Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ruby Goodness Table Runner - Free Tutorial

I received a pretty little Moda Mini Charm Pack of Little Ruby that was included in my order from Missouri Star Quilt Company. Who doesn't love this fabric line? And who doesn't love MSQC? What to make? What to make? So I started off just playing and making some little four patches.  


Now, I could have taken these little 2.5 inch squares and stitched little four patches, but I wanted tiny four patches. Now you could cut these into four pieces and try to wrangle that through your machine but who wants to do that? Not me!  Here's an easy way to make tiny 2 inch four patches that we will work into a table runner.

Using a 1/4" seam, stitch ALL of your little squares together in ONE long row. That was easy, right? Now measure 1" from your seam and make your first cut, just like above.  Continue cutting 1" from your seam allowance along your entire row.

You should have a pretty pile like the photo above, that was easy!

Lay your pieces end to end as shown in the photo above, mix it up, have fun and sew these pieces together by twos as shown in the photo below.

Now sew these together by twos as shown in the photo below.

Continue in this fashion until you have one long strip as shown below.

Pretty easy so far! Now we are going to cut again, the same way we did before. You should be able to lay your ruler between your seams and they should measure 2". If they do, then you will cut as before 1" from your seam and continue across the entire row as shown in the photo below.

Quick as a bunny you will have a nice pile of tiny 2" four patches and you didn't even break a sweat! AWESOME Right?

Now, let's take these tiny little four patches and lay them out in a 9 patch configuration as shown below.

We have enough tiny four patches to make 4 of the 9 patch blocks. Take a moment and look at how your scrappy bits are and make sure they are mixed up good. Now take them to your machine and sew up your four 9 patch blocks as shown below. It helps to place a little pin beside the seams as you match them up. 

Your completed block should measure about 5". It will depend on the accuracy of your 1/4" seam allowance and your cutting. Now cut a 2" x WOF strip of Kona Cotton White. You will cut this strip into five 6" pieces. Stitch these to one end of your 9 patch blocks as shown below. You will have one piece left over. Trim your strips to the width of your blocks as shown.

Lay your blocks out as above and stitch the raw end of the block to the strip that is already attached to create one long strip. Sew the remaining strip to the end of the block, see below. Press to the white.

Cut Two 2" x WOF strips of your Kona Cotton White. This you will stitch to the sides of your strip set. Press to the white, making sure to open your seams with your fingers to make sure you have them fully opened before you press. Trim even with the ends. 

Now measure the width of your runner.  It should measure 8" or so, again depending on your seam allowance. What ever the measurement is, cut two strips that are 2" wide x that measurement. Mine is 8" so I cut two strips 2" x 8". 

You should have 6 tiny four patches left...pick four for your corner stones.  Stitch one to each end of your two strips. Press to the white and set aside.

Cut 2 strips that are 2" x WOF and stitch one to each long side of your table runner.  Press them open and cut them even with the end of your table runner, Press to the white.

Your end pieces with the tiny four patch will be sewn on now. You will find that the seams will nest nicely as they are pressed in opposite directions. You can place a pin if you need for accuracy and stitch these end pieces on.  

Now measure the width of your runner again and cut two 2" strips that width and stitch them to the end.  Press them open and then cut two final strips 2" x WOF and stitch those along both long edges, trim to square up. YOUR Done!  Cut your batting 2 inches larger than your finished runner and same with your backing fabric. Quilt as desired.  I just did a simple straight stitch where I liked it. 

Bind as desired. I have a pretty little red and white polka dot that I'm going to use as my binding. I'll update the photo later. Hope you enjoyed this little table runner tutorial and if you make one, please send me a photo, I love to see your work! This table runner finished at 32" x 13". You can reduce the number of squares to 2 or 3 for a shorter table runner and reduce it to 1 for a sweet table topper!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Peace Cottage Quilt A Long and a Trip to San Jose to Adopt a Brother

How are you progressing on your Peace Cottage?  Videos are FREE and are released weekly on McCall's website at

If you have been reading my blog you will know that I have completed my quilt top and am ready for the borders. In the pattern she has you cut the first border at a different measurement than I am using. I wanted to use a striped pattern for my border and miter the corners so I will show you how I do this.

I picked out this pretty striped fabric from Moda, Lizzie's Legacy 1850-1860. I determined what part of the stripe I wanted to show in my border and then trimmed 1/4 inch beyond that. You will want to open your fabric out and take your time cutting through one layer at a time to get an accurate cut to work from. 

Cut in one direction then turn your strip and trim the otherside if necessary. This left me with some pretty narrow strips. Don't throw these out! They make great "ribbon" to wrap gifts. I store them in a drawer and when I need something pretty I may take one or several strips and wrap the package or use them to tie a bag shut.

After stitching your border on two opposite sides and pressing them open you are ready to attach the final two sides and miter.  Here's how I do it. There are lots of ways to create a miter, this just works for me. When stitching on your final two border strips, stitch only to the corner intersection where your pieces will cross as shown in the photo below. Don't freak out if you accidently stitched a couple stitches past, you can tease those out with your seam ripper. You want your stitching to come just to that first border strip.

