoms Quilt pattern the moment I saw it.


Click to visit Amanda’s pattern site

It’s a fun, happy pattern, and I love that it uses layer cakes effectively. I think I only had 6 or 8 leftover pieces from two layers cakes. It took me some time to find the perfect layer cakes for this. While in Houston, I found two Moda layer cakes by Chloe’s Closet – 30′s Playtime.

ChloesI adore the small prints in this, and the old fashioned, yet fresh look. I knew I’d picked the right fabrics when I finished the first block.

single-blockOh, how pretty! At first I questioned my use of white for the blossoms. The main fabrics are actually a bit off-white. But I’m glad I did. It really makes the flowers pop off the quilt! I felt the blossoms looked a little “flat” on the pattern picture, and I decided to add an extra layer of batting to each blossom so they’d puff up a bit after quilting. So, I basted a layer of batting to the back of each and every flower.

trapuntoOnce the top was completely together, I also added the batting to the outside edge half- and quarter-flowers. The original pattern only had flower centers in the whole flowers – not in the partial flowers around the edge. It only looked half-finished to me, so I added flower centers in all the flowers.

There was a LOT of waste when the flowers and triangles were trimmed, so I’ve decided to use that waste as applique in the borders. I’m cutting circles and feathers with my GO.

scraps2I am playing with some border layouts now. I’d like to use some of that wide ric-rac in the border.

borderNo, I’m not using pink. I’ll buy a color that matches the quilt as soon as I figure out what color I want to use. I haven’t decided whether to put the applique and ric-rac around the entire quilt or just in a couple of opposite corners. I’ll keep playing with it and see what I come up with. I’m very excited to quilt this one – it’s going to be a LOT of fun!

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Birthday blocks

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve shown any birthday blocks.  Time to fix that!

pairAt the beginning of the year, I joined a birthday block swap.  Everyone makes 2 blocks for each participant, to be sent to her on her birthday.  Birthday girl gets to pick the colors, but the block patterns are totally up to the maker.

This birthday girl picked purple, teals, and light blues.  For her first block, I picked a neat variation of the 10-minute block.

10 minute block variationHer second block is “Caned Seat” from Quilter’s Cache.

caned seatI really like that one.  It could be a stunning quilt, done in the right colors.

I was a little nervous about the two different block colors not playing well together, but after seeing all her other blocks, I felt assured they will fit right in.

What I find fun and enjoyable about this (and forgive me if I’ve said it before) is I get to try out new blocks or techniques without committing myself to an entire quilt.  I think both of these might have to go on a “someday” list.

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