Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rail Fence

I have finished piecing the rail fence into the top.  Well almost.  Still working on the borders.  I am really happy that I have been able to keep up with the motivation and want to see this quilt to completion.  I think the thing that is making it easier, is that I am focusing on other things as well.  I made some more orphan blocks, and am readying the last Quilts for Kids quilt for quilting.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Book Review: Chocolate Rabbit

Petra Sabine Manning, the author of Chocolate Rabbit, was born in Germany and moved to the United States. Her book is about a girl who was born in Germany and moved to the United States, and is loosely based on her life, so I figured I would get an authentic view of such a transition from someone who had been there. In the story, Nikki goes back to Europe for a job opportunity and learns to reconcile her past with her present. I don't know very much about German history, especially not from a German perspective, and learned a bit from the book. The book is very well written. I wanted to know more about Nikki, her life in America, and her life in Germany, and more about the chocolate rabbit analogy. I wanted to know more about German history. The book goes back and forth between the past and present, and does it well. It is not a suspense book, but it is suspenseful, and the author did leave us wanting to know more throughout the book.

This is a very good book. Only little things bothered me, and that had to do with transitions during the same time period. For example, we know that the family is visiting various people to pass out presents. However, it starts talking about the next visit, when you don't know they left the first family. It isn't hard to figure out the change of scenery, but it takes a second.

The other thing had to do with people's names. I have a hard time with names in general, even in a book with few characters. And sometimes the sudden name changes (Vati, Karl, and Herr Groebel all being the same person) and the appearance of new characters without warning kept on my toes. I understand that Vati probably means father, and Karl is his first name and Herr Groebel probably means Mr. Groebel, so they do make sense, but they were difficult for me to keep track of them all nonetheless.

I got this book from Dorrance Publishing, Inc. in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


The genea-quilters blog has a link to this newspaper article, where the final quote is:

"I just want them all to know that you should always finish what you've started." Even if it takes a long time.

How many things do I have to finish before I can say something like that without being laughed at?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Making the Switch

As you probably know by now, Bloglines is disappearing.  I have switched to Google Reader.  There are a lot of posts on it that I have already read, and I am trying to figure out how I want to configure and use it. Right now, I liked it better simpler, but I may just need time to adjust.  I don't think I am leaving as many comments as I used to.

I finished binding the third Quilts for Kids quilt.  Just one more to go!

I have decided I am tired of making rail fence blocks, so the size of the quilt will be determined by how many blocks I have completed.  I think it will be a good size. I will probably have some extra blocks for the back. I've sewn and pressed the rows, and am working on finishing the quilt top.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Genealogy and Quilting

I've known in my heart that genealogy and quilting go together.  But there isn't a family history of quilting, so I don't have any personal experience.

I got Philena's Friendship Quilt from the library.  The author of this book, Lynda Salter Chenoweth takes an album quilt she bought in California, and researches the people who signed it to figure out the story of the quilt.  Very good detective work.  She managed to find pictures and lots of great records.  There is a pattern in the back on how to make this quilt too.

I also found out that a reknowned genealogist, Myrt, now has a blog that combines these two passions.  I look forward to seeing what she does with it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fencing and Quilting Continues

I made (and pressed!) another pile of rail fences.  This is a photo of the leftover scraps.  I'm sure I will find a use for them - thinking about the spiderweb quilt, since it is foundation pieced.  I'm not sure I am ready to start that yet.

I just finished quilting the third Quilts for Kids quilt (not shown).  Only one left, after I am finished binding this one.  Since I only get about a bobbin's worth done a day, I decided to quilt it using only one bobbin's worth.  It worked wonderfully.

I have linked this post to Amy Lou's Sew and Tell, because I've finally gotten a lot done this week!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rail Fence

This is what my rail fence looks like so far.  No matter how much I add to it, it looks like I am about halfway done!  The blocks finish at 3" squares.  I'm not removing anything, but if you were adding to my stone soup, what kinds of fabric would you add?  Anything over-represented or under-represented?

Here's a closeup.  I have been adding pieces from all of my scrap boxes.  Please don't try to imagine what my sewing room looks like!

Monday, September 13, 2010


There is not a lot to repeat, progress wise, but quilting is still happening on the High Road. Another Quilts for Kids is quilted.  Two more to go.  Rail fence quilt continues to grow.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tutorial: How to Fold Over Binding

I thought I would record what I learned in case I ever use this technique again.  I am making a Quilts for Kids quilt, and I wanted to make a binding that was quick and simple.  I didn't have (or didn't want to look for ) coordinating fabric for a separate binding, and I didn't have enough backing fabric to make a double fold binding.  Plus I wanted to try a new-to-me technique.  I decided to fold over the backing to the front as I have seen others do in the past.

The problem with this method (and with any other method) is that I have to bring cutting implements near the quilt top.  This is very scary to me, because of a traumatic past experience. 

