Category Archives: Billie Bag

A Slight Miscalculation. . .

Have you ever made a block that didn’t turn out quite like you expected? Perhaps you were surprised by one of the elements but kept on making the block, not realizing you had made an error. That’s what happened to me a few days ago when I made a test block of Star Drops, designed by Margot Languedoc of the Pattern Basket.

Before I bought the pattern I had studied the design, guessing (correctly) that the outer star points were made from hourglass units that were trimmed on one long side. When I made my test block I resized it from 6″ to 12″ finished, adding an additional design element at the last minute. I wrote about that in my last post.

When I trimmed the hourglass units using the calculations I had made for a block that was double in size, I was surprised that the small triangle in the center wasn’t larger. And when I converted the center square into a snowball block by adding a triangle at each corner, I was surprised that the triangles were larger than the ones in the hourglass blocks. I concluded it was because the center square is larger than the other blocks.

I was wrong.

I had cut a quarter-inch too much off the hourglass units. That’s why the blue triangles were smaller than I expected. Oops! And then I cut the four corner squares a quarter of an inch too small. Oops again. My block was supposed to measure 12½” unfinished but it’s a half-inch shy of that.

To illustrate the difference, I drew the blocks in the software program EQ7:

The one on the left is a mock-up of the block I made. You can see that four of the triangles are larger than the other four. This block measures 12″ unfinished, 11½” finished.

The block on the right is a mock-up of what my block would have looked like had I trimmed the hourglass blocks properly and made the corner squares the correct size. It measures 12½” unfinished, 12″ finished. (I’m sure this star block has been made many times before and has a name but I haven’t actively searched for it yet. If you happen to know, kindly leave a comment.)

What to do about my oddly sized block? Well, if it were destined for a quilt of 12″ finished blocks, I’d have a real problem. Happily, I am planning to incorporate this block into a Junior Billie Bag panel that finishes at 14″ x 17″ so I’ll simply cut the sashing strips a bit wider to compensate.

So my block is actually a mistake. But you know what? I love it anyway!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, snowball blocks, stitch-and-flip, update | 5 Comments

The Perfect Excuse

I’m teaching a Junior Billie Bag workshop next month so I had the perfect excuse to make a 12″ test block for one of the front/back panels. I’ve been wanting to try Margot Languedoc’s Star Drops pattern since first seeing her charming design on Instagram last year. She has several patterns I want to make, all of which are pictured on her website, the Pattern Basket.

I bought the pattern and studied the construction. Her block finishes at 6″ so I resized it to finish at 12″. Here are the components of my block ready to sew together:


Just as I was getting ready to pin the rows, a thought occurred to me. What would the block look like with eight blue points instead of four? I made a snowball block from the center square using the stitch-and-flip method and wound up with this:


I have double Star Drops! The blue triangles are larger around the center square because the center block is larger than all the other blocks.

As good as the block looks as a square, look at it on point:

Is that not sensational??

It appears my next Junior Billie Bag will be black and blue and white. The floral print in the center of the block is one of several pieces I bought last April in a fit of fabric lust and wrote about here. I think I will make a kaleidoscope block out of that floral for the other front/back panel of my Junior Billie Bag.

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, snowball blocks, stitch-and-flip, update | 6 Comments

Looking Back on 2018

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Best of 2018 Linky Party, inviting bloggers to highlight their top five posts of last year. It’s a fun way to look back over the past 12 months and identify some of the high points.

Finished projects are always high points for me so that’s where I’m taking you now, showing you five projects in random order. Clicking on the links below will take you to the original posts where you can read more about the finishes and see more photos.

Number 1. Quilt Finish: Checkerboard Curves

This 44″ square quilt was made from the pattern Dancing Churndash by Jenny Pedigo and Helen Robinson of sewkindofwonderful.com. I’ve made several quilts using their Quick Curve Ruler; this is one of my favorites.

Number 2. Quilt Finish: Hip Hop

A lively print featuring kangaroos was the inspiration for this wall hanging made using my pattern Full Moon Rising. Finished size: 16″ x 59″.

Number 3. Quilt Finish: Bluebirds for Bethany

Scraps from another quilt went into this lap quilt for granddaughter Bethany featuring Karin Hellaby’s method of making pineapple blocks. The quilt measures 57″ x 58″.

