Update on No Paper-piecing Mariner’s Compass

compass labeled

In my previous post, “I Have a Tool For That!”, found here: https://oneblockwonderwoman.wordpress.com/2017/09/01/i-have-a-tool-for-that/ I promised that I would update you on how well, or badly, things went.  And the report is that it went well.  The only problems I had in making my Mariner’s Compass prototype block were all due to operator error, the major one being that at the very beginning, I tried to skip from Step 1 to Step 3, so the Step 3 directions simply didn’t make sense.  It always pays to read carefully, but I tend to skim.  I don’t know why I do that, especially when learning a totally new tool.  Once I went back and read all the directions, everything went together fairly smoothly.  I had a bit of a challenge getting everything lined up perfectly when sewing components together, but after ripping and resewing one set of components (The developer of the tool calls them pies and kites, because those are the shapes they end up being) four times, I finally figured out how much of the little extra tips to leave on the top and bottom of the seams joining them together.  If you don’t get this step right, the edges are uneven and everything ends up looking tweaked.  Here is the resulting “base” unit that I made.

Mariner's Compass base

As you can see from the photo, when this base is assembled, it leaves a hole in the center, the idea being you either applique or reverse applique a circle on that spot, then you applique or reverse applique your finished piece onto a square piece of fabric.  The tool and instruction booklet come with handy template guides for both of these steps.

The next step was to figure out what I wanted to put in the center.  I auditioned several different fabrics that would look good fussy cut, but nothing seemed just right.  So I went to the internet and searched photos of Mariner’s Compasses for ideas.  I saw several that had a smaller Mariner’s Compass in the center that I thought was very attractive.  But if I did that, I would end up with the same hole in the middle, only smaller.  Then inspiration struck!  I have a tool for that!  I have an embroidery machine and a computer program to customize embroidery to size or whatever else I desire.  So I went back to the internet and purchased a Mariner’s Compass digitized design from embroiderydesigns.com.  Then I experimented with resizing on the computer and stitched out a test piece.  The colors and size on the first one came out all wrong, so I resized again and tried different thread colors, and the second one came out perfectly.  Here is a photo of the center piece readied for applique.


And this is a photo of the two pieces pinned together.

Nearly complete

I think this is going to be a lot of fun.  My goal this year has been to add more machine embroidery to some of my quilts.  I have the tools, which weren’t inexpensive, and I should try to get maximum use out of them.  In the past, I’ve pretty much only used my embroidery tools to do labels.

I think this first attempt is going to make a lovely pillow.  Or maybe I’ll save it and do some more compasses and make a quilt out of it.  The website to get the Mariner’s Compass ruler and to watch Robin’s tutorial is http://robinruthdesign.com/

Speaking of embroidery, that is the theme of this year’s quilt show next Friday at the Hall, so there will be all types of embroidery on display along with quilts, and embroidered quilts.  At the beginning of the year, our Guild was blessed to have a speaker/instructor, Leora Raikin, come and teach a class on African Folklore Embroidery.  Her website is: http://www.aflembroidery.com/

It was a lot of fun learning her method of hand embroidery, and her kits have hand-dyed embroidery floss made in South Africa by women who make their living by making the floss.  It is beautiful stuff.  So one of the things that is going to be on display at the Hall quilt show is some of the embroidery work done by women who took the class.

Here is the pillow I made from one of Leora’s kits.

Elephant Pillow

That’s all the news from the Central Coast of California for now.  Praying for all the people that are battling wildfires as well as those who are having to deal with Hurricane Irma and are trying to recover from Harvey.




Playing with potholders


Sadly, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to quilt lately because I have a lot of end of/beginning of the year responsibilities, including duties as the volunteer bookkeeper for my church, personal income tax stuff to gather for our accountant, 24 fruit trees and around 60 rosebushes to prune!  I have no idea why I decided to plant so many rose bushes, but they are certainly lovely when they are in bloom.  Besides, I have really been at one of those seasons that I’m sure most quilters have where you just feel dry and uninspired. So, I have tackled only a few small projects in the last couple of months.