Comparison to Separate Double Fold Binding

  • takes less fabric 
  • hand sewing not required
  • probably quicker, I'm not sure.
  • nice to have alternate techniques in your arsenal
  • not wasting the extra backing fabric. You have to add extra backing anyway, why not use it up right away?
  • stitching shows on top of quilt which is good if you use a nice decorative stitch

  • probably not as strong as a double fold binding
  • cutting implements near quilt (twice) is dangerous
  • probably won't win awards
  • stitching shows on top of quilt, which is bad if you have issues with stitching or can't find matching thread

Here are my tips / steps.  It isn't that complicated, but I like to explain things and break out lists in very small steps. Please critique this tutorial and let me know if I explain too much, am too wordy, or left anything out, or how I can otherwise make this tutorial better.


  1. Make your quilt top.  Sandwich and quilt, but don't quilt all the way to the edge.  The mat is going to have to stick in there, so leave about a quarter to half an inch from the edge. When you are done quilting, take out any remaining safety pins or basting where they can interfere with the binding process. 

  2. Lay the quilt flat again.  I use a floor because the table has too much stuff on it.  Put the cutting mat between the batting and the backing, as far in as the quilting will allow you to go.  Be gentle, you don't want to mess up the quilting.    Make sure everything is nice and flat.  The top, the batting need to be nice and flat.  Also pull the backing underneath the mat and check that it is flat and smooth under the mat. 

  3. Put the ruler on top of the quilt.  I like to line it up with the inner border to make sure I have a nice consistently straight line so the quilt top is nice and square.

  4. Do not skip this quality control step.  Lift up the batting over the ruler to be sure that the backing is flat.  Be careful that when you are doing this, you aren't also pulling up the backing.  If you leave a fold like this,

    Batting folded over for quality inspection.  Backing should all be under ruler,
    but here it is peeking through.

    it can cause a cut like this!

    I don't recommend doing this.

  5. Plan how much you are going to cut at a time.  You want to make sure you aren't cutting too far, off the mat or away from the ruler area.

  6. Cut at your own risk.

  7. Move the mat and ruler and repeat steps 2-6 as you go all around the quilt, especially the quality control step. You can do that step several times if you want. But do it carefully.

  8. Batting has been trimmed
  9.  Decide how wide you want the binding to be. First, find the area where the backing sticks out the least from the quilt top.  That is the largest your binding can be cut.  Then look around the edges of your quilt top to see where the top doesn't quite make it to the edge, not that you have any of those. 

    Quilt top didn't quite meet the backing here

    You want the binding to be large enough to cover this spot and a little bit more. That is the smallest your binding can be cut.  You will be folding the binding over itself to cover the raw edge, but may want to tuck about an extra quarter inch of the raw edge under the quilt to have two layers of fabric at the most vulnerable part of the quilt, the edge. If you do, that will affect how wide you want to cut the binding.  I played around with folding the backing over the top to decide where I wanted my cut. You can take a practice spot and try cutting it different widths to see what works.  Remember, start big and work your way down to smaller sizes in small increments.  I decided to cut 1 and one fourth inch (1 1/4) away from the edge of the quilt.

  10. Put the cutting mat under the backing this time, line up the ruler for the measurement you determined in step 8.  Make sure everything is nice and flat, and cut carefully.  Repeat around the quilt. You don't need me to break all this out into mini-steps.  You are a pro at this.

  11. Now, if you didn't follow my advice in step 4 and have any issues, you have options.  You can decide you want a separate binding after all, or you can take these correcting steps.  If you didn't have any issues, you don't really need my tutorial, but you are almost done, so you might as well finish reading, just to make me feel good. But if you stop reading, I won't know.

  12. You want to fold the binding fabric against itself first to hide the raw edge.  You can just fold in half, but I recommend folding about a quarter inch more, so you can tuck some of that fabric under the batting.  This will give you a semblance of a double fold binding, and makes sure there are two pieces of fabric over the most vulnerable part of the quilt, the edge.  Fold the folded fabric over the quilt, pin or otherwise baste, being careful to have a consistent binding size throughout the quilt. Since I had a limited number of pins on hand, and because I didn't want too many pins stabbing me, I did one edge at a time, long, opposite edges first.

  13. You can sew by machine or by hand.  I used machine since I could see exactly where I was sewing. A decorative stitch would be nice, but a straight stitch works as well.   If using the machine, put in a walking foot, and change the settings on your machine accordingly. Use thread that is close to the color of the binding fabric.  I put the pins in facing the needle, so I can easily take them out without getting close to the needle.  Sew from edge of quilt to edge of quilt, about one eighth of an inch away from the fold. I would backstitch at the top and the bottom if the backstitch button worked on my machine.  I just use a shorter stitch length since it doesn't.  You can probably sew all the way off the binding fabric, but I didn't so I don't know what the quilting police would say if you did.

    Sewing binding down

  14. To do the other two sides, you will have to deal with the corners.  To make the mitered corner, fold a triangle in the corner first,

    Fold binding diagonally into triangle.  Pin optional.

    then fold the binding over itself in half (or more) as before.

    Binding folded over itself.  Pin still optional.

    Fold the folded binding over the quilt and pin. 

    Binding folded over quilt.  Pinning highly recommended.

    Sew down the miter and the rest of the binding. You can do the miter by hand if you don't want stitching to show in the back, but I did all by machine.  Do the same for the rest of the quilt.   Label your quilt and you are done. Congratulations!

