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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Featured. How Cool is That?

My little Instructable earned a Featured label this week.

I'm pretty excited about that! 

PQ 5.4 Lemoyne Star

Lemoyne Star

When I was a kid, there were several ways through the woods to Grandmother's house.  One of them was on the Lemoyne Road and went through the village of Lemoyne.  Like many small towns at the time it had a grain elevator and rough tracks to cross over.  Lemoyne was further blessed with two State highways.  This was not the preferred route.   Crossing the tracks was difficult.  They were raised up a bit and went behind the elevator.  There was also a difficult approach to the expressways.  They came up at an angle, making it very difficult to see on-coming traffic.  There was always a certain level of anxiety approaching the crossings.  Even as kids, we knew it was tricky, if not down right dangerous.

By the time I learned to drive, they had installed crossing guards on the tracks and there was a new by-pass over Lemoyne Road.  The journey was much easier and we were more likely to go that way.

One bonus of squaring your blocks is that the whole quilt comes out square-er (is that a word?)

That is pretty much how I feel about the traditional Lemoyne Star block.  It has always been one of my favorite blocks but going that route meant cutting out trapezoids and learning Y-seams.  Tricky, if not down right dangerous.

Quilting with Perl Cotton

Then along comes the inestimable Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Company with her Big Star Tutorial.  All of the sudden the block became easier and now I am much more likely to sew it.

A closer look at the backing fabric. 

Jenny gives you wonderful instructions for making the block.  Having just finished piecing my second quilt using the technique there are a few things I would add to the instructions:
  • If you really want this to look like a traditional Lemoyne Star, you will need to choose solids or small print fabrics that do not have a clear pattern or direction.  

  • Pin.  I'm not usually a pinner but the 10x10 inch blocks can slip around when you are sewing them.  A walking foot will help.  Adjusting the pressure on your pressure foot might help (I haven't quite figured that out yet).  Pinning helps.
  • Anyone who places the ruler and cuts an angle like Jenny must have magic ruler placing, ruler holding and cutting super powers.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot get four perfect 6.75 inch squares every time.  I'm happy if I am close some of the time.  

  • It is better to cut as best you can and then trim the blocks down to 6.5 inches.  You will end up with a final block that finishes at 24 inches.  But you will be more likely to keep your points and match your corners.  

  • Every seam you sew after you make your half square triangles will be on the BIAS.  The good news is that they can be eased stretched to make your corners meet.  The bad news is that they stretch like crazy which can result in some crazy lumps in your top.  Once again, pin and sew with caution. 
That said, go ahead and make this block.  It is fun and it doesn't take many 24 inch blocks to make a huge quilt in short order.  

Another picture of the whole quilt.  It goes wall to wall in the foyer so I can't get a picture without the hats in it.

The Timeline:

Wednesday after dinner:  Start cutting.  Get all of the blue and most of the white cut.  Make and trim HST for one star.

Thursday:  Buy more fabric.  Cut rest of white fabric.  Cut and trim blocks for the rest the stars.  Get the rows stitched for each of the stars.

Friday morning.  Stitch the rows together to make the stars.  Iron everything.  Arrange and re-arrange the blocks.  Stitch the final nine-patch.

Friday afternoon:  Cut and piece the backing.  Iron everything.  Baste.  Buy pearl cotton.

Quilt top spread out and ready to baste. 

Friday evening:  Start quilting.

Saturday Morning:  Keep quilting.

Saturday afternoon:  Take Spud 1 out to buy shoes.  End up having to drive into the city and take all day.

Saturday evening.  Keep quilting.  Cut and prep binding.  Stitch on binding.

Rounded corners, number fabric and pretty backing.
Sunday (after midnight):  Finish!  Take terrible nightime indoor pictures and write blog post.


I love gingham binding!
The details.  This quilt measures 72 x 72 inches.  It is made up of 9 Lemoyne Star blocks.  The fabrics are all quilters cottons.  The white background fabrics are all white on white prints.  It has a poly batting and pieced quilter's cotton backing.  The binding is gingham.  It is hand quilted with No 5 Perl Cotton.  The binding is machine stitched.

Add captionFor some reason, these big star quilts turn the spuds into quilt monsters.  They always throw the quilt over their head and start running around.  I can never really get a clear picture of them because they are moving so fast.
This quilt was created as part of Project Quilting Season 5.  Challenge 4 is "Across the Universe"

 All of the blue fabrics in the quilt are stars or space themed this quilt represents the theme in a number of ways.  Traveling across space and time in memory recalling those trips to Grandma's house and traveling across the vast expanse of the quilt both by hand and machine in the time available also seem fitting to the theme.

