Where I am on the Wind Rose quilt

Paper pieced flying geeseAs of last night I have 10 templates (photo to the right)with 18 patches each  to complete on my wind rose quilt. Each template takes me about 20 minutes to complete.  It feels so good to be nearing the end, the last couple of weeks this day seemed so much further off. Will I have it done by Oct 24 or 25, it will  be close. Hopefully I am not as disappointed in the completed quilt as I usually am.  I also drew an anchor block to add to the quilt, its up in the air if I will include it. Putting it all together will go fast since it’s all repeating blocks. I cant think of any other quilt that has taken me this long to finish or how accurately I calculated the yardage.

EQ8 will be released on Oct.23. I’m considering that investment.  It’s supposed to calculate the yardage for you which would be a tremendous advantage. What other benefits could it provide? How many block patterns are included with the program? What are its limitations? These are things I would like answered prior to purchasing but I’ve not had the time to actually read through the docs. Layout is the single most quilt related thing I struggle with. Graph paper is great for deciding on a layout and pencil lines are erasable. Deciding dimensions and marking them on the graph paper are time consuming. Even so, the biggest drawback is not seeing your quilt blocks in place until piecing is complete. This is not good and potentially creates more work for you. When I create a block now I end up using 3 different computer programs to construct it before I ever print it out, this would be another advantage of using EQ. I could spend less time with pencil, paper and on the computer and more time to do what I love.

Its just a matter of days until I am done with this top and I cant wait to share it.

Round 3 Wind Rose quilt

First let me say that I visit everyone blog that links up and I enjoy reading them and love the photos. Unfortunately I cannot always leave a comment due to an OpenId error. I’ve yet to find a fix for this by googling.


Well…much like last week and the week before I am working on the same quilt. If I had a photo of the finished quilt I would attach it here, unfortunately you only get a stack of finished blocks. What a mess huh?  I started it Sept 24th with 3,179 pcs and as of yesterday evening I am now down to 1,446 pcs. I told a customer I would have it completed in a month, there’s 13 days left in my self inflicted deadline. This is definitely the quilt with the most number of  pieces I have done, it IS a jigsaw puzzle. At this point I’m unsure if I will produce a for sale pattern for this quilt but I will use the block patterns I drew in other projects.

paper pieced quilt pattern: flying geese: circling geese quilt: no curved piecing circle of geese: red and white medallion quilt: paper pieced circling geese quilt: for the love of geese quilt: quilting

I’m already looking ahead to my next couple of quilts. First I think I will expand on For the love of geese to make it a full size bed quilt. I have the first 2 sample quilts draped over my fabric box staring at me daily. The first one I completed with scraps to make sure it would go together as planned and I may use it to drape over an antique drop leaf table. The second (photo on left) was going to be The quilt until I realized I made an oops on the placement of one of the color patches and I wasn’t real happy with the outside border. Because I wasn’t certain how many strips I would need to complete the quilt I had purchased a total of 5 jelly rolls. Because of all the strips I used for this one there isn’t enough to start another quilt but there is enough to make this a full sized quilt.

The next quilt will only happen if I can collect enough ruler ribbons off of moda jelly rolls because they are an important part of the quilt. I have 12 so far and its going to take a lot more to do what I am planning. Fact is, I don’t buy jelly rolls frequently so it will take a while to collect what I need.

On paper piecing

This morning I sent an email to bloggers who follow me asking if they paper piece. I’m trying to get my pattern For the love of geese circulated on the web and who better to ask than bloggers. One of the replies suggested she is interested in learning paper piecing and asked for insights. What  a great idea for a blog post but I’m not sure if this is what she was looking for. Below are my heavily used tools. I did get a fresh glue stick for the photo 🙂 . I’ll also include a few useful to me tips.

The tools

These are the items I use everyday for paper piecing.

