Charley Harper Coloring Cards

harper-birdsIf you’re looking for a gift for a creative type or anyone who likes to color, I’d like to suggest Charley Harper Birds Color Cards. I bought this pack at a park gift shop earlier this year, and I love them.

They cards come in a metal tin, and I’ll buy just about anything that comes in a metal tin. The paper is very nice quality and the printing is nice and bold. I like, too, that it comes with photos of the original bird images.

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I use my trusty colored pencils for coloring, but they come with a pack of crayons, too. I find that I use them when I want to put in a bit more effort than a regular greeting card, maybe for someone who is sick or feeling blue. There’s even a place on the back of the card for your signature!

EnterTRAINment Junction

ej_9Greg and I were looking for something fun to do the Wednesday afternoon before Thanksgiving. He had the afternoon off, and we hated to waste it. In brainstorming, the fact that I needed to get my glasses adjusted came up. My eye doctor is up in Mason, so it’s a bit of a trek and not that fun. But then I remembered the signs I see each time I go for a place called EnterTRAINment Junction. Now that sounded fun!

Since it was our first time, I purchased the Do-It-All package, which included the Train Journey, A-Maze-N Funhouse, and the special Christmas events.

We started out with the Train Journey, the main attraction of which was an amazing model train setup. It was huge. There were three separate displays showing different time periods in train history.

ej_14The first period was the 1860s. The displays were filled with interesting details and there was a list of items to find in the displays to encourage you to really look at them closely.

ej_1I loved the color of this little house, and that bear on the rock in the river was one of the items to find. The trains are all G-scale (1/24th of actual size), so all the houses and features were nice and big.

ej_2The next time period was the 1940s and 50s. I loved the views down the city streets. The street cars that you see were all running, too.

ej_3The details were really very cool. That Woolworths is full of figures and merchandise!

ej_10Here’s my attempt at showing the scale. Seriously huge.

ej_6The final time period was the 1970s. The buildings all looked more modern, and I liked the sculptures they included in the cityscapes.

ej_13A large portion of the display was bluffs and tunnels. Red buttons, like the one you see here, were scattered throughout the display. When you pressed them, you’d hear the noises that you’d hear in that place and time.

ej_8The whole time we were there I was keeping an eye out for a Milwaukee Road train car. My grandfather worked for them, and in one of the last scenes, I finally found one.

ej_11Signs like this were on the floor in some areas to give visitors a bit of an idea of what went into this. It took over a year to build, and it’s continuously updated.

ej_5The Train Journey also included some history about the railway system in the United States. I can’t pass up a picture of old travel posters.

ej_12Separate from the timeline, there was a replica of Cincinnati’s Coney Island as it appeared in 1965. All the rides were moving, including those tram cars you can see in the sky.

ej_7This display also included photos and memorabilia from Coney Island’s history.

ej_4Next we made our way to the Christmas train displays, which were not as impressive. Greg said that they were what he feared the whole thing would be like. That area did include Neil Young’s traveling train display (yes, the singer Neil Young). I liked his use of driftwood for this desert scene.

The funhouse was next, which included a lot of things that I’m sure a kid would enjoy. I insisted we go through the Mirror Maze, and led the way for a while, but then I got freaked out, so Greg had to take over to get us out of there. That’s the way things go with us sometimes.

Finally, we took the North Pole path that ended up in a kitchen with Mrs. Claus, where there was the promise of cookies. However, there were only three cookies left and three kids in the room with us, so guess who didn’t get a cookie. We bailed before we actually got to Santa.

It ended up being a really fun and kind of wacky way to spend the afternoon. Greg and I were both super impressed by the Train Journey. It is just really well done, and I can definitely see coming back when we have guests in town.

 

 

Zippered Pouches For Sale!

UPDATE

Thank you to those who purchased zippered pouches! The unsold ones have been shipped off to my sister Jenny who is opening retail shop in Dalton, Wisconsin. The shop is called The Fancy Tail Collective, so if you’re ever in Dalton, please check it out. In the meantime, if you’d like me to make another zippered pouch similar to these, let me know. I don’t have all the fabrics anymore, but I’ll see what I can do.

