New Lucky projects to share

>> Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Life is full and busy on my end these past few weeks, but I didn't forget that I wanted to share a free project every month this year. This month's freebie is several projects that, with any luck, will lead you to use up some stash and try something new too!

selvage projects for March and St. Patrick's Day sewing

It's my turn over at this week and I decided to make shamrocks out of hearts, try out some built in decorative stitches, and finally play with my rainbow of Tula Pink selvages!

You can see my post reviewing PFAFF's passport 3.0 and using selvages to make a stitch sampler here.

Then I turned my sampler into a mug rug with a shamrock.

And I used the shamrock to make myself a pincushion too!

There's one more project lined up for the rest of the week that I'll share later - or you can check it out starting tomorrow at QUILTsocial.

I hope these projects bring a little bit of light and joy into your sewing time too.

With Joy,

Sarah V


Keeping up by keeping organized - my 150 Canadian Women quilt blocks

>> Sunday, February 19, 2017

I am finding it hard to keep quilting on my list of things to do and still enjoy it. I thought you might be too! This post will go through how I keep my supplies and fabrics organized so that I can move this project forward and enjoy the time spent doing it. There's nothing more frustrating than having time and wasting it looking for something ;)

4 - 6 inch blocks red and white for Canada's 150 birthday

I felt silly writing the title for this post because I still have last week's blocks to do to be up to date with the 150 Canadian Women blocks! A new group of 3 will be released on Tuesday by Next Step Quilt Designs - motivation to write this post and get quilting!

keeping fabrics sorted to ensure variety in quilt blocks

When the blocks get listed the first thing I do is download the files to save them. I take the time to read the great historical information included about each woman a block is named for, keeping in mind my fabrics in case there is a motif on the fabric that would suit telling a particular woman's story.

Sometimes that's all I get done! If I have more time, I go to my fabrics. 

I am growing a small collection of reds and whites. I keep them in a clear box with a lid - it's about the size of a shoe box. At this point, because I have made over 30 blocks, I have some small bits of fabrics that I keep laid out in the lid of the box. When I put the fabrics away for the week I place the box on top of the lid and then tuck it into it's spot on the shelf.

Inside the shoe box is semi-organized with reds on top followed by whites. I have a large piece of red that I think I'm saving to use with some 12 inch blocks that I plan to incorporate into the quilt top. I'll show you my first one later in this post!

As I'm picking fabric for this week's blocks I leave the ones I use outside the box so I don't use them for more than one block. When I'm finished making this week, this mini pile goes under the fabrics in the box so they are picked first next week. This saves me time going to find last week's blocks and matching fabrics to them so I don't repeat the fabrics too soon. Of course, sometimes I do, but I'm trying to avoid it;)

using blocks as leader and ender of each other lined up on sewing table

My next step is to cut the fabrics for all three blocks before I start sewing any of them together. 

I'm lucky to have a long sewing table with room to the right of the machine for leaving pieces out - even overnight. My cats don't jump up here like they do on my cutting table (!) so I know the pieces will still be in the right place when I sit down to sew.

I also use a little flannel design board that I inherited from my husband's granny to move pieces from my cutting table to sewing table. Leaving one block on here gives me more room on the table too - I can place the board on my ironing board if I need to.

different rulers that are useful in making patchwork blocks

I have several different rulers I use to cut and prepare my block pieces. The longer 18 inch ruler for making initial cuts of fabrics off of larger pieces.
 The 6 1/2" square ruler has great increments printed on it for cutting the smaller pieces used in these blocks. I like that I can turn it one way to square up for 2 1/2" then turn to a different corner to square up to a whole number - like 2, which is a popular square size in these blocks.
The yellow ruler you can see in the photo is used for its straight edge to draw diagonal lines on the back of squares when making hsts. I use a red dressmaker pencil also inherited from my husband's granny! 
I match up the hst pieces and bring them over to the sewing table with the rest of the pieces in the block laid out for assembly.

Once all the pieces are cut then I start sewing the blocks. I usually do one at a time, but sometimes I make any hsts needed for the blocks at the beginning. Then I trim them and lay out the pieces for all 3 blocks and start with the first block.

