Canton Inspiration


This past weekend, Greg and I took a little mini vacation to celebrate our anniversary (three big years!). Our destination? Canton, Ohio. Why, you might ask. Well, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is there, and that’s always held some interest for me. But I knew Canton was the place for us to visit when I heard it is the home to the National First Ladies Museum. When I hear National First Ladies Museum, two things come to mind: dishes and dresses. And what’s not to love about that?

The tour of that museum started in a bank building a few doors down from the main museum. In the bank they had only a portion of their collection of official china sets from different presidents. The oldest dishes I remember seeing were Lincoln’s; my favorite were Harry Truman’s (because they had a pretty teal edge).

The bank building also housed the special exhibits, and right now they are showing The Art of First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson: American Impressionist. The paintings were all small landscapes, all nicely done, but I have to admit, I would have preferred a dress exhibit.

Next we walked over to the Ida Saxton McKinley House, which was Ida McKinley’s family home, although the McKinley’s did live there for a short time as well. The first floor of the home had been gutted years ago, but it was now restored to close to what it would have looked like in the Victorian era.

McKinley wallpaper 2

This photo shows the many different wallpapers on the wall and ceiling of the front entry of the home. I love how the Victorians mixed patterns.

McKinley wallpaper

There were photographs of some of the home taken in the late 1800s, and the photos were used to restore the rooms as accurately as possible. This wallpaper is an exact replica of the wallpaper in the dining room of the home. Great texture.

McKinley wallpaper 3

The second and third floors of the home had more of the original woodwork and furnishings. This wallpaper combo was in the office of William McKinley; the overall vibe of the room was masculine, but there’s no getting away from pink wallpaper on the ceiling. The ballroom of the home was dedicated to all the First Ladies and included photos and bios of each.

First Ladies Flash Cards

At the gift shop, I picked up a pack of First Ladies Flash Cards. It turns out, I do not know my First Ladies. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t know my presidents that well either. A few of my favorite images from the deck: (top row) Lucy Hayes, Edith Roosevelt, Helen Taft, (bottom row) Lou Hoover, Grace Coolidge, Jacqueline Kennedy.

McKinley Memorial

Since we were in McKinley mode, we decided to go to the McKinley Memorial and Presidential Library and Museum. The Memorial was on a hill overlooking a park and cemetery.

McKinley Memorial floor

McKinley Memorial floor 2

Inside the Memorial were the sarcophagi of Ida and William McKinley and their two small daughters. I love the marble flooring.

The Presidential Museum was really more of the Stark County Historical Museum. But there were several items that caught my attention including an early vacuum cleaner and the face of an old clock.

Vintage vacuum

Clock face

The next day we had a great time at the Pro Football Hall of Fame (sorry, I was too busy looking at Packer stuff to take photos). And later in the day, we stopped by the Belden Village Mall where I found this lovely tile design in the women’s bathroom. What a perfect quilt design!

Belden Village tile

We also did a bit of hiking, stopped by one comic book store and one fabric store, and even got caught up with Game of Thrones thanks to free HBO at the hotel. Definitely a fun and relaxing weekend.

Tote Bag Swap

Tote bag for swap

For the April meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild we were asked to bring a tote bag to swap. I was in the mood to make something small but challenging, so I purchased some heavy clear vinyl and intended to make a clear storage bag for the swap. But it turns out, vinyl is kind of hard to work with. And even the patterns that called for vinyl required that the piece be turned inside out, which creased and distorted the vinyl too much for my tastes.

Aborted vinyl bag

So, I decided against challenging and went with a simple and fun bag I’d made in the past. The pattern is the Reversible Tote from the book Stitch by Stitch by Deborah Moebes.

The bag is very basic, but that leaves a lot of room for modifications. Instead of cutting the bag pieces to 18 inches square, I decided to make mine a bit smaller at 15 inches square. And while the pattern doesn’t have pockets, I like to add at least one to my bags.

Tote for swap pocket piece

Tote bag for swap detail

This time I opted for a simple flat pocket that’s lined with the fabric I used on the outside of the bag. I sewed it to one of the lining pieces, adding a seam down the center to create two separate pockets.

