Leaders/Enders Works Of Art

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Leaders. Enders. You know what they are, right? If you are in the Quilting Community, you know. For my non-quilty readers, it just means Do Not Waste Thread. When you come to the end of what you are sewing, grab two scraps and stitch them together. Then go back to what you were first sewing since now it has advanced out the back and can be clipped off. Keep doing this. Sewing two scraps in between your “project” sewing.

And before you know it, you have a table full of pieced scraps.

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Isn’t this the cutest!!

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I only recently started sewing the L/E way. Maybe about six months. I do it about 60% of the time. Because sometimes I get so excited, wanting to snatch out the fabric to see if the seams matched up that I forget. But I am trying to get up to 80% of the time. No sense wasting thread if I don’t have to. And that Gutermann thread is pricey. I only buy it when it is half off.

A few days ago, I changed up how I was sewing my L/E’s. I decided to go Round Robin. Sort of like Log Cabin style. Sewing in the round. Add a strip. Turn. Add another strip. Kept turning and adding until the block was the size I wanted.

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I used the center square as my color inspiration. A 2 1/2″ square selected from my charm collection. Rest of the fabrics came from my scrap bin.

Love. Love. Love them. And those times when I don’t feel like creating art “as you go”, I will just grab two scraps and sew. Art will come later when I fit all the pieces together like a puzzle.

Are you saving or wasting thread? 😀

Do tell….

Linking up to.




Perfect Everytime

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It only took two years!! I finally figured out what to do to get my seams to abut correctly without tacking them down first.

Number 1: Cut the squares accurately. 😀 Seems easy enough, you might say. BUT I was using the lines on my cutting mat as my measuring tool. The first cut was perfect. Then the next and the next got smaller. Lost some of the inches. I only JUST found this out when my cut strips looked off. Don’t know why I never noticed this before. I am pretty sure this is why the white strips for my Hugs and Kisses quilt were off. Now I measure with my quilt ruler PLUS I measure with my tape measure.

Second. I finger press the seams lightly. No ironing/pressing with the iron until the block is sewn together. I find the “raised” seam abuts better than when it is flattened by the iron.

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Third. Not sure how you insert the pin to hold the seams in place before sewing but I had seen several different methods on the net. And tried them all. I still struggled trying to keep the seams from slipping and sliding. Even with a regular foot and my walking foot. And then, guess what happened? I went back to the way I pinned when I first learned to sew as a child. I pin horizontal along the seam line instead of vertical sticking into the seam. The vertical way just wasn’t working for me. I sew right up to the pin and ease the pin out as the needle advances toward it.

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Works every time!!

Now that I have the 9-Patch down, hopefully I can get my other seams in my other blocks to line up. 😀

How do you get your seams to abut correctly? Do tell.

Hugs and Kisses: The Block That Keeps On Giving

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I have settled on the final look for my Hugs and Kisses quilt. The X’s and O’s design. It took awhile and I ended up making 238 blocks. My quilt uses just 168. 14 blocks across and 12 blocks down. That left 70 that I discarded due to various reasons. Print too conflicting, too loud, too pale, too dark, not a perfect blend. Those were mainly the reasons. I think I have a good mix now. I double, triple checked the “tips” to make sure there were no duplicates inside the diamonds.

So… now that I am happy with the arrangement, it is time to take them down one by one and begin sewing the columns and rows together.

There was one thing I hated about making this block. The trimming. No matter how carefully I sewed on the diagonal across the 3″ and 2 1/2″ squares, I still had hangover on the sides that needed trimming.

But there were a couple things I LOVED!! This block is forgiving as well as giving.

The Forgiving. What do all of these cut squares have in common?

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They are flawed. Tips missing or chewed up. One edge shredded. One has a dark blotch. These for a regular quilt would probably be discarded, tossed in the scrap bin. But for this block, since only half of the square is visible, they can still be used.

The Giving. The design of this block automatically creates dog-ears. Lots of them. Four per block. But with sewing an extra seam 1/2″ from the corner-to-corner diagonal seam, a Half-Square Triangle is made when trimmed. Yes, I know. That takes more time to complete each block. Time I have. And more scraps accumulating in the scrap bin I don’t need. So, I took the time to sew the additional seams.

And guess what? This is what I have to show for it.

Almost 1,000 Half-Square Triangles (HST’s). Can you believe this?

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The process is pretty simple. (I posted the link to the instructions on the bottom.)
You can see how I made mine from these photos.

One 5″, two 3″ white and two 2 1/2″ squares. Per block. (Instead of drawing a pencil line down the center to mark where to sew, I pressed a crease on the diagonal fold.)

