Christmas, mini quilts, modern quilts, monday morning designs quilt pattern, patterns, quilting, Uncategorized

Holiday Sewing Projects

Even though summer has just left us, now’s the time to get started on our holiday sewing projects. It’s definitely not too early especially if you plan to make a quilt and would like to have it finished in plenty of time.

I’ve noticed a lot a quilt patterns out there are so close to being the same as one another, and well, it’s getting kind of old. In order to make what change I could, I decided to design something completely different, and what better subject is there than the holidays? So last year I set to work and came up with my Holiday Hemlocks throw quilt in two versions, Scrappy Holiday Hemlocks PDF pattern

and non-scrappy Holiday Hemlocks PDF pattern (both available in my Etsy shop). Additionally, I have a Holiday Hemlocks PAPER pattern available for those of you who prefer paper over digital, and shipping is FREE!

There’s no denying this quilt design is definitely different than any other holiday quilt, right? Well, that’s exactly what I was going for. But different doesn’t mean difficult. 😉

Here are a few things I’d like to note about these quilts…they’re traditionally pieced with no tricky blocks involved, and the patterns are suitable for anyone who has made only a couple of quilts! In fact, one of my testers was an absolute beginner and hers turned out great.

My patterns are always clearly written with step-by-step instructions, there are also plenty of detailed, colorful diagrams throughout.

Don’t have time to make an entire quilt? Try this festive little mini instead—Wee Three Trees.

This pattern is by far the best seller in my Etsy shop. I made the one photographed here for myself, but I’ve made several of them for gifts, too. Wee Three Trees is a relatively quick make, you could easily whip one up in a weekend.

If you like both designs AND want to save some money, I offer Wee Three Trees and Holiday Hemlocks Pattern Bundle for a lesser price than buying them separately. The same goes for the Wee Three Trees and Scrappy Holiday Hemlocks Pattern Bundle. No matter what you choose, I’ve got you covered.

Lastly, if you don’t shop on Etsy and would like an alternative, all my patterns can be found at: https://payhip.com/MondayMorningDesigns.

I hope you find your next holiday project here. 🙂 Happy sewing!

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A Quilt and an Honor Flight

Last week I received an inquiry from a customer regarding the purchase of my Stars and Four Patches quilt listed in my Etsy shop.

A woman from Wisconsin was interested in gifting this quilt to someone before they were scheduled to take an Honor Flight at the end of the month. She needed it in a few days to have it in time; could I send it ASAP?

Ends up, of course I could (and did) but what, after all, is an Honor Flight?

One quick internet search turned up this: The mission of Honor Flight is to transport America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honoring those who have served and sacrificed for our country. ​

This service shows an unmeasureable expression of respect for veterans, I can only imagine how important taking this trip would be for them.

As for myself, I have to admit I was really touched…I felt it was an honor for me knowing a quilt I made was chosen to be given to someone special to help signify a momentous life event. I never thought a quilt would have that sort of impact.

Even though I’ll never meet the buyer or the recipient, and I’ll probably never know what war this veteran fought in, I do feel like I was a part of this celebration in a quiet way.

As for the gifted quilt, I made it in 2017 with every intention of keeping it but time passed and I had to pare down on my quilts. I thought this one in particular could be enjoyed by someone else so I decided to part with it. I’m glad for those decisions because more than likely this red, white and blue quilt has more of a profound meaning to the new owner. And what an intersting story I now have to tell about a patriotic quilt I once made…

By now the Honor Flight has come and gone; hopefully it went well. This occasion has reminded me of the thanks we owe our veterans for their invaluable service.

For more information on Honor Flights, visit honorflight.org

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Floriography Quilt Pattern

To celebrate summer, and just in time, I’m releasing my latest quilt pattern Floriography. This pattern is a tribute to one of my favorite things—flowers. The name ‘floriography’ means ‘the language of flowers’, and I give thanks to my dearest friend for suggesting the perfect title. 🙂

Since I’m a big fan of petaled beauties, I designed the blocks to represent them and the layout of the rows are intended to depict a flower bed or garden.

