Evening in the Garden Quilts

Adventures in Fabric Art


Rail Fence Finishes



scrap basket QAL


Something clicked when Amanda Jean suggested this Scrap Basket Quilt Along.  I have been whittling away at my stash, and this seemed like a fun way to use a lot of fabric.  Boy’s quilts are especially needed, which caused me to think of the lonely pile of cowboy fabric scraps from Guthrie, OK, that has been waiting a long while to be used.  When I dug it out, I found a pile of plaid scraps left from a graduation quilt (circa 2000).  Okay, so a fun way to make two quilts.



The cowboy fabric was red, light, and blue, so it ended up like this.



I used up every smidge, including on the back, where I also added some orphan blocks, a solid, and a starry fabric.  Perfect for a little cowboy to sleep under.



To quilt it, I first stitched in the ditch between all the blocks (per this post).  I liked Amanda’s approach to the quilting (she stitched a trio of wavy lines down every column and across every row), but I wanted to change it up, so mine are twirling ropes and strands of barbed wire.  Ouch!  I alternated rows to leave blank areas.



I put hats on some. (Here’s the brown chalk stripe binding.)



And boots on others.  I’m pretty happy with the results.  Bottom Line on the bottom, Masterpiece on top.



I quickly decided to add khaki Kona to the plaids.  I did that to provide a place for the eye to rest, but it turned out to be a good idea structure-wise.  These woven plaids are very stretchy, and the solid really stabilized the whole top.  By the way, fabrics from long ago were a few inches wider than today’s.  I cut six sets of 6 1/2″ blocks from every set of sewn fabric strips, often with a bit left over to make into a block for the back.



I also used up included an unusual … mosquito? print fabric, also left from a graduation quilt of the same era.



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This time I thought I would use the wavy lines, but just down and across the centers of the blocks, and really large.  And, after I found my rhythm, I was really pleased with the way I free-motioned these with no marking.



The problem came when I turned the quilt and went across the original waves.  It formed these nesting, 3/4 circle things.  Actually, it makes giant puzzle pieces between/across the blocks.  I’m not sure I like it.  I looks vaguely like the quilting on a motel bedspread.



But, it’s very even, and, with the quilting between blocks, holds the quilt together very well.  I used Superior’s Living Colors poly on top.  I bound it with the last (reasonably stable) bit of plaid.


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So, all and all, a fun couple of weeks and some learning, in the name of a good cause.  See the rest of these Rail Fences at Amanda’s Scrap Basket Quilt Along over at Crazy Mom Quilts.

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Sunday Stash 6/29/14 and Monthly Goals

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A great week of finishes!  I finished Beach Quilt VI, and then, this weekend, finished both the Rail Fence quilts for the Scrap Basket Quilt Along.  (I hope to post on those tomorrow.)  Those last two emptied a shallow drawer in my wire baskets that had held all my cowboy and plaid fabric.  Whoot!  Progress!  In good shape to use up 100 yards this year.

This week: +0 yards, -22.5 yards

YTD: +64.75 yards, -133 yards

Net stash used 2014: –68.25 yards


Monthly Goals:

June Goals

1.  Make blocks for Slow Quilt  Yes!  And completed the top!  It’s marinating while I consider batting and quilting.

2.  Donate baby quilts to Project Linus  Yes!  Regular contact seems to have quit;  forced to go to new-to-me quilt shop and dine out afterward, but it’s done!

3.  Commit to a small pouch/bag project and gather supplies.  Sort of .  I’ve decided on box pouches for the kids.  Need to order zippers.

4.  Make something with scraps just for fun.   TWO Rail Fence quilts for Amanda Jean’s Scrap Basket Quilt Along!


July Goals

1.  Make 5-7 box pouches for kids’ Christmas gifts.

2.  Organize stash.

3.  Clean straighten sewing studio.


July goals are not ambitious, are they?  But it’s summer in this part of the world, my studio heats up by early afternoon, and we’ll be gone almost a week in July.  I’ll be happy to accomplish these.


2014 Goals:

I’m very pleased with my progress on these.  I’ve read the books; I’ve been a little experimental with quilting; I tried a new block and used it to make a well-planned, slowly executed top ( it incorporates bold sashing, but not as much as I meant to, so I may do more with that); I’m edging my way into the bag/pouch sewing.  Still need to work on the curved piecing and finish up the other projects.  A good place to be in mid-year.

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Beautiful beet mix from the garden.



I’m linking up with Sunday Stash Report at Patchwork Times.




Beach Quilt VI


This week I finished Beach Quilt VI.  See the other Beach Quilts or links here, if you care.  This wasn’t on my list for this month, but the last one sold quickly, and I was dying to use up these scraps.  And I have just about done that.  I’ll have to go in a different direction with the next one.

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I expected to frame the scrap blocks with aqua and khaki solids, but that didn’t work, and I like the low-volume results from these fabrics.  I might like this better than the last one, but I’m not sure.