Press the strip open just like you did for your first strips. TIP: make sure that you use your fingers to open out your fabric completely when you are pressing open your border. Your border strips should look like the photo below with your second strip laying across your first strip.

Now take your top strip and fold it to create your miter as shown in the photo below. Take your time and fold carefully until your pattern matches up. Finger press into place and insert a pin to hold it.

Now you are ready to trim off the excess strip fabric. I trim right to the edge of border strip first as shown in the photo below.

Now you have a couple options for sewing your mitered seam. I like to press my seam with the iron first and then I top stitch very close to the edge of the seam to finish my miter. When it's done I turn to the backside and finish trimming the strip 1/4 inch away from the seam. If you don't want to do that, you can press first, then fold out and use the pressed lined as your stitching guidline to stitch your strips together on the backside of the fabric. Or you can hand stitch and using a hidden whip stitch, you can carefully stitch your seam.

On to the Piano Key Border. In her directions in the magazine she has you cutting little pieces and then sewing them together...I'm lazy and don't want to be there forever, so I modified this part and stitched strip sets together and then cut them to the width indicated in the pattern.  

Take a moment and lay out your fabrics to see if you like your colors sequence, maybe you need to add more variety, or more of one color, maybe something is sticking out that you just don't like. This is the time to audition your picks before you cut and sew.

TIP: If you are going to sew strip sets, I would suggest that you make your strips 1/2 the width of your fabric. In other words, if your fabric is 44" wide, make your strip set only 22" wide. 

TIP: Only stitch about 5 or 6 strips together in your set, if you do too many it becomes unwieldy and defeats the purpose.

TIP: Mix up your sequence, having a variety of colors in your strip sets will make it more interesting when you stitch the bits together.

Carefully press open your strip sets, again, finger press them open first to make sure you are getting your strip all the way open. Press all your seams in the same direction. Line up your ruler and make sure that you are squared up before cutting your strips.

Stitch your segments together until you have enough to create your border.  I mitered mine so I used extra lengths of border to be able to create the miter the same as the first border.

My supervisor Sophie and my husband John helping me display the This one is in the stack ready for the longarm. I hope you're having fun making your Peace Cottage! And I would love to see your's when you get it finished!!!

So, a while back I think I shared that I found a sweet little Vintage Pink Brother Sewing Machine on Craig's List. 

These are wonderful machines, powerful enough to sew leather, with an adjustable feed dog that will allow you to shirr the finest fabrics. Straight stitch only, they are wonderful for quilting and will never wear out! This is the same machine at the Atlas, they were simply branded differently. Here is a brief little history you might enjoy.

The Sewing Machine Industry In Japan
  Sewing machines were introduced in Japan in 1860. Japan had domestic producers of industrial sewing during the Meiji Period (1868 - 1912) and the Taisho Period (1912-26), but it took some time for them to be manufactured domestically, so the consumer sewing machine market was held by Singer sewing machines imported from the U.S.  After 1931, the high dollar/weak yen weakened the competitiveness of imported sewing machines and more sewing machines began to be produced domestically.  After 1937, trade became restricted, sewing machine imports dramatically decreased, and domestic production increased.
  As sewing machines couldn't be imported due to the World War, Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and Brother Industries Ltd. produced industrial sewing machines for military uniforms, at the request of the Ministry of Clothing.  After the War, the munitions factories were converted, and sewing machines were produced.  Conditions in post-war Japan were conducive to the creation of a domestic and export sewing machine industry:
Sewing machines could be manufactured as parts and subassemblies in separate businesses

A large labor force of machinists looking for work

Idle small-scale machine shops in the Osaka area

Surplus of machine tools from the war industries

The Japanese government was subsidizing up to 50 percent of the cost of imported machine tools.

Greater consumer demand in the U.S. market than Singer could supply

    Singer filed suit against some of the Japanese sewing machine companies for infringement of the Singer patent and the use of the Singer name (Seager), but also pursued the creation of a joint venture, the Pine Machine, with a subsidiary of Nippon Steel. The Japanese government did not give approval to the joint venture Pine Machine until the other domestic sewing machine companies were strong enough to withstand the competition.

    It was difficult for the Japanese sewing machine manufacturers to break into the European markets because Europe applied the same sort of protective tariffs that Japan used to keep out competition. However Japan solicited the aid of European machine tool manufacturers because an expansion of sewing machine manufacture in Japan would increase the demand for European machine tools. The Japanese sewing machine companies got big orders from German sewing machine companies by showing them that Japan was manufacturing parts for their arch-rival Singer.

   Sewing machine manufacture was just about the first major export industry developed in Japan after World War II.  

Well my friend Brenda fell in love with my little pink Brother and she asked if I ever saw another one to let her know.  I spotted one on E-bay and asked the seller to send me some additional information and photos, which she did.  After winning the bid I let Brenda know that we had to take a trip to San Jose to pick up her new little Brother!  So excited, we took off at 10am, forgetting about how far San Jose is and underestimating how long it would take with traffic. It was a fun drive with the song "do you know the way to San Jose" playing in our heads the whole way! 