12 inch Northcott tree block

Two weeks ago when I went to my local quilt shop I was lucky enough to get a copy of the stores 12" block for Northcott's Trans-Canada Block Party. 

I'm in love with it and trying really hard to resist making a whole quilt of this beautiful block!

6 inch and 12 inch block with diagonal triangles

I thought it was pretty neat that I had just tackled the same triangle construction in block 37 that's also in this tree block.

blocks 37 38 and 39 from Next Step Quilt Designs

These are last week's blocks done. After a week of looking at them I notice a mistake in the one on the top right. It might just stay that way! I'll do the first block for this week and see.

I hope seeing how I organized my time and fabrics helps you in keeping up with a project you enjoy!

With Joy,

Sarah V.


Madhatter Tea Party Challenge Quilt

>> Monday, February 6, 2017

I'm late! I'm late! But never one to completely give up on a challenge - so here's my quilt top. Finally!

madhatter tea party quilt applique tea cup quilt Pat Sloan

The challenge was originally issued back in 2009 by Pat Sloan. If you 'google' madhatter tea party quilt challenge you will find the applique templates for the tea cups, tea pot, cream and sugar.

It was pretty much make the blocks and create your own quilt. A lot of possibilities there, right! I took my time hand blanket stitching around the tea cups and such, but really wanted to get this one done this year.

I've always thought of it as my after-the-birthdays-are-over month quilt because in our house we have 3 birthdays from the end of February to the end of March - I want this quilt ready to hang when the birthdays are over! Because in my head I've always attached the tea party song, 'a very merry unbirthday to you - to you' to this quilt! LOL! 

pieced cake quilt block snapshots sew along

So of course my quilt needs cake! Again, several years ago now, when I saw this cake block in the Snapshot sewalong by Fat Quarter shop I knew this block would work in my unbirthday month cake. Both my son and I think it would have been better with the yellow as the icing and the green as the cake but, it's done and it definitely suits the rest of the party decor!

Now that I'd added a different block to the mix I needed to figure out what to add that would still keep it looking like a tea party. I thought about a big top hat but it didn't feel quite right. I decided to go through my books by Pat Sloan to see if any of her other blocks would fit in.

heart roses applique quilt block designed by Pat Sloan

Heart roses! Perfect. So fun to make in the fabrics I had set aside to go in this quilt. It's from her book, New Ideas for Applique.

Then it was time to start setting the blocks to see what I could do with the fabrics I had. I decided on making some of them 'wonky' and used a tutorial to help me with the cutting - even though I ended up making some wrong cuts and pretty much flubbing my way through!

I made the two outside columns first, alternating my sashing fabrics and measuring to get them both the same length. I decided to put a long block in each column to hopefully balance out the composition. Then I had a bit of leftover space in the middle column. I had been considering a label for the quilt and putting it on the front. 

handstitch quilt block with ric rac on alice in wonderland quilt

Of course! Just like in Alice in Wonderland. I traced Pat's letters from the templates and even used her heart embroidery from her little Splendid Sampler cake block - which almost made it into this quilt too. Maybe the back label? The ric rac is sewn into the side seams of the black fabric; I think I'll stitch it to the quilt too when I quilt it. The black flower fabric reminds me of the flowers that sing Golden Afternoon in the movie :)

madhatter tea party quilt challenge by Pat Sloan

Then there was some humming and hawing trying to figure out the best use of the Alice in Wonderland fabric that I had for the borders - not enough to go around all four sides. I thought about adding little cake block or a teacup in each corner. Then I realized that where I will hang this quilt in my house you won't see the bottom all the time. So it's okay if it doesn't match or balance in the corners and that's when I came up with using the Alice fabric on the sides and top and more of the cards fabric across the bottom. I tried the card fabric on the sides but it blended right into the sashing where it's the same fabric - and alternating the fabrics around the quilt would require a lot of math and still be tricky to line up. 

Better late than never, right? This is my first UFO finish of 2017 - even though it's just the top. It's next in line to get quilted so it's done in time for April in my house!

Do you make challenge quilts? 

With JOY,

Sarah V.