I also added interfacing to the lining pieces, just to give the bag a bit more body. Next time, I want to remember to add the interfacing to the outside pieces rather than the lining (it just felt odd to me to have the lining stiffer than the outside), and I need to remember to interface the handles. I kicked myself last time I made this bag for not interfacing the handles, so I wrote myself a note in the book for next time.

Tote bag for swap

The interfacing gave the bag a very cute shape, I think. And look at this seam matching.

Tote for swap detail 2

Impressive, I know. Now, maybe this is the only seam that matches this well, but they’re all closer than I’ve gotten in the past.

At the meeting, I was thrilled to receive this cute bag from the lovely and talented Andie Johnson.

Andie bag

The front of the bag is a UFO block that she put to very good use. Look at all that great quilting. And her boxed corners meet up perfectly.

Andie bag detail

The inside of the bag is nice and deep, and it even included a bit of fabric and a cute note card. So much fun. And I like that the zipper allows the bag to open all the way.

As luck would have it, Andie received my tote, too. She seems pleased with it, despite the lack of interfacing in the handles. I think I officially have the bag-making bug again, so off to find some fun patterns!

Traveling Quilt Block #1

Round robin block for Kay

At the March meeting of the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, those of us participating in the Traveling Quilt/ Round Robin fun exchanged blocks. One lucky person got my shark block (well, maybe not so lucky–someone at break told me that she thought it looked pretty intimidating to add to), and I received a block from someone else.

Kay round robin block

This is the block I received from Kay. She asked that all the blocks have a white background and that they include green and blue flying geese. The blocks could be any size, and she didn’t care whether they were joined to her block or not. Easy enough!

It didn’t take me long to decide to make my go-to block: Circle of Geese. Yes, I’ve made it a bunch of times. But it works for so many occasions. And I’m getting pretty good at making it!

Round Robin block aborted

My first idea was to use printed fabrics for nine of the twelve geese and then outline the remaining three with embroidery floss in blue and green. You can see where I did the embroidery on one goose and took it out. The embroidery didn’t have as much weight as I had hoped, and the block just wasn’t working for me.

Then I decided to play around with some of the solid fabrics in the Robert Kaufman jelly roll I got for Christmas. I pulled out all the blues and greens and organized them from lightest to darkest. Just for fun, I alternated blue and green for each goose, moving from light to dark for each.

Round robin block Kay no borders

I liked this much better, but I kind of didn’t like how the tones ended up very divided, with the lights only on the right and the darks on the left. So I added a border strips of the lightest blue and the darkest green to balance it out a bit.

Round robin block for Kay

This block is a bit smaller than Kay’s block, so I won’t attach it. And that way she can keep the borders or not or do whatever she likes with the block.

I’m glad that came together quickly, so I don’t need to worry about it. But now I won’t get the next block to play with until the May meeting—rats!

Boy’s Column Quilt Complete

Boy Column Quilt topAs I mentioned in my previous post on bearding, my Boy’s Column Quilt is complete! Except for the bearding part, I’m super happy with it.

I wrote a bit about the quilt top in a previous post. For the backing of the quilt, I had ordered a gray print from an online store that sells their fabric in half-yard increments. I knew this, but I still ordered only half of what I needed for the back.

Boy Column Quilt back

But that gave me the opportunity to do some creative piecing with two of the blues from the front of the quilt. It still wasn’t quite long enough, so I added a section of Joel Dewberry Botanique fabric that I picked up at Sewn Studio.

My niece Emma happened to be with me as I was trying to figure out how to piece the backing. Once I had it almost done, I explained to her why I decided to cut the gray/blue section and insert the new fabric there, rather than just tack it onto the top or the bottom. Emma listened patiently to my explanation of my design decisions, and then said, “Yeah, but I really don’t think a teenage boy is going to care.” True enough, wise Emma, true enough.

Boy Column Quilt back detail

I quilted it on my home machine using my new Sew Steady table. Even though I just quilted straight lines, the Sew Steady did help a lot in keeping the quilt easy to maneuver.

As far as the bearding goes, I did wash the quilt, dried it, and then picked off all the little pieces of batting that came up through the fabric. Next, I soaked some Snuggle drier sheets in a spray bottle of water and sprayed both the front and back of the quilt and let it dry. Even that process was enough for a few more bits of batting to poke through.

