Saturday, February 28, 2015

4 X 7 -- Week 4 -- A Big Finish!!

The last day of February, 2015!!
I hope it's also the end of the brutal cold spell we've been enduring here in Northeast Ohio!
And the wrap-up of a productive month of stitching!!
I'm sure the extra cold weather has been a positive factor in the amount of stitching I've accomplished this month.  There were quite a few days I didn't budge out of the house.  And we've had lots of sunshine -- which is a positive impact of the fact that Lake Erie is completely frozen over. 
Hard to comprehend but it's the shallowest of the Great Lakes and so during a very cold spell, the ice grows quickly. 
This week I began to set together the "sunflower" blocks from Nathalie's "not a mystery" sew-along.
You can get to all her posts about the quilt HERE.  Nat's blog is in French so you'll have to learn how to translate it via Google or Bing, but several of my American students have been making it also and had no trouble following along.
  It's a charming block, cut with Marti Michell's new 2" Kite and Crown template set.  There are two more rows to add but I'm using the blocks as part of my piecing demos at the Farmpark Quilt Show Vendors Weekend today and tomorrow.  I've started to search my stash for a border fabric, but might need to go shopping on this one!
The BIG finish for the week has been the quilting of my fun, fun, fun fruit and veggie Tessellated Windmill quilt top.  I spread it out on my double bed to get some pics -- Willie refused to move at first.  I used 7" blocks, set 8 by 10, and the quilt measures 55" by 70".
But he finally emerged for a closer look at the ants.
And it has his official seal of approval!! 
I think this is the 9th quilt I've made using this tool since Marti Michell introduced it a couple years ago.  If you can't find the tool locally, I usually have some in stock -- e-mail me at
 Because it can be done in block sizes from 2" to 9" and is easy to cut, easy to piece, and I've found a simple quilting strategy that I use over and over with variations to the border, it's become one of my "go-to" quilts for gifts and donations. 
This one is not a donation or a gift! 
This one is for me. 
My fruit and veggie pile is so much fun to play with and this is the third big project I've made from it.  I was able to come up with enough names of fruits and veggies that I didn't repeat any as I worked my way around the border.  
Finishing this quilt also gives me another "gold star" on my 2015 UFO Challenge list over at  So I'm two for two and looking forward to the "number" for March. 
Wahoo, wahoo, wahoo!!
Hope the momentum I have going carries me through March!!
A big THANKS and a hug to Sarah over at 
for the motivation of the 4 X 7 Sewing Challenge.
Hope you are able to stitch away your weekend!!
Mary Huey

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What is your fabric hoarding weakness?

One of the aspects of quilting that we all seem to have in common is the accumulation of a "stash".    Last week over at Amy's Creative Side, she shared this quote.
 "The thing is: if you are never going to chose your own fabric, why do you have a stash at all?"  (April Rosenthal) 
 Reading that has triggered a landslide of thoughts during the past week about my own stash. 
I've been on both ends of stash development -- I've sold it and I've bought it. 
As a shop owner for 26 years, I suspect I've single-handedly built some pretty awesome stashes out there -- conservatively, I estimate that my contribution to local stash inventories might surpass 125,000 yards of high quality cotton fabric. 
That's a lot of fabric!!
And my own stash has the potential to keep me going for another 20 years though those last couple years will be frustrating as I'll be challenged by lots of "ugly" fabric.
As I get ready to set up my display for Vendors' Weekend at Lake Metroparks Farmpark Quilt Show this weekend, I'm pushing to finish this quilt. 
I know that when quilters see it, the first thought that will pop into their heads if they like it is to make one "just like that". 
And that is what diverts us from using our stash. 
We want to make that quilt in those fabrics
So my fruit and veggie Tessellated Windmill quilt will send someone on a quest to find all the veggie and fruit prints out there so she can make this quilt.  (If you can't find the tool locally, I usually have some in stock -- e-mail me at
But you are better served by using the inspiration of quilts that catch your eye to use your stash and here's how I do it. 
 When I see a quilt that inspires me, I take a deep breath and try to identify why I love it!  
What seems to catch a quilter's eye about this quilt is the way I used a set of fabrics unified by a theme contrasted with the "neutral" black prints.
So if that's the inspiration, how can you take that and apply it to your stash? 
What style of prints do you hoard?  (Hopefully, you use them once in a while as well!) 
 I hoard bird prints. 
 I hoard them in fall colors.
I hoard them in Christmas prints. 
I hoard them in Oriental prints (in fact, birds make up about 1/3 of my Oriental stash).  I'm already thinking my next Windmill quilt (love to make this quilt) needs to begin with this stack of Oriental crane prints. 
So find your hoard and contemplate using it this time.  And don't let these issues side track you!!
Have you ever heard yourself say, "if I use it, I won't have it anymore". 
If you use now, you are the one who got to use it --
 not some unknown quilter who grabbed it up at the yard sale for 25 cents.
How about this one?  "Its too beautiful to cut up." 
If you use that gorgeous large scale print on the backing of a quilt you are going to keep, 
you'll always have it!!
"I'm looking for the perfect pattern for it.
Really?   How long have you been in that mode?
Watch for opportunities to use those hoarded fabrics because it's more fun to play with them than it is to refold them. 
Once this weekend is over, I'm going to make a small wall hanging using this panel (love, love, love) to participate in the Tree Bird Blog Hop from March 13 to 23.  It's been on the "scared shelf" for over a year now and I'm looking forward to chopping it up!!
It's back to the quilting for me!!  For those of you living in Northeast Ohio, I hope to see you at the show this weekend.  My booth will be in the classroom just past the milking parlor. 
Stop by and say "Hello"!!
Mary Huey

