This House is For the Birds


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’.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Screenshot_2015-03-29-22-05-58_1 1

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!


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.


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!

How to Start a New Project…Again.

Well, I know for a fact that you don’t need instruction on making a decision to start a new project.  You may have started three just today, for example.  I have an extremely easy time coming up with new project ideas.  In fact, I think that I should start another one right now.  What do you think?  Oh, look!  Here’s one…and I already have the book.  It is by an amazing Japanese quilter by the name of Chuck Nohara.  She (yes, she!) is one of Japan’s first quilt instructors.  She has a few other publications as well; but this one, called 2001 Nouveaux Blocs de Patchwork, is chock full of beautiful quilt blocks that will truly keep you stitching for years.  It is printed in French, but has an English translation; regardless, words are not needed, as all of the blocks are there for your drafting pleasure. It is not unlike the Dear Jane book by Brenda Papadakis.  To order your very own, you can go to Quilt Mania.

Now that I have decided to take the plunge and do this, let me begin by telling you how I came to find this project.  Lorena Uriarte is a beautiful, smart, talented, and sassy quilter that I have been following on Flickr, Instagram, blog, and real life. She has made more than one of Chuck’s quilts, and has ribbons to prove it.  She also teaches a class on making these blocks, at Material Obsession in Australia. A few months back, Lorena was posting pictures to her Instagram feed, of blocks that she was making.  I got uber jealous, and being a little antsy as well, began to draft what she was making, without having had the book (at the time).  They were so addicting to make…and fun!  I made three of them in a matter of days before my schedule consumed me.

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting Lorena in person, so I gave her the few blocks that I was able to finish.  Isn’t she lovely?  I am the weirdo on the right holding a fabulous basket that she made for me. (I am still freaking about it!)


Alright, so I ordered the book. A few months go by, then a few friends (that I will soon introduce) started posting that they were going to start a Chuck Nohara Quilt Along via Instagram, so naturally, I was in. I didn’t even have to think about it. The plan is, that every two weeks or so, there will be a new block assigned.  We have the full two weeks to get it done, and we can do more if we like, or we can do alternates, but the point is that we will have a small (?) group of people working on these at one time, together.  If we need help, or inspiration, or cheer-leading, it can be found at the hash-tag #ChuckNoharaQAL on Instagram (and possibly Flickr soon!).  So, if you want to learn a little more about it come find us there, we would love to have you and your friends join us.

Tomorrow, I will do a blog post here, showing the first block, along with a few versions already made up.  I will also include step by step visuals and explanations of how I tackled it.  Don’t forget to come check it out.

Finally, I would like to share what my color theme will be for the blocks.  I started by throwing a few of my favorite fabrics and colors together.  Then I pulled colors from what was pictured in my inspiration group.  It is going to be a little bit of a challenge to work within these color parameters, but obviously, I love a good challenge.

Let’s Do This.

This is the inside of my brain.

Do you know what happens when an organized person loses control of their domain?  Well, I can tell you, because I have experience in that field.  I am just the person to tell you exactly what happens.

First, chocolate is consumed by the bushel, as a coping mechanism.  I pop a Dove every time I misplace my scissors.  ‘Tis easier to pop a chocolate, than to succumb to the realization that I have lost the damn things five times today already.  Maybe I am losing them on purpose now…something to think about.  Pavlov, let me know what you think on the matter, will you old chap?  Anyway…yes. Chocolate.  A bag or three should do it.  Hang it from your doorway. Anything that will hit you in the head on the way out of the room, is never truly lost.  Do not do the same with scissors.

That pattern that you have been looking all over for?  You looked in every book you ever owned because you thought you used it as a bookmark.  You looked on top of each one of your piles of fabric, twice.  You looked in the Fridge, because, well, that is where you found your scissors.  I am willing to bet that you looked under your sewing machine, or your cat.   Maybe it is hanging on your design wall.  Nope. The last pattern that I lost, I lost my mind search of it. I spent a week searching.  When you spend a week searching, you may want to consider that the stupid thing only cost ten bucks in the first place.  You have now spent 25.5 hours looking for it.  March your butt over to your laptop and just buy another one!  PDF pattern!? What the heck…it was IN my computer!!!  Lol. Facepalm.

When my sewing space kicks me out of it, it is time to take back control. If I don’t, I eventually find my kids playing ‘king of the hill’ there…or ‘Hide and Seek’. Clearing off my TV stand today, I found a not-so-horrible mug, my fishing licence (which I had to replace!) a pile of triangles that I cannot remember what I was going to do with, a third tissue box, and weirdly, a remote, and much, much, more.  My cutting table is somewhat usable right now.  I have a fat-quarter sized spot to cut on, which means that my yardage staying in the laundry basket in the corner for a little while. My couch only has space for one butt now, due to the clutter, and if I keep losing my scissors, I may as well kiss that goodbye.  I am sure I saw my sewing machine here somewhere…and a mushroom. (a fake mushroom, but still.)

I always have a good excuse when it comes to this level of unclean.  The excuse always makes me feel better.  It makes me feel like I really am in control of this walk-in box of quilt debris. My excuse is that I was sick for the entire month of November, and never caught up with the aftermath.  I was well enough to buy fabric, apparently though.  It is like Moda, FreeSpirit, and the Container Store blew up in the littlest bedroom of our house.  I don’t have a problem.  I have a mess.  I have a terrible, terrible mess.

