Quilter’s Tool, Quilter’s Hack

Greetings from my quilting nook.  Today I am going to share a quilting hack.  Recently while on the Nancy’s Notions website, I noticed a pressing tool and so I started researching it.   Turns out she is not the only store to offer this tool, you can also buy a dritz brand that resembles a finger and is silicone and kinda creepy looking to boot.

Supposedly, you can press your seams using this stick device and your seams will not stretch and you will end up with perfectly straight seams no matter how long a seam you have sewn.  I was skeptical.  I saw how these things were constructed.  Charging $18 for something that is just a piece of wood, highway robbery.  So I set off to the hardware store to find something I could make into this pressing tool.

All it is, a dowel rod split in half.  I did not look for 1/2 round molding but that would work too, provided it was of a hardwood (most of these are made out of pine).  So I purchased the dowel rod and had my dad put it on the saw and cut it down the middle.  This cut does not have to be even-stephen or precise because it will sit on top of your ironing board.  Next, I decided on lengths and used those that are being sold in stores.  One dowel rod will make two sets of these so you can share with a fellow quilter for less than $5.  Here is the end result.pressingtoolAnd so I tried it with the iron.  No steam and holy cow, these seams were so straight after ironing all the 9 patches I made I did not even have to trim them up to be square!  This phenomenon had never happened to me before, what a wow of a short cut.  Now if you want to use steam, you would have to make a woolen sock for the dowel.  Wool is water proof and would keep the wood from getting wet and the grain rising creating an un-smooth pressing surface.  There is a smaller 6 inch one that is not pictured.  I have two longs and two shorts and my mother has the other half of the dowel cut into sections that she customized to lengths she wanted.

I highly recommend at least trying this tool.  If you are out at a quilt show and see one demonstrated, ask to use it.  Better yet make your own.  If you purchase wood at HomeDepot they will cut your wood to the desired length(s) for free.

The key to this tool is it only makes contact with the seam and presses it farther open than 180 degrees which is the angle of it if you were pressing on your ironing board.  So the raw edges do not get stretched.  I am a believer, and the good thing about it is, less effort for me and not hard on the pocket book!  Winner times 2!

Please visit my other blog The Cookbook Project.


In The Quilt Zone

Strips sewn together make


Oodles of 9 patch sub assemblies.


And some more.


One hexagon plus 6 subassemblies, plus 6 triangles equal….pancakedodeca

A dodecagon (a 10 sided figure).  I now have a nice stack but have many more to go.

This stack equals a quilt soon!  See a picture of what it will look like as I have laid it out on my design wall (the floor) in a previous post.

Jack’s Chain Circles quilt top is my WIP.

Please view my other blog, The CookBook Project.

More UFO work

In a recent post, I chose to shelve a UFO that I had purchased partially done because I was sick of ripping the seams.  I shelved this also anticipating a fabric purchase to come via snail mail, which has not gotten here yet.  So out comes another UFO.  This one I have not worked on in a long while because all these people I know were having babies.  And with those events come a quilt for each, no excuses.  So after 10 quilts so far this year for little ones, I am wanting to work on something for myself.  (I still have the TOL to finish and another quilt I have not even planned because the parents just announced they are with child).

I had a couple of choices (bad girl…tsk..tsk..tsk, I know, but when creativity strikes, it strikes when the iron is hot and may not be there a day later, if that makes any quilting sense).

I chose to work on this bugger.  It is a learning curve in the beginning and again if you don’t work on it and go back to it.  I have figured out some things along the way, and will post all those details along with my homemade pattern (I need to piece my blocks together to make sure my pattern is correct before I share it with you).  This is definitely an advanced quilt and I do not recommend if you do not have the patience for Y seams and weird angles.circlesjackschain (1)When doing these block and laying them out (on the dirty floor lol) the circles you do not see unless you step back.  The camera makes the circles very photogenic.  I have started appliquéing hexagons to make flowers in the centers, but will probably not do this to every block.  The 9 patches were so much fun to make.  The fabric line I chose for this oh so long ago was Sandy Gervais Rambling Rose line and Onasburg fabric for a linen old fashioned look.  I am a fan of turquoise, and anything that is complimentary.  I will NOT be giving this one away as the work I already have in each block exceeds a giveaway quilt many times over.  This pattern is called Jack’s Chain but adding the extra triangles and full block I believe this is called Jack’s Circles, but don’t quote me on that.  This one will be the one that only gets put on the bed a few days of the year to be used and aired out to keep as an heirloom for the youngin’s when I am far past my prime and gone from this lovely earth.  If any of you are interested in this pattern stay tuned as I will have more details in the future.  If any of you are working this now and need some tips, ask away and I will do my best to help with your Jack’s Circles questions.

Almost forgot, make sure to visit my other blog The CookBook Project for a few recipes.