Project Quilting is the brain child of Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams.  The challenges are dreamed up by Diane Lapacek.  Quilters are given one week to come up with a completed quilted project inspired by the challenge prompt.  Be sure to check out the website, the Project Quilting Flickr group and the Challenge Quilts and Project Quilting Face Book pages for more great quilts.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

3 Yard Minimum or the Answer Really is FORTY TWO

Note to self:  If you LOVE it, buy THREE yards.

Because you will discover that TWO yards is not enough.

You will discover this three quarters of the way through your project.  When you realize that in addition to TWO 10 inch squares, each block also requires FOUR 6.5 inch squares of the same fabric.

You will also discover that every other fabric you pulled that might work only has enough fabric for TWO 10 inch squares.  And you have FOUR more blocks to complete

After remembering where you bought the too short fabric you also remember that you have been working non-stop using up said TWO yards of fabric, are still in your jammies with your hair sticking up.  (And you probably smell bad as well.)

So you shower and then discover that you have no clean clothes.  (You would have done the laundry but you needed the machine to wash that last quilt project and were so excited to take pictures you forgot about the laundry.)  Eventually, you find a shirt that isn't disgusting AND you remember to brush your teeth and hair.

Only to discover that you have no cash and the car is out of gas.  Of course gas has gone up THIRTY cents over night and that ATM number ONE is temporarily out of service.

Finally, with what gas remains after driving around looking for a functioning ATM, and with what cash remains after paying for another tank of gas, you head to the fabric store.  Which is not the one TWO miles down the road but rather the one that is TWENTY miles away.

Arriving just in time to see some blue-haired teeny bopper on assignment from her pattern making class (seriously!?!) take the LAST spot in the parking lot.  Never have you seen the lot that full.  You brace your self for a long wait at the cutting counter and start the long trek in from the hinterlands.

Realizing in short order that you both a.) forgot to take your advil and b.) neglected to wear your brace for such a short trip to get ONE yard of fabric.

Amazingly enough,  most of the drivers of said cars occupying ALL of the parking spots are in club and will likely remain there for another TEN minutes.

You rush to the back of the store (as fast as your pained, over taxed, un-braced knee will allow) to see without much surprise that the fabric you came to get is gone.  There are ZERO yards available.

Using up SEVEN precious minutes deciding the best blend was either fabric A or fabric B you decide to grab TWO bolts and get ONE yard each.  Brilliant.

Making it to the counter just ahead of the rush (you see THREE ladies wondering out of the club room with more soon to follow) you ask for ONE yard of each fabric and use up the last of your cash.
Thank you no bag necessary.

Only to realize once you are half way home that FOUR more blocks will require TWENTY inches fabric to cut EIGHT 10 inch squares and that you will need an additional NINETEEN and ONE HALF inches to cut out the 6.5 inch blocks.  TWENTY plus NINETEEN and ONE HALF equals THIRTY NINE and ONE HALF inches with some trimming and squaring room lets just say that you need FORTY TWO more inches of fabric.

And you just spent your last cash on TWO pieces of fabric that are THIRTY SIX inches.  Not FORTY TWO.  There is no way TWO - THIRTY SIX inch pieces of different fabric will ever add up to FORTY TWO inches of the same fabric. 

So...  If you LOVE it... buy at THREE yards. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Save a too Spicy Soup

I posted this hint years ago but the blog is in cold storage.  Since I just listed it again on Facebook, I thought I ought to post it again here.

So you have made the perfect pot of Chili Colorado and are ready to serve it.  One last sprinkle of cayenne and the lid falls off.  You now have half a bottle of cayenne and the soup is inedible.  You can either dilute it until you have enough chili to feed a hundred or you can try this trick. 

Add a cup or two of salad or olive oil.  Something that is consistent with the flavor of the soup.
Stir until the oil turns red.
Allow it to float to the top and then skim it off.

Capsaicin is a fat soluble molecule.  It will be extracted by the oil.  You will probably discover that the soup is not spicy enough after this.  Add your spice back slowly.

If you are a thrifty type who can't stand the thought of throwing away a cup of oil, you might try to save it and use it at chili oil.  I've never done that.  I have no idea of the safety of doing so since the oil has been infused in soup and probably has remnants of vegetable and meat matter in it.  If you try, keep it in the fridge and treat is like a leftover.  Remember, I have no idea if this is a safe thing to do... probably not if there are little spots of soup in the bottom of the container.  They will be anaerobic and could grow all sorts of bacteria.  Of course they come out of boiling soup so they might be sterile.  I just don't know.  I dump it out.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


I rarely ever use the fabrics from only one collection in a quilt.  Even for the fabrics I love, I usually manage to sneak one or two other pieces into the mix.  Now, one of the reasons for that is that I am a scrounger.  I really can't afford to pay full price for fabric. So I get some at the thrift stores, I break into my inherited stash and I shop the remnant table.

