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A Cut Above

Yesterday I bought myself a new pair of scissors. It isn’t because I don’t own any  😀 !

I have paper scissors, kitchen sheers, tiny appliqué scissors, pinking sheers… you name it, I probably own it!

I have my first pair of Ginghers that I still keep in their original box, and use on special occasions. Like when I needed an artsy self-portrait for our Threadbender’s blog (Click here to meet the members of this very creative group!)

A little corny, but I bet it made you smile!

I have serrated scissors that are great for trimming layers without shifting (I tried to get a pic of the serrated edge in the close up to the right).

I have duck-billed appliqué scissors that protect the fabric under the blade.

And I was even given a pair of scissors made to cut batting.

But the ones I use the most, and are by far my favorites, are my Fiskars™  “micro tip, easy-action” scissors.

They have been used A LOT!!! They have a spring feature that causes them to open automatically after you make a cut, which is really easy on the hands. The slide lock broke within the first year, so they are always open, but I don’t mind, because they are oh-so sharp. Or at least they were  😥

So it was time to treat myself to a new pair!

I can’t wait to tear them open. I will be saving them for close trim work – like when I do my Repliqué technique. But the old ones are dear friends and will live next to my machine for cutting threads and other simple tasks.

And one last thing – actually a warning:

Don’t use them while sitting on an exercise ball. I used to sew on one because it was good for my balance, but I had the misfortune of bumping my favorite scissors off the table and – you guessed it – that very sharp point punctured the ball and I ended up on the floor – LOL!

What scissors are your favorites! Please respond and tell us why!


And one more thing! I received an email from the National Quilters Circle website. You can learn all about them on their website: . Their email said that I had been nominated for their “Best Overall Quilting Blog Award”.

I’m surprised and honored. They said in their email to me that I could share this info on my blog to continue to be nominated. If you like my blog, and are interested in participating, please go to: Thanks!

August 26, 2018, Notions
A Trio of Amazing Memory Quilts

Just a quick FYI for quilters in southeastern Wisconsin, Ben Franklin Crafts in Oconomowoc is celebrating it’s 45th Anniversary this week. They have a number of exciting things planned and I’ll be there demonstrating some of the techniques from my books. For all the information please go to their website:


And now on to my topic of the week:

Earlier this year I taught for the Northwest Suburban Quilt Guild of Chicago and met a very talented member named Joyce Drenth. During show and tell Joyce shared quilts she was making for her granddaughters. I was blown away and asked if I could share the quilts and their stories in a blog post. Recently I received this note from Joyce:

“Hi, Chris, I very much enjoyed your wonderful presentation, “Quilt Tales”, to our guild. The journey through quilting was greatly enjoyed by all. After I shared my three quilts made for my three granddaughters, you asked me to email you with my story shared that evening. Now that my last little darling received her quilt, I can let ‘the cat out of the bag’ and share the images of the quilts.”

I’m sure you’re going to enjoy the quilts and their stories:

“As a 2015 Christmas present for my 5 grandchildren, I purchased some Color Me fabric, cut it into fat quarters and backed each with freezer paper for stability. I gave each of my son’s three dancing girls (ages 8, 6 and 3) a piece of the ballerina fabric and one package of fabric markers to use to color their dancers. Included in the present was a coupon for “Sewing with Grandma”. I had already started the tradition of working with the girls around Thanksgiving time to sew Christmas presents for their Mommy, Daddy, Aunt, Grandma and Godparents. We enjoy the time together learning all about creativity, sewing, safety, pride and enjoyment in giving hand-made projects to loved-ones.

Good News – Bad News!

Good News! They completed coloring their fabrics within 6 months.

Madison’s quilt back

Maia’s quilt back

Bad news! I was in the midst of packing up our home to move. So, the sewing time with grandma was put on hold temporarily.

Bad news! I had not decided on a worthy project to utilize the fabric.

