Monday, November 26, 2012

Russian Star Table Runner/Centerpiece

I call this my Russian Star Table Runner. 
(It is a 24 inch hexagon) If you use a jelly roll to make it, it could also be called a Jelly Roll Star too.  :D

I love how this turned out and I have had several people on Stashbusters ask me how it is done. If you want to make this, please print it out and have it beside you as you go. Having a photo right there helped me a lot.

No pattern was available of course! I started out kind of backwards with this table runner by looking for a general gift idea in Google Images for the keywords  "Table Runner" which brought me to this lovely and intriguing photo and blog post on a Russian blog here by Marina Sohonchuk in Volgograd. Thank goodness she has a translator button at the upper right of her blog. I did not understand all of her instructions, but I was able to understand from that posting that the star is made with 9 different fabrics. They are cut and assembled from three sets of printed 1.5 strips and an approximately 4 inch white strip. More on your fabrics in a bit. 

I had to search further into Marina's blog and find that she used a 60* degree ruler in the 6 inch size.  I have a 60 degree 8 inch ruler so I just lined up and left off the bottom 2 inches on my ruler when cutting with my 8 inch ruler. 

Here is a tutorial for how I made mine. It went together in a few days. Fairly fast considering I have never used a 60 degree triangle ruler before or made a hexagon table mat. Read thru the whole thing a time or two so you get an idea from the pics of how it assembles together.

You will need nine different fabrics. I had some left over from my previous project. Four of my fabrics are from my old stash. And five out of my  nine fabrics were sold at one time or other on the bolt in the Christmas section even though they are not really Christmas-y prints. Just goes to show you can use stash for this if the colors are festive even if the fabric is not holiday themed!

You will make 1.5 inch strips about 44 inches long from each type of fabric. You can seam scraps together as I did but allow more for this method --unless you don't mind seams in the middle of a triangle. Marina used a Jelly Roll and just tossed out one fabric strip to make hers. If you have that  type of thing on hand go for it. 

You need pins, post it notes, pen, a rotary mat, rotary trimmer, and a 60 degree triangle see through acrylic ruler with the center 30* mark clearly delineated.  I believe mine was an Omnigrid brand.

You need two patterned reds of similar hue.
You need two patterned whites/lights
You need three patterned greens of similar hue
You need two patterned golds of similar hue 

You need three of the  4 inch x 44 strip of plain white or white-on-white completely different from your patterned whites/light strips. This fabric comes in later and provides your "background' for the star.

You also need 1/2 yard of any color you choose for the center of your star. I used a dark green.  You will cut 6 of the 6 inch 60 degree triangles for your center.

You will need a backing piece that measures at least 26 inches square. The finished runner with binding on is approximately 24 inches from point to point.

How To:
Cut your 9 types of fabric into 1.5 inch x 44 inch strips. If you have a little extra it won't hurt just in case you cut a triangle wrong later on.

I laid my strips out in the color order I needed them to stay when sewn. I knew I would need a memory boost as to what went where from Marina's blog photos so I labeled mine with post it notes.

I sewed the fabric strips into their trio strip sets. I also again added those post it note labels back on! I double checked myself a lot because I didn't want to mess it up! You can see the order here.

 You see here my trio strip sets sewn and folded for the photo. They are about 45 inches long or more. I made way more than I needed because I used scraps and had seams in there.

Press everything well. I would advise pressing all your seams OPEN because of the points later on.. Now dig out that triangle ruler. 

Sew on your 4 inch white strip to the red sides of your trios of strips and also to your darker green side of that middle trio set of strips (seen above). In the photo above, the 4 inch x 44 plain "background" white strip piece was sewn to the far left red, the far right red, and the deep green in the right center set.

Line up your trio-plus-white strip sets so the white 4 inch strip is at bottom of your rotary mat and three rows of color strips above.

Use your 60 degree triangle now to cut triangles in one red set and the green set so the longest center line and point of the triangle facing like so  . This allows the star stripes to be directed the correct horizontal orientation. If your ruler has a center line like mine, the center line is lined up on the seam between the white 4 inch strip and the red (or dark green) strip in that particular set. Now flip the triangle and cut the last red strip set with the point facing like so  <.

Here is a close up of a dark green trio triangle (after cutting and sewn in place) with it's 4 inch white strip piece below it with the center long point facing right >. Can you see it?

Once you get 6 of each style of triangle cut, lay them out on the table to get an idea of the format. Your trio triangles with the long bold red stripes will back up to each other.  <> and your green ones finish off the point for each of the six points.

