Monday, February 27, 2017

Table Runner Tutorial for Mrs. T

revisiting my February dining table

A week or so ago when I posted about the Valentine decorations here at The Brown Bungalow, Mrs. T from Across My Kitchen Table left some very complimentary comments. 

In particular, she wanted to know about the table runner pattern on my dining table. I had said I use that pattern a lot and she wanted to know more about it.

Please forgive the awkwardness of the camera angle here. I was trying to get a close-up of the entire runner and therefore had to tilt the camera like this. I tried turning the photo around and that just made it worse. This makes me dizzy!

Anyway, I have lost count of how many of these runners I've made over the last 17 years or so.  It's really simple, made up of as many squares as you need to make the size you want (forgive me. That sounds like my mother's recipe for potato salad: "Use as many potatoes as you need to get the amount of salad you desire.")

For most of my runners, the squares are cut to 3 1/4 inches, which means that after sewing with a 1/4-inch seam allowance, each finished square will be 2  3/4 inches square.

Autumn/Thanksgiving table runner

The finished runner is about 12 inches wide by 50 inches long, but of course you can lengthen or shorten it by the number of squares you use. This brown runner has 44 squares, backing, batting, and a binding.

I like to lay out my squares so I can get them arranged the way I want for a real "scrappy" feel. Sew the squares together in rows, then sew the rows together, staggering them so the finished product is "on point" (diagonal). 

I like to use sticky dots that I've numbered to keep my rows straight in my mind. After you've sewn the rows together it will look a lot like the above picture.  Then you have to get your long acrylic ruler (or a yard stick) and line it up carefully along the longer outer two edges of the runner and cut off the outer squares so that it's straight on those edges. (does this make sense?)

Then the top is done. You make the quilt "sandwich", layering the top with batting and backing (using your top piece as the cutting pattern for the batting and backing). 

Quilt it all together using free-motion stippling as I did with the brown/aqua example, or simply "stitch in the ditch" (straight seams in the "ditch" where the fabrics meet).

The last thing you do is to sew on your binding and it's done!

pattern made with smaller squares

This last photo I'm sharing is a runner I made with this same method except that my squares are cut smaller, probably something like 2  1/2 inches (for a finished 2-inch square). Again, you cut all the squares the same size and cut as many as you need for the size you desire your finished table runner to be.

That's it!  Give it a try.  I think you'll like it. For me, it's a good way to use up scraps.

By the way, I said at the top of this post that Mrs. T wanted to know how to make this project. Go visit her blog. It is very homey and laid out so well. Click here to see it: Across My Kitchen Table

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Food for the Soul

graphic from Face Book
Comments are closed today.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Sailor Has Docked

fabrics for the Sailor's quilt

The little Sailor ran into some rough seas about 2 1/2 months before he was due to be born -- or maybe I should say Mommy was having a tough time of it. He was probably oblivious to the turmoil while doing inter-uterine somersaults. Anyway, Mommy had to go to bed to wait out the remaining time until his arrival. He showed up on February 15th (about 3 weeks early) and now he and Mommy are doing very well. (Mommy is my nephew's wife. Sailor is my 2nd Great Nephew born this year!)

pin-basting the quilt 'sandwich' on the large tables in my basement

I had been turning over in my mind what I might do for his baby quilt, but with this turn of events, I had to put myself into a speed boat to get the project done as close to his birthdate as possible. 

the quilt backing fabric

As it turned out, when I asked Mommy what she wanted for the quilt, her reply was along the lines of what I had been considering: a nautical theme for the nursery with the colors of baby blue, navy and white; with anchors, sailors and boats.

assembling the Nine Patch blocks

What I didn't count on was how hard it would be to find nautical-themed fabric here in the Rocky Mountain West.  However, with diligent shopping (such fun!!!) I did manage to find a few boats, some fish, star fish, and watery-looking prints. No anchors or sailors! But I had a special idea in mind that would help...

free-motion quilting 
I revived my interest in free-motion quilting. If you don't know what that is, it's when you use a special presser foot and drop the feed dogs of the sewing machine so you can wander all over the quilt in any direction, making scribbles or any design you want. I quilted this way over the 25 or so Nine Patch blocks, easily moving from one to the other without having to stop to clip threads -- just a continuous action.

