" ". The Smiling Cat

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Primitive 9-Patch Table Runner-


One thing that all people that sew have in common are fabric scraps. Everyone seems to have their system for organizing them. I like to cut my scraps into 5" squares or "nickels", as they are sometimes called. These are useful as they can be cut into 3-1/2" squares, or 2-1/2" squares. The smallest size I keep are 2" squares.

Eventually, I end up with this:

Time for a scrappy project....! I began by sorting my 2" squares by matching fabrics and colors. I decided to make simple 9-patches for a table runner.

To make a 23"x55" table runner I used:

300 2" scrappy squares 

240 2" white squares, or 3/4 yard white cotton cut into 2" strips.

1-1/2 yard for backing and binding.

Thread and basic sewing tools.

This did make a substantial dent in my scrap pile. I began to match sets of five matching squares and sets of four with a complimentary square for the middle.

Then I staked up the sets and cut the 2" white strips. To save time, I began to set up to strip-piece the squares. 

I took my stacks and strips to my sewing machine. I put down a white strip and taking from the top of the stack, and started placing one square at a time onto the white strip. Sewing with a 1/4" seam with right sides together, carefully keeping the squares in order. I put aside one square from each set.

After sewing a few strips, I pressed them to set the stitches, then cut them into separate units. Then I pressed them toward the scrappy square, so that there would not be a shadow on the white squares.

After pressing each pair, I put one pair aside, then stitched the square that was set aside to the next pair. I sewed together the last two pairs of the set, matching the center seams, and making sure that the seams were laying in opposite directions, to reduce bulkiness.

After pressing all units the same as before, I added the last set of pairs. This time pressing the seams toward the middle. Now, I had a unit of three pairs, and a unit of three squares.

All that's needed to finish the block is to add the last row of squares.

I finish sewing the last row to the block, and pressed the final seam toward the outside of the block. 

I now had a finished 9-patch block...! It's important to turn the block over, and check that the seams are laying straight like this:

Take the time now, and the finished project will lay out smoother. Now, I swapped the positions of the white and scrappy squares and ended up with two piles of blocks.

Sixty blocks total. Now, I started to join the blocks together, alternating the two blocks. I know that most quilters create rows to sew together. I like to join the blocks into squares of four. Then, continuing to sew the bigger blocks together.

Also, when joining the blocks together, I match both the corner seams. This really keeps everything nice and straight. When all the blocks are joined, I had 5 rows by 12 rows. Time to make a quilt sandwich. Layer the completed top over the batting, with the backing fabric on the bottom. Pin together with the large, quilting safety pins. Be careful not punch holes in the fabric or pull threads. Finish pinning and you're ready to quilt..!

I quilted using the "stitch in the ditch" method. Which is sewing over the seams with invisible quilting thread.

I pieced the backing with a cream colored cotton and a small, floral print that's also the binding.

I then finished it with double fold binding. I just used straight of the grain-cut binding, I cut 2-1/2" strips across the fabric. If you would like to finish with bias binding you can find instructions here.
To create either of these bindings, the strips are joined with a 45 degree, diagonal seam. It makes the seam less bulky.
Fold and press the binding strip in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together. The double fold binding with mitered corners is the most commonly used method of finishing quilted projects. It can be finished by hand or by a sewing machine. To finish by hand, start in the center of one side, placing the binding strip on the front of the quilt top. Align the raw edge of the binding with the raw edge of the quilt. Leave a 3"-4" tail at the beginning. Stitch though all layers, using a 1/4" seam. When stitching is about 2" from a corner, make a mark on the binding that is 1/4" from the edge of the quilt. Stitch up to the mark and back stitch to hold in place.
Cut the threads and remove from the machine. Fold the binding strip upward to make a 45 degree angle. Finger press.

While holding the diagonal in place with your finger, fold the strip back down, covering the first fold. Bring the binding strip down in line with the next edge. This makes a horizontal fold that aligns with the top edge of the quilt.
Start sewing again at the top of the horizontal fold, stitching though all layers. Turn each corner in the same manner. Stop sewing when you are about 4" from the beginning.
To finish the binding, return to the beginning of the binding strip. Cut a 45 degree angle from the top left to the bottom right of the beginning. Press under a 1/2" seam allowance on the beginning tail. Keeping the 45 degree angle, place the end of the tail inside the beginning tail. Trim the end tail to leave a 1-1/2" piece inside the beginning.

