Sunday, April 5, 2020

Hands2Help 2020 - Our First Guest Blogger, With A Charming Bingo Block

Hi, all!

Let's get this party started!  This is the first week for our guest bloggers, and I'm so happy to welcome Kate from Katie Mae Quilts!  Kate's been part of Hands2Help for several years now, but this is her first year to be a guest blogger - and it's a great post!  Yes, all this social distancing can play havoc with our plans, but Kate came through.  I'll turn the blog over to her now!


Hi! I'm Kate, from Katie Mae Quilts (and also Instagram and Pinterest and district coordinator for Quilts of Valor) and I volunteered to write this post for Sarah way back in mid-February - you know, a hundred years ago in real time. It's a very simple block, but also a fun retreat game! And I was going to go on my guild retreat (that I've been co-planning for six months) at the end of March, and work out any of the game kinks, and be able to show off a finished quilt for this post.

Well, I think you all know what happened to any guild retreat at the end of March.

So, I have this block to show you! It might make a fun retreat game. It might end up being a disaster. I don't know. You'll have to try it out and let me know! If we're ever allowed to go on quilt retreats again.

The block is a Disappearing 25 Patch made with charms. It's the same concept as the Disappearing Nine Patch, just with more pieces. For the bingo game, I asked the guild to make a block that has a four patch of novelty fabrics in each corner (those won't be cut), the middle eight blocks in a solid or "reads as solid" fabric, and the middle block in a white or reads as white. The bingo block finishes at 22.5" BEFORE cutting.

We asked for novelty fabric because our guild's charity of the year is the local pregnancy crisis center, so these will be baby quilts. You could easily do just solid color fabrics, or red/white/blue/flag/stars fabric for Quilts of Valor - whatever floats your guild's boat!

I asked my retreaters to email me a list of their novelty fabrics and solid colors before the retreat, which I would have put on little pieces of paper to be tossed in a basket. (Simplified lists! Pink is pink, not fuchsia or rose or cerise or carnation. Cow fabric is cows in a field or cartoon cows or cow print or just a bunch of MOOOOOOOOs.)

Then at retreat, we would have used quarters or buttons to track as I pulled each piece of paper from the know, like bingo. One marker per paper pull, even if you do an entire row in pink-fushia-white-rose-cerise. White square is a free space, first one to get five in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally wins.  Prize would be a charm pack.

And then, after the fun of the game, you whip out the ruler and slice the blocks up just like any other disappearing block, 2.25" from the most inner seam. Mix them up. Twist them around. Voila!

The finished block is 22", and the partial blocks are 11" finished. So four in a 2x2 layout makes a 44" baby quilt. Nine full blocks and three partial blocks in a 3x3.5 layout makes 66x77" lap size quilt.

I bet it looks cool as a finished quilt. I hope I get to see one! If y'all do one before my rescheduled retreat (which is...maybe August?) please shoot me an email and let me know how it goes!


Doesn't this look like fun?  Oh, if only the world would get back to normal so we could get together and play Charming Bingo!  But I agree with Kate, this would look great as a finished quilt, and wow, will it work up quick!  Charm squares for the win!!!

Join us next week as we get to enjoy another great guest blogger, and keep working on those quilts (or face masks, if that's what you are spending your days doing, like I am!).  We may all be stuck inside, but there are lots of people out there who still need a quilt-y hug, and we have the ability to provide them!



Friday, April 3, 2020

Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? I'm Not a Hoarder, I'm Well-Prepared!

Hi, all!

Have you checked your calendar lately?  Yes, it's actually Friday - even though the days seem to run together, don't they!  And that means it's time for us to get our whoop whoop on - are you ready?  Let's get started!!


First things first - today is this beautiful girl's eighth birthday!  Certainly a strange time to celebrate it, but celebrate it we will. She's got her mom making her homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast, Lilli has worked out a special outfit, hair and makeup for her for the day, and Nancy raided my craft stash to get all kinds of things to decorate the house to make it a very special day.  So let's give her a big whoop whoop!


And next, on the sewing front - Thursday morning a friend texted me this picture and asked if I could make her 35 of them.  Well, ordinarily, no problem - I could go to Walmart, pick up ready-made headbands, and easily add the buttons.  Or I could go to Joann's, buy some knit fabric, make the headbands and add buttons.  But these aren't ordinary times, are they?  So I did some digging around on the internet, found a few video tutorials that I watched, and started looking through the stash.  

One of the many huge tubs I hauled upstairs to my quilt studio contained pieces left over from all the t-shirt quilts I have made in the past few years.  Aha!  T-shirt material is knit fabric!  So I pulled some out and measured - yes!  I can get two headbands out of a wide shirt back.  Hooray!  And here's what I ended up with...

The nurses say that these help them, because their ears are getting raw from the elastic behind them.  This way, all the pressure is on the button and none on their ear!  In case you want to make some of your own, here's a quickie tutorial...

Start with a piece of fabric around 7.5" x 21".  I think you could do it slightly shorter than that, but this is the size I used.  

Fold it in half lengthwise, and starting about 1-1.5" from the end of the strip, stitch the full length, stopping about 1-1.5" from the other end.  I suggest backstitching at beginning and end.

Turn the tube right side out.

Match up the right sides of each end of the tube, and stitch them together all the way across.  (I only pinned here to show you what I was doing - I just held it together and stitched.)  Be sure to backstitch at both ends of your seam.