Good News! My daughter-in-law had a terrific idea. She saved different pieces of clothing the girls wore throughout their early years and asked me if I might be willing and able to create a small Memory Quilt for the girls. Her wishes included the use of the clothing in the shapes of hearts. While viewing Pinterest, she saw some samples she admired, so off to the fabric store we went so that she could select the background materials she envisioned for the quilts. Chevrons in gray and white tones are prevalent among the girls’ quilts, but each was slightly different from the other sisters.

Great News ! I decided to buy some backing fabric and have the girls border their colored fabric with enough fabric to make the backs of ‘their’ Memory Quilt! So, this past February, I scheduled time to complete this task.

BAD News! My sewing machine decided that the tension setting would not respond to my ‘demands’. The April birthday quilt swirls were being outlined in 12-weight thread when my machine’s electronics decided I was not in charge. To compound this, the store to which I took my machine informed me that it would be one month before they would get it back to me!

Good News! My daughter inherited my loving mother-in-law’s rarely-used Featherweight (newly serviced) machine that she was very willing to allow me to borrow. I took it to my son’s house and all the girls got to sew on this wonderfully-memorable machine. The featherweight’s diminutive size and totally different capacity for stitching compared to my computerized machine was a true sharing moment for me as I explained only forward and reverse stitching that I grew up with in my sewing journey. A history lesson in the making!

Since all my five grandchildren are very familiar with my presents of gifting appropriately-holiday- themed pillowcases, the girls were speculating that their framed artwork would be turned into future pillowcases for their beds – but they were very surprised!

Good News Again! Each of the girls has a birthday in spring months: March, April and May. When the March birthday came, there was an abundance of smiles and memories to share. Mommy and Daddy especially remembered moments in time when the piece of clothing was worn, the location, time and age of the daughter. Since each of the girls’ clothing included a pocket or two, I decided that I would incorporate them in the ‘Memory’ theme. I asked Mommy and Daddy to write a special little ‘memory’ note to tie up into a scroll and tuck it into a pocket. I did see a few tears well up in the parents’ eyes as they were read! Such a special family moment!

Madison’s quilt front

Maia’s quilt front

Emma’s quilt front

Even though I wrote a label to each of the girls, I also ordered Story Patches labels by Rob Appell that were printed with a black sewing machine. I wanted the memory of sewing on the Featherweight to be recorded on the back of the quilt for them forever. In the QR code, I included my personal message that could be scanned for the girls to see and remember our time together through the years. Pictures I took during the sewing times reflected the projects made and the ages of the girls when the gifts were created. I also recorded a video for each granddaughter where I remembered our times together creating the projects shown in the pictures.

For the middle child, I included background fabrics from both older and younger siblings within her quilt. Who knew such a simple little fabric purchase and gift of “Sewing with Grandma” would result in a wonderfully-memorable moment in time! Serendipity!

My Label Quote:

Quilts are a journal,

Bits and pieces of fabric…

Various shapes and sizes…

With colors that come to life.

Joined together, they tell a story.

I hope this captures the quilt journey for each girl. Thank you for expressing an interest in these loving presents. I also tried to capture the essence of their quilts in their handmade cards. I always create a card for the birthdays, capturing their theme of the year. This year it was ‘A Time to Remember’.

Dear Joyce, thank you so much for sharing these wonderful memory quilts with us!


And one more thing  🙂 !

Last week I shared a photograph of a quilt made by Maria that contained barn and covered bridge blocks. This past week Cari emailed me with a photo of a quilt she made with some of those same blocks.

Cari wrote:

“After looking at your article on spacing those barn photos I thought I would send you a landscape I made this spring using three barns from that same panel. My friend has a wall of barns and wanted some texture among them and asked if I could make her a quilt. She picked out the three she wanted and I put them on a stripped background, added trees,,grass, etc. I really had fun with this new venture”.

A beautiful setting for those blocks. Great job Cari!