Free-motion quilting the sail boats by following blue ink lines

After all of the colored Nine Patch blocks were done, I got into the more fun (and SCARY) free-motion quilting of sailboats in the remaining solid white blocks.

This is scary for a couple of reasons. To me, "free motion" is another term for "loosie goosie", which means even with lines to follow, I'm not good enough with the eye-hand-foot pedal motion to make smooth designs.

Also, I use a blue marking pen and I always hold my breath until it's time to remove the ink -- hoping it does indeed disappear! The pen is a wonderful tool. You draw the design, sew over it, and then to remove the ink you just spray it with clear water or run it through a washing machine cycle with no soap whatsoever!  If you use soap or stain remover, those products will actually set the ink permanently into the fabric, so only plain water will do.

one of the sail boats after the ink was removed with a squirt bottle of water

Thankfully, the ink did as advertised and came out completely. This is always such a relief every time I use the pen. It has never failed me but I always stress about it anyway.

sail boats with the ink and one with the ink washed out

With all that said and success to boot, I decided after this quilt was finished that my days of free-motion quilting are done. Ever since I shattered my shoulder in 2008, I have not been able to do this type of quilting nearly as well as I could before the accident. My future projects will have straight or wavy lines but no more "loosie goosie" for me. 

Me'n my Pfaff with the Sailor's quilt

Here is the finished quilt front: 

Nine Patch in Blue with Sail Boats

Here is the quilt showing the sail boat backing fabric:

front and back
And if  you read my blog post of this past Monday, you know how and why I put a personalized label on the back of all of my quilts:

quilt label with names partially blocked out
for sake of security -- you understand.

Would you believe that I have one more nautical-themed baby quilt to make this year? The next little sailor is due to be born in July, so I've got more time to scout out supplies -- although now that this one is done, I have begun to find fabric with boat anchors.

Maybe boats, fish, anchors, and sailors are more of a summer thing?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fishing for Answers

large fish in aquarium at The Couer d'Alene Resort (Idaho)
during our vacation last summer
This week our hostess has asked us questions having to do with "all things fish." To learn what that's about, read on. I'll be linking up at Joyce's blog today, From This Side of the Pond.

1. Have you ever been fishing? Did you catch a fish? If so did you keep it or throw it back? If you haven't been fishing, is that something you'd like to try?

I have been on a lot of fishing trips times although I no longer actually fish. My grandfather took Sister and me fishing in Oklahoma when we were in high school. I baited my own hook (live bait) and caught some (Crappie).  

My husband is a fly fisherman. While I love to watch him standing in his waders casting the line (it's pure poetry!),  I prefer to remain on the stream's bank reading a book or hand sewing. He usually fishes where the rule is "catch and release" so we stop at The Cracker Barrel on the way home to have trout for dinner.

Beloved considers his options alongside the South Platte in Deckers, Colorado

Fish out of water, big fish in a small pond, living in a fishbowl, packed in like sardines, this is a fine kettle of fish, plenty of fish in the sea, or cut bait... which fishy phrase most recently applies to some area of your life?

Our house is situated on a corner. The back of our property drops off in such a way that the people living and traveling on the street alongside and behind us can see everything we do on our deck and in our back yard. With that said, I feel like we live in a fishbowl. We have plans to improve that situation... (smile) I'll surely blog about it when the dream is fulfilled.

the back of The Brown Bungalow

2. What's something you're always fishing  for in your purse, wallet, desk, or kitchen junk drawer?

Keys. They always end  up underneath my wallet, at the bottom of my purse.

3. Your favorite fish tale or movie?

photo from Google Images
Disney's The Little Mermaid. 

