A Little Hen and Baking Bread

As a child (and as an adult) I was completely spoiled.  My mother loves to read, and encouraged us to read too.  For as long as I can remember we essentially had our own library of story books at our disposal.  Granted, that was easier than trying to return books to the library, but it also worked out better with a houseful of kids!

One set of books was the little golden books.  Remember the shiny golden binding with colorful pictures and classic stories?  One such book was The Little RED HEN, a Russian folktale published in the United states for the masses since 1940.

So, what do red hens and golden books have to do with quilting and baking?  Well, books have bindings, just like quilts, and this book had a little red hen, not dissimilar from the Mama Hen block I have made for my Farmgirl Vintage quilt!


I had to include a piece of the new chicken and egg fabric I found during my recent retreat to MSQC. It spoke to me. The print was a little larger than I had intended, but was fun to piece with the perfectly mottled mini flower fabric from Grandma’s stash.

Last weekend I took my daughter to a cooking class at the Culinary Center of Kansas City.  While I was there, I took a class too, on baking layer cinnamon bread and chocolate babka. Lessons in work ethic and personal initiative aside, it is probably a bad idea to take a tasty bread baking class while trying to stay on a low carb diet.   (Yes, I failed.  I ate the bread… just one, or two slices.)

To make up for my failing of baking homemade bread on a Saturday, I finished the day by starting  the binding on my Minecraft quilt.  img_9344No laziness here.  Stay tuned.  It will be “Epic”. For now, it is still piled on my living room tables until I can “mine” at night.


Farmer’s Market

The holiday weekend has proven to be sew wonderful!   While my children (and husband) chose to swim at the city pool, I stayed home to quilt.  It was only 70 degrees, for goodness sake.  They are doing good to get me in the pool when it is 90 degrees!

I managed to finish quilting my Mother’s new “Farmer’s Market” quilt that she did as a BOM, in 2015, with Prairie Point Quilt and Fabric Shop.   I think that the top may be made with Kansas Troubles, Sunflower Song Fabrics.  I have to say,I LOVE IT.  I really love how the blue in this line, used in the borders, helped set off the blocks.  The backing was a cotton sateen.  I have never used this as a backing before.  It has a shiny finish.

I was nervous to quilt the shiny cotton.  When I was selecting thread, nothing seemed quite right.  I was playing around, and found one of my Floriani embroidery threads that matched perfectly.  Believe it or not, it was called “Harvest”.  Right now, my favorite thread supplier is Red Rock Threads. I wasn’t too worried about using a polyester, as I used a Poly Cotton batting. The Floriani also had more sheen than my other quilting threads, so I decided to take the plunge.  I am so glad that I did.  I quilted it using an E2E pattern by Nancy Haacke, Wasatch Quilting called “New Beginnings”.   I love her description of how she selected the name.  She said she chose it as a symbol that change is inevitable in our lives.

I loved the pattern because it meshes classic feathers with some wild whimsy.  Peaking through the feathers is a flounce of pearls and wild grasses or cat tails!  I used to love picking and running my fingers over the fuzzy cat tails that would sneak out before mowing, or around rocks and railroad ties that didn’t quite get “weed wacked”.  After all, I was pretty terrible at mowing my parents yard.  I’m so grateful my husband does all of that at our home now!


I hope my Mother loves her quilt.  This one didn’t get custom quilting, but the design, which took an hour per pass, really looks great with her extraordinary piecing!  She pays such close attention to detail.  I’m glad she made this one for her home.  The picture here won’t do it justice.  Maybe, once it is bound, we can get a better photograph.  It was raining and wet all weekend, so I had to take a picture inside with my extra special quilt holders in the background!

It looks like the rain will give us a day off, so I imagine we will be playing today.  I have a few more blocks to show you, but might post those later this week.



Note:  The cotton sateen is more difficult to “Frog” if you find you have any stitches that need corrected.  Be extra careful not to snag it and ruin the pretty sheen.  

I am not an affiliate of any of the companies linked above.  I am simply sharing some of my favorite suppliers and manufacturers to date. 





Patched Strawberry

I finished this block from Farm Girl Vintage on the last day of June.  (Do you believe me?)  Call it a late harvest.

One of my childhood memories is Dad’s garden.  He always tilled and fertilized, seeded and watered.  We loved helping plant seeds, but I especially liked picking strawberries with Mom and Dad.  We would bring in the small ripe strawberries (The ones that we didn’t  eat right off the plant) and rinse them in our stainless steel sink full of water.   They smelled almost as good as they tasted.  Strawberry shortcakes and on ice cream were the best!  I don’t remember how many years we kept our small strawberry patch.   Eventually we didn’t have it anymore.  The story goes that dad become allergic to strawberries, even the artificial ones…   Too much of a good thing?