The Miniature in quilting

via Daily Prompt: Miniature

Many quilters make miniature quilts.  I tried this once and ended up with a pieced block that was very tiny and the half square triangles within ended up 1/4 of an inch.  There was more fabric on the back of the quilt than the front.  I made one and said that was a waste of my time.  For those of you who participate in this small craft, I can be your cheerleader and shout and shake my pom-poms and chant “Quilter, Quilter, she’s our man if she can’t do it no one can!”

On a more serious note, speaking of miniatures, I am thinking of a device in quilting and sewing that is so minute in size, but probably one of the most important tools we use every time we are at the machine.  Until recently I never gave this consumable much thought.  Give up?  Do you know the answer?  Thread, we all use it and it is very important when it comes to durability, color, and size.

I have a very nice hand-me-down sewing machine that is very accurate (thanks mom and dad).  And I noticed after sewing a block, the overall block measurements were supposed to be 10 by 10.  My blocks always came up short.  So, I got out the ruler and started taking measurements and found out that the needle to the foot guide is right on the money for accuracy.  So why was I having this problem?  The ever so important thread.  The choice I had made was a thicker quality thread, and I never realized that this was actually making my seam allowances a scant larger.  Several pieces in a block, that scant starts adding up.

I used to be someone who just would utilize whatever thread was on the machine regardless of color and sew away.  I now am a little more finicky about thread choice.  If I am sewing denim I probably want a thicker cotton thread, however in quilting the thread of choice is either Signature 100% cotton thread or some older discontinued thread by the name of Empeco which is also 100% cotton (this is no longer manufactured and I ended up with a huge bag of 1700 yard spools from a thrifty purchase at a quilters sale, incidentally this thread if it is the the right color will last me the rest of my life because there was so much for only $10).  My machine really likes to quilt with the Empeco thread but my piecing has the best accuracy with the Signature thread because the fiber weight is smaller.

Discontinued Empeco thread above (available on ebay) and Signature thread below

Even the miniature details in quilting can make or break a block whether it is piecing or quilting by machine or hand.  You might want to ask for advice about thread.  I feel uncomfortable about giving advice about little things like this, because they can have such a large impact on your project.  What I have found out for myself is, try many and figure out what is best for you and/or your machine.  Your machine knows what it likes, all you have to do is choose the color. 🙂

Carefully selected, this miniature item is one of the greatest assets in sewing and quilting.


Research in Circles is Complete!

Good morning readers!  I am so excited I can hardly contain myself.  I am researching a picture of a quilt I come across about 6 months ago.  This photo had no information included for block name, and I really want to make this quilt.

The first thing I did for inspiration download the photo and place it as my desktop image.  Every time I booted up the pc, I would get it see the lovely image.  So, whatever it was that I was doing online, it was tugging my mind saying “find me.”

I dug my heels and in and started my research.  The best place for me to find block names is going to the good old fashioned book called 1000 Great Quilt Blocks.  In this book this block is called Snowball II.Snowball 2

Unfortunately, due to the commonality of the name, a pictorial or web search became impossible.  This revealed zero results.  I did not give up.  There was a quilt block not exactly like this on Marcia Hohn’s website called by the Snowball II but it was not exact.

Then a couple of weeks ago searching out old quilts online on the shopgoodwill.com website, I came across this beauty.


But, again no name.  So I started really putting my noggin to the grindstone.  This resembles the drunkards path block, so I starting doing some searches keeping this in mind.  I came across a site that had a drunkards path in each corner of a square and found this to be called the old mill block.  download

Still, I was coming up empty handed.  I did however go to a website and found a string quilt made very similar but not exact.  This was called the crazy baseball quilt.  Ah-ha I had another name.  But this lead only lead to a few more pictures and that lead ran dry.

So back to my normal routine.  Looking through auction photos on ebay as well as search engine photos.  I was almost ready to shut the lid to the laptop and quit for the morning and then ran across this on ebay.pie09.44.59

No clue in the title, so I crossed my fingers and scrolled down the page and low and behold, there it was another name!  Even the seller questioned the name and called it the Vintage Pie block?….this was new to me.

So resubmitted new searches for photos with this name and came up with Pie and Tart block.  Yes this is so close.  This blogger even did a tutorial on it and no sewing curves!  I will still have to modify the pattern to fit the first picture but I am almost there.  I also found a book with english paper piecing by Sue Daily but in all the tabs I had opened I failed to bookmark it and will search for this again.

Now I must contain myself to not start another project until I finish one of the quilts I have going now!  “Remain calm” I keep telling myself.  “Don’t look in your stash.  Keep strong, you must use your will power against these photos.”  Will power and quilting is like a super power by the way.  I used to do so good with only having one going and then I tried a really hard one and it through me off that bandwagon and I have not been able to get back on since.

