Blog Hop for “Contain It” Book Anniversary

I was pleased to be asked to participate in the blog hop celebrating the one year anniversary of the publication of the book “Contain It! English Paper-Pieced Accessories” available from Amazon.

Don’t order the book just yet though, because if you comment below, you will have an opportunity to win an autographed copy of the book created by the mother/daughter team Linda Chaney and Laura Gerth. Make sure you visit the other five blog hop destinations to optimize your chances of wining. I’ll be listing those web addresses further down.

I’ll start by saying that making containers was a bit outside my comfort zone. I had never worked with stabilizer before, and I had never made any dimensional objects with fabric, not even a hand bag. My experience with English Paper Piecing helped me a great deal in grasping the fundamentals put forth in the book, yet I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to pull this off. I did all the work using hand stitching even though some of the steps could have been achieved using a sewing machine. The book includes clear instructions on how to make a great variety of projects, and I was drawn immediately to the convex vase collection. However, I decided to start off slowly, and easily, with a flat hexagon coaster. I finished up big with a convex vase with a hexagonal base. It is only fitting that I should have started off and ended my journey with hexagons.

Here is a group photo of the projects I created from the book:

Which of these it not like the others? I obviously deviated from my color pallet somewhere along the line.

Here is my first project, the comfortingly flat coaster.

I was very proud of myself after making this little object, and felt that I had built up enough confidence to try making a cube shaped container.  I was definitely NOT yet ready for curves.

Here is my cube viewed from the top and from the bottom:

I might point out that sewing up the side seams of the cube required a major leap of faith on my part because I could not imagine how I was going to be able to fold back the outer sides to cover the inner sides. Remember my lack of experience with stabilizer material?

I was so proud of myself after making the cube and feeling a great deal more confident. I decided that it was time to tackle curves. All projects in the book require that you create plastic templates by tracing patterns provided in the book, which happens to be the most difficult step, in my opinion. That step becomes harder when you make containers with curves because you have to freehand your tracing on the plastic template material with a permanent marker. You can’t rest your marker against a ruler or a quilting cutting guide. Don’t let that put you off though. Sure, I was nervous free handing it, especially for the stabilizer shapes, for which accuracy is most important, but I relaxed and got better at the task. You will too. Using doughnuts of removable tape to hold the plastic to the book helps.

I also used doughnuts of tape to hold the templates in place while cutting around them on the stabilizer material and the fabric.

Here is my first convex container:

After making the above container I ran out of template material and had to order more, so I deviated from my color pallet and made another convex container using the same templates as I used for the container above.

Here is where you get to see a few process photos showing how the outer sides actually DO fold down over the inner sides. You will not need to make a leap of faith after seeing this:

 When the top gets close to the bottom it almost pops into place.

I have to say that making the same container a second time made me realize that even that small amount of repetition makes these containers a great deal easier to make. I developed a workflow. The basic concepts sank in for me, and I didn’t find the need to keep checking the steps in the book to make sure I was doing things correctly. I found the process quite relaxing once I really knew what I was doing.

Things really fell into place for me on the final project, and I had a great time making it.

What’s next? I am definitely not finished with containers. That’s for sure. I’ve got my eye on the Scalloped Bowl Collection.

I have taken a great number of process photos for these projects that will give you an idea of what is involved in making them. You can find them in a Flickr Album entitled Containers.

For me these containers are the ideal Guild exchange project. Our guild has an annual Christmas Secret Santa event that I never participated in because I didn’t know what I could make that would take a reasonable amount of time, reflect my personality, and also be appreciated. Now I think that the Large Convex Vase with Hexagonal Base will fit that bill nicely.

Add a comment below for your chance to win a copy of the book, and don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog hop for more container fun. I will be keeping the comments open until next Friday, so check back to see who wins the following Saturday. Make sure that your email address is associated with your comment, or appears in body of the comment, or I won’t be able to contact you if you win to ask for your mailing address.

Blog hop participants:

April 13 Daryl Perry of Patchouli Moon Studio

April 14 Debbie Voigt of Around the Strawberry Patch

April 15 Christa Watson of Christa Quilts

April 16 Andrea Taddicken of Knitty Bitties

April 17 Terri Schurter of Hexy Lady (That’s Me, and you are here.)

April 18 Ren Murphy of The Inspired Wren


Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book so I could participate in the blog hop, but the opinions expressed are my own.