 

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Over the past several weeks, I found that I’ve had some time on my hands during the day. And my go-to activity when I have time on my hands is making zippered pouches. It’s what everyone does, right? Well, maybe it’s just me. But I did it five years ago, too. I use them for my makeup, for small crochet projects, as gifts, and more. They really do come in handy.

This time, however, I made so many—10 different ones—that I thought I’d try selling them. If you’re interested in any of these, leave me a message here, on Facebook, or e-mail me at c {dot} doyle {at} fuse {dot} net. All are made with 100% cotton fabric. And they are handmade, so they’re not flawless. Shipping is $3 or I’m happy to make other arrangements for local friends.

1. Flowers and Paperclips Pouch—SOLD

Orange and teal with white interior and two credit card pockets. Ruffled and banded on front only. Flat style; medium-weight interfacing. 8.5 inches wide, 5 inches tall.

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2. Deer Pouch—SOLD

Gold and gray with gold interior. Flat style; medium-weight interfacing. 8.5 inches wide, 6 inches tall, 1.75 x 6.5-inch base.

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3. Golden Pouch

Gold and red with multicolored interior. Open-mouth style; medium-weight interfacing. 9 inches wide, 5 inches tall, 3.5 x 6-inch base.

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4. Navy and Orange Pouch—SOLD

Different fabric on front and back. Solid orange interior with credit card pocket. Open-mouth style; lightweight interfacing. 8.5 inches wide, 5.5 inches tall, 2.5 x 6-inch base.

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5. Small Striped Pouch

Chartreuse, teal, and orange with teal interior. Open-mouth style; medium-weight interfacing. 8 inches wide, 5 inches tall, 3.5 x 5-inch base.

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6. Large Orange Stripe Pouch

Chartreuse, teal, and orange with teal interior and credit card pocket. Open-mouth style; medium-weight interfacing. 11 inches wide, 7 inches tall, 4.5 x 7-inch base.

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7. Octopus Pouch

Lime green and fuchsia with gray interior. Open-mouth style; medium-weight interfacing. 11 inches wide, 7 inches tall, 4.5 x 7-inch base.

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8. Navy Floral Pouch

Navy and orange floral with navy and white bottom; orange interior with credit card pocket. Open-mouth style; lightweight interfacing. 11 inches wide, 7 inches tall, 4.5 x 7-inch base.

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9. Foxy Pouch

Pink, gold, and yellow with multicolored interior. 5-inch wrist strap and interior credit card pocket. Open-mouth style; lightweight interfacing. 10 inches wide, 7 inches tall, 4.5 x 6-inch base.

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10. Yellow Pleated Pouch—SOLD

Yellow, teal, red, and green with teal interior. 6-inch wrist strap and interior credit card pocket. Open-mouth style; lightweight interfacing. 10 inches wide, 7 inches tall, 4.5 x 6-inch base.

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Medallion Charity Quilt Top

medallion_chairI spent the last weekend in October at the annual OHcraft Sew-In, held this year at General Butler State Park in Carrollton, Kentucky. OHcraft is a group of sewing enthusiasts from Ohio, as well as Northern Kentucky and other surrounding states. The sew-in was organized by the awesome Kara Sanders and included swaps, a fabric destash table, and lots and lots of time to sew.

My main objective for the weekend was to work on a medallion quilt for Project Linus. I hadn’t done a medallion quilt before, and I decided a bright child’s quilt would be the place to start.

A medallion quilt is one with a central motif surrounded by borders that are either pieced or just one fabric. In the sketch that I drew, the central motif is actually several pinwheel blocks, followed by a round a four-patches, a round of flying geese, and finally, a plain fabric border.

medallion_sketchBefore the sew-in, I cut the pieces for the pinwheels, four-patches, and flying geese using bright colors from my stash and a zigzag fabric I was hoping to use up. Then I got down to sewing.

medallion_fourpatchesThe pinwheels came together easily using half-square triangles. Next, I made up the four-patches using that zigzag fabric. I grossly overestimated the number of four-patches I would need, so I had a lot of these left over. With the four-patches on, I squared up the quilt. Squaring up after each round is important to ensure the quilt maintains the intended shape. It’s easy to get those border strips out of whack.

medallion_geeseThe flying geese came next. I cut my goose fabric so that I could make a majority of the geese using the no-waste method. But because that makes four geese from one fabric, I created some single geese, too, to ensure I had the fabric variety I wanted.