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First sew corner-to-corner on the pressed diagonal line to add the two white squares. Mark 1/2″ from the sewn line. Now sew on the marked line. Cut in between the two sewn seams. And you get your first Half-Square Triangle. HST will be about 2 1/8″. Press white triangle up. (Don’t do any trimming just yet.) Repeat process to add the 2 1/2″ squares.

This photo is showing all the seams you will sew. You will cut in between the seams.

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The first cut produces a 2 1/8″ HST and the second cut produces a 1 5/8″ HST.

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I have wanted to make a quilt and pillows out of HST’s. Now I can. I will NEVER again cut away the dog-ear ends and toss them in my scrap bin.

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How about you? What do you do with your dog-ear ends?

Go here for the instructions to make your own Hugs and Kisses quilt.


Can You Stand One More Bird? :)

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Well, two more. And one more pincushion. Now that March is here, I need to catch you up on what I made in February that I haven’t shown you.

Sorry, but I DO LOVE making these. So addicting.

AND I have some tips to share with you on making these birds, in case you plan to make a few.  And then I will get on with the other stuff you see in the photo.

Making Birds Tip 1: Reinforce the beak section with a patch of batting. When you turn the fabric inside out, you will only need to add a tiny bit of stuffing.

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Making Birds Tip 2: This tip is from my husband. Use a thin pencil with an eraser on the end to push a tiny bit of stuffing into the beak. It worked well for me. He saw me struggling to fill the space. (Which is the real reason I decided to add a bit of batting first.)

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Making Birds Tip 3: Don’t overstuff the neck area. Won’t topple over as much.

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OK, I am done making birds. You can take up where I left off. Have fun making them.

Now let me show you the rest of my “Bird and Pincushion” project. 😀

I recycled this DVD box with zebra duct tape and made a carrying box for my two new birds.

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Then I duct taped these quilting pins. Just to be different.

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Here they are stuck in my new Cathedral Window pincushion which I also love making.

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Sigh!! Got to move on. Can’t keep making the same old stuff. Can’t keep showing you the same old stuff, even though in different colors.

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Time to move on to something else. Next!!

Friday Linky Parties. Check them out!!



How I Made My Quilted Oven Mitts

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There are a lot of helpful tutorials and tips out there on the net to make Oven Mitts. I did my research, read probably about 30 “how to’s” and cherry-picked from those I liked.

When gathering up your fabric choices make sure you select 100% cotton for fire safety precautions. You will need a top fabric and a lining fabric plus batting and insulated lining.


First I traced around an old oven mitt I bought years ago at the Dollar Store. Make it slightly larger than the actual mitt. Plain and simple shape. Nothing fancy. I bet you have something similar laying around your house.

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Use hard stock paper for tracing if you have any. You can cut out several templates to make cutting go faster.


Cut two (2) mitts from the top fabric. Thumb facing left. One facing right.
Cut two (2) mitts from the lining fabric. Ditto above for left and right.
Cut two (2) mitts from the insulated lining (see bottom of post for what I used). Shiny side up. One thumb facing left. One right.
Cut two (2) mitts from your ALL COTTON batting.

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Pin in this order.

One top fabric and one Insul-Bright. Shiny side facing the WRONG side of top fabric.
One lining fabric and one batting. Batting facing the WRONG side of lining fabric.

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Quilt the above “sandwiches” in two steps. Just as you have them pinned. Top fabric and Insul-Bright. Then lining and batting.

For the top fabric, sew simple, slightly curved lines from top to bottom. And one arched line from inside of thumb “V” down along the thumb’s outside curve.

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You only need to match up one seam, if you wish. For the side thumb seam. Mark this spot so front and back seams will line up when sewn together.

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The rest of the quilting lines can be random. But if you make three lines on the front, as I have. Make the same on the back.

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Quilting on the lining/batting should also be simple, though I did add a few more vertical lines. To keep the inside from bunching when washed, I added two horizontal lines.

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Eyeball it and sew one about 3 inches down from the top and one about 3 inches from bottom of the mitt. Not too many since you don’t want the fabric to shrink from a lot of quilting.

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Repeat for the second set.


Sewing top and bottom sets together.

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Use your Walking Foot, if you have one, and set it to the default zig zag stitch. I didn’t adjust the stitch. Start anywhere along the edge. Go all around. Repeat for the second set.

Top fabric.

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Lining fabric.

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Cut a strip of matching or coordinating fabric 1 1/2″ by 5″. Fold in half along the longer side. Now fold the halves up toward center fold. Iron or finger press. Sew down the middle of strip. Set aside for later.

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Pin zig zagged sections together with lining fabric on outside, front and back.

