Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Ruler - Square in Square Tutorial

I'm sure many of you know that I love gadgets!  Recently I saw a ruler I had not seen before for making square in a square blocks.  I make a lot of quilts with this block and often have trouble making them come out perfectly square.  I know that you can cut the corner triangles larger then cut the block down to size, so when I saw this ruler, I had to have it!  So I thought while trying it out for the first time that I would also post a tutorial for the ruler.
The ruler is called Square 2 and it's by Deb Tucker of Studio 180 Design, Ltd.  I got mine online from Little Quilts.  Here it is on top of some white paper so you can see the markings.
First you determine the size of the finished block - in this case it will be 4 inches.  Cut your center square from the markings on this part of the ruler.
Here it is with the excess trimmed off.  Before  you leave this photo, click on it and you will see the measurement you need to cut for the side triangles.  In this case it will be 3 1/4 inches.
Using your regular ruler, cut two 3 1/4 inch squares.  Here I have two layers of fabric.
Without disturbing the two layers, place your ruler diagonally from point to point and cut.
You now have 4 triangles, one for each side of your square.
First sew a triangle to each opposite sides of the center square, making sure the triangle is centered with each side of the square.  The directions tell you this doesn't have to be exact as you will be trimming off the excess fabric.  I'm all about the details, so I make a little crease in the center of each piece and match them up before sewing.
Here I've sewn all four triangles to the square and pressed each triangle away from the center square after sewing each one.
This is what your back should look like.
Now take the other end of the ruler and align the 4's (as this will be a 4" finished block) with your center square.  Click on the photo for a better look. (The directions are written a bit differently, but this seems to work for me). 
Keeping your ruler firmly in place, trim off the two protruding edges you see here.
Rotate the block and position the ruler so the remaining two untrimmed edges are exposed.
Again keeping your ruler firmly in place, trim away the last two edges and....
...Voila!  A perfect square in a square!  There are lots of different ways of making a square in a square like this, but so far I like the convenience of this ruler - you have it all in one spot rather than referring back and forth to a chart!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Vintage Find!

Yesterday Mr. Squash and I took an impromptu trip to a seldom visited antique mall in town.  One of the things I love about being retired is the ability to do this!  We're finally getting some rain which I hope will help melt the terrible ice-encrusted snow we have - I'm not getting enough of my daily walking time!  However, I did manage to walk the aisles of the antique mall and look what I found!
It is a vintage, Presto "sealed" coffee jar!  One particular booth had lots of them - all in nearly perfect condition - just missing the coffee that originally came in them!  I've been looking for a nice jar to store brown sugar in, and decided the biggest one they had was perfect.
The reason I say "sealed, is that it not only has a ring on top, but another glass lid underneath.  You can click on the photo for a better look at the writing on the metal ring.
I suspect the glass portion of the lid might have had even another seal on it that may have been disposed of once the jar was opened. 
I love that it has the Good Housekeeping Institute Seal of Approval!  My mother was quite fond of anything with that seal!  Good Housekeeping is still one of my favorite magazines, too!
Here is the jar filled with dark brown sugar.  I have a feeling I'll go back for more of these - they came in all shapes and sized - perfect for things like sugar, flour, coffee, etc.!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cottage Sampler Block 3

I've been trying to clear off my sewing table to begin a new project.  Which new project I haven't quite decided, but I hope to make that decision soon.  One of the things that needed clearing off was Block 3 of my Cottage Sampler BOM from The Quilted B. 

I love house blocks and was tickled when this one came!  For the most part, the block is being made from Etchings by 3 Sisters for Moda.  However, there are a few fabrics here and there from Bunny Hill's Lily and Will.  In this block it would be the "fencing".  I just love this particular fabric and can think of all kinds of excuses reasons to buy some more!

Here are the first three blocks.  They go together quickly, so I have a bit of a wait for Block 4!  So tell me -- what you you working on right now?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Class Photos!