This patched strawberry is the only harvest I had this year.  I pieced it from 2 1/2″ squares cut from my grandma’s stash… again.  I love that I am able to carry fabric elements from her stash across so many quilts.  This strawberry is pink, so not completely ripe.  It was fun to scavenge the fabrics, so I might have to make another one in reds.


My secret for managing small scraps of fabrics is my Sizzix Bigz dies.  I have basic squares in several sizes. It allows me to select scraps and then stack them to cut squares for my patterns all at once.  I can cut 6 – 8 layers at a time with the die.  Sometimes I have to trim a few strings that didn’t finish cutting, but it is faster than rotary or scissor cutting them individually.  I think, if I starched the scraps, they would cut more smoothly.

This block would be great in a table runner or top.  It might even be fun to change-up the colors to show a strawberry ripening, white / light green, pink, then vibrant red.. The only think we are missing is the dark green leaves and white flowers of the plant.  That would make a good quilting design!

My block for July will be the patriotic flag.  My stash of reds is not very big, so I might be adding some new fabrics that I picked up on my weekend road trip to Hamilton Missouri and MSQC with my mom!  It was a great way to spend a rainy day.  We shopped every quilt store, picked up some souvenir quilt T-shirts, fabric for projects, picked up our first Row-by-Row for the year, and ate at the local restaurant called “Blue Sage”.  I was surprised to see that a new bed and breakfast, Home Inn Hamilton,  opened up there too.   It might be a another great place to arrange unofficial retreats with some of my new quilting friends!











Color Story

I am working on new blocks from a pattern called “Sisters’ Ten Sampler” in the book Sister Sampler Quilts.   My mom is doing the same quilt, but we are both using very different fabrics.   Gen X quilters did a BOM of this quilt back in 2013 and posted some tutorials that look pretty good, so I won’t repeat here.

The fabrics I chose from my stash are from the Mormor line by Lotta Jansdotter for Wyndham Fabrics.   The prints are a 1950’s / Modern look and would make good home decor prints, but will be applied in some very traditional block styles.

Grandmother’s Frame is the first block in the pattern.  Each month I plan to make two 12″ blocks with an identical pattern, but play with my color selections.  The pattern suggests fussy cutting the center square from a print.

I didn’t have any good prints to cut, so I added some raw edge appliqué cutouts I created with some fusible web and my Silhouette Cameo cutter.

Mormor line by Lotta Jansdotter

Have you ever used the red glasses to select colors for a quilt.  I’ve always wanted to walk around a fabric store wearing some.  You can’t choose colors or hues this way, but it would certainly help with choosing more variety in value or darkness.

I chose my colors for the first block without using the red or green value finders.  I was surprised how close the value was for the bright pink and the washed out grey in the block using the red filter.  I think the pink is simply too close to red to work well.  In this case, the green filter is probably more accurate for the pink and the red filter is more accurate for the teal.

If I graded my value selections in Light, Medium, Dark, then here are my grades;

Pink:  Medium to Dark
Teal:  Medium to Dark
Grey: Light

Grandmother’s Frame #1:

IMG_8110     IMG_8107     IMG_8097

The second time around, I auditioned my fabrics with the filters.  Originally, I selected a yellow fabric for the rose and the corners.  However, the value of the yellow was too close to the light blue in the block, so the detail was easily lost or washed out.  I switched it out for the dark grey to give the block more contrast.    I also swapped the direction of values at the corners for the sister block.

Grandmother’s Frame #2:

IMG_8114    IMG_8106    IMG_8096

For my next block, I will show you the tool I am using and the references it makes to the color wheel for selecting colors.





Curve It Up – Block 11 – Temperance?

Who knew that some history of traditional quilt blocks could be found at the National Park Services website?  Check out this Quilt Discovery Booklet posted there.

The Drunkard’s Path from the Curve it Up pattern is the most traditional design in the book (my opinion).  “A Drunkards Path” consists of 16 blocks.

According to the Quilt Discovery Booklet, the Drunkard’s Path was popular during the temperance movement.  The Temperance Union colors were white for purity and blue for water, the “purist” beverage available.  I also made my block in Blue and White.  However, if you know the source and how water is processed in many municipalities, I would not call it pure…   If you live in the wrong place, you might even be drinking Lead.   Maybe we would all be safer drinking Gin and Tonic!

My favorite thing about this block is the fact that there are NO POINTS TO MATCH.   If you can match rows with nesting seams, then this block is for you.  It is a very forgiving curvy block. Temperance is not required.     Cheers!
If you are interested in the math of a drunkards path, read on. 


A traditional drunkards path uses a smaller radius of curvature, AND the center of the circle or arc is placed at the corner of the block.

The block created with the Quick Curve Ruler uses a flatter arc, or a larger radius of curvature and the radius is placed further away from the corner of the block.  You could create this same effect by creating your own template, but make sure that you have the arc hitting on equal sides of the square.