August 19, 2018, Kids
Make ‘Em Fit

Have you ever had a stack of blocks that were supposed to all be the same size – but they weren’t? Perhaps you won a block of the month stack at your guild, or friends made you birthday blocks, or you make a bunch of blocks that just didn’t all come out the same size. What do you do?

Well, if the blocks are log cabins, or simple 9-patches, these can all be squared down to the size of the smallest block without any worry about losing important points. But what if there are triangle points? I have a few thoughts on this topic, because I’ve had a few times where I’ve experienced this dilemma.

I wrote a post about one of my favorite ways to do this back in March of 2015. It involved turning each block on-point, with some extra “float”, and then squaring them all up to a common size.

Making quilt blocks measure up

In case you missed that post (or forgot where to find it), go to:

What if you don’t want to double the size of the quilt by adding the alternate blocks? Here are two suggestions:

Option #1: Divide the number of blocks in half, border blocks in the first stack with fabric A, and blocks in the second stack with fabric B, square them all to the size of the smallest block, and put them together checkerboard style:

Option 2: Border all the blocks in the same fabric, square them down to the size of the smallest block, and then put them together with sashing.

My friend Maria made this quilt from fabric printed with barns and covered bridges. Because these pre-printed blocks were not all the same size and/or “square”, she was struggling with how to put them together. She liked the idea of bordering each in a tan fabric to look like they were in a photo album. She decided to fold small squares of black fabric diagonally in half and place them in the block corners before bordering, for an old fashioned album look. The burgundy sashing between the blocks was the perfect touch, and no one would believe that the “photographs” are not all the same size! Great job Maria! Thanks for letting me share your lovely quilt.

So, there are some of my ideas for getting different sized blocks to fit together. Do you have any others?



August 12, 2018, Piecing
No-End Binding – Improved Yet Again!

In February I shared a number of posts on some great uses for School Glue while quilting. I was very excited with how it worked for finishing the ends of my quilt bindings (click here to read that post), but I’ve found another tip that makes it even easier!

When sewing my binding ends together the lazy girl in me hated to stop when I was almost done to heat up the iron and press the glue dry. What to do?

Head to the store for another must have notion – “Wash Away Wonder Tape™”!

Once you have the tape the hard work is over. Prepare to be amazed  🙂 .

This works for single or double (French) binding (my example is done with a double binding). Sew your binding to the quilt, Beginning about 8″ from the end of the beginning tail, leaving at least 12″ open between the stitching of the tails, and leaving 8″ of ending tail open too – with a good overlap.

Because I made a double binding, I need to lay it open against the quilt to connect the ends. This works best if I pin the tails flat against the quilt (the corners of the quilt may “cup” up to allow for the opening of the tails).

Fold the end of one tail at 45° and finger press.

Cut a length of tape just a bit shorter than the angled edge, and affix the tape, paper side up.

Remove the release paper,

and lay the other tail smoothly in place, rubbing over the tape to secure it to both tails.

Pull the ends back to reveal the crease,

Carefully take it to the sewing machine and stitch in the crease.

Lay the binding flat against the quilt to be sure it fits.

Because the tape is wash away, you can skip this next step, but I liked the idea of pulling apart the end tails before you trim them and peeling away the tape. Now it’s gone and I don’t need to worry about washing it away.

Trim the tails 1/4″ from the seam.

Remove the pins, lay the folded binding back against the quilt, and stitch in place. Viola!

I still love the School Glue for matching fabrics and mitering borders, but I think this is the quickest and easiest way to finish the ends when binding. I’ve done it many times already and I think it’s pretty close to foolproof. Please give it a try and let me know what you think.


And one more note. In last week’s post I shared Anne’s email address for instructions on her Serendipity Star. The address was incorrect. I have corrected it in that post, but I wanted to share the correct one here also:

Thanks again Anne – for your generosity!

August 5, 2018, finishing