Snare the Innocent.

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During the last Austin Area Quilt Guild show last year, I spent most of my time (and money) visiting the vendor booths in search of my usual vintage fabric, quilt tops, and blocks.  I did find a respectable amount to bring home with me, but I was able to keep my shopping frenzy to a controlled minimum.

I also happened to have one of my daughters with me, the youngest, then at age 8.  She isn’t as interested in quilting or sewing as I was at her age, but she does dabble, and I don’t push her into that direction at all, lest I lose her quilting curiosity completely.  She may not get the quilt bug at all, and that is fine. She may pick it up later in life, when she is grown and has a family of her own.  I won’t bank on it.  I will love to see whatever she decides to do with her free time. Right now, her interest lies in destroying a ‘Wreck This Journal’ book. I couldn’t be happier.

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Anyway, while we were wandering the booths, we came to one vender called Afternoon Quilts, who had all of these beautiful little quilt kits. Most of them were small or lap size, all were simple, quick designs, and they were all-inclusive. The binding, the minkee backing, the batting, the carefully labeled pieces for the top (front of the quilt), and excellent easy-to-read instructions were all there in each kit.  My daughter was begging to have one, and so, we snagged the one named ‘After the Rainbow’ after much deliberation and one eeny-meeny-miny-moe tie-breaker.  It was pleasant to work with Katie and Debbie, the owners of Afternoon Quilts, as their customer service was outstanding. The part that really made me want to throw my credit card down, was the special attention that they gave to my daughter.  They kept eye contact and conversation with her at all times, as she was the true customer. It was a refreshing change in a place were children are not understood to be the possible next generation of quilters. I am telling you, this event might have hooked her into the world of fabric hoarding and ripping seams for the next 80 years (or so).

She came home that day all excited to make that quilt; however, I am ashamed to admit that I promised her we would get to right after (insert whatever interruptions normally happen here).  Okay, my bad. I realize and own this mistake. It’s all on me. This kit came to surface again last month when I was cleaning and purging my sewing room, so I immediately set it at the top of the ‘MUST DO!!!’ list, and we got to work.

I set her up on her brother’s Brother, and she went to town sewing these blocks together into rows, then I helped her get the rows together into a top. This was truly the perfect pattern for kids to be introduced to quilting. There is zero cutting to do (other than trimming to prepare for the binding step, and that step you can use scissors for.) It went together so fast. With kids, they want instant gratification on a project or they get bored, so this is very important to keep them motivated to keep with it.

The only notes that I would add to anyone interested in one of these kits is that the minkee/fluffy backing is not beginner quilter friendly. I had no problem machine quilting with it on my domestic machine, but I have a dual feed presser foot, which helps prevent shifting during quilting. Otherwise, I would recommended either asking if they have a cotton backing option, or you could spray baste between the backing and the batting layers before quilting.  We used plenty of safety pins, which worked just fine for the simple straight line quilting that we chose.

Another thing that could be done to make this quilt kit easy for a beginner, is to omit the binding completely. Before quilting, sandwich the three layers envelope style (batting, Backing-face up, then top-face down) sew around the perimeter leaving an opening to turn it inside out. stitch the opening closed afterward. Sew around the perimeter again to encase the outer seam, then quilt or tie the center area as desired.

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Hilariously, I decided to sew the binding to the front of the quilt by machine and hand stitch down to the back (my typical method), which is all well and good unless you have this fluffy backing.  I knew better, I really did.  I knew that I should have machine sewn the binding to the back, then hand stitch to the front, but you know how I love a good laugh. Other than that single trip-up, this was actually a fun experience. She got a new favorite lap quilt, I got a UFO out of my sewing room, and we both finished it together without any tears. 5 out of 5 stars full bobbins.

DISCLOSURE: This is an honest customer review.  I do not have a bias, nor have I financially benefited from this company by making this review.  At the time of this writing, Afternoon Quilts is unaware of my writings, which are my opinions alone. Thank you in advance for any feedback from my post, as I always value your kind words.

Have a happy sewing weekend, Y’all.

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Quilt it Like You Own It

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More than once I have been lectured by Mrs. Buttinski as I seam ripped into a vintage quilt top. Someone, somewhere, was probably dying a slow death, or rolling in their grave as I dismantle their magnum opus, and Mrs. B is not shy about letting me know the true depth of my stupidity, or my apparent hatred and selfishness for all things historically textile.

