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I’ve been working through my list of quilt alongs in the last few weeks. In an attempt to not bore those of you kind enough to follow my blog, I haven’t been posting every little bit of progress here. I’ve posted a few things to Flickr, Instagram, and Facebook as was appropriate for that QAL. (You can see my Flickr and Instagram feed by clicking over on the right.) I think I’ve made enough progress to show you some pictures of my half-baked progress.

17 rows of clams for my Clambake QAL – halfway there.

Half Baked Clams

Irish Chain Twist QAL –  cutting done, x-blocks pieced, trimmed, pieced again. Tomorrow we start the next block.

trimmedhalf blocksfinal x-block

Mystery FMQ QAL – The mystery was solved – we made a thread sampler for ourselves. As it turns out, I don’t have much variety in thread. I use mostly cotton and a few polys when I want something thin (although I usually use these in the bobbin, not on top). Each spool is a different thread, and I’ve written the brand, fiber, and weight on each spool with a Micron pen. Lori also had us “write” the needle/thread guideline 80/50 in the top corner. (Not my best choice of thread color.) I’ve attached a thin binding and just need to sew it down on the back, and I can call this one done.

closeupFMQ almost done

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.



Cut, Cut, Cut and FMQ QAL

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If you are stopping by from Vicki of 2 Bags Full Grow Your Blog, welcome. My post for the party is here.

Irish Chain Twist QAL

I took a break from the EPP rosette for February to cut fabric for this week’s assignment in Melissa of Happy Quilting’s Irish Chain Twist QAL. The cutting list looked daunting at first, but I kept at it and was actually able to cut all the pieces. Melissa’s cutting instructions are super easy to follow.

I even cut my binding today. I absolutely hate cutting binding after I have pieced and quilted. It feels like going backwards instead of forward towards completion. I’m sure that many of you do this all the time, but this is a first for me. I usually don’t have the forethought to pick out a binding fabric when I get started. Sometimes this is good, as I’ve changed tracks after piecing a quilt and not having binding fabric allows me to audition different options. More often though, I finish piecing and quilting and know exactly the direction I want to take the binding………….. and I can’t find the fabric I have my heart set on or I have none left from piecing and can’t find any more because I don’t know what it was called nor do I remember where I bought it. For this QAL I know that I want to revisit the orange that will be used for the appliqué blocks -easy, peasy, leamon squeezy.

Wow, I sure am wordy tonight. Cut to the picture. (See what I did there? Ha ha – snort.)ICT QAL step 2

Mystery Free Motion QAL

Lori of The Inbox Jaunt has added tasks to her Mystery Free Motion QAL. So far we have

  1. Zig-zagged across our mini to divide it into sections
  2. Practiced writing and then wrote our names and the date in the bottom rectangle.
  3. Cut out a paper spool template and practiced some filler patterns (I didn’t do anything that week – sigh)

Today’s assignment was to practice spools. I traced the template twice on my practice sandwich and then free-handed the rest. The fill had me a bit stumped. I quikly learned that looking up at the birds on the feeder was not conducive to quilting smoothly, so I kept my head down and filled my practice square. After practicing and warming up, we were to quilt one spool in the center rectangle.

*We weren’t supposed to write anything under the spool, but I have a hunch we will be exploring different weights  and types of thread, and I wanted a record of what I used.  (King Tut 3-ply/50 weight – a cotton thread) Here is my practice and progress. (Still hate those zig-zags)

FMQ Along

Now for a question. How do you keep track of your fabric (designer/design/where you bought it)? This was never an issue for me until recently when I posted a photo for a QAL and someone asked me what the fabric was. That time I had the selvedge. As mentioned earlier with binding, I am really bad at remembering where I bought the fabric, much less who designed it and what it is called. I’ve marvelled for quite some time now at the bloggers who know the names of all 50 fabrics they used in their gorgeous scrappy quilt. This will never be me. If you ask me, you might get “um, it’s called ‘Buy Me Because I’m Really Pretty’.

Believe me, I’ve tried to be more organized. I’ve tried…..

  • keeping a notebook
  • keeping a notebook with a swatch
  • taking pictures with my phone of the bolt end
  • making a label,
  • writing the info on a swatch and saftey pinning it to the fabric

None of these methods really sticks with me and none of them work if you happen to buy the fat quarter that didn’t have a marked selvedge.

So, do you keep track of your fabric’s name/designer/place of purchase? If you do, please share your method with me. Please.



The not so good, the bad, and the ugly

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The first assignment in Lori Kennedy’s (The Inbox Jaunt) Mystery Free Motion Quilt Along was to mark our quilt sandwiches and quilt echoed zig-zags on the lines. Wow. 90 degree turns are not my thing. I diligently practiced the design on my practice sandwich. That wasn’t going well, so I switched to a drawing pad. I use this to get my hand used to the motion. I’m not sure how this thing works, but I don’t waste paper and can push the erase button to get a clean slate.