Add a quarter rulers, 6″ & 12″. Clear 18″ ruler

The add a quarter ruler is a must. You can get by with just a 6″ but for larger pieces you will need to slide it along the folded paper. Sometimes the 1/4″ lip will also slide over the edge of your turned paper and you will not get an exact 1/4″ allowance. You could also use a clear ruler like I have in the right of the photo for trimming the 1/4″ seam allowance. The clear ruler is a Friskars, 3″ x 18″ . I purchased this specifically for trimming my completed templates. Anything larger than this is too large and clumsy  for my small hands. Also, when you save all outside trimming until last, the larger heavier rulers tend to rub a blister on my fingers.

Tape, rotary cutter (well used) and seam ripper

Tape, rotary cutter and seam ripper. Some days you will not use the tape or seam ripper. But if you don’t have them on hand you will surely need them. Yes, I know my seam ripper is old and well used. I’m not going for pretty but functional and it still functions well. On occasion I have had to tape templates back together because I have cut into them with my rotary cutter, it happens.

No one is perfect and at some point you will stitch the wrong color fabric onto the template and have to rip it out, or maybe your patch doesn’t fully cover the area.  After ripping , I really recommend that you tape over this area because your paper is perforated from the needle and will tear off very easily.

Elmers washable school glue stick, disappearing purple. The purple really does disappear and it washes cleanly. This is used for tacking down your first patch on the template. Without it, the patch will slip on the paper.  Sometimes the corner fabrics will not lay flat against the paper which can be an issue when stitching the templates together or trimming the excess paper and fabric from the outside of  completed templates.

Elmers washable school glue 4oz liquid. Use sparingly and stay at least 1/2″ away from corners or areas where there is a heavy seam and within your seam allowance. Your quilter will use all types of niceties otherwise.  Again this washes cleanly from fabric. So what do I use this for? A LOT!

If I am piecing traditionally I will use this glue to tack my rows together before sewing. It keeps the layers of fabric  from shifting under the needle.  Basically any place that I would have used pins in the past, I use the glue. The main reason, I learned a long time ago the dangers of using pins when quilting. It doesn’t matter how cautious you are, there is a chance one or more will get left in the quilt. Waterbeds aren’t as common today as they once were but babies are and we wouldn’t want either pinned to a quilt.  Adults dislike being awakened  because they have rolled over on a pin left behind.  I still use pins,  3 pins to be exact. They sit beside me on my piecing table at all times and I use them until the heads pop off. For my purpose it doesn’t really matter if they are a little bent. Why 3? I dont need more than 3 at a time. These are used to line up my templates and hold them in place while I dot my glue on and set it with the iron.   Back to the glue.

It is very important though that you stay away from heavy seams or what will become heavy seams like the corners. The reason, stack 4 pieces of fabric, add a piece of batting to that, add a piece of your backing to that, place 4 small dots of clue on the corners of 4 of these pieces and try stitching through it (with dried glue of course).  One of three things will happen: 1. your needle breaks 2. your machines glides around it but not through it 3. it stops your machine in its tracks. Just think if you had 4 blocks that were all half square triangles, stitched together. IMG_1847Not following? See the photo to the left. Place a dot of glue in the center corner of the 2 lower blocks. Place the upper blocks on the lower blocks and heat set the glue with your iron (if you used just a small amount of glue it will dry very quickly). Now take to your machine and sew the 2 halves together, open and press. Next line up  the 2 halves , apply a small dot of glue on the outside corners and in the center . Heat set with your iron, take to your machine and stitch the halves together. If you did this, I am sure you noticed a difference when your machine hit that glue/seam in the center but it still stitched as normal. Open and press, now add your batting and backing and try running that under you needle to quilt this completed block. Your results will be one of the 3 noted above when you reach that center full of seams and 2+ dots of glue. This is why you stay away from the corners or heavy seams and within that 1/4″ seam allowance. I have used Elmers washable school glue in this manner for many years and have never had any issues when following the instruction above.