Some general information about the pattern…it’s suitable for a confident beginner, but of course it’s fun for all quilters! Also, if you’re relatively new to quilting and would like to expand your abilities, this pattern is a great skill builder. It’s written for a precut layer cake, but you can also use fat quarters. There are two sizes to choose from, throw and queen.

Right now I’m currently making my second version of this quilt using beautiful fabrics designed by one of my favorites, Pat Bravo of Art Gallery Fabrics.

Here are two blocks and the finished quilt top (now I need to just get motivated to quilt it).

Floriography is now available for purchase in my Etsy shop. If you’d like to make your own version, why not start now—if you make one block a day you’ll be finished before summer ends and you’ll be able to enjoy some summer inside when it’s over, too.

quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

Making a Scrappy On Point Nine Patch Quilt

Most of the time I have only one quilt in the works as I’m better focused and organized when I stick to a single project. But that’s most of the time. 😉 There are occasions when I work a few projects at a time, mainly if I know a specific quilt is going to be a long process. My most recent example is my scrappy on point nine patch quilt.

For Christmas 2018 and 2019 I’d given my kids queen size quilts, so 2020 was the year to make one for myself. I decided on a scrappy nine patch so I could use a big share of the 2 1/2″ squares I always seem to be accumulating. And to give it a bit more style, I decided to make it on point using various white tone on tone background fabrics instead of plain white.

To get started, I determined the size I wanted then designed the layout in EQ8. Using 2 1/2″ squares resulted in relatively small blocks (6″ square finished) so the pattern required a lot more blocks than I’d imagined…a total of 242! Of those, 132 nine patch were needed and 110 white squares. Additional background squares were required for the blocks around the edge that were cut larger and in half. I also added a 2 1/2″ border.

The next step was choosing colors. Because 11 color blocks were needed in each row, I figured I’d need 11 different colors for a balanced look. The colors I used were: coral, pink, orange, green, gray, mint green, teal, yellow, neutral, aqua and red. I averaged 12 blocks per color, but I had more of some colors than others. For example, I had a lot more yellow and pink than mint green and gray.

Here’s a look at my stash before I started.

It doesn’t look like I had much, but I got most of what I needed from what was already cut. How many squares did I need? 660! A lot. This was a really fun step, but it was kind of perpetual…as an example…I would be one square short of orange, so I’d have to cut a strip from a fat quarter for it then I’d end up with more orange in my box. That said, the next picture doesn’t look like I made much of a dent, but I really did.

Once I chose enough colors for a fair amount of blocks, it was time to get sewing.

While I had a several white tone on tone fabrics cut into 2 1/2″ squares, I had larger pieces I needed to cut as I went long. EQ determined the quilt needed about 9 yards of background fabric altogether. Again, a lot! I knew I didn’t have enough on hand, so towards the end I’d pick up or order random fat quarters, 1/2 yard and 1 yard cuts to keep a wide variety of fabrics throughout the quilt.

In mid-November, all my nine patch blocks were finished. I barely had room to lay them out, but I managed alright. Next, I labeled rows accordingly then tackled the task of sewing this huge beauty together.

Here’s a look at the quilt top, pressed and ready for longarming.

Because of the scrappiness, I’ve no way of knowing how many different fabrics went into this, but I’m sure there’s Moda, Art Gallery, Andover, Kona Solids, Bella Solids, Michael Miller, Windham, Dear Stella, Kimberbell, Northcott and Riley Blake fabrics.

EQ calculated the finished size of this quilt approximately 97″ x 106″. Mine always come up a bit short, so my finished top measured 96″ x 104 1/2″. Since I’d wrestled with roughly 9 yards of fabric when piecing the backs of my kid’s quilts, I wanted to avoid that this time so I purchased Windham Fabrics Multi-colored Dots by Whistler Studio in 108″ wide. I think this fun fabric corresponds nicely with the colors on the front. And I’d never purchased wide backing fabric before, so this was a first.