4. Are you sunrise, daylight, twilight or night? Explain why you chose your answer.

"Sunrise" would best describe me. I love to get up early, preferably before dawn, and get a good start on the day while I'm feeling fresh and rested.

5. What's the oldest piece of clothing you own and still wear?

I have several pairs of Naturalizer low-heeled pumps, all in neutral colors that I love. I have had them for maybe 17 years or so. I only wear them on Sundays and for other dress-up occasions. Since we don't dress up nearly as much as we used to, these shoes have not worn out. (can you tell I'm not on the cutting edge of fashion?)

6. We've got one more month of (officially) winter here in the Northern hemisphere. Are you feeling the need for a getaway? What's been the best and worst part of your winter so far?

Internet photo
My idea of a great getaway would be  to a warm place where I could sit on a balcony above the white sugar sand, watch the turquoise ocean waves roll in, read a book, nap, and enjoy the kitchen just steps away. 

The best part of my winter so far has been getting to spend a few days with Surfer Girl and her family when they came to see us between Christmas and New Years. 

The worst part of my winter so far? Hmm...

7. The Wednesday Hodgepodge lands on National Margarita Day ... will you be celebrating? Frozen or on the rocks? Are you a Jimmy Buffet fan? If so, what's your favorite JB tune?

Not a Jimmy Buffet fan. The most exciting beverage I enjoy these days is apple cinnamon herbal tea.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

The new movie, "The Shack" is coming out soon and Christians are abuzz as to whether they should see it or not. I don't plan to see it because it gives an erroneous impression of how one gets to heaven. I can't support a film (or the book) that misleads people about the most important decision they will ever make for all of eternity.

Here is an interesting link discussing the book and the movie:

* * * * *
I'm linking up today at:

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sharing My Secrets


Don't get your hopes up. There will be nothing salacious revealed here!

But I do want to tell you  how I create the most adorable labels for my quilts. I do it with help and you can, too!

Kim Churbuck had some books in the quilt stores some ten years ago with her simple pencil drawings to be used for making quilt labels. 

the design I used most recently

I've not seen any of her books in some time, but I did look her up on the Internet and found a book with many of her designs in one place. I may buy it because I really like her work and the recipients of my quilts have said the same thing.

using a light box

To use a design like this, I first iron a piece of Reynolds freezer paper to the backside of the label fabric. I have skipped this step at times in the past but drawing on the fabric is so much easier with the freezer paper backing because it gives a firmer writing surface.

Pigma Micron 05 archival ink pen in black

Using this pen, a lightbox, and blue painter's tape, I simply trace the design onto the fabric. You can buy this pen in some colors (red, blue, yellow and green) and I have used them in the past but sometimes they are hard to find. I usually just go with black. This pen can be found in the art department at Hobby Lobby. You can also find a finer point, but I like working with the 05 size the best.

This ink in this pen will stand up to repeated washings after setting it with a hot iron.

finished quilt label (names have been blotted out for Internet security)

This is the quilt label for my newest great-nephew. After the design is complete, press it well with a hot iron (don't use steam or water) to set the ink. Peel off the freezer paper.

Then turn under all the raw edges and hand-sew onto the back of the quilt. You should not machine-sew the label because the thread will show on the front of the quilt.

One of my personal 'soap box' issues is that all quilts given as gifts (and really ANY quilt you make) should have a label with the name of the quilter and the recipient, the date, and any other pertinent information you may want to include.

I always put a Bible verse on the label because this is a tangible way I can instill God's Word into the lives of others. 

I cannot tell you how many times it has happened to me that years after a quilt has been given to a baby, a mother will say to the child, that's Mrs ...., or Aunt Barbara who made your quilt for you.  Their eyes will light up with understanding that a real, live person created their quilt for them. 

It's my legacy. 

By the way, my handwriting is not that great. I typed out the Bible verse and other information on my computer using a favorite font, printed it up and traced it, along with the little kid in the bathtub, with the help of the light box.

