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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring is in the air

Spring is finally here! It sure has been a long hard winter. I have definitely been spoiled over the last few years because we have been having very mild winters. That was good in one respect because I didn't have to be confined to the house, but in other ways bad because a mild winter means more bugs in the summer. Every summer my husband Mike swears that we will be moving to North Dakota or Wyoming for cooler summers because he hates being hot and really hates bugs (they love him)!

I would like to introduce my newest tool today called Cutting Corners. I know we are all guilty of buying tools and templates that we think we will use and then they sit in a box or drawer never to be seen again. Well, I wanted to design a template set that can be a multi-purpose tool. One that can be used for a variety of projects and is not confined to one particular type or size of pattern.

I originally designed the template set because I got tired of drawing lines on the backs of squares for Snowball blocks, Flying Geese and other patches that called for triangles on the ends.


Look at all of the patches and sizes it can make! Half-square triangles from finished sizes 1-1/2" to 4", Quarter-square triangles from finished sizes 3" to 8", Flying Geese from finished sizes 1-1/2" x 3" to 4" x 8", and Square-in-a-Square finished sizes 3" to 8". And that is just some of the things it can do! It can also trim bias seams for bindings and borders, make Snowball blocks and Bowtie blocks, and the most important function is, it eliminates the need to draw diagonal lines on the backs of the square!

 So you are probably asking how does it do all of these things! There are two templates in this set. A triangle that can be used to "cut corners" and make half-square triangles. This is the triangle template. It has marks on it for the different size half-square triangles. The marks are the finished size. The strips are cut 1/2" larger than the finished size.

 This is the square template. It is used for making quarter-square triangles, like for the center of the Flying Geese unit. The strips again are cut 1/2" larger than the finished size.

It can also be used for the center square in a Square-in-a-Square block.

The corresponding half-square triangles are cut to fit around the center square using the same markings as the square. See how nice the triangles fit the square. No more matching centers before sewing.


 Don't want to draw that line on the backs of the squares for Flying Geese units? Cut the rectangle and squares as indicated in the pattern.

Place the squares on the ends of the rectangles and trim the corner with the triangle template, lining up the template as shown.

Sew, then repeat with the other side of the rectangle. Perfect Flying Geese each time!

The possibilities are endless! You can do the same thing with Snowball blocks as you did with the squares on the Flying Geese blocks.

Pretty cool huh? Well the are available on my website. All of the measurements and instructions for use are included in the set. Check them out: Cutting Corners

Got to get this out. Please share with your quilting friends. As always, do what you love and love what you do. Toby





Monday, February 17, 2014

The end of a good effort

On February 10, I had to sadly close the St. Louis Star Inn. I gave it a good try for 3 years and although I had groups that returned every year, I just could not get new groups to come. I tried everything to get people to come. Even offered a free weekend to quilt guild presidents if they could organize 4 other people to come with them. Was it the economy? Was it my location? Was it the size of my retreat center? There are a lot of unanswered questions. The one thing I did know was, that the groups who were lucky enough to come, had a wonderful time, felt a home, enjoyed the comradeship of being with their quilting friends, ate fantastic food, and got to work on their projects in a relaxing and serene environment. (At least that is what everyone told me who came here.) It was a matter of economics. The monthly insurance payment was more than the number of groups who came, so it became financially difficult for me to maintain.

The last group I had was a fantastic group of 6 women who came from Rolla, Missouri. The had been here last year in February when the winter weather was very mild. This year there was snow on the ground and more snow came before they left. Two of the women were only planning on staying two nights, but since it snowed on Sunday, (and because they were having such a good time) they decided to spend the extra night with the other three ladies who were staying. My husband and I really enjoyed their company and he even said that he was glad that THEY were the last group. (Not glad that they were the LAST group! Well... maybe.)

Here we all are at the dinner table for the final brunch (minus one who left early).

This is a quilt that Cindy was working on during the weekend. I can't believe she made all of those nine-patches and one inch squares! It sure is a beautiful quilt.

It's okay, don't be shy, you can show your face!

I don't know who was sadder. The fact that I wouldn't enjoy the company of other quilters in my home anymore or that the groups who did come were not able to come anymore. Either way it was a sad day for all of us.

I have to give my husband Mike credit. I don't know of too many husbands who would open up their homes to a group of ladies who would be staying overnight, eating at his dinner table and somewhat disrupting his daily routine. He is very routine oriented (must have been that Marine Corps training)! Plus, he had the responsibility for cleaning out our eco toilet since we had no running water in the quilt studio! I know this was not a pleasant task for him, but he did it because he knew running the retreat center was something that I enjoyed doing. There were plenty of times that he wanted to say that he didn't want to run it anymore, but he was willing to give up his privacy so that I could give it a good try. He does have to admit, for as much as he might have complained, he did enjoy entertaining the women!

One group of ladies from Farmington, Missouri, who had been to my retreat center 4 times, presented Mike with a wonderful patriotic quilt for his military service the last time they were here. It was something that he never expected and told them that they needed to give it to someone more deserving. Even though he is an extravert and loves being the center of attention, he is very modest about his accomplishments and does not like to be recognized for what he has done. I had to pull him aside to tell him that they made it for HIM and that he needed to accept it graciously which he did.

I feel like I have an empty house, like when my children all moved on and I had empty nest syndrome. (Though I think I was sadder to see the quilters go than my own children!) I have all of these beds with quilts on them that will go uninhabited. I don't know what I will do with all the beds. Maybe keep them just in case I want to try it again? Do bed turning demos?

For all of those wonderful ladies who did spend the night, I have to say thank you for great memories. I made some new quilting friends and will always think of them as family because that is the way they were treated when they were here. I will still be running my shop and hopefully have day retreats/workshops so that people will still come and visit. The Rolla ladies did schedule a workshop for my Yin and Yang quilt on July 28, 2014. Contact me if you are interested in enrolling in the class an to get more information.

