Sunday, April 8, 2018

Bird Quilt Project on

2441937P143I’ve seen this bird quilt on before, and really liked it.  I recently acquired the bird block fabric (Nestled in the Branches Square Blocks) from a friend, so I decided to give it a whirl.

The directions are vague, and some of the dimensions are missing.  The reviews are not good—mostly because the directions are so vague.  You have to guess what size to cut the sashing.

I’m going to attempt to explain and break down the directions here.  Each block (without the border) is approximately 6.75” wide by 7” tall.  The red border is .75”, making the total size of the block with the border 8.25” wide by 8.5” tall.  The directions say to cut 9.5” squares.  This adds at least a .5” seam allowance, and cuts into other squares.


(The Blocks measure 6.75” across by 7” tall.  The red border is .75”.)

As mentioned above, if you follow their directions, you will be cutting into other squares, making them useless.  I have chosen to make my own border around each block.  I do this by cutting in between the red border, making approximately .25” seam allowance around each block.
around borderin between the border

1.125 yard (40”) provides 25 blocks in the following colors (depending on where the yardage is cut):
8 Red
8 Green
4 Tan
4 Brown
1 Purple

So if you want more than one purple block, you will need to get more fabric.  You only need 12 blocks for this quilt, which you can get out of 2/3 yard; however, you will not get a good variety of colors.

The directions say that once you have your sashing around the block, it will be a 13” square.  If this is correct, using the measurement of the block with red border (8.25” wide by 8.5” tall), the sashing is only 2.25” (2.5” before stitching to the square).  This would make the finished size 2 inches, which means you will need a 2.5” wide strip of fabric.

From the Joann website (red text is what I have added):


  • 1-1/2 yd center block fabric
  • 3/8 yd of 4 fabrics for sashing (You will be cutting each fabric widthwise in 12 sections, so each piece will be 13.5” by 2.5”.  You can get seventeen 2.5” pieces out of a 43”-wide fabric.  You may also opt to make a larger border, which would mean altering the side and top/bottom border.)
  • 2-1/8 yd fabric for 5" border
  • (3/8 yard for border around each block, if you opt to do it this way.)
  • 1/2 yd fabric for binding
  • 3 yd fabric for backing
  • 52"x62" batting
  • Sewing machine
  • Basic sewing supplies


1/4" seam allowance used.
Enlarge pattern (There is no pattern online, so I made one.)

2birds quilt template


Keep in mind while using fabric that is directional, you will have to be sure to cut the right direction, especially with the side and top/bottom borders and the backing.

12 – 9-1/2" squares for center block (when cutting in between borders, the measurement is 7.75”x7.5”)

12 each of 4 fabrics for sashing (Cut 12 strips that are 13.5” wide by 2.5” tall.  You will have a total of 48 strips.)

(10 – 1.25”xWOF for block borders)

2 – 5-1/2"x62-1/2" for side borders

2 – 5-1/2"x39-1/2" for top and bottom borders

6 – 2-1/2"xWOF for binding

2 – 52-1/2"x31-1/2" for backing

1. Lay out center blocks and sashing as desired. Refer to photo if needed. (Add border around block, if that’s the route you’re going.)
2. For each block, sew top, bottom and sides (in that order) to marked circle (stop at each corner 1/4” from edge.)
3. Sew diagonal corners. (Watch a video on youtube for instructions for mitered corners.)
4. Press.
5. Repeat with remaining squares, making a total of twelve 13" squares.
6. Sew squares together.
7. Press.
8. Sew borders onto top and bottom then onto the sides.
9. Sew backing together into a 52-1/2"x62-1/2" piece.
10. Press seam open.
11. Sandwich batting between backing and quilt front.
12. Pin/baste through all thicknesses and quilt as desired.
13. Sew binding strips together, press seams open, and fold in half lengthwise.
14. Sew binding to outer edge of quilt using a 3/8" seam.
15. Turn binding to back and slip stitch along seam line.

Here’s a really good video on youtube about binding.

I designed my quilt in Photoshop to play around with different fabrics to see how it would look.  You can read my post about how to use Photoshop to design a quilt here.

no border bird quilt

I felt it needed a border around the 13” blocks, so I added a 1” border.  This is how it looks with the border:

with border

Of course adding a 1” border means some adjustments.