You can use it to tack your applique’s down so they remain stationary while hand or machine stitching. You can use it to hold patches down on blue jeans while you patch them because your husband ripped a brand new pair while at work. When you are sewing your binding onto the quilt and you want the end and beginning of the binding to join together nicely. Remove the quilt about 6″ before the joint, iron in hand, tack it together. Just make sure the glue is dry before running under your needle.

Tips that do not require tools. Remove excess bulk. You have all of your templates stitched, you have trimmed the excess fabric and paper from the templates and are now ready to put it all together.  The lower left photo is showing trimmed templates ready to be stitched. (Once edited, cropped and sized it went blurry, sorry) The arrows point to the stitch line. Once I’ve sewn these 2 pieces together I fold the paper flap in and carefully rip just that flap off on both sides below my stitched line. The rest I leave in tact. Another important fact that some pattern designers leave out about that stitch line. Remember the clear 3″ x 18″ Friskars ruler, locate the 1/4″ line on it. Now lay that line on your stitch line, trim any paper or fabric extending past the ruler. If you dont have anything extending past the ruler with the 1/4″ lined layed on the stitch line, then you dont have a 1/4 seam allowance on your finished template. Both free and purchased patterns I’ve noticed that the trim line is not always 1/4″ away from your stitch line. So use the trim line as a guide for trimming the templates from the sheets, I clip outside the trim line to be safe. To avoid any issues when putting it all together, use your stitch line to create your 1/4″ seam allowance on the finished templates. Please, if this does not make sense let me know and I will edit this post and try to be more clear. If you have additional questions, let me know and I will add to this post. IMG_1851

Do you fmq on your table model machine? Here is another great tip (I haven’t tried yet but I will) using Elmers Washable School Glue. Quilting Gail

Sewing machine headaches

Sewing machines. My first machine was a Singer, I’m not sure of the model but I can tell you it was very heavy. My mother in law purchased it for me for Christmas one year. It was a used machine that she bought from her machine repairman. At the time I thought it was a little tacky  but I was happy none the less. Her reasoning for buying used, all the machines manufactured today are plastic and the machine would last me for years. Sure it would, I didn’t even know how to use a sewing machine.

Fast forward a couple years to when I was pregnant and on bed rest. If you are an active person accustomed to working 40 plus hours a week and suddenly you are told to stay off of your feet I don’t need to explain how quickly the boredom sets in. I can’t really say how many days or weeks I had laid there trying to come up with something to do other than watching television. Almost every activity I could come up with required me to be on my feet, I couldn’t even do dishes, darn the luck.  I decided the rainy day had come and I was going to learn how to use that machine. So when my husband came home from work he pulled it out of the closest and set it up on my coffee table and taught me how to use a sewing machine.  For 10 years I’d been storing a quilt top I had hand pieced  and decided this would be my first real project on my machine, I wish I still had that top. It was such a disaster, it wasn’t even fit for a dog bed. I went on to use that machine for 6 years. Knowing what I know now about machines I wish I hadn’t given my son a screwdriver and turned him loose. He pulled parts off and gave me the part numbers, told me if I had the part he would fix it for me. He had removed every part possible and put it back together so many times that he could have done it blind folded. I did learn just how many working pieces there were in a sewing machine.

My second machine was also a Singer and I paid $150 for it. Keep in mind I still knew nothing about machines and thought I really had something with this new machine.  I made several applique quilts and quilted coats with this machine before I retired it 10 years later for a 1970’s model Singer. Remember the old blonde furniture? The mother in law of a co worker was selling her Singer Slant O Matic for $35 in a blond cabinet. She didn’t know much about the machine herself but I took a chance anyway. I purchased the machine sight unseen (I am back to the heavy last you forever machine). When I brought it home and opened it up it was clear the machine hadn’t been used much if at all. No one could clean a machine this well. In my first test strip with this machine I knew exactly what my mother in law was talking about. This Slant O Matic would pull 2 layers of denim, 2 layers of cotton batting, a single layer of pleather, and 2 layers of cotton fabric under the needle without hesitation or bogging down.  It was like comparing a weed-eater (the new model Singer) to a small block Chevy motor (Slant O Matic). I was in love. With that machine I made hand bags, applique quilts, patched Levis, made many quilt tops, you name it. There was nothing I would hesitate to put under that needle. When it became less reliable, mainly just needing a good service I retired it. For the last 5 years I had spent 3-4 hours weekday evenings, and all day on Saturday and Sundays at that machine. Lets say a well deserved retirement.