Pin in place and finish sewing the binding to the quilt. Hand stitch the fold closed. Turn the binding to the back of the quilt. Sew in place by hand using a blind stitch, with a single strand of thread. Make sure you cover any machine stitching.

To create mitered corners on the back of the quilt, hand stitch up to a corner. Then fold the opposite side over at the corner, creating a mitered corner.

Pin in place and put a few stitches in the fold to secure it. Finish each corner in the same way. When you find your way back to the beginning, stitch the binding closed and you're done...!
Here are a few more pictures:

I love my rooster salt & pepper shakers-



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bohemian Fringed Cotton Dinner & Cocktail/Buffet Napkins

 Recently my friend, Debbie, and I sorted through a large bag of fabric given to us by another friend.  The lady was elderly and sadly, just didn’t see well enough to sew any longer.  In my share of the fabrics was quite a bit of this heavy, cotton, linen-like fabric, both in bright, raspberry  pink & a nice spring green.  It reminded me of the fabric used to make Indian saris.  I wasn’t sure what to make of it, so I put the fabric aside until I came across a pattern at The Purl Bee Blog.  Their blog has loads of craft patterns of every kind.  Their pattern was simple enough, but the ‘sari’ fabric was too loosely woven for this pattern.  So, I changed it a little & this is what I came up with….


The fabrics had been cut into a few large pieces, so I was only able to cut four 22” squares for the dinner napkins of each color.  The remaining fabric I cut into 12” squares for the smaller, cocktail napkins.  Since the fabric has a woven stripe, I had to be sure that I had the same number of stripes on each square.  Also, the fabric was much the same on both sides, so didn’t have to worry about the right or wrong side.  I began by pressing a 1” fold all the way around.

I used these pressed lines as a guide to stitch a slender & tight zig zag seam all the way around each square.  I stopped and pivoted at each corner, and back-stitched securely when the stitching met the beginning again.
Then, I pulled out the threads to the stitched line to create the fringe.  This was a bit time consuming, but something to do while watching T.V.  The fabric was loosely woven, so it was pretty easy to pull apart.

I trimmed the fringe here & there, and it really fluffed-up after being washed.  Here they are in the green fabric:


I had started making mitered corner dinner napkins from the green fabric.  But, it was very tricky to keep the miters corners sharp.  After making the first set of dinner napkins, I decided to make the rest with the fringed edges.

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Both sets are nice, but I think I prefer the fringed version.
Both sets are available in my home shop.

Well, that’s all for now.  Have a safe & happy Halloween…!-Carole

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Virginia Rose China-Homer Laughlin China

I still love to learn, and learning more about vintage items is one of the reasons I love shopping for ‘treasures’ at the second-hand stores.  You never know what you’ll find & what you can learn about.  With some of the items I buy, it’s difficult to find any information.  But, with other items there is loads of information.  For example on my last trip, I found these cute, little Shabby Chic dessert plates:
Tucked away in a corner, I almost over-looked them.  I took a second look & noticed the pretty raised rose pattern & the curved platinum gilt edge.  I checked for damage & found only a few minor chips on the back, which actually adds to the Shabby look.  On the back also was the company name Homer Laughlin, and the pattern name “Virginia Rose”.
At least I thought it was the pattern name.  I looked it up online and found that “Virginia Rose” describes the plate’s shape, not the pattern (I didn’t think it looked much like a rose).  Also, the Homer Laughlin Company is a very popular brand.  It was established in 1871 by Homer and Shakespeare Laughlin, two brothers who lived in East Liverpool, Ohio. For well over a century, this company has produced high-quality, American-made pottery.  It is the largest producer of home and restaurant porcelain dinnerware in the USA.  In fact, Homer Laughlin pottery is very collectable, and there are books and web sites dedicated to this manufacturer's products.  There are collector's clubs, such as the Homer Laughlin China Collectors Association, which have been created to support collectors, buyers and sellers.  Many of their products, such as Fiesta ware, are readily available and sellable in today’s collector's market.  Some of the Fiesta ware pieces are quite pricey. 
The Virginia Rose dinnerware was designed in 1933, by Fredrick Rhead and HL produced so many pieces of this shape that many of the patterns were never given names.  Hundreds of different decorations were produced until the late 1960’s. Virginia Rose continues to be a popular shape with collectors.
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The Virginia Rose has embossed roses spaced around the rim and was produced on a white or yellow glazed body.  There were two other embossed designs, Marigold & Republic, which are often confused with the Virginia Rose. All three shapes were decorated with decals which are either identical or very similar.
There are two popular rose patterns, the “Fluffy Rose” and the pattern of my dishes, the “Moss Rose”, produced 1934-65.
My “Moss Rose”:

Here are examples of the “Fluffy Rose” pattern from:  TGL Direct.com –Which has loads of vintage china for sale, & an interesting, informative blog.