Number 4. Project Finish: Junior Billie Bag #8

The essential quilter’s tote, designed by Billie Mahorney. It’s 14″ wide, 17″ tall, and 7½” deep. I’ve been teaching Billie’s design for three years now and make a bag every time I teach a class. This one is a gift for a dear friend.

Number 5. Quilt Finish: Spokesong

I became quite enamored with Corey Yoder’s pattern Idyllic and taught it at a quilt retreat last year. This quilt was my class sample. It’s a lively design so I simplified three blocks to give the eye a place to rest. The quilt measures 53½” x 67″.

Joining the Best of 2018 Linky Party has been a useful exercise in reviewing my quilting accomplishments over the last year. I’m also inspired by looking at the work of other  quilters who blog. Take a few minutes right now and join the party! Clicking on the link will transport you right there.

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, free motion quilting, home dec, Idyllic, pineapple quilt block, Quick Curve Ruler, quilt retreat, update, wall hanging | 2 Comments

Junior Billie Bag #8

I finished this quilter’s tote, the one and only Junior Billie Bag, last month and plum forgot to post pictures. Better late than never!

The bag, a scaled down version of the original tote designed by Billie Mahorney, measures 14″ across, 17″ high, and 7½” deep. You’ll notice the bag is wide enough for a 6½” x 24″ ruler. That’s my favorite feature of Billie’s wonderful design because it’s an awkward size ruler to carry around.

Here’s a look from the other side:


Every time I make a Junior Billie Bag (or JBB, as I like to call it) I have a lot of fun picking out fabrics and deciding what 12″ blocks to incorporate on the front and back panels. The inset circle shown in the first photo is a favorite design; this one was made from an octagonal kaleidoscope block. A more recent favorite is the windmill block shown above. I fussycut the bloom in the center into a square and added a ¼” strip around it.

Take a peek inside the bag, where you can see layers of pockets on all four sides:


Flat items like file folders, books, and patterns fit nicely in the larger pockets, and the smaller pockets hold a plethora of smaller items. There are outside pockets, too. All told, this Junior Billie Bag has somewhere around two dozen pockets. Anything too big too fit into a pocket can go in the center of the bag.

This JBB bag is currently hanging as a class sample in Montavilla Sewing Center‘s Lake Oswego store. In February and March I will teach a three-part workshop so experienced quilters can make their own versions. (Incidentally, in January I will teach a class called “Going in Circles” that highlights the no-pin freezer paper method of making inset circles, a variation of Dale Fleming’s method. More on both classes here.)

After the class is over I’ll have the pleasure of giving the JBB to a very dear friend.

This JBB is the eighth one I have made. If you’d like to see the first seven bags, you’ll find them here.

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, update | 6 Comments

A Busy Week . . .

. . . is coming up and I couldn’t be happier about it.

In just a few minutes I’m leaving for Quilt Camp — four days and three nights with a group of terrific women I’ve had the pleasure of “camping out” with for several years. In the past few years we’ve gone to Camp Tilikum in Newberg, Oregon, just about an hour away from home. It’s a popular spot for quilt retreats.

I’m packed and ready to go:

Project boxes and fabric tub? Check. Sewing machine and wraparound table? Check. Suitcase? Check. Billie Bag? Check. Big board? Check.

Camp ends at 4:00 pm Wednesday but I’m heading back early, picking up the Dear Husband, and heading to the Oregon coast where I’m doing a trunk show and lecture for a quilt guild on Thursday and teaching Part 2 of my Junior Billie Bag workshop on Friday. The DH and I are staying an extra day for a mini-vacation.

The quilts I’m taking for the trunk show are stacked on the couch, ready to be packed into bags when I get back:


I can’t wait to see the progress my students have made on their Junior Billie Bags in the couple of weeks since the first workshop. Speaking of which, I couldn’t resist seeing what my current one is going to look like when it’s sewn together. I’ll be demonstrating this step at the second workshop so for now I simply pinned the side/bottom panel unit to one of the front/back panels:

One of the fabrics I chose for pockets on the side panels is a batik with directional bubbles. Just for fun I made the bubbles horizontal on one side and vertical on the other.  They may not be easy to see once the bag is all put together but I like knowing they are there.