My next purchase was a Juki TL2010. Again, I am in love with this machine. It is only a straight stitch machine but holds it own again the Slant O Matic.

My next purchase was a Sunshine 16 long arm machine. After dropping $100 bills + at the quilter I decided I would be ahead if I just quilted my own tops. On a limited budget the Sunshine was the best fit for me. I had read negative reviews on the machine but I am always up for a challenge and knew that I would not be one of those people with negative results. With this machine you had to stay on top of your tension.  It is nothing like the Gammill I have today. Again, comparing a weed-eater to a small block Chevy.  The Sunshine taught me so much about adjusting machine tension and maintenance. Today I can time a machine, adjust a needle bar, adjust tension “with confidence”, change a shuttle/hook assembly, and I am sure there is more to this list that I just cant think of right now. Which leads me to why I started this post to begin with.

Yesterday I began having an issue with my Juki.  This machine has been the most reliable machine I have owned, so far. Its not finicky with thread and takes what I give it with a smile. So imagine my shock when it would not pick up bobbin thread. I was stitching along as I had been for the past 6 hours then all of a sudden it wasn’t stitching. It hadn’t been that long before when I changed the bobbin, cleaned the dust and lint and oiled the machine.  So I went through all the steps I had mastered with the Sunshine. Check the bobbin, rethread, change the needle, gave it a good cleaning, rethread with a new spool, check/change the needle and it still would not pick up my bobbin thread. I shut everything off and cooked dinner. The thought of sending the machine back to the place of purchase (in California) and being without my machine for God knows how long, or traveling into St Louis  to a repair shop and still being without my machine for at least a week was devastating.  At one point I even wondered where I could take a sewing machine repair course and how could I become an authorized service center for Juki.  There is no one in my area who repairs machines and I could pick up a few machines for some extra fabric cash. Hey we all have a habit to support. Because the machine is still under warranty I didn’t want to take a screwdriver to it and jeopardize my warranty so I had to do it by the book. It was clear the machine had jumped out of time.

After dinner I sat back down at the machine. I did a thorough cleaning and vacuumed it out,  checked my needle again, rethreaded the machine. rechecked my bobbin case for lint, still no thread pickup. I have read hundreds of websites regarding machine adjustment and cleaning. One of the things they all share, do not use canned or compressed air in your bobbin area because it blows lint and dust into tiny crevices. Before you judge. it worked. Apparently there was lint or thread  unreachable by brush that was preventing the bobbin thread from being picked up.  Glad I didn’t take it to a repair shop, I would have felt very foolish.

Gone are the days of symmetrical flying geese

flying geese: paper pieced quilt: 2 color quilt: quilting: fortheloveofgeese.comWell on my way through the next set of blocks and I have to say it was right on time. As much as I love and am glad I made the wind rose (or compass) it was getting a little boring. Because of all the little pieces crammed into such a small space I felt like I was never going to reach the bottom of that pile. It took 20 minutes to piece each template.   As I progressed  I found myself thinking how badly I needed to clean my closest.  I thought about my previous post and how spot on I was, did you read my last post ? There was light at the end of this tunnel.

