CQJP2014 – April Block

I know it’s May now but I just realized I didn’t do a post on my April CQJP block.
After some searching, I found the picture of the bare block hidden about 300 pictures ago on my phone. I mentioned in the past that I have an excessive amount of photos on my phone didn’t I? I deleted a TON and I’m still back to over 1400 photos. Lol

Bare block:


Finished block:


The theme for this block is Soar:


This hot air balloon is soaring through clouds made with stuffing.

Butterflies soar on the air.

Music can soar through the air, and your soul.


I like seeing kites flying on the wind.

This trumpet is my own design. I had to add an instrument to go with the musical notes.

I have a May block finished. Once I get the picture sent in to the CQJP2014 blog I will make a post here with details.

Other news: last weekend my hubby and I planted several seeds in a 16-cell starter container. Tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeño peppers.
Last night we had one cherry tomato starting to peek through.

This afternoon, that cherry tomato is looking like this:

Plus we have two more cherry tomatoes and a regular tomato starting to peek through. The peppers are supposed to take 10 days or so to start peeking. Hopefully we get at least one plant of each.


CQJP2014 – March Block #2

I originally was not sure if I was going to do a second block for March. The idea was percolating in my mind but I had several other projects shoving around for space as well, some of which I did work on. Then as the fabric was flying around one night, several pieces of fabric just happened to fall together on the table and I said ‘That’s it!”.   The colors just worked. And they screamed to me, you MUST MAKE ME NOW. So…I did! The colors made me think of spring, and flowers, and warm weather. I would really love to have spring weather now.  I am tired of shivering on the couch in the living room.

Here is the bare block:


Do you agree that it calls out Spring! Flowers! Warm Weather!?

I really wanted to do a floral themed block, and the colors just really called out for it on this one.  This was a fun block to work on.

Finished block:


I picked the word Hope for a couple reasons. Spring is a season that makes you think of Hope, in my opinion. Moods get better, the winter blues go away. The winter jackets (and long johns and triple layer sweatshirts and…) get put away again until next winter. We start looking forward to seeing beautiful flowers, brilliant green leaves, and going outside barefoot.



While I did again use doodles from the book Doodle Stitching on this block, I also used a bit more of my own drawings. The bottom left corner is a flower taken from Doodle Stitching and then modified slightly to fit the space. Just above that in the green section is a flower that I have been drawing for a good majority of my life. Sometimes I draw just the flower, sometimes I add vines, and sometimes I add a lot of vines and more of the flowers.


When I was talking with my mom about this block, she asked “Can you add lilacs?” And that led into reminiscing about the gorgeous lilac bushes that my grandma had next to the farmhouse. Couple different shades of purple, the bushes were HUGE. You could smell the lilacs all around the farmhouse. Any time I smell them now, I think of Grandma. Last year was the first year the lilacs at my house and my mom’s house bloomed. We like to think it was Grandma looking down (we lost her last year).

I had to think about it for a bit, and I looked through my phone at the pictures of lilacs I had taken. Then I sat down and drew out the lilacs and used a ton of french knots to create them. Mom said she could smell lilacs when she looked at them.


For some reason, the next few pictures turned sideways on my phone and I can’t get them to turn the correct way. Two small sections which are the bottom right corner, I did a field of purple french knot flowers and…a curved vine with some petals. Don’t ask me what it’s supposed to represent because I’m not really sure. lol.


Along the right side of the block in a larger section, I added vines with lazy daisy flowers and a few french knot flower buds.


The top right section of the block took me a little bit of time to decide on. Then I decided to attempt drawing a large daisy. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. French knots fill the yellow center of the daisy.


(this picture is also sideways. sigh). Along the left side of the block, which is shown at the top of this picture, is another Doodle Stitching design that was modified slightly to fit the space. I think it was from the Asian section of motifs.


I really wanted to add a long stem rose to the upper left corner, but I could not find a pattern that I really liked, so after studying various images and again looking on my phone at roses that I have photographed, I drew out this rose. I decided to keep it more as a rosebud.


I used one patterned fabric on this square. It is in two locations but only one was large enough to play with the details on. I outlined the leaves, added details inside the leaves, stem stitched the stems (who woulda thought, stemming a stem!), and outlined then filled in the flowers. I’m very happy with how they turned out.


I wanted to leave the other flower bunch on this piece of fabric as the printed version, but it seemed like I had such a large empty space left on the block. I looked through different ideas for circling or bordering the printed flowers. Then the other day I was up at Sew Crazy talking with my Mom and I was looking at one of the quilts hanging on the wall. It happened to be the breast cancer quilt. And I noticed on closer look, that the woman who did the quilting, actually quilted in awareness ribbons. And that is what led me to the last detail I added to my block. Four awareness ribbons that hold some meaning to me and my family.  These ribbons all have multiple awareness’s attached to them, but I’m only listing the ones that are relevant to this.

