Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Charming Denim Quilt - tutorial

Have you ever made a denim quilt from castoff jeans from family members or thrift stores?  My hubby donated his jeans when he was done with them.  I inherited about 6 pair and promptly cut them down to bigger fabric pieces until I could decide what to do with them. Then about a year ago, I decided to do something with them.

I salvage everything usable and store the pockets in a bin for who knows what.  The rest is thrown away. 

I searched Pinterest for an idea. There were a lot of ideas and a lot of them don't address bulk.  I was concerned about bulky seams going through both my machine and my longarm. So I waited until this idea hit me.

I had a cute charm pack (5" precuts) and wondered what would happen if I raw edge appliqued them onto 8" denim squares?  Hmmmm.  I liked both the colours of the charms against the denim and the fact that it didn't add much bulk.

I used a low tech method of getting them centered.  I basically pressed the denim squares into quarters and then lined up the four corners of the charm squares on those fold lines and stitched them about a 1/4" from the edge.  I just did raw edge applique because I envisioned them fluffing up when washed.  You could satin stitch yours down if you prefer.

Once I finished all my blocks and laid them out in a 5 x 7 layout, I started to think about sashing.  Remember:  we are on a mission to reduce bulk!

I found some fabric in my stash which complimented the charm square colours and decided that a 2" sashing between the blocks would also add some colour and accomplish my goal of relieving the burden of bulk. I cut 27 strips 2" x 8" for the vertical sashing.  

I'm now to the point where the horizontal sashing is added between the rows but I don't have enough fabric for the outside edges of the quilt.  Not a big deal.  You can add the sashing on the outside of yours if you prefer that encased look. For the horizontal sashing, I measured the width of the row and cut one strip 2" by that measurement. And voila!

At this point I wondered if I should add borders.  I looked online for the same fabric line as the charm squares.  I managed to find a lovely lady named Grace on one of my Canadian Facebook quilt groups that sold me her 4 yards of coordinating fabric that she didn't need.  She had purchased a kit but ended up using something else for her backing.  I will use it for borders, backing and binding.  It's from Lily & Loom and called the Dreamfield line.  I purchased my charms online from Craftsy/Bluprint awhile back and it is no longer available due to the sale of Bluprint/Craftsy to a new owner and a reconfiguration of their website/business so I was very grateful to Grace for being willing to part with her stash so I could finish my project.  Quilters are the greatest people!  

The quilt top is done and ready for quilting!

I chose an edge to edge design called Classic Blossoms and finished the quilting just before midnight last night.  I used Wonderfil Master Quilter 40wt for the top and Magnaglide 60wt for the bobbin. I just need to add the binding, sew it down and decide what to do with my finished quilt.  Oh, and I will be washing it to see if my 'fluffy' expectation becomes a reality.  Some of the raw edges flipped up during quilting but that doesn't bother me because none of them will be flat after washing and that's part of the charm I wanted to create.

I had zero Janome problems with the denim because I worked hard to reduce bulk.   Likewise, my APQS Millennium quilted it flawlessly like it was her job!  I'm so excited to finish another UFO. Woohoo!  I'll be pulling out the next one in no time flat.

This quilt is more feminine than masculine due to the colours.  Maybe this will be a picnic quilt for us or maybe it will be for someone else or maybe it will be for sale in my Etsy shop.  We shall see!

I still have some remaining denim in my stash.  I'm not yet sure if I'll make another quilt or donate my denim scraps to another quilter to realize her ideas.  But for now, I'm feeling great having accomplished the completion of another UFO!

Let me know in your comments if you have done a denim quilt.  If you decide to make this quilt I'd love to see your pictures.  Use the hashtag #charmingdenimquilt so I can find them. 

PS - I'm on track with  #sewthescrapoutofmarch and the #NQMScrapChallenge.  This denim is from the scrap bin, even if it was started a year ago!  ;)


Monday, February 22, 2021

Whimsy Sampler journey

So here's a question....what do you do with orphan blocks?  You know...those blocks that just don't fit into a project but are perfectly useful and even pretty.  Do you make potholders? Do you give them to another quilter? Do you just keep them in a bin with no purpose?

I am the latter mostly.

About 10 years ago, my hubby and I still owned our B&B on acreage with a huge house, beautiful gardens and an empty horse barn.  We had a vision of actually making it a cabin, studio, or similar which could be added to the B&B room inventory (only more rustic) or a place where musicians, writers, ministers could come for a quiet time away from the rat race to create, rest or contemplate.

The vision didn't come to pass.  It would have taken a capital investment to create a new septic field, the construction/reno, etc.  However!  As the vision was underway, I had already envisioned the rustic furniture that would be in this cabin, and of course, as a quilter I could already see a 'cabin-ish' quilt on the bed.

