Friday, March 30, 2012

Accurately cut multiple 9-patches

My 1800's group is swapping  3.5" unfinished 9-patches and I need to have seven groups of eight made by Tuesday.  So, I thought I would share with you how I make multiple 9-patches in a reasonably quick and accurate manner.

Now, I realize there are other ways to do this but this is how I do it and I didn't think of this entirely on my own.  I learned part of this from the owners of this LQS during a Mystery Weekend a number of years ago.

First, I press the fabric with sizing (not starch) that I purchase at a dollar store for $1.  (I saw it the other day at Walm*rt for less than $1.)  I then spray one of the fabrics with a mist of the sizing and layer the fabrics right sides together and press.  The sizing will help to "seal" them together while I cut them and then until I sew them.

I carefully move the fabrics still layered together to my cutting mat and cut my strips with the fabrics still in layers. I have the light ends turned up just so you can see that I cut the layers together.  (I am cutting 1.5" strips and sew with a 1/4" seam allowance.)

I keep the fabrics together when taking them to the sewing machine and sew the strips together like I would for any 9-patches. (Two sets of strips: dark/light/dark and one set of strips: light/dark/light)
After sewing the strips, I press the fabric toward the dark fabrics.  Now I take the strips to the cutting board and line them up to cut.  I will be cutting a complete 9-patch block all at once. 

It doesn't matter what order you put the strips in. Put your first strip down on the mat a little to the left of a vertical line and exactly on one of the horizontal lines.  In my picture below I have a pen pointing to my fabric lined up on the horizontal line.  You will see that my selvages that I will be trimming off are to the left of the vertical line.

Then take your next set of strips and lay it down on top of these strips but below them in the same manner.  It doesn't really matter how many inches you go down just so you put them on a horizontal line. 

Then, again I do the same thing with my third strip. I now have all three strips lined up on horizontal lines and just to the left of a vertical line.

Now, if you look on the ruler at the spaces between 4-5, 7-8, and 10-11 you will notice they all line up at 1 inch intervals.  Also, if you noticed, when I was laying the fabric down that at those 1 inch intervals is where the finished seams are at. (Every time that you use this method you might not end up with your ruler exactly on the "inch" spots like I did. However,  whatever your measurement should be of the finished seam inside of your 9-patch it should be consistent and you can measure that on your ruler. I hope that makes sense.)

Once I am positive everything is absolutely straight I trim off the excess to the left of the vertical line.  I am looking at the lines on my ruler, my mat and fabric for this cut.

Since I am cutting 1.5" strips I move my ruler over 1.5" keeping my eyes on the lines on the seams of my fabric strips (in this case the 4-5", 7-8", and 10-11" spaces on my ruler) and the left side of my cut fabric.  I am not really paying attention to the lines on the mat except to make sure the fabric is staying straight on the horizontal line at the bottom strip. Once I know everything is absolutely lined up then I cut. 

I continue on across the strips in this manner cutting complete sets of 9-patch blocks. Sometimes I may have to stop and even up my cut edge because things can get out of skew - even 1/16th of an inch.  If that gets ignored it will only start to magnify as I go across.  But usually I only have to do this once in the middle of a long strip. Let me say that I don't hurry with this step and am careful to not bump or move the fabric in any way.  I make sure with each cut that every thing is line up perfectly before I cut.

I know I only need eight blocks for my swap but I went ahead and made whatever my strips allowed.  The extras will go in my 3 1/2" parts box for future projects.  Below is a picture of my finished 9-patches.  I press them with sizing after pressing them open so they lay nice and crisp.  They are all exactly 3.5" unfinished.  Yeah!!

I would love to know if you find this technique helpful to you.  I still have four more sets to make.  :)

Happy 9-patches to you -

A little trip down history lane...

Every year about this time my DH and I make our way down to Le Sueur to have our taxes prepared by our accountant.  We have used him for years and don't mind traveling the hour plus down the road to visit him each year.

We lived in Le Sueur, MN for just over seven years and have many good memories of being there.  It is a small, farming community of around 3500 people that is situated on the Minnesota River.  As in just about anyplace in America, if you dig deep enough, you can mine out wonderful nuggets of history about characters from its past.  However, in Le Sueur, you don't have to dig too deep.  It is rich in history.

Here is just a little to scratch the surface.  Here is a picture of the Mayo House on Main Street.  It was here in Le Sueur that the two Mayo brothers first practiced medicine in MN before moving to Rochester MN in what later became the famous Mayo Clinic.