The green ribbon is for my maternal Grandma, who we lost to Kidney Cancer (she was 3rd known generation to have it). Green ribbons stand for Kidney Cancer Awareness . The purple ribbon is for my maternal Grandpa who we lost only 34 days later, official cause is a broken heart, but he also suffered from Alzheimer’s. the Purple ribbon stands for Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness.  The red ribbon is for Heart Disease Awareness. We lost my paternal Grandpa when I was younger to heart problems. Several members of my paternal family suffer from heart related problems, including my Dad. My stepdad also has heart issues.   The fourth ribbon pictured here is an adaption of the pastel pink and blue ribbon that stands for Infertility Awareness.  The pastel pink and blue did not show up at all so I needed to use darker colors, also the actual ribbon is one side pink, other side blue, which I couldn’t depict properly here with my style of ribbon.


CQJP 2014- March Block 1

Imagine! That is the theme of my March block. Just imagine what you can do when you really let yourself be immersed in the project.  Imagine what you can do when you put effort forward, in anything in life not just something creative.

I appear to maybe have accidentally deleted the bare block picture from my phone. Oops. Or it’s there still, buried somewhere amid the 1,518 photos and 50 videos that I have on the phone. Yes, 1,518 photos. And that’s after having deleted close to 100 photos a week or so ago. Of those still on the phone, I would estimate about 1,250 are photos of crafts and/or cats.  The other 250-ish are vacations, my best friend’s daughter, and a few other random things. 


This may be block 1 of 2, or it may end up being the only block for March. I’ve been distracted with a few other projects lately, one of which is creating some quilt designs. So without further ado, Here is the finished block for March:



Imagine the fun you could have when you let yourself wander. As I did with the … I don’t even know what to call it. Spiraled out of control? I had just learned how to do the reverse chain stitch and I wanted to see what I could do with it.  So I started in the center and started spiraling out. And somewhere along the way, I wandered.  Wandered right off the path of the spiral and into a couple of loops.  If you could see how I work on projects, you would realize that this actually fits my process fairly well. I work hard and dedicated on the current project, but when I get close to a certain point, my mind starts wandering off to other projects. I think it kinda drives my hubby nuts, because while the Wife Cave is downstairs, when I’m hand sewing or crocheting or designing or…whatever else, I’m upstairs in the living room working on it. So I usually have the coffee table and side table full of craft stuff, plus a bag of supplies on the floor in front of the side table.  I do clear it all off when we have company coming though!



Imagining sometimes is like wishing. Your mind is wishing for ways to accomplish a project, and you might not even realize the idea is percolating back in your subconscious until BAM, there it is!  So I had to add a magic wand to this block. The wand is from the Doodle Stitching: The Motif Collection.  Depending on the design, I now rarely trace the exact design and transfer to the project. Instead I grab my Frixon pen and eyeball the picture then draw it freehand on the block. Sometimes like with the wand, it ends up looking almost exactly like the one in the book. Other times…lets just say it’s a great thing that I can just quickly iron off my pen marks and start again!  The vine to the left of the wand is just a little curvy stem stitch vine with some french knot flowers.



I love curvy lines in embroidery. And reverse chain stitch just called out to me for this section. I used hand-dyed rayon and again the design was from Doodle Stitching, although I cant remember if I changed it slightly or not to fit the section on the block (I’ll have to look in the book again).  The small section above the curvy design has a little pink mask. (Which as I look at the picture on the laptop, I appear to have not finished ironing this block to remove the Frixon markings. oops again).




This bottom corner I played around a little bit with trying to make a fancier fan than I normally do. The variegated yarn had longer color runs in it than I would have liked for a small design. I also used french knots to do a seam treatment along the same section the fan is in.



In this next section, I added curvy vines and lazy daisy flowers. I think this also came from Doodle Stitching (can you tell by now how much I enjoy this book for it’s designs and inspiration?).  I love the hand-dyed for the flowers, the short color runs make for some pretty variegated flowers.   The upper corner has a simple fan and buttonhole stitch for seam treatment. I was at a loss for what to put in this corner as the size of the section didn’t allow for a whole lot.



The other top corner I decided to play around with a few more Doodle Stitching designs. I added a sun/moon to the corner piece. In the long section I attempted to free-hand copy the peacock feather. The one in the book looks MUCH better, but I’m happy with my attempt. Anyone else think the top part of the feather looks like an alien head with three eyes and an open mouth? lol



Imagination is a wonderful thing.  When you hit a snag in your project, dip into your imagination and see what solutions come up. Maybe the solution is to step back for awhile, pick up another project, and work on that for awhile. Just don’t forget to go back, someday, to the other project. UFOs like to pile up!