Most of you know that I am a Supreme Pattern Tester for Stephanie over at Loft Creations.  Last spring I tested Barefoot in the Park for her and the past two weekends I've taught the pattern at my local quilt shop!
 Here is my version just to refresh your memory ;>)
Mary Jean wanted to make hers in the same Kate Spain "Central Park" fabrics.  You can see her progress here on the left.  Rhonda made two versions!  The first one next to Mary Jean's is a mixture of Sweetwater's Countdown to Christmas and another line (sorry but I've forgotten the name of it). 
Here is the back of Rhonda's first version. 
 This is Rhonda's second version from BasicGrey's Jovial line.  Instead of appliqued circles on this one, she decided to try yo-yo's!  Here we were playing with one or three and she decided she might just make one larger yo-yo instead.
I just love the differences in each wonderful version!  Rhonda and Mary Jean certainly didn't need me much as they were both excellent quilters!  We had a great time chatting and sewing!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow Event

Before moving to the southeast corner of our state, Mr. Squash and I lived north of Seattle in Everett.  Whenever we would get a big snowstorm, it was called a "Snow Event", most likely because since around the 1970's it's been rare to see any snow in the winter - let alone a big snowstorm! 

 One morning over there we woke up to a huge amount of snow on the ground.  Schools and businesses closed and even the county government which was quite near to where we lived let people go home early.  The local TV news superseded any regular TV programming, and they would position reporters on street corners all over the area!  We affectionately called them "Parka People".  One evening while having dinner we were watching the news only to see one of the Parka People on the corner right outside our front door!  Now that was a hoot! 
As many of you have heard, the entire state had quite a Snow Event yesterday and the day before!  Here is what our front yard looked like yesterday morning.  We got a lot less than the greater Seattle area, which is not to say more fell overnight here.  It's not over yet!  It's been kind of fun to watch Northwest Cable News today as they have had our old news station on all day and most of the same Parka People are still standing on street corners!
 Here is the view in the backyard looking over to the neighbors.  The snow fell heavy, wet and fast and by afternoon the temps went from 35 to 25 in a very short time and stayed there!

I fear for delicate new plantings like my little willow tree.  I probably should go out and knock that snow off the tree. 
We keep checking out the window, but alas, no Parka People in our neighborhood!  I guess folks around here just don't consider this unusual!  As you can see, my car hasn't left the driveway yet.  We tooled around town yesterday in Mr. Squash's wonderful Jeep with the big tires.  It comes in quite handy for this kind of weather!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

More Christmas in January!

While it was still fresh in my mind, I thought I would get my Christmas Fruitcake pillowcases made!
In just an hour or so (after first getting help from a dear friend while having some "dyslexia" over a portion of the pattern), I had them all made and ready to try on the bed!
The pattern is a freebie from Jackie over at Canton Village Quiltworks!  I made them once before for the Million Pillowcase Challenge and remembered that they were quick, easy and very professionally tailored!  I quickly put them on our bed upstairs.  The bed itself is green, so the Christmas theme quickly pulls together!
Here is my pillow -- green is my favorite color.
Here is Mr. Squash's pillow.  He says when he was a kid his favorite color was blue -- now he's not so sure, but I know he likes red!  For now this will all go back in the linen cupboard.  I feel so great about having a Christmas theme all ready to go for later this year!

If you like these, hop on over to Jackie's and grab the pattern!  It works for any theme or time of year!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Christmas in January!

Here I am again with another finish!  Actually, you saw this back on my design wall a few weeks ago.  I tried hard to finish it for Christmas but didn't quite get there.  At least I'll finally have a bed quilt for next Christmas and be way ahead of the game!
The pattern is called Roll On by Brenda and Bonnie Bailey from the book Piece of Pie.  I used Basic Grey's Fruitcake for the fabric.  Here it is on the bed in our guest suite.  I quilted it with Quilter's Dream Wool batting which I absolutely love!  The quilting lends just the right amount of loft and warmth and the stitches sink right into the quilt sandwich!
Here is the back.  A very dear friend gifted me some extra Fruitcake - enough to make matching pillow cases!  I'll be sure and show them to you once I finish making them.

