Monday, January 31, 2011

Quilter's Academy Junior Year available in April

"Quilter's Academy" Junior Year is available in April!

Helpful hints about making that HUGE purchase...a sewing machine!

Katie quilts for her puppy dog!

Katie came to JoAnn Fabrics with me this evening and we happened upon a fantastic sale on fleece.  $8/yd normally was on sale for $3 and marked an extra 50%, so we bought alot of it!  Not one to let anything stop her once she has an idea, she watched a youtube clip on cutting out a tie fleece blanket and brought it straight upstairs to get help tying from Mom :-)  Gunnar was so excited, he could hardly wait to try out his new blanky:

Here's the happy recipient with his mistress.

Spoiled poochie receives warm blanky for winter-weather.


Katie couldn't resist trying it out, too!  The cute little paw prints on the red fleece are sure cute.  Nice work, Katie!  

Have any of you ever made a tie blanket?  If so, who was it for?

February goals

(Goal obtained:  now that my sewing spaces, machines, supplies, rulers, fabric, correct thread and needles, etc.are finally in order after starting preparations in August 2010, I can begin Harriet & Carrie Hargrave's "Quilter's Academy Vol. 1 - Freshmen Year A Skill-Building Course in Quiltmaking"  :-)  I bought the fabric today for the first three quilts in their series and plan to blog about it here!)

1.  Harrriet & Carrie Hargrave's "Quilting Academy:  Freshmen Year" lesson five

2.  Civil War BOM February Block


3.  Harriet & Carrie Hargrave's "Quilting Academy:  Freshmen Year" lesson seven, Harriet's Woodland Winter Quilt

4.  Harriet & Carrie Hargrave's "Quilting Academy:  Freshmen Year" lesson lesson seven, Carrie's Cowboy Corral Quilt

5.  Make a pillow case for charity.


Million Pillow Cases Service Project


My daughter Katie wants to sew pillow cases for veterans!  What a great service project idea.  If you are currently participating in this project, do you have suggestions, tips or ideas for her?  If you aren't currently participating, Katie encourages you to do "sew"!

Thank you!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quilt Stencils and Ideas - modern!

Hundreds of quilt stencils and ideas for quilting

I happened upon a nice website and wanted to share.

I found helpful advice:

If you want to be a better quilter, quilt every day and forget about mistakes!

Nice thought to start out our new year with...don't you think?

What is your new year's resolution or thought for 2011?

To tie and bind or to bind and tie - that is the question!

I have answered the question as to what to do first with the 1930's baby quilt I'd like to finish:





I noticed that in the "tie a quilt" video, the binding was not attached before she tied the quilt.

I plan on trying out these two techniques.

Because the back and binding were already basted onto the quilt top, I went ahead and tied the quilt....

Civil War BOM January is complete!

Well, this is an interesting time to realize all three fabrics are directional....
Even the red is directional upon closer inspection.
My rule of thumb from this moment forward shall be:
"Only God is perfect."
My little imperfections will remind me that I'm just humble human and that's OK with me!

The directions call for adding all four squares (going the same direction as the large center square in a square (red diamond middle)...but I found it easier to take two of the four outside strips off, attach the red squares to the end, and then sew the entire strip all the way across.  Much better now:

Ta-dah!  It does measure 16"x16" and I think it looks great - imperfections and all!
The pattern really is beautiful, unlike anything I have ever pieced before.

Challenge:  one of the blue squares is facing the wrong direction...can you tell which one?


middle blue triangle, 2nd row down from the top


several small red triangles in the HST are going a different direction


even though all of the white directional fabric is running the same direction around the entire outside, the inner white squares are all running the opposite direction!

There!  My mistakes out there for all to see.... :-)

What I got right:  the final block size
the large red squares are running directionally the same way
all the blue (except one) are directionally correct
and all the white are running the same direction all around the outside
and all around the inside instead of being all mixed up (like the small red HST's!)

I still like it!  What do you think?