1/4 yard fabric for new border (cut 5 strips 1.5”xWOF)

2 yards (2 – 5.5"x64” long for side borders)*

1/3 yard (2 – 5.5"x40” wide for top and bottom borders)

1/2 yard (6 – 2-1/2"xWOF for binding )

3 2/3 yards (2 – 28” wide by 66” long [lengthwise] for backing)*

54"x66" batting (or twin size package)

Everything else stays the same.

*If using the same fabric for the side borders as for the backing, you can use the excess from the backing for the borders. [43-28=15”])

The new size will be approximately 52”x64.

When I have the quilt finished, I will post a step-by-step tutorial from start to finish.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

How to make your own acrylic ruler for under $3

I needed a 7.5” square ruler, but didn’t want to spend $15 on it (Walmart’s online price) and have to wait for it to ship.  Joann’s had them for sale for less than $11 but they were out of stock.  I really needed to get one for a project I was working on.  I hate having to stop in the middle of a project because I don’t have something.  Anyway, my brilliant, creative, and helpful husband said, “What about plexiglass at Home Depot?  I can cut it for you with my table saw.”  I decided to check it out.  (By the way, if you do cut it with a table saw, make sure the blade has a lot of teeth and go very slow.  Look at this video for explainations.)

I bought an 11x14x.093” clear acrylic sheet for $5.98.  He cut it 7.5” square, leaving me with enough pieces to make some other sizes.  Then I bought at Joann’s for $6.99 some Silhouette Printable Clear Sticker Paper (comes in 8 sheets, so I have plenty more to use for other projects).  I mirrored a ruler image and printed it.  The sheets are pretty stiff, so they are easy to work with.  I was aprehensive about using this at first.  I had tried printing on clear contact paper with my inkjet printer and the ink just smudged, even after allowing it time to dry.  But it printed very nicely.  It doesn’t smudge.  It almost has a “rough” feel to it.  The paper must be specially made to absorb ink.

Anyway, I peeled off the backing paper, laid the sheet sticky side up, aligned my acrylic square with the top edge of the printed ruler, and laid the square down.  I did this all on my cutting mat.  Then I used my rotary cutter to trim the excess sticker paper off the edges.  It stuck very well and smooth.  It worked perfectly!  With the printed sheet on the bottom of the acrylic square, it won’t slide around so much on my fabric.  Also, the printed lines are easier to line up with my cutting mat.  If you look at the store-bought rulers, they are the same way.  The ruler is printed on the bottom.

So the cost of the acrylic sheet cut at 7.5” square, makes it just over $2.  For the sticker paper, it’s less than $1 per sheet.  So for less than $3, I was able to make something that sells for $15.  It just amazes me how closely it resembles the store-bought rulers.  Now I know that whatever size ruler I need, I can make!


Here is the ruler photo that I used to print on the paper.  If you use it to print, make sure that it is 7.5” wide.  If you are going to put it on top of the square rather than on the bottom, you will need to mirror it before printing.  To download, click on the image, then it will open the larger image.  Then right click, and select “save image.”

7_5 ruler

Save even more money by using the Ibotta app.  Earn a percentage back by scanning your Joann receipt.

20percentjoann ibotta

Monday, February 26, 2018

Bowl Cozies!

Following the video on youtube by TheCraftyGemini, I made some bowl cozies.  In the video, however, she says to use 9-inch squares and I used 10-inch squares.  I used AGM Fruit Salad fabric, and Susan Winget’s Baked with Love Kitchen Words fabric.

First I cut four 10-inch squares from each fabric, and eight 10-inch squares from Warm and Natural Batting.  I sprayed the batting with adhesive spray, and layed down the fabric.


Then I used a ruler and tailor’s chalk to mark an X  from corner to corner, then stitched the X.


Then I folded each square in half and measured 1 3/4 inch across and 3/4 inch up on each side at the fold, then cut.  I wanted to skip a step by not marking it 2 inches by 1 inch like in the video; however, it was a mistake. It was not as accurate and it is very important to get these darts accurate, as they have to be the same so that the pieces fit together well.