Can you tell what color thread I used for the quilting?  I'm sure you can't!  Believe it or not it is a bright green Isacord.  For some reason it just doesn't show up in photos very well - could be because it sinks in so nicely!  I was a tad hesitant to use it, but it turns out to be the perfect color!

Here is a closeup on a red block - if you click the photo you might be able to see a bit better.  Sorry about the pieces of schmutz here and there - I never notice them until I look at the photos closely!

Next up I'll be quilting my little quilt from Temecula Quilt Company.  Also, I taught my first quilting class on Saturday!  I had a great time!  Only two of the 4 gals signed up showed up which means we had a lot of quality time (and fun) together.  We finish the quilt top next Saturday when I'll be sure to show you some pictures.  What are we making?  Why one of Stephanie's designs - Barefoot in the Park!  Be sure to visit Stephanie today - she is debuting another of her fantastic creations!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Halloween in January

Surprise --- another reveal!!  Yes, Stephanie over at Loft Creations has been busy designing, and I've been busy pattern testing as one of her Supreme's!!  The newest quilt of Stephanie's is called String Beans! 
As I've mentioned in prior posts, I'm able to choose any fabric I want when testing for Stephanie!  When I saw her prototype, I immediately thought of my huge modest Halloween stash!
I can't tell you how much fun I had making this quilt!  (Actually I have fun making all of Stephanie's quilts!)  I loved every minute of pawing sorting through my Halloween fabrics choosing which ones I would use! 
I did my best to fussy cut directional prints and also mixing and matching my favorites!  Until I began collecting  Civil War fabrics, this was the only fabric I bought on a consistent basis over the years.  Needless to say I have lots left to make other quilts!  I happened to have a pantograph of pumpkins and vines which I think worked perfectly!  I was also pretty nervous about using black thread to quilt, but am very pleased with the results!
Here is a better look at the quilting.  When it came time to make the binding I realized I was a tad short of the sashing print that I wanted to use.  I put out a call to see if anyone had any of the print and would be willing to "loan" me some!  My friend Julie over at Me and My Stitches came through!  Thanks again, Julie!

Don't forget to go and see Stephanie's String Beans!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Twelve Days Flimsy!

Are you surprised to see me posting so much this week?  I know I am!  Believe it or not I've been doing a lot of sewing, just nothing that I've been able to show for a while! 

Several days ago I showed you the blocks to my 12 Days of Christmas from Temecula Quilt Co.  I finished the flimsy yesterday!  I was so happy to see their finishing instructions as I happened to have just the right colors in yardage to finish it in Miniatures!

Here is it sideways, which I like a little better.  Mr. Squash asked me what I was going to do with this quilt.  If I can quilt and bind it by Valentine's Day it will be the perfect colors to hang on my entryway quilt rack!  It will be bound with the red border fabric you see here.

I'm really trying to be a better blogger these days.  Unfortunately due to our terribly dry weather, many of my fingertips are badly cracked, which deters from typing!!  Seems I just get several healed, then they break all over again!  I've been through several different types of liquid band aid which works pretty well, though.  I know many of you suffer from the same thing - if you've never tried liquid bandage, I highly recommend it!

Be sure to come back tomorrow for another big reveal!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Winner and Seeing Eye Gadgets

Congratulations to Sharon whose number came up on the Random Number Generator - aka Mr. Squash!    Sharon wins a copy of Loft Creations newest bag pattern - All About Anna! Thanks to everyone for their wonderful comments about my Gramma!
For a very long time I've been on a quest to find the perfect light for illuminating my hand sewing projects.  I've been through quite a few and finally came upon what I consider to be my most favorite!
It's called the Beam N Read and I asked Mr. Squash for it for Christmas.  He actually hesitated because he said I didn't look anywhere near the age of the cover model, and I told him that was neither here nor there.  But it was nice of him to make that comment - gotta love him!
This is what it looks like out of the box.  The flat back fits against your body.  The strap is also adjustable.  It puts out a most wonderful light, yet doesn't seem to bother the person sitting next to you.  It stays steady around your neck and also comes with a red and a yellow filter for different applications.
Here is how it looks around my neck.  Of all the gadgets I've purchased in the last several years, this tops them all!  You can go right to the Beam N Read website and order one there.  (This is not a paid advertisement).
Here is a recent reject.  It's reading glasses in my strength, with little lights on each corner.  They aren't bad, but I have a narrow face and the lights are too far apart for the type of illumination I need.  They are from I Lights.

