Saturday, January 31, 2009


In addition to being very educational, the process of making my DJ quilt has been very liberating. I'm afraid the quilt police would not approve of a lot of what I have done, but tough!

As I've bored my faithful blog readers before, you know that I do not like to do hand applique and have found as many ways as possible to avoid it in this project. If you click on the "applique" label on the sidebar to my blog (scroll down to see the label list), you will see all the posts that have had to do with applique in one way or another.

With this block, "C-11 Soldiers and Sailors Monument", a beginner-level block, I was at first going to use the raw-edge invisible machine-applique method that I've come to enjoy. However, when I sat down at my sewing machine with the broken needle threader, I really didn't want to try to thread the needle with the #$%^&* monofilament thread. I then had a light bulb moment -- my machine has fancy stitches for a reason -- they are supposed to be used (I paid for them, right?). They are also supposed to be seen.

So, the orange piece in this block was attached by using the raw-edge machine-buttonhole stitch applique method. The needle was already threaded with the yellow thread, so I didn't even have to change that.

Now I am free to use more of the fancy stitches in my quilt...

Friday, January 30, 2009


I thought I'd share something "uplifting" here and sure to look at both pages...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Version 2.0 Desperately Needed

Once again, after making this block, I am amazed at how much the software and the book for this quilt really need to be revised. If I didn't have my local support group, the Laurel Janes of my guild, and if I didn't have access to all the great bloggers who have been so willing to share their experiences with making the blocks in this quilt, I probably would have stopped a long time ago.

The book really has no instructions at all; the software is somewhat slightly better, but I worry about would-be quilters who look at the gorgeous blocks and say "I think I'll learn to quilt by making this quilt" without ever having made even a half-square triangle!

This is "M-1 Dogwood Days", labeled by the software as an intermediate-level block. I paper pieced the center 9-patch and the 4 triangles around it and then rotary cut the two outer borders.

The software printed out a foundation pattern that required quite a few Y seams (otherwise known as inset seams). For the life of me, I can't figure out why. I revised it so that the Y seams were eliminated. Yes, my 4 little triangles are not all perfectly matched up at the seams, but the Y seams would have been worse. It would have taken me longer and I'd be a lot more frustrated.

There are quite a number of other flaws that I've discovered in the software, so again I have to say that I am thankful for my fellow DJaniacs, both local and in cyberspace. And if anybody out there involved in making the book/software is listening....please, please, please, revise them!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How I Learned to Paper Piece

My first attempt at paper piecing was with this quilt, called "Mrs. Cleveland's Choice", a block-of-the-month quilt from Our Gathering Place in Montoursville, PA back in 2004. Although I had never done any paper piecing before this, I loved the sample hanging in the shop so much that I just dove right in.

I was hooked! Thankfully, the instructions provided with this BOM were excellent, so I learned the basics of paper piecing with no trouble at all and the results amazed me. I couldn't believe how accurate my points were. After this one, I signed up for 2 more paper-pieced BOM's at the shop, also using batik fabrics. You'll see pictures of those at a later date...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Which Way Does It Go?

This is "J-12 Rebecca's Basket", a beginner-level paper-pieced and appliqued block. I chose to make a bias strip for the handle, turned it under using some Mary Ellen's Best Press and a hot iron, and then appliqued it by machine with monofilament thread. The colors are very washed out in this photo.

In Jane Stickle's original quilt, this basket block is rotated 90 degrees to the left, but I decided to photograph it in this direction. Some people insist on placing this block upright in their version of the quilt, but I think I will place it in the same orientation as in the original. I don't think it will bother me if the basket is on its side.

I'm told by some people who have seen the original quilt at the Bennington Museum in Vermont that Jane Stickle's quilt is displayed so that the basket is upright. The reason given is that allegedly "visitors get upset seeing the basket on its side". Quilters who have worked on their own version of the quilt following Jane's layout often get confused when they see the quilt on display in this manner.

So, what was Jane's intention? Did she make a mistake or did she place the basket on its side knowing that when the quilt is placed on a bed and hangs over the sides, the basket is viewed as being upright? We'll never know...

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm a Lucky One

A few weeks ago, I was the lucky winner in a fabric giveaway from designer Valori Wells. She has a new line of fabric called Urban Flannels and was giving away bundles to lucky readers of her blog.

Valori and her mom, Jean Wells, are well-known in the quilting community. They run the Stitchin' Post in Sisters, Oregon, where the famous Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show is held every July.

I received 7 fat quarters of cute fabric tied up in a lovely bow and can't wait to make something out of them, but I'm not sure what yet. I don't want to waste any of the pretty fabric, so I started with a thank you postcard for Valori using the selvages from the fat quarters.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Stepping Forward

Paper-pieced blocks are great fun! I need to do one or two after I've done an applique block just to feel confident about how this whole project will turn out.