At this point you may notice that you really don't have a lot of the tiniest pieces of that last strip color in each triangle set showing.  Oh well! That's just the design of it I guess! Use those scraps left from your cuttings some other day. 

I decided once I had it on the table I didn't want a white center like Marina had. My decorative freehand quilting is not expert enough. So I used the glazed dark green again for the center. Fabrics with that tone-on-tone glazed effect printed on make things look so much more festive than a solid. You need to cut 6 of the 6 inch triangles from your center color.

Here is how the sewing breaks down in rows.  It makes much more sense now and much easier to sew. Be sure and PIN the pieces before you sew them so you don't get one oriented wrong midway through that row!

After sewing the rows, iron each row well after sewing. Starch too if you like since some bias edges are in these stars.

Join the rows together. this is ready to press, sandwich, and free motion machine quilt on my own domestic sewing machine.

 I used this red medallion print for my backing. And I used the dark green with glazed pattern from the center again for my binding.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanks Giving Quilt Along

Give Thanks this week and focus on giving --but not shopping. 

I am NOT shopping on Black Friday. Nope. Are you?
I have things to do here at home. PLENTY to do here at home. And plenty of stash and supplies to do it with! I would really like to focus on my family members and on enjoying the week. 

For me, crafting is relaxing. Making things for gifts is fun. In fact it is more fun than shopping for gifts. I would love to focus on a few sewing projects this Wed-Sunday over the Thanksgiving weekend and host a little internet QUILT and CRAFT ALONG for those who are doing likewise and staying out of the crazy mall frenzy.

Along the way, in true de-stashing style,  I have a few items to gift away for prizes too. If you are going to be sewing, crafting, or quilting this weekend anytime Wed-Sunday, leave me a comment below with your email (and  if you can? add a link to a pic or blog post about it.) YOU COULD WIN one of my extra gadgets, a crafty goodie--or a few fat quarters!

How is that for fun!??  

Let's focus on creating, not shopping!

Drop me a comment if you want to play along. Be sure to leave your email so you are eligible for a prize. And if you can, please also link to a photo or blog post about what you are working on.

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Spiral Christmas Tree Skirt

Here you see a  gift I just finished this morning for my daughter. It is a spiral bargello style quilted tree skirt. I sewed on it all Saturday and Sunday this weekend and just had the ties to sew on this morning. It's an early Christmas gift kind of like the one I made for my son and his wife a few weeks ago

This spiral design my daughter chose also uses a 10 degree wedge ruler but is about 1/3 more time consuming than the randomly placed 5 inch charm square wedge style because you have to spend more time getting the strip formation right.  There was a SULKY brand online tutorial and pattern for a single color repeat but I liked the slower color change better seen in the two photos below. I think the spiral design is enhanced by the more gradual color change. I saw these two spirals below on Google Images but they only led me to picture links and not a tutorial. I had to devise my own from looking at that pictures.

and this one where the person also had to improvise their own from the Sulky pattern online.

I used three reds, three greens, and for my lightest trio I did like the photos and I used one white and two "almost" golds.  

See if you can use your stash. Consider fabrics that are not necessarily Christmas in theme but are the right colors. Since these fabrics were all available to me from the previous tree skirt for my DIL and son, I know it was previous non Christmas stash for 1/3 and then we had bought specifically at that time (a month ago) the other 2/3 of these fabrics to coordinate. My DIL came along that evening and picked the fabrics so that I knew she would like their tree skirt--and use it. 

PLANNING: I put on my thinking cap. It took me some thinking as to how to sew and cut the strips for the 4 repeating spirals efficiently. (You can't just sew all nine together in a super long and tall tube like you would on a normal bargello quilt and pick apart where you want the top to be for  each row.)  

My strips are each 3 inches tall and about 25 inches long. I found that the 25 inch lengths were about right and gave me the flexibility to move that color fabric to the top of the wedge without ripping out a seam to move it's position in the lineup from bottom to top. etc. 

SEWING: Take your time. This is not a project to rush.
I ended up sewing my 9 fabrics in ascending order in about 25 inch strip sets. After I sewed the strip set for that first style wedge (for example below far left, the set with gold at top)  I then cut just that sequence into the four identical wedges with gold at top before I moved on to the succeeding one with the next color --white-- at the top. Below you see the cut wedge stacks. The spiral repeats 4 times around the circle so I knew I needed 4 of each of the nine types of spiral wedge.

Note: Since I was using what I had from the previous tree skirt project a few weeks ago, I had to eeek out a few of the last blocks by seaming bits together but I don't mind that.