Please visit my cooking blog at:  www.thecookbookproject.wordpress.com




Shelving the UFO

Well I took count today of what I have accomplished and how many I need to go.  I still need to rip out 13  nine patches and associated melons.  I got 5 more ripped today and come across the tricks of another quilter.  As you recall in my previous posts on this quilt, post 1 and post 2, I am attempting to fix someone else’s UFO.

So I got to the block above and had to share the tricks of the seam allowance I have been dealing with as well as the odd seam to fix a mis-cut?  It will work as it will not be as noticeable.  So 5 more ripped out and 13 more to go.  Several more to sew.  stacks

After doing some fabric rearranging and purging today I have determined it is bad feng-shei to work on this one more day consecutively.  So, it has officially been shelved.  I am still going to make a pattern of this block since I am stripping it down to bare bones.  The blocks I measured today are 3 1/4 inches.  I will draw it out on graph paper and upload it to share with everyone after it has been shelved long enough for me to get back my gumption.  To be continued…….

Someone else’s UFO -continued-

I have a cleared time the last few days for ripping with Jack the ripper (see my former post) on someone else’s UFO.  If I counted correct I ripped out 11 blocks all the way down to the centers and then restitched 10 back together.  I did not get all the melons put back on, but that will come in time.  Here is one of the problems with the seam allowances, inaccurate.

Most of the seam allowances were just the opposite, they were way too large which had a wonky affect on the 9 patch of the block.  This block I fixed, but it still has raw edges uneven.  All I can fathom is wrong with this, perhaps there was shrinkage while ironing or a mis-cut (not by me but by it’s previous owner).glory9

As you can see, by the frayed edges, these have been around the block (oh I made a pun!).  The centers are right but the raw edges, not.  I will make do.progress

This photo I call major progress.  These are just blocks with some melons sewn on, and laid on my display wall, the bed.  I had around 7 more centers with no green sewn to them and they did not make the picture.  But, they will eventually.  I did encounter a problem.  I came across a block with part of the black fabric slashed on the edge.  Not certain how I will handle a fix for this.  Any advice or suggestions would greatly be appreciated!problem

Oh look at me, I am a hand model (hehe, it doesn’t pay worth a crap though hehe).  This error is approximately 3/4 of an inch.  I am wondering if I put fusible behind it and then just satin stitch the dickens out of it with black thread, if it will come apart later or if it will be fine?  I have no extra black fabric as these were already cut and sewn together before I got them.

Well, I am no where near completion, so this is to be continued.  I am expecting fabric in the mail to finish the TOL quilt, and prepping it for some free motion quilting.  If the fabric arrives today back in the boot box the glorified 9 patch will go until I have the energy to deal with Jack the Ripper and murdering all those previous seams.  Stay tooned (hehe) as there will be more to come…

Quilt Research puts me in circles!

TGIF!  Greetings blog land!  I hope this day finds you well and on your way to the weekend!  Today I have sat at this computer trying to research a quilt pattern.  There was a blog I read earlier today where a woman had posted her pattern and it was accepted to the Moda Bakeshop website.  She was disappointed as she did not know someone before her had dreamed up the pattern she had also dreamed up.  I believe (and this is just my opinion), that is why some quilt blocks have so many names!   I also believe that some parts of the country may call a specific block one thing and it is called something else on the opposite coast.

In my quilting research I have found that a long time ago before people could afford books quilters would make their own reference cloth book.  Each time they made a block, another block would be catalogued into their cloth book so they or someone after them had a nice reference and could easily measure and copy the pattern from their homemade book.  What a lovely challenge to do with all those orphan blocks eh?  Yet another project for my bucket which bursted at it seems years ago and I am now on more than one bucket.

The quilt in my title bar of my blog has inspired and intrigued me since I came across it.  I have tried to find this block and the name and keep coming to dead ends with the name I have.  I have only found two pictures on the internet of 2 different quilts and then several with a different variation.  I have an awesome reference book and I did find a name but because it is so similar to a common block, the search yields the wrong images/pages.  I need someone more seasoned than I to tell me what the heck they have heard this block called.

Here are the names I know of currently:

  • Snowball II
  • Base Ball
  • Baseball Variation
  • Base Ball String
  • Drunkards Path Bow Tie

So I welcome advice and help.  *sigh*  I am really wanting to make this and was hoping there was an easy pattern out there.  I have sketched this out and believe I can make it using applique, which is a technique that I don’t really like doing.  If any of you are interested in joining my search please send me any links of pictures or websites that may have more information than I currently have.  You will be hearing from me again real soon.  Stay tooned (hehe).

