It Is Called A Design Opportunity 

When I start a quilt I cut all of the pieces first before I start sewing. As I started making my blocks I found this pile of 150 – 3 1/2″ half square triangle blocks. I thought hmmmm I wonder what these are for as I did not have any light colored half square triangle blocks to match to them. I set them aside and continued on piecing following the directions one step at a time. I figured eventually those pieces would make sense. 

Wellllllllll I discovered those half square triangles were suppose to be 150 – 3 /2″ squares. Oh well I will cut a matching set of light half square triangle blocks and figure out something to do with them. 

So now I need to cut 150 new 3 1/2″ squares and this is what I had left of the original fabrics. Obviously this is not going to be enough fabric. So I dug out my scrap boxes to find other fabrics to substitute. Yes I said boxes, not one but all four. Sorting through I found enough contenders that I could start cutting. Eventually I had 150 – 3 1/2″ squares and can now get back in the business of sewing again. As for the 150 – 3 1/2″ half square triangle “design opportunity” blocks. I also took the time now to cut the matching light colored blocks to go along with them. And I really do have a plan for these too. Once this quilt is done I will work on the plan and share it. 

Not to be left out of the fun I think Peppermint has decided this is her quilt as once again I found her curled up in the project box on top of all the finished pieces. The moral of this story is that there are no cutting or piecing mistakes. They are always design opportunities. Most of the time the finished quilt becomes better than the original one.

Have a Creative Day!

Amy


Inside My Studio

Tonight I am going to start exploring my studio. Warning this could get scary at times. 

This is the gadget container that sits next to my machine. Just about everything I need is in here. (And a few things I do not know what are.)

First up are all the pens, pencils and marking tools I have amassed. 

Next the pins and needles. There are some thimbles and even a few crotchet hooks in there too. Rotary cutters, blades, snips and scissors. 

Measuring tools and machine quilting gloves. 

This is a pile of cutting template directions, newspaper clippings and misc. papers. 

And finally a pile of misc. stuff. There are seam rippers, tweezers, a peephole for getting a distant view of quilt layouts when you cannot get back far enough. And other odds and ends. 

Believe it or not all of this stuff really came out of this one basket. What is sitting next to your machine? 

Have a Creative Day!

Amy

Clover Create-a-pincushion

Well life had been a bit crazy the past couple of months but hopefully I am back to blogging again. I have been able to get a little creative time in and today I could like to share one of those projects.

create a pincushionClover has created a kit f0r making your own pincushion quickly and simply. You can even change the cover fabric easily so that you can actually change the fabric to match each project. Clover has a tutorial on their site that shows how to put this pincushion together. http://www.clovertoolschool.com/index.php/2016/03/22/create-a-pincushion/ The instructions call for the pincushion to be filled with fiberfill only. I was concerned about this because if you leave your pins in fiberfill too long they can rust. So I went one step further and I created a cushion filled with ground walnut shells that will help keep the pins sharp and help keep them from rusting. I am showing pictures below of my process.

pincushion1pincushion2First I traced the outside ring of the pincushion on a small piece of white fabric. This can be any scrap that will be lighter than your final outside cover fabric as it will not show in the final constructions. You do not want to use something too dark as it could change the look of your final piece if the outside fabric is too much lighter than this inner lining fabric. Next I pined two pieces of the lining fabric together and stitched right on the line I had just drawn.

pincushion3ground walnut shellsTrim a 1/4″ seam allowance around the circle. It is ok if it is not an exact 1/4″ all the way around. Now pinch just the top lining fabric and make a small cut in that piece only. You want to create an opening just big enough to pour in the ground walnut shells. Now you may be asking where do you buy ground walnut shells. Just ask at your local quilt shop and if they do not have them in stock they can order them for you. #plumeasy.

pincushion4pincushion5Turn your little lining circle right side out and fill it with the ground walnut shells. I admit I enlisted the help of my husband for this step. It was easier to fill with another pair of hands. Once the lining circle is filled just do a small whip stitch to close the small cut that you made.