About that same time I joined an online block swap for 12" quilt blocks.  The idea was to pick your block from the Quilters' Cache website and cut fabric for your chosen block for the number of people in the group.  I chose a red and white fabric to represent the one Canadian in the group.  My American counterparts sent me fabric in red, white and blue.  I was going to add those blocks and create a sampler quilt. All these blocks lived in a project bag labelled "Dayspring sampler" after our B&B name. But ....

Long story short, the red, white and blue blocks ended up going into a Quilt of Valor for an American friend who is a veteran, and just had a heart transplant.  The red, white and blue seemed more fitting for him as patriotic colours than the more random idea I had.  I finished it and sent it off late last year.

The remaining red and white one that I didn't use in this quilt became part of the actual original sampler quilt idea.

I found a grid online that I thought would work and began filling in the spots with my orphan blocks. A lot of them weren't useable so I still have a pile left to use.  You have to use either even numbered finished blocks or odd numbered finished blocks.  Duh...I know.  It didn't occur to me when I first started this project.  Those odd numbered ones will be used in another quilt.

This little dog (and her brother) were with me underfoot for most of the journey.  Too cute to make her move.

I was determined to get this quilt top finished and quilted so I could enjoy it.  I'm working very hard at finishing my UFOs one at a time and not multiples at a time.  This is working for me and I'm getting closer to the end.  My reward will be starting a new project.  The top was finished last week and I have been waiting for batting to get it quilted.  That got done late yesterday so it's officially DONE except for the binding. 

I quilted it with a pantograph called "Alp".  I wanted the thread to appear sort of golden like my yellow fabrics in the quilt so I chose "Glide Biscotti" which I was very happy with. 

The quilt is no longer going to live on a bed in our B&B cabin as we moved and downsized in 2015 and have many fewer beds and no guests.  I don't know yet where this quilt will end up but I'm so glad that I persevered and got it done.

In my next blog post, you'll see the next project on the finishing list... my "Charming Denim Quilt".  This UFO isn't as old as others but after I finished my sampler I pulled it out and have been having a lot of fun getting it done too.  I'm waiting for some fabric I purchased from someone else's stash to do the borders and then it too will be quilted and declared done!

You have to know that there is JOY in finishing.  There's definitely FUN in starting something new, but it is surpassed by the JOY in finishing.


Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Carolina Christmas mystery quilt version 2.0

In my previous posts I talked about restoring one of my favourite mystery quilts (Bonnie Hunter's Carolina Christmas from 2009) which had quilting thread popping all over the quilt and a corner of the binding chewed by one of my dogs.

Read about that here:  and


It took a couple of months of seam ripping while watching TV but I got it done!  I then added some larger borders and just finished requilting it.

I quilted it with a pantograph called "Esmerelda" which added some nice movement to the quilt.  I have yet to add the binding but here it is on the bed with a much larger drop to keep both of us warm!

I'm so happy to have it finished.

Until next time,

Monday, February 8, 2021

The P word and UFOs

I confess to being quite a procrastinator and I believe that's where my UFO pile originates from.   I unconsciously approach it like it's going to take a LONG time so I limit my progress to a bite now and the rest later.  Later becomes much later and before you know it I'm shopping for bins and they fill the cupboard, UFO lists grow while new patterns or fabric catch my fancy!  Am I talking about just myself here or can you relate? 

I'm really trying to change my ways. I have a few friends who are just the opposite of me and start and finish their quilts within days and don't start another one until they are done. I want to be like that and every day the new me commits to staying the course with a current project and not filing it away in the someday pile.

In 2019 I joined a UFO challenge from (American Patchwork & Quilting).  This meant listing ten of my UFOs and committing to working on them during the year.  Every month they would draw a number and whichever quilt was numbered that particular number was worked on.  This really helped build my momentum for getting these projects back into my creative zone.  One by one I got a lot of them done and the thrill of the finish was worth it!

By the end of 2019 my list had been reduced by at least half.  I created another list in 2020 and repeated the process only this time I chose my UFOs to finish based on what inspired me, not on being told what to work on (I'm a rebel I guess).  By the start of 2021 I had only about 4 UFOs left.  At this point I thought it was a good idea to create a KIT list as a gentle reminder to myself that it wasn't time to start shopping just yet.  "Remember all those lovely kits you purchased because you LOVED them?!!?  Well, it's time to let them see the light of day when your UFOs are extinct."  yeah, yeah...  

I'm here to tell you that even procrastinators can change (with enough determination).  I have found great joy in finishing what I started. Imagine that!   I'm looking forward to pulling out those kits next, one by one, and bring them to fruition.  