For binding, I used what I had on hand. I have only one quilt top that I never finished (but made binding for) so I used that along with other binding I made for another project but changed my mind on. Might as well go scrappy with the binding too, right?

So finally, here’s my finished quilt!

For quilting, I chose a baptist fan motif with 1 3/8″ wide sweeps. I think the round design compliments the angular composition of the layout.

And that polka dot backing is just right…

From start to finish, there was a huge amount of time involved in making this quilt. I started in March 2020 and finished early July 2021. Even though I had it ready for longarming in January, like so many things the pandemic caused me to put the quilting on hold. I was finally able to drop it off in May and it was quilted in June, making it my latest finish.

Even though this project seemed to take forever, it was worth waiting for.

If you’d like to make your own version, download the PDF queen size layout.

quilting, sewing, Uncategorized

Quilting with a Tailor’s Clapper

It wasn’t until recently that I learned what a tailor’s clapper is, let alone find out it’s a great tool for quilting. Who knew?

If you’re not familiar with this funny little thing, here’s some general information. A tailor’s clapper is an elongated, rounded piece of hardwood (average size: approximately 9″ long x 2″ wide) with a routered groove down each side. Some are straight and some are a bit wider on one end, but no matter the design they can be used in either direction.

What’s the purpose of a tailor’s clapper and how is using one beneficial to quilting? This handy tool helps to achieve wonderfully flat, crisp seams which is exactly what quilters want! And in the end the results will give you a beautifully flat quilt top. 🙂

After reading quilters rave about them and doing a bit of research myself, I thought I’d give one a try. I decided to purchase this one from Amazon. I like that it’s made in the USA and it had a lot of good reviews. This one offers 2 sizes, I chose the standard size.

How does a tailor’s clapper work? Well, they’re pretty basic and very easy to use; here’s how. Once you press your seam with a hot, steamy iron, remove the iron and immediately place the clapper on the seam then hold it down for a few seconds. The clapper will trap the heat and steam leaving an amazingly flat seam.

Here’s a look at fabric I sewed and tested with and without the clapper. It’s easy to tell which one I used the clapper on and which one I didn’t…it really works!

I’m definitely seeing a better outcome in my quilting now that I use a tailor’s clapper when pressing, and I most definitely recommend using one. And what I find so interesting is that this simple garment-making tool that originated in England well over 100 years ago is still useful in today’s complex world!

Note: I am not endorsed by the product mentioned in this post; it is just an item I like, use, and wanted to share information on.

how to, organizing sewing space, sewing, tutorials, Uncategorized

Storing Fabric on Comic Book Boards

In January I spent a few days organizing my fabric. For storage, I have a box for all 10″ squares and a 4-drawer Rubbermaid unit I’ve divided out for specific cuts for my printed fabric only. I’ve designated one drawer for each cut: strips, remnants, fat quarters and WOF yardages. I also have another unit with one small drawer just for solids.

Lately I’d been accumulating solids and my drawer was getting full. Also, when I needed a particular color I’d have to take everything out which was pretty inconvenient. That said, I decided it was time to find another way to store my solid fabrics.

I’d remembered reading about quilters using comic book boards for storing fabric, so I thought I’d take a look into the process. A quick Google search and a brief video showed me how easy and cost effective it is.

I found that many quilters use BCW boards sized 7″ x 10 1/2″ (Amazon). A pack of 100 costs around $17 so if you don’t have a huge stash, this quantity will last quite a while! The boards are definitely sturdy enough for wrapping up to a few yards of fabric, and they’re acid free so they won’t cause any discoloration.

Quilters also use plastic alligator clips for securing the fabric. On Amazon, a pack of 500 costs around $10. Again, this quantity can last a long time! The clips are really sturdy and the ridges grip and hold nicely.

