Thursday, February 28, 2019

Scrappy Piano Key Border Calculator using JRR Style of Piecing

Over in Life's A Quilt, fifteen of us fabulous quilters paired up together to collaborate in creating blocks for a quilt. We have called it Designer's Dream 2019. We wrote our own patterns for our blocks and had our partners test them.  For the last two months, two block patterns were posted per week for us to sew along with. I am enjoying everyone's versions of their blocks, it has been so much fun!

Since we are nearing the end of the sew along, I have been working on piecing together the blocks and of course, my scrap pile that has been created is HUGE! As I go along, making each block; I do try to use up scraps when they fit, but it doesn't always work out that way.

Since I had a TON of scraps, I wanted to get as much of them as I could into a piano key border. BUT, I did not want to sit and count the length of my strips. Even I, had no idea of how many scraps I had!

I decided the best way, would be to use a Jelly Roll Race (JRR) style of piecing. JRR piecing is when you sew all your strips end to end, fold in half, sew the 2 halves together, then fold in half again and sew the 2 new halves together again. For a JRR, this is repeated for a total of 5 times. Additional help, videos and tutorials for JRR can be found online.

Let me take you back in time a little bit... This is the quilt my Aunt was working on, the first quilt I used this style of piecing for a piano key border with. She had pieced all the blocks together and needed help finding a layout to tie it all together. I helped her by designing an on point layout with additional blocks to make it larger. 
In order to finish off the border with all her scraps, I cut all the strips to the same width, so it made easy work for sewing them all together into one long JRR strip set and then sub cutting them to a certain width. After that, adding them to the sides of the quilt was a piece of cake!

Admittingly, I had some strips left over, which told me I didn't get the best use of the scraps.

And, I didn't want that to happen with this quilt...

I knew I had different widths of my strips. There was quite a few strips that were smaller than 2". I had cut all my scraps into strips. I chose 3 different widths to cut my strips; 2.5", 1.75" and 1.5".

Rather than repeating the JRR folding 5 times for my border, I only folded in half 2 or 3 times; so I may have a variety in the placement of my strip set sections when I sew them together. I did not want to trim off triangles, so I did not sew my strips together at an angle, but rather a straight seam (either way you choose, will work with the calculator).

I had all the math figured out and written down on my scratch sheet of paper, but then I had to go and get sick! Thank goodness for antibiotics!!!

Now that I am on the mend, I wasn't going to make the same mistake again - figuring out what to multiply by what addition and division - yeah - even I couldn't understand the pen markings on my paper!

Since then, I have written it up in a spreadsheet with nice descriptions, formulas and all. I thought I would make this available to you for use in your own personal quilting journey. Because this is the best & cheapest method in letting you have access, it is in an Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Please, if you find any errors, let me know so I can make the changes.

How wide should I / could I go?

For this Calculator to work, you will need to do 2 things first:

  1. It is best to have the quilt center completed before continuing with adding a piano key border. Also, include the measurement of any additional borders sewn on before you add the piano key border. Knowing the horizontal and vertical measurements of your quilt center is essential in making the calculator work.
  2. You will need to have your strips cut and sewn into strip sets using the JRR style of piecing.
    The information you need is the Finished Height of Strips, Total Number of Inches in the Strip Set Width, AND the Number of Strips in a Strip Set. See Image Below - Click on image to make it larger.
  • You can have up to 3 different Finished Heights of Strips.

Additional Tips for after you use the Calculator:

  • Once you have your piano key border cut into strip set sections and have them ready to piece onto the sides of your quilt: sew a basting stitch on each side
    • To do that, set your machine stitch length to 3.0 mm and sew 1/4" away from the edge. 
    • If it looks like the strip set is "puckering" lower your tension a couple of notches.
  • This is to keep your threads from unraveling and to keep the sides from stretching and becoming wavy.
    • Your Longarmer will love you for it too!

This calculator works best if you open it on a computer using Chrome as your web browser. Once you click on the link below, download the file to your computer to make the changes.

If you would like to share this quilting calculator with your friends, please give them the link to this page:

Monday, September 17, 2018

Snowflake Magic Block Of the Month

I was so excited to be hosting a Block Of the Month! My very first, a success! Now that it is complete, I wanted to share some of the new and exciting things that happened!