Boogie Board

When I went back to my practice sandwich I had figured out how to center my zig zag on the line, but I kept getting a line at the top of the left-side peaks. I thought I was pulling the bobbin thread up – so I adjusted my top tension. Nope, line was still there. Changed the amount of pressure on the foot – improvement, but still a pull. Then I really looked at my stitches. That line wasn’t bobbin thread. It was caused by the way I was moving as I stiched the zag back down to the right. Errrrr. I never quite got rid of that problem, but I learned to fix it if I was really carefull and went really slowly.

Confession: I don’t like to go slow.

Here is my practice sandwich. It’s really not pretty. The really bad rows are a result of having a snit. I just quilted a bunch of crummy echoes until I was done being mad at it.practice

At this point, I got up and walked away. I let it sit just long enough for my air-erase marking lines to disappear. Yay me! I got extra practice marking the rectangles again. When I came back to it, I had a less critical attitude and a beer in my hand. The attitude let me keep moving without my inner voice saying nasty things, and the beer loosened up my movement. Win-win.

I usually have to work really hard to make my quilt motifs large. I like to get small and crampy instead of loose and large, but this time – huge zig zags. I think Lori’s sample has about fifteen zig zags in each rectange. Mine – seven – and they are horrid. They are big and uneven.

I was quilting quite late. I thought, you’re tired. They will look better in the morning. (Reverse beer goggles.) When I took this picture the next morning, the only thing pretty about it was the sunrise out the window.

FMQ Along 1

So, why am I showing you my ugly work? I’m doing it because when I started reading quilting blogs I felt like every quilter with a blog produced beautiful, flawless work all the time. What I now realize is that blogland is full of people at every level of ability and I can learn from all of them. When I can do something better than someone else, I can look at my progress and be proud and maybe help someone else. When I can’t achieve what I see out there, I can set new goals and practice.

I’m new to this. I do a pretty good job at some FMQ motifs. I do a really BAD job at others. I want nothing more than to wad this up and start over, but I’m going to perservere with the quilt along and GROW.

Do something that stretches you today.


Something Old, Something New, and Something Blue

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Something old is my hexagons for the Millefiori Quilt Along.

Exhibit A – distracted sewing. This will not make a hexagon. Luckily, I caught this when I added it to my stack. I double checked the one I was about to sew and, yup, it was set up wrong also.



Exhibit B The correct way. It breaks my heart to unsew.


Something new is my new Havel Fabric Cutter. (This is an unsolicited mention/review of this product).

I bought this with some of the Christmas money my generous mother gave me. I have some carpel tunnel issues and am not a very good strip cutter, so I’m always on the lookout for products that will help with this issue. I also own an Altos Quilt Cut 2 which helps with strip cutting but doesn’t help with the carpel tunnel problem. The fabric cutter is a dream come true. I have a paper cutter with a rotary blade, so this made sense to me. Friskars makes a similar cutter, but the ruler portion is shorter, so I went with the Havel. I like that the back has a rubber strip to keep the system from slipping on the fabric. The cutting motion took me a trial run to figure out and the positioning of the ruler and cutter took me a moment for some reason, but it cut like butter and was straight for the entire width of the fabric! I cut a single layer of fabric first and then three layers when I was ready to subcut a few squares.

Love, love, love my new toy.

new cutter  backcutting

Something blue (and off-white)

fabric pullThis is my fabric pull for Lori Kennedy’s (the Inbox Jaunt) Modern Wholecloth Mystery Quilt. This will be a free motion quilting mystery quilt. Mystery quilts stress me out a bit. I over-think fabric and design and make myself crazy. This mystery will be different though. It will be wholecloth and thread choice doesn’t bother me like fabric.

This week participants are gathering supplies to start. Lori’s instructions are to have two fat quarters of light colored solids. I’m using Kona Robin’s Egg Blue for the front and PFD Bleach for the back. After I ordered 2 yards of the PFD, I discovered what the initials stood for – prepared for dye – oops. Oh well. Perfect for the back of this project and some practice squares that Lori also said we needed. I put a few basting pins in my quilt sandwich after I ironed everything to keep it all together as I wait for next week’s instructions. ready

If you are interested in FMQ, you should check out Lori’s site. She has a ton of tutorials and her designs are really interesting. My FMQ skills still need a lot of improvement, but she has inspired me to move away from the stitch in the ditch quilting of my first quilt and try some new designs.

This picture is from my first foray into FMQ. I absolutely didn’t know what I was doing and hadn’t yet discovered the wealth of information on the internet. I couldn’t sew a straight line around the stars to save my life, so I cheated. I used a zig-zag stitch and a lot of pivoting. This took me forever! It is a twin-size quilt with a bazillion of these stars. It took me f-o-r-e-v-e-r!s quilt

This is a quilt finish from this last year. I have some issues with pulling the bobbin thread through to the top, but I’ve gotten more adventurous. The quilt as a whole looks much better than this picture, but I”m including it to show some of the inspiration Lori has provided me.star of india


Are you intrigued by a mystery FMQ-Along? Check out Lori’s site and join the fun!