Published / by Mary / 9 Comments on Miscellaneous

I’m sewing …. I’m not sure why I haven’t put the year on my watermark before but I decided I’d add it this year. I can always look back through my databases or the blog to figure out when I finished a top or quilt but having the year on my photos will make it quicker to look up. 

I’m walking … 22.7 miles this week

Looking for inspiration … do you think Mom would make this Nine patch and snowball quilt for me?!

I’m knitting too but I won’t post another photo since my scarf looks a lot like it did last time I posted just a little longer. I’ve also been cooking. Enjoying my new kitchen and we’ve bought new dishes and silverware too. All my stoneware was chipped (someone hits the counters a lot when he’s loading the dishwasher). 

I’m also doing children’s crafts without the child … decided to make a fox for the Big Canoe tree. It reminds me of doing counted cross stitch!

What are you up to this weekend?

How many UFO’s

Published / by Mary / 18 Comments on How many UFO’s

The beginning of a year is a time of accounting for me and other quilters. An interesting discussion is going on over on my HeartStrings groups about UFO’s with Crystal wondering how people can have so many. I thought I’d share my answer here and ask you all — How many UFO’s do you have?!!

For me my story goes like this – in my first year or two of quilting I made quilts from start to finish. Then I found myself starting new quilts before finishing old quilts and eventually learned that quilts that didn’t get to the finished top stage were more likely to be abandoned so now I work very hard to get a top finished before setting it aside and as a result, 27 of my 30 UFO’s are finished tops. 

The first 7 and a half years as a member of HeartStrings I quilted many of the group tops on the longarm. That meant that my tops went to the bottom of the list unless one was needed for something. 

When we moved 2 and a half years ago, my longarm and the bulk of my stash went to our Georgia condo and we moved first to the Ft Lauderdale area and then to Tampa. That means that I only have about 5-7 weeks a year to work on the longarm and my mom and aunt have tops that need quilting during those weeks too. 

Because of this, my UFO number jumped up from a steady 20-22 per year to 36 in 2016 and down to 30 in 2017. 

In 2016, I tracked WHERE my tops were being quilted and was happy to say that 14 of 38 were quilted here in FL on my domestic machine thanks to Stephanie reminding me at the time of the move that I could quilt on the domestic machine too. Seriously, it hadn’t occurred to me to go back to quilting on the regular machine and if I hadn’t, my UFO number would have been significantly higher over the last couple years. 

Having the longarm and stash in GA has also changed my quilting in other ways. My quilts made here tend to be a little less scrappy either because I don’t have as much fabric here or because when I’m in GA I’m trying to quilt as many as possible so there’s less time to cut – the scrappier the quilt, the longer it takes to cut. Another factor is that the fabric in GA is in bins not on a shelf, it takes longer to dig through bins trying to find different fabrics that work well together than it did to pull them off the shelves. 

Finally, the size of my quilts have changed. I make more child size quilts in the 40 x 54 to 60 inch range and