What about new projects you ask?  Well, yes I've created room for them too (with limits).  I did start a scrappy half square triangle quilt as a leader and ender project.  Simply put, I sew two triangles together at the end of piecework belonging to a main project.  Then I toss them into a basket for the second quilt underway.  Two projects at the same time!  Win/win right?  Also, if I need a mood boost I may do a one day mystery quilt just for fun (like the Super Bowl Mystery Quilt I did yesterday, ahem).  A one day mystery is a short commitment of time and doesn't detract from my long term goal of finishing UFOs.  At least that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

The pandemic restrictions have been in place for almost a year. I doubt I'm alone with fighting the moody blues during this past year.  Aren't we glad we have fabric and projects to work on to help get us through it?  I sure am.   I'm sure we are all looking forward to more freedom to sew with our friends, get back to retreats, have lunch dates, etc.  In the meantime, I'm embracing my time finishing up projects in solitude and it's a good thing.  It's a season and not forever. We can do this!  

Here's an idea:  How about you check in with a friend today to see how they are doing?  Maybe they are in a creative slump and just can't find their mojo.  Maybe you can get them inspired again.  And if you're the one in a slump, reach out virtually.  Your quilting sisterhood will understand. Let's cheer each other on.

Until next time,


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Beast is skinned!

 ....and I have the scars to prove it!

I spent a few hours last night with my feet up, stitch ripper in hand, and the Monday night back to back episodes of Blue Bloods on TV.  I finally finished the mammoth task of removing the former quilting stitches.

My next step will be to remove the stray threads on the quilt top.  The batting and backing have been discarded.  I cut them off in chunks as I went in order to have less bulk.  And honestly, it also helped me see how far I had to go. I was thrilled to see a placemat size area last night with about another hour to go.  That spurred me on to finish last night.

One I get the stray threads removed, I will be adding some new borders to make the quilt wider.  It doesn't have quite enough 'drop' on the sides.  I won't lengthen it as we don't like the over the pillow tuck.  We like the quilt to the headboard under the pillows.

I made some interesting discoveries along the way:

1. I decided I don't like wool batting for quilts.  At least on this quilt, I found that once it was washed for the first time many moons ago, it crinkled way too much for my liking.  It seemed to almost shrink the quilt.  I do love that crinkled antique look but this was really crinkly...too much.  The indentation of the stitches is significant and I'm really hoping to flatten the quilt top with enough pressing to erase the previous stitches. Wish me luck!

2.  I was surprised by the fact that the quilt seemed slightly soiled.  I have washed it plenty and it hasn't been on the bed that much. (I rotate them seasonally)  So there was something about either the detergent I used or that it wasn't rinsed well and had soap residue on it or I put it away before washing it for storage.  Either way, I will be using the laundry stripping technique with borax and washing soda after it is quilted. It needs freshening.

3.  Sadly, I found a few spots where I created a hole by being overly aggressive with the stitch ripper.  There was no stitch regular used by the quilter and in some spots the stitch length is large and easily removed, but in other spots the stitches are really tight and hard to remove.  I will go over the whole quilt to see if block repairs are needed.

When I look at this quilt from a distance it makes my heart sing and I know I made the right decision to restore it.  I loved it when I made it, and I love it now.  I was just sad to see the stitches breaking all over the quilt and have no regrets on my decision to unpick it and redo the quilting. In my books, this is an heirloom quilt to be handed down.

I almost forgot to mention that this quilt pattern is called Carolina Christmas.  It was a Bonnie Hunter-Quiltville free winter mystery from 2009 and can now be found in her book, Scraps & Shirttaiils II.  I modified it slightly by adding sashing strips and I did a plain border.

I am hoping to get the next stage of the quilt restoration done soon so I can get this quilt onto my Millie and finish it off with a pantograph yet to be decided upon.  Check back soon!

Until next time,


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Sewing Room Makeover

When we bought our house in 2015, I immediately claimed this room for my sewing room.  You must be wondering why.  "It's the laundry room!", I can hear you say.  Yes, but it's so much more!  It's bright and it has closets galore!  It is a converted bedroom.  And that counter!!  Perfect cutting height. That closed door leads to a partial ensuite off the master bedroom which I don't need access to from this room.  So it's a good candidate for adding shelf space.

So...the closets... the only issue I have had is that one of the two closets was entirely dysfunctional for my purposes.

Both sides were the 'skirts & shirts' style of closet which is great for your wardrobe but so much wasted space for my application of fabric and bins of projects and tools.

