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

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Squaring the Circle

All of my circle sandwiches for the Mock Orange Peel are now sewn and all but a dozen of them have been turned right side out. There's still lots of pressing and top-stitching to do but I'm determined that this one isn't going back into a cubby for another seven years, so I work on it in dribs and drabs. I've been a little distracted by the trimmings from the circles though.

The corners that are cut away from the four-patch circles looked big enough to do something with...

 I've been stacking them to the side and eventually making very tiny four-patches.

Finished they will be 1.5", which is pretty small, and there aren't nearly enough to make a quilt, but there are about 80 of them so I'm thinking they would make nice centres for Square in a Square/Economy Blocks. They are sort of like the starter for sourdough bread - tiny bits of one quilt feeding the creation of the next...M

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Reveal

We had a little house guest over the weekend so it was time to bring out her surprise and reveal what all of my secret sewing was about. Now when Baylea comes to visit she can lounge in her new quilted dog bed.

It seems to be a hit.

She particularly liked it when we threw a blanket on top so that she could wrap herself up in it (she is the Queen of the Snooze).

This was the inspiration that I worked from but, much as I love white in a quilt, I couldn't bring myself to use white in a dog bed.

The pattern called for covering a store bought dog bed insert but I used lots of batting and fabric trimmings to fill it instead, an idea I got from Wanda at exuberantcolour. She saves all of her trimmings for a friend who makes dog beds, which is just a perfect way to use up all those scraps. Waste not, want not.

It won't win any awards for quilting accuracy, but it got better as I went along.

I really had a hard time resolving to cut off the corners so that the bed was circular, but as soon as the first corner came off my fears were put to rest - that changed it completely.

That said, I did have a hard time saying goodbye to this little block, but it's now part of the stuffing, so at least it got used.

I wasn't sure if I had enough stuffing in it but after a little test run with the pooch in question we resolved that it was just fine, so I will stitch that opening closed.

Anyway, our precious pup now has a new little nest to spend her time in when she's over for a visit and appears to be very happy about it....M

Friday, April 21, 2017

Instant Messaging

My start on the Anna Levens quilt has been more than protracted. In fact, its been downright pokey. It's been on the go for at least six months now and I seem to drop it more often than I pick it up. If I was better at prepping the hexies in advance I'd be further along but, because I haven't, I tend to find something else to work on instead.

And I seem to be getting subliminal messages from it now that I've picked it up again as I wondered where I was in the process. Look closely. How's this for a hint?

Or this?

I cut my paper hexies from business reply cards that show up in the mail and their messaging seems to be very spot on. Made me smile....M

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Treats

There's been some baking going on for Easter, and some yummy baking at that. Betty found a recipe for a Grapefruit Curd Tart with Black Pepper Pastry. I don't know that it would ever have occurred to me to make a tart with grapefruit (let alone put black pepper in the crust), but I'm very glad that I did. It was the perfect dessert after our ham dinner.

I was a little concerned because the crust was quite thick, but it was very nice - like eating a shortbread biscuit with the curd. The Official Cookie Tester gave it a thumbs up, as did everyone else, so this one will be a keeper.

Then I tried a Plum Loaf. I'd seen plums in the grocery store and just knew that they were coming home with me - not sure for what, but this loaf turned out to be the answer.

It calls for margarine but I used unsalted butter and it was very nice.

I also added about half a teaspoon of cinnamon to the brown sugar topping and it was a nice touch. I've got enough for a second one so I think I'll make it, maybe add a little candied ginger, and freeze it. Another favourable review from the Official Cookie Tester.

After that it was time to pull some fabrics for a few more Anna Levens blocks. I had a mauve ring of hexies all ready to go but after looking at the pattern again I wasn't sure that there was enough pattern in the print.

So I pulled several more and am playing with new combinations.

I also found a green that I'd forgotten about which I think will work well for one of the hexie rings. Now I probably have too many options but I'll see where this takes me....M

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Secret Sewing

I've been thinking of a little project for quite some time now and last week I gave it a start. The large floral was my jumping off point.

It's for a certain someone so I won't reveal everything right now, but there are a few pics that I can show you without giving everything away.

With any luck it will get finished later this weekend, once all the Easter dinner cooking and baking is behind me - time will tell. Until then, everything is very 'secret squirrel' 😉  ....M

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Backing Up

There's a pile of quilt tops sitting on a chair outside my sewing room and this year I'm attempting to move them along and get several of them finished, so I pulled my Kaffe Fassett Blue Diamonds from the pile and had a chat with Roberta to see if she had a suitable backing (despite having a pretty significant stack of backings - I dare not say how many - there was nothing in my stash that would do the trick).

We found one that would do in a pinch, but it wasn't really doing the quilt justice so I decided to keep looking. Well, I think I struck pay dirt. I happened upon a great little geometric pink print and got about 4.5 metres of it for - get this - $3/metre! Bingo!

I wasn't convinced that it was going to be a big enough piece, and it isn't, but at that price there was enough to make a very good start on a pieced backing. So, back into the sewing room I went and voila - another pink print, a small piece of blue (that's a VIP print that has been around forever), a deep turquoise and a teal/green that I brought back from Beijing a few years ago. Perfect.

So, everything is washed and ironed and now I need to start laying out some options. Hopefully soon it will be ready to take back to Roberta for quilting....M