While I appreciate that there are at least a few quilt police still patrolling the perimeters of our quilt world, I want them and everyone else to be comforted by the fact that I actually know what the heck I am doing.  I am not so young anymore that I am constantly being ‘educated’ by other quilters that seem to think me unseasoned; and yet I am not so old that I have become close minded to new ideas or understanding the positions of newer quilters.  I am pleasantly stuck in between the two like a happy Libra on a perfectly balanced scale.

I not only studied textiles while attending college, I continue to educate myself through research and reading books on anything textile and quilt related. I was a student of Kathleen McCrady’s, before she retired her classes on quilt and textile history and preservation. Much of the newer books regarding feed sacks could not have been as easily printed, had it not been for her extensive work in preserving the history of quilting and these textiles. I studied all of the quilt books that are the main foundation for our understanding of quilting today. Barbara Brackman, Elly Sienkiewicz, Carrie Hall, Kansas City Star, Maggie Malone, Jinny Beyer, Patricia Cox, Gerald Roy, Roderick Kiracofe, the Gee’s Bend Quilters, Sharon Newman, Doris Bowman, Patsy and Myron Orlofsky…these and many, many others I have studied. I don’t stop at simply reading about quilts; going to museums to see these antique quilts is another way to appreciate the art. So, really what I am trying to say here is that I fully comprehend and admire quilters and their work.

I don’t buy quilts. This is because I am not a quilt collector. I don’t want other people’s quilts to be eventually passed to my family, as they will mistakenly believe that I made them. I don’t hand quilt other people’s quilts or tops for similar reasons; that and hand-quilting is (usually) by far more laborious than making the quilt top in the first place. I reserve my hand-quilting for only my personal favorite quilt tops. Even my own quilts are sent to a long arm if they are not in the top 10 percent. I love buying vintage quilt tops, but I don’t like to buy quilt tops that are perfect and ready to be quilted, because if I have it quilted, I’m back to owning another person’s quilt or work. I like to buy quilts that need to be reworked in one fashion or another.  Once a top is taken apart, changed up some, certain fabrics changed out, the quilt is changed. It is now a different quilt. It is now veritably my quilt, and can now be passed to family with zero worries of passing another quilter’s work off as my own. (There is also the added benefit that it doesn’t need to go into a two person quilt category in a quilt show.)

Let me tell you about a typical vintage quilt top that I work with. The picture seen at the top of this post is of a pile of 16-patch quilt blocks that were previously sewn together into a quilt top. I seam ripped all of the blocks apart and this is why:

  • The parts that were hand stitched were done with a thick thread, like a button thread, which puckered the fabric. Also, the stitches were on the large side making them structurally unsound. there weren’t any occasional back tacking within the running stitches.
  • The parts that were machine pieced, were stitched with black thread and white thread at the same time. The black stitches show up very well on all of those lighter prints of fabric. The machine used to make these stitches had thread tension issues, and probably the presser foot as well, as the stitches were not consistent in length, most being tiny, tiny, loopy things on the back.
  • The seam allowance varied, but in most places, the width of the seam allowance was much less than the preferred scant quarter inch, making the seams fray and pop open in many parts of the top.
  • The seams flipped all over the place. They did not like to lay flat at all. Not one bit.
  • Seam intersections did not match up, so the top was stretched and misshapen. See for yourself:20190712_131048
  • There were many fabrics that needed to be omitted because of the fiber content (rayon, silk, flannel), degradation of the piece (fraying, bleeding, shattering, etc.), or the weave was not optimal, such as the brown and white striped plisse pictured here. When I omit fabric, I try to replace with a similar print of fabric that may or may not necessarily be vintage.
  • The overall view of the top was visually confusing to the eye. There were no resting areas. the pieces blended too much in some areas, and were hyper contrasting in other areas. Usually, I am open-minded about such things, but there are simple tweaks that can be used to calm the appearance of an otherwise jumbled quilt top.

This was not a quilt top destined for the Smithsonian. I did not rob future historians of a priceless artifact by taking the blocks apart. I promise that the world will continue to spin on its axis if I take this thing apart and sew it back together.