This BOM made a quilt top that measures 55" by 60" tall. This large wall hanging has 24 different snowflakes and three different sized trees, all made using a raw edge applique with a machine satin stitch. AND each of the snowflakes have a name!

BOM Finished Wall hanging Quilt Top
Applique! I know many start to panic at the mention of applique, but at the same time I was hosting this BOM, I was also teaching everyone how to satin stitch applique with a sewing machine. There was immediate assistance whenever one got stumped! - and you can still get help now if you wanted!

Some updates...

About midway through the BOM, my dear friend Diane said it would be cool quilt with the Grinch hanging out... I couldn't have agreed more! I stuck the Grinch up in a tree stealing the snowflakes!

Later on, my fabulous friend Leslie said she was going to add a horse & sleigh. Well, I just loved that idea too! After much sleeping with the idea, I woke up and got started. I came up with the idea to use Sunbonnet Sue, Sam and the Horse Drawn Sleigh for my rendering.

We had such a fun time with this BOM, you are welcomed to come view all our work, ask questions, and share images of your quilts.

Come join!

Block Of the Month started September 18th, 2017 - Blocks were posted on the 3rd Monday of the month. They were available for the duration of the BOM until September 17th, 2018.

Now that the BOM is complete, the pattern has been made available for purchase as a digital download. Unfortunately, I do not own copyrights to the Grinch, there is NOT a pattern for him.

You can find the full pattern with Sunbonnet Sue, Sam and Horse Drawn Sleigh available for purchase here.

Looking for the pattern with just Sunbonnet Sue, Sam & Horse Drawn Sleigh? You can find the smaller version of the pattern here.

Once purchased, it will be emailed to you.

Thank You and Happy Quilting!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Look Into My World - Polaroid Quilt

One thing I ALWAYS do when I visit a quilt shop is I try to buy some of their novelty fabrics, may it be a fat quarter or yardage - depending on how much I like it. I have a TON of large print fabric with no real rhyme or reason. Wheeelll - it's one thing to buy them, and another to actually find a pattern to use all of them.

I figured it was time for me to make good use of them in a sort of "I Spy" quilt. One of the things my friend wanted to do in her group; Life's A Quilt, was have a Polaroid Swap. A swap where all of us swapped squares of fabric that represented our world.

Not really wanting to limit our swappers, I proposed:
If I were to visit you, what would I see? Trees? Frogs? Sewing machines? Bears? Bridges Ancient artifacts? Spiders? Oceans? Flowers? Spools of thread? Sky Scrapers? Clouds? Think of what you see; outside, inside, above, below, near, far, in the past, in the future...
We were not required to have any one theme, the more variety we had, the better. We were not to sew the squares, but once we received our fabric squares, we would make our own Polaroid Blocks.

I must say, with forty-nine people in our swap, it went off without a hitch - everyone sent their squares and everyone received their squares - So WONDERFUL!

I loved all of my squares!

My second goal was to teach Paper Piecing using this simple block. I had a lot of fun designing this, it did take a couple of tries, but I got the pattern just perfect! I you want to get a free copy of this Paper Piecing Tutorial, you can join our Life's A Quilt facebook group and download your copy. Also a great place to see other wonderful blocks by Life's A Quilt members...

My guess is that many did not read the fine print as this was a Paper Piecing tutorial that would be provided with the swap, so when I did finally post the paper piecing tutorial, there was a cry for a regular piecing pattern. You can find the Regular Piecing Pattern by clicking here: Look Into My World Polaroid Block Tutorial.

For both patterns, I have included the Fabric Requirements needed to complete two different sizes of quilts.

I'm still working on my blocks I received from the swap. By the time I am finished, I will have a quilt that has 110 blocks and a small magnifying glass, roughly 96" x 88", a small queen sized quilt.

 I currently have 42 blocks made.

Sewing all 110 blocks at once seemed daunting - so I chose a few to do at a time.
Also made it easy to make it random in the layout: Straight, Left Tilt, or Right Tilt.
Started chain piecing the white parts of the Polaroid Block.

Really loved how some of the fabrics I received were highlighted by the block!

Unfortunately, I had to set these aside so I could work on my other patterns. Once I get more polaroids made, I'll be updating my post.

Happy Quilting!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Ribbons and Stars Quilt of Valor

Update: May 1st, 2018 - Quilt of Valor was awarded to Felix Roybal - Korean War Vet, US Army, 92 Years Young!

