Ohio star block

A shout out goes to Carol at Rocking Chair Quilts for this post! I visited her shop as part of the 2016 Illiana Shop Hop and in her goodie bag was an Ohio star block pattern with enough fabric to make it. She told us that she selected the pattern because it was the first quilt block she had ever learned how to make – and now it is my first, too! (She also grew up in the city where I live now, just down the road from Boy’s office; small world!)

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Had she not included the fabric, I doubt I would have ever made it. I learned something from that, actually, but I can’t quite place my finger on it. Maybe it means I need to buy kits? Maybe it means I don’t actually know what I like? Who knows, but I love the little snack mat!

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Professional quilters will see my mistakes, but for my very first one, I think I did a splendid job! And I really enjoyed being able to use my rainbow wonder clips. I happened to have had a segment of old fluffy batting so I decided to try it on this piece.

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The fabric Carol gifted me was an interesting piece – I had enough to where I could have chosen to use only the blue portion, but I thought that it would be more fun to include the contrasting bit.

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A long time ago, my quilting aunt set me up with some basic tools, such as this bias square ruler. Until this project, I had only ever used it as an additional and small straight edge. Now, I totally get it. I used the markings to draw a few nested diamonds in the center, a triangle between the blue points, and small diamonds in each of the blank corners.

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In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t cut the whole thing down to a square, because I decided to handquilt it (I have a small rectangular “hoop” that would have worked well with just the back piece being long enough). I managed with a standard hoop alright, though. But, once I put the binding on, my diamonds were no longer centered. See the type of things you learn in a small simple project? I ripped them out, and began anew. Luckily, I’ve spent some time around my gramma who handquilts, so she taught me the nifty trick of pulling knots through the fabric. Thus, I can start sewing anywhere, even after the project is complete! Honestly, I always thought you had to come up from under a raw edge. The things you learn!

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You can still kind of see where the old seams are but I expect that to fade over time. I was also a little nervous about the binding (not included with the project). I decided on stripes, and was worried they would be all wonky in the end. But, again, I surprised myself! And I want to pat myself on the back with how awesome my hidden stitches turned out. I definitely went up a level there with this project. Boy couldn’t even figure out how I had done it for a while (not until he started pulling at things, the nerd).

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There are, of course, a few things I don’t love about it, but overall I do love it. I haven’t decided what I’ll do with it yet. I called it a snack mat earlier, but its true purpose awaits to be known.

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I suggest that if you have all the supplies for a project that you never thought you’d try – just do it. Even if you don’t like the end result, the experience you gain is worthy of the time spent! Happy crafting!

Sweetpea pods

As mentioned before, this is a pattern I picked up from the Illiana Shop Hop. It is from Lazy Girl Designs, and I see they have many little projects.

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Being my first-ever zipper project, I was a little nervous – especially since the pattern says to practice! But I found it to be incredibly easy, so much so that I can actually tailor this to any size.

These are my first three; I need to find longer zippers elsewhere (and zipper pulls). None of them are the size the pattern called for – the only zipper selections at the shops were too short, so I simply cut my fabric down an inch for the first one (on the left). Then I wanted to use some of the freebie fabric I was given for the other two, and they were already pre-cut so I lost two inches on them.

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The pattern does not call for a little tab, but I found that it made it more convenient to zip up so on the second pouch (middle), I added a tag to help open it. Then it dawned on me that a tag on both ends would work even better so the third (right) pouch has two. I’ll need to practice a little more with that as when I sewed everything together, the tabs aren’t perfectly centered with the zipper. I also got better at the zigzag seal for the inner seams as I went along.

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Just like in the photo on the pattern, I plan to make one to hold my new wonder clips (I gave all these away already). The pouches sit wide open, making them pretty handy for reaching in and tossing things back into. I look forward to making more!

2016 Illiana Shop Hop Loot

For the first time ever, I participated in a shop hop. I had no idea what to expect, but it was fun. My step-mother-in-law invited me, and both our husbands came. Over 1,000 miles later, we managed to make it to all twelve participating shops. Most of them are amazing, though I will be honest and say that one or two was disappointing considering the drive time it took to find them. (As a local shop, they are splendid, I am sure!)

The photos include a mix of freebies and purchases. It is amazing how much I collected during the process!

First, every shop made a block for the theme – this year was Town and Country. As a participant, I got each pattern free. I also got 15% off any fabric purchase of a ½ yard or more, though I mostly buy fat quarters when I am not shopping for a specific project (to someday make my own quilt). Towards the end of the duration of the shop hop, a new event began: Row by Row. I collected two patterns for that, also for free.

illiana_quilt_shop_hop_loot_12The bulk of my (free and purchased) loot was in fabric. Some shops were overwhelming with the assortment of gorgeous fabrics (I am looking at you Countryside Village Gifts and Quilt Fabric Shop and Rossville Quilts). I could lose a pretty penny if they were closer to me!

Charms packs and a mini block:

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Oppossums, mice, and kittens so cute it hurts.

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A nice mix of colors and patterns:

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A heart print should I decide to sew something for my nurse friend who just proposed to his girlfriend:

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And these guys, some of which have already been turned into a project from the only pattern I purchased (more on that below and later):

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Linen, for my window seat cushions I intend to make someday:

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Lots of shops also gave out old patterns (some are quite dated as you can see), but perhaps they will teach me something:

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illiana_quilt_shop_hop_loot_14The rest of my loot includes notions and such. I bought a small pack of wonder clips since they seem to be all the rage online. Turns out the praise is worthy so when I spotted another small pack, I picked them up. Then Boy saw a box of them and got them for me. How sweet!

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Some buttons, measuring tape ribbon, a thimble, labels, fancy zipper, and a seam ripper with a little rubber end to easily pull cut threads out:

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Zippers, three of which have since been dismantled for the above (and below) mentioned project, measuring tapes, a little flashlight that slips on your finger, pens and pencils, and small hairties that was advertised to keep bobbin threads in place. Although I use handi-bobs, it is a cheap and clever idea!

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One of my favorite parts was talking to the guy who sells Bernina machines, since I proudly own a 930 Electric. I was wondering how the modern versions compare – are they still all metal? Yes! Which I am on the fence about – I wanted him to say yes, of course, but my machine is so heavy! It does not make it easy moving it about. The other cool thing is that the model that basically replaced mine is still basically the same, and still basically costs what I can sell mine for on Ebay, which means it really keeps its value! Good work, Bernina!

The last thing I want to show you is the pattern I bought. I made three little pouches to practice and Boy has those photos on his camera so I will post them at a later time. I thought this might be a little difficult – and it was the first ever time I’ve used a zipper – but really it was pretty simple! I’ll share more details when I post next.

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I learned which shops have the best prices, which shops have specialty items I can’t find elsewhere, and which shops have fabric styles that I totally dig. Even if I don’t win anything (a sewing machine, 120 fat quarters, 25$ gift certificates for all twelve shops, or independent raffles at each shop), the experience was truly worth the time. I’d do it again, no question!