Friday, February 20, 2015

4 X 7 Week 3 -- still going strong!!

Greetings from a very cold Northeast Ohio this morning!!  As I begin today's post it's up to -5 degrees F  -- yes I said "up".  It was -18 at 6 a.m. and a friend about 30 miles from here was saying it was -25 out in the country.  But the sun is shining and there's not a cloud in the very blue sky so at least it looks cheerful out my office window!!
The colder than usual weather this week has kept me close to home and made it easy to achieve more than 30 minutes of stitching every day.  I'd say I've averaged about 3 hours a day in my studio in addition to my daily evening hand work session.  I wish every week was so focused and productive!!
I took the week off from my hexagon push and focused on my monthly charity quilt goal -- you can read about the January one HERE.  My idea for February was triggered by Nathalie at Les Ouvrages de Nat -- she shared her Fat Quarter Log Cabin project earlier in the month and I recalled that I had cut two sets in pinks a couple years ago.  Pink seems to be a good focus color for February and so I tidied up the pink shelf pulling fabric for four more sets of blocks for this month's quilt.
The pattern comes from Marti Michell's Log Cabin ABC's but is also a separate pattern (which you can find at Marti & Me Club shops).
Marti's cutting formula for this quilt uses her Log Cabin Ruler #8038 for 1" or 2" finished strips.  I spent a happy afternoon in my studio, cutting and watching an old movie. 
If you aren't familiar with Marti's Log Cabin rulers and you are thinking, why do I need a special ruler? -- I can relate -- it was exactly my reaction when the tools were first introduced. 
BUT, being able to cut everything for 24 blocks in two hours is wonderful!!  I even cut the "leftovers" at the ends of the strip into little squares which are becoming 4-patches for something in the future. 
So here's my stacks for 6 sets of log cabin blocks -- 4 blocks will come from each stack.
Do you notice anything that might be a problem?
Yep, it's the two stacks on the right -- those are the ones I cut two years ago and apparently I was cutting with wider strips. 
This calls for a "cuppa tea" and one of those scones that I hoarded in the freezer. 
A decision needed to be made. 
Do I make the blocks as they are cut and hope no one notices that 8 of them use different size strips (the finished blocks would all be 13")?
Do I make two smaller quilts?
Do I pull out two more sets of fabrics and cut from scratch?
Do I trim down the wider sets?
Which would you have done?
Well, I trimmed the strips down and had to rummage around to add a few strips since the newly cut sets used more strips.  In the end, I had my piecing tray all set up with the strips ready to stitch the blocks.  I chain piece my way through one stack making four blocks at a time.  Because all the strips have been precut to the exact length needed, the finished blocks are very consistent in size.  I also don't have to trim or square up the blocks as I go.  Two more reasons to love this tool!! 
The first two sets are on the work wall - looks pretty good, doesn't it?
The plan is for a twin size quilt and it's going to be charming.  It will reduce my stash by 12 yards by the time I get the top and back organized - a very good thing! 
 Two months and two shelves down -- ten to go!?! 
I also had a finish this week -- this is a new sample for a Rose Star Workshop that I'll be teaching at Mercantile on Main in Coshocton, Ohio on Friday, March 20, 2015.  It took a couple sessions to get the fabrics arranged but once that hurdle was cleared, the piecing took just 90 minutes.  The chain-piecing technique from my DVD, Set-In Piecing Simplified really streamlines those y-seams!!
And it's on sale through 2/28/2015!!
I love the mixture of batiks and prints that I finally achieved!  And this will be a lovely gift for someone in the future.  It's cut with Marti Michell's new 3" Kite and Crown template set.
If you can't find this tool set locally, I usually have some in stock -- e-mail me at
Yesterday brought a large squishy envelope in the mail -- it is the selvedge zipper bag I won from Julie at during the Grow Your Blog Hop -- what fun!!
I hope you are coming off a productive week, too!!  It's feel so good!
More sunshine and cold on tap here, so I'm confident I'll be in the studio a lot again in the coming week!!
Mary Huey