Lastly, I want to mention that my schedule is updated on my website, listing all of the workshops and trips that I will be taking. If you are in the same area as I will be, please stop by to see me, especially in Paducah, KY, Columbus, OH, and Springfield, IL where there will be large quilt shows and lots of quilts to inspire you.
Time to move on. Life is always changing! As always, do what you love and love what you do. Toby

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Binding finishing tips

Quilt guilds are great places to make friends, see beautiful quilts in show and tell, and learn new things. I belong to a local quilt guild and at the last meeting there was a round robin of different quilt techniques and patterns. I was asked to demonstrate how to finish the ends of the binding. I demonstrated two ways; one very easy and one that looks hard but is actually easier than you think.

I started with the easier method (of course). 

Method one
Step one: Trim the edge of the binding strip at 45ยบ.

Step 2: Press edge under about 1/2" and trim overlapping tip.

Step 3: Fold binding strip in half, wrong sides together. Match raw edges of binding and quilt. Sew from beginning edge of binding strip. It is important to secure the whole edge.

Step 4: Complete sewing the binding around the quilt edge, mitering corners, and stop sewing about 3" from beginning edge. Trim the ending edge of the binding straight, to about 1/4" or closer to the diagonal open edge. Place end of the binding in the pocket created by the beginning fold. Finish sewing through, sewing over the previous stitching. Fold binding to the back and hand sew. I place a pin to secure the edges where the fabric overlaps, before sewing to the back, to help hold the edges together. If you want, you can hand sew the opening closed with a slip stitch after sewing it to the back of the quilt.

Method two

Step 1: Starting with an 8” tail in the beginning, start sewing 8" from edge. Sew around the quilt, mitering corners, and stop sewing about 16” from the beginning stitches.

Step 2. Pin inside edges to quilt. Fold the right side of the strip down towards the right, so that the fold touches the edge of the beginning strip. Crease edge.

Step 3. Draw a line along the crease on the back side of strip, then cut the width of the strip from the drawn line. Ex: for a 2” wide binding strip, cut 2” from line; 2-1/4” strip, cut 2-1/4” from line.

Step 4. Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner in the square. (From the right side of the drawn line to the top left corner.)

Step 5. Lay left side of binding flat, right side up and flip the right side under and wrong side up. Placing right sides together, line up corners with the edge of the left strip. Pin and sew along drawn line.
This is similar to sewing the ends of the binding strips together when connecting all of the strips.

Step 6. Trim seam to 1/4’” and press open.

Step 7. Fold binding wrong sides together, pin to quilt. Sew down from end stitches to the beginning stitches. Fold binding to back, miter corners and hand sew down.

My own preference for the size of binding is 2" wide. This creates a perfect 1/4" finished binding with 1/4" seam. If you prefer a 2-1/4" binding, then sew with a 3/8" seam for a 3/8" finished binding.

I hope this helps the next time you put your binding on!

For the free pattern of the day check out my Hoffman Asuka pattern.
I am anxiously awaiting the fabrics so I can sell the kits!

Well, time to get back to writing another pattern. Not my favorite activity (I'd rather be designing or quilting) but something that has to be done! As always, do what you love and love what you do.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New template and free pattern

As I sit looking out the sunroom window at the snow still on the ground, I think about what I like about winter. Many of you think I am probably crazy, but I do like the cold weather for a couple of reasons. One is, I love wearing my sweaters! They are so soft and snuggley and feel wonderful against my skin. I can't say that about my summer clothing. As I get older my skin has become more sensitive and I feel very uncomfortable when something irritates or itches my skin. I love the new microfibers and bought some new sheets with them which feel so nice when I get into bed.

The other thing I like about winter is I do like to cook and the cold weather gives me lots of reasons to make fresh soups and breads. My husband also likes to cook his chili when it gets cold and over the years of making it, has finally come up with a recipe that I like. His first attempt had no tomatoes or tomato sauce in it. Actually I'm not sure what it had in it! Not wanting him to give up cooking, I had to eat it. I have learned that when he cooks something new, I don't tell him I don't like it when I eat it, but wait until the next day to make some simple suggestions. Men's egos are so fragile! He doesn't hesitate to tell me when he doesn't like something I made and I don't stop cooking if he does. 

I made a wonderful cream of potato soup last week that had no cream or milk in it. I changed it a little from the original recipe and it came out really good. I found it on Pinterest and posted it in one of my pins. Here is the original recipe. 

I changed it by eliminating the beans, increasing the potatoes and cauliflower and used 6 cups of chicken stock and no water. I didn't blend the whole soup, just about 1/3 of it. I like a soup with a little substance. It has a great flavor and really hits the spot on these cold days.

Back to quilting. The free web pattern today is the Eden Quilt pattern

It features a beautiful fabric collection called Eden by Chong a Hwang with Timeless Treasures. I have the fabrics on my website along with an Eden quilt kit that includes everything to make the top and binding. It is currently on sale at 20% off the original price.

I really like using two blocks to create an interesting effect on a quilt. This quilt looks like the blocks are set on point, but they are not. The Diamond in a Square block blends in with the LeMoyne Star block which gives that effect. The fabrics are stunning!



I have also found out that I will be teaching at the NQA show (National Quilting Association) in Columbus, Ohio in April. I will let you know which classes and when the schedule will be posted on their website. 

Well, back to writing my pattern. 'Til next time. As always, do what you love and love what you do. Toby

About Me

I am a quilt designer/teacher and award winner. I have been quilting since 1985 and I love sharing my ideas and designs with others. Quilting is my passion and I feel it is contagious! My motto "Always do what you love and love what you do."

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