Another recent reject.  This is a small Ott Lite.  I got it at JoAnn's on a 50% off coupon.  It has a clip on the back that you can clip on whatever you're wearing.  The front panel opens up and turns on the light, which is quite bright.  The problem I had with this one is unless you're wearing something heavy, it doesn't stay upright.  Also, you're stuck with whatever height your item of clothing is, so if you need the light to be closer or farther from your work, you're out of luck.

Be sure to come back Friday when I'll have another fantastic reveal!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Supreme Project & Giveaway

By now most of you know that I am one of Stephanie over at Loft Creations “Supreme Pattern Testers”.  It’s a “job” I love more than any I’ve ever had!  In exchange for making sure her pattern directions are tried and true before they are published, Stephanie allows me to choose any fabric I want to use for testing her creations!  Who wouldn’t love that!  This time she asked if I would like her to send me some fabric for this particular pattern.  Stephanie and I have a similar love of the color green, but she said this wouldn’t be green.  I said fine and was just delighted with what arrived in the mail!
The pattern is called "All About Anna" and is named after Stephanie's grandmother.  The top of the bag is It’s a Hoot by MoMo for Moda, and the bottom is a lovely, soft corduroy.  I found the handles in Oregon and they come from Cindy's Buttons in Idaho.  There are three wonderful outside compartments in front, as well as one inside.

My maternal grandmother’s name was also Anna!  Her maiden name was Anna Dovika (pronounced - doe-vee-ka).  I always thought it was such a pretty name.  As I show off Stephanie’s bag, I thought I would also tell you a little about Anna Dovika. 
Here is a photo of my grandmother – or Gramma, as we called her.  This was taken on her wedding day.  I’ve always loved this photo and her Gibson Girl hairdo is to die for!  They didn't have much money in those days which leads me to think this photo must have cost a pretty penny.
Gramma was born in 1878 in Vilnius, Lithuania.  Because the Russians were recruiting Lithuanian men for their armies, most of my Lithuanian ancestors chose to come to America for a better life.  Gramma came to this country on a ship around 1910, her sister having come ahead of her.  She came alone at the age of 32, a single woman who knew not a word of English.  My aunt Martha was already married and settled in Seattle, so Gramma had to travel across the country on a train.  While she was being processed through Ellis Island, a porter convinced her somehow that he would watch her trunk full of possessions.  After being processed, the porter and the trunk were long gone.  The story is told that somehow she made it by train across the country with nothing but the clothes on her back and help from the kindness of strangers.

Here is the back of All About Anna.  Check out Loft Creations website for Stephanie's version of Anna and see all of her other great designs!
Once Anna Dovika arrived in Seattle she was wed in an arranged marriage to another Lithuanian.  She didn’t learn to speak English until my mother went to kindergarten where she herself learned English and in turn, taught it to Gramma.  From then on the family was strictly "American" and Lithuanian was no longer spoken at home.

Here is a close-up of the handle.  They’re really sturdy, and oh, so cute!

I remember Anna as being strong, lean and full of vigor.  She had a wonderful sense of humor, and loved watching the Jackie Gleason show on Sunday with her weekly “stubby” – a beer in a short bottle.  She would sneak Cheese Nips out of the cupboard for a snack, and we always knew we were getting close to her apartment as we could smell salami and Limburger cheese coming from her door!  She divorced my grandfather at some point and supported her two children as a tailor in Seattle’s Public Market.  It was from her that I got my love of sewing.

Thanks for allowing me to tell her story.  My heart is warmed each and every time I think of her.
Would you like to win a copy of Stephanie's "All About Anna"?  Just leave a comment here and I'll pick a winner at random on Wednesday!  If you don't have a blogger account, your comment will show as Anonymous, so be sure to leave me your contact info!