The quilting is all free-motion “waves” in Superior’s Living Colors (507) with very little marking.  I think this kind of linear quilting is much harder than working on one area of the quilt at a time.  I studied the quilt for a while, wondering if I would like some kind of motif in each block, but I really like the wave effect, so I bit the bullet.  Every time I reposition my hands, there is the risk of a weird stitch that spoils the smooth lines.  The harder I tried to hold the quilt still as I started up, the worse it was.  I found if I kept my hands lightly on the quilt, or lifted them completely, it worked better.  Good practice, and it turned out well.


We talked some on Twitter about whether it is necessary to stitch in the ditch to stabilize the quilt before doing more elaborate quilting.  I almost always do.  I started years ago with Harriet Hargrave’s Heirloom Machine Quilting (1995!),  and she told me to stitch between all the blocks first, so I do.  I really think that first, “behind the scenes” quilting gives the quilt structure and allows me to focus on the quilting design without worrying about shifting or wrinkles.  Had I not done this first,  I’m pretty sure this diagonal quilting would have stretched and wonked this quilt into a mess.  I use fine thread that really disappears into the ditch, usually Superior’s Bottom Line (50 wt.).  I guess this is similar to Aurifil’s 50 wt.?  I use my walking foot.  On this one, I went back and free-motioned in the ditch in the corners inside the frames where the wave stitching didn’t catch them.  All this “structural quilting” enabled me to make it look like the only quilting was the widely space groups of waves in the showy thread, yet it’s still all tidy and tight.


I’ve also used water-soluble thread when I didn’t want to spoil a secondary design with stitches between the blocks.  I did that on Disappearing Pinwheels.  It controlled the puffiness while I quilted, and then didn’t break up those diamonds after it washed out.


Krissi assisted with this photo shoot.  We’re linking up to Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.



Design Wall Monday: 6/23/14

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This weekend I put frames around some of the Beach scraps.  There are a few shell fabrics, but by now they are mainly just tan or aqua pieces, and a few whole squares of stripes and ribbons.  I was going to use aqua and khaki in the framing, but the “Azure”, I think it was, didn’t go well with the centers.  This Cream solid and tan print are definitely lower volume than the other quilts, but I like the way the centers stand out.


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I also put the top and bottom together for the plaid Rail Fence for the Scrap Basket Quilt Along.


What are you working on this week?  I’m linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.




Design Wall Monday: 6/16/14

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These are not exactly “on the wall”; more like works in progress.  I assembled all the blocks from the cowboy fabric into a Rail Fence top for the Scrap Basket Quilt Along, and made a back.  I included extra rail blocks and a few orphan blocks.


Christmas gift bags from a couple of years ago.

Christmas gift bags from a couple of years ago.

I also started making shopping bags from the pile of bird seed sacks in the corner of my studio.  I made some of these a couple of years ago as gifts, and have been saving bags ever since.  My reusable shopping bags are getting a little tattered, so I can use some new ones, but mostly I just want to get rid of some of these bags.  I looked on Etsy to see what others are doing, and found quite a few using these bags.  My favorite is Julia, of One Woman Studio.  Her design sense and color and bag choices really resonate with me.  I also stole a few of her construction techniques.  I’m not going to sell mine (probably).  These are just for my own use, and to keep the pretty bags out of the landfill.

This week's bag

This week’s bag

Nylon web is really the right material for handles, but I’m trying not to buy anything, so my handles are denim cut from old jeans.  Very comfortable for carrying groceries.  I measured my favorite cloth grocery bag to get an idea of size, and cut the front and back 20″ square (from two bags that are too small to use on their own for grocery sacks).  I used a strong poly quilting thread that I have a lot of in a lavender color that I don’t use often.  I tried out some of the stitches on my machine that I usually neglect.  I tried to take advantage of the unique properties of the bags, their body and resistance to fraying, instead of the garment sewing techniques I had used previously.  Lots of flat construction and zigzag-like stitching.  The next will be better, and faster.

I’m also interested in other ideas for using these bags.  Do you have any?


What are you trying this week?

I’m linking up with Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.

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Sunday Stash Report: 6/15/14

Happy Father’s Day!  I know I have some male readers.  Why don’t some of you comment and tell how you spent your day?

The Stash

Nothing out this week, but nothing in either!  I made a top and a back this week from the cowboy fabrics, and have all the blocks ready for a plaid top.  I considered quilting the one, just to have a finish, but I am way ahead on the Scrap Basket Quilt Along, and thought I would wait to see if Amanda Jean has any interesting ideas on how to quilt these Rail Fences.

This week: +0 yards, -0 yards

YTD: +64.75 yards, -110.5 yards

Net stash used 2014: -45.75 yards


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The Garden

Yesterday I was thinking about preserving all the cilantro that has loved our cool spring.  I can actually keep a little growing most of the year, between the garden and the greenhouse, but somehow not when I really want it.  I know it can be frozen or frozen as “pesto”, but that requires blanching (easy, but I only had one armfull; didn’t seem worth heating up the water).  Instead, I made Cilantro Salt using these directions.