I solemnly swear to clear off one area tonight, and post a picture.  I will give myself until January 31st (of this year, sigh) to clean the whole sewing room.  Operation #cleanthesewingspace has officially begun.  Come play work with me!  I am going to do it with or without you though.  Seriously, this time.  Other challenge areas to follow.

Every sewing space has a table, or place of cutting.  Do me a favor.  Go clear off your cutting space.  Don’t swipe it on the floor either, because I am watching you.  Hang your rulers back on the wall, or side of your shelves, or on the side of your cutting table.  Put your cutters in a cute bucket, and hang that bucket high on the wall, so the kiddos (and husbands) don’t get them.  Take a picture and Instagram or Flickr that thing, so I can see.  Tag Buttoncounter. Seeing what you all do, will not only help me, but I imagine that others seeing your clean spot, will learn tips, tricks, or simply be encouraged to dig in as well.

Have fun y’all!

Vase Full of Dandelions

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I have this project.  It is a quilt.  It needs binding.  Still!

I have these kids.  They prevent me from binding this project.  Sometimes, it is so uncool that they do this.  They take away my precious quilting time, causing me to do terribly unfun things like laundry, dishes, and wiping up glitter.  I try to sneak into my sewing room, but as soon as they hear my iron turn on, or my machine start to hum, they go into action.  They tip a plant over.  They spill syrup all over everything and under.  They build a fort with my clean laundry, using toothpaste to draw the ”windows”.  They poop.  They poop.

But you know what?  Sometimes, it is so cool when they take me away.  When they run in to bring me “flowers” (weeds, complete with roots…but hey!  They are pulled weeds!).  When they color a picture for me.  When we go swimming.  When we play at the park. When we go to the movies.  When we read a book.  When we dance and shake our booty.

I have this project.  It is my son.  He needs to learn to ride his bike.  Still!

He is 8 years old, and cannot ride bike yet.  Do you know why?  Because I have been so distracted with  my quilting, binding, sewing (unsewing, then sewing again), that I get lost in time and space.  I lose touch with those things that are most important.  Those pooping weed-pickers.  I love them.  I don’t want all of my years to pass by and only have a bunch of quilts to show for it.  I want a whole vase of dandelions.  I want to read “Walter, the Farting Dog” for the thousandth time.  I want to watch “Wreck it Ralph” in the dollar theater with popcorn for three (even though we own the DVD).  I want to see Ender Dragon get defeated yet again in Minecraft.  I want to see an 8 year old boy ride his bike.

If I am half the planner that I think I am, or half the mom I wish I were, I should be able to accomplish both, with a little bit of effort, planning, and tenacity.   These two things I will do!

1.  I will bind that quilt.

2.  That boy will ride his bike.

What does all of this mean to you?  Hopefully a lot.  If anything, it should help you on your own little projects.  Here are my challenge for you this week:

1.  I want you to spend quality time with somebody you care about, doing something new and unexpected, fun, and different.  Post, Instagram, Flickr, or Blog about it.  Your family and friends love it when you brag on them anyway. Tag me!

2.  Get working on that one thing in your sewing room that you are stalling.  Tell me what it is.  How did you do? Go, have fun!…while I clean up this glue and toilet paper.

First Kiss

A persons first post is usually a little awkward.  It can be uncomfortable for the person reading it, and it can be a struggle for the person writing it.   There is usually a little bit about ones self, a promise to post again soon (in a few hours), and no pictures.  First posts are a lot like a persons first kiss.  You have no idea what to expect.  You have no idea if it will even be half-way decent.  Worse, you have to rely on others to tell you how you did.

All of my firsts have been horrible.  lol.  My first time riding a bike, I spent more time picking it up off of the ground than being on the seat.  My first attempt at college was … bad.  I had no role models to show me the ropes.  My first quilt…shaped like an hour glass instead of the preferred rectangular option.  Even my first marriage was everything except right.  But,  I now have a motorcycle licence.  I graduated from college with honors.  I have produced award-winning quilts, and teach others how to do the same.  Best of all, my second and final husband is the most amazing man to ever walk the earth.

You are reading my first post on this blog.  My hope, is that you will enjoy it enough to keep coming back often, to see what I am up to.  I have stories to tell, that will make you pee (a little), laughing.  I have projects (and blunders) to share with you.  I have ideas.  Tutorials! (????!).  I have two kids that try to burn the house down on a regular basis.  I can entertain you.  You are my audience.  You are my inspiration.  You are the reason for me doing this crazy thing in the first place.

I just know that you would love to read a blog about a person who goes through all of the same hills and valleys that you do, and lives to tell about it.  I do swear, but not like a sailor.  Damn, shit, hell…things like that, so you can expect a little color, but nothing to make you shake your head and sigh.  I write about the kids, as good moms do…but only the stuff they royally screw up.  I do that, because I know that you need me to tell you that sharpie art on the furniture,  destroyed make-up, and the red sock in the whites…all happens to me too.  My husband will stay out of the blog, for the most part, only because he is a professional, and I might embarrass him…more.  I have no cats or dogs.  I am not worthy enough for  any cat, and I care too much for dogs in general to submit them to my crazy life.

oh….this is me: backyard selfie

I took this picture in the backyard with a phone camera.  I put on make-up, and dressed in something other than pajamas, so that you could see what I wished I looked like on a regular bases.  So yeah, not the real me.  I had to take like, 50, before I got this one.  the other 50 really capture the dork that is me.

You are still reading, and probably already getting tired of doing so, so I will make this short, and thank you, dear reader, for getting this far.  Talk to you again, soon…but not in two hours.