Saturday, February 12, 2011

Let's see what I have for you today!

#1 congrats my dear...
please send mailing details
( everyone else...thanks for joining in on the show.
very appreciated)

Hello! I'm Carol, better known to some as "mamacjt" and I'm thrilled to be back on Stash manicure again. When our dear Madame Samm asked if I'd do another segment, I wondered what she (and you) might like to see. Should I do a small tutorial? Should I talk about color and/or design? Exactly what might thrill and inspire you? Then it came to us like a light............I'd just show you a bunch of my mug rugs. (Perhaps a bit mundane, but colorful none the less since I do like B R I G H T!!) So, just sit back and enjoy because today is not's just show.

Big mug - little matching rug
A Special Flower Pot
Wonky #1 Bird Mug Rug
Mug rug for partner #2
Private Mug Rug Swap
Holiday Mug Rug
Happy Birthday Mug Rug
Mug Rug for Pam
Daisy Mug Rug
Rainbow Mug Rug
Mousy Mug Rug
Happy Unbirthday Mug Rug
"Wishes come True"

And those a just a few. You'll find the rest here so if you're so inclined, just click and take a peek!

Oh...and one other thing. I thought a mug rug would be an appropriate give away for today, so this little beauty can be yours if you'll just leave a comment. Samm will let me know who is getting this beauty so I can send it out. Good luck!

So you know how it is..leave a comment here on  Stash Manicure on which one you thought
was my best creation....and come on over and visit me at my blog..
leave me a comment there and you will be in the pool for this draw
of this mug rug. 

#15 ( which could be yours)
Funky Mug Rug front

Loved the visit.! love the inspiration you all give me..

yours in kind

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stringing You Along

Good day to everyone. Thanks to Madame Samm for the invitation to come back and post again. I really enjoyed my last visit here with all of you and I hope you like what I want to talk about again today. I'm Pam (Mama Spark) of Mama Spark's World and today I want to share with you one of my favorite techniques for using up some of your scraps.

If you are like many of us you have left over bits of binding, or those strips you cut when you square up your fabric or just little bits and bobs from some of your projects. I think mine are secretly multiplying in my scrap bins! I was first introduced to string piecing right after I got into quilting and I LOVE it. I have since designed several awesome quilts using strings. Today I will show you how I string piece. This project comes from the blog of Mary Johnson and the link to the full pattern for it is here. They used it for the logo for the Heartsrings project. The logo was designed by Forest Jane. You may want to take some time and explore their blogs as there is a lot of good information there! OK, with all the credits out of the way on to the actual making of the blocks.

To make the Heart quilt you see above you will need to make 22 blocks with red centers and 26 blocks with blue centers. I chose the heart design as it is close to Valentines day. The first thing you need is fabric to use as foundation, like a cheap muslin or some other fabric you may have in your stash that you no longer like, which is always a good way to use some of the old, cheap fabrics up right? You will cut your muslin into 10.5" squares, and cut 48 for this quilt. Next you will need to find some 2-2.5" red (or read as red) and blue (or read as blue) strips. These strips will need to be the length of your diagonal. That is the largest piece you will need the rest of the strips only need to be long enough to cover the section next to the first strip. For this quilt I used many different colored strings. This is a good way to use up some "ugly" fabrics too, because when they are all put together, the end result is beautiful!

Lay your red string, diagonally across the muslin with the wrong side of the red fabric facing the muslin. Try to center the string so that the points of the muslin square are approximately in the center of the strip (you can tell best from the back) Next take another string of a different color and lay that string on top of the red one right sides together, like this, lining the raw edges of the 2 strings up with each other.
first sewn line
Then you will sew along the edge to secure both fabrics to the muslin. You can pin at this point if you like but I don't usually do that as you will be squaring it up later.
sew right sides together
The next step is to flip the piece you just sewed open and to press it. I like to keep a pressing stick by me so I don't need to keep getting up and down and I also like to do more than one block at a time so I can chain piece.
open and pressPressing stick 3
Continue to add pieces in this way until the first half of the block is completely covered with strings. I like to make sure I have different sizes to add interest and I usually try to have at least 5 or more strings on each half. It just makes the whole block so much more outstanding and interesting. Do not fasch over what fabrics to use or what goes with what just pick and if it is long enough to use, use it! Trust me it will not matter in the end.

I was making one block so I could show you how I do it and I hate wasting my thread. Thread is expensive, right? I know many of you use "thread bunnies" to start and end projects so you waste less of it but once I learned from Bonnie Hunter about Leaders and Enders, there was no going back for me! If you already know about this just skip ahead as I am on a detour here! Let me explain the concept for those of you that are not familiar. I have a second project cut (again a great way to use scraps cuz' Bonnie has TONS of great free L/E projects) and I will show you what I mean now.

I had a lot of green and blue squares left over from a quilt I had made. I found a pattern that was perfect for them and since it did not require anything other than sewing them together randomly it was perfect for a L/E project. I grabbed 2 squares, one blue, one green and sewed them together (my Leader). Now I grabbed my string pieced block (my primary project) and sewed my next string onto my muslin like this. (See the "leader" right in front of the string block?)

leader followed by block

See that first pair there just in front of the string block? Now once I was done sewing my string onto my muslin I took another blue and green pair and sewed them together after the string block (my Ender). Never breaking the thread, thus saving oodles of thread!! (wish it was my original idea, sigh)

Now, wait for it...the previous Ender becomes the new Leader!! You just do this every time you are sewing and guess what?? You end up with a second quilt finished in no time!! How cool is that??!! Two projects for the time of one, amazing!!