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Insert hanging tab (folded) about 2″ up from the bottom on one side. I put mine on the straight side, not the thumb side.

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Begin sewing. Again using your Walking Foot and the zig zag stitch. Yes, you will be zig zagging on top of the zig zagging. Start on the bottom end of the mitt on one side. Go around and stop at the bottom end of the mitt on the other side. Do Not Sew The Bottom Opening. Leave it open.

TURN OVEN MITT INSIDE OUT (Main fabric will be on the outside)

Look over your mitt. Make sure you are happy with how you sewed the top to the bottom. If bunched in the thumb area, go back inside and clip in the “V” area, careful not to cut the stitches. If you are satisfied, turn mitt back to lining on outside. Now do the final sewing. Go back along the zig zag path with STRAIGHT STITCHES. Just to reinforce. Now, turn inside out. Main fabric will be on the outside. Use something stiff (not pointed) to push out the curves along the sewn edges of the mitt. Just using your fingers doesn’t push the fabric out. (This photo is showing two mitts.)

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Binding, bias binding, cuff. Your choice.

I decided on a mock cuff. Cut a strip of 2 1/2″ by 12″.

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Pin cuff strip to the inside of the bottom opening. Right sides together. Stitch along the zig zag path, above it.

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I removed my tools case (I guess that is what it is called) from my sewing machine so I could fit the cuff onto the arm.

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Stop sewing before you get to the side seam of the mitt. Make a side seam in the cuff strip. Make sure it fits perfectly along the rim. Trim excess from seam. Finger press open. Continue sewing.

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Turn cuff fabric up. Turn edges down. Top stitch all around.

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And done!! Enjoy!!

These instructions will make one oven mitt. Repeat for a second one, if desired.

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This is the insulated lining I used. Insul-Bright. I got it on-line at Fabric.com. It comes with great tips on how to use it. Also has an oven mitt template on the packaging label which I plan to print out to use in the future.

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Harvesting A Pair of Jeans

This is all that’s left from one pair of old jeans. Amazing, huh!!

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And here is what I was able to harvest… All of this.

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Backside with Outside Pockets

Front with Inside Pockets

Waistband with Belt Loops

Zipper, Zipper Flap and Metal Button

Waistline Panel (under the waistband)


Outside Label

Inside Tags

Grommets (Hard to remove and clean up)


You need a really sharp pair of scissors for a clean cut. After cutting into the shape you wish, to stabilize the edges and keep from unraveling, do a quick zig zag.

Cut the largest “footprint” you can from each area without drifting into the next area.

Save every sizable piece trimmed off. You can use them as scraps for other projects. Store in a separate baggie to keep from unraveling.

Sew with a heavy duty needle. I am using a Denim Needle.

Use your Walking Foot to sew through the thickness.

Use your Zipper Foot to get close when sewing around the pockets.

Sew with a color thread that is close to your denim fabric but not an exact match. Will be hard to see the thread in case you have to rip it out.

Decide how you will work with or around rips and tears. I think they will give your item character. Consider leaving the hole/rip/tear there. You can cover it with a pocket or patch later if you end up hating it.

For variety, add cotton fabrics or flannel to your denim. Mix up the colors and patterns.

Consider removing the pocket from the backside pieces. To place elsewhere in your project. Or make your own pockets if you want more than the harvested ones.

My plan was to make earrings from the grommets.

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BUT… it is really hard to pull the fabric from them. I am thinking maybe burn (safely, controlled) the fabric. Not sure if fire will damage the metal. We’ll see. I will do it outdoors.

I should be able to make at least four projects from one pair of jeans. You will have to come back to see what all I make.

Updated 6-17-11

Item #1. Finished 6-16-11.

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Used one leg, 2 outside pockets, waistband with loops, back section attached under waistband (not sure what it is called).

Adding To My Quilting Tip List

Quilting sure has been giving me a spanking the last few days and I haven’t even been bad!! 😀

Here are more tips I have added to my Quilting Tip List.

7. When selecting thread to sew quilt blocks, resist the urge to go all matchy, matchy. Use a neutral color such as white, beige or gray. Dark thread on dark fabric requires magnifier glasses to rip out stitches.

8. When using Fat Quarters, buy at least two of the same fabric. You never know when you may need to cut a piece horizontal or vertical. Or recut a piece cause you goofed up.

9. Before cutting out your blocks, test the fabric. Iron it to see if it buckles and creates waves. Pull on it to see if it stretches out of shape easily. If using spray adhesive, test to see if the fabric stretches out of shape when you remove the template.