CQJP2014- February Block #2

Block #2 for February! I had a lot of fun with this block, trying out a couple new (for me) crazy block treatments.

The bare block:


This one, while I loved the colors and fabrics used, gave me a lot of trouble when it came to figuring out what exactly I wanted to do to it.



I am happy with the end result though!

Close ups of the details: I just realized I don’t have close up detail pictures on my phone of this block…how did that happen! Hang on while I go get the block.

(Are you still with me?)

This twisty tree is probably my favorite element on this block. The design is from Doodle Stitching the Motif Collection by Aimee Ray. I love this book by the way. You will definitely see more embroidered items from her book on my blocks. I don’t trace them though, I look at the picture and then free-hand draw it on the fabric, so there will be some differences between what you see in the book and on my blocks. I added some sequins for leaves and to give a little sparkle to the block. A stump sits quietly next to the twisty tree.


The vines and purple flowers in the top right corner are also from Doodle Stitching (motif). As I said, I really love this book. You may notice along this journey of CQJP, I am partial to vines and twisty lines in my embroidery.

In the bottom left corner, since I had such a little section to work with, I added a little fan. Next to that, using some gorgeous hand-dyed cotton, I added some curly lines with French knots. Silver rickrack ribbon runs along the seam.

In the top left corner I added a flowering vine (design also from doodle stitching). I’m getting the hang of lazy daisies finally. I’ve gotten past the habit of wanting to pull the thread too tight. I couched a piece of gold rope ribbon along this seam. I picked up quite a few ribbons several years ago at a store closing and just recently remembered I had them.

This particular section gave me the most trouble. It took a couple days before I finally decided on what to do. It was actually another piece of fabric in the Wife Cave that made me think of paisleys. Which I tried to make here. I wanted them to be fun yet somewhat delicate which is why I used bright colors but only used 1 strand of DMC floss to do it. The paisleys shown here are my own design. In the center of the orange paisley is a flower made entirely of french knots.

The theme of this block is Explore. I used a hand-dyed rayon to stem stitch the word in the center. I think with some of the treatments I used (first time couching rope, adding rick rack), plus my attempt at paisleys, means I did in fact Explore a bit on this block.

CQJP2014 – February Block #1

The first block for February is posted over at the CQJP challenge site so it’s time to post some detail pictures here.

Before stitching:


Finished block:


Close-up details:

In the bottom left corner, I added a spool of thread complete with needle stuck in the top in one section. The section just to the right I played around with using stem stitch in a variety of colors to fill an area in. Just above that is a section with a hand-stitched sewing machine threaded with green thread. I made sure to include the bobbin thread coming up, feet on the machine, and the power cord. Above the sewing machine are two purple fans.

The bottom right corner gave me two larger sections to work with. In one, I drew in some vines then stitched them with stem stitch. Next to that is a pair of scissors, needle, and bright yellow thread.

The top left corner gave me some trouble because at first I couldn’t think of what to add. Finally I added five petal lazy daisy flowers in a variegated pink with a few buds scattered here and there using French knots. Just below those I treated a seam with blanket stitch. To the right of that section, I added six wheels in various colors and sizes.

The top right corner I attempted to add a crochet hook and small ball of yarn. It’s not quite what I had in mind but it works.

And of course, the theme and center of the block…Create!


The bright colors of this block make me happy. I think my favorite parts of it are the sewing machine and the spool of thread.

Tutorial – Crazy Square Block

One of the ladies up at Sew Crazy asked if I could show her how to make a basic crazy square. She has seen several of mine and wants to make some. Unfortunately due to scheduling conflicts, we were unable to get together in person before this weekend. So tonight I started a new square and took a lot of photos to provide a tutorial that hopefully they can access this weekend at the quilt retreat. Plus anyone else that wants to know how to make them can use this!

A quick note first: there are many ways to make a crazy square. My way is just one of the ways. I do not claim that it is the best way or that other ways are wrong, this is just what I have found works best for me.

Materials needed:
Sewing machine
Iron and ironing board
Ruler (straight one and a square one the size of your finished square if you have it)
Fabric (usually cut into 2 1/2″ strips but don’t feel restricted to this size)
A piece of muslin cut to the size of finished square that you want.

My process:
The first thing I usually do is go for a dive in the fabric stash and start picking out at least six different fabrics. Then I toss them in a loose pile on the cutting board to get a good look at my choices.


After looking at this pile, I decided one of my choices stood out too much and removed it.


Once I have decided on my fabrics, I cut out 2 1/2″ strips of each and again put them in a loose pile.


Since this particular square will end up being used for my CQJP challenge, I wanted a more plain center piece so I could make it go with my theme. I cut a piece of the plain blue strip into an odd shape. Four or five sided works best for me as long as it’s oddly shaped.