I really like the remnant table at Hancock's of Paducah.  I get there a few times a year.  I save up for the trip.  I can usually find some pretty large pieces from fabric lines I have admired.  They usually end up on that table at the end of their run.  Meaning these are probably some of the last of these fabrics available.  That isn't entirely the case with the fabrics in this quilt but some of them seem to be missing from the collections available on-line.

Regardless, the story of this quilt is that I found a collection of pink and green fabrics on the remnant table.  I bought some.  Left some behind.  Some were from Moda's Paris Flea Market by Three Sisters.  Some were big florals and there was one pretty pink from the collections for a cause line.

I knew I was going to make a random sized block quilt from them.  So I started out with the beautiful green rosebuds and the tiny pink cause fabric.  I quickly decided I wasn't going to use the large florals.  Gorgeous as the are, and as well as they blend, they just didn't fit the vibe of this picnic quilt.  So I made 4 and 9 patches out of the flea market fabrics.  I laid it all out on the design floor and was appalled.  Even though the pink was a perfect match for the colors in the rest of the quilt it stood out like a sore thumb.  Horrible.

I pulled out all of those blocks and started trying to re-figure what I could do.  I had started with remnants that were 1/2 - 1 yard pieces.  I didn't have a lot.  No matter how I cut, pieced and salvaged, I was one block short.  I could make a smaller size but it just didn't fit my plan.  I set the whole thing aside.

Shortly thereafter, I was able to make another trip to Paducah.  I searched the entire remnant table and found two pieces from the collection.  One was the pretty pink roses on the cream background.  The other was more of the green paisley.  Except that when I got home I discovered it had the yellow-y olive background instead of the blue-r green in the blocks I'd already made.  It didn't matter.  I set that one aside, used more the cream roses and finished it off this week to a 60 x 60 inches picnic blanket.  

This is another quilt in my recent projects that absolutely required a printed backing.  I'm not all that into fancy backings.  At least I haven't been up until now.  But this year, every quilt I've finished has a printed backing.  Hmmmm.   For this one, I found a nice creamy 108 backing at my LQS.  What a joy to not have to piece it.  And even better, my dear Mother-in-law got it for me.  I really am trying very hard to finish WIPS and PIPS and use only stash.  I am allowing myself to buy backing fabric as I don't have a lot of those in my stash.

Oh, the orphan blocks became part of a smaller tea party quilt so they didn't go to waste.  I have a few scraps and that one small piece of olive paisley left.  Perhaps I will make some sort of table runner out of them. 

The details:  60 x 60 inch quilt.  Made from the Paris Flea Market collection of quilter's cotton.  Backed with quilter's cotton.  It has a dense poly batting.  It is quilted with a large loopy meander.  The binding is slightly scrappy, machine stitched and hand finished. 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

PQ 5.3 Challenge: Sweet Treats The Good N Plenty Quilt

My ongoing challenge for this season of Project Quilting  is to make quilts big enough to be functional as a quilt rather than an accent piece or wall hanging.  I want to make them Good N Plenty big!

As soon as I read the challenge, I headed to my stash with visions of red and white candy stripes as there was a dish of peppermints on the table in front of me.  The pink tray was on top and visions of my favorite Good N Plenty candy quickly replaced the peppermint.

The lozenges are about 10.5 inches long and 4 inches wide.  (The standard length of the paper in the notebook I use for my designing.)

I started to use fusible web but it seemed like a big pain so I instead used spray baste reinforced with a couple pins on the off chance they would shift while I was zigzagging them down. 

Spud 3 served as design consultant and insisted "needs more pink" at one point.  Not something I expect to hear from a teenage boy. He is the one who resorted to looking at the candy box for placement.   He is also quite miffed that I left the upper corner empty.   But the time limitations of the challenge dictates some design choices. 

The quilting is a very loose stipple around the outside of the candies.  The binding is a black and white polka dot.

Many thanks to my friends Jean and Janie who jumped up to assist with the basting when I showed up to use the tables at church after Bible Study!

The backing is a $3/yard find that was perfect for the project.  You have to look to see where I had to piece it.  And the large print hides the quilting boofs, although I have to say there are surprisingly few of those on this quilt.  Practice is a good thing.