I decided that during my scheduled time off after getting all my customer's Christmas gift quilts done and delivered, that I was going to:

1.  Reorganize my sewing room;

2.  Get a head start on year end bookkeeping; and

3.  Get some of my own quilts quilted.

I'm going to load one of my quilts at some point today and I've indeed started on the bookkeeping/paper clutter but most of my time has been spent ironing fabric and putting it on comic book boards in anticipation of getting these four cubes I ordered from Walmart online.

With the exception of the baseboard on the left, they fit exactly in my space.  Hubby found some 5" bricks in the yard which we cleaned off and used to prop up the shelf that was too snug because of the baseboard.  Voila!

My family put the four cubes together while I was ironing fabric and long story short, the makeover is now done!

I will spare you all the boring stuff about all the dust bunnies encountered along the way.  I will however show you some before and after pictures so you can get a glimpse of how happy I am now that it's all organized.  

At the beginning of the Covid issue just before the lockdown, I was the beneficary of some fabric when another quilter downsized her home and had to destash.  With this addition, my room was bursting at the seams and it was just a giant mess.  I was so grateful for the fabric but so overwhelmed. Worse yet was the fact that I really didn't know or appreciate what I had in my palette of colours.  While standing and ironing for hours and days is hard on the body, the results of getting reacquainted with some pieces I had forgotten about was great.

So without further ado... the BEFORE PICTURES...

One of my iterations of trying to store my fabric.  This was before the latest gift of fabric arrived. And design walls were in the hallway.

Yes, the floppy bolts.  I had the right idea but this space needed help. Also before the gifted fabric arrived.

My workspace on any given day.  I didn't say I was neat. ;) This does not bring me joy.

View from my sewing chair.  Love my cutting counter above the washer & dryer but I don't love the clutter on top of the counter but there's nowhere else to put stuff! 

Yes a quilter lives here.  And so do these adorable doggies who love to be with me on something soft. I'm planning on making a lovely jelly roll rug for their comfort and to add some colour to my room.  It will be purple and teal most likely.  Or maybe scrappy...she says as she's thinking of her 2 1/2" strip bin that is filled to the brim! 

Bins and bins and bins... Imagine trying to get something out from the one on the bottom.  And yes they crashed to the floor more than once. Ugh.

Also another early attempt to quilt storage until I realized that they would like fade being next to that window.

Long view from the hallway into the sewing room.

Are you ready for the reveal of my new and improved happy place? 

Small pieces sorted by colour in shoe box bins.  Closet door closes to keep light from fading them.  These include fat quarters and half yard cuts. Also now have room for laundry soap etc. in a bin instead of on the floor or on my cutting counter.

These tubs are filled with random cuts made with my Accuquilt GO cutter when I was cutting just to deal with the scraps with no plan in the works.  I don't do that anymore.  I now cut them when I have a project in mind.  These take up too much space without a plan so in my books that's not smart. (Exception is cutting strips...they are always useful!.  I mean shapes like tumblers, bricks, etc.)

This is the right side of my reformatted long closet.  This has two cubes stacked and anchored to the wall.  This side has my tools and notions/rulers plus my UFOs in tubs in the bottom.  Notice the lids are off.  This makes it easy to see them without digging.  Besides the lids didn't fit nicely in the 11" width but the bins did.

This left side brings me joy.  My whole yardage stash, all tidy.  The bottom row is bins of precuts.

I now have my quilts hung on the right on the closet pieces that were already there.  The doors close to keep the light from fading them.  That hanging organizer holds all my projects and kits that are ready to do when my UFOs are history.  I'm beginning to see the finish line and it feels so good.

Hello counter!  Nice to be reacquainted.  See where the idea of purple and teal happened for my rug?

This is something I need to deal with.  I'm keeping the lid off on purpose.  Those are my scraps that need cutting.  It's higher than a large pile of laundry.  I added a bunch to the pile as I was ironing my gifted stash.  The previous quilter was an art quilter and there were pieces with bite missing, so I just trimmed past the chunks missing and added those pieces to the scrap pile and folded the rest for my shelves.

I also used Velcro with adhesive back to affix my design walls to my sliding mirrored doors.  The mirrors made the room look bigger but it also magnified the clutter x 2!!  And I'm happy to have my design walls right beside my sewing machine.

Well that was fun!  You can see that I've used all my available space in my makeover.  This cost me less than $300 to do with the help of my family to assemble my shelves.  I do love order even though I'm not the tidiest of people (especially mid project).

I'm going to stare at it for a bit before I get my GO cutter out and cut some triangles for my Simply Triangles project for the new year.  You can read about that post here.  But there are some luscious colours in that scrap box that will add some warmth and brightness to my quilt and I'm really excited to get started on it...but not before those UFOs are done. ;)

Until next time, you'll find me in my happy place. Happy New Year!