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Exploring a New Marti Tool!

Sunday afternoon was all about stitching!!  One of my tasks was to play with the new Peaky And Spike tool from Marti Michell.   The tool set sells for $14 and is set up to work for "spike" triangles that are from 1" tall to 6" tall.
 She has named it in honor of her good friend, Doreen Speckman who shared so many good piecing ideas in her too short life as an American quilter.   If you aren't familiar with Michell Marketing's tools they all feature "engineered" corner trimming.  Notice that all the sharp pointy (troublesome) tips of the triangles are trimmed away during the cutting process.
Why you ask?  Well to begin, it eliminates bulk and those annoying pointy tips that get sucked down into our zigzag throat plate openings.  My favorite benefit is the ease of matching odd shaped pieces.  I've laid the two tools "right sides together" so you can see the perfect alignment!
 The instruction booklet that comes with the tool has several block ideas and I was drawn to a windmill block.  Since there was a left over strip set laying on the cutting table, I whacked it up.
A piece of white provided some background (Peaky) triangles.  The little purple triangles at the ends of each line on the tool are a reminder to trim those corners before leaving the cutting mat -- very important step!!
Soon I had a short stack of these units!  Aren't they fun?  Could be little pine trees or Santas or what else?
Four of them make this windmill block which is fun!  I only had 5 of the stripped triangles (2 with a red base and 3 with a blue base) so I did half and half and I rather like it!
Oh, gosh -- here comes an idea!?!  Scrappy windmills!  So I reached down into one of my strip boxes and put together this green/pink/yellow combo. 
Then I pulled a few hunks of old novelty prints off a shelf and started to audition the idea of alternating these blocks (scrappy, of course) with a plain square of a large scale print. 
This one could work.
But this is the one!! 
  I bought this cutie when I got the news that my first grandchild was on the way and have never used it (that was 9 years ago).  She's a bit old for it now but it will make a cute little gal's quilt just the same!
Now I have to settle in for a session with my Electric Quilt program and draft a layout!!  Not that I need another project, but I've had too much caffeine this morning and can't help myself?!?
Back to the studio!!
Mary Huey

Sunday, February 15, 2015


It's a beautiful sunny Sunday morning in Northeast Ohio -- but it's so cold that my church cancelled the morning services?!? 
I taught an all day Hexie Lovers Workshop yesterday at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark -- it's a great classroom with a long wall of windows -- but having that extensive view was a bit worrisome as it snowed quite hard for much of the day.  So we worried off and on about the drive home at the end of the afternoon. 
It finally cleared off mid-afternoon and so by the time we left at 4:30, the roads were okay. 
Everyone left happy with lots of new ideas and confidence about working with hexagons!!
This morning the thermometers have dipped below 0 F.  Once I get my teaching supplies put away, the plan for the rest of the day calls for lots of stitching, lots of tea, and keeping the bird feeders full, period!!
The quiz question on my post at the start of the Grow Your Blog Hop was how many 6-pointed stars do you see in this quilt.  The responses were all over the place from 5 to 22.  I created 5 stars purposely -- but I wonder if those who saw more have a more open creative brain. 
The stars I inserted include a brown one at the top edge; a brown and green one on the right end of the "second" row; the very obvious one in the center "third" row; a more subtle one towards the left end of the "fourth" row; and the reddish one floating off by itself on the right end of the "fifth" row.

