Travel Ruler

When I pack up my quilting supplies to take to retreats and I need to use a long ruler I bring along my folding ruler.  It’s something I made a few years ago and love how well it works as well as how nicely it fits in my supply box.

Ruler A

I simply took two rulers; I used the 6″ x 14″ size, placed them end to end, and joined them with duct tape!

Ruler B

They then fold up to the 6″ x 14″ size and I have a cutting length of  28″.  I love it when there is a simple easy solution to a problem.

Ruler C

I also brought my design walls on this trip and this picture shows sixty of the one hundred and forty blocks I need to finish up a UFO.

UFO on Design wall

Enjoy these ideas!

Pat Speth author of:  Nickel QuiltsMore Nickel Quilts, Amazing Nickel QuiltsNickel Quilts & Borders, and The Big Book of Nickel Quilts

To schedule a Nickel Quilt lecture or workshop contact Pat at the email below.


Shrug for Wedding Dress Part 2

I know it’s been a while, but here’s how the shrug for the wedding dress turned out! Follow the link to the first shrug posting if you missed it.

Step 1. While Roxie was wearing the shirt I sketched pencil lines where we wanted the edges of the shrug to be.  I then took the shirt apart. Rather than ripping out the seams I carefully cut right along the seam line.

Step 2. I taped the shirt parts to a piece of non fusible interfacing and drew in a 5/8″  seam allowance all the way around the shirt pieces.  After quilting and using a scant 1/4″ seam for years I really had to pay attention to using a 5/8″ seam the whole time I was making the dresses and shrug for Roxie.

Step 3. I used the my new pattern pieces to cut out the parts for the shrug and then assembled it. And Hooray! It fit her perfectly!

And since the shrug is completely lined it was possible to make it reversible.  Roxie chose a blue and black lumberjack plaid for the second fabric, since the wedding was plaid themed.

Here are pictures of Roxie and Tom from the wedding. This first one was taken during the ceremony. Roxie is wearing the shrug with the solid teal fabric on the outside, which matched the sash in her dress.

Then, during the reception it didn’t take Roxie long to switch the shrug to the lumberjack plaid side as the happy couple picked up instruments and joined in with the evening’s entertainment.

It turned out to be a chilly evening, so I was really glad that Roxie had the perfect shrug to go over her sleeveless dress. Let me tell you, all my sewing and quilting skills came in handy for this wedding!


Shrug for Wedding Dress

I’m making my daughter Roxie her wedding dress and along with it a shrug.  The dress needed several adjustments to the bodice before it was a good fit but I assumed a jacket or shrug should be able to fit without any alterations. Big mistake.

Plan A was to make the shrug from this pattern

Here is the unfinished attempt from the pattern.  It was too large across the top of the shoulders, too tight across the upper back, and too tight in the armholes.  At this point there was no fixing what had already been stitched and trimmed away. Material was gone and time was running out.

The thought of starting from scratch and altering the existing pattern, making a sample from muslin like I did the wedding dress bodice, buying more material, and making it from the new material was a little overwhelming.

Plan B was to go shopping and buy one. Certainly stores in malls have these, right?  Wrong.  And we didn’t mess around with just any mall we went to The Mall.

As we were going from store to store and striking out every time, the thought came to me that I could take a shirt that fit Roxie just right through the shoulders and arms and make a pattern from the shirt.  I didn’t want a repeat of the last attempt at using a purchased pattern.

Plan C: head to Goodwill and find a shirt with the perfect fit.

Here’s the shirt:

I’m working on making up the new pattern now and things are looking promising! I’ll post soon with the outcome. Ten days until the wedding and I’ve still got the dress and wedding quilt to finish!


Design Wall

I developed this design wall back in 1995 and have been sharing it in my workshops ever since. It’s lightweight, inexpensive, and very portable. Here are the supplies you will need:

• 1 dressmaker’s cardboard cutting board (the kind that folds up for storage), when folded measures 14″ x 40″
• 2 curtain rods that extend to at least 72″ (the white metal ones that curve on each end)
• a piece of flannel 44″ x 80″ or a flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth
• 10 – 12 large binder clips 2″ size (from the office supply store)
• double sided carpet tape

I washed my flannel first this time – it was purchased at goodwill 5 yards for $2.99 total!  You only need a little over 2 yards.  You want to cover the backside of the design wall with the flannel – the design wall will fold up with the grid side on the outside so the flannel will stay cleaner longer.

Backside facing up, apply the double-stick carpet tape along one long edge at a time.