These flying geese sections are much larger and I am able to use strips to piece them.  Even so, I have a lot more waste than other quilts I have pieced with strips.  Because of their size I am able to put these together in half the time of  the wind rose sections. Stretching the geese adds movement to the quilt that previously could only be accomplished through quilting if you knew what you were doing. Seriously, how do you add movement to the quilt with quilting? I’ve not figured that out yet.  Adding depth or dimension  through quilting I understand. Adding movement to a quilt through fabric design and color placement  I also understand. Maybe, the more I quilt I will eventually understand what they mean by adding movement through quilting.

When applique was my craft of choice I made mostly Sam and Sue quilt blocks. Once I made a block of Sam running (see below) from a dog with a sling shot in his back pocket. With that block creating movement was easy. You could see he was running, the dog was running after him and the sling shot was flailing behind. Apologies for the poor photo. sunbonnet sa,: paper piecing: quilt: paper pieced quiltA few squiggly lines behind either or both would have shown movement. Creating movement thru stitching on a quilt is quite different and something I doubt I will fret over.

Jorge Aguiar 1492 explorers map

paper pieced pattern: flying geese pattern: quilt patterns: circling geese pattern: no curved piecing circling geese: www.fortheloveofgeese.com: red and white medallion quilt: Grafton,Il:Jorge Aguiar 1492 map
Jorge Aguiar 1492 explorers map. This is where it all started for me,

When searching for a medallion for my current project I stumbled across this file  at Yale University and knew I had it. The Wind Rose would be included in my current quilt. Just think , this map is from 1492, just imagine the hands it has passed and the eyes that have  viewed it, where it has been, Answering those questions creates a story of its own.

If you cannot enlarge this enough to take in the full beauty of this map and the rare information it provided for its time you should visit the:

Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University. You can view the map online in an exploded view to see the details it holds. I’ve limited my quilt to only reproducing the wind rose . I do plan to take the file and have the map printed out to use as wall art. I’ve never considered myself a fan of antique maps or cartography until I viewed this map. Since my initial viewing  I have read everything  available I could find regarding it, very interesting, 

Edited: paper pieced God’s eye quilt block and pattern

You will still need basic paper piecing knowledge to complete the block. However, the download now includes yardage estimates and color coded templates.

If you use my pattern and share it online please give credit and add a link to my site.

16×16 God’s eye quilt block download

Avoiding UFO quilts

Paper piecing, quilt, quilting,
Wind Rose quilt

2,555  of 3,179 pieces of fabric to go. When I think of it in  pieces of fabric the completed quilt feels like Christmas morning that’s never going to come when I was 10. One of my customers told me it would take me a year to complete, I laughed and told him I would have it done in a month or less. Had I not started all over to change the color on the medallion I would be much further along. But I am glad I decided to swap out the color on the scallops for blue.  Since I opened my big mouth and said I would have it completed in a month or less I created a time line that I have to meet to save face. Wish me luck.

All of the templates for the medallion are completed so after some cleanup this evening I’ll start on the outside blocks.  They will piece fairly quick because they aren’t as complex as the medallion, with the exception of an anchor block.  Cheers to the person who created paper piecing. Can you imagine trying to applique or hand piece the blocks in the photo above? If discouragement didn’t get to you first, frustration would set in very quickly and it would be yet another ufo in a box. Other than un-quilted tops, I only have 1 ufo quilt. To be honest, I will never finish it, its destined to be a cushion cover for Enzo. Even dogs like nice things.

How to avoid ufo’s. Don’t start another project until you have finished what you are working on. That’s the best advice but we all know its not always possible since babies and wedding happen. But what about those quilts we start then somewhere along the way we lose interest, get frustrated or discouraged because its more difficult than we thought? Most of us will choose to start on the easiest aspect of the quilt and save the hardest for last. Starting with the easiest we  create an avoidance,  begin to dread the hardest section, and in the back of our mind we know as we progress we are getting closer to the end. Sometimes we give up before we are half way there because we’ve created this negative idea in our mind that  the most difficult section is a beast.  We have convinced ourselves before we reach that part there are going to be major issues piecing it or maybe convince ourselves we lack the skills needed to complete it.  By nature we avoid negative things. The best way to prevent this scenario…start with the hardest first. When you get a pattern look it over well and just because the designer says start here and complete in this order, doesn’t mean you have to do exactly that. There are no pattern police waiting to break down your door. By beginning with the most difficult, you are starting with strong motivation. You know there is light instead of darkness at the end of the tunnel. And then when your reach those easy blocks, they are like a well deserved reward.