There is a second part of this that I would like to address as well, and that is the original quilter. When I acquire a top in this condition, I did so because I found it to be absolutely charming. I may have liked the quilter’s choice of fabrics, of colors, of pattern, or technique.  I would not put my money down on a quilt top that I didn’t love. That quilter is always with me when I work on that piece, and every quilt top shows a different personality.  I can tell which steps the maker disliked, and which ones he/she enjoyed. I can sometimes even tell if the pieces were scraps from making clothing. I might learn if the quilter is seasoned by their use of value, working with directionals, plaids, contrast, color, construction, etc.  I might learn that the quilter was a child, or at least a very new sewist. I might learn that the quilter had vision problems.  Maybe it was one of the last pieces this person made.  It can all be so very bittersweet.

but also let me tell you that some of these are given/sold to me by the actual people who started them, or they remember them being made. In the 30’s and 40’s, quilting was less of a hobby than it is today, so there were many quilts made, because they had to be utilized. They didn’t have rotary cutters or quarter inch presser foot. They used a wooden ruler, for dang sakes.  This was not as enjoyable for most quilters as it is for the current day quilters. Many of these tops were not as sentimentally created as you might have been led to believe.

“Here, my Aunt Ruby made these.  She cussed the whole time through, so go ahead and do your thing with ’em, sweetie.” ”My mother decided to start quilting in the 40’s, learned she hated it, and took up golf.” ”I inherited these from my mother in law…I disliked my mother in law.” ”You really want these? I was going to use them for drop cloths for painting.” ”This is not a finished quilt, so it is headed to the trash bin. Ain’t nobody got time for that.” “Please don’t tell anyone I made this.” These were all things that I really have heard when getting some of these tops. Those are my favorites, because they kind of make me giggle when I see them.

The quilt top is mine now.  It really does belong to me, every stitch and every scrap. Some divine power decided that this top was destined to land in my lap, even if the wallet helped with the process.  Therefore, I get to decide how I am going to work with it, if at all. I might add my own fabric, whether it is vintage pieces from my collection, cut up clothing cotton, or something new and trendy. I might change the block. I might change the setting. I get to do this because the critics tend to forget something important: I am a quilter too. My personality deserves to be a part of this, just as much as the quilter who first touched this project. I consider it to be a collaboration of great friends, unknown to each other. Some of these projects were made by people who may have dearly loved to see them finished, but got stuck, or life got busy, or health declined. For whatever reason, many simply were not finished. I know he or she would be tickled that I loved something about their work, and now it’s up to me to take my turn with it and make them proud. That is the kind of quilt that I want to pass down. That is the kind of quilt I want my kids to sleep under. I really do want them to know that I was a part of something bigger than just myself.

 

 

Have you tried turning it off and turning it back on again?

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For over 10 years now, I have not been able to spend my time in the way that I wish, in regards to my hobby.  I admit that I could have been more active, had I been a bit more driven, but I honestly feel that had I really been serious about writing a quilt book, designing patterns, or even finishing my many, many projects, something would have come up to put a wrench in the gears. I think that these years are over, and you are the ones who are setting me straight. Funnily enough, you probably don’t even realize that what you are doing in your day to day life, affects and inspires me to move forward.

In these recent years, I have had a lot of quit in me. This is where I have been putting things on the later log, but I am thinking that it is time for me to get back to my normal, driven, very productive ways.  I recently submitted a quilt to a publication for consideration in an upcoming issue.  I have had quilts published in the past, so I am familiar with the process.  I sent in the required documentation. I waited. I followed up. I waited. I never received a response.  So, I submitted to another publication, and I am waiting on that one. And you know what? I might not hear from them either. But at least I am focused. Instead of just giving up and tossing it to the side as I have been doing, I plan on driving forward with a plan B, plan C, plan D if I have to. There are so many things that I can do, and I am beginning to be excited again about actually doing them.

You want to know something? I was heavily influenced by you though. You should know that I care about what you are doing. I follow your social media to see what you are making and to be inspired by your work. I see your quilt projects, or your travel pictures, or the progress that you are making by organizing your sewing room.  I look forward to your opinion on books that you read, movies you watched, and restaurants that you have visited.  I am simply a person who cares about what you are up to.  If you have not heard from someone recently about how much they appreciate you posting to your blog, posting a picture to Instagram, responding to a comment in Facebook, or making a tutorial in a Youtube video, I want to be the person who thanks you.  I am grateful to the community of quilters and crafters that drive forward every day.  You kept me in check. Sometimes life has a bad wifi connection and the only thing to do is to disconnect and reconnect again.  Reboot.  I think that’s it.  I needed a reboot.  I thank you for that.