On to finish the string block. Continue to add strings to the other side in the same way you did it to the first side until the block in completely covered. This is what the front and back look like untrimmed.
Finished and untrimmed, front

Finished but untrimmed from the back

(Pay no attention to that line on the back, I just grabbed the first piece of muslin I had and it happened to have a line on it, you will not see the back when the quilt is finished)
You will now be trimming your block to 9.5 inches. I used my 9.5"ruler and lined up the diagonal center line with the center of the red string to get my placement in the right area. Then make your cut.
Trim to 9.5"

First side trimed

Continue until you have all 4 sides cut ( a turning mat is a BIG help here too). Here is the front and the back all trimmed up and ready to use in the quilt.
final trimmingBack all trimmed up
So if you do this and follow the pattern you will make a quilt with 2 hearts inside it like this,

Because you trim all your blocks it makes putting this together a dream!

You could also use string piecing for leader/ender projects! I Thought I would show you my finished L/E block too, just in case you were curious.
L & E block finished
I used the pattern, Between Friends which was a free pattern from Darlene at Quilting Daze.

I thought I would share a few other string projects I have made that I designed. The possibilities are endless!! I hope you have fun with this and get creative using your strings too.

This one was designed by Mary Johnson and I modified it a little and made it for a friend that was injured in the Afghanistan war.
Matt's Quilt 02
Lest you think that you can only make BIG quilts here are 2 mug rugs I did using strings, just pieced together, no foundation. I blogged about how I did this on my blog, but here are the photos of the mug rugs.
Completed Mug RugFinished owl mug rug front
If you decide to use your strings to make something I would love to see what you make! Thanks for taking the time to read my post and I would love to have you come and visit my blog!!
I have a little something to giveaway over there too so I really hope you stop by. " What is it?" I hear you asking. I have been saving my scraps from these 2 mug rugs just for you. I have part of a charm pack of Giddy and tons of little blue and green scraps.
You will need to leave a comment here telling me you are a follower of Stash Manicure. In your comment please tell me if you have ever done string piecing and what you like about it. You need to go to my blog and become a follower (please tell me you are) and let me know what you thought about this tutorial. That's it one comment here and one on my blog!

Have fun string piecing. It is a great way to play with your stash, and revisit favorite old projects too!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Take a closer look....little windows!

Hi All, it's Valerie from back again, thanks for so many of your wonderful comments here in the past and on my blog

Today I thought I would do a demo on one of my favourite techniques - Cathedral Windows. This is a hand technique where you take a light fabric like muslin fold and stitch then add a piece of patterned fabric for the "window" part. It's generally done by hand and can be easily adapted to any size. Here's Google's image gallery when you search for Cathedral Windows Quilt - isn't this sew amazing, I love it so I thought I would share it with all of you.

This one here is approx 16"w x 16"h x 4" deep - this was one of the first projects I made using this technique, and I've received so many compliments on it:) People just want to stop me everywhere and figure out how it's made? Have you tried this before?

Here's another tote approx 8"w x 12"h x 4" deep with an adorable pocket and ruffle, perfect for taking your hand piecing and stitching projects with you:) OR pack a lunch in this...

Here's one that Danielle made, it's the perfect hostess gift with a bottle of nice wine in it. Also, she did her's with all the same colours for the windows, using our Burgundy dupioni silk.

Here goes, ready to try something easy and fun? Don't be shy if your not a hand stitcher or piecer because this technique is super easy, just take your time.

2- 9" squares muslin, plain stitching needle, basic sewing thread to match your muslin.

Iron in 1/4" all the way around
Press all your corners in towards the center

Now with a small whip stitch, stitch the "X" closed you can do a slip stitch also so your stitches are completely hidden. You'll barely see your whip stitches if you choose to do it this way:)

Once you have both seams sewn shut, connect all 4 corners into the middle

Now repeat for your second square. The one thing with this technique is you need two squares to create one "window".

Now, connect your two squares together with a whip stitch (showing) or a slip stitch (invisible)

The best fabrics to use for the "window" parts are scraps, pick a theme, reds, blues, or pinks and browns, or just all scraps - is sew adorable too. Cut your squares 2.5". You can pin this center square in place if you like, I always found that the pin got in the way :)

Fold the center part of your background over your window fabric and begin stitch it down using a slip stitch or a blind hem stitch - you want this to be invisible.

When stitching, you want to make sure you only go through the folded background piece and your window area not into the background because you actually want to be able to put your fingers through the openings to give it the 3 dimensional effect.

Sew, what do you think? Is this something you'd like to try?

Would you be interested in making one of our totes? If so, email me ( and I'll send you a free pattern link to download:) This PATTERN IS ONLY AVAILABLE TODAY...

Also, if you're interested in learning more about Pastimes Online and what's new with us, sign up for our quarterly NewsLetter: The Times which includes our newest goodies, highlights from our blogs, and other special thing's you'd sew love.

Well thanks again Madame Samm for having me, I love playing around over here and I hope I've inspired your viewers just a little. Until next time, stay happy and creative, Valerie