No more work on this till after Quilt Camp. I’ll be working on Hazel’s Diary Quilt. Here’s hoping I make a lot of progress on it!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, family, Hazel's Diary Quilt, Junior Billie Bag, quilt retreat, tote bags, update | 2 Comments

Mixing It Up

When I pulled fabrics a few weeks ago for my current Junior Billie Bag, these were my picks:

You can see at a glance this is a combination of batiks and regular woven cottons. Some quilters work exclusively with one or the other but I really like to mix ’em up.

You’ve already seen the front and back panels of my JBB in progress:

Now here’s a look at the pockets on the inside of the front and back panels:


I also have the side panels/bottom unit done (not pictured) and my binding made. This bag is ready to become three-dimensional! That happens next week, when I demonstrate how it’s done for a marvelous group of students from the Oregon Coastal Quilting Guild.

When this bag is finished it will go on display at Montavilla Sewing Center in Lake Oswego. Why? Because I’m teaching a Junior Billie Bag workshop there in February and March of next year. When the class is over the JBB goes home with a dear friend of mine who loves the color purple.

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, kaleidoscope quilts, tote bags, update | 8 Comments

Junior Billie Bag: A New Beginning

In the works: a new Junior Billie Bag, based on Billie Mahorney’s original design. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching this fabulous quilter’s tote for the last three years and will be heading to the Oregon coast next week to teach a two-day workshop for a quilt guild.

A new class necessitates a new Junior Billie Bag, and here’s a preview of the one I’m working on right now:


(My celadon green carpet isn’t the best backdrop to show off the front and back panels but it will have to do for now.)

My starting point was this gorgeous print from In the Beginning Fabrics that came out last spring. Designed by Jason Yenter, it’s called “Ajisai Hydrangea:”

For one of the front/back panels I made a windmill block, inserting a fussy cut blossom in the center with narrow trim around it:


For the other panel I made a kaleidoscope block of eight 45° degree triangles, converting it into a double inset circle:


I just happened to have the perfect button in my collection to put in the center of the circle. The button went on after the panel was quilted:

Now I’m preparing to make a plethora of pockets. Here’s my fabric pull, a pleasing mix of woven cottons and batiks — all from my stash:


Does anyone else love the combination of green and purple as much as I do?

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, Junior Billie Bag, kaleidoscope quilts, tote bags, update, windmill block | 8 Comments

Old Fabric Crushes

I happened across one of my posts the other day that was written in October 2012, a little over five years ago when my blog was in its first year. I was writing about three fabric groupings in my stash that I was wild about even though I hadn’t yet decided yet what to make with them. What a pleasant surprise to discover that I have, in fact, used all three groupings!

The first was this one, a mix from several lines anchored by the red and aqua floral print in the center from Denyse Schmidt’s line, “Flea Market Fancy,” reissued earlier in 2012:

Several of the fabrics wound up in this sewing machine dust cover . . .

. . . and this set of king-size pillowcases, both made in 2013:


The second group was this one, primarily from the “Ainsley” line by Northcott Fabrics:

From this group came a small project, a kaleidoscopic table topper made in 2014 . . .


. . . and a large project, my queen-size sampler quilt Catch a Falling Star, completed in 2015:

The third group was from the “Scarlet” line by Pamela Mostek for Clothworks:


These fabrics remained in my stash until 2017, when I used them to make my current Junior Billie Bag . . .


. . . and matching accessories:


Now when I see a new group of fabrics I just can’t live without, I’ll remind myself that the fabric in my stash is indeed getting used. I’ll just need three additional lifetimes to sew my way through all of it. Can you relate?

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, home dec, Junior Billie Bag, kaleidoscope quilts, Reach for the Stars sampler quilt, roll-it-up pillowcases, sewing machine cover, sewing tool caddy, table topper, update, windmill block | 5 Comments

It’s Party Time!

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Best of 2017 Linky Party, inviting bloggers to highlight their top five posts of the year. It’s a fun way to look back over the last 12 months and identify some of the high points.

My top five are below, in reverse order. Clicking on the links will take you to the original posts.

5. Dutch Treat. Although I didn’t finish this quilt till June, I started it in January during an epic snowstorm that kept me and many Portlanders indoors for several days.