Tutorial: Scrappy 9 Churn Dash block

>> Sunday, January 15, 2017

One of my goals this year is to offer more tutorials here. I've called this one Scrappy 9 churn dash - enjoy!

orphan christmas blocks row quilt christmas blocks

You can see my first attempt at this block in my Christmas sampler quilt from this year. I needed to make another 12" block to finish a row.

scrappy bento box blocks christmas quilt

I also had lots of small scraps left over to make more scrappy bento box blocks - all in Christmas colours. I combined the two and my love of the churn dash block to come up with my new scrap busting block!

scrappy 9 churn dash block scrap patchwork block

My first attempt only came out to 12" and was a tight fit into the quilt - but I did manage it ;) I thought I'd try again and make a full 12 1/2" block to share with you.

tutorial scrap block churn dash 9 patch


In my original block I used a mix of different colour fabrics for the 9 patch and the churn dash with light fabrics for the background. I decided to make my block using all one colour of scraps for the tutorial to make it easier to show you background and block units in my photos.

For the nine patch - 9 - 2 1/2" squares in your colour of choice

For the half square triangle units (hsts) - 2 - 3" squares in your colour of choice AND 2 - 3" squares in background fabric to make 4 hsts each measuring 2 1/2" square.

* I had leftover hsts from my 150 Canadian Women quilt blocks that I used for this red block. Use leftovers if you have them - even trimming down leftover larger sized hsts if you want! Othewise follow along below where I give brief directions to make 4 hsts.

For the 9 patch border - 2 background strips 1 1/2" wide x 6 1/2" long
                                       2 background strips 1 1/2" wide x 8 1/2" long

For the churn dash sides - scrap strips 1 1/2" wide in colour of choice and background fabric to make   4 strips in colour of choice 1 1/2" wide x 8 1/2" long
                4 strips in background fabric 1 1/2" wide x 8 1/2" long


bordered 6 inch nine patch block

To make the 9 patch, sew the 2 1/2" squares in the colour of your choice into 3 rows of 3 squares. Notice I didn't play with value here at all - I just made sure identical prints weren't directly beside each other. Most of my squares are all the same brightness! It's up to you and your fabrics how you sew them together (if you want a secondary patten to emerge or for the patch to read as just one colour.)

Press the seams in the top row to the left, the middle to the right, the bottom row to the left again.
Sew the rows together and press the seams whichever way they want.

Sew the top and bottom 1 1/2 x 6 1/2" border strips to the 9 patch, pressing these seams to the border strips.

Sew the side 1 1/2 x  8 1/2" border strips to the sides of the patch, pressing the seams to the border strips. 

The bordered 9 patch should measure 8 1/2" square.


framed 9 patch block scrappy block layout

To make the half square triangle units, on the wrong side of each of the 3" background squares draw one diagonal line; this is your eventual cutting line.

2 hsts tutorial

Match up one 3" square of the fabric of your choice with a background square, right sides together, and sew 1/4" away from each side of your drawn line.

cut on drawn line to make 2 hsts

Cut ON the line and press the seams to the churn dash fabric.

 Trim each unit to 2 1/2" square for a total of 4 - 2 1/2" hsts.


Sew strips of the colour of your choice together end to end to make 4 strips 8 1/2" long.
Repeat with the background strips to make 4 background strips 8 1/2" long.

assembly layout  scrappy 9 churn dash block tutorial

Sew together in pairs one background strip and one colour of your choice strip to make 4 sets.
Press the seam to the colour of your choice strip (in this case, red.)


Sew one churn dash side set to the left side of the bordered 9 patch unit; press the seam to the churn dash set.
Sew one churn dash side set to the right side of the bordered 9 patch unit; press the seam to the churn dash set.

Sew one hst to each end of the remaining two churn dash sets with the colour of your choice side of the unit facing in (the background to the outside of each end.) Press the seam to the set.

scrappy 9 churn dash block assembly

Sew one of the sets with hsts to the top and one to the bottom of the block. Press the seams to the added units.

scrappy 9 churn dash block pieced block tutorial

The completed block should measure 12 1/2" square.

two scrappy 9 churn dash blocks

It turns out I have a lot of scraps right now - including lighter ones which is rare for me. To take advantage of the scraps I made another scrappy 9 churn dash, this time in greens with my lighter background fabrics in more ecrus and tans. The red block has more white and grey fabrics. I like both! This just might be an ongoing scrap project for me this year  - think I can make one for each colour of the rainbow? 