1930's antique fabric Kaleidescope baby quilt

I was looking through the Antique Mall shop downtown and came upon a bag filled with what I thought were scraps.  Lo and behold, what was really in there were six completed pieced string quilt blocks which had been left unfinished.  It stopped me in my tracks.  Upon closer inspection, I realized the material used were old blouses, skirts, curtains and tablecloths.  I turned each block over and saw that she had used a "paper piecing" technique, but instead of paper, she had used thread bare old aprons.  Wow...I thought to myself, "Life was so hard here in North Dakota in the 1930's during the Great Depression...I wonder why this baby quilt was never finished?"  and decided right then and there that I just needed to finish this ladies' baby quilt for her.

Knowing that folks in the "Dirty 30's" didn't have anything extra, no less anything fancy, I decided to fancy it up by using decorative machine stitching with bedtime songs and prayers using my Ellageo machine.  For example, after the words "My Bonnie lies over the ocean..." came ocean waves, etc.  I hope this would have pleased the lady who started the quilt.

I've decided to tie the quilt with yellow embroidery floss and backed the quilt with yellow flannel.  Since there are no babies "on the way" in our family, I will keep the quilt until the first niece, nephew, son or daughter has a child, then it will be theirs to use and pass along in the family.

I fell in love with these blocks, cut them down to 12 1/2" squares and will finish with yellow flannel and yellow embroidery floss.  The big question:  tie and bind or bind and tie???

"My bonnie lies over the ocean..."

"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul..."

I spoke with my mother about tying the quilt.  She said that we can't do that until the quilt has been "finished" (binding attached).  I thought I would tie the quilt first, and then bind.  She said her grandmother and all the ladies would always bind first, then tie.  What do you think?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

WWII Parachute Silk Quilt to finish - surprise!

Me (giggle), Mom Dianne (laugh), and sis-in-law Lynn (smile)
Lynn created these fun quilted signs for the dental office she works in!

Lynn completely surprised me with three freshly-cleaned quilts made by 
my great-grandmother Margarethe (Maggie) Block and my grandfather Elvin Volker.

Mom Dianne writes a story about the surprise quilt top and quilt bottom that Lynn brought along.  
This is what she wrote:
"In 1945, after World War II, salesmen sold parachutes door-to-door.  I remember this salesman because he didn't bring me gum like the usual salesman.  I was five years old and lived in Gardena, North Dakota with my grandparents Otto and Maggie Block.  My grandmother bought a colored parachute from the salesman and she cut big blocks, sewed them together to make a quilt.  Now my daughter-in-law Lynn and my daughter Mary Ann, 67 years later, are finishing the quilt.  Mary Ann is spraying water on the material to iron the wrinkles out.  Next will come the sewing of the top and bottom."
Together we purchased a queen sized Hobb's silk batting (90% silk and 10% polyester) from Harriet Hargrave's online store (Colorado, USA).  Lynn purchased green and yellow silk thread and began small repairs.  Mary Ann and daughter Katie carefully sprayed and ironed the silk, and upon finding a small hole in the yellow back, Katie carefully pinned the spot so that we can go back later to find and repair it using some of the 1/2" binding from the top of the quilt.  We measured the quilt back this evening and found it to be 77" (yellow borders) x 91" (turquoise borders).  

Lynn using silk thread to make repairs on the top of the quilt, which contains four patch blocks.

My daughter Katie carefully checks for tears, rips and holes, thankfully only finding one tiny hole.

Ironing the silk.  It's amazing to know that most of the parachute silk sold after WWII was white and ladies sewed their prom dresses, wedding dresses and daughter's cathecism dresses from the silk.  It was difficult to find any information about colored parachute silk being sold.  Evidently, it was quite rare.  If you have any information, please leave a comment below.

