Monday, June 19, 2017

That AHA! Moment

Both of my Old Italian table toppers/runners are now ready to quilt...

... and both are looking so nice and summery. Blue & white are a longtime favourite of mine.

But as I snapped a few pics to share they started looking very familiar in an odd kind of way. It took a little time for things to sink in, but eventually my synapses connected. I had made the Old Italian block before! Egads - how do you not remember that???

In 2012-13 I hand stitched this little blue & white baby quilt (still to be quilted) called Spot. Look familiar? It was inspired by a Schnibbles pattern of the same name. The proportions are a little different but honestly, how do you not remember something that you worked on for over a year?

Maybe it was the fact that the Jo Morton block went by a different name, or maybe that this one had sashing between the blocks, I don't know. Still, you'd think I'd recognize the pattern. Apparently not. Some days I really get to wondering about the grey matter between my ears. All I can say is at least I'm consistent...M

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

At Long Last

This might look like a jumbled mess to you but to me it is real and genuine progress. But, I'm jumping ahead of myself a bit; lets start at the beginning.

The last of the large hexies now has a hexie border - hooray! I never thought I'd get here. So I slapped it up on the design wall with the others to see what everyone looked like together.

Of course there had to be some tweaking... There was one final tweak after this with the dark green and dark plum bordered hexies trading places, but I don't seem to have a pic of it. Close enough.

So that meant it was time to get serious about the cream hexies that would join them all together. It was a sloooow start figuring out a process, but it finally seemed to click into place (and yes, that is a little Merry Christmas snowman in the background - for some reason he never goes into storage, he stays out all year).

Not long into it I realized that the very first cream hexie was lighter than all the others - I had sewn it onto the template inside out. Whaaat? Of course it had to be the first one. Well, I wasn't prepared to rip it out until I had seen some serious progress, so I just kept going.

Eventually I got enough of them joined that I went back and replaced it; this is where I am now. I've got a ways to go, but progress is being made!....M

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Good Third Choice

There's still lots of rhubarb in the garden, and since I've made the Rhubarb Torte twice this spring already I thought it would be nice to try something new. My first choice was Ina Garten's Raspberry Rhubarb Crostata. I love her summer crostata with peaches, blueberries and plums so this one seemed like a natural, except that I didn't have raspberries in the house and was too lazy to run out and pick some up.

My second choice was the Lemon Buttermilk Rhubarb Bundt Cake but alas, no lemons in the house.

Soooo, I trolled my Pins and landed on Rhubarb Buttermilk Cake. Excellent choice! Turns out I made it almost a year ago to the day and liked it then, too 😉.

I convinced the Official Cookie Tester to run out for some ice cream and we enjoyed a tasty little snack. You can see from my recent pins that there are a few more rhubarb recipes waiting in the wings to be tried but I think I need to make the bundt cake at least once before the rhubarb is done. I haven't had it in quite some time and just the thought of it is making my mouth water.

Between mouthfuls I am turning under cream hexies for Anna Levens.

I'd totally forgotten about using a paper clip to secure them - it makes such a huge difference. Without it, things shift every which way and you get some wonky looking corners instead of nice crisp ones. I may have to redo a few of them, but that's okay. At least I figured out what I was doing wrong.

It's our first hot and humid day of the summer so it will be nice to sit still and stitch. Our little weekend guest is one step ahead of me and still enjoying her new bed. I don't think she's going to need that blanket....M

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Lots of Blue

There's been lots of Old Italian blocks showing up around the house lately.

I divided them into two themes. The first set is more along the lines of painted clay tiles and the second group is a little more country, so I put them up on the design wall to see what they would look like together.

There's enough for a square table topper of the more traditional 'tile' blocks (like Delft pottery from the Netherlands) and the country/folksy set will make a table runner, with two blocks to the good (potholders?). If I'm smart and stay at it, I'll get them finished now and have them ready early for the Holly Bazaar in the fall. If I'm smart.

The square one is all together, it just needs a good press before I quilt it; it will be 24" x 24".

I've reworked the layout of the runner a bit from the design wall photo above so now it's ready to sew together. Guess I should look at what to use for backings and bindings soon.....M

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Long View

While I've been cutting my cream hexies I moved the small design wall with the hexies to the end of the hall so that I could gain some perspective on it and see if it was good as is or if that last plum hexie needed to be changed.

A picture says a thousand words. It's out, and for a couple of reasons. Anal as I am, I knew that having duplicate plum hexies would bother me. In addition, Kyle reminded me of why I had made a replacement for it in the first place - I am concerned that the cream border will disappear. I also wanted a lighter fabric - I had forgotten how much lighter the fabrics in the original quilt are and I like that look. I haven't been able to get my hands on enough toiles so this collection of fabrics will have to do.

So I started replacement number three. It's not with the blue rose print I showed you last time because the blue was just too clear - it needed to be something creamier to work with the other prints. I had a small remnant of this turquoise (it looks blue but it's soft turquoise) that sort of fell out of a pile at me (a sign?). I had gotten it from Jane's stash when I was looking for large florals to include throughout Candied Hexagons and had totally forgotten that there was any left.

I've got all of the border hexies cut and have started turning them under.

As I stitch I dream of this. Isn't it incredible? There are a couple of Brigitte Giblin designs to choose from and you can get it as a case for either an iPhone or iPad. I don't have a personal phone, just one for work, so that will have to wait until I retire, but I'm very tempted to buy one now so that I have it when I need it! Drool.....M

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Final Four?

The last of the large framed hexies for the centre panel of Anna Levens are now complete, or at least I think that they are.

The pattern called for seven hexies but I've ended up with nine because I'm looking at a bit of redesign.