I found the pattern and instructions for these really cute butterfly potholders above in one of my favorite quilt stores.  The pattern is “Flutterby Pot Holders” by Valori Wells.  Since I needed some items to add to my quilt guild’s monthly raffle basket, I decided these would be a nice addition.  Besides, it gave me another opportunity to use up  a few scraps out of the ever overflowing scrap bins.  They were really fun and pretty easy to make.  I most enjoyed the design opportunities of picking just the right fabrics.  And of course, as always I learned something in the process.  This time I learned the reason to clip you curves before you turn something right side out through a very small opening.  I totally forgot to do that on the purple and orange butterfly, and you can see that the tail and the top of the “head” aren’t nearly as nicely defined as on the peacock butterfly.  But it was so difficult to turn these right side out, that I wasn’t about to fix the mistake.  We’ll just call this, not a mistake, but a variation.

The next set of potholders I decided to make were inspired by a saying I spotted in a magazine.  This Sunday, our pastor is away with the youth group up at a Christian snow camp in the High Sierras, so one of our Elders will be in charge of the service.  He has decided he wants to do an old fashioned Bible quiz, and asked me to figure out small prizes to give out.  Why does everyone seem to think that I am the answerer of all questions?   I don’t know, but I put my thinking cap on, and came up with these potholders.


Again, using scraps out of the overflowing bins, the one on the left is a raw edge applique technique that I’ve used a couple of times to make entire quilts.  It’s a lot of fun to make and pretty easy.  As a matter of fact, I was asked to teach the technique to the kids during our summer learn to quilt classes at our little rural Hall.  At that time, instead of making an entire quilt, we thought it would be fun for the kids to make them into potholders and did it as a quilt as you go project since the applique technique really lends itself to doing that.

The things I learned doing this project is how to use my digitizing software to make the lettering curve around the design on the blue potholder.  I’ve had my digitizing software for around 17 years, and I am really just now learning how to do more than simple lettering.  The other thing I learned is the tool I use for joining the ends of my binding, The Binding Tool by TQM Products, doesn’t work very well on such small projects since you have to leave a 12 inch opening to manipulate your binding and trim it just the right way.  The largest side of the potholder on the right was only 11 1/2 inches, so that idea was out.  I used my old, far inferior way of joining binding, which involved tucking the last end into the first end which is ironed at the correct angle….very bulky, and it shows at the top right.  But it looked okay, so I let it go.  On the blue potholder, I learned how to adjust the tool, and got it to line up really closely.  The binding, once joined, was about a 16th of an inch too long, so I took up the excess by reworking the nearest corner.  I think it came out much better.

The last project I’ve gotten done recently was this quilt that I made specifically to donate for the silent auction to benefit the rural museum that some of the local residents have been working on getting up and running for many years to preserve the history of our area.  So far they have one building up filled with items on display as well as a couple dozen vintage farm apparatus.  When driving by quickly, the outdoor display kind of reminds me of scenes from Star Wars so bizarre looking is some of the equipment.

Anyway, here is the quilt, which I named “Riding Till the Cows Come Home” since the back it a print of cattle milling about, doing what cows do.


The learning experience on this one was adapting a pattern that I’ve used before, Labyrinth by Calico Carriage Quilt Designs, Debbie Maddy designer.  I absolutely love the interwoven effect. Here is how the original pattern looks:

Safe Harbor

The bidding was hot and heavy and the quilt was the most popular item donated.  Now they’ve asked me to make a quilt for the next fundraiser in March.  I think I’ve created a monster.  But I don’t mind because I really do love quilting.  The biggest challenge is they hoped I would do one with a covered wagon somewhere on it.  I looked on line and the only fabric I could find was an expensive piece of vintage fabric.  I think they are just going to have to take what they get.  I’m sure as soon as I’m done, a lot of fabric lines will come out with covered wagons.  It always happens.