And Low and Behold, 12 hours later we were home and Brenda got her little Brother! Only thing we need to get for it is a bobbin tire and we are good!  What a gem, not a scratch on it and it is in fine running order having been used by a woman that sewed professionally, it has been well maintained.  The cases on these machines are usually in poor shape, don't let that deter you.  The machine is solid steel, all metal!  Avoid machines that have rust, or are chipped and show signs of abuse.  Check the belts, run the motor, look at the wiring. All of which can be replaced, but don't pay more than you have to.  These machines can be found for very little money, but find them locally, they are VERY HEAVY and will not ship cheaply!

If your machine case has a musty smell, which many of them do. I have several suggestions.  First, take the case outside and spray with a fabric deodorizor like Febreze spray, let it dry in the sun.  If you are putting your machine away in the case for a while, tuck in a couple of Downy Fabric Softner Sheets. Also tuck in those little absorbant packets that come with your electronic equipment, they will help keep any moisture out. Do Not Store your machine in a moist area, like your laundryroom or a damp basement. 

For the bottom of your machine case, often times there are rips or tears on the fabric that was used to cover the box. Hey, after 60 years you might have a few scrapes too! Carefully use some glue on a tooth pick and work the loose fabric bits back into place and secure them. When all the loose bits are secured, use a good shoe polish and polish your base, buff with a soft cloth. You may need to do this several times to build up a good protective coat. If the base has a funky odor you can tuck the fabric softner sheets inside the base under your machine carefully. You will be well rewarded for your efforts!

If you need a manual for your Brother or Atlas here you go!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

McCall's Peace Cottage Quilt Along - Lesson 5 and a #Giveaway!

Lesson 5! We are crusing right along!  I hope you are having fun. Have you figured out that this is a row quilt yet? Row quilts are great, they offer variety. If you are one of those people who get bored easily doing a large quilt with the same blocks over and over and over again, well this type of quilt will be right up your alley!

TIP: Value plays a key roll in keeping this part of the quilt interesting.  Select fabrics that are light, medium and dark. Before you stitch them in place, take a picture and see how they look to you.  Taking a photo will give you a perspective that will help you with your placement.

These blocks will go quick for you, stack them next to your machine and chain piece them.

TIP: Make sure that you finger press your piece open first and then press to get that seam open completely.  Take your time when pressing, don't scrub your piece, press it with an up and down motion.  Doing this will help prevent distortion and will give you a nice accurate block.

If you have been following along, you know that I have raced ahead.  We had a pretty large forest fire going here and sewing kept my mind occupied.  The fire is out now and we are all very grateful to the many men and women that worked so hard in the heat and smoke to take care of us!

Tanker 131 on the Trailhead Fire. Photo July 1, 2016 by Matthew Rhodes
Yesterday my friend Brenda Allen and I took a drive out to Grass Valley and visited one of our favorite little quilt shops, Sugar Pine Quilt Shop. They have a great selection of Civil War Repros and that is just what I needed to finish off my quilt borders  They are wonderful, they have lots of fat quarters pre-cut and if you don't see what you want they will cut you a fat quarter right off the bolt, no problem!

This is such a fun little quilt shop, they have several rooms, each one is chock full of incredible fabrics, notions, patterns, name it, they have it.  There is an eclectic mix here, a little bit of everything for everyone. Their fabrics run the gammit from Civil War Repros to Kaffe Fasset, Neutrals, Solids and Batiks to Modern Prints, Soft Pastels to Bold Colors, Orientials, 1930's Repros, Landscapes, Skys, Childrens Prints everything for everyone! 

I spotted an owl print (Brenda loves owls) and when I pointed it out to her she had to have it. It is so cute and of course, they had the perfect colors to blend with it!

I will be working on the piano key borders today. I was successful in finding the bits I needed to complete this quilt. These were my choices, they will blend with some of the fabrics I have left from my construction.

I'm planning to insert the strip piece in the border where she has the two little pieces and then do the piano keys beyond that...I think it will look nice. You can see my audition below.

OKAY!  I promised you a giveaway!  Right now on our Facebook site we are giving away Moda's All in a Row!  Yes! A book that features 24 different Row-by-Row Quilt Designs. Discover the mix and match possibilities for fabulous quilts with row patterns by your favorite Moda designers including Lissa Alexander of Moda Lissa, Lynne Hagmeier of Kansas Troubles Quilters, Camille Roskelley of Thimbleblossoms, Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts, Pat Sloan and many more.  

To Enter:
LIKE our Facebook Page

COMMENT on the giveaway post which is pinned at the top of the page for you.

SHARE that post with your friends on your Facebook page

That's all, there is nothing ever to purchase. My goal is to inspire a next generation of quilters.

Drawing will be held on July 30th and the winner will be announced on our Facebook page on August 1st.

Good Luck Quilters! 

If you are quilting along with us on the Peace Cottage check back next week and we will have another post for Lesson 6. If you missed the previous lessons, you can visit our older posts or go to McCall's website at

Okay, I'm off to get my borders made! Make something beautiful today!