Category Archives: Quilting

Cutting up fabric and sewing it together in a new way.

Putting the Pieces Together

Stringing a few words together to make a sentence,
A few sentences to write a paragraph,
And a paragraph or two to create a post
Seems tough going for me this week.

But piecing fabric into quilt blocks has happened!

2020 Stash Buster Challenge – Sunshine & Shadows layout plus fabric yet to be cut and sewn.

The 2020 Stash Buster Challenge has been a bit addictive. Whether it is yardage purchased for a project that never got made or pieces that just had to be taken home, most quilters have fabric stowed away. The goal of the challenge is to turn some of that stash into a quilt. (Find more information and the pattern here.)

The little four-patches just make me smile.

3.5″ unfinished Four-Patch

The larger four-patches are made with two small four-patches and two 3.5″ squares.
The blocks can be put together at least nine different ways to make interesting patterns.

First blocks for the 2020 Stash Buster Challenge – Strong Streaks layout.

In other piecing news, we finally finished this jigsaw puzzle! It has lots of irregularly shaped pieces that made the trees with snow fairly difficult. So difficult, in fact, we talked about putting it back in the box without finishing it.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing,
may the pieces fall together easily today.

Photo Challenge: Common

Pincushion and Scissors. Photo: TLClark, 12/17/19.

Once upon time – when I was but a child – my mother had common sewing tools. I have similar tools today: a red pincushion and a pair of orange-handled fabric scissors. Those who own fabric scissors share a common rule: THOU SHALT NOT USE THE FABRIC SCISSORS ON PAPER (OR ANY OTHER NON-FABRIC MATERIAL).

When my mother started quilting, her tool kit expanded. I have followed her lead, becoming a quilter and acquiring modern tools of the trade.

Common Tools for Quilters. Photo: TLClark, 12/17/19.

Common quilter’s tools include:

  • Cutting mat (background), rotary cutter (bottom left), and specialty rulers (three shown);
  • Thread in neutral colors;
  • Long, thin pins on a magnetic pin holder;
  • Small pair of scissors;
  • and a good seam ripper (for un-sewing, sometimes called Jack).

Q: What is the difference between a beginning quilter and an experienced quilter?
A: The experienced quilter keeps her seam ripper handy.


I used most of the tools – plus a few others – earlier today making quilted Christmas cards.

Quilted Christmas Cards. Photo: TLClark, 12/17/19.

Posted in response to this week’s Tuesday Photo Challenge: “… it might be interesting to go for something rather Common… Whether it is the every day, common object or the things that you have in common, or crossing the town common.”

Photo Challenge: Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait. Photo: TLClark, 12/14/19. Taken with a Samsung Galaxy J7 smart phone.

For Khürt’s Smart Phone Challenge : Use your smart phone to “take a picture that tells us who you are, without actually showing your face.”

Those who know me well don’t need much of an explanation. Books, a camera, some quilting, and a paten and chalice paint a pretty good picture of who I am.

I am the daughter and granddaughter of quilters, but it it has only been in the last ten years that that I have become a quilter. The wall-hanging of flowers reflects my love of nature. The table runner shows my interest in music and states my firm conviction that “All Are Welcome” (song by Marty Haugen, words stitched below the notes) in God’s realm.

The paten and chalice are symbols of my being an ordained pastor and teacher in the United Church of Christ. Although not currently serving a church, I do pulpit supply (preach and lead worship) when colleagues are away on a Sunday morning.

The camera was a Christmas gift from my husband a dozen years ago. My first SLR camera was a combined Christmas and 16th birthday present from my parents. I caught the photography bug from Dad. He took pictures and developed the B&W film; Mom printed pictures in our home darkroom.

Thanks to parents who read to me, I have been a reader for as long as I remember. When I was in trouble as a child it was likely because I had my nose in a book. A common refrain from my teen-age years: “turn off the light, you need to go to sleep.”

Notes about the books I chose for the photograph.

  • Mister God, This Is Anna by Fynn. Be aware of wonder. It’s a big, beautiful world and there is much to be amazed by and marvel at.
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Listen to your heart. Follow your dreams.
  • The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Be willing to take a risk. Know that things are not always what they seem.
  • Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris. A beautiful description of the land and the people not so far from where I grew up.
  • Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. A wise and witty account of coming to faith in a “series of staggers from what seemed like one safe place to another.”
  • This Day: Sabbath Poems Collected and New by Wendell Berry. Who knew I’d like poetry!!

THIS DAY

After the long weeks
when the heat curled the leaves
and the air thirsted, comes
a morning after rain, cool
and bright. The leaves uncurl,
the pastures begin again
to grow, the animals and the birds
rejoice. If tonight the world
ends, we’ll have had this day.

“This Day” by Wendell Berry

Quilt Block: Mini Stars

When the instructions say to cut 96 squares 1 1/4″ x 1 1/4″, the best bet might be to walk away.  But I had already made 50 different quilt blocks for a mystery quilt block sew-along.  So, a deep breath, a little planning for fabric placement, and I began.

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Using 2″ squares of the background fabric (in this case a light color), I started making square-in-a-square units using the flippy corner method.

That’s my thumb to give you an idea of how little these blocks are.

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Pressed, trimmed, and arranged on a design board.

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More flippy corners sewn and ready to be pressed and trimmed.

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The square-in-a-square units are finished.

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The remaining points for each star are a standard flying goose unit.  Sorry, no picture.  (A flying goose quilt block looks like half a square-in-a-square plus a 1/4″ for seam allowance.)