"This is "M-4, Stepping Stones", an advanced-level paper-pieced block. This one has 49 pieces, I believe, which means lots of little pieces of paper to tear out!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Far From Perfect

I first considered making this block by using the reverse applique method, but decided to keep going with the raw-edge invisible machine-applique method instead. This is far from perfect, but I have to remind myself that it probably doesn't look any worse than it would have looked if I had used my hand stitching. Who knows, I may decide to re-do it by the time I'm done with all the blocks...but right now it's time to move on to the next one.

This is "G-3, Four Leaf Clover", an intermediate-level block.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Baby Quilt

This was another quilt that I made in mid-2004, this time for another one of my husband's great-nephews. There was no plan to this quilt when I started it...I just cut up squares of a fun kid print that I had in my stash and added half-square triangles made up of leftover fabrics from other projects. Very quick and easy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Last One of Its Kind

Well, if I've counted correctly, this is the last of the beginner-level blocks that can be paper pieced. All of my remaining beginner-level blocks (6 of them) will require some sort of applique method.

This is "C-12, Family Reunion", which I chose to paper piece, but it could easily have been done using just the rotary cutting method. A few of my seams are a bit wonky, but I like to think that it will match the other wonky blocks.

There are 49 pieces in this 5-inch block, 45 of which are 1/2-inch finished!

This is my #94.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"A Celebration of the American People"

When our country elects a new president, I am amazed at how smoothly things go on January 20th.

No matter what your politics are, please take a few minutes to watch and listen to this video. Just click on the arrow.

God Bless America.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm Not One To Back Down From a Challenge

Well, I couldn't let the challenge thrown my way by my friend and fellow guild member and blogger Susan go I finally finished the quilting and binding on this Project Linus quilt. It had been sitting in my sewing studio for way too long waiting to be quilted and bound.

I have to publicly apologize to fellow guild member Eleanor, who gets the credit for piecing this lovely top during one of our guild's charity sewing days last year. I'm sorry it took me so long to finish it. But it is now done in time for the National Day of Service, which is today.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Are You Tired of This Yet?

Yes, I'm afraid I'm going to bore you with yet another block I made using the raw-edge invisible machine-applique method (see the posts from the 2 previous days). This was soooo took me longer to thread my machine (remember, I used monofilament thread) than it did to sew the whole thing! Seriously. The needle threader on my machine has been broken for a couple of months...I suppose I should take the machine in for repair if I'm going to be making more blocks using this method...

This is "G-1, Hattie's Hen House", an intermediate-level block. It's really a lot more purple than the photo shows.

This is #93 for me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

As Promised...

This is the second block that I made in one day using the raw-edge invisible machine applique method. Same technique as the block shown in yesterday's post.

The flash in my camera made the monofilament thread a bit noticeable in the picture, but in real life I can barely see it (but then, I do have an eye doctor's appointment next week!).

This is "E-2 Merry May", a beginner-level block.
I am a happy camper.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another Success!

Just like veggies, perhaps the "raw" stage is best.

I've discovered that invisible raw-edge applique is a great technique -- again I used monofilament thread in the top and bobbin and used a silk/lingerie needle with the blind-hem stitch. Easy-peasy.

I don't think I'd use the raw-edge technique for quilts that will be used and washed a lot, but there is no way that this DJ quilt of mine will be abused. At least, as long as it is owned by me! Maybe I should consider displaying it under glass...

I'm getting ahead of myself...there are still a lot more blocks to go before the quilt is to be considered finished and ready for display.

This is "G-13, Molly's Muffins", a beginner-level block. #91

P.S. This technique let me finish 2 (!) blocks today...but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see the second one...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

And the Winner Is...

...OK, I guess everyone is checking out blogs today to see if they've won anything in all the great Whirl Into Winter giveaways.

You're wondering if you won mine, huh?

I'll tell you in a bit, but first, I have to say thank you to EVERYONE who took the time to visit my blog and to enter the giveaway. I had a great time entering giveaways myself and visiting the blogs of lots of creative people out there, all over the world.

Well, after the 216 (!) comments left on my giveaway post and after having about 1500 visits (!) to my blog in 2 weeks...I used the random integer generator at to pick a number for me. Unfortunately, my personal geek squad is at school this morning (a real cold morning, I must add), so I couldn't figure out how to get a screen shot of the number; you'll have to trust me.

So now, without any further delay...the lucky winner is...

Beth! Congratulations!

I've sent you an email to let you know...and as soon as you get me your mailing info...the quilt kit will be on its way to you!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quilting Bloggers Are Amazing!

Wordle: Thank YouI cannot get over how generous and giving so many quilting bloggers are! Over the last 6 weeks or so, I have been the lucky winner of several giveaways...the most recent one from Jackie at Canton Village Quilt Works. My prize is edge-to-edge quilting on a baby or lap quilt! Isn't that just the greatest? After visiting Jackie's blog, be sure to check out her website where you can see photos of the quilting that she has done.

Thank you, Jackie, for the wonderful giveaway.

And just a have until 8 AM Eastern Time tomorrow morning (Thursday Jan 15th) to enter my giveaway...see this post here.
P.S. The image above was created using

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Two in a Row

I really enjoy making blocks like this one -- it's just squares and circles or points to applique.