This same house later housed the Cosgrove family.  Who are they?  Well, they ended up starting what became known as the Green Giant Company.  Have you ever seen the advertisements for the Jolly Green Giant?  LeSueur is the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant!  This is the sign that greets you as you enter town -

Have you ever eaten Le Sueur Peas?  This is where they originated.  They are still grown around here somewhere even though the company is now owned and operated by General Mills out of Minneapolis.

Right next to the Mayo house there is a wonderful sculpture called "The Mothers". It is a representation of Louise Mayo, mother of William J. Mayo and his sister, Gertrude, and of Louise Cosgrove, mother of Robert Cosgrove.

Louise Mayo: mother of the founder of the Mayo Clinic, William, and his brother, Charles
Louise Cosgrove: wife of Edward Cosgrove and mother of Robert Cosgrove; President and Chairmen of the Green Giant Company.

Sculpture created by Dr. Paul Grunland, 1978.

After we left Le Sueur we drove on across the MN river valley through St. Peter which is where we used to attend church.  I commented as we drove through that "you can still see the college".  What I meant by that was that years ago you would drive through town and never know that Gustavus Adolphus College was up on the hill.  But years ago a tornado went through St. Peter and pretty much destroyed most of the town.  It tore out all of the beautiful old trees that "hid" the college.

We were not personally affected by the tornado but knew many who lost their homes, most of their possessions, and had to "start over".  It was a very difficult time for many people.  I didn't think about it until we got home later that evening that we were driving through St. Peter that day on the 14th anniversary of that tornado. 

My Jubilee quilt has some fabric in it from a lady whose home was destroyed in that tornado and she was throwing out her mother's sewing stuff.  She gave me the fabric since she didn't sew and I kept what I could use. Memories in the scraps.

Now to leave you with a smile on your face... a few years ago I was driving through St. Peter and noticed they had added this to one of the highways as you are leaving town.  I thought it was pretty funny. :)

Have a great day - look around for what history is in your backyard.  You never know what you might find. :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Has it really been that long?

I know I am doing this on Tuesday - but I am still going to link up with the design wall at Judy L's Patchwork Times.  So after you are done reading this please go to her site and see what other people have on their design walls.  It is always very inspirational!

While all of you have been faithfully checking in with me everyday (Thank you!) I have been busy sewing together all my HST and the other portion of my Jubilee quilt.  I have now finished all 56 blocks.

The red and yellow fabrics I sewed together and cut out using 1" finished Triangle Paper since I needed over 700 of them. It works really slick! ( It is the same paper I used in this little project that I tried last month.  By the way, for those of you who have been following along, I did end up mixing in about one third of those blocks with the 19 blocks that I needed to finish this quilt.)

Here are all the red/yellow HST with the paper taken off and waiting to be pressed. I think this is about 730 of them.

These pictures show my strips of squares waiting to be sewn to the quilt blocks.  This is after I had taken apart and resewn ALL the strips that go across the top of the blocks because I had the triangles oriented the wrong way. To look at this quilt it looks like you can just flip the strips and the triangles will be going the correct way, but noooooo, someone had to make this tricky!!!  :)

And here is a portion of the blocks on my design floor (I don't have a design wall!).  I hope to sew them together today and add the border soon after.

And here is a portion of the antique quilt that I am replicating:

Hopefully I will have the borders on by next week and can show you more.  Stay tuned. :)

My husband is home this week on vacation and he just commented to me about how long it was taking me to write this post, "What are you doing writing 'War and Peace'?  I'm going to have to start calling you Tolstoy, I guess." Hardy, har, har.  Mr. Smartypants. ;)

Here is his website if you would like to see what he does with his free time.  He is in the Top 100 Ukulele Websites. Click here to go to his website  - he goes by Ukester Brown.  

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Another great audio book....

My latest audio book experience was another book by author, Sandra Dallas.

This was a book about the American Japanese internment camps during WWII of which I really knew very little.  I had heard a little bit about them but hadn't really studied a lot about them during my history classes or don't remember because history was not a favorite subject of mine in school. Many of my relatives served in WWII and I am sure that played a part in my not hearing about it also.

Anyway, this is a novel, but based on true facts and I found the story to be very well written, as are all of Sandra Dallas'  books.  The story is narrated by a teenage girl growing up in the town where the Japanese internment camp is placed and her interpretation of how it changes the lives of those around her, including her own.

