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A Unique Quilt Show

On October 13th I left early in the morning to present a 1:30 lecture at the:


Autumn was in full swing and the sun rising through the trees was beautiful.

Spring Grove is a lovely small town in the southeastern corner of Minnesota, and the entire 3½ hour ride was very enjoyable, both going and coming home. I left early in the morning so I’d have time to see the show before I was to speak. I had wondered why it was billed as a “Quilt Show and Sale”, but assumed there was a vendor mall with items for sale – like most quilt shows. I was surprised to discover that, not only did they have a nice group of vendors, but all the quilts in the show were for sale! From Autumn table runners to king sized, hand quilted, Lone Stars (made by the local Amish women), there was something for everyone!

I was intrigued by their simple hanging system – clothes hangers! No sleeves required.

This even worked when hanging quilts double – they simply clamped the hangers top and bottom and linked the hooks:

Many of the quilts contained preprinted panels, pieced together in interesting ways. I especially liked this pair of table runners:

I presented my Gradation Play lecture, and was so pleased to see that Mary Deters, the quilter who made the arrangements for my visit, had a quilt in the show using a lovely blue gradation in the background:

The Amish women, some of whom had quilts in the show, also provided lunch and desserts.

And they were as yummy as they look (I did ask permission to take this picture, as I know these dear people do not like to be photographed).

Thank you to all of the Spring Grove quilters for inviting me to be a part of your wonderful show!

October 28, 2018, Travel
Make a Scrap Quilt Without Even Trying

My friend, Lori Schloesser, is a very talented quilter. She loves to piece and machine quilt, but she looks tempted to run in the opposite direction when the “A” word is mentioned. She simply doesn’t like to appliqué. This is ok since her piecing is amazing! She recently brought a scrap quilt to our Fiberista meeting and we were impressed.

It’s queen sized and made from 1″ finished squares! WOW! Here’s a detail shot:

When asked about it she said she didn’t have a pattern, and her plan isn’t to sit down and make a quilt. She simply cuts out a lot of 1½” squares, and sews the squares into pairs as “leaders and enders” while strip piecing other projects. When she finally has enough – she makes a quilt. If that isn’t clear, and even if it is,  – you simply must read the following steps, in her own words  🙂 :

“• Cut lots of 1-1/2 inch squares.

• At the end of a set of chain piecing on a different project, sew two squares together and leave them under the needle.

• Start the next set of chain piecing and at the end, again sew two squares together, leaving them under the needle.  The first two squares will be at the start of the chain. Press them as you press your other project and put the squares in a container.

• When I have enough to sew the block together, I make a little space near my sewing machine and lay the pieces out.  I sew them together the same way – at the end of chain piecing another project.

• I generally use sort of a dark/light arrangement, but my only real criteria is that each square not blend in with the squares around it.  That means any white/very light squares go in the center so they don’t blend in with the white strips.

• I cut the white strips to size (4-1/2, 6-1/2, 8-1/2 and 10-1/2 inches) to help keep everything square and the right size.  (If I can’t attach a white strip without getting pleats, I need to go back and fix seam allowances.)

I like to lay out the blocks on point alternating the two blocks.  

You could use solid white for the side triangles but I prefer to use more blocks and cut them in half to finish the quilt.  Of course I take apart the cut off ends and reuse the pieces.

That’s it! Makes me want to cut a lot of squares and leave them next to my machine. What a great way to use up those small pieces leftover from finished projects, instead of leaving them in a pile because you don’t know what to do with them (my technique – and the reason my sewing room looks like it does most of the time).

The next month Lori brought in this scrap quilt:

And we were amazed all over again. This block she pieces on a rectangular foundation, usually newsprint.

I love greens and browns, so I really find this quilt appealing. And the overall leafy quilting design adds to the organic feel.

She said her strippy quilts: “are an intentional project. I usually make them whenever I don’t have another project and just need to sew without thinking too much about it.” Then she sent me pictures of some other scrappy, strippy quilts she’s made this way:

I asked Lori to tell me more about these quilts and here’s her response:
“I usually make them 60 x 80, so a big lap quilt or a really skimpy twin.  I have generally used them as gifts for acquaintances (like co-worker weddings).  I’ve started donating them since I’m making more quilts than I’ve opportunity to give them to people I know.  I’ve donated a couple to the Lutherdale Bible Camp quilt auction and one to a work-related fundraiser.  I like to have at least a couple in reserve – it’s so much easier to give them away if they’re already done and ready to go.”  

I know she also donates quilts to Project Linus. What a generous quilter!

Thank you Lori, for sharing your quilts and your process with us!