 

Facemask: A picture tutorial.

My allergies have been incredible this year, and by that I mean that they have been worse than they have ever been.  (Please, please, please do not suggest medical advice here.  Much appreciated.)  I see an allergy specialist who gives me 2 shots, 2-3 times a week to help with my symptoms.  They have helped a lot; however, Juniper Ash (Cedar Fever!) here in Austin is 6 times worse than average this year, and boy oh boy, do I feel it. She suggested that I wear a face mask when I go outside to help reduce the amount of pollen that is going into my lungs and sinuses.  After going to a few different stores to purchase some, I found that many other Austinites had already bought them out. No worries, right?  I know how to sew.  I will just make one.  When I finished, I had many requests for a tutorial, so here you go:

Materials needed:

  1. 1 piece of fabric measuring 8” x 14”.  Until you get familiar with this tutorial, I would suggest a non-directional print.  One that has a scattered image printed on the surface such as the one shown.
  2. 2 strips of fabric measuring 1.75” (1 3/4”) x 6”.  This will be the accent edge piece.  It can be the same fabric as the main piece or a small-scale print or solid.
  3. Two pieces of 1/4” width elastic.  These will be about 6 1/2” long.
  4. Ruler
  5. Fabric marking tool.
  6. Pins
  7. Scissors
  8. Sewing machine, threaded.

Fold the main piece of fabric in half, right sides together.  Sew along the 8 inch width edge, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

 

Turn this tube shape inside out, so that the right side of the fabric is now on the outside.  Press this flat, keeping the seam to one end of the flattened tube.

Place the tube of fabric so that the raw edges are on each side and the seam edge is at the bottom. Using a ruler, measure and mark a line 1 1/2 inches from the bottom edge. Make another line 1 inch above this line, or 2 1/2 inches from the seam edge.  Don’t use a pencil as you see in the picture, use a fabric pen, or fabric chalk.  I used a pencil for illustration purposes.

Fold the seam edge up (or down in this picture, as I turned it upside down…sorry) making the crease on the first line that you just marked.  You should have 1 1/2 inch edge here.

Flip the tube piece over.  Match the crease edge to the second line that you made earlier.  Press.  The pleat that you just created will be 1/2 inch deep. Pin the pleat down on each raw edge end.

Now you will mark the lines for the second pleat. Mark a line measuring 1/2” from the top crease of the last pleat, (or 2″ from the bottom seam edge).  It was difficult to see the top of the crease in this picture, so look at the finger indicator above.

Now mark another line one inch above the last line that you made (or 3 inches above the seam edge).  Using these lines as your guide, repeat the steps that you followed to make the first pleat.

You should now have two pleats, each one being 1/2 inch deep.  Repeat the steps you used to make the second pleat, so that you end up with three pleats total. Press.

This is what your main piece should look like at this point.

Using a 1/8” seam allowance, baste stitch the raw edges.

Repeat this step so that both raw edges are basted as shown in the picture above.

Pin one elastic piece to the raw edge, making sure not to twist it before baste stitching it to the edge at both ends. I placed mine 1/8” from the top and bottom edge of the main pleated piece. Baste elastic in place 1/8” inch from raw edge.  Repeat, to attach remaining elastic piece to the other raw edge.

Your pleated piece should now resemble the picture above.

Fold each accent strip of fabric lengthwise in half, matching raw edges, as shown in the picture above.  Press.

Place the strip on top of the elastic.  Make sure the raw edge is facing outward, and the creased edge is facing the main body of the pleated piece.  It will be a little longer on the top and bottom and that is okay, as we are going to fold some of that to the back.

Tuck about 1/2” of the top edge to the back as shown in the picture above.

 

Pin all layers in place.

Trim the other end of the accent strip, so that it is about 1/2” longer than the bottom edge of the main pleated piece.

Fold the bottom edge of the accent fabric strip to the back, just as you did with the top edge.

Pin both ends in place.

Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, stitch the length of the entire edge, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.

Flip the accent fabric strip outward away from the main pleated piece, then press.

This is what the mask should look like if you flip it over.

fold the entire accent piece down toward the main pleated piece, encasing the raw seam. Press. Pin edge down.

If you are a good sewist, you will change out your presser foot to a straight stitch foot.  If you are lazy, like me, you will keep that 1/4″ presser foot on your machine and struggle your way through this next step. 😀 Stitch this accent strip down to the main body of the mask, sewing along the edge, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.