Here are some example diagrams.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 8.45.59 PM.pngScreen Shot 2016-01-27 at 8.46.57 PM.png

When you cut traditional Drunkard’s Path blocks, the curve shown above is NOT your cutting line.  The reason for this is that it doesn’t account for your seam allowance.  Since you are stitching a concave piece to a convex piece, if you do not add additional seam allowance, your outside edges would not match.

The beauty of the Curve It Up pattern is that it suggests you start with a larger square than you need, stitch your curve, then trim the block to size. The method is used for all of the blocks in the pattern. I think this could be used for the traditional curved piecing as well, but you would need to increase your original squares of fabric to accommodate trimming to size and would have to be careful to keep curves centered.

If you are a math nerd…
I drew a curve using my Quick Curve Ruler and measured the length of a chord, and the height measured at the midpoint of the arc’s base.  Using those numbers I came up with a rough calculation of my Quick Curve Arc Radius.

Screen Shot 2016-01-27 at 9.00.10 PM.png

Quick Curve Ruler

Chord Length (W) = 6.5″
Height (H) = .75″

R = (.75/2) + (6.5*6.5)/(8*.75)
R = 7.416″

“To calculate the radius” above is from Math Open Reference Website:



Curve It Up – Block 9 and 10


Block 9, Dresden Plate, is the same as block 8, but assembled in a circle rather than fans.  (Fans are more forgiving.)
Marking and matching seams was the most important part of this block.  The seams are not pressed in opposite directions, so you WILL need to pin in order to match the seams perfectly.  I think I used better fabric values in this block and am happy with the outcome.


Block 10 is the Piece Star Block.  I call it the “wish I squared my pieces up” block!   If I made this block again, I would be sure to square up my center diamond blocks.  I changed this design slightly by turning the corner background blocks into half square triangle blocks to introduce another color into the block.  I should have nudged my diagonal seam over by the width of my thread to make the blocks the perfect size for piecing.  All of these things would have made the block lie flatter when assembled. All of the seams create thick intersections, so I pressed most of the seam open to make them lie flatter.


Night Stars – October – 54/40 or Fight

I finished the October blocks true to form… at the end of the month.   I think it is the cutting that always slows me down.

This month I broke down and bought the Tri-Rec tools to cut my fabric.  The last 54/40 or fight block I made was for a QOV and I wasn’t happy with the outcome.  I think I tend to shave material off of my thin plastic or paper templates.  Since these angles are a little fussy, I added to my ruler collection.

The great thing about the Tri-Rec tool is that you cut off a small ear on one corner of the triangle that is used to align it to the edge of another.  The piecing was very quick.

I find you can never have too many shoes or rulers! 🙂

I need to adjust my seam allowances still.  Every block turned out 1/8″ too small.  At this point it is better that I am consistent.  I will adjust on the next quilt, right?

I like the look of the 8 pointed stars better than the four point bursts.  What about you?


Block 6 – Curvy Geese – A Breeze!

I tackled the next block in the Curve it Up series.  It is called Curvy Geese.  Assembly was a breeze and used curved flying geese blocks similar to the Block 2 Sawtooth Star.  I like how the center is a large pinwheel.

Curvy Geese

I used some unscented Best Press instead of the Terial Magic today.

bp60034I sprayed it directly on the blocks, and my ironing board when I pressed the seams out.  It worked well and though not as crisp as the Terial, helped maintain shape when squaring the blocks.

Unfortunately, it left residue on my iron, so will I need to clean it off before switching projects.  The residue did not leave any discoloration on the fabrics.  Has anyone else run into this with Best Press?

  • Do press your seams out to reduce bulk.  I even pressed the seams out between rows, otherwise my intersections were too bulky.
  • Use a stylus to help with the end of your curves.
  • While fabrics is pulled through by the feed dogs, hold your top layer of fabric up slightly to encourage less puckering of the curved seam.
  • Don’t try to sew fast!  Slow and steady makes the most even seam.

Take a look at a real time video of one flying goose – slow & solo!


Block 5 – Nine Patch – Parametric Diamond

Better late than never… I finished this block a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t post it right away (sorry).  This block was either more difficult than the others, or I am off my game.  Be patient!

Cutting was easy, utilizing the same techniques used in many of the first four blocks.  I tried to pick colors carried over from the last block, but can see that it is time to throw some brights back into the mix.

Since this block is chock full of curves, it was a perfect time to try out my new presser foot called the “Curve Master”.  The Curve Master foot came with lots of shank adapters that I did not need for my Brother snap on shank sewing machine.  I purchased the presser foot kit with some patterns on Massdrop recently as it was touted online as a great tool.

