The Ring of Fire

My husband hit the local record store this week and came home with a stack of DVD’s and new music, among them a set of Johnny Cash CD’s, variously entitled “Love,” “God,” and “Murder.”  Guess which song was playing when I started typing this?

There’s a lot of exciting news this week.  When I was in the worst throes of my first week of teaching/intensive orientation with commuting, my husband asked me if there was something I’d really wanted to get that cost about as much as I was getting paid to go to orientation.  I thought about it for a while, and ended up ordering this!


It’s a Sew Steady extension table, custom-cut for my machine, in the Giant size: 24″deep by 32″ wide.  It’s HUGE, and it expands my sewing workspace SO MUCH.  (It’s really going to be great the next time I’m quilting something big; it will support a lot more of the quilt while I’m working on one part of it.)

I told my husband I was going to order this, and its measurements, but when it actually came and I had it set up on the table, he said, “Wow.  …Where are you going to keep that thing?”  I replied that I had thought it was going to stay behind his music keyboard (with the other flat things), but that was before I put the legs on.  …I’ll figure something out.  🙂

The angel hasn’t progressed that much this week, but I did, on a whim, start working with the beads.


I had this little tiered container set tucked away with my beading supplies.  (I think it came from the Container store.)  Each compartment screws on to the one underneath, so you don’t have to have the whole thing open at once to get at the contents (which with these tiny beads would make me nervous).  I dug it out and emptied each container of beads into one of the compartments, and gave each compartment a little label with the number of the bead color and the corresponding symbol from the angel pattern.  It was a delight for my obsessive-compulsive tendencies.

Here are a few of the pink beads applied to the angel’s hairstyle.


I’m applying the beads with a single strand of coordinating floss and a beading needle.  It fits perfectly through these tiny beads, and I’m really glad.

Now on to the quilting projects!

I have at last trimmed the last of the Marigold blocks.  It took longer than I was expecting, mostly because I kept being distracted by my new job and my novel.  This blue one was particularly tricky, because all its seam allowances were frayed.


The last one I trimmed was a particularly pretty block, with the diamonds in bright green, but the white parts of the block were slightly yellowed in some places, and a little pink in others.  Rather than just re-layer it and move on, I decided to give it another soak in Oxiclean and a little bleach, and it’s really made an improvement.  Here it is, layered again and ready to be quilted!


Now all of the Marigold blocks are trimmed, one is completely quilted, and ten are partially quilted.  It should be smooth sailing from here!  (Until I start to put the sashing on…)

And now… allow me to introduce Verna.


Every year I make a quilt to be raffled off to support a community for adults with special needs.  Last year’s quilt was my own interpretation of Moda’s Modern Building Blocks pattern, 2015.  I made it in Christmas fabrics from Pennington Quilt Works.


I liked working with these sampler blocks so much, I decided it would be cool to make up some sections of the design as smaller wall quilts for my Etsy shop.  The vintage-block quilts are big and fairly challenging projects, so some Moda wall quilts would be smaller and more affordable, and a good way to use my stash .

Hence… Verna.


As you can see I’m using one of the big central blocks for this quilt.  I’m making it to size, 36″ square, with fabrics from my stash.  The white and red solids are Kona cotton; the black print that’s cut into smaller pieces was a fat quarter from a fabric store in Santa Barbara that, sadly, no longer exists; and the black print that’s cut into large triangles on the right is vintage.  It came from the estate of a very talented California quilter who once belonged to the same guild as me.  We have a couple of her quilts hanging in our home.

Each card in the Moda pattern book tells you exactly what to cut, and the second little diagram in the picture gives some guidance as to how the block should be pieced.  I cut out all my pieces on Thursday, and started piecing on Friday.


The center of the block is made up of a complex arrangement of rectangles, triangles, and half-square triangles.  I made the half-square triangles by cutting squares, laying squares of the two fabrics right-sides together, drawing a diagonal line from corner to corner, and then sewing a seam on either side of the line.  (There’s a good tutorial on how to do it here.)  For the square with triangles around it, I cut the black squares in half diagonally, lined up the long edge of the triangle with one side of the square, and sewed, first on two opposite sides, then on the other two sides.

And the components of the center begin to take shape…


It came out quite neatly.  I like the sharp contrast between the dark fabric and the white.  Then I added the large red triangles to the sides of this square.


The red triangles are supposed to be wider than the square; when the whole block is assembled it makes it look like the complicated center square is floating in its frame.  I did trim off the excess corners, but just to make it easier to sew a straight seam.


From here it’s all easy big pieces!

I use a basting glue to hold edges together while piecing (Roxanne’s Glue Baste It).  It’s a temporary adhesive that’s repositionable and comes out in the wash.  The applicator makes a very fine line of little glue dots; then you press the edges together, go over it once or twice with a hot iron, and it will hold together beautifully during sewing, no shifting or warping.


You can also stretch or finesse things a little while the glue’s still wet, match up your seams as perfectly as you want, and then once you’ve ironed it, it won’t move.  I love this stuff.  And you don’t have to go back and take out pins afterwards!


This block goes together pretty quickly.  I nearly put the whole thing together in one Friday afternoon.

A good way to line up your seams for glue when you’re using really big pieces like these, is to line up the edges right sides together WITHOUT the glue first, then fold back the top one like so.


This really helps for lining up parts of the design, like the two corners pictured here.


And voila!  Almost all of Verna!

I have the remaining two pieces for the sides assembled, I just haven’t put them on yet.  First I need to trim the center section a little to even out the seam allowances, which means getting out the big cutting mat, and right now there’s not really room on the dinner table, because of my big new extension table.

Maybe I can slide it under the sofa…

See you next time!



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