I hope you enjoy using some of your scraps to make a scrappy 9 churn dash block - or two ;)

With Joy,

Sarah V.

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Quilting my way into the new year

>> Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Happy New Year! Best wishes for some productive time quilting this year. 

sampler quilt row quilt Christmas orphan blocks made into a quilt

I spent the time leading up to Christmas and a few days after working at putting this lap quilt top together. It's made up of random blocks that were sitting in a pile waiting patiently - some longer than others. The 6 pointed stars near the top were actually handpieced by my husband's grandmother and have been sitting in my stash for almost 10 years! Happy to finally give them a home :)

Pat Sloan little wishes blocks

My traditional New Year's activity is spending quality online time with the Sloanie group of quilters where we have a luau together, sharing photos of projects picked to work on over the evening as well as photos to keep us inspired (coffee, drinks, cabana boys. . . wink!) I pulled out these Little Wishes blocks designed by Pat Sloan for a challenge last year(um, make that 2015!). They never  became anything at the time.

design wall block parts planning side by side layout of blocks

Over the year I had made a few more units to make more blocks but never got around to it until New Year's. I really like that this block when set side by side creates another row of stars with a four patch inside. Unfortunately most of my scraps are dark and this feature really gets lost in my layout.

quilt top  bright colours bordered blocks

I went back to my cupboard and found these bright pinwheel blocks that were leftover from another project from several years ago too. I know I used some to make one side of a quilt for my son a few years back, but I still had these ones. I decided to border the Little Wishes blocks I had done and set them with the pinwheels to get it done! My family thinks it's pretty bright ;) I plan to donate this one either through my local guild or somewhere else local. Donating a quilt (or more) has been on my list of things I want to do for a couple of years - now all I have to do is quilt it!

quilt top Christmas quilt

I do try to work on Pat Sloan inspired projects over New Year's as the luau is with a group of friends brought together by Pat's work. And also because a lot of my UFOs are based on her work (LOL). This year I'm going to make a second Season of Grace quilt which was a joint project between Pat Sloan and Emilie Richards several years ago now. I made my first one using up a lot of my husband's granny's stash which I inherited when she passed. Several years ago my mom gave me her Christmas stash and I set it aside knowing I wanted to make a second quilt with it. 

Here's a great flashback post showing the progress on the first Season of Grace quilt.

I had my son get out the fabrics and sort them so I could figure out which ones I had enough of to make the quilt top itself. New Year's Eve eve day I cut out the fabrics and put them together so technically, this top was finished last year ;) I'm going to cut out all the backs for the stockings next and plan to quilt the top long before Christmas so I have time to put the buttons on - which I may even try doing with a sewing machine!

150 Canadian Women quilt blocks

I also got caught up before midnight on the 150 Canadian Women quilt blocks being put out by Next Step Quilt Designs. My plan is to sew them into groups of 4 and set them with thirteen 12 inch Maple Leaf blocks. My sister gifted me with some of her stash at Christmas which is good because I have never really "stocked" red in my stash - nor whites for that matter! This project is fun for me on so many levels - a long project, sewing with others, patchwork (only so far!), and history. Each block is named after a Canadian woman in history and comes with her story. Also the challenge of working in such a limited palette - even though I am stretching into burgundy and pinks - is fun. And it will be a quilt for me which also seems to be a theme for me this year!

After all this catching up I slowed down. A lot. Overwhelm hit as I tried to figure out what next and to get my year of quilting planned out. I decided there was lots of time for that and to pick a quilt that I wanted to work on first. 

tea party applique tea cup blocks bright whimsical quilt blocks

Yup. You guessed it, another Pat Sloan challenge! These are my blocks from the Madhatter Tea Party challenge - in 2009! I finally finished blanket stitching one of the last tea cups during the Rose Parade and then made the Snapshots quilt along Let Them Eat Cake block. Now I'm pondering some more additions. I look forward to sharing some progress with you on this one again next month. My goal is to have it up in our house for April after our birthday season is over.

This holiday season I'm grateful to be a teacher with time off over the holidays! Wishing you much joy in the year ahead.

With Joy,

Sarah V.

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