As I was adding the geese, I realized that my design meant that all the geese seams really needed to match up with all the four-patch seams. That turned out to be a lot of seam matching.

Somehow, getting that far took me all afternoon and evening on Friday and most of the day on Saturday. Much, much longer than I had anticipated. Plus my geese points were butchered and the whole thing was looking pretty chaotic to me. So I put that project away for the rest of the weekend and picked it up this past weekend. My plan had been to just add a border of the zigzag fabric at this point, but that wasn’t working for me. So first I added a border of orange to try to calm things down.

medallion_orangeborderI would have liked to stop here, but the quilt was less than 40 inches wide at this point, and I wanted it to be bigger so a child could really wrap up in it. The zigzag border still wasn’t working for me, so I dug into my stash and found a fabric that to me looks like impressionistic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

medallion_border-fabricThat fabric is pretty chaotic, too, but I liked that it was darker and gave some weight to the final border. The quilt top is now about 48 x 60 inches.

medallion_topI had a ton of that border fabric, so I used it on the back of the quilt as well. That’s where I used up all those extra four-patches, too.

medallion_backNext up is the quilting. My plan is to use straight lines of quilting to help make the center and rounds stand out from each other. I’d love to get this one finished by the end of the year, but we’ll see how that plays out . . .

 

Hexie Succulent Garden

succlent1When I first wrote about making hexie blocks for the Bee Hive Swap, I really didn’t think I’d ever make any more. I mean, sure, it had its appeal. But that’s a lot of hand work. Then, this summer, with two family vacations and a surgery to recover from, I needed some hand work.

Even before I started the project, I came up with a name for the quilt. Since the block is named Grandmother’s Garden or Grandmother’s Flower Garden, I would make mine in all blues and greens and name it Grandmother’s Succulent Garden (succulent as in cacti, aloes, etc.). Great name! Now I had to make the quilt.

I rushed to gather supplies before my family’s trip to Michigan in July. I ordered the hexie templates from Amazon but didn’t realize how the templates were measured. The template size is the size of one side. So the templates I wanted would be 1″ hexies. I ordered 2″ hexies, thinking it would be the width of the shape, and they ended up being huge.

I looked and called around town and couldn’t find 1″ cardstock hexies, so I ended up buying some plastic templates from Joann.

hexie-templates

The plastic templates were certainly sturdy, but they were also very slippery. I had a heck of a time basting the fabric around them because the fabric would slip off center. But they worked well enough to keep me busy in Michigan.

Before my next trip, I did track down some 1″ cardstock hexies. The cardstock wasn’t as stiff as the templates I had received from Tara for the Bee Hive Swap, but they worked better than the plastic.

Finally, my mom sent me some fusible hexies made by Pieceful Patches. You fuse these to the back of your fabric, baste around the shape, and then remove the paper. The templates can be reused for as long as there’s fusible left to stick to the fabric. While the paper is thin, I did find that my finished hexies were the most accurate using these templates.

So using three different kinds of templates (!), I made hexies. Lots and lots of hexies. Well, 21 “flowers” to be exact.

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My first plan for a layout was to connect the flowers with a light fabric, so that each flower would stand out.

succlent-hexie-settingI ended up not liking that look as much as I thought I would. The flowers stood out almost too much, and I liked the way they looked in a group.

Rather than go through the pain of sewing more together only to change my mind, my dear husband created one flower shape in Illustrator for me. From there, I could duplicate the shape, change the colors, and try some different layouts.

Succulent1The first thing I learned was I couldn’t get a straight line of flowers if I wanted the edges of each one to be horizontal. (My thought with this layout is I could add patchwork of some kind below the hexies to make the piece closer to quilt size.)

Succulent3The edges would have to be at a slight angle for the line of flowers to be straight.

Succulent4Or I’d have to add filler hexies to keep the edges horizontal.