After ordering these two items, I was ready to go.

For my stash, I decided that the smallest amount of fabric to be stored on a board would be a fat quarter; anything smaller stays in the drawer. I also decided to store larger yardage amounts on the boards too, as I don’t usually have more than a yard or two in any given color.

To get started, I ironed everything. I recommend doing so because of course fabric looks nicer pressed and since it will be stored this way indefinitely, flat lying fabric will give the best results possible.

Next, folding and wrapping. For fat quarters, fold selvage to selvage. This will make your piece about 11″ high by 18″ wide. Next, place the board in the center where it will fit just right vertically, then wrap the sides around. For yardage, fold selvage to selvage. Then fold again in half, bringing the fold on the bottom up to the selvage at the top. The fabric will measure about 11″ high, just like the fat quarter. Fold the fabric once again, this time from side to side, bringing the raw edges to the fold. Place the board vertically in the center then wrap the sides around.

Place clips on the ends to secure the fabric and you’re finished!

For mine, I made tags to identify the fabric. I simply cut strips of paper about 3/4″ x 2″, and using a Frixion pen I noted the fabric brand and color. It took some extra time to figure out what was what, but when I need to know later the info will be there.

I also have plastic bins for storing the fabric. Not only does it look pretty, it’s a great way to see what’s on hand and it allows for quick access.

If you have a lot of fabric that you want to store on comic book boards, you may want to do a few pieces at a time. I had 26 cuts and it took me several hours! I’m happy to have spent the time for the great results, and I plan to do this as I acquire fabric so my stash is always stored up-to-date.

sewing, tutorials, Uncategorized

Making Reusable Canvas Grocery Bags

The winter months are a great time to catch up on projects you’ve been planning but have been putting off for a while. In my case it was making reusable grocery bags out of canvas.

To get started, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and high quality canvas wasn’t really necessary so I purchased a durable canvas drop cloth (for around $9) which saved me at least half. The weave was comparable to fabric off the bolt, so it was a win-win.

For instructions, I followed this excellent tutorial https://www.themakeyourownzone.com/how-to-make-a-reusable-grocery-bag/. Since the tutorial was geared for using plastic materials, I made a few changes along the way…

Because I was using cotton, I was able to press seams with an iron and I used my hot ruler for accuracy.

I also had the issue of fraying, so once the seams were sewn and the body portion of the bag was assembled, I ran a zigzag stitch along all the raw edges. A serger would work nicely if you’ve got one.

Notice the nice hem along the top? When cutting, I planned to have the factory sewn edge up top for a professional look. It was also a more substantial edge for attaching the handle and it added extra durability.

Overall, the tutorial allowed me to achieve the same results just with different materials. If you decide to make your own reusable bags, I should point out a few things regarding plastic vs. canvas.

First of all, the canvas bags won’t stand up like plastic! But they’ll definitely last longer and they can be laundered which is a definite plus.

With both types, you’ll want to be sure to add something to the bottom for support. I used fitted cardboard to give the bags a more defining shape and added strength.

My husband does the grocery shopping (he actually likes to) 🙂 and he loves these bags. And of course, if it’s green and eliminates plastic waste I’m all about it!

From start to finish, these bags (I made 3) took just a few hours and they’re a really easy make.

modern quilts, quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

A Striped Picnic Quilt

A few weeks ago my daughter requested a quilt specifically for outdoor use. Even though she has a few others I’ve made her, she doesn’t want to use them outside so of course I agreed to make another one. 🙂 We both decided that a scrappy, use-whatever-I-have quilt about the size of an extra large beach towel would work just fine; an approximate size of 36″ x 60″.

Since ‘beach towel’ was mentioned in our conversation, I got to thinking along those lines and decided to go with a strippy theme by using WOF 2 1/2″ strips leftover from other projects. Having recently reorganized all my fabric, I had a good idea of what was what in my stash, so I pulled a variety of print strips that would coordinate, along with all the solid 2 1/2″ strips I had.