When all my wedges were cut (4 of each kind as in photo above) I was able to lay out a single sequence of the 9 wedges and check my bargello order before joining the wedges together.  Laying out 9 of them was a quarter section of the whole circle. They should look like stairsteps of color/print. Do this each time you begin to sew a quarter section of the circle so that you know you have them in correct order.

Sew each quarter section together. Always sew from the widest part of the wedge toward the smallest. Any bits that might get out of line are then at the top of the skirt where they show much, much less under the tree with gifts on top! LOL Also iron them as you go alternating one wedge ironed with seam allowances up and the next wedge with seam allowances down to reduce bulk when nesting the seams. Here is a quarter section sewn up:

Sew two quarter sections to make a half circle. Even draped on a chair, you see the spiral starting to form below. Press the heck out of it again from the top as you complete each section.

Sew the other  two quarter sections and join them to be a half circle. Now join those on one end with your first half to become a full circle--but leave OPEN the last side of the circle where you would put it around a tree. Your tree skirt should be shaped like a letter "C" basically and open on one side as in the photo a few pics below.

I was also being ecological again this time and again just seamed up some odd pieces of thinner poly batting for the inner layer.  Started out as a jumble! LOL

The batting was from a bag of pieces for 50 cents from a garage sale. I used half of it on the last tree skirt and the rest here. It saved about a 4 foot square from being tossed out to our town incinerator.  I found that I can baste battings quickly and easily on my machine if I raise my presser foot and just evenly pull the batting through as the machine sews. Yes! That's is right! Just lift up the presser foot! No snags. Super speedy and it works! This basting of the batting does not show because it is sandwiched between the topper and the backing. 

I do use quilters basting spray between each layer too which also insures everything in the quilt sandwich stays put. By the time I meander around my tree skirts--or any project really-- that batting is staying in place!  

I did buy a piece of beautiful red and white pattern holiday fabric (above) at 2.99 a yard off the remnant table at our local store for the backing. I didn't have any Christmas yardage big enough.  I try to keep my stash very small and general purpose and buy what I need as the need arises. 

Here is a close up of the meander quilting I did on this. I am getting better at this! I used the darkest green fabric again for the ties and binding. Have I mentioned I actually LOVE hand sewing and binding things?

The only thing I might change is to use only bias binding around the neck of the tree skirt so it rounds it more and I was just using up flat strips. I will know that for next time. 

DONE IS DONE! Hurray! 
 I know she will love it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Goals 2012 Revisited

Ahhh that little thing called accountability...Gotta love it. 

I was spurred by one of my online quilting groups (STASHBUSTERS) this week to double check on how my last year went craft-wise. Did I get much done on my quilting UFOs and outstanding paper project boxes, page kits, knitting and so on?? Now that we are approaching December, can January and the New Year 2013 be far behind?  I daresay it will be all here faster than I am ready! LOL

In July I mentioned that I had this list of 2011-2012 supplies and stash to work on.   I know lists are a little boring to read when they are not your own but I hope this will illustrate for some of you how plugging away at your goals weekly does indeed pay off!  Looking at my list now in November, the RED items are incomplete. The black items are completed! Yeah!! 


12x12 binder style albums and protectors - 5 assorted styles and colors- one album made into baby gift album and 3 filled with hundreds of finished pages! 1 binder left for 2013

6x6 mini albums- 4- Grandma gift albums- 2 done, 2 donated!

8.5x11 albums -3 - Two are made into gift albums done about my mother in law. 1 left for my son in laws 2013 project

clipboard to alter and cover -2 - Donated!

great grandmother album for my mom with pics of her two gr grand daughters in it- done!

travel album -1 - my son's Germany trip - probably in 2013 now. DONE!

blank family tree charts- large- 2 (Hmmm, I have two kids don't I?) planned for Christmas gift

fill in the book family tree info book- 1 - donated because I put same info into other projects.

quilt project- round table runner kit for Jy-  hoping to finish for Christmas

quilt project -teal wall hanging kit for Jy - given to Jy to work on since she wanted more sewing practice on her new machine.

tote bag pattern and lots of cotton fabrics- still a UFO- decided to do it in 2013 as a possible class project with the girls.

cherries in garden- FROZEN 2 bags for holiday pie baking

apples in garden - NONE! Blossoms dropped in the cold so only 5-8 apples on the ENTIRE tree! Too bad really but saves me a bit of work in the long run this year. Better luck next crop.

mulberries in garden - picked. and used in pie with other fruits. I then shared one of my two bushes with my son and transplanted at his home.

crabapples in garden - None- tree not mature enough yet to really harvest.

lemon balm in garden- Yes! harvested, dried and made into a sugar lemon scrub for gifts.

pint jars x 24 (you can see where this one is going... LOL) - I used a dozen for salsa and 2 for sugar scrub and 4 for fruit compote filling for Galettes.

beautiful photo frames -4  - given as gifts w photos inside


And to add to the above list I have also completed in 2012:

about 150 greeting cards for Operation Write Home - completed and shipped.