Succulent2Or if I made a lot more, I could just cluster them, and then the straightness wouldn’t matter as much.

So that’s where I am on this project. I have a name and 21 flower blocks. And I have a funny feeling that’s where it will sit for a while.

Wisconsin Fabric Fun

olivejuice1Last week was my somewhat annual fall trip to Wisconsin. The weather was gorgeous, and while the leaves had only begun to turn, the bright blue skies helped it feel very autumnal.

While I was there, Mom and I managed to work in some fabric fun. First, we traveled the hour down to Ripon, Wisconsin, and went to Bungalow Quilting and Yarn. Mom had been to the shop once before and thought it would be one that I would like. Wow, was she right!

bungalow5The house was packed with yarn and fabric. I liked that the fabrics felt very curated, like someone took time to purchase just the right ones. Most of them would be considered modern fabrics, but there were a few batiks and novelties thrown in there, too.

bungalow6 And I couldn’t help but love the Wisconsin quilt they had on display.

bungalow2Even the bathroom was a feast for the eyes, from the sewing pattern wallpaper to the bathtub filled with yarn.

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bungalow4I was so overwhelmed by the choices (and the fact that we were a bit pressed for time) that I ended up purchasing large cuts of a couple fabrics that I like to have in my stash along with a few new pieces.

bungalow1(I put that green Lizzy House cat fabric in everything.)

Later in the week, we made our way to the western edge of the state, where our first stop was at Olive Juice Quilts in Onalaska, Wisconsin.

olivejuice2This super cute shop was actually huge inside. The fabrics, again, were primarily modern, but they had sections for Christmas prints and reproductions, too.

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olivejuice6And they had fat quarters cut of a vast majority of their fabrics. I find I really appreciate having fat quarters available, especially when I’m visiting far-away shops, because I often don’t have a specific project in mind and just want to try a little bit of a lot of things.

olivejuice7(Although my choices do look pretty coordinated, don’t they?)

While we were there, we picked up our reserved copies of Kaffe Fassett’s Bold Blooms (a book I actually worked on for ABRAMS) because that evening we were going to a lecture with Kaffe and Brandon Mably. We even boldly interrupted Kaffe while he was working on some needlepoint there at the shop to ask him to sign it.

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boldbloomsinterior After bumming around La Crosse a bit, enjoying the lovely day, we headed back downtown for the lecture. Olive Juice Quilts had a nice little shop set up with Kaffe fabrics and books, and we even got goodies for attending the lecture: a magazine and fat quarter.

Brandon gave a short introduction and Kaffe came on and talked about how he moved to England and got started designing. Then he narrated a slide show that included a lot of interesting inspiration photos, behind-the-scenes shots from photo shoots, and finished projects along with some that are still in the works.

Afterward there was a signing session, and Mom got another book signed. This photo was taken right after Kaffe complimented Mom on her jacket (!)—a great way to cap off fabric fun with my mom.

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Finished Quilt of Valor

qov-quilt-smallThe quilt I made for the Quilts of Valor program is finished! As you may recall, back in March, I pledged that 2016 was the year I was going to make a quilt for this program. Seven months later, it has come to pass—not too shabby!

When last I posted about this quilt, the top was complete. Since then, I made a back for the quilt with a blue and white stripe fabric and a red and white polka dot. I knew I wanted the quilting to be more intricate than I usually do for my quilts, so I asked Holly Seever from the Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild if she’d be willing to take on the job.

Holly has long been wowing the guild with the quilting she does on her domestic machine, but she recently purchased a longarm machine and began taking on projects for other quilters. I wanted to keep the star theme going in the quilting and suggested maybe adding some red thread, too. Other than that, I left the quilting design up to Holly.

I couldn’t have been more pleased with what she did.

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Each of the star blocks had this same quilting pattern. I love the swirls and pebbles in the corners. And it looks even more amazing on the blocks with the blue backgrounds.

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The blue fabric looks completely different with the quilting, which I think is pretty cool.

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And she quilted the same star design in the plain white squares using that red thread we talked about. I think that adds just the right amount of color.

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And the quilting looks super cool on the back of the quilt, too.