At the end of the audio edition there is an interview with Sandra.  Well, there you have it, another book for your reading or listening pleasure and historical benefit!

Have a great day!  :)

Smiles everywhere!

The Minnesotans are a hearty bunch.  We are used to harsh, long winters where one put on layers upon layers of clothes and talks (complains) about the weather everywhere you go.
"Cold enuff fer ya?"
"Ya, well, just ya wait, this is nuthin, the boys basketball tournaments (or whatever) are right around the corner, ya know."
"And well, then, we always get one more blast in April.  We have ta have that April snowstorm ya know.  It's not winter without that." Blah, blah, blah.....

With all this sunshine, it's almost like we don't know what to talk about. We are all smiling and happy and walking outside in flip flops, shorts and T-shirts and pinching ourselves to see if it is really real.  The only thing missing is green grass and full foliage of plants to provide color. Everyone is talking so much about other stuff and enjoying themselves it's rather surreal.  Is this really March?

I am loving it.
Hope you are enjoying your day - wherever you may be!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New book (to me)

One of the things I love to read about is quilting and quilters from the different states (and countries) and the history involved.  So, whenever I can find a book that is reasonably priced about that topic I try to purchase it.  Much to my DH's dismay I have started to amass quite a collection!

Last night at my local guild there were tables of free stuff and someone was giving away this book:

It has wonderful history and pictures of the quilters from Arizona and nice full color pictures of quilts from that area or that were brought to that area by settlers.  The book features a nice combination of eras and types of quilts from applique to scrappy.  I have posted some pictures of a few of the scrappy quilts because, of course, those tend to jump out at me and are my favorites. (Always click on photos to make them larger.)

Isn't this cute?  It is a smaller quilt - not quite crib size.  Love the fabrics and the layout.

This one is full of beautiful 1800's fabrics.  The woman's husband owned a store so she had access to lots of fabrics.

This one is not scrappy but I like the colors and if replicated it could be scrappy yet done in the same colors. Wouldn't that be great? :)

A  "use-it-up" partial string quilt done in a four-patch setting.

If you are interested, this book is available here where you can buy both new and used copies.

Thank you to whoever parted with this book - I felt like I hit the jackpot last night!  :)

We are having absolutely beautiful weather here in Minnesota - in the 60's and 70's.  This is not the norm for this time of year.  So, every chance I get I am outside soaking up the sunshine.  Hezzie simply does not want to go back inside.  Can't say that I blame him.


Monday, March 12, 2012

A busy weekend

Nothing new to show quiltwise, really.  But I did have a full weekend.

  • Met with the 1800's gals again to firm up our project that we are going to start  - so now I can wash my fabric and get started! :)
  • I belong to Upper Midwest Machine Quilters and we met on Saturday - it was our quarterly meeting.  There is always a lot of inspiration, information and beautiful quilts there.  Lots of sharing of ideas from so many creative quilters.
  • Sunday,  I took a class on Faux Batik. The first of two classes.  We put a resist on three different fabrics with oatmeal, mash potatoes, and painted designs on with school gel glue and baby rice.  Next week we will paint or dye our fabrics and that will make our "batik".  The teacher directed us to Lisa Kerpoe for information about different resists.  It was very fun!
  • Hezzie, our dog, had to go to the vet. He has severe ear infections.  A bacterial infection in one and a yeast infection in the other.  We have always been very careful to use an ear wash after every bath but didn't do it the last few times.  I feel so guilty and so bad for the little furry guy. 

We decided to let voice mail get our messages for the rest of Sunday evening and watched TV uninterrupted.

Be sure to stop over at Judy L's at Patchwork Times to see what others are working on today.

Have a great start to your week!


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

1800's Sewing Circle

Last night I was able to meet with some ladies who are interested in learning more about the fabrics and quilts from the 1800's.  It was fun to get acquainted and to start our little group.  I am looking forward to  what we learn, make, playing with reproduction fabrics from the 19th century and where we go from here.  Thanks ladies - you know who you are! :)


Just a little off the top and sides...

Remember when Gomer Pyle was going into the Army and he got his military haircut?  He sat in the barber's chair and told the barber how Floyd, his barber back home,  always just took a little off the top and sides?  Well, we all know what happened.....

 I have been trimming my HST blocks down to 1.5" square.  These are the ones that I sewed together from 2" square blocks in this post.  Here I show you how I am squaring them magic in's done one block at a time, opposite corners at a time.  It's something I can do while I watch TV and I get a rhythm down and it goes fairly fast.  Sorry for the blurry picture.  I am trying to take it left handed while holding the rotary cutter and it doesn't work very well!