Then I used a round container to trim the corners to make them round.  Again, it is very important to get each of these the same size so that they fit together correctly.



Then I fit the outer shell with the inner shell, right sides together and stitched all the way around, leaving a two- to three-inch opening.  Turn right side out.  Fold the opening edges in, keeping them closed and stitch a 1/8” seam all the way around.




It fit several different types of bowls very well.  On the left is the normal Corelle bowl.  Top bowl is a vintage bowl that is pretty tall.  The bowl on the right is a large soup bowl.  I think they would fit better if the darts were a little larger, making the cozy more snug.

Mug Rugs!




I made six of these cute Mug rugs.  They are perfect for using up scraps or remnants.  You can get six cuts of the main fabric from 7” of fabric.  Because of how the design was with the Tea Time Letters fabric, I cut 7” wide by 3.25” tall, rather than the other way around.


Use 1/4” seam allowances. Stitch main fabric to contrast A, then Constrast A to Contrast B. Press seams toward darker fabric.  Using the spray adhesive, lightly spray batting, then press fabric into place.  Flip it over and do the same on the other side, so that the batting is sandwiched in between the top and bottom.  You can choose to cut the batting and backing larger than the top to allow for shifting when you quilt. You also may want to lay some freezer paper down or something to protect your table from the spray before spraying.

Quilt as desired.  I chose free-motion quilting and had a lot of fun with it.  First I drew the lines on with disappearing marker, then stitched over it.


A great beginner video is on youtube.

Then bind the mug rug.  Here is a great video on binding.


Friday, December 1, 2017

Fabric Dye Experiments--Rit, Rit More, and iDye Poly

I really don’t know much about fabric dye, and I’ve searched the web for answers, only to find that I needed to experiment for myself in order to find them.

I purchased a bunch of polyester knit fabric for making dolls, so they are mainly fleshtones—four different colors.  I made some dolls with the fabric—one doll for each color.  One of them did not look right.  In fact, it had a “dead” look to it.  The tone was just too gray.  I have a store-bought doll that I really like the color—a really rich peachy color.  So I wanted to see if I could match it.

468bbd32-5cc7-4701-af9c-38e45159840a_1.6c77984c26b1c1a1fbf0a2cc04217784I came across some Rit Dye More for synthetic fabric at Walmart on clearance.  The color was Sand Stone.  There were only 3 bottles, so that’s what I got.

In all my experiments with the Dye More fabric, I used 3 gallons of water and continued to use the same water.  My first question was “What happens if I use the same water?”  I thought since the water was still so full of color, that I could continue to dye fabric with the same water, with the same results.  Nope.  It’s a one-time deal.  The fabric soaks up the dye and when you use the same water,  the new fabric does not absorb the dye.  However, the red dye tends to stick a little better.  So for red and yellow dye, if you continue with the same water without adding dye, the fabric will come out pink.

41W2ueqz7IL._SX425_Also in all my experiments, I used a water bath canner pot on the stove, maintaining a temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once the temperature reached 180, I added the dye and stirred it well.  Then I prewashed the fabric in the sink, then added it to the pot for 30 minutes, constantly stirring.  The fabric is 100% polyester, 60 inches wide.

IMG_9044First I tried 10 feet of fabric (1 pound 4.5 oz.).  I used 1 bottle of Sandstone.  It wasn’t dark enough, so I added the second bottle.  It turned out really tan, like a Khaki color.  It was really yellow.  I thought, “Maybe if I use the same water and add Pedal Pink (for natural fibers), then they will mix and be able to dye the polyester fabric.”  So that’s what I did. (In the photos of the fabric, they are not true to the color.  Every screen is different, too, so what may look tan on one screen can look more pink on another screen and vise versa.)

I added 1 bottle of Sandstone and a bottle of Pedal Pink.  Then I added 5 feet of fabric (11.1 oz.).  It looked really pink, so I added 1/2 a bottle of yellow (first taking out the fabric, adding the dye, mixing it, then adding the fabric back in).  It looked like the perfect color.  But when I rinsed it, all the dye came out that was meant for natural fibers.  So it looked exactly like the first fabric that I did.  I decided to try a cotton fabric to see what would happen.  I added a white onesie and it came out burnt orange.  What a difference!