The construction of the foot I received is plastic.  Out of the box, I had to press the pin for attaching it to my machine as it was not entirely seated.  The pin or post diameter seemed a little small, so the foot had a little play and did not sit as straight as I would like.   If you look closely at my photo below, you will see that the right edge of the foot doesn’t make a clean straight line across my needle / throat plate. IMG_7133

I’m not one to give up easily, or judge too soon.  I proceeded to stitch all four of the curves utilizing the techniques shown online for the quick curve foot.  The trick to using this foot is to slightly lift the top layer of fabric while feeding the layers between the feed dog and the foot.  The fabric should align to the plastic guide wall on the right side of the foot to give you very even edge match.

My edges aligned very well, but something went terribly wrong and my block was uneven.  Enter… The seam ripper.

My favorite seam ripper for quilting is the Clover 482/W.   I have tried several brands (Dritz, Foclover-seam-ripper-13ns & Porter, generic rippers that came with my machines, Ginger, Seam Fix) but find this one to be sharp and has a fine point to catch the stitches.  I also like the rounded handle.    The only thing that would make it better is a silicone end like the Seam Fix and a hole to allow me to hang it around my neck!  I always keep one close…  What is your favorite?  Leave me some comments.

I think that my new presser foot might be defective.  With a slightly larger press fit pin, better hole alignment and some polishing of plastic burrs left from molding or other manufacture, it might be handy.  Someday, if I am bored, I will play with it again.

Instead, I went back to my favorite 1/4″ foot for curves.   Remember this?

The diamond border was the most difficult.  It you don’t get the narrow curves centered, then you will not have enough fabric to trim the nine block to the correct size for the next step.  The overlap is not generous.
If I was cutting fabric for the outer borders again, I would have paid more attention to pattern direction.   I like that butting the strips together doesn’t matter here since that portion is trimmed off for the next curve.

This would be aIMG_7140n interesting alternative to mitred corners for quilt borders.
While way more complicate than a nine block, what should we have expected from a parametric diamond.  Anyone up for a math quilt?


Curve it Up – Block 3 – Rail Fence

I promised my mom that I would finish a block a month of the curve it up project.  Fitting for May, I kept my promise.

A traditional rail fence quilt block is a simple design, typically consisting of three to four uniform strips of contrasting colors sewn together.


Quick “history” reviews state that it was usually one of the first blocks taught to new quilters, but it remains a versatile favorite!

Patterns from pinwheels to chevrons can be created depending on how the pieces are assembled.

Now, let me “rail” on the curved rail fence!  This is definitely not a beginners block.  There are so many ways to go wrong.  Hopefully my tips and tricks below will keep you on the right track with a beautifully uniform curved rail!

This is an example where I didn’t follow the pointers below!
It is possible to mess up this block! 
In this case, I cut the fabric the same as all of my real blocks, but stitched them together with a poor seam allowance, in two directions, in the wrong order, and pressed it wrong.  What “wonky” work! 🙂

Note:  For those that like pre-cuts, this block is Layer Cake friendly!


IMG_6589You will need 2, IMG_661110″ squares of your background fabric and 4, 10″ squares of your focus fabrics.  Once you have these, you utilize the Quick Curve Ruler (QCR), by Sew Kind of Wonderful, to trim the squares into the curved pieces.

The instructions for lining up the ruler for the cuts are very good.
Pointer 1:  The slot in the ruler is fairly wide. To keep your strip width even, try to hug either one side of the slot or the other, but keep it the same each time.
IMG_6614 copy

Pointer 2:  Sew the strips from left to right.  Do not stitch all of the inner curves together first.  Errors made by accidentally stretching the curves, compound as you move across the pieces.  The white backing with a straight edge helps stabilize the curve shape.

Seam allowance is important for this block.  I found a scant 1/4″ seam allowance to work best.  I tried sewing the curves using two different quarter inch feet.  The foot without the guide worked best for me and allowed me to keep my seam more uniform.

Do not start in the middle of the block and work to each side.  Start at one end, and leave a quarter inch “dog ear” like we have done on the other blocks. Don’t worry if one edge is more even than the other.

These are the two presser feet I tried.


Once you have sewn all six pieces together, it is time to PRESS!  Using a starch helps keep a block crisp, but I did not find I needed it for next assembly.

IMG_6622The block will not lay very flat until after pressing.  It might look something like this before pressing.

Pointer 3: This block is interesting, and with all of the curves needs  pressed from the back, gingerly.  DO NOT IRON!  The movement back and forth will distort your block.  Press all of the seams in the same direction, one at a time. I liked starting from the first seam sewn to the last.


After pressing, we will trim the block using a traditional square template. The template needs at least 1/2″ increment markings.  The “wonky” block I made could not be “fixed” by squaring it up since the curves are so far off!
By completing four of these, you can then piece them together just like a four square block.