10. Recheck your cut quilt block pieces before sewing. Fit them on top of the template. If you cut them when you were tired, some of the pieces may be wonky.

11. If after several tries and no matter what you do, you still can’t get the seams to line up, hand tack first.

12. If you have a specific layout that you have worked on for hours, even days, make sure to take a photo of EACH block. Then you won’t have to try to remember where each piece is supposed to go.

13. Three words for success. Measure, measure, measure. Measure every step of the way. The partial blocks. The pieces inside the blocks. The entire block. Everything. Jot down these measurements. And use them as a guide for each subsequent block.

14. Press. Not IRON. Or you risk stretching your cut pieces.

15. Look for directionality markings on the templates. Ignoring such markings will require a lot of recutting of the fabric pieces. Or worst case, doing major surgery as you sew the pieces together.

16. It’s OK to have a flaw in your quilt. It’s OK to have a flaw in your quilt. It’s OK to have a flaw in your quilt. It’s OK to have a flaw in your quilt. It’s OK to have a flaw in your quilt. It’s OK to have a flaw in your quilt. It’s OK to have a flaw in your quilt.

How do I know all this stuff? Because they all happened to ME!! 😀

Fabric Scrap Management

In just a few weeks I have amassed huge piles of fabric scraps, like this one.

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I have been trimming and saving the larger pieces but tossing the smaller ones. Then I got to thinking, that’s my money there in the trash. Maybe I should ask the experts what they do.

So… to all you experienced quilters out there, here are my questions on managing fabric scraps.

1. What is considered a scrap?

2. Do you keep scraps or throw them out?

3. What to do with scraps IF you keep them?

4. Where to store scraps?

I have a few ideas.

For one, look at these cute little clear plastic paint cans. From Michaels. I had passed them in the aisles many times. I got to thinking about them when my fabric scraps were piling up.

So, I bought two.

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One can is holding any scrap larger than my finger. The 2nd one will hold larger pieces that I can recycle or cut into charms.

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And guess what I did with the tiny scrap pieces I had been throwing out?

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I am thinking I could hang this up outdoors somewhere and let the birds have at it. They could use the scraps to build their bird’s nests. Just pull the pieces through the mesh holes.

What do you do with your fabric scraps?

Quilting Tip #6: My “Star Ruler”

As I learn how to quilt, I have been thinking of the repetitive steps and ways to improve the process. Reduce time frames.

Here’s one of my ideas.

Tip #6.

Introducing my new Star Ruler.

I got tired of picking up my ruler to measure the distance between the points. Sometimes I used my large ruler, sometimes the smaller one. The markings on both are different. And I didn’t want to permanently “mark” on them.

So… I created this. I am calling it my Star Ruler. Don’t know if anyone else has thought of it. I didn’t see any mention of it in any of the instructions for making this quilted star. And I found several pattern instructions on the net. That said, I am claiming ownership of this ruler and naming it, Donna’s Star Ruler.

Here it is.

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At a glance I can see if my points are spaced correctly. And can make adjustments as needed. So simple. But has saved me so much time.

How did I make it?

I used one of the hundreds of VHS hard plastic covers no longer in use at my house. I cut along the spine.

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Perfectly aligned tips.

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I am working on other time reducers. More on them later. Still trying them out.

Go here to see my other tips on making a folded quilted star.


Quilting Star Tips

Stop laughing!!

Yep, I have been quilting for all of four days. And I already have a few tips. 😀

I was writing them down in my crafting journal. But then I thought why not share them with you. After all, there could be potential quilters out there. Following along. Reading, watching, thinking about hopping on my fabric wagon.

This is what I have learned so far.

1. Be precise on cutting. If the pattern calls for a 5 inch square, cut a 5″ square. Not a hair more. Not a hair less. When folding the points on the star, the tips will be nice and pointed IF you cut a perfect square.

2. Before ironing, glance at the fabric. Does it have directionality? If yes, make sure all squares are folded in the same direction. Unless of course, you want a random look.

3. After ironing but before folding, check fabric for any marks or imperfections you don’t want seen on the finished piece. Make that side the INSIDE.

4. To begin folding, bring both the left and the right sides (at the same time) together. Place the ends at the center bottom of the strip. Hold them down with your left finger. Take your right finger and push up on the fold to form the tip. If there is a “gap” and the sides don’t meet, your square is not a perfect square. Recut, reiron, refold. Try again. Until the point is crisp and pointed.

5. Before stitching down the triangles, look at them through your camera lens, layer by layer. You will be able to correct any width or length miscalculations before sewing. Make adjustments, pin in place.

OK… these are my observations and tips in my whole four days of quilting. I’ll add to this list as I go.