This step isn’t necessary.  It just gives it a nice finished look, and helps to give that elastic a little extra stability. Stitch down the edge of the mask close to the elastic side.

The front of your mask should now resemble the above picture.

The back of your mask should look like this.  Following the previous steps, attach the remaining accent fabric piece to the other end of the mask.

 

You should now have a reusable, washable mask.

It took a few hours to put this free tutorial together for you.  For this reason, I am greatly appreciative for any mentions that you can give me if you should use this tutorial. If you post a picture on social media, you can use the hashtag: #buttoncountermask. Feel free to share this page, and please tag me in your pictures so that I can see your beautiful creations.  Last, I appreciate constructive criticism, so if you notice something that doesn’t look right, or does not make sense, bring it to my attention.  I am happy to clarify any steps where you may have questions.

Enjoy!

P.S. Obviously, the elastic length can be adjusted to your facial measurements.

P.P.S. This is an adult size mask.  My 8 year old daughter has requested a mask as well, so I will be providing measurements soon for kiddo size masks.  Stay tuned.  Thank you!

 

3 inch block pincushion

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Hey.  You miss me right?  I know.  I never come around anymore, and when I do, I am just trying to get you to make stuff.  But, don’t you want to make things that you can get done in just one day?  No, I mean for real.  In one day.  I tell you what.  If you don’t trust me, I understand.  I have been there with the ‘(insert project here) in a day!!!’ books, pamphlets, and classes.  I am telling you, it’s lies, all lies.  I always end up with little bits cut out of yardage, and a half-baked tea cozy…or whatever.  But this here is legit, y’all.  You can bank this one on me.

So are you with me? Quick, grab or make a block that measures 3 1/2 inches square. (This block will finish at 3 inches, which explains how I came up with the genius title.)  This could be a churn dash, a log cabin, a split rail, improv, or even a paper-pieced pterodactyl.

And so it begins.

Supplies needed:

  • 1- 3 1/2 inch block of spectacular beauty
  • fabric scraps for the border cut into four rectangles. A ten inch square scrap would be plenty. 2 rectangles will be 1 3/4″ x 3 1/2″, and two rectangles will be 1 3/4″ x 6″. *note: if you are using a directional, read or follow pattern to the end before cutting, so you don’t get mad at me for ruining your day. (Seriously! Only one day!)
  • batting scrap measuring 6 1/2″ square
  • a 6″ scrap of fabric for the back or bottom of the pincushion
  • a 6″ piece of light weight, or woven interfacing, such as Pellon Shape Flex 101 (SF101)
  • Stuffing/filling:  Buy the ten pound bag, then only use a hand full…it’s the law.
  • a small plastic grid ruler, pencil, thread, needle, and if you sew like me…a seam ripper is always good to have around.  Don’t ask me why.

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These are the fabrics that I chose for the job.  I have already cut pieces to start.

Okay, so this next picture shows the grey border rectangles already sewn to the 3 1/2 inch block, because I thought that I got a picture of the process, but like a dufus, I didn’t; however, you can easily imagine that you take the two smaller rectangles, and using a scant 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew one to each side of the 3 1/2 inch center block.  Then take the two remaining larger rectangles and sew one to the other two sides so that it looks like this:

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Place the block on top of your piece of batting making sure to center it.  You do not need the backing piece yet.  (by the way, I have also used flannel or thermal fleece for batting on these.) At this point, you can put a decorative hand quilt stitch around the edge of the block using pearl cotton, DMC floss, or similar.  It isn’t necessary, it’s just to make it look pretty, y’all.

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Whether you decide to do that decorative quilt stitch or not, be sure to put a baste stitch around the perimeter of the pincushion top, 1/8″ from the edge, so that it looks like this:

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Trim the excess batting from the edge of the block so that it measures 6″ square.  Set aside.

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Now we are going to prepare the back, or bottom, of the pincushion by stabilizing it with the lightweight or woven interfacing.  Both the backing piece of fabric and the interfacing should be cut to 6″ square.

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You will attach it, following the product instructions, to the wrong side of the fabric.  Make sure that the rough side of the interfacing is facing the fabric.  If you get this wrong, it will adhere right to your iron. I have never made this mistake, but a distant cousin on my mom’s side of the family has a friend who said that it was the dumbest thing she has ever done.