This is "E-8 Mama's Maze", an intermediate-level paper-pieced block. The bottom right corner is actually fairly straight in real life, but I guess it must have been turned up a bit when I took the picture. It will have to do -- I'm too lazy to retake it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

How Many Ways Can You Applique?

Regular readers of my blog know that I do not like to applique...I will often find other things to do than to work on an applique block. I would much rather work on an advanced-level paper-pieced DJ block than on a beginner-level block that requires some sort of applique.

My method of choice at this moment is reverse applique (see my post from 2 days ago), but there are blocks in this quilt that don't lend themselves well to that method (drats!).

So I decided to try raw-edge applique by machine using monofilament thread in the top and bobbin. I used a silk/lingerie needle and the blind-hem stitch on my Bernina.

This is "E-5 Rising Sun", an intermediate-level block that combines paper piecing and applique.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Have To Brag

This isn't quilt-related, but I have to brag about my husband winning a photography contest sponsored by Swarovski Optik. You can check out the winning photos here. His photo is the one of the chipmunk (cute, isn't it?). He won 5th place in the world and 1st for the U.S. While you're at the website, check out the other 19 top photos.

In 2007, Gary won a second place in one of the categories in Wild Bird Magazine's photo contest. His is the Eastern Bluebird about halfway down the page.

All the winning photos are lovely to look at, just like our quilts!

Ours is a perfect marriage...he has a hobby that requires a lot of toys and I have one, too! Here's a sample conversation in our house...

Husband: How many sewing machines and fabric does anybody need anyway?

Wife: How many binoculars and cameras does anybody need anyway?

P.S. He used his prize winnings to buy a new camera!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Questions and Answers

Question: What causes dust bunnies?

Answer: Working on blocks like "B-12 Starflower" all week!

Well, I didn't really work on this block continuously, but it did take quite a bit of my free time this week.
It is a beginner-level block that I chose to reverse current preferred method for applique work.

But no matter how frustrating I find some of these DJ blocks to be, I still prefer working on them to cleaning house! Don't we all?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fabric Choices

OK, after seeing my neighbor's DJ quilt top (check it out on my Jan 6 post), I'm in the mood again to get things going with my blocks.

This is "C-8 Hani's Crown", labeled by the software as an advanced-level block. I think I would call it intermediate, but I guess because of the strange angles, this may be a bit tricky. Mine is paper-pieced, but if you want to see a hand-pieced version that takes my breath away, check out this blogger's post here. While you're there, spend some time admiring the other blocks she has posted.

I wish I had thought more carefully about fabric choices before buying fabric for this quilt, because I've discovered that large prints don't work all that well. The pieces are so small that sometimes the contrast is lost. But since I want a large variety of fabrics in the quilt, I'll continue to use the large prints...(thankfully, most of my fabrics work just fine in the small blocks). I just need to be a bit more careful in choosing what goes with them.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Orthodox Christmas

Blogger Graphics Today is Christmas for the Eastern Orthodox Christians who follow the Julian calendar rather than the more-commonly used Gregorian calendar. (see my post from Dec 19 for more info on the calendars)

This day is often confused with Epiphany, which was celebrated yesterday, January 6th, by Christian churches that follow the Gregorian calendar. Orthodox Christmas has nothing to do with that date -- Epiphany on the Julian calendar will be on January 19th.

When I was growing up, I considered myself to be quite a lucky child because I had 2 Christmases. My family celebrated December 25th as the "fun" Christmas with Santa, presents, etc. (they didn't want me to feel left out from the rest of my friends who were celebrating then). The religious and "serious" Christmas came on January 7th, which meant going to church and food and family (and some presents again...yippee!). My parents even insisted that I stay home from school on that day (it was always interesting trying to explain to the teachers why my Christmas was different than everyone else's...)

My son was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church and my husband (who grew up as a Lutheran) and I have continued the tradition of celebrating 2 Christmases. Our tree and decorations don't come down until after the 7th and our son still gets a present or two today.

So to all my fellow Orthodox Christians who celebrate today...Merry Christmas!

I plan to celebrate by making another Dear Jane block...maybe a photo tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Yesterday was the monthly gathering of my guild's Dear Jane group, and wow, this is what we were treated to when one of the members walked in with a folded quilt top in her hands.

Angie (second from left in the photo)will most likely be the first Dear Jane goddess of our group -- as you can tell from these pictures, she has all 169 of the center blocks sewn together.

These pictures do not do the quilt justice. It is stunning in person...I can't wait until she adds the outer triangles and finishes it with hand quilting.
This is why I continue to attend gatherings like this...the energy and passion of my fellow quilters is contagious. And everyone in the group is willing to share tips, ideas, frustrations, etc. I often hear of groups like this being called "stitch and bitch" sessions, but I would definitely never, ever label them that way. At least not with the quilters I know.

After seeing the progress Angie has made on her quilt, I am determined to keep going with's going a bit slowly because I'm working on a block that has some applique on it...maybe I'll quickly work on a paper-pieced block instead...stay tuned...