Back at the beginning of February 2018, I had the opportunity to participate for a day in a Quilt Of Valor sew weekend at Aunt Judy's Attic, my local quilt shop. I would have loved to have stayed for the 2nd day, but on the second day, there was only a four hour window to enter my other quilt into a quilt show that was two towns over - another story, another day....

Anyways, we were to bring our own fabrics, our sewing machines, potluck and fun spirits!

I had seen a quilt that I wanted to mimic, but for the life of me, I cannot find the website to give credit. I thought for sure the quilt was called: Leftovers, but I'm not finding anything! If you know of anything, please help!

All the same, according to my sources, this quilt is a variation of the Rail Fence Quilt.

For my time spent at the quilt shop that day, I was able to piece together all my strips and make all my 60 blocks, plus my three star blocks. I learned that the quilt shop's top feed printer did not like to print onto fusible web. Note to self: Do not buy a top feed printer.

My original plan was to make a simple rail fence quilt, but once I had all my pieces cut, there was a lot of extras left from my strip piecing. Most of them were just 1/2" shy of being a full block!

I quickly came up with a way to incorporate them back into my quilt. I realized I could cut the scraps in such a way that they would be the perfect size to add onto the ends of my rail fence blocks. I got busy cutting half square triangles out of them...

I tried something new with this quilt. I sewed all of 2nd border strips – end to end, and all of 3rd border strips – end to end. Then I sewed 2nd border and 3rd border together to make one long strip set. From the strip set, I then cut two units 67” x 3½” for the top and bottom and two units of 83” x 3½” for the sides. I sewed each border on, stopping ¼” from the edge. I then sewed the corners in a mitered fashion using the Easy Y Seams technique I use for machine piecing my hexagons. 
I just love the way it turned out!

My local quilt shop owner, Judy, is a Quilt Of Valor Volunteer Longarmer. But she is so awesome, she let me play and quilt the quilt on her machine.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Teacup Coasters Supply List

Supply list and fabric suggestions
for class at
Aunt Judy's Attic
Teacup Coasters
Raw Edge Applique

In class, we will cover:
Cutting and printing on fusible web,
Fusing fabrics,
Adjusting our machines,
Stitching down our applique pieces to a background using a satin stitch or blanket stitch.
By the end of class, we will have at least three appliqued teacup blocks.

Fabric Suppliesplease bring extra – I will provide the templates for 3 different teacup styles. Listed below is enough fabric for one style.
One Teacup Body: 3” x 5” – pick a fabric that best resembles a teacup to you. I’ve used flowers, southwest fabric, and I have even used plain solid fabric. Big print, or little print, it doesn’t matter. (A great way to use scraps!) A fat 8th would be more than enough for 3 teacups.
One Teacup Handle and Plate: 2” x 6” – pick a fabric that coordinates with your teacup body. It is best if this fabric is a solid, blender or a VERY small print. A fat 8th would be more than enough for 3 teacups.
One Teacup background – 6½” x 6½” square. Pick a background that coordinates with your teacups and lets your teacups stand out. It is best if this background is a light fabric, usually a solid or a blender. White on White fabrics work well with this also. A fat quarter would be more than enough for 3 teacups. 

Additional supplies:
Thread that matches your teacup fabric. (If using a red teacup body and blue teacup handle and plate bring both matching red and blue thread…)
Bobbin thread that matches your top thread.
Heat N Bond Lite Fusible Web – at least 11” x 17” – if you have a roll, bring it.
Fabric scissors – scissors to cut out applique pieces
Rotary cutter, Mat & Rulers – a long (12” or more) and square (at least 6½”x 6½” or larger)
Fine point fabric marking tool
Sewing Machine – Must have zig-zag stitching capabilities. Must also be able to adjust the stitch length and width. We will be adjusting machine tension in class so your machine must be able to adjust tension. If you are unsure, contact me and we can set up a meeting before class to figure it out.
Open Toe Applique Foot – Allows for easy viewing of your applique stitching and has a groove on the underside for applique stitches to pass under easier. Not required, but HIGHLY RECCOMENDED. If you would like, Contact Judy to order one for you.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Rhoda's Tea Time Quilt Pattern

This pattern was inspired by my dear friend, Rhoda Forbes, who had passed away unexpectedly in the early part of the year of 2017. As a way to help mourn the loss of our friend, and more importantly, remember what a wonderful person she was, I created this pattern and hosted a Rhoda's Tea Time Swap in the the online quilting group she created: Life's A Quilt 

She was always thinking of projects to keep us busy and loved to host swaps. For Rhoda, it was a way for us group members to get to know one another, a fantastic way to learn a new skill or highlight a new pattern. Rhoda had mentioned several times how she wanted to host a Teacup Swap. She imagined it all; a large teapot surrounded by teacups. She even had an image of teacups stacked with a bird perched on the stack. 