Now we get to sew the two pieces together like a miniature pillow.  Placing the two pieces, right sides together, you will stitch around the perimeter of the square, using a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 2″ area unstitched, so that you can turn it right side out later.  In this picture, I marked the sewing lines on mine, purely for you to see your sewing lines easier, but you don’t need to mark yours.

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Okay, don’t turn it inside out yet.  I know you want to, but we are going to gusset the corners first.  Super easy. Pinch one corner like this:

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Then make it lay flat, so that the seams line up, and the corner is flat.  Make sure the other three corners are tucked out of the way when you mark your sewing line, 1/2 inch from where the corner stitches meet. (not the tip of the outer seam allowance). To help you see where I am measuring from, I made the line in this photo black, so that you can see the 1/2 inch.  Take a pencil to draw your sewing line, following the edge of the ruler.

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Sew the corner, sewing right on the line that you drew, using a shorter stitch length.  Make sure you back stitch at the beginning and end.  Repeat this procedure for the other three corners.  Trim the corner tips off, about 1/4″ on the outside of the stitches that you just made:

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Your pincushion should now look like a styrofoam clamshell for fast food hamburgers. 😀

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Turn this right side out.

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stuff it full of fiber fill, wool, or your pincushion filler of choice.

Stitch the opening closed. By. Hand. Duct tape is only okay if you are over deadline, or if you know you will never, ever, do this again anyway.

Please tag me (‘buttoncounter’ on social media) in your pictures if you make one (Instagram, blog, Flickr, etc.)  I would LOVE to see your version. Please remember that it is a lot of work to make a tutorial, with taking photos, uploading, typing up explainations, editing, then putting your soul out there on social media for people to critique, especially if that tutorial is free.  So, please be an awesome human, and do me a solid by mentioning me and this post if you happen to use it.  I thank you tons and tons.  Have a great and wonderful day!

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Banana!

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We didn’t celebrate Christmas at our house, which means, there wasn’t a whole lot of baking going on here.  For this reason, I don’t feel one bit guilty for making a pan of my Banana Cake.  Looks like I might need another piece.  If you want to come up with some reason for making a pan of your own, I hear that it’s national hand-washing awareness week.  Let’s celebrate!  Here is my recipe:

Button Counter’s Banana Cake

  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped

mix all ingredients. Make sure to dig out the egg shells that you accidentally dropped in the bowl.  Pour into a greased, 9×13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • half a bag of powdered sugar (2 cups?)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (I sometimes use imitation banana)

cream all ingredients together, then frost the top of the cake while in pan.  I like to sprinkle more walnuts on top of the frosting.

*sometimes, during more well known celebrations, such as National Potato Week, I will add chocolate chips to my cake batter. I know!

I hope you love it so much that you share only half the pan.

Five Spot

One more block to post here.  The Chuck Nohara Quilt Along started posting two blocks for a two week period, so that you can choose from one or the other to do.  I am going to try my darnedest to do both each time.  For one, it will help me to complete more blocks in a shorter time span, because we all know how fast life flies.  Another reason, is so that you are able to see how I tackled them both, instead of one or the other.  The next two blocks have already been posted, so I really need to tell you about this one, so that I can take on the next two. Let’s get started, ya?

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Here it is.  It is block number 1029. I call it “Five Spot”.  It wasn’t too tough to do.  Even if you are new to applique, there are so many methods that you could use to make this; even raw-edge applique.  I did needle-turn applique, because that is my favorite thing, but there are so many different ways to make these blocks.  I started by finding some similar greens from my scrap bin, and background print for my circle squares.  The pink fabric was also a few little fussy cut scraps from a friend, that I was happy to use here.

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Here, you can see that I simply cut my squares to make my 5” block.  If you are making 6 inch blocks, this measurement is much easier. I cut my squares 2 1/8 inches.

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Using a scant quarter inch on my sewing machine, I sewed together the nine-patch background piece.  On the back side of the piece, I traced my applique lines, using a template that I traced and cut from freezer paper.

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I used the same back-basting method that i have used on prior blocks. I used a contrasting thread to stitch my pink scraps of fabric to the front of the block, but I stitched it from the back side, following the circle lines that I had already drawn.  I trimmed the circles seam allowance on the front to approximately 1/8th inch around each circle. In this picture, you can see where I started the applique process on the center circle, by stitching a little at a time, clipping out basting stitches as I went along.