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Quilting Continues

    I finished quilting the first of three Quilt for Kids I have remaining. I'm going to take the backing and pull it to the front to bind.  This is the first time I've done this, so wish me luck!

    I ran out of thread - both the bobbin and the spool at the same time!  It was also a good time to clean the machine.  I had to switch colors, but I don't think the color difference (light green, beige) is that obvious.

    The photo is of my Moldy Cheese quilt.  The pattern is drafted by Lori and she called it Cheese and Crackers.  I changed it a lot, because I put in the little green squares without organizing them by colors, I took out the half blocks and added a row of checkerboard for a border.  I am hand quilting it.  I think I am going to quilt sunflowers in the cheddar, so even though the quilt is nicknamed Moldy Cheese, it might have a more pleasant formal name.

    Saturday, September 4, 2010


    As I have been catching up on blog reading, I have found that I have been really drawn to scrap quilts lately.  Edited to add a link for an example of a gorgeous scrap quilt.  Lots of teeny-tiny pieces, both pieced and appliqued.  I can't start a new one, because I have been working on a Leaders and Enders for a while now, and I want to show some finishes this year.  I decided to count the blocks I have already made, to see how far I have gotten, and estimate how much time I will have before I can start one with even tinier pieces.  I want a big quilt, because the pieces will look smaller proportionately in a bigger quilt, like a generous lap quilt, because the days are getting cooler, and I am looking forward to having a new tv watching quilt.  My mother bought my purple princess quilt from me this summer.

    It turns out I am only at the halfway point.  I cut some more fabric (I think I need more multi-colored, larger scale, more interesting, fabric) and sewed a few more strips together to speed the process along.  It's times like these when I wish I had more than one working sewing machine and space to put them.  I have quilts that need quilted and on their way to their recipient.  Three Quilts for Kids quilts.

    Yesterday I quilted some more on the first of the three.  I seem to be doing one bobbin's worth a day. It looks like it is going to take four per quilt.   Hopefully I can get two today so I can finish it. Maybe I will do straight line quilting on the next one.  It isn't as much fun, but I think I can manage to get it done faster. Or else make bigger squiggles.

    I also did one thread's worth of hand quilting while watching Who Do You Think You Are?  It was a rerun but I am hoping to give some good karma to the show. I did find out that Ancestry is offering free access this Labor Day weekend, but it is only for the immigration records.

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Review: You Changed My Life

    This is a small book, with beautiful pictures, and short (1-4 pages), inspiring stories and Bible quotes throughout.  There is even a page where you can write who you are giving the book to, and how they changed your life.  I think the idea of getting a gift like this, even if it is a crappy book would be sweet.  But it isn't a crappy book.

    The heartwarming stories are divided into these sections:  love, kindness, commitment, compassion, hope, courage, wisdom and friendship. Sometimes it is nice to take the time to make connections.  Instead of thinking about the day to day grind, and the list of things to do, we can pause and think about what really matters in life, and thank the people who have made a difference.

    Many of the stories are about Christians and Christianity.  All of the stories have already been published in other books by Max Lucado. Since I haven't read any of his other books, this did not bother me, but I would imagine that someone expecting new stories might be disappointed.  Unless they are really happy that their favorite stories made it in the book.

    I received this book from Thomas Nelson, through their Booksneeze program, in exchange for this review.

    Edited to add:  Another review pointed out that the cover page includes the following note:  "One hundred percent of the author royalties from this book will benefit children and families through World Vision and other ministries of faith-based compassion."

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Quilting has Resumed!

    Kate has posted the third step of the stay at home robin today.  I wanted to do this quilt.  I still want to do the quilt.  I thought that I should hurry and catch up on the blocks, because I think that doing each step in a separate month would help give it that round robin flavor.  All the blocks would look different, because the decisions were made in separate months.

    The first week's step is to make a 6 inch block.  I flipped through my Sylvia's Bridal Sampler quilt and chose a block.   The blocks in the book are smaller than 6 inches, but I figure I could add a sashing to bring it up to size.

    The directions are skimpy, but I studied the picture carefully and put my pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle to make sure I added all the parts in the right places.  It turns out that the template is reversed.  Maybe all templates are - it's been a while since I've sewn with templates. I sewed the triangles together so I was left with four squares.  Oops.   I can't make the block I set out to make.

    Before I bring out the seam ripper, I try to determine whether there has been a mistake that needs ripping, or whether it was simply an alternate design choice.  There were many times when I was making the Jane blocks where I wished I could play with alternate design choices.  I decided to play.  How can I position these pieces where the resulting design looks intentional?

    Like the four patch posie, I twisted the pieces around and around, and found several pleasing designs.  I've decided to run with this, and make some more blocks.

    I'm not sure whether these will wind up in the round robin quilt, because they won't look like a different person made each block.  But I guess it wouldn't hurt to have some orphan blocks laying around.  Or maybe I'll make another doll quilt, using the same layout as my last one.

    In other quilting news, I have finished making all of the tops for the Quilts for Kids quilts.  I am hoping to get them sandwiched and quilted soon.