My random generator chose #4 and that is Helen at Till We Quilt Again.  (E-mail me at with your mailing address, Helen and I'll get a copy of my DVD, Set-In Piecing Simplified into the mail for you.) 
And as a thank you to all those who visited my blog over the past 3 weeks and anyone else who is smart enough to take advantage, I'm offering a special price of $11.95 (which includes USA shipping -- international shipping is slightly more) on the DVD through 2/28/2015. 
If you already own the DVD or have taken one of my workshops, I'd love to hear in the comments below about your experiences with set-in piecing -- of course, I hope they are good, but as always if you are experiencing frustrations, I encourage you to contact me at with your questions and let me help you!!
Off to the studio!!
Mary Huey

Friday, February 13, 2015

4 X 7 Stitching and Last Chance to enter GROW YOUR BLOG Giveaway!!

Good morning, quilters!!  Have you been stitching every day for the past week?  I have!!
 I hope I can keep up the pace for the remaining two weeks of February.
My big push this week was to get two workshop samples to a displayable point by Wednesday.  I kept the quilting on the Rose Star bed runner very simple, did it with my walking foot and did the binding completely by machine (you can read my tips about doing that HERE).  
The second sample is basically a "first" draft of an idea that has been rolling around in my head for the past several months and I just haven't made the time to focus in on it.  The hexie motifs are sample blocks from Mickey Depre's book, Pieced Hexies which will be the textbook for my workshop at Lake Metroparks Farmpark Quilt Show on Saturday, March 14, 2015.  The color palette was inspired by this Jane Sassaman print I hoarded the summer of 2013!!
Happily my deadline mentality pulled it out of the fire again and I got the background together over the course of two afternoons in the studio.  The motifs (which have been together for a couple months) are basted in place at this point so it can be displayed at the Park.  When it returns to the studio next month, my goal is to carve out a block of time to push this piece along.
Once those two were ticked off the list, I took advantage of a short lull in the action to layer up this very old top that I intend to quilt next week.  It's hanging over the top of my APQS George for two reasons -- to keep the helpful little black cat off of it and to remind me to work on it!!
Yesterday I realized that the pillowcases I started for my grands needed to be mailed now to arrive in time for Valentine's Day.  That meant rethreading my serger with lighter thread which meant I needed to do a small alteration (short arms, you know) and a little repair first with the dark thread that was on the machine. 
Happily, the rethreading went smoothly -- not a hitch -- and the tension was perfect immediately, no fiddling required!!
And when I left the house at noon to meet a friend for lunch, I left with a package ready to drop off at the post office!!  One for a boy and one for a girl!!  The main prints were new purchases last week when I paid a visit to Mercantile on Main in Coshocton, Ohio to see the brand new location!!  They are still arranging and rearranging, but it's a roomy space with the highest ceilings I've ever seen -- boy, will their quilts look great hanging on those wall!!
It's almost over, the GROW YOUR BLOG Hop!  Thanks to everyone who has visited me over the past 3 weeks as a result of that! 
This afternoon is dedicated to packing for the Hexie Lover's Workshop tomorrow -- the sooner I get that done, the sooner I can stitch!!
Mary Huey

Sunday, February 8, 2015

4 X 7 Sewing Challenge -- Week 1

Well, I stayed on track for the entire week -- devoting myself to hexagon piecing and workshop samples!!  Happily, most of my 30 minutes sessions drew out into an hour or more! 

This is the bed runner I made using 5 Rose Star blocks.  I'm using this workshop to introduce my students to Marti Michell's new Crown and Kites templates. 
I'm so pleased with the blend of new and old fabrics I achieved! 
It's layered up and ready to quilt on Monday

And here is the stack of "sunflowers" cut with same template set that I'm piecing as part of Nathalie's "not a mystery" quilt over at Les Ouvrages de Nat
Piecing these blocks have been my sew-offs all week as I chain-piece through the set-in seams and assembly of the Rose Star blocks.  There is no deadline for this quilt but the cheerful color palette makes it joy to piece on a winter day.
Next week, my focus will be a traditional hexagon reproduction quilt and getting it organized into manageable units so students in my Hexie Lovers Workshop will be able to discuss dissecting a design for construction.  (There are still a few openings?!)

Stitch on!! 
Mary Huey

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Snow Day!!