So, you see, this block is pretty easy.  You can do this one, I promise.  I really am excited to get started on the next few blocks, because I think I am going to paper piece them.  Instagram hashtag being used is #ChuckNoharaQAL.  Come join us!  There will be cake.

This House is For the Birds

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Wouldn’t you like to see the next block for the Chuck Nohara Quilt Along (#chucknoharaQAL on Instagram)?  Sure you would, and you might even want to make one yourself if you haven’t already.  I would love to see your version of this if you would like to show it off in our group.  Please come join us!  This one is Block number 969. I am calling it ‘House For the Birds’.

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I started, the same way that I start all blocks. By selecting my fabrics. These blocks are excellent for using up little bits of scraps that you might have in you scrap bin, or maybe already in your trash bin (shame on you if they are in file 13…I will take your scraps!)  While making this block I had a fail in one of my fabric choices, so I replaced it with another piece.  It happens to the best of us…and me too.

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After making my copy of the square to reflect my size (I am making 5 inch blocks, finished) I traced all of the applique pieces onto freezer paper.  Note that I made marks on the pieces, showing where other pieces match up, and the center lines of the block.  I do this so that I don’t accidentally sew my pieces down to the wrong spot…well, that is the idea anyway.  I manage to muck up things on a regular basis, all with good intentions, of course.

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I chose my background fabric and made it an inch bigger than it needed to be in both width and length, so that when the block is done I can trim it down.

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I folded the background in half both ways to find the center.  I lightly pressed the crease so that I could center the applique design appropriately. Then I got a cup of coffee, extra strong…with cream and sugar.  Don’t judge.

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I cut out the main bird house piece from the freezer paper, and used it as sort of a template to cut out the fabric piece, leaving about 1/4 inch seam allowance all around.  Then, making sure that the fabric was wrong side facing up, I placed the freezer paper piece shiny side up, centered on the fabric piece.  I pressed the side edges of the fabric to the edges of the back of the paper.  If you decide to do this, make sure that you only iron the 1/4 inch parts of the fabric, not the paper.

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I appliqued the main bird house piece to the background, being sure to center the design using the crease lines that I made as indicators.  I only appliqued the sides of the house, and basted the bottom.  I pulled the freezer paper out of the top, then basted the top down as well.  I trimmed the seam allowance on the top and bottom to about 1/8th of an inch.

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Then I cut out the freezer paper template and pressed it to the front of the fabric that I wanted to use for the pole that the house sits on.  I traced around the template to make my stitch lines for applique.  I cut my fabric piece, making sure to add about 1/8th of an inch seam allowance around the perimeter of the freezer paper template.  I pulled the paper off before centering the pole on the background,in the correct spot. I stitched it down on both sides, again basting only along the top and bottom of the pole piece.

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Then I did the same steps regarding the freezer paper, for the green base of the bird house, as I did for the pole. I centered the applique piece to cover the raw edges of both the bottom of the house piece and the top of the pole piece.  I appliqued it on all four sides.  Took another few sips of coffee.

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For the next step, I cut the freezer paper template for the roof top piece.  With this piece being narrow to work with, I pressed it to the back of the block, shiny side down, and traced a line around the perimeter.  Using a contrasting colored thread, I baste stitched the roof top fabric to the front of the block, but following the lines on the back. I stitched the rooftop down on the front, covering the raw edge on the top of the block.  Last, I centered the bird house door and appliqued that last, using the same back basting method that I used for the roof top.

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This is Gayle’s version, which I find absolutely adorable because of the fussy-cut bird that she used for the door.  That plaid is one of my favorites as well.

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Wow! look at Margaret’s block.  The background is fabulous.  I love polka dot fabric, like, crazy. Her color scheme is so pretty.

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This one was made by Kate.  She also used a spectacular background print and again with the fussy cut door!  This is just too cute. I like how her background print has a dark area that makes it appear that her bird house has a chimney. Love it!

Again, come follow us on Instagram. I am ‘Buttoncounter’ there as well.  The hashtag for the quilt along is #chucknoharaQAL. We would love to have you join in the fun.

Charley Horse! Sweet Jesus, Charley Horse!

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Just a quick post to let you know that if I am found dead on my front lawn, it is because I didn’t make it back home from jogging.  No foul play, no underlying drama. I am simply in terrible shape. In the last five days, I have put in just under 14 miles, all of them about 15 minutes per mile.  I have been walking them at a very fast pace instead of jogging, so that I don’t hurt myself any more that I already am.  My goal is to put in at least 50 miles this month.