??Perhaps this is nylon material instead of silk:

            Women were asked to turn in their hosiery to help with the war effort.  Silk stockings were used to make powder bags in naval and artillery guns, while nylon hose was used to manufacture parachutes and tow ropes for gliders.
            On February 18, 1943 an intensive effort to gather up old silk and nylon hosiery in the Dayton area resulted in the collection of nearly 225,000 pairs of hose.  In one instance a woman who had been making rugs from old stockings brought in her partly finished rugs, while another woman donated 118 pairs of stockings she had collected over a period of ten years intending to make rugs.  By the end of September 1943, about 46 million pairs of hosiery, or over 2 million pounds, had been collected nationally.  This was an amazing feat, due to the fact that no silk or nylon hosiery had been manufactured for quite some time.


My sis-in-law and I were talking tonight about the parachute quilt.  Since we're not sure if it is silk (we hope!) or nylon, we decided to google how to test fabric to see what it is.  There is a simple burn test that requires precautionary measures.  Perhaps the chemistry teacher at our local school can offer assistance?  From reading the fabric test information, it comes down to this:  if the fabric burns and smells like hair, then it's silk; if the fabric burns and smells like plastic, then it's nylon.  Well, that makes only to conduct the test.  I think I'll need to have a second person there to get their noses' opinion, too.  Have you ever found yourself testing fabric before?  Any advice for me?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thank you, Verna and Joy!

The gals at Bismarck Sewing & Quilting helped me figure out the Flying Geese mystery!  One end was always ending up 1/8" too short, so I was given two great tips that I hope work out this coming weekend when I get back to sewing....

Tip 1)     When you set your ruler on the fabric to draw the diagonal, offset the ruler a bit so that your pencil lead isn't inadvertently forced over 1/16", then sew just outside the line so that the thread doesn't pull it up another 1/16".

Tip 2)  Get out the AccuQuilt Go! Baby and use the 2 1/2" half square triangle die to cut the squares out into triangles.  These half square triangles will have the 1/4" notches cut right off each end, so it will sew together perfectly without marking!

I'm excited about trying Tip #2...I think both will work well, but #2 will save me something precious.....TIME!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Missouri Valley Quilters display at the Bismarck Public Library in Jan. 2011

I just loved the display at the Bismarck Public Library by the Missouri Valley Quilters Guild.  Their sign that says "Quilting:  the other winter sport" is so adorable!

Beautiful applique!

This is amazing!

Log cabin blocks

The word "imagine" was colored in using new fabric crayons!

Did your mother or grandmother give you a Singer sewing machine when you were a child?

Lovely work by the Missouri Valley Quilters - hope you enjoyed their display as much as I did!

 I am chain sewing the sixteen HST here on my Janome Jemgold 3.  The thread is all cotton from Prescencio. I have a size 14 needle to match with the all cotton thread.  There's no fighting the machine at all :-)  The tension is looking good.

I'm enjoying my new iron.  Until I read Harriet & Carrie Hargrave's Quilting Academy books, I didn't realize how important ironing is to a quilt.  I need to purchase a box of starch, though!

I am using OttLite's from JoAnn Fabrics, as I have been unable to find DayLights that Harriet Hargrave recommends.  Any ideas where to purchase those, please?

Here they have you cut large squares into triangles.

About ready now to sew 16 red and white triangles together (HST).

The second directional fabric.  I just ADORE the design and colors used.

My daughter took a picture of me with my favorite fabric from the quilt.

Here it is close-up...

This will be the first time I've ever worked with "directional" prints in a quilt.  Both the white fabric and blue fabric have directional prints and this will be challenging, but not impossible.  The directions don't make mention of it, but it you cut half the squares one direction and the other half of the square in the other direction, you should be able to make your block come out with everything going "one" direction.  We'll see....

This is how many layers I'm placing on the die...I wonder if the Go! Baby will cut through them all???

It certainly did cut straight through them all - on the left are the perfectly squared triangles and on the right you see the "waste".  There's not too much, but of course, there is some...perhaps more than when using a rotary cutter or scissors.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Half Square Triangles

The block begins with HST (half square triangles)

After seeing a demonstration at my local quilt shop, I decided the Go! Baby Accuquilt was the way to cut triangles.  Every triangle gets a notch on each end that allows you to obtain an accurate 1/4".