300 plus greeting cards for my own greeting card swap to use, to gift, and to trade with some very creative ladies!

90 yummy chocolate candy turtles for holiday gifts 2012!

Reorganized my entire studio workspace and moved it to another larger room in 2012 which took about 2 weeks total.

FINALLY used my Fiskar Bowmaker to make 45 bows with odds and ends of ribbons and trims for Christmas gift wrapping

knitted cotton dishcloths- 8 completed! I give these as gifts as well.

Planning on using 5 rolls of Christmas wrap paper this year that I have had for 5 years!

one baby quilt for a friend's granddaughter using 3 yards of stash fabric and batting

one baby quilt for my husband's cousin's 2nd daughter using 3 yards of stash fabric and batting

one tree skirt for Christmas 2012 for my son. using about 3/4 yard of stash Christmas fabrics

one spiral bargello style tree skirt for my daughter for Christmas 2012 using about 1-2 yard of stash.

one queen sized blue lone star quilt top is 1/2 quilted --and 1/2 to do --for my son for Christmas 2012 

Given away:  never to be seen or sorted or worried about ever again!
35 older rubber stamps 
5 assorted ink pads
9 decorated lunch boxes
duplicate Dymo labeler to my daughter
assorted cutting tools and fibers and ribbons
all my beading supplies except my pliers and cutters
dozens of books
20 grocery bags of decor and kitchen and clothing items
22 blankets (of all sizes) in early November to New York and New Jersey after Hurracaine Sandy for the warmth of the needy there.
about 30 scrapbook, craft and quilt and decor magazines
one grocery sack of cake decorating and cookie cutters from my collection
wooden disks, yarns and other varied craft supplies I don't need or want to worry about any more! :D

dozens of finished 12x12 layout sets.
dozens of cards

I haven't finished everything on my goals list yet. I see above items in red are what I have to get accomplished in the next month so I better get busy! I enjoy a deadline and a challenge--so bring it on!

Stay motivated and productive!  

Sunday, November 04, 2012


Nov 11th Note: Ok I truly thought UFO Sunday with the talented Leah Day on her blog here was every Sunday, so I posted this when I got it done after working on it last weekend (Nov 4). Either way it is GREAT that it is done! Done is good!
Back to the Baby Quilts! It is so much fun to sew for a new baby girl in our extended family. Getting ready to gift another handmade quilt to another wonderful family that we love.

I got out my stash drawer of fabrics and pulled out anything with reds and oranges. Most of those also had some form of gold tone to them. I worked off that and pulled as many fabrics as I thought I might need. I confess I am not yet a good judge of how much fabric it takes for specific sizes of quilts and I over-picked. Haha. You will see why in a bit.  

I have already used most of my pink stash on another  baby quilt a month or two ago see HERE. Since my goal is to use my stash, I am trying very, very hard NOT to buy more fabrics until I decrease my existing stash a good bit more.  I resisted the zombie-like-oh-so-hard-to-ignore urge to go out to the quilt store and buy dozens of brand new pink fabrics. This quilt will have a reds, corals and golds color scheme. Kind of like this inspiration from Design Seeds color palettes called Citrus Brights:

I needed an idea for my pattern next, so I browsed through the abundant quilt ideas on Pinterest. I loved the nine patch I saw HERE with wide open white blocks as spacers between each nine patch. Those wide open white areas were the perfect complement for the busier patterned  patches. This meant I had to go to the white cotton/muslin stash drawer and make sure I had enough plain white. I had an assortment of various sized white pieces but luckily enough to work!

I cut my strips 3.25 wide and sewed dozens of them together in rows of three.

I think I got a little carried away sewing but I wanted to use up these stash pieces!
After the rows are together, I cut them again 3.25 wide so I ended up with oodles of columns that each had 3 squares. Time to sew them together into 9 patches!

I wanted a little peppier look in some of the blocks so I did buy the orange and coral floral print in the center bottom 9 patch. It made those all 1980s and 1990s and 2000s fabrics look a little snappier and happier. Sometimes updating one pattern or fabric in a quilt makes the others all show off and perk up too.

I sewed for hours and ended up with WAY more 9 patches than I needed for a baby quilt! I needed only 10 for this project...but ended up with 36!  Ooops!  But I did meet my personal goal of using up those particular fabrics.