To start, I trimmed the print strips to 37 – 38″ so I wouldn’t have to be overly concerned about lining up edges perfectly when sewing, and it would also allow for some wiggle room when trimming the top to its final size. Some of the solids were 2 1/4″ strips and needed pieced to get to the required length. But since this was an improvised project, I figured anything goes!

My layout consisted of alternating light and dark colored stripes, varying the placement of prints and solids. I had enough strips of solid navy blue and gold to make one 4 1/2″ wide strip of each. To add a bit of interest to the design, I placed one wide strip about 1/3 of the way down and the second wide strip about 1/4 of a way down from that.

I pressed all my seams to the dark fabrics, and trimmed the top to 36 1/2″ wide once all the strips were sewn. The length ended up at 60 1/2″.

Here’s the finished quilt top…

For the backing, we decided dark colors would be best since the quilt will be used on the ground. I pieced together various gray fabrics along with a colorful blue/gray diagonal print.

Did you ever have a quilt that you considered an ‘I always wanted to do that’ quilt? This was one for me. I’ve always wanted to make a strippy quilt, improvise a quilt, and quilt using a zigzag stitch. I figured this was the perfect time to do them all.

For the quilting, I set my machine on the zigzag setting with three stitches per zig. Or zag? 🙂 I tested out a few different sizes before I began, deciding on a rather petite stitch that was fun to sew. As always, I pin basted and used a hera marker for marking lines (every 2″). I really like how it turned out.

To finish, I used a blue and tan flag print for the binding, mainly because I wanted to use the last of this fabric and I thought the stripes would show up nicely. Plus, everyone loves striped binding, right?

Here’s the finished quilt! And I’m happy to say I bought nothing to make this one. I even pieced the batting and used thread that I’d had for a few years now.

If you want to make a small, striped quilt for indoor use or out, here’s a layout of the one I made. Overall, there are twenty-seven (approximately) 2 1/2″ strips and two 4 1/2″ strips. This is just a guideline, you certainly can add or take away as needed.

finished size 36″ x 60″

Now it’s time to send it off for the new owner to enjoy!

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Trim those Threads!

If you happen to follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a post or two with me griping about cutting threads off the back of quilt tops. I’ve probably even mentioned it on blog posts too, as it’s the absolute worst step in the quilting process, I think anyway!

Not only is this step tedious, it’s really time consuming. On some quilt tops, I’ve literally spent 8-10 hours trimming threads. That’s a lot of hours! But I look at it this way, if I’ve spent a ton of money, time and energy making a quilt, I might as well do it right. Plus I want my quilts to be as best as they can be.

My longarmer told me about quilters who skip this step, and why they shouldn’t. One main reason is that if a light background fabric is used, all those threads on the back will show against it, especially the darker colored ones. Also, uncut threads will most definitely ruin the smoothness of the front. Whatever is left uncut on the back is sure to make a lumpy and bulky front, and that’s not a good look.

Secondly, longarm quilters don’t like getting tops full of uncut threads because it’s going to make their job look messy, even if they’re a great longarmer. I guess it’s kind of quilting etiquette. 😉

Here’s a look at a quilt top back I’ve recently finished trimming, before and after. What a difference!

All that trimming made for a nice, fresh front. It was definitely worth the effort.

And here’s the finished quilt. Even though I used pastel solids, threads left uncut would have certainly shown through on the white fabric. (Pattern is Sweet Stripes. This baby quilt is currently for sale in my Etsy shop)

So the next time there are threads to be cut, I’ll do the lousy task and try to tone down my complaining…I guess it’s not all that bad once I get started…plus my quilt top AND longarmer will thank me. 🙂

sewing, tutorials, Uncategorized

Fabric Utensil Wrap Tutorial

Every year I look for handmade gifts to make my family for Christmas, usually it’s a quick sewing project and sometimes it’s not even quilting related. 😉 Last year I stumbled across a neat item that doesn’t require a lot of time or materials—a fabric utensil wrap. They’re great for picnics, work lunch or any meal on the go!