October 21, 2018, Scraps
Half Square Triangle Tricks – Trimming

Just a quick warning concerning last week’s post. May wrote to say that the “ripper perch” looked a bit dangerous. We should always be careful with any of our tools, but I wanted to assure you that I keep the ripper’s cover on it when not in use.

As I mentioned last week (click here for that post), the center of the quilt that I’m working on contains 336 – 3″ finished half square triangle blocks (there will be more needed for the border). They’re pressed and cut apart and now it’s time to trim.

I find the most time consuming part of trimming is aligning the ruler for every cut. That prompted me to get a Bloc Loc™ ruler – and I’m very happy with it.

This ruler has a groove on the bottom for the seam allowance to nest in.

This means the seams must be pressed to the side. To begin I lined up the Bloc Loc™ groove on the seam, and centered it on the block (I’m trimming my blocks to 3 ½”).

I rotary cut the top and right sides:

Next comes the tricky part. The ruler and block need to be rotated to trim the other sides. I began with a “lazy susan” style cutting mat, but it was awkward and didn’t turn easily. Then I decided to try one of the mini cutting mats in my collection. I found this one spun quickly on my table. It worked great! So here it is rotated:

I simply slid the ruler down the seam allowance to the correct measurements:

and rotary cut the remaining two sides:

The best way to get great points when making half square triangle blocks is to be sure the diagonal seam drops off the block at the exact corners. The groove on this ruler guarantees it!

It’s amazing how long it takes to trim that many blocks, but I am really pleased with how accurate they all are:

After my last post Nancy commented that she likes using the Clearly Perfect Slotted Trimmers™ for squaring up her half square triangles. I’ve watched a You Tube video on them and I think I may need to give them a try – to compare them with the Bloc Loc™. Stay tuned.

October 14, 2018, Piecing
Half Square Triangle Tricks – Pressing and Cutting

My neighbor Di is a dear friend, great walking partner, and talented website designer. She has her own business: Adunate Word and Design, and she designed both my website and my blog. A while back she mentioned that both of these items were a bit ancient and they might begin to malfunction if I didn’t do a bit of updating. My response: “may I hire you?”

Figuring out the nitty gritty of how things work on the internet gives me the heebie jeebies. Her response made me smile. She asked me if I remembered her talking about the quilt she started for her daughter’s wedding – 4 years ago. Well, the fabric was in a bag, and much of it was cut into little pieces. I now have the bag and she’s in the process of updating my web presence  😀 !

I was sure I had the better end of that deal until I looked at the pattern for the king sized quilt:

and realized she had already cut out all the light triangles and 2″ squares. There was no opportunity to strip piece the 4-patches or the half square triangles! Yikes! Did I say KING SIZE?!?

I decided it was still a good deal – and began cutting all the dark triangles. I’m not sure I’ve ever done a quilt with this many small pieces, but I’m up for the challenge. I chain pieced all 336 half square triangles for the center of the quilt. When making half square triangles, the amount added for seam allowance is 7/8″ (½” for the square and an additional 3/8″ for the diagonal seam). In a perfect world, cutting at this measurement, sewing a perfect ¼” seam allowance, and pressing accurately, should yield accurate blocks that don’t need to be squared up. But only God is perfect. In my case I prefer to cut everything a bit larger than needed and do that trimming thing. So I added 1″ for seam allowance and stitched with a scant ¼” seam allowance.

I have two great gizmos to help with this project: a Tailor’s Clapper I purchased at the Madison Quilt Expo this year, and a Ripper Perch (I made that name up because I don’t know what it’s really called  🙂 ):

I left the half square triangle blocks chained together to make laying them out easier, and placed the first 9 on my ironing board. I pressed them, with the dark triangles on top, to set the seam (this will give you a crisper press):

Next I finger pressed the first one open and set the iron on it:

I then finger pressed the next one, set the iron on it and laid the “Tailor’s Clapper” on the previous square. It holds in the heat to give a great press:

I moved down the line in this way until I had all the blocks on the board pressed.

Now to cut them apart. I was given a very useful tool by my friend Judy a few years ago.

It’s a seam ripper set in a spool that velcros™ to a heart shaped base:

You simply pick up a pair of squares and pop the threads between them onto the ripper:

Voila – the thread cuts quickly and cleanly, then you move down the line.

Once the pressed triangles were stacked I could repeat the process for the remaining 327 half square triangle blocks!

Next week I’ll share my favorite tip for squaring up blocks!


And one more thing…

Next Saturday I’ll be the featured speaker at the Festival of Quilts in Spring Grove, Minnesota!


If you’re in the area – I’d love to have you join me for my Gradation Play lecture.

October 7, 2018, Piecing