I tried a few layouts on the floor with the white blocks and came up with a design I liked. The white blocks lighten things up and really help accent the happy feel of the quilt.

I layed out more fabric for the backing. Spray basting is the way I secure my batting to the backing and the top to the batting when I sandwich a quilt. Then I pin it loosely here and there with straight pins just in case the spray basting might possibly shift. I have never had that happen so the pins are probably redundant but I grew up pinning quilts so it is a hard habit for me to break completely. 

Now we go to the machine and get ready to free motion quilt it.

 I am really making an effort to practice my free motion quilting on a regular basis. I am taking the class from Leah Day.  Her website also shares some of her many Free Motion Quilting Project creative possibilities for doing your own quilting on your home machine. I am trying to be brave and try a few new patterns with each project that I do.  Those white blocks are challenging me to practice my meandering!

But first let's buy a tiny bit of pink and coral patterned fabric (above) to make the perfect coordinating border. This and one floral fat quarter are the only two purchases I made for this ENTIRE quilt. I love to use what I have on hand.  The color is a little more true in the photo below.

The coral print border was added AFTER  I machine quilted the top. It just seemed too small once I got it that far so I added the 2.5 inch border all around before I cut off any excess batting or backing. MUCH better!

All bordered in coral and bound in white --and ready to gift away.  I tossed it on the kitchen floor to take the pic which makes my angle look a little wonky here but it really is a true FLAT rectangle. :D

I love how it turned out and I have enough blocks to make two more identical baby girl quilts if I want to. We have a lot of little ones on the way for families we know so I probably will sew the quilts up and set them aside until needed. Never hurts to be prepared!

Friday, November 02, 2012

Please help those in need from Storm Sandy by donating to the RED CROSS

If you were in the path of all the destruction from that storm--or any disaster --you are in my heart and prayers. I hope the tips below help you know where to turn for aid, give you some pointers on how to help yourself and your family, and get you going in a good direction when you might be feeling helpless.

For the 80% of the country that Sandy didn't damage, BE PREPARED for any kind of emergency in your own location. Too often we wait too long, think it can't happen to us, or just don't take the time to do the steps we know we should to keep our own households running in a time of emergency --or after one happens.

When done reading, pass these on by sharing the post so those who need the data in the NE will see it. I know power is out on many of these areas but some cell phones still get internet and email. If someone you know needs this info and is feeling lost as to what to do next, please share.
At each of these links there are wonderful lists and tip sheets, even PDFs for us to consult. Print them now. PRINT IT and keep it in page protectors in your emergency box. Don't wait until it is too late and you either don't have access to the internet, electricity, or your printer is looted --or ruined underwater.

For those who need it in the NE area --and are not sure what to do now that the storm has passed. (Because I have been seeing this question from the public a lot on the varied news commentary sites) Pass it on!
What To Do After a Hurricane

Disaster Aftermath:
How do you pay your bills or get a second copy of vital documents after a disaster?

Cleanup begins with YOU.    FloodSmart

Sock It To Me x 4:  Four pair of dry Wool Socks per person.

 How to sterilize water supplies:

How to hitch knot and hang a rope clothesline:

My Freezer Lost Power, Now What? 

How to make a backyard Barbeque Pit in the ground and Cook that Meat before it Goes Bad--Then share with the neighborhood!

 When and How to Clean a Flooded Carpet

Assess floodwater levels, damage, and floodwater in your home after a flood to start recovery process and restoring your home.
We learned a lot from Katrina so lets put that to use.
Home safety - returning after a disaster.
Information on What to Do After a Flood - New York State Disaster Recovery - Think Safety First
What to Do After a Flood

How to keep your food grilling safe:

How to Make Your Own Antibacterial Hand Wipe Towels: Keep the materials in your emergency kit and assemble wipes when needed.

A Wool Blanket--or two--for Each Person in the Household. Here's Why and How to Use Them:
Pass these on by sharing so those who need the data will see it. I know power is out on many of these areas but some cell phones still get internet and email. If someone you know needs this info and is feeling lost as to what to do next, please share.

Take responsibility for acting wisely. In the end, if you can help yourself, well, not only is it good for your survival but it enables you to also take care of your family and neighborhood better and faster and wiser.
Print out this info from the links above--and keep it in page protectors or in a binder in your emergency preparedness boxes and kits. WHY? So that you actually HAVE it in front of you when your are panicked, agitated, confused or exhausted and can't think straight. You will need it when your internet is down (because it will likely be down) when you need the info the most! A simple step is to print it out now to help you know what to do later.