 

pincushion6pincushion7Now is where we catch up with Clover’s tutorial. You can now put a little fiberfill in the pincushion base and then put the ground walnut shell cushion that you just created on top of that. Pick out your favorite fabric of the day or a scrap from your current project and put it over the base and the silicon ring around the base. Trim the extra fabric that is sticking out around the bottom and place the outside collar round the base.

pincushion8There you have it! Your very own personalized pincushion. You can use it as is or you can go on to decorate the outside collar if you wish. Even with making the extra ground walnut shell cushion this whol project did not take more than a half an hour to complete. #cloverusa

Sometimes when the weather is hot or life is throwing our creative time a curve ball you just need to sneak away and create something. It does not always have to be a complete project. I have been trying to work little by little on some UFOs (unfinished objects) even if it is just for 10 or 15 minutes here and there. It has helped keep my creative juices flowing.

Have a creative day!

Amy

Little Quilt Block Goes to a Quilting Retreat

Retreat arrivingEvery January I take a break from the snowy weather here is southeastern Michigan and go to a quilting retreat for the weekend. I really do not get away from the snowy weather as the retreat is in Fremont Ohio at the Our Lady of the Pines Retreat Center and it is still snowy there too but at least I do not have to go outside and shovel the white stuff. This year I had a tag along, Little Quilt Block. Here he is arriving at the retreat. I did pretty good this year on my packing. I was able to get all of my supplies besides my two sewing machines and my notion bag in my red wagon. Yes I take two machines, you just never know when one of them will decide to have issues.

This is a wonderful old building full of lots of little rooms to sneak away to for a little quiet time or to lay out a quilt where no one will be walking on it. Here is a quick history of the center.

  • 1874 ~ The main building was built as a Mansion by Lewis Leppleman, a wealthy local jeweler

  • 1890 ~ Purchased by Charles Green, a gold miner and prospecto 

  • 1925 ~ The Sisters of Mercy purchased the 63 acre estate from the Green Family for $50,000 and added on to the original home

  • 1926-1936 ~ Sisters of Mercy Novitiate

  • 1931 ~ First retreat is open to the general public

  • 1941-1960 ~ Mother of Mercy Academy for Girls

  • 1943 ~ Fire destroyed third floor of the building 

  • 1960 ~ Present – Full time retreat center

  • 2009 ~ Facility renovated and reopened with extensive conferencing and retreat capacity

 

Retreat shopping

At this retreat we always have a garage sale of miscellaneous quilting and sewing items for sale. Little Quilt Block quickly joined in the festivities and went shopping. Here he is checking out what was for sale. He found all kinds of fabric, patterns and books to choose from.

Retreat snacksWhile the staff at the retreat center took care of preparing our meals and cleaning up after them what quilting get together would be complete with out snacks? We had everything from healthier choices of fruit and pretzels to chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.  Of course Little Quilt Block had to check out the snacks to see what looked good.

Retreat exercisingNow retreats are not always all play. I usually try to take time out for some walking exercise. While the grounds where the retreat center is at are beautiful this was January and I am not a cold weather walker. So I take an hour or so a couple of times during the weekend and walk the halls both upstairs where the rooms are and downstairs where our main sewing room is located. Little Quilt Block was good too and ventured into the basement to see what the exercise room there looked like. I caught him working out on a stepper machine.

Retreat massageBut after a good workout Little Quilt Block got a great reward. A massage! Now this was the first year I have taken time out of my sewing time for a massage. Boy was it worth the time away from the machine. I had mine in the afternoon on the second day and I felt so rejuvenated afterwards. I was raring and ready to go late into the night.

Retreat visiting 1Of course Little Quilt Block made the rounds to all of the tables to see what projects everyone was working on. He made some new friends while he was there. Here he is in the middle of the action at this table of five quilters. These ladies meant business they all had extra tables at their sides for pressing.

Retreat visiting 2He made friends with another quilt block at the next table. Looks like all kinds of quilting fun was going at this table if all the fabric and the pile of quilt blocks is a good indication.

Retreat visiting 3And here at this last table he made two more friends. These two gals are also inspiring us at the retreat as the spend part of their time making things for different charities.

Little Quilt Block had fun at his first quilting retreat. If anyone is going to another retreat he would love to tag along with you too. Just send me an email and we will see if we can work out a sleep over for him. Or if there is anywhere interesting that you are headed to let me know and we will see if he can come along with you.

Have a creative day!

Amy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Quilt Block Explores the Local Area

Well now that little quilt block has done a little exploring and decided maybe he wants to see the world he thought he should start by exploring where he came from and what is in the local area first.