The travel iron was very handy when it came to pressing all those seams.  The back is attractive in it’s own way.

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Here’s the block.  It was supposed to measure 6 1/2″ by 12 1/2″ at this point.  Mine is a little large but I was rather pleased to have actually completed it!

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The block pattern is “Star Power” by Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings for Block Heads 2 (Moda Fabric’s 2018 Block-of-the-Week).

Can you find it in the completed quilt top?

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Next for this quilt: batting, backing, quilting and binding.  But probably not anytime soon!

A Photo a Week Challenge: Colorful

This week’s photo challenge from Nancy Merrill Photography is the word “colorful.”  She says, “I’m looking for the most colorful thing you can find to photograph.”

The most colorful thing in my house is a quilt currently under construction.

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Every block is made with scraps from other quilts.  There are 35 blocks, each one will finish at 12″ square; the sashing between blocks is 2″ wide.

The idea for the quilt goes back to when I was playing with the number of squares needed to make a square block.  A 6″ block (finished size) easily made with

  • thirty-six 1″ squares (6×6) or
  • sixteen 1.5″ squares (4×4) or
  • nine 2″ squares (3×3) or
  • four 3″ blocks (2×2).

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The squares in on the outside edges of the blocks pictured above began square and will be square once the blocks are completely sewn into a quilt top.  Quilters know you need an extra 1/4 inch on each side for the seam allowance – so an unfinished 6″ block measures 6.5″ square.

Here’s my first 144-patch 12.5″ unfinished block; it may be my last.

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Cabin Fever on Another Snow Day

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Snow drift through the sun room window. Glad for the sun. Not so glad for the wind – except to see the fabulous shapes being sculpted. Photo: TLClark.

My beloved suggested I could write about Cabin Fever.  We’ve reached the age where “better safe than sorry” guides decisions.  We’ve both driven enough miles on snow/ice covered interstates or in gusty cold winds to know that snow/ice covered plus gusty cold winds is a recipe for disaster.  So we’ve rescheduled today’s appointments in Iowa City which were the rescheduled appointments from yesterday.

What to do?

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Photo:  TLClark.

  1. Play games on the computer (seems to have become the default option).
  2. Read a book (another common default option).
  3. Pull out an old fashioned board game or maybe a deck of cards.
  4. Memorize a poem.
  5. Work on the puzzle.
  6. Do some genealogy sleuthing.
  7. Sort those old pictures and get them boxed to mail to someone who will enjoy having them.
  8. Play the piano/keyboard.

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    This puzzle was a challenge the first time around – not sure why we decided to do it again.  Photo:  TLClark.

  9. Watch a movie.
  10. Bake cookies.
  11. Clean the bathrooms.
  12. Clean out a drawer or a closet.
  13. Write a sympathy note or a thinking of you card – with pen and paper.
  14. Be creative in the sewing room.

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    Clockwise from top right:  a) Hand sew the binding on scrappy strip quilt. b) Free motion quilt the butterfly quilt. c) Add sashing to the finished blocks and join them into a quilt top. d) Start an entirely new project using fabric from the bins in the corner.  Photo:  TLClark.

  15. Use the colored pencils to draw something new or color in a coloring book.
  16. Sort, discard or keep, categorize eleven years of digital photos.
  17. Plan another series of blog posts.
  18. Call Mom & Dad or Grandma Mary.
  19. Sort through a box full of old church papers; recycle most of it.
  20. Work on taxes.
  21. _________________________________

What would you add to the list?  What would choose first?

All Are Welcome in this Place

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“All Are Welcome”  Music & Words by Marty Haugen;  Table Runner pieced/quilted by TLClark

More than a month ago my husband asked me to make a table runner for the new table by our front door.  When I asked what color he had in mind he replied “Rainbow.  Because it would make a lot of people mad.”

I just happened to have a  Row-by-Row Experience kit (i.e., a pattern and fabric) that was easily adapted into a rainbow table runner.  Directions for “Name that Tune,” the original pattern by Laura and Liz at Crazy Redhead Quilting, suggests you appliqué music notes for the melody of your favorite song.

After considering a number of different songs, we settled on “All Are Welcome” by Marty Haugen.  The refrain fit within the staff – not going too high nor too low – and all the notes fit on the length of the runner.  Here’s the first verse with refrain:

Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live,
a place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive.
Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace;
here the love of Christ shall end divisions.
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.

To hear the hymn as sung by Haugen with others, search for the “All Are Welcome” concertato on the GIA Publications website (or click here) and click on the PREVIEW button.

One of my favorite Bible stories of welcome has to do with Jesus and the children.  As the story is set up in the gospel of Mark, the disciples have been arguing with one another about who is the greatest.  When Jesus calls them on it, they go silent.

“[Jesus] sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’  Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”  – Mark 9:35-37 NRSV (see also Matthew 18:1-5 and Luke 9:46-48)

In the very next chapter of Mark, the disciples try to keep children away from Jesus.  It’s a story I use every time I have the privilege of baptizing a child.

“People were bring little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them.  But when Jesus, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.  Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.’ And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them.” – Mark 10:13-16 NRSV (see also Matthew 19:13-15 and Luke 18:15-17)

We think of younger children when hear these verses.  But I believe it applies equally well to school age kids, teenagers, and adults — in other words, to every person who has ever been a child.  We are all children of God.

May you be warmly welcomed wherever you find yourself today.

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