With the quilt expertly quilted, I added the binding—a red solid to go with that red thread.

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Next, the quilt needed a label. The Quilts of Valor program requires that each quilt have a label that includes all of the following: the name of the person who made the quilt, the name of the person who quilted it, the name of the program, and space to write in the name of the recipient and the date it was received. The great thing is, QoV provided a link to Modern Yardage, where they sell labels for just this purpose. There were several to choose from, and even with shipping, the cost was less than $2. I really appreciated this convenience.

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I’m not thrilled that the backing fabric shows through the label, but I tried to line up the label information spaces with the stripes of the fabric so it looks kind of intentional.

Finally, each Quilt of Valor needs a presentation case. Many of these are simply pillowcases made in coordinating fabric, which was easy enough to do. I used a star fabric that didn’t make it into the quilt for the body of the case and used leftover fabric from the quilt for the trim and cuff. I followed the burrito (or sausage) method for making the pillowcase using a tutorial from The Seasoned Homemaker.

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The tutorial was very easy to follow. And it even included fancy French seams (no raw edges) on the interior!

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With the quilt finished and labeled and with the presentation case made, I requested a destination for my quilt from Quilts for Valor. Within a day, I received a note asking me to send the quilt to the Warrior Transition program at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Here, soldiers who are med boarded out (meaning they don’t return to their previous duties due to medical issues) are shown several quilts, and they can choose one to take home with them. The director of the program said, “I never see a Soldier leave my office with one that doesn’t have a tear in their eye.”

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So I shipped the quilt there on Monday. I know it will find a good home soon.

Dressing Downton Exhibit

edith-flapperAnother dress exhibit came to town! Am I a lucky girl or what? This time, the exhibit was at the Taft Museum of Art in downtown Cincinnati, and it was titled Dressing Downton: Changing Fashions for Changing Times. Because it was all clothing from the television show Downton Abbey. Yay!

I loved Downton Abbey when it first came out—that first season rocked. But I have to admit that I lost interest after (spoiler!) Cousin Matthew died. However, I did continue to keep loose tabs on the story lines—and the costumes.

So it was still pretty exciting to see the clothing up close, along with, in many cases, still photographs of the actors wearing the costumes.

The majority of the pieces were in the main exhibit space, where the photographs could be posted. But ten more outfits were scattered throughout the rooms of the museum, placing them in context in the Taft home. The peach dress, worn by Lady Edith, at the top of this post, was displayed in the Taft Music Room.

dowager-purple-fabricThe first dress I saw was this one worn by the Dowager Countess. The fabric and trim are exquisite.

mary-riding-coatIt soon became clear that I loved all of Lady Mary’s coats. This is her riding coat from the first season.

mary-red-coatSorry for the bad photo of this one, but I had to show it. Look at the placement of those buttons!

mrs-hughes-keysThis is Mrs. Hughes’ uniform. The keys on her belt were the only “accessory” she was allowed to wear.

matthew-bootsHere are Cousin Matthew’s boots as part of his military uniform. I love all the buckles.

edith-jacketNext was Lady Edith’s bicycle riding outfit (you can kind of see the still photo behind the mannequin). I really dig the pocket detail on the jacket. And in the background are clothes worn by Lady Sybil and Branson, back in his chauffeur days.

cora-embroideryHere is a beautifully embroidered piece that Cora wore.

edith-embroideryAnd speaking of embroidery, here’s a piece worn by Lady Edith. The thread colors look so pretty on the darker fabric.

There were 36 pieces in the exhibit, including evening wear worn by Lord Grantham and some of the later pieces worn by Rose. I’d tell all my Cincinnati friends to check it out, but I saw it on one of its last days here in the city. The tour has been going since February 2015, and it looks like it’ll keep going until January 2018. Check out the full Dressing Downton tour here.

Remaining Hive Blocks

Snowball finishedThe Cincinnati Modern Quilt Guild Bee Hive Swap continued over the summer, and in fact, at tonight’s meeting we hand off the last of the blocks for this session. I’m going to miss making these blocks each month. Each one was an interesting challenge and opened my eyes to new techniques and block styles. Here’s a rundown of the last three blocks I worked on.