As I was trimming along I started having a little pile of snips and I thought they looked kind of neat sitting there so I saved the whole pile from this group of HST squares and put them on this plate until I was all done.  I thought they looked kind of pretty sitting there.  They will go in the trash - I am not saving them for anything! But I couldn't resist taking a picture to show you!

After I trim the squares I put them in this slotted box only to keep them organized.  They are in no particular order.  When I am ready to make blocks I will start to pull them out and arrange my squares in the order I want and layer them up with a piece of paper separating the blocks so I can just sew them as I come to them.

This quilt is a scrappy quilt of the "kitchen sink" variety so as you can see from looking into my box there is any and every kind of print in this quilt.  Here are four of the blocks finished.  I need 56 blocks for my quilt and I have 37 completed. 

The fabrics in this quilt are from left over quilt projects; however, there are a few fabrics that are tied with other memories for me from over the years and even into Junior High.  That is the fun of having a scrap quilt you can look at those fabrics and remember where they came from.

Below is a picture of one of the blocks from the antique quilt that I am replicating.  I debated trying to do it in reproduction fabrics but decided to do it in fabrics of today.  Just like the maker of the antique quilt did.  She/he used whatever they had on hand and it showcases fabrics from that time period. 

One thing I failed to get when selecting this quilt to replicate is the size of the original quilt.  So, I just elected to make mine the size I am making it.  I have a feeling mine is smaller than the original - don't know why I feel that way but I do.

I am going to head over to the Jubilee Quilt Project to post what I have been up to on this project.  This is my Jubilee quilt if you haven't been following my earlier posts.  Please stop in and see what other Jubilee participants are working on.  We are all turning 50 this year.

Yesterday we had temps in the 50's and Hezzie and I were able to take a long walk.  He was so happy to be out and about that if he could have skipped I think he would have.  Normally he doesn't like to get his feet wet but he walked straight through every puddle yesterday and looked up at me as if to say, "What are you going to do about it?" :)

Have a great day!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Next little project

I am still working on my HST squares for my Jubilee Quilt that I posted about last week.  Soon I will have some different pictures to show you concerning that.  I didn't want to show you another stack of squares.

But my next little quilt that I am going to do is in this little bundle:

that I purchased at a  LQS , the same one that I purchased this cute kit at.  It's done in Civil War reproductions and I didn't think to ask the gal about meaning behind the name of the quilt.  The next time I am in the store I will ask or perhaps if someone reading this knows - you can leave a comment.  

It is gray, overcast, and blah here in Minnesota but spring is on it's way!  

Be sure to head over to Judy L.'s website at Patchwork Times to see what other people are working on today.

Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting - have a wonderful day wherever you are.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dog On It!

By now, if you have been reading my posts, you have figured out I am really fond of dogs....

About 5-6 years ago, I purchased what I think is so far the cutest dog print that has been marketed, and set to making a super, simple quilt.

In the blue borders I had fun freehand quilting little sayings about dogs, by dogs, or what we might say to our dogs. These are just some of what I quilted:

The quilt went together very quickly from directions given in the book Mostly Easy; the pattern is one of the quilts featured on the cover of the book. 

I am not sure what I am going to do with this quilt.  When I first made it I said I was making it for my dog - who was I kidding?? First of all, it's too big for him and I think it's too nice for him. So, I have been hanging on to it for just the right purpose and or person to give it to.  It will come to me at the right time, I'm sure.   

Along with the dog theme for today's post....I just finished listening to/reading a great series of books!  I found the first one online while I was looking for something a little more "light" than some of the darker mysteries I had been listening to. Thinking it sounded kind of fun I downloaded it and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  The next two in the series are not in audio format so I read them, and kept telling my husband about them. That is why I have all three in the picture...he has just finished the first two and is on the third! 

The stories are narrated by Chet, the dog, who works along side, Bernie, a private investigator. Chet is very endearing, mischievious and fiercely loyal to Bernie who seems to be down on his luck most of the time. Bernie is a very thorough, intense, tough PI who is struggling with a lot of human emotions and personal issues and is a very likable guy.  Here's the link to the author's site for these books. Page to the bottom of his website to see the books - there is a fourth book out which I have not read.  Spencer Quinn, the author, is also Peter Abrahams who writes psychological thrillers.

So what are your favorite dog prints and what are you reading or listening to?