4. NYC and VFW. A trip to New York City with my twin sister in March combined many of the things I love in life: family, travel, theater, museums, and quilting. The quilting part? A visit to the Manhattan shop of Victoria Findlay Wolfe:


Victoria didn’t happen to be there that day but I had the pleasure of meeting her the following month in Paducah, Kentucky during AQS Quilt Week:

3. Terrazzo Tiles and Piccolo Terrazzo Tiles. Using the free pattern Mini Mod Tiles by Sew Kind of Wonderful, I made two versions:

The larger one was made by “supersizing” the original pattern, using the larger of the two curved rulers Sew Kind of Wonderful designed for cutting curves. I wrote a tutorial showing how I did it.

2. Junior Billie Bag. This was the first of two JBBs I made in 2017:

Designed over 20 years ago by Billie Mahorney, it’s a fabulous quilter’s tote personalized by each maker, starting with the design on the front and back panels and ending with the pockets inside and out. Two years ago Billie turned the teaching of her design over to me, and I make a bag every time I teach a class. This may be my favorite of the eight I have made so far.

Without consciously planning to, I wound up making a suite of accessories to go with my Junior Billie Bag:

(See the rotary cutter coat in the lower left corner? I wrote directions for it in 2014 and it remains my most popular tutorial. Every now and then when I see a huge spike in the number of views on my website/blog, I know it’s because someone provided a link to the tutorial.)

1 . Where It’s @. Much to my surprise and delight, this quilt won a second place ribbon at the Northwest Quilting Expo in Portland, Oregon in September:

The design is Rewind by Karla Alexander of Saginaw Street Quilts. I started the quilt in a class with Karla in Sisters, Oregon in July 2016. Getting a ribbon was honor enough but the award came with a check for $500. My first reaction? “Think how many yards of fabric I can buy with that!”

Well, this has been a nice little trip down memory lane. Do you want to join Cheryl’s party, too? The link is open until January 2. Be sure to check out the top five posts of the other quilting/blogging partygoers. And thank you for checking out mine!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, family, Junior Billie Bag, Northwest Quilting Expo, QCR Mini, Quick Curve Ruler, Quilter's Affair, rotary cutter case, sewing tool caddy, tote bags, tutorial, update, windmill block, wonky Greek key | 5 Comments

Speaking of Junior Billie Bags . . .

. . . (see my last post), I have another finished one to show you, the one I made alongside my students fall term at the Pine Needle. The class ended a few weeks ago but I didn’t put the last touches on the bag until today. It’s for my friend Vickie, who has a late November birthday, but she won’t get it for several more weeks because she’s traveling. You get to see it before she does.

Here are the front and back panels:

I decided early on to cut the binding fabric on the bias because I figured the striped fabric would provide a dramatic frame for the panels. Good call, don’t you think?

These pictures don’t give a sense of the depth of the bag — 7½” — so here’s a partial side view that also shows you the pockets I put on the outside:


That side has two pockets and the other side has one taller pocket cut from the same wavy stripe I used for the binding:

Coco is busy investigating the interior pockets, of which there are many.

A look inside:


It’s really hard to get a good shot of the interior of a finished Junior Billie Bag. This earlier photo should give you a notion of how many pockets there can be (totally up to the whim of the maker):

You can also see there’s a shorter set of handles. Those are tucked out of sight in the photos at the top of this post.

To sum up:

The Billie Bag was designed by Billie Mahorney, who taught for many years at the Pine Needle. The junior version measures 14″ wide, 17″ tall, and 7½” deep.

The panel with Friendship Star blocks was based on a design by Thelma Childers of Cupcakes’n’Daisies. Read here how I modified it for this project. The windmill block is a variation of one designed by Deb Eggers of the Cottage Rose for her pattern A Mid-Winter’s Night.

I started with fabrics from the “Dance of the Dragonfly” line by Benartex and Kanvas Fabrics, adding several batiks from my stash and one blender from P&B Textiles. There can be no doubt what the birthday girl’s favorite color is!

 

 

 

Posted in Billie Bag, cats, Junior Billie Bag, Quisters (Quilt Sisters), tote bags, update, windmill block | 3 Comments