Wanta Fanta Block

Becky found this block on the Blossom Heart Quilts blog. Becky provided the white fabric and asked us to use a different fabric print for each of the other pieces, for a completely scrappy look. The block is composed of four small blocks, two of which are pieced and two of which are paper-pieced.

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When you put the four blocks together, they form the block at the top of this post. And when you put more of those blocks together, you get a cool curved effect even though all the blocks are made with straight lines.

Unfortunately, to get that effect, your piecing needs to be pretty accurate. Mine was not on the first try.

Snowball error

I fixed that oops. It’s still not perfect, but hopefully it will work well enough.

Four-Pointed Star

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Next up is the Four-Pointed Star Shona asked us to make. She asked that we use a printed fabric as the background and a solid fabric for the star. It’s an improvisational block, so the instructions were pretty loose. Each quarter of the block has two rectangles that are placed at an angle to create halves of two different points.

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My greatest challenge for this one was figuring out where to place the rectangles so all the background fabric pieces ended up right-reading. That did make my brain hurt a bit.

18 Half-Square Triangles

Finally, for this month, Jeanie asked us just to make 18 half-square triangles using a print fabric and a contrasting solid. She even provided instructions for a quick method to make them.

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Cut 9-inch squares from each fabric. Draw horizontal and vertical lines at 3 inches and 6 inches.

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Then draw horizontal lines in one direction through all the squares.

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Layer the two fabrics right sides together. Then sew 1/4 inch from the diagonal lines, sewing on each side of the lines.

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Cut on the horizontal and vertical lines (top row). Then cut on the diagonal lines and press open. Each square results in two half-square triangles.

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And that results in 18 half-square triangles! Jeanie then asked us to trim these to 2.5 inches. For some reason, I have trouble with half-square triangles, and for most methods I have to cut my fabric larger to begin with in order to get the correct size finished pieces. But I was able to trim all of these to the right size with no problem!

You can catch up on my other Hive activity here, here, here, and here. There’s talk of starting a new Bee Hive Swap in January, and if that happens, I am in!

Patchwork: The Game

patchwork_box-coverGreg and I were recently in the market for a new game to play after dinner. Rack-O and Yahtzee were getting old, so we went online for recommendations for two-person games. And it was then that we discovered Patchwork.

Given my affinity for quilting, the game seemed worth trying, but the reviews were all very positive as well. So we ordered it off Amazon and gave it a try.

It is dorktastic—super dorky, no doubt, but also really fun and challenging. I love it. And not just because the person who last used a needle gets to go first (did I mention it was dorky?).

patchwork_gamestartThe goal is to earn buttons—the currency of the game—in order to purchase fabric pieces to fill your quilt board. At the start of the game, each players gets five buttons.

patchwork_pieceshapesThe fabric pieces are similar to those in Tetris or Blokus, so part of the challenge is to purchase the pieces that fit together most efficiently to fill your board.

patchwork_gameboardThe players take turns moving around the game board. If you land on a space that touches a button, you get a button payout, earning more buttons for purchasing fabric pieces. If you land on a space that touches a leather patch, you get that patch to fill in a single space on your quilt board. Disclaimer: I do not approve of the use of leather patches on actual quilts. Or the use of buttons, for that matter.

patchwork_myfinalboardAt the end of this particular game, this is what my board looked like. I had earned a lot of buttons along the way, but I also had a lot of empty spaces. You need to deduct two points for each empty space, so I had a big deduction in this game.

patchwork_gregboardGreg, on the other hand, had very few empty spaces (in fact, I’m guessing this was a record for us). He ended up winning the game by ten points/buttons.

The game goes very quickly—usually about 20 minutes. I like that there’s a lot of different things to consider as you play. It really does take some strategy to figure out how to earn the most buttons and get the pieces you need for your board. And there’s an element of luck to it, too, because only certain pieces are available for you to purchase on each turn.

Even if you’re not a quilter, I highly recommend Patchwork as a fun, two-person game. If you’re not a quilter, though, I’m not sure who would go first, but I’m sure you’ll figure something out.