Dedicated in Memory of Rhoda Forbes, this pattern was designed around a few of her favorite things. Her favorite colors are Purple and Pink. She loved making scrappy quilts and she loved to grow her flower garden.

All patterns are available as a digital download. Click here to purchase a printed copy of select patterns. For directions on how to print onto fusible web, visit Printing Applique.

Rhoda's Tea Time Pattern can be purchased by clicking here.

  • This pattern includes the templates needed to make three different Teacup styles, the Teapot and the Stack O Cups and Bird blocks.

After the swap, there was a call for Sugar N Cream canisters to be added. They can be purchased as an addon by clicking here.

  • This pattern includes templates needed to make the Sugar N Cream block. 

At the same time, I wanted to create a large label for the quilt top and I wanted it to read, "Rhoda's Tea Time". The words can be purchased by clicking here.

  • This pattern includes the templates needed to make the Rhoda's Tea Time words block. You could even use part; Tea Time.

As I finally had a chance to make my quilt and put together all of my teacups, all one hundred eleven  (111) of them - I felt that the addons I had made for the quilt seemed to get lost in all of my teacups. I had to really look and search for them in order to see them. I mulled over it for a few days and woke up with the idea to place my special addons onto a shelf. I drew out some wrought iron swirl shelf braces and added a two piece board to give it a 3rd dimension. 

For a short while, the Rhoda's Tea Time Shelves can be downloaded by clicking here
  • This pattern includes the templates needed to make the three different shelves and the flower/vase. 

Slapping a plain border onto the teacup quilt seemed to minimize how truly spectacular and delicate all the teacups actually are... I had figured it out! I was going to add a flower garden! 

Rhoda's Tea Time Floral Borders Pattern can be purchased by clicking here

  • This pattern includes a total of 12 pages: 6 pages of printer ready applique templates, 2 pages of quilt top and border assembly directions and 5 layout keys. 

I have included several photos below, enjoy!

Don't forget to take a minute and check out my other patterns:
They can be found at
Aunt Judy's Attic NM
under the Digital Downloads.

At any time, you can click on the photos in this post an view them larger....
Tea Time Quilt made by Bev Burmmond with Leader and Ender Piano Key Border. 
Tea Time Quilt made by Sandy Rice with a beautiful piano key border.
These two lovely Tea Time wall hanging quilts made by Renee Chester, 
check out all her cool stuff over at Renee Chester's Quilting Addiction.

Rhoda's Tea Time Quilt made by Me using Symphony Rose fabric.
Rhoda's Tea Time pattern made with 50 teacups from the swap plus 61 made by Yours Truly.
By including the shelves, it sure made the special blocks more noticeable.
Replica of my large quilt I made using 111 teacups.

Quilt made using the pattern for the Rhoda's Tea Time Floral Borders pattern. 
Pretty excited to show off my Mom's quilt - 
Tea Time by Brenda Richardson
Tea Time by Brenda Richardson

Blocks below are the special ones I have made one for each of my quilts. 

As this quilt, Rhoda's Tea Time, is my tribute to Rhoda Forbes, I was really looking to add meaning to the quilt. I liked the representation of the five petal flower, and in addition to the color purple. :) There were a couple of pages online where the color purple was mentioned to represent the empress, the queen. One of the symbolic meanings for a five petal flower:

"In the lives of women we can see five distinct phases; birth, menstruation, motherhood, menopause and death. The Empress represents the middle of this pentad; she is the nurturing mother who is the fertile and creative queen of the world. She is the down-to-earth version of the cosmic World card, which also symbolizes the creative mother in the maiden-mother-crone triad of the triple Goddess. The numbers five - related to the Empress - and three - related to the World - have always been connected to the ancient Goddess, and by extension, to woman..."