Square quilts aren't my thing usually so I'm toying with this arrangement instead.

It will mean modifying all of the remaining borders and spaces, but I'm okay with that. I was planning a slightly cleaner look for the outside border so it looks like the original pattern will be my muse and I'll go from there.

My concern is whether or not to use the hexies with the plum background and cream border that I originally rejected (the second version is at the top of the layout with a green border. It means that the plum print is the only large floral to be repeated.

I have this combination that I could use to replace it. What do you think? Do I stay with what I have or make the blue one?

While I decide I will begin cutting and prepping the cream hexies that will join all of these beauties together. I've got two options - the solid and a slightly lighter print. I think that the lighter version will win out.....M

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Look What I Got!

A little squeal of delight could be heard the other night when the Official Cookie Tester returned from his meeting of Parish Council with a bag tucked under his arm. The gals have finished quilting Martha's Star and it's just beautiful.

As much as I loved it before I sent it off, the quilting really adds that finishing touch, softening it and making you want to snuggle in its folds.

In designing the quilting pattern I wanted to avoid the ladies having to work around the red chain that crisscrosses the quilt and apparently they quite appreciated that 😉.

They track the number of hours that they put into each quilt that they do so that they know what to charge. I haven't got those numbers yet, but whatever it is, it is well worth it.

Now I need to find a binding that will work. I have a very little bit of the backing fabric left over (the cream floral at the top of the pic) but I would need to make the binding on the straight of grain and I tend to prefer a bias binding. It may be the best colour option, given all the different creams that are in the blocks, but I'll check the stash before making my final decision. In the meantime, I'm just happy to be able to gaze at it. Happy, happy, happy! Mom would be too....M

Monday, May 22, 2017

More Old Italians

Obviously I was a little hasty in putting together that mini tutorial that I gave you a couple of posts back on how to sew the Old Italian block as I had a question from a reader as to what size to cut the strips that create the crisscross, so here's a few more details.

My initial instructions suggested starting with one 8" block, but you really start with two, one light and one dark.

Cut 2" wide strips through both diagonal lines of the blocks, measuring 1" on either side of the line that runs from corner to corner. Here's a better picture of how to lay your ruler to get the first cut - the 1" line runs through the block from point to point. For the second cut just flip the ruler around and cut 1" away from the centre line of the block, or 2" from the first cut.

Repeat this cutting sequence across the second diagonal.

After you have cut the strips through the diagonal of the block in both directions they look like this, so with only four cuts per block you have all of the pieces that you need to make two blocks.

Now, just switch up the corner strips; the centre square and triangles stay where they are - and voila, two blocks ready to assemble. If you press all seams to the dark side they will nest together nicely to finish off the blocks.

This one still needs to be trimmed, but it doesn't take long before you have a nice little pile of blocks that will finish at 6.5" square....M

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Perfect Day to Quilt

The gardens will have to wait just a little bit longer before I get out there and tackle the last of the spring clean-up because today is a wet and dreary day, so I'm going to return to quilting my Candied Hexagons instead.

It's a long weekend for us (Victoria Day weekend) so many of the neighbours are away, making it very quiet on the street, and somehow confirming that some quiet time at the quilt is the thing to do.

It's been a while since I've worked on it so it will be good to get back to it. Who knows, there might even be a Sunday afternoon nap on the schedule 😉. If this is a long weekend for you I hope that you are finding the perfect way to put your feet up and enjoy the break too....M

Tuesday, May 09, 2017


Maybe it was because I needed a change from hexies or maybe it was just my QADD (quilter's attention deficit disorder) kicking in. Actually, my trolling on Pinterest is probably partly to blame too. Whatever it was, I ended up playing with a new block.

It's called the Old Italian Block (isn't that just a lovely name?) and looked like it might be a good start for a charity quilt or table runner. If nothing else, it got me dreaming of far off Italy and enjoying a glass of wine in a café on the Amalfi Coast hillside, but I digress.

If you'd like to try to make a few yourself, here's a very quick tutorial that will give you a 6" finished block. Start with an 8" block,

make 4 diagonal cuts (the centre strips are 2" wide, cut 1" on either side of the diagonal lines that cut through the block),

switch out the four corner strip pieces with a dark print (or a light print, if you started with a dark 8" square), sew everything together,

and voila, a 6.5" inch block. Alternate light and dark blocks when laying it out.

I've seen a quilt done in this pattern that really caught my eye but wanted to try it out before committing to making it. It would be lovely with all of the light pieces in this Jacobean print and a variety of tone-on-tone blues - very much like handmade tiles.

But I think that making it scrappy has lots of potential too. Either way, it was a nice escape..M

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Frames for the large hexies at the centre of my Anna Levens quilt are on the agenda today. I've got three in the works and two of the three are now together, with the pink one to go.

At least I thought there were three. That was until I moved the pile and realized that I have prepped the small hexies for a fourth block. Talk about quilt amnesia!

Fabrics have been paired so I'm looking forward to basting at least one of them into place so that I can appliqué it to its backing.

It's a rainy, cold and miserable day (when is Spring supposed to arrive?) so I went to the freezer and dug out an apple pie to bake. It's the perfect antidote for cold and rainy weather.

I also decided it was also a good day for some Shrimp Risotto with Fresh Herb Butter - total comfort food. It's been a while since we've had this and it was delicious with steamed asparagus. I like this recipe because you don't have to stir it for an eternity.

Maybe I'll see if we can find highlights of the Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey games from last night - both teams are now up 2-0 in their series. Yaaaaaa - that's my boys! (I'm such a fair weather fan - only really get into it during the playoffs.).....M