I shared the quilt and the bearding saga with the ladies at the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild, and the general consensus is that something was up with the batting. But they encouraged me to donate the quilt anyway. Someone actually said, “A teenage boy isn’t going to care.” And I do think the bearding will calm down now that the environment is less dry.

So I’ve made my label and will sew it on and get this quilt off to Project Linus and its new owner!

Boy Column Quilt label

Shark Block for Traveling Quilt

Shark blockTonight at the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild meeting, I’ll be embarking on a great journey with five of my fellow members. It will be a Traveling Quilt journey. Each of us will bring a quilt block of any size or shape to the meeting, and throughout the year the rest of us will take turns adding to that block. Each of us will provide a few guidelines for what we’d to have added (or what we wouldn’t like added), but other than that, the fate of our quilt will be left in the hands of our team members. Pretty exciting, huh?

For some reason, I decided to torture my team members with my block. Because I made a shark block. Andie Johnson brought this paper pieced pattern on Craftsy to my attention several months ago because is reminded her of the shark skirt I had made for my niece. I had kept the pattern bookmarked because I knew I’d want to buy it at some point. And that point came with my Traveling Quilt.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like to try to make my charity quilts for older boys, just because I’ve heard several charities mention that they don’t always have a lot of donations for that demographic. But I find them to be challenging. So why not ask my team members to help?

Making the pattern was actually easier than I thought, but it was time consuming.

Shark pattern detail

The pattern consists of twelve small paper-pieced segments (far right above) that are then pieced together according to the chart (center) to get the finished block. Whew!

Shark block detail

Some of the pieces are tiny! And even though I left the paper on to piece the twelve segments together, there were just way to many pieces for me to get perfect.

I still have some paper to remove from the back, but in the interest of time, I added my borders, and he’ll soon be on his way!

Shark block

I’m not expecting it to be a shark quilt, just a quilt that a boy may like. I’ll ask my team members to use blue, teal, gray and red as the main colors; accent colors will be white and black. But I will include some of my leftover shark fabric, just in case anyone wants to use it.

Good luck on your journey, Paper-Pieced Sharky! I can’t wait to see how you turn out!

A Problem of Bearding

It’s been a frustrating few weeks in quiltland for me. I was so excited to start on the quilting for my latest boy’s charity quilt. But as soon as I started quilting, the quilt started to beard.

What is bearding? It’s when the fibers of a quilt’s batting migrate through the fabric and are visible on the top and back of your quilt.


The causes of bearding that I’ve always heard are things that I thought I had avoided.

Polyester batting: The stiffer fibers of polyester are more likely to make their way through the fabric fibers. But I had purchased cotton batting for this quilt, and cotton is thought to rarely cause bearding.

Low-quality fabrics: Fabrics with a looser weave are more susceptible to bearding because the batting can easily make its way to the top of the quilt. That’s part of why I always purchase my fabrics at quilt stores, where high-quality 100% cotton fabric is available.

Too-thick needles: Another possible cause of bearding is a sewing machine needle that is too thick and creates holes that the batting fibers can travel through. This one really got to me because I actually bought quilting needles for this quilt. I usually just use a universal needle to quilt, but I had recently read that a quilting needle is sharper and makes easier work of the quilting.

So what the heck?

I then came upon this article at Quilters Dream. In it, the writer states that the real cause of bearding is static. Static is something I have a lot of.

The writer of the article says that even high-quality cotton batting can beard if there’s enough static. And the dyeing process darker fabrics go through make them more likely to promote static. Plus it’s been a wild winter and the heat has been running non-stop in the house. So basically, the perfect storm for bearding.

Many sources will tell you there’s no way to stop bearding; you just need to let it run its course and eventually it will stop. But this writer contends you just need to stop the static. She suggests spraying the quilt with Static Guard, but I’d hate to do that to a quilt I’m giving away to charity. Her other solution is to place anti-static dryer sheets in a spray bottle with water and spray the quilt, then let it dry.

I’m going to give it a try, and I really hope it will work. I love this quilt and hope that the bearding abates enough that it can find a new home. More shots of the finished quilt in my next post.