Here's what it looks like after stitching.  Pull the sides of the hair band and the seam will pull to the inside.

Now take the opening, be sure that there is 1/4" on each edge turned inside, and pin the opening shut.  

Stitch very close to the edge, being sure that you have caught the edges on both sides in the stitching. Backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching.

You can see the stitching here.  Yes, it shows, but it will be against the head under the hair, so it won't show when worn.

Now take the headband and center the long seam all the way around.  Centering the cross seam, press the headband so that the edges are sharp and so that you have a crease on each end.

Using the crease as a marker, lay a large button (I used 1-inch buttons from my stash) centered on the crease.   You can use the zigzag stitch on your sewing machine to sew the buttons on quickly and securely.  Drop the feed dogs, take off the foot, and roll the needle down by hand into the first hole.  DROP THE PRESSER FOOT!  (It makes a huge mess if you don't - don't ask me how I know...)  Hand crank the needle up and see if the stitch width is correct to move it into the next hole.  If not, adjust it as needed.  Once you have the correct width, hold the button down and stitch across 5-6 times for a 4-hole button, 10-12 times for a 2-hole button.  If you are using a 4-hole button, lift the presser foot, slide the button up slightly, and using the wheel, crank the needle down to be sure it goes into the hole properly.  Repeat the process to sew in those holes.   Repeat on the other side of the headband.

Tie the loose threads top and bottom and cut them off close.  Add a dot of fray check if you want.

And voila!  You have a very comfortable nurse's headband!  Super simple, and they go very quickly in production line fashion.  I cut out 35, stitched all the tubes, then turned them right side out, and then stitched the closure.  Now all I have to do is dig through my button box.... find 35 sets of matching 1" buttons.  I don't think I'm likely to run out of buttons, do you?

So - - - can I get a whoop whoop?


And now it's your turn!

What's got you whooping it up this week?

What's making you do a little happy dance?

Share!  We want to dance right along with you,

And it's always more fun to dance with friends!

The party will stay open until Sunday midnight.

Hope to see you there!



Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Make-A-List Monday - How To Begin a Good Habit!

Hi, all!

Another week of staying close to home has passed - how are you all doing?  It still feels weird, but as it's the new normal for most of us, we need to make the best of it!  It seems like I am busier than ever, but surely that can't be so - after all, I'm spending more time at home, not less, right?  

I don't really feel like making a list (again!) this week, but this does seem like a good time to talk about a good way to make good use of your time.  After hearing today that we are looking at probably at least two more weeks of our new "normal", I recalled that old saying that if you do something for two weeks, it can become a habit.  I don't know if that's true, but here are some suggestions for things you could do for the next two weeks to build a good habit...

Read a book!  And while doing it (weather permitting) get outside and get some fresh air and sunshine.  Maybe you are already an avid reader?  Try branching out to a different kind of book.  Learn a new skill. Read a biography of someone you admire.  Do it a little bit every day!  And if you crave social connection, get a bunch of friends involved.  Choose a book to read together.  Set up a private Facebook page to discuss what you are reading, or communicate via phone, text, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or yelling at each other across the fence!  (Six feet away, please!)

Victoria Findlay Wolfe's studio - isn't it gorgeous?

Organize your quilt studio!  And while it can be a daunting task, you can follow the 30-minute rule over the next two weeks to make a good dent in it.  Set a 30-minute timer (hello, Alexa, my new BFF!), choose a task, and work on it for 30 minutes.  Maybe it's to sort your fabric by color, or press or cut up scraps, or just to pick up the piles on the floor and put them away - but whatever you do, if you do it for 30 minutes a day for the next two weeks, you'll be amazed at the difference it makes!

And speaking of your studio, do you (like me!) have large piles of batting scraps cluttering up your space?  (Oh the shame of it!)  So spend 30 minutes a day making frankenbatting!   Concentrate on building pieces large enough for your common size of quilt - for me that would be about 64" square - and then you can have a stack of ready-made batts instead of a pile of useless bits and pieces!  Or if you have a stack of UFO's sitting there ready to quilt, make batts specifically for those - and get them done!

Have you always wanted to learn how to do yoga or tai chi?  Well, here's your opportunity!  Find a YouTube video or TV class and jump right in.  With social distancing, at least you won't have to worry about looking silly in front of others, and it really is a great way to exercise.  You wouldn't think that something so low key would tone your muscles, but it does!  Bonus points for doing it outside and soaking up some good Vitamin D and fresh air!

Get organized!  Once again, that 30-minute timer is key.  Don't try to do it all at once, or you will burn out!  I have started adding this to my Monday morning list (the day I do household chores, like laundry, shopping, paying bills, etc.).  The entry on my list says:  "Organize one area of new house - 30 minute timer".  This week I worked on the laundry room, spending 30 minutes moving things from where they landed when we moved to places that were more convenient for their purpose.  Some things left the room, others were brought in.  And at the end of 30 minutes, I had a much more functional room!  Maybe there are things in your junk drawer that haven't seen the light of day for years (I found a pacifier in mine, and my youngest granddaughter turns 8 this week!) or your hall closet is a stuff-catcher.  Whatever it is, 30 minutes could turn it around!

So find something to do with your enforced time at home so that you can look back on the Great Coronacation of 2020 and say, "Oh yes, that's when I read that great book/took up yoga/organized my life/made lifelong memories."

Now I really want to know - - - what are YOU doing with your time these days?