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This was super easy, and reduced it to a small jar for the fridge.  I also made a smaller jar using dill.  It did seem very salty, but I don’t cook with a lot of salt, so maybe it’s just me.  I reduced the amount of salt with the dill, so we’ll see which I like better.


Hope you have a great day.  I’m linking up with Sunday Stash Report at Patchwork Times.



Git Along, Little Scraps



scrap basket QAL


It’s been a dreary, rainy week here.  I know we need it, but it does not energize me to do household tasks.  Sewing seems the best option.

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Amanda Jean’s post about her Scrap Basket Quilt Along for charity prompted me to get out my plaid and cowboy left overs (some “scraps”, but mostly yardage that goes with nothing else).

Interestingly, her post today about choosing colors is much more like what I usually do when starting a scrap quilt.  Color really inspires me, and I usually look to see which fabrics have serendipitously landed next to each other in the scrap basket, and then pull other unexpected but wonderful choices.  For some reason, I went directly to these themed fabrics, feeling a boy would love them far more than I do in my stash.  So my quilts won’t have all those gorgeous colors in them.  Unless I make another…


So, I made enough  Rail Fence blocks for a plaid quilt.  (The centers are khaki, if you can’t tell.)



And yesterday I made all the cowboy blocks.  I mean, there’s so little else to do with barbed wire print…  I enjoyed remembering the quilt shop, (I believe) Extra Special Fabrics in Guthrie, OK.  (I misidentified it on Twitter as Los Vegas, NM, where I have also purchased fabric, same trip, wrong shop.)  Their specialty is western prints and they have a ton.  I already used up the Roy Rodgers/Dale Evans print I bought there.  We can’t keep it all.

I sewed up every little scrap, except for some yardage for backings.  I figure the extra blocks can go into the back.  And I really don’t want to put any of this back in the drawers.

So, are you going to join us in making fun quilts for a good cause?


I’m linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.



Design Wall Monday: 6/9/14

Apologies in advance for these photos, done in low light with a phone.  Oh, well.

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Last night I finished the top to the Slow Quilt, and I’m happy with it.  It’s big:  70″ square.  It’s going away for a while, until I can get the right batting and find some inspiration for the quilting.

All that careful piecing wore me out.  While catching up on blog reading, I spotted this post from Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts.  It’s a quilt along for charity (Margaret’s Hope Chest) using the Rail Fence design (talk about Zen piecing!).  She also mentions that they really need boys” quilts.  This started working in my brain and I couldn’t wait to get to it.  Of course I have overflowing scrap bins, but the “boy” thing made me remember that I had a whole stack of plaid yardage left from a long ago quilt (he’s 31, it was his HS graduation…).  In the same drawer I found all my cowboy yardage/scraps.  (What, you don’t have a plaid/cowboy drawer in your fabric closet?  Well, maybe I won’t, either, when these are finished!).

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I am jumping the gun on this.  Amanda doesn’t look like she’s even going to start cutting for a few weeks, so there’s plenty of time.  But I had the house to myself on a rainy Sunday, so I started to play.

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I started to realize that all those plaids were going to be chaotic and horrible a little busy jammed together in a Rail Fence, so I added khaki Kona.  (Now that I look at it, I think maybe the reason these plaids are left over is that they do have khaki stripes and threads through them, and I used the more white ones in the other project…)  So, I think this is working, don’t you?  I did actually cut the strips pretty straight, I just have them crooked on the wall.

So that’s what I’m doin today, blissfully piecing strips and whacking them into blocks.  Check out Amanda’s post and join me.

I’m linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.


Sunday Stash Report: 6/8/14

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The center of the Slow Quilt came together last night, though it still needs borders.  It will be a while till this is finished and counts off the stash.

So, nothing in and nothing out this week, but that’s okay.

This week: +0 yards, -0 yards
YTD: +64.75 yards, -110.5 yards
Net stash used 2014: –45.75 yards



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In other news, the garden is growing well, and we have a bumper crop of cats.

I’m linking up with Sunday Stash Report at Patchwork Times.

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WIP Wednesday: Picking up the Pace

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I have now completed eight of the sixteen blocks for the Slow Quilt.  Each block is not so very slow, only taking twenty minutes or so to assemble after everything is cut.  This does not at all resemble their final arrangement, which will include sashing, but arranging them on the wall like this does have me considering options.

The reddish solids are Oakshott Cottons that I won last year.  Each block has twenty-eight pieces that I rotary cut and am piecing conventionally.  Paper piecing might have been a good option for the long triangles and diamonds, but they are coming out well with a little care.

The rest will have more peach colors in them.  I was very confused at first in the cutting, and found it best to stick with all the green themed blocks.  I think I have it figured out now.   The results will be more colorful as I make more progress.


Hope you are coming along with your projects.


I’m linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.