Boy Column Quilt on couch

De-stashing Blues and Greens, Part 1

Destashing without bordersAs I mentioned last week, my stash of blue and green fabrics is simply overflowing. So right after Christmas, I set my mind to making a blue and green quilt.

As is usually my first step, I turned to my shelf of quilt books for inspiration. This time I found it in a copy of Kaffe Fassett’s Museum Quilts. And I actually followed the pattern, Square Clamshell Quilt, pretty much exactly.

Museum Quilts book

The blocks themselves are large at 18 inches. And while they look really scrappy, there is a rhyme and reason to the way they’re put together.

Destashing block

If you draw a line diagonally through the block, each side is a mirror image. The setting blocks are either half of the full block or a quarter of the full block.

Destashing finished blocks

The blocks were fun and easy to make, although figuring out the half and quarter variations kind of hurt my brain. I arranged the blocks with the lighter ones at the top and the darker ones at the bottom; none are super light or super dark, but it just seemed like a good way to go. Next up I needed to figure out the sashing. My initial plan was to use the blue and green strips that came in the jelly roll of solids that I got for Christmas.

Destashing multi sash

The more I looked at that arrangement, though, the more it just felt too busy. I finally decided I needed to go with one solid fabric for the sashing. Luckily, I had a lot of different color options to play with.

Destashing sash options

The final two choices were pretty much polar opposites. Either I’d use a light olive green and take the subtle route or I’d go with the bright blue. I decided that the bright blue made the blocks pop more. And as luck would have it, Sewn Studio had that exact blue in stock! I ended up using one the of the jelly roll fabrics for the cornerstones.

Destashing detail

With the blocks and partial blocks put together, I needed to trim the ends to square up the quilt.

Destashing trimming

And with that, the main part of the top is done!

Destashing without borders

I do think I might add a border or two to finish it off. Or maybe not—I kind of like the way it looks in the photo above. I plan on using the bright blue as either the next border or the binding. I think that will help complete the blue areas.

That makes two tops ready to quilt in one month! (Plus, of course, the other quilt tops I have sitting around.) So this one I’m planning to send out to a longarmer. I’m hoping she’ll be able to keep the quilt design confined in each block, maybe with some design that helps the viewer see that the blocks are mirror images. We’ll see. I’m just really happy with this quilt and really happy to have room to buy more blue and green fabrics.

Boy’s Column Quilt Top

Boy Column Quilt top

This past weekend I finished up the top for my first charity quilt of 2014. Project Linus is always looking for quilts for boys, and I made this one hoping that it would appeal to an older boy.

Like my last quilt for Project Linus, this one, too, was sewn in columns or strips. As Nancy Zieman pointed out in her original blog posts about column charity quilts (and in her upcoming book, Quick Column Quilts, which I happen to be editing), column designs are perfect for charity quilts because they sew up so quickly.

Boy Column Quilt columns

Look at all those long straight lines! So once you get your pieces cut, you can just sew and sew and sew.

Most of the fabrics in the quilt top came from my stash. My stash space is finite, and the blues and greens no longer fit in their designated space. So I pulled the blues and greens I thought might appeal to a boy and added them to the mix.

Boy Column Quilt fabrics

I had a lot of the blue/green/gray print shown above and thought this was the perfect opportunity to use it up. Of course, I didn’t bother to figure out if I actually had enough of it for my quilt plan. It seemed like I had so much, I didn’t even worry about it. But then, of course, I ran out. So I went to Lavender Street and chose the darker navy and black fabric, shown above, to finish up the quilt.

Boy Column Quilt top

I think the dark navy fabric really gives the quilt a nice pop of color and keeps it from being too dull. And Greg said he thinks it makes it more masculine, too. Well, I guess that wasn’t the incentive I needed to make sure I have enough fabric before I start my next project.

The quilt top is 58 inches wide by 76 inches long. It’s a pretty big one, but I’m going to try quilting it at home with straight stitching.

As a bit of an aside, I used the same blue fish fabric in both this quilt and the previous Project Linus quilt I made for a boy. I was telling my mom about this quilt and happened to mention that fabric. As it turns out, she just finished a boy quilt for Project Linus that also contained blue fish fabric. So if boys don’t actually like blue fish fabric, someone should really let us know.