This square will end up being 6 1/2″ square so I cut out a piece of muslin to that size.


Next, I lay the odd cut piece roughly in the center, trying to keep it from being “perfectly” center. This is a crazy square after all! I use an 1/8 inch seam around the center piece.


Next, we start getting into the fun part. Picking the second piece to be added AND picking which edge to use.


Once that is decided, place the piece with the right side down and the edge of the new piece of fabric lines up with the edge of the odd shaped piece. Using a 1/4″ seam, sew the new piece on. Do not worry about locking the stitches. If you go a little past on each side, when you add more pieces they will help lock the pieces in.



Important step: after each piece is added, you must flip the piece over right side up and iron at the seam.

Then you add your next piece in the same way:


Then the next:


Keep adding until you’ve attached fabric to each seam of your odd shape piece. Your pieces will overlap. You will have some sections become smaller as you add more fabric. This is okay!


At this point, you can see the four corners of the muslin are still showing. Now we add another round of fabric.




Once the muslin is covered, I turn the square over so I am looking at the backside.


At this point, you can use a straight ruler to trim the edges, or if you have a square ruler in the same size as your square, use that.



All edges trimmed? Save the larger pieces of scrap, you can always use them for something else. Even another crazy square! You do not have to limit yourself to only 2 1/2″ strips.

Flip the square over so you are looking at the right side.


Check for any “oops”. In the first picture below, I have a pin pointing at an oops, where the raw edge of one of the fabric sections is showing. You can fix this in a couple ways. One way is to add another piece of fabric that will cover the mistake as shown below in the second photo of this section:



Another way to fix the mistake is to use your border/sashing to cover the mistake, if you are going to be using sashing or a border:


Yet another option to fix a raw edge mistake, if you plan to embroider the block, is add some embroidery that will cover it, as I did on this block from last year (shown below). The big jellie and the orange seaweed are both covering some raw edge mistakes (this was one of my very first crazy squares):


Normally in a 6 1/2″ square, I end up with around 9-12 sections of fabric to play with for embroidery. Occasionally when I try for it, I can get around 31 sections as in the block below.


I hope this tutorial was helpful to you if you are getting ready to dive into the world of making crazy squares. I love making these as they require little planning, you can throw together various fabrics, and you can have fun! And no two are alike unless you follow a pattern. Which…I dont! And once you have your square done, you can keep making more, and/or embellish the square(s) with embroidery.

CQJP2014 – January Block #2

I had to have something crafty with me when I went down to Florida for job training. Anyone who loves crafts knows what I mean. Go somewhere, anywhere, without something to work on? Are you kidding me??

So, I took another 6 1/2 inch crazy square with me to work on. And I ended up with the majority of it finished by the time I came home. I just put the final touches on tonight.

The bare block (I almost panicked thinking I had forgotten to take a pic of the block before stitching!):


And now for the finished product:


Details! (As with the first block, all threads are DMC unless otherwise stated):


A little bumblebee satin stitched in 444 bright yellow with 310 black stripes, lazy daisy wings, and stinger. The flight path is done in running stitch in 747 light blue. Fly stitches in 321 scarlet with French knots in 995 blue follow along the seam.

The bottom right corner of this block has what I’m calling a coral reef done in 3812 green with French knot flowers in 608 which is kind of a red-orange. A leaf done in fly stitches and stem stitch is next to the reef using 741 orange.

I think this is my favorite treatment so far. I used the pattern in the fabric to make the vines with stem stitch and filled in a few of the leaves with herringbone stitch, using 909 green. Half circles overlapping follow another seam, done in 3830 red-brown and 335 pink.


Another section is filled with more coral reef in 4066 a variegated green with French knots in 3825 peach. A spiderweb done in 3024 silver fills a small corner section.

The leaves shown here also follow the pattern in the fabric, using fly stitch and stem stitch. One is done in 4066 a variegated green and the other is done in 4068 which is a green and brown variegated. The butterfly is done in stem stitch using 4122 which is a variegated with orange, red, brown, and yellow. The flight path is done with running stitch in 3823 which is an ecru/off-white.

I did a buttonhole stitch along the seam using 954 light sage and then did a second buttonhole stitch right alongside in 550 dark purple. This left the section looking bare next to the seam so I added a small flower using lazy daisy in 917 purple for the petals and the leaves were back stitched in 912 green (med sage?).

The center of the square has the word “relax” done in a stem stitch using 3823 ecru. I felt that the center was still somewhat bare so I added French knots and triple clusters of lazy daisies along the seams surrounding the word, using 4211, a pink and purple variegated.

I’m pretty happy with how this block turned out. Now to start planning in my mind how next month’s block will look.