Ancestral home landFirst stop is to see his ancestral home land at Sonflower Quilts in Sylvania, Ohio. www. sonflowerquilts.com. This is a great little shop run by Cathy Frick and Kathy Walch. I have spent a lot of time in this shop for the past 12 years. All of the fabrics used to create the quilt blocks for this project were purchased here. These ladies have created a nice selection of fabrics along with tons of patterns. They will both admit to their pattern addiction. They have a great selection of notions and embroidery supplies as well.

QuiltFoundryNext stop was the Quilt Foundry in Maumee, Ohio www.quiltfoundry.com. I could not resist taking a picture with the fish outside of the shop. Another nice shop in the local area. Really good batik collection too.

With Creative Grids rack at CheckerI took quilt block along to Checker Distributors when I had a pattern order to deliver. Always looking for a good place to hang out Little Quilt Block made friends with a whole lot of Creative Grids rulers. While Checker only sells wholesale to quilt shops they have a great website that anyone can look at. www.checkerdist.com Most shops get at least some of their supplies from Checker and many will special order anything from them. So if there is ever a book, pattern or notion that you are looking for and cannot find take a look at the Checker website and see if they have it. If so ask your local quilt shop if they can special order it in for you. This is a great way to support your local quilt shop rather than buying on line or from a catalog and you can save on shipping cost too.

Have a Creative Day!

Amy

 

 

 

Charmed Twister

Charmed TwisterThis is the quilt that started my twister obsession. I was working at my local quilt shop, Sonflower Quilts in Sylvania Ohio one day when our Checker Distributors representative brought in this new tool called the Lil’ Twister. This little tool intrigued me.

Now most people would have started with a small wall hanging, but no not me! You have already seen the evidence with my first quilt that I do not necessarily know how to do things the easy way….LOL.

The L’il Twister tool starts out with sewing 5″ charm squares together into a grid of squares. Yes there are lots of pre-cut charm squares out there. I have LOTS of batik scraps, so I set out to cut all 480 – 5″ squares from my scraps. There are actually no more than 2 squares of any one fabric. Am I crazy? Yes I am! When you cut the twister pieces you get a small bias square left over. I took those left over pieces and trimmed them to smaller squares and created the pieced border. Believe it or not after cutting all those squares my batik scrap box still did not look like I put a dent in it. Because two widths of fabric was not quite wide enough for the back I cut rectangles from more of my batik scraps and sewed them together to create a latter of color to insert between the two fabric widths to create the back.

This pattern includes the directions to create this queen sized quilt as well as a throw and a smaller wall hanging so if you are not sure you are ready to tackle a big twister quilt you can ease into the twister craze.

Have a creative day!

Amy

Little Quilt Block Goes to Blissfield

Blissfield antique mall 1One day Little Quilt Block decided to see if he could go out and see a bit of the world around his place. He ended up in Blissfield Michigan. There he found some great antique malls to wonder around. “Wow,” he though “you spend hours here just looking at all these great antiques.” Suddenly he spotted an old blue and white quilt. He just had to get his picture taken with this one.

Blissfield antique mall 2In another shop he found a green and white quilt and got his picture taken again. “This is fun,” he thought. “I wonder if there are any more of these old quilts here.”

 

Blissfield antique mall 3Little Quilt Block did find one more quilt on his trip that day. An old faded double wedding ring quilt. This got Little Quilt Block dreaming. Wouldn’t it be great if he could grow up to be an antique quilt too!

But before Little Quilt Block can do that he thought that he should go out into the world and see what is out there. Find some adventure!

Raisin River Valley Railroad 1While he was in Blissfield he found another interesting place to stop and spend some time. The Raisin River Valley Railroad. There were lots of trains and displays to look at. Little Quilt Block had fun watching the guys as they played with the trains and they even let him join in the fun and took a couple of pictures while he was there.

Raisin River Valley Railroad 2

This got him to thinking that maybe someday he could ride on a real train…………

 

Stay tuned as the adventures of Little Quilt Block continue.

 

Have a creative day!

Amy

Tutorial: Clover Bias Tape Maker

In my in box today I found this cute little tutorial video on how to use the Clover Bias Tape Maker. If you have not used one of these they are really great for making double fold bias tape and easy to use.