For my third try, I added the rest of the bottle of yellow and 1 yard (6.7 oz.) of fabric.  Same thing.  It just rinsed out completely, but this time it didn’t hold the Sandstone dye.  It was just slightly darker than the original color.

So I decided to try some more poly dye.  I ran over to my local Joann store and the only poly dye they carried was iDye Poly by Jacquard.  Not many colors to choose from: Red (which is more like burgundy), green, blue, brown, and black.  I couldn’t believe they didn’t have yellow!  My plan was to use the primary colors.  So I bought 3 packs of brown, and 1 pack of red.

IMG_9014I decided to try my experiments on a smaller scale.  The packaging says not to cook food with anything that you’ve used dye on.  So I put water in a small pot, then put 1 cup of water in a jar.  Since the dye is powder, I put 3/4 cup of water in a plastic disposable cup, then disolved the powder in it.  I had to mix it up a lot.  It was so chunky (not to mention very stinky).

I used a dropper to measure the dosage.  Again, I maintained the water temperature at 180 degrees.  This time, instead of using the same water, I rinsed it out each time.  I added drops of dye, then added a wet piece of fabric approximately 4x4 inches, for 5 minutes.  Here’s what I came up with (click photo to enlarge):


  1. 4 drops brown
    1 drop red
    Turned out pretty good, not too green, not too red.
  2. 4 drops brown
    2 drops red
    Looks too dark and grim
  3. 4 drops brown
    3 drops red
    good, but not right color
  4. 4 drops brown
    4 drops red
    really dark
  5. 3 drops brown
    3 drops red
    very dark
  6. 2 drops brown
    3 drops red
    peachy color
  7. 2 drops brown
    2 drops red
  8. 1 drop brown
    2 drops red
    amost perfect peachy color
  9. 1 drop brown
    1 drop red
    too light
  10. 1 drop red
    too pink

I wasn’t happy with any of the results.  They just had too much of a blue tint.  I needed the yellow.  So I drove out of town to the next Joann store to see if they had a better selection.  They did!  I was so glad.  They had the Rit Dye More! I happened to have several coupons, so I bought two Daffodil Yellow, two Racing Red, and one Chocolate Brown.  When I got home, I opened the brown and knew right away it wouldn’t work.  So I began with red and yellow.

Using the jar method and 1/2 cup of water, I started testing drops.

First I tried one drop of red.  It was too pink.  Then I tried an equal amount of drops of red and yellow (click image to enlarge):

IMG_90452—light tan

4—good peachy color but too light

5, 6, and 7—good peachy color, similar so there’s not much of a difference.

So I decided to go with 6 drops per half cup of water.  I did the calculations and figured about 20mL of dye per 3 gallons.  (I used an old NyQuil measuring cup.)  I put in 3 yards of fabric.  It was good, but since I had experimented with only 5 minutes, the color looked quite a bit IMG_9032darker after 30 minutes.  So while the fabric was in the dryer, I tried the measurement for 2 drops per half cup in the large batch (good thing I have lots of fabric to test with!).  Again, 3 yards of fabric in 3 gallons of water. 

After the original fabric with the 20mL dye dried, it was nearly the perfect color!  I couldn’t believe how close it was.


What I’ve learned for sure is that the water and fabric before rinsing it out, looks nothing like the end result.  And test, test, test!  There isn’t much information from the dye companies for the consumer.  There’s so much to learn just from experimenting.  Be sure to use different utencils and cooking supplies than you do for cooking food.  Thrift stores are the perfect place to find things to use for dyeing fabric.  The canner pot I got second-hand and I’ve never used it for canning, so I thought it's the perfect thing for dyeing fabric.

Also be sure to cover everything to protect it from dye. No matter how careful you are, there’s still a chance that the water can splash and dye can get on your stove, counters, floor, or you!  I put aluminum foil on my stove and freezer paper on my counters.  I’m so glad I did.  I still managed to get some dye everywhere, though.  But it would have been worse.

Get yourself a good thermometer, too.  A digital thermometer with a timer and temperature alarm is perfect because it will tell you when the water is at the target temperature.