Gifts Received

Crocheted cowl neck scarf

In this last post to wrap up the Christmas season, I wanted to share some of the crafty gifts that were received by me and my family members over the holiday. First, although this wasn’t part of my official Christmas present from my sister Brenda, she did make this cowl scarf for me. Before Christmas, Brenda was trying to learn to crochet on her own by watching YouTube videos. At Christmas, she watched me crochet the first row (always the trickiest) and practiced making a coaster. By the beginning of January, she was whipping up scarves like this! Amazing! And even more amazing, this matches every piece of clothing I own.

Sew Steady

Greg gave me a Sew Steady extension for my sewing machine. The Sew Steady extends the surface of the machine throat and makes machine quilting much easier. Or that’s the plan anyway—I’m trying it out for the first time this weekend and can’t wait.

Fabric and Wonder Clips

Mom gave me a goodie box of sewing stuff for Christmas. You know how some people just can’t take apart a jelly roll because it’s so pretty? Not me. I couldn’t wait to dig into this thing. I’ve pulled out all the greens and blues for the quilt I’m working on now, and I know I’ll find a good home for all the rest of the colors, too. The Wonder Clips are a notion I’ve been meaning to try a while; they should be great for holding together the layers of my next sewn handbag and for holding down the folded binding on a quilt.

Emma Quilt Book

And Christmas is the perfect time to share crafty gifts with the next generation, too. Mom got Emma a quilt book and a walking foot. (Emma’s brother Jacob, in the background, is holding up a watch and iPhone speaker. He’s also wearing the footie jammy suit Greg and I gave him.)

Stella and Emma

It does an aunt’s heart good to see these two cousins crafting together. Stella made Emma a bracelet from the beading kit she received, and Emma is busy coloring with the markers and coloring book she received. I love knowing the craft genes will carry on with these two girls.

I hope your Christmas was a crafty one, too!

Scrabble-Inspired Mug Rug

Scrabble Mug Rug and Board

I knew I wanted to make Mom a mug rug for Christmas. I thought about making a circle of geese pattern for her or maybe the same star pattern I made for my sister Brenda last year. But neither idea was really coming together. Then at the December Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild meeting, during a break, someone several rows ahead of me held up her smart phone, and on it was a Scrabble board (or what I thought was a Scrabble board, anyway). From that distance, I saw the pattern of the board, rather than just the squares. And it looked pretty cool.

Mom and I have played Scrabble together since I was in high school at least, maybe even middle school. When I lived with Mom and Dad, it was our go-to game, and whenever I’d come home, after I moved away, we’d manage to fit in at least one game. And now that she’s on Facebook, we can play one game after another, so there’s always one going on. (And man, have our games gotten tight! They always come down to the last few words played.)

After that CMQG meeting, I pulled down one of the boards at my house and took a look (yes, Greg and I each entered our union with our own Scrabble game). I decided to go pretty literal with my interpretation and re-create the top quarter of the board in fabric.

Scrabble Mug Rug WIP

I hit my stash and found fabrics to represent each of the squares on the board. I had the perfect fabric for the brown squares but not quite enough of it, so I ended up using two fabrics for those squares. I cut each square to 2 inches, and I decided to press open the seams, since I couldn’t image Mom putting too much wear and tear on the finished mug rug.

Scrabble Mug Rug

There’s a thin white strip between each square on the board, and I tried putting strips of fabric between my squares, but it was too overwhelming. So I went a more subtle route with a zigzag stitch of white thread that also served as the quilting on the piece. The board I remember playing on had a maroon border, but a deep red was all I had in my stash. I forgot to take a photo of the back, but on it I used a light brown fabric with a subtle wood grain—it really looked like the backs of the wooden tiles!

Mom and Scrabble Mug Rug

Mom opened her gift on Christmas Eve, and she said she could tell right away what it was. Whew.

Scrabble Memory Art

While I was home, I took a photo of the other Scrabble-inspired gift I gave to Mom. I made this at least 10 years ago, if not more. The background is an image transfer of a photo of Mom as a child with her mother and sister. In the foreground is her Mom and Dad; and I spelled out her family name in the Scrabble tiles.


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