More Burgundy Hexagons For My Border

I spent a good deal of time this week basting more burgundy hexagons to take with me to the upcoming Slow Stitching Retreat next week. I’ll be adding to the borders of my Batik Flower Garden Quilt while there.

In addition to that I spent a great deal of time last week and this week creating fabric containers to show off in my first blog hop experience. I am participating in the “Contain It” blog hop taking place this week. My day is Friday, so please come back to see what I made. I am using the horse themed fat quarters that I purchased awhile back as the fabrics for my containers. If you come back and comment you will have a chance to win an autographed copy of the “Contain It” book. If you head on over to Prairie Sewn Studios you can catch links to the first two stops in the blog hop and comment there.

Clicking on the image below will take you to Amazon where you can read a description of the book and order it if you like. If I were you though, I would visit all six of the blog hop sites to comment for your chance to win a copy first.

Monthly April Star Count

This is where I get to share with others who are participating in the once a month Star Count link back from Jessica’s Life Under Quilts blog.

What has happened since last month at this time?

I went back to the mattress store to do another photo shoot for the Batik Flower Garden Quilt.

I bought a Janome New Home 720 sewing machine from Pocono Sew and Vac to use at the Slow Stitching Movement Retreat in April.

I posted about fleshing out the edges of the Batik Flower Garden Quilt.

I cancelled my Janome 720 Order.

I bought some wonderful 108 inch wide backing fabric for the Batik Flower Garden Quilt.

And I did some math to figure out how much shrinkage I can expect on the Batik Flower Garden Quilt, and to determine how many more rows of hexagons I am going to need to add to the three overhanging edges.

To see all the photographs and details concerning the above happenings, and enjoy the posts in the order in which they were written, I recommend that you scroll quickly all the way down to my April 2nd post, and then scroll slowly back up again until you get to the top.




Doing the Math to Finish the Batik Flower Garden Quilt

First of all, the background fabric has arrived for the Batik Flower Garden Quilt, and is pictured above. I purchased three glorious yards of this 108 inch wide fabric from fabric dot com for this project. I think it is going to work beautifully with the burgundy bias binding that I will be applying, which is the same color as the hexagons pictured above.

Now for the math…

Over a year ago I did a post about shrinkage. I needed to wash a panel I had created to keep cool air in my living room and out of my hallway. When I washed that project I took measurements before the wash and after the wash because I thought that might help me estimate shrinkage of future paper pieced hexagon projects. My experiment showed me that there is more shrinkage in one direction than in the other. Who knew?

My previous shrinkage experience with my panel tells me that I can expect shrinkage of the Batik Flower Garden Quilt project in a width wise direction that will amount to one inch of shrinkage for every 22 inches of width. At the present time the quilt top is 80 inches wide, which means that I can expect 3.5 inches of shrinkage, 1.75 inches of which will be on the left overhang, and 1.75 inches of which will be on the right overhang.

My previous shrinkage experience tells me that I can expect shrinkage of this project in the length wise direction that will amount to one inch of shrinkage for every 18 inches of length. At the present time the quilt top is 92 inches long, which means that I can expect 5 inches of shrinkage, which must all come from the bottom overhang, as there is no top overhang.

It is actually a bit unfortunate that I faced the hexagons in the direction I did. Because if I had faced them in the opposite direction I would be dealing with the greater amount of shrinkage in the direction with two overhangs. My bottom overhang shrinkage would have been only 4 inches, and my side overhangs would have increased to 2.25 inches each making the shrinkage amounts closer in size for all overhangs. I’ll file that information away for future reference.

I could easily be done with this quilt top and baste it now, and it would look good. However, since I hope to create a skirt covering the boxspring to go along with the quilt, I definitely want the washed version to extend below the space where the mattress meets the boxspring. I’ve worked too hard to take a short cut now. Therefore, I am planning at least two more rows of hexagons along the bottom overhang, and at least one more row along the left and right overhangs. This means that I will not have this quilt basted in time to take to the Slow Stitching Retreat coming up in April. I will take it along to work on adding the final rows of hexagons.

The good news is that I now have extra time to work on pieces for the blog hop that I will be participating in very soon. I went to Pennington Quilt Works today and bought supplies for that mystery project. Stay tuned to see what I make.

Backing for Batik Flower Garden Quilt

essential dotty waves

I will be ready to baste the Batik Flower Garden Quilt in a week or so at the rate I am going. I’ll probably just be adding one more row of hexagons to all four sides, maybe another additional row to the left and right. However, soon I am going to have to back this baby and baste her.