Sometimes it amazes me what we can find on YouTube. It seems like someone has made a video to show us how to do just about anything we are trying to figure out. That said I will from time to time share videos from someone else because why try to reinvent the wheel all the time.

Have a creative day!

Amy

Got Snow?

Got SnowThis little guy started it all. I was working at my local quilt shop when we got in an adorable snowman stripe fabric. I thought it would make a great border for a snowman wall handing. I set out to find a good snowman to use as the center applique.  I wrote the pattern for the customers first. It was the owners of the quilt shop that encouraged me to start creating more patterns. Little did we know where this little guy would lead me.  Mr. Snowman is cute enough that you could use any winter themed fabric as a border if you can no longer find a border print.

At a time of the year when this quilt would usually fit right in around here instead of a foot or two of snow here in Michigan we had 60 degree temperatures and despite some pretty good winds to go with the warm weather I was able to take a good long walk outdoors. For those of you who are snowed in I hope you are staying warm and are able to take creative advantage of the day.

Have a creative day!

Amy

Quilt Block Travels

In my studio2While thinking about what I wanted to do on my blog I thought it would be fun to create a quilt block to hang out with me this year. Here is Little Quilt Block hanging out on my sewing table. Looks like there was lots of creativity going on this day.

In my studio1Then he went to the cutting counter to see what was going on over there. Of course he found some projects that are not quite done here.

 

 

 

With some of my quiltsLittle Quilt Block continued down the hall and found some of my quilts to hang out with. The blue and brown one in the foreground inspired a block of the month that I hosted at my local quilt shop. and the brown and peach log cabin quilt in the far background was made for a 4-H project a loooooong time ago. It was made back in the days when I was hand quilting all of my quilts.
In the fabric room

 

Next stop was the fabric room. I am lucky enough to live in a big farm house with lots of little rooms. This is both good and bad. Good because I have lots of rooms the spread out and bad because I have too many rooms to spread out in! This table actually has a couple of stacks of quilt tops that are ready to have the backings put together and the tops made into full fledged quilts. He found a jellyroll to hang out with for a while too.

 

In the fabric closetLittle Quilt Block decided to get brave and see what was behind the door of this cabinet and what did he find…..SURPRISE…..more fabric! One of my spare sewing machines is up there on the top shelf. On the inside of this door you can also see some of the rulers in my collection. That collection will probably be the subject of another blog post latter on. But you can see that I put command hooks on the inside of the door and hung many of my rulers here. The hooks have held up well for quite some time holding as many as three rulers on one hook.

 

Have a creative day!

Amy

Tutorial: Sewing 2 1/2″ Strips

Sometimes when you purchase pre-cut 2 1/2″ batik strips they are not always cut to a perfect 2 1/2″ strip. This video shows how to sew pre-cut 2 1/2″ batik strips to a background 2 1/2″ strip that you have cut so that you have an accurate finished strip set size.

Hello Creative World

Welcome to my creative world. My name is Amy. I am the owner and chief designer for Amy’s Wagon Wheel Creations. I live in Michigan, USA with my husband and two cats Coco and Peppermint. Here they are ready to go on a quilting retreat with me recently. Coco is the one with the white on her face and paws. Peppermint has the perfect little tiger face.

Kittens Retreat

I grew up around sewing and eventually quilting. As a preschooler I would stand on the back of my mother’s chair as she sewed and pull the pins out as she came to them. She says she had no idea how much I was learning until I started to sew. I cut my Easter dress out when I was six and sewed my first garment when I was seven. That it was a stripped, hooded, set in sleeve shirt. To this day I still ask my mother what was she thinking letting me make that shirt for my first project. She just says I was determined that was what I was making and there was no arguing with me. I wish I had that shirt or at least a picture of it now.

First QuiltMy first quilt was a giant dahlia quilt. Years latter when a friend first saw that quilt she said “You made a giant Dahlia? Do you have any idea that is one of the most difficult quilts to make and get to lay flat?” My answer — “At the age of about 10? No”. Again I decided that is what I was making there was no stopping me. I actually still have this first quilt and here it is. And so the adventure began……

I hope to not only share my love of quilting with you but explore this wonderful hobby that we have all come to love with you. I plan to do some product reviews from time to time and I have a fun project that I am calling Quilt Block Travels to share with you, #quiltblocktravels. Stay tune for more details on that in a little latter posting.

Have a creative day.

Amy