P.S. In another post this week I will share the quilt with this label. It's en route to the home of the newborn now, so I want to wait until it is received to post those pictures.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A Tardy Celebration of the Hodgepodge

Hey Hodgepodge buddies, 

My contribution is late this week but now I've got a few minutes to join you in our weekly habit. 

1. What do/did you call your grandparents? If it's something unusual tell us the story behind the same. If you're a grandparent what do your grands call you? Who chose your moniker?

My maternal grandparents were known as Gramper and Grammer. I am told I (as the first grandchild) gave them those names when I was very little because apparently that was the best I could enunciate "Grandma" and "Grandpa."

Beloved and I are known to our grands as Grammy and Grandad. We were very deliberate in letting our littles know our names because we didn't want to get saddled with something we didn't like. 

2. Ever taken a road trip along the California Coast? If so what was the highlight of your trek?  If not, any desire to do so? What's one tourist attraction along the coast you'd add to your must-see list?

photo by Fodors on the Internet
golden gate bridge

When I was sixteen years old, my father took a new job that required us to move from the San Fernando Valley in Southern California to Vancouver, British Columbia. After the moving van was loaded and gone, we took several days to drive up the coast to our new home. It was a long drive, but pleasant. I remember a highlight was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

3. What are three things you don't know how to do?

I don't know how to play the piano, speak French, or play golf.

4. Tom Peters is quoted as saying "Celebrate what you want to see more of."  If that's true, what and how will you celebrate?

I would like to see more health-conscious foods at potlucks. I usually take a salad that is chock-full of colorful, nutrient-dense ingredients tucked in with the dark leafy greens.

5. Thursday (February 16) is National Almond Day. Do you like almonds? Which would you prefer -- an Almond Joy or a macaroon? What's something you make that calls for almonds?

Love Almond Joy and macaroons -- both of which I cannot have any more due to food allergies. I use almond milk often in my cooking.

6. What does Saturday morning look like at your house?

On Saturday mornings we usually have homemade waffles or pancakes for breakfast. Then we clear away the dishes and bring our laptop computers to the table where we both catch up on our emails for about an hour and drink coffee.

7. Share with us a favorite book you've read this winter.

I am in the process of reading Beth Moore's first attempt at writing a novel...

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus. I'm not halfway through yet, but it's got me hooked. I even read several chapters aloud to Beloved in the car and he enjoyed it.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Earlier this week Beloved and I were traveling I-80 through Nebraska when we were thrilled to see hundreds and hundreds (I'm not exaggerating) of Snow Geese flying overhead. It was a thrilling sight. I have since then learned that one of their most popular migration patterns from the Arctic Sea to Patagonia takes them directly over Nebraska. We were able to enjoy them for a couple of hours as we drove. Their flocks were huge and as they swooped in the sky they looked silver-like. We loved it!

Linking  up today at

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Celebrating with Needle and Thread

Valentine wreath on our front door
Today I'll be short on words as I share some of the Valentine-related crafts and sewing (mostly sewing) that we've pulled out to embellish the season. Over many years of marriage, the completed projects really accumulate!

tree in dining room

Hearts on the tree

close-up of handwork called reverse appliqué 

chandelier ornaments - all purchased

dining table table runner is a pattern I use for all seasons/occasions

heart appliqué made in 1989

simple little runner made of scraps on hand

"Rail Fence" pattern adapts well with to any season/color/theme

made in an afternoon, mostly on the sewing machine.

from JoAnn's Fabrics and Crafts - sometimes it's simpler to just buy instead of sew!

The kitchen pantry door is a great palette for decorations

purchased at Hobby Lobby

some of my 'staff' and friends

Happy Valentine's Day from my household to yours!

Post Script: Thank you to the many new friends who stopped by to read my last post and left comments. And thank you to Vee for steering them my way. I enjoyed visiting blogs I had not seen before. You all have such wonderful things to share and blogging is a wonderful way to do it!

I want you all to know the problem that had Beloved and me waiting for so long was beautifully settled late last week. The "How to Wait" blog post was a reprise (for me, more than anyone else) of things I learned during the waiting process. 

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you!