If you’re like me and are always finding ways to reduce plastic waste, these eco-friendly, reusable wraps are the perfect solution. If it’s good for the earth I’m sold, so I decided to make one for each of us, myself included. I also went extra green by opting for bamboo utensils.

Since these wraps were so well received, I thought I’d write a tutorial to help pass along the idea. Here’s what you need and what you have to do:

MATERIALS

  • 2 fat eighths (or fat quarters) – each a different print
  • 1 – 24″ piece of 1/2″ twill tape (or 1/4″)
  • general sewing supplies

GETTING STARTED

Since you’ll probably end up tossing this in the laundry at some point, it’s a good idea to prewash the fabric. Whether you do or don’t prewash, be sure to press your fabric before beginning. Once pressed, cut each piece of fabric to 9″ x 20″.

Next, press a 1/2″ inch hem on one short end of each piece. I used a hot ruler to keep my hem accurate.

SEWING FABRIC PIECES

First, align both pressed edges then pin together. Starting on a long side of the pinned fabric, sew a 1/2″ seam along three sides, leaving the short pressed end of the rectangle open. I used washi tape as a guide to keep my seams straight.

Once sewn, trim away the top corners the making sure not to cut too close to the thread. This will help reduce bulk and it’ll help give the corners a nice finish.

Next, from the open end, turn the fabric right side out. I used a blunt tip bamboo stick to push out the corners for a sharper point, it really makes a difference.

After your corners are nice and sharp, press. Then sew the open end closed with a topstitch about 1/8″ from the edge, backstitching at each end. 

MAKING THE UTENSIL POCKET

After sewing all the sides closed, fold the previously open end (now topstitched) up 5 inches from the bottom to create a pocket. Pin the side edges of the pocket.

SEWING IN TWILL TAPE

Fold the 24″ twill tape piece in half and insert the folded edge into the top left side of the pinned pocket. The fold should be inserted into the fabric approximately 1/2″. Pin the inserted tape about 3/8″ down from the topstitched edge.

TIP: Sew a zigzag stitch along each end of the twill tape to keep it from fraying.

Stitch a 1/4″ seam allowance all the way around the edges, backstitching at each end.

CREATING UTENSIL POCKETS

Now that the main pocket is created, it’s time to create individual pockets for the utensils. You’ll need a ruler and a fabric-safe marker. As an alternative, I used a hera marker to indicate my separations so I didn’t have to worry about any markings.

I needed 4 pockets—one for chopsticks, a fork, a spoon and a knife. I divided the width of my pocket in equal measurements from left to right: 1 3/4″, 1 7/8″, 1 7/8″, 1 3/4″. Depending on your needs, determine your measurements. After doing so, mark a vertical line from the topstitched edge to the fold at the bottom for each section. Next, sew on the line, leaving the top open and backstitching at the ends. And done!

NOTE: The step above can vary quite a bit, depending on your purpose. For example, if you want a section for a reusable straw you’d opt for thinner pocket or if you want a section for a napkin or condiments, you may want to make a wider pocket. I should note that packets of mayo, mustard and/or a rolled up napkin fit inside the sections of the wraps I made.

At last, your wrap is ready to use! Simply place the utensils inside, fold down the top, roll it up and tie.

AN ALTERNATIVE SIZE UTENSIL WRAP

For my husband and myself, I made a smaller size wrap, omitting the pocket for chopsticks. I planned for only three sections: a fork, knife and spoon. I cut the fabric pieces 7 1/2″ x 20″ and made the pocket sections 1 7/8″, 2″, 1 7/8″. Otherwise, I followed all the instructions as written.

Whether you use bamboo or regular kitchen cutlery, hurray for ditching one-time plasticware! Every step towards going plastic-free counts and these fun wraps are an excellent way to start!