Another thing I have learned, some patterns just ” don’t make sense “. I have purchased patterns that the instructions were more complex than the design and I wondered if anyone short of a PhD could actually follow them.  That is when I grab a highlighter pen and sit down in a quiet room. I begin reading the directions and highlight what I cannot change or pattern specific useful information such as, you must stitch templates A and B together before stitching template D to template A. Or, piece these sections with your light fabric and those sections with dark fabric. So…if you purchase a pattern and open the directions and get that voice in your head saying you cant do this, STOP! Look at each template, do they look easy or do they look like a headache waiting to happen?  Grab a highlighter and with no distractions start reading. If you’ve paper pieced before YOU CAN DO THIS. If you still are not sure and are worried you will destroy your paper templates, pack up the templates and head off to your local office store or print shop. Copy the templates and try piecing with your scrap stash first.  If all goes well you still have your original templates to begin again, if it doesn’t you still have the full pattern. What’s the alternative, will you place the pattern on a shelf with other patterns to save for another day that will never come?

No curved piecing flying geese

paper pieced quilt flying geese quilt
Paper pieced For the love of geese quilt

No curved piecing, no Y seams and it’s paper pieced . It finishes at 48″ x 48″, pre quilting. Use it as wall art, a baby quilt or expand the top with your favorite blocks to make a bed sized quilt. The quilt in the photo was pieced using 2 1/2″ batik strips  and muslin yardage as the sky/background fabric. You can precut the strips for patch sizes that you are comfortable with or use as I did by turning the strips for best fit on the next patch. There was very little waste by piecing this way. Recommended strip widths for background fabric are included in the directions for piecing with strips. Keep in mind, fabric yardage and the numbers of strips for the geese are estimates. The estimates were calculated from the 3 tops I completed, with the greatest number of fabric from each top being noted as the recommended yardage. If you are not a confident paper piecer with a high comfort level for turning and you will cut the strips prior to piecing you may need to purchase additional fabric.

The pattern includes full sized templates but it will require 33 pieces of 8.5″ x 14″ legal size paper for full sized border templates (1 file) along with 8.5″ x 11″ letter size paper for the remainder of the pattern. If you do not want the additional expense of or do not have legal size on hand, you will only need to print file #2.. The border pieces will need to be taped together and cut apart if you are NOT using size 8.5″ x 14″ paper

One of the tops I pieced together I’ve left untouched, I plan to add blocks to make it a full sized quilt. When I can’t say for sure. Perhaps when I am done with my current project. I’m sure if you are reading this and seeing the same quilt again you’re thinking, “gee I hope she gets over this quilt soon”.  If you have ever had or currently have a blog its a little easier to understand. Getting your blog “out there” , making it visible on the web has proven not to be an easy task but I am getting there.  More of my quilt photos are showing up in image searches so I must be doing something correctly. From personal experience I also know that when I come across a blog I don’t always read back through previous posts. As my comfort level grows I’m certain my content will also.

And then there’s the new domain name. Lets not forget Norton 😦 It is so difficult to raise their attention to the fact that wordpress.com does not allow code to be manipulated. Therefor I cannot add their requested files to have my site scanned and approved. When my site comes up in a google search it had the dreaded shaded Norton logo. If you noticed the post titled Norton, that is me trying to get them to scan me. Wish me luck, its been 2 days now.

New domain name

Sewsane.blog will now be http://www.fortheloveofgeese.com
If you are following me you may need to re follow in order to receive new content as I post it. Hopefully this doesn’t cause too much of an inconvenience.