Finishing someone else’s UFO

Greetings blog land!  You know as quilting goes or many crafts for that matter, we tend to accumulate goods with very good intentions of doing it right away.  But life happens and then we realize we have several Unfinished Objects (UFOs) that are completely doable, but doing seems to get in the way.  In January I bought an unfinished quilt off the shopgoodwill.com website.  My logic when I purchased was basically I am getting a quilt kit that is pre-cut all I have to do is finish sewing it together.  The project with shipping came to around $40.  In hindsight I over paid.  The fabrics were not all cotton, in fact most were poly/cotton.  Ok, I can live with this.  And the picture details did not show me what I needed to know before purchasing.

You see, the colors and the pattern caught my eye.  The glorified nine patch with all of it’s lovely melons were calling my name.  My thought on this was, oh and experienced quilter was right on their way with this project and something may have happened to said person.  And the family needed to go through the belongings and this was discarded, but not thrown away, waiting for it’s next home to complete it.  Once I received it I was not disappointed with it being cut out, and not disappointed much with the colors as they were pretty accurate.  The poly/cotton blend kind of perturbed me, but I should just be mad at myself as I didn’t think about the color scheme being possibly 50/50.  But what really shocked me is how poorly it was constructed. improved nine patch1

So now I have named my seam ripper, Jack the Ripper.  And am using to take apart what is sewn together and then fixing the nine patch and resewing the melons.  I now know the skill set of it’s former owner was not equal to my skill set.  The 9 patch centers were basted together either by hand or by machine with a very inaccurate 1/4 inch seam allowance which is why I am taking them all apart.  So very wide baste stitching was used (hooray for Jack the Ripper), as this part was easy to deconstruct.  But It almost looks as if someone else stepped in and attempted to sew the melons to the glorified 9s as these did not have even a close 1/4 inch seam allowance and they used teeny, tiny machine stitching not matching centers so, when you gazed upon what you thought would be beauty was a bunch of sloppy blocks done by someone with a skill set of not caring and so I have inherited someone else’s UFO (I suspect this is 3rd owner UFO, which makes me want to get this done even more so.  This orphaned project needs to find completion and enjoy its happy home outside the boot box it came in).  So a couple times a year I get out the boot box  with a date of 1988 (I believe this is approximate to the start date of the UFO quilt) and I get out Jack and we have a party of a time removing all the thread that was once a good intention.  I ripped several blocks apart last night and today I will get out the iron and resew and press them.  And because the green melons were stretched in their original configuration I may stabilize those with fusible and proceed.  But what I will probably do , is instead of leaving them melons as I have realized the cutting was not accurate on these as well and have many sizes, I will cut all the melons in half and then make a square block to sew together which is much less difficult then sewing a row of glorified nines and try to get them to line up with the next row with all the inaccuracies.  Don’t feel sorry for me, learn from my mistakes.  I guess I was more optimistic on this one than I should have been.  I know when I get this jewel done, it will be done.  I have posted these pics online before to fellow quilters and most of them told me to throw it in the trash.  I cannot do that.  They deemed it rather ugly.  I am seeing its beauty and again am hoping I am not being to optimistic.  I will take any advice given as I am already seam deep with someone else’s UFO.


A Quilters Tool?

pin and dust keeper, and a few threads to boot

I noticed that the Moda blog was about pin cushion the other day.  I have never really given this tool much thought as I have always had one.  From the time I got my first sewing machine while in grade school (Good Ole Grandma!), it came with a classic tomato pin cushion and for years I have used this.  But then one day I happened upon a sewing cabinet which was full of all kinds of notions and an old singer sewing machine.  I snatched that bugger up for only $15.  One of the items in this cabinet was an old handmade pin cushion.  I had never seen a pin cushion that was not a tomato.  I have switched to this old shallow boring brown pin cushion because I like vintage utilitarian oddities.  Out of curiosity, I went in search of old pin cushions.  Lots of these things go up for auction regularly, but I was very surprised what I realized.  That old, brown shallow pin cushion is quite collectable!  And worth every penny I paid for it at the time too!

My pin cushion is something I use very regularly.  When I am piecing it is a “sometimes” tool, I find I can be a tad more accurate with them, but a whole lot faster without them.  So fellow quilters, do you pin when piecing?  I would like to hear your thoughts about this tool in your quilting corner(s).  What kinds of pins would I find if I gazed upon your cushion?  What kind of pin cushion do you have?  Where do you keep it?  Is it completely populated to resemble a porcupine?  I invite you to share what is stored in your ever so useful tool (snap a picture and link it up to this article for fun).  I will start by saying mine has dress maker pins and quilting pins, safety pins, pins with glass heads, pins that are all metal, sewing machine needles and regular needles too with thread attached for easy removal.  Oh and because it is out all the time, it even has dust!  And the holder beware of my pin keeper, if you squeeze that shallow pillow too hard with all those pins,  “Ouch!” will happen.  Those pins will find your fingers through the keepers.