I recently learned about the 108 inch backing fabrics that make it unnecessary to sew together lengths of yardage for large quilting projects. I decided to take a look over at The Fat Quarter shop to see what they had. I order my Kona solids from them. They didn’t have many wide fabrics, and nothing I thought suitable, so I headed over to Amazon on a hunch. I was amazed at how many fabrics they had. I started saving ones to my wish list that looked like likely candidates. Then I came across the gorgeous fabric pictured at the top of this post, and it was love at first sight. The fabric is named Essential Dotty Waves. The darker color in the background looks as if it will nearly match the burgundy I will be using for the binding. The large swirls will work beautifully with the circular quilting that I plan to echo the the hexagon flowers. I did a sample quoting piece, and posted about it earlier, but I will include a photograph of the quilting design below:


I noticed that the order was going to be fulfilled by, so instead of ordering from Amazon, I decided to head over to directly and search for it. I ordered three yards of it, got free shipping on my order, and stated an account with the site.

While I am a supporter of my local quilt store for patterned fabrics, they don’t have much in the way of solids, and I doubt that they have any 108 inch backing fabrics at all.

I Cancelled My Janome 720 Order

I had ordered the Janome 720 specifically to take with me to the Slow Stitching Movement Retreat coming up in April in Lambertville, NJ.

Unfortunately, there have been shipping problems that have delayed my oder. After nearly two weeks the machine has still not shipped. In the mean time I discovered that Pocono Sew and Vac would be supplying Janome machines for the retreat. Those machine are bound to be much nicer than the 720, so I decided to cancel my order and put myself on the list of people needing a machine. That way I will be able to experience a better machine before making my final purchase.

I have to admit that when I found out that Janome machines would be on hand for the workshop I started to experience machine envy and regret my 720 purchase. I didn’t want to be the only one not using a cool machine at the retreat.

I’m looking forward to using my mystery Janome machine for three days. And who knows? They may even offer us a deal at the retreat.



Fleshing Out the Edges of the Batik Flower Garden Quilt

This quilt is improvisational insofar as English Paper Piecing can be. I say that because I keep changing my mind, but that’s what makes improvisation so much fun.

I dragged my quilt top out on the porch, my usual photo staging area, in its wicker basket to take photos for this post. The quilt top is currently way too large to lay out on the porch, but I think that draping edges outside of the basket will get my ideas across quite nicely.

When last I wrote about this piece I had planned to add a row of burgundy flowers to the left side and the right side of the quilt top. To that end I had started to make flowers and managed to put together eight of them. It had just started to snow when I took these photographs, and you can see flurries on the flowers below.


Seeking a change of pace, I decided to flesh out the top and bottom edges of the quilt with burgundy hexagons. It had to be done eventually anyway. While tackling this job I realized that the left and right edges were going to have to be fleshed out with hexagons in a similar fashion as the top and the bottom. This would add more length. It was at that point that I decided that I would be better off to allow the sides to fade to solid burgundy and simply stop adding more hexagons when the borders had reached a satisfactory length. Having changed gears, I threw these eight flowers into my scrap hexie flower bowl to become part of another quilt some day.

The following photographs show the various edges of the quilt top with rows of burgundy hexies added.

This is the bottom of the quilt. The next two photographs show closer looks at the bottom of the quilt. The bottom will require another row of hexagons, or a half row of hexagons depending on the method I choose to employ to finish the binding.

Looking at the photograph above you can see that if I were to simply discard half of the last row of hexagons it would result in the binding overlapping a portion of the flowers with the crimson centers. That won’t do. I have a couple of ideas about the quilting for the edges, and I have not yet decided which method I will use. Yet since the burgundy hexies are the central element of the quilt I can’t allow their shape to be broken by the border.

The next photograph represents the top edge of the quilt.

Here too, at least one addition row of burgundy hexies is required for the same reason as for the bottom edge.

Here is a reminder of what the central portion of the quilt looks like on a bed.

I Bought a Sewing Machine

Janome copy

It was not an easy decision buying a new machine. I have an old New Home that was manufactured in the 1960s or 1970s. Though I learned how to sew on a Singer treadle machine that was converted to a motorized model, the New Home served me well during my First Act In Fiber Arts when I made my first few quilts back in the 70s and 80s. The problem with the machine is that it is very heavy, and loud. I was unable to find a manual for it online and I don’t even know how to oil it, which may be why it is so loud :-)

In any case, I am attending a quilting retreat in April, the first Slow Stitching Movement Quilting Retreat in Lambertville, NJ, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live. However, I will be staying over at the hotel to get the full retreat experience. I had considered attending the retreat with no sewing machine at all since I mostly paper piece, but there are going to be skill building exercises as part of the activities, so I felt as if I would be missing out on a lot of new knowledge if I did not have a machine. I was embarrassed to consider bringing my old noisy New Home, and decided to start shopping for something better.