Go, baby, go!

After a trip back to the quilt shop (nearby, thank goodness!), I had a replacement Go! Baby and was finally in business!  Just when I was going to get started, things ended up going backwards, but the replacement machine worked perfectly.  The first one didn't press down against the mat in order to send the mat, fabric and die through the machine to cut.  The owner of the quilt shop was so nice, she replaced my faulty one immediately with one she had on hand!  I really appreciate Joy at Bismarck Sewing and Quilting.

From the new Go! Baby, perfectly cut half square triangles to sew!  Did I mention that they will finish to a perfect 2" square and that I didn't have to go back and "fix" them all to make sure they were perfect.  I'm sure this saved me about 1/2 hour of time since the pattern called for creating 16 HST with the red and white fabric.  The white fabric is directional....I'll cut half going lengthwise across the grain and the other half going straight across the grain so that my directional fabric goes the same way...I hope!

The die is covered in thick foam with extremely sharp razors that cut through several layers of fabric at once!  It was so nice to turn the "wringer washer" crank and end up with enough HST the first time through, all perfectly cut and accurate when sewn at 1/4".  Note the notches on each edge to be sewn.  The notches show you the 1/4" and exactly where to sew - now that's great stuff!  First the scissors, then the rotary cutter, and finally Accuquilt!!!  (I've got my eye on the Sunbonnet Sue die and purchased the 2 1/2" double strip die and mat at the quilt shop today.)

Reproduction fabrics PS
The blue ceiling covered with gold stars found in the Entrance Hall of Marienburg castle reminds me of the blue fabric in the Civil War quilt.  

Reproduction fabrics

Here are the first three fabrics for the center medallion January block. My favorite is the blue. It reminds me very much of a castle in Germany called Marienburg. Inside the grand entrance hall is a ceiling painted in this beautiful blue color and covered with gold stars. The castle is a medieval reproduction built in the 1800s.

Civil War Quilt start

Here is the January or 1st block of the Civil War Quilt. I wish you could see the reproduction fabrics in person...the picture just doesn't do it justice. The center "medallion" block is the one we're creating this month. It has many HST (half square triangles) and flying geese. I searched youtube for ideas about how to best create nice, even flying geese. The ones I have created aren't the greatest. If you have any suggestions for flying geese, please leave a comment - thank you in advance!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Civil War BOM

Well, I love history - what can I say? My husband's ancestors were involved in the Civil War on the northern side. I love Harriet Hargrave's work because it is about traditional quilting in a new age. I combined the two ideas along with some friends at the local quilt shop and wa-la! a new idea was born: Block of the Month "Civil War Chronicles" quilt using thrilling reproduction fabrics. They are astonishingly beautiful!

To prepare, my dear husband purchased the Accuquilt Baby Go! cutter for me. The owner of the local quilt shop demonstrated its effectiveness and every lady in the room was convinced this was the way to sew triangle squares, especially when faced with approximately 2,000 of them over the course of the upcoming year.

For Civil War buffs, you can create a 1860's style quilt based on the actual quilts of 12 ladies who lived during that time. I received my January Block of the Month (BOM) by Homestead Hearth
105 N. Coal Mexico, Missouri 65265 ph. 573-581-1966 and it included information about Southern General Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Custis Lee (Martha Washington's great grand-daughter), whose actual quilt the center "medallion" pieced block is based upon. They have called the center block "Troubled Times" and indeed, they were. The history of her courtship, marriage, children, losses and her battle with arthritis is all documented, which really adds to the enjoyment of creating the block.

Reproduction fabrics are from Marcus Fabrics with Fabric by Judie Rothermel. You can view the fabrics online at The fabric is so inspirational, but I believe is best appreciated in person, rather than in photos.

Are you considering or have you already decided to make the same quilt? If so, please let me know...I'm interested to know how you progress.


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