On the days that I cannot walk, I will ride stationary bike (hard) for 30 minutes per day.

Let’s see how this month plays out…

This Crazy Journey Begins…Chuck Nohara Quilt

Block 1778 Floating Inner Tube

Block 1778, Floating Inner Tube

Guess what? It only took a few hours to complete my first Chuck Nohara block for this #ChuckNoharaQAL group that I am following on Instagram. We decided to bust the trail with block #1778 from the book, 2001 New Patchwork Blocks.  Now, Chuck doesn’t name the blocks, so I am going to give them my own names, just to keep them straight.  This one, in the book has an off-center circle that ‘floats’ to one corner, so I aptly named it ”Floating Inner Tube”.  After a little bit of therapy, and zen-like meditation, this severely Libra minded gal, decided to free herself into to crazy world of ‘off-center’.  I was really going to do it.  Then, my plaid yellow and orange fabric, bitch slapped me back into reality, and said ‘Are you tilted? I don’t play well with that silly red and white background that you just had to have!” So, I caved to my safe place, and went center.

Do you want to know how I made the block? Good. First I had to enlarge to block pictured in the book, from 2.25 inches to 5 inches (finished).  If you are not math savvy, that would be a 123% increase, or you would make it 223% the size of itself.  (put 223 in the copy machine and see what happens).  Everybody has a different machine, but the math doesn’t lie, so adjust your settings if you need to.  I am not going to provide pictures of the patterns in my blog, because that would be a copyright infringement, and I don’t look good in orange.

Obviously, to make this block, I had to begin with a four-patch background.  Super easy.

Using the circle as a template.Next, I cut the ‘Inner Tube’ circle out of the pattern to use as a template.  Following the outer circle, I traced and made marks on the yellow plaid fabric, so that I would know where to place the yellow tone-on-tone fabric for applique.

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Then, I cut one of the swirl pieces from the pattern paper to use as a template for the yellow tone-on-tone.  I traced around the piece four times, on the yellow fabric. If any of these pictures are difficult to see, try clicking on them for enlargement.

IMAG4937 (2)Leaving about an 1/8th inch seam allowance around the outside of my drawn line, I cut each yellow swirl piece from the yellow fabric scrap. I aligned the yellow pieces on top of the orange plaid circle, being sure to match up the notches and lines. I pinned them down, to begin applique.

IMAG4939I appliqued the two side edges of each yellow piece to the orange plaid circle.  I did not applique the outer or inner edge of the pieces of the circle…yet.  I left the outer edge, and the center of the circle raw edge for this step.

IMAG4941Then, leaving a 1/8th inch seam allowance on the outside of the outer circle, I trimmed it. I also trimmed the yellow plaid fabric away from behind the yellow print, so that I could eliminate bulk. I appliqued the circle to the background four-patch square. I centered it, because of the bossy plaid, but the pattern shows it off to one corner.  I forgot to take a picture of that step, but you can see the finished picture for a visual reference. Here, you can see where the center circle goes.  These are the lines that I followed to applique the center (red polka dot fabric).

IMAG4940In this picture, you can see how I again used the pattern piece to cut out the center circle to use as a template. I cut out the piece leaving a 1/8th inch seam allowance, and appliqued it to the center of the ‘Inner Tube’ unit shown in the above picture.

Here are some of the other versions of this block, made by members of the quilt along.  They are each fabulous, and serve as great inspiration.  I have permission from these amazingly talented gals to share their pictures:

Screenshot (26)Kate, (modernbasics on Instagram) made this one.  She chose to off-center hers (beautifully, I might add), using vintage looking fabrics. You know how much I love vintage fabrics!

Screenshot (25)This one is made by Margaret (mj_inparadise on Instagram).  For real! look at that fussy-cut center!  and the bright colors. Wow!

Screenshot (24)Last, but not least, is Gayle’s block.  (gaylebrindley on Instagram). Red and yellow are my favorite colors, so this one is pretty dang sweet.

There you have the first block.  It was a lot of fun.  It did take time to pick out fabric (the hardest part, we swear), but was pretty easy after that.  I cannot wait to find out what the next one will be.  Come check out the Instagram quilt along.  We would love to have you join in!