Isn’t it a beautiful pattern…?!  So pretty & feminine.

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The date of manufacture can be determined from the back stamp- the first mark is an internal mark.  The 64 is 1964, N is the plant #4, and 8 stands for August.
For more information, go to the Homer Laughlin website:   http://www.hlcdinnerware.com/about/history

Hope you are having a great day-Carole


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Amazing Hand Embroidered Wedding Dress-TWO NERDY HISTORY GIRLS

Back in the day, 1734, proper young ladies prepared for their future as a wife & mother.  This wedding dress is truly a labour of love:

A Very Special Embroidered Wedding Dress

According to the Nerdy History Girls:
"The bride, Elizabeth Bull, was born in Boston in 1716. While we often tend to think of New England in the early 18th c. as a primitive colony in the wilderness, Boston was a sophisticated town, connected to all the world's seaports by its ships. As the only daughter of a wealthy merchant, Elizabeth was not only taught fine needlework, but had access to silk threads from the best shops in London and silk cloth from China. She also had the time to devote to perfecting her skill, as well as a genuine talent for color and design."

Imagine all the hopes & dreams that went with stitches in this dress.  I hope she had a happy ending!

Follow the link for more pictures & info.

Hope you're having a great day-Carole

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pretty Pink & Blue Floral Double-sided Napkins and So Simple Quilted Place-mats

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Lately, I’ve been looking for ways to cut my grocery bill.  I’m sure many people can understand why!  I’ve been trying to limit the amount of disposable items, such as napkins.  Cloth napkins are not only Earth friendly, they’re also budget friendly, and just nicer in general.  So, I started looking around the www and found loads of good ideas. 
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I came across many tutorials and decided to start with these two-sided napkins.  Not only are they easy to make, they don’t wrinkle as much when laundered.  They have a nice, heavy weight and give you some fun options in mixing and matching fabrics.  For everyday use they don’t need to match, so it’s a great way to use up some remnants.
I went through my considerable fabric stash & picked out a pretty pink & blue floral cotton for the napkins. I also picked a nice solid blue cotton to make some matching place-mats.  I like the standard 20”x20”  size napkins.  Usually, I would cut out two 21-1/4” squares to sew together for each napkin.  But, because the floral fabric has a secondary grid-like pattern, I decided to cut out a single 21-1/4”x42-1/4” rectangle.  I thought it would be easier to keep the white lines straight. 
Because the fabric was 44” wide, it was quicker to measure a 21-1/4” length, and just make one cut across the fabric, and trim a little off.  I folded the rectangle in half and pinned it all the way around, including the folded edge.  I left a small opening to turn it right-side out after sewing a 1/2” seam all the way around.  I always add the extra 1/4” for the seam when turning a project inside out.
I back-stitched at the beginning and the end of the seam.  Trimmed off the corners, and turned it right-side out.
I used a small plastic tapestry needle to push out the corners, being careful not to punch through the fabric.  You could also use a knitting needle.
Then, I carefully pressed the turned napkin.  It’s hard to press out the edges completely.  So, I keep a small bowl of water handy.  I wet my fingers and roll the edge between my thumb & fore finger to push the edge all the way out.  After pressing, I pinned close the opening and topstitched all the way around the edge.
I followed these same steps to make the place-mats.  Only I cut two fabric rectangles & a piece of quilt batting at 15-1/4”x21-1/4”, to make a finished 14”x20” place-mat.  Then:
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After pressing the place-mat, I used a pencil & my quilt ruler to mark the quilting lines.
I just marked & quilted it in quarters both ways.
Then, I stitched a line of quilting beside each of the first lines, using the width of the presser foot as a measure.  I’m very pleased with the way they turned out-

I made another set, with a bright, summery strawberry print on one side, and solid black on the other.  I really like the contrast of the fabrics, I think it gives them a modern look.


Well, that’s all for now.  Hope you are having a great day!   -Carole