If you visiting from the GROW YOUR BLOG hop, thanks for stopping by for a read!! 

As I headed into my studio early Sunday afternoon, the snow was falling and the neighborhood came alive with the neighbor boys playing in the snow while the men fired up their snowblowers and carried on shouting conversations across the street to one another.
The beginning of February finds me  closing in on a finished quilt top that has been in progress for perhaps 8 years?  I grabbed hold of the 2015 UFO Challenge over at and my double/queen size version of my pattern, Marie's Scraps was the number drawn for January. 
 I wrote the pattern in the mid-1990's, revising it in 2005.  The inspiration was the quilts of Marie Cermak.  I never met Marie, but after she passed her family donated a pile of her quilts to a local hospice resale shop and one of my students brought them to my attention.  At once, I loved the spontaneity of her quilts!
Forgive the picture quality -- 20 year old pics!   The one above is symmetrical in layout but I guess it was too short and so she added that jumble of squares to make it work!
 I've created a story about Marie that I hope is close to the truth.  She was a prolific quilt maker (I recall the family donated 37 quilts to the shop) during an era, the late 40's through the early 70's, when piecing wasn't very popular, cotton fabric was becoming more difficult to find, and in an area of the country (suburban Cleveland) where quilters were likely far and few between.  Her style was practical and improvisational.  She used everything she could find and all her quilts were very similar -- vertical bands of simple patchwork blocks.  If she used templates to cut her pieces, they must have been cardboard which wore down as the size of the pieces was quite variable even though they were meant to go together.
My first sample of the quilt was made as a display sample for King's Road Imports of California in 1993.  And here it is.  Actually, I made two -- and happily I was able to keep one of them!
There are two aspects of this pattern that have contributed to its' success -- first, it's a great scrap quilt and second, it's a terrific skill builder.  There are lots of pieces to cut and to stitch and the simple repetition of those processes builds skills automatically.
The pattern is written to use with triangle paper or with Marti Michell's basic templates (Set A, or Set B, or Set Q -- depending on the size of the quilt) and the three different sizes are achieved by changing the size of the pieces, so the crib/lap robe size has the same number of pieces as the double/queen. 
I pieced this crib/lap robe size with a completely different fabric palette with a more controlled assortment of cheerful prints and white with black prints.
And so we come to the current version.  It is the scrappiest of the three.  It started life as lots of cutting and stitching demos during quilt shows and workshops.  That meant it came and went, came and went, came and went.  But a couple years ago, I stumbled across a border print which brought everything together and inspired the colors for the vertical sashing strips.
 Marie was pretty casual about joining the patchwork bands together.  I have spent too many years building my piecing skills to be quite so carefree so as I build the bands, I compare the length of them to one another and make slight adjustments as needed so they are all the same length.  It seems no matter how accurate my piecing is, the variety of fabrics and cross grain vs. lengthwise grain makes this necessary.

I use one band to check all the others (remember how garbled up the whispered message gets in the child's game "telephone"?) for more consistent results.  The pieced band on the right in the first picture today was my "guide" band.   You can see that I'm off a bit in the photo below!!  Taking a slighter deeper seam ever so often will adjust the band of flying geese at the top of this photo so it will match the "guide" band.
Once I've added the vertical sashing strips to each band, I use a ruler to mark the edge of the sashing to help me align the bands and sashing as I join them together.  You can see two of them along the upper edge of the periwinkle sashing strip to the left and to the right.  I use a ruler lined up with the seams (along the center of the picture) to do this marking.
Opps!!  I must have forgotten to compare it to the guide band before adding the vertical sashing strip but now that it's on, I'm reluctant to undo it.  So this band will be trimmed off at the end -- a little tribute to Marie who made everything fit together by trimming!
I'm ready to add the final borders this afternoon and make the backing!  This quilt top is going out to be quilted after which I plan to gift it to a local organization to be auctioned at their annual fundraiser this summer. 
Now I can go see which number is up for the month of February over at All People Quilt's challenge.

During the month of February, I'm also participating in the 4x7 Challenge over at -- I have 3 workshop projects in progress and working 30 minutes everyday is a good goal for me because I know once I sit down at my stitching, I always stay longer.  I don't expect to finish any of them since they will be "step" samples, but they all need to be farther along than they are at this moment!!

Enjoy your stitching today!!
Mary Huey