At first I thought I might get the Juki TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine. When I went to American Sew and Vac to try it out they did not have it. They showed me the Janome 1600P-QC High-Speed Straight-Stitch Machine. I liked it a lot and noticed that the Janome machines are actually New Home machines. I learned that Janome bought New Home. So there was a certain level of sentimentality associated with being able to continue using a New Home machine since that was what I learned on.

I liked the idea of a straight stitch machine that would be good for free motion quilting, and I do eventually want to get one. It will set me back about $1,000.00 when I do.

I decided that I was going to do a little more research on other Janome models and I came across the Janome New Home 720 on Amazon. This machine had ten reviews and every one of them was five stars. It is only 12 pounds. It is a 3/4 size machine. It got recommendations as an excellent machine to take on retreats and to guild meetings. And even though I do not have much interest in special stitches it would be nice to have a machine that can do a zigzag or make a buttonhole even if I eventually end up doing most of my sewing on a superior straight stitch workhorse. It would always be handy to tote along to retreats. It would be kind of like having a Featherweight that could do a little more than straight stitching.

What tipped the scale in favor of the 720 was the pricing of the Apple Watch. I am planning on getting the stainless steel Apple Watch with a Milanese Loop. It will cost me either $649.00 or $699.00 depending on whether I get the 38 mm or the 42 mm. So now is not the time to drop $1,000.00 on a sewing machine.

Though I have linked to Amazon so you can see the reviews, I bought my machine from Pocono Sew and Vac because Mark Lipinski recommends them.

Back to the Mattress Store

It was time to head back to the mattress store for another photo shoot of the Batik Flower Garden Quilt.

In the photograph above the hunter green and crimson hexagons almost become polka dots on burgundy fabric. It makes me want to make a whole quilt this way.

Cat hair alert. Look at that corner.

After comparing how the bottom of the quilt top extends over the edge of the mattress with how the sides of the quilt top extend over the mattress it became obvious to me that I am going to need another border of burgundy flowers on the sides to make up for the fact that the flowers are taller than they are wide.

The next order of business is going to be to purchase more burgundy fabric since I have used all that I have. Then I’ll need to make about thirty flowers and sew them in place. I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Monthly March Star Count

For quite awhile I have been participating in the Monday Morning Star Count link back from Jessica’s Life Under Quilts blog. Jessica has been really busy lately creating and sharing via Instagram, and she has decided to go to a new monthly link back schedule. I don’t blame her for that. While I will miss sharing on a weekly basis, I think we all benefit from consistency. If we can be consistent on a monthly basis, then that will be good. I know that during the weeks we did not link back I definitely experienced a level of disappointment in not seeing the work of others, and not having my work seen either. I also felt as if those weeks were likely to go unseen when we did finally link back again. Knowing that we will be sharing once a month instead, however, I want to optimize the exposure of my work.

When we were linking back every week I would provide what is referred to as a permalink. The problem with that approach, however, is that it makes it impossible to scroll down to see a full month of progress.

Moving forward I will simply provide the link to my blog and encourage people to continue scrolling down as long as they are viewing new material. The plus side to this is that I may post more frequently than once a week now, knowing that all posts can be seen in that once a month viewing binge. I had reduced my posts to once a week a short while ago because I didn’t want the “Star Count” crowd to miss out on anything.

I really have enjoyed linking back, and have felt as if my blog traffic has been largely dependent it. The good news is that some of my recent blog traffic is certainly not dependent upon the link back, because I already have two comments on this week’s blog post WITHOUT linking back.

I do need to find other ways to create traffic. One of them is to put links to my posts on Facebook for my friends to see.

Today I’ve added the ability to subscribe to this web site for those who don’t want to wait a full month to hear from me again. If you look at the left column near the top you will see a new widget titled “subscribe to blog via email”. I’d encourage “Star Counters” to subscribe to get notification of new posts by email. I’ll look for a way to subscribe to your blogs as well.

So… looking forward to showing up in your in box sometime soon, and having you show up in mine, but in the meantime…



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