If you have not washed your flannel it might be wider than the design wall – if so, apply the tape to the grid-side and attach a couple of inches of flannel to the front(or whatever you need to make it fit).

Press flannel onto the tape, allowing the flannel to extend past the cutting board at the top and bottom by a couple of inches.

Tape both sides, then turn the board over. Apply tape to the top, press flannel into place, and repeat on the bottom edge.

When all the edges are taped down you are ready to attach the curtain rods.  Extend curtain rods to 6′ and lay them under the long sides, one side at a time.

Attach binder clips to hold the cutting board to the curtain rod.

Use 5 – 6 binder clips along each side.  Finish attaching the clips to one side, then do the other.

Ta Da!  Finished design wall!

I use these all the time.  My quilting studio is in my attic with all those interesting sloped ceilings, so I have very little wall space.  With these I can create my wall space by leaning them up against almost anything, blocking windows, doors, whatever it takes to layout my quilt blocks.  For larger quilts, simply set two or three of these design walls next to each other.




Roxie and I were on a road trip to Iowa at the end of June and had time to brainstorm about her upcoming wedding. One of the things we decided on was that the people helping serve food at the picnic/reception for around 200 guests needed aprons. A new tradition Roxie and I have started is to spend my birthday hitting thrift shops – we both love it. June 29th was my birthday and what should I find at one of the first thrift shops we hit in our old hometown but a pattern for aprons! I decided it was perfect. Note – goodwill price tag for 88¢

And I just happen to have mass quantities of this vintage drapery fabric.  This is the sample I made up – it still needs a pocket – maybe out of red lumberjack plaid (Tom’s favorite plaid).  Roxie’s future MIL, Mary has volunteered to make the rest of the aprons, all with the same fabric – thank you Mary!

I know this apron will be a big hit among Roxie’s friends and relatives and they will be signing up to help serve at the reception just to get one of these!  I’m glad I found another use for this vintage fabric – it’s also going on the back of the wedding quit.


Adventures in Gardening

When I woke up the other morning, every muscle in my body was aching. Okay that might be stretching the truth a bit – but it sure felt like it. After a week of digging in my yard to start a garden I am feeling it! I even tackled it in small amounts – digging only 10 to 15 minutes at a time. I know I could have hired someone to do this with a tiller but the earth was calling to me and it’s just going to be a small garden this year.

This is me digging into that virgin earth.

Lumber treated with linseed oil and ready for the raised garden beds – four beds 4′ x 8′ each.

My future son-in-law, Tom, is building the beds and the day he set aside to do this it rained most of the day. So at this point we had 2 beds completely built and 2 that needed the top layer of wood added along with some more digging.  But look at the gorgeous black earth!  One of the advantages of living in a 100+ year old house – they didn’t come through and remove all the top soil when this subdivision went in!

Memorial Day is official planting day in this area – finally safe to set your plants out without fear of an overnight frost.  Did I mention it was 93° here one day last week?  So on Sunday I prepared one of the beds for planting – added more dirt to raise the level, along with peat, compost, cow manure, and other good stuff for the soil.

More garden updates to follow.


Spring Beauty

Here are a few color variations on this block for those of you who might like to see it in something other than the 1800s fabrics that I am working in.

My Spring Beauty test block:

This is what you need to make a Spring Beauty block:

6  dark or medium 5″ squares for the Flying Geese units and the corner triangles

3  dark or medium  5″ inch squares for the block center and the side triangles

20 light  2 1/2″ squares for the connecting corners

1. Make eight Flying Geese units following the instructions from my May 8, 2012 post.

2. Sew the flying geese units into sets of two.

3. To make the center portion of the block trim a 5″ square down to 4 1/2″ square.  Add connecting corners to each corner in the same manner that you did for the flying geese.

4. Cut two 5″ squares in half on the diagonal for the side triangles. Yes, the bias edges will be on the outside edge of the block – I suggest a little spray starch to help stabilize the edges. If I were making several of these blocks and all the side triangles were from the same fabric I would cut 6 7/8″ squares and cut them twice on the diagonal.

5. Arrange the units and triangles from steps 2 through 4 into three rows.  Sew the units into rows and sew the rows together.

6. Cut two 5″ squares in half on the diagonal for the corner triangles. Sew these onto the corners of the block and square the block up to 11 3/4″, leaving 1/4″ seam allowances for the points. This block will finish 11 1/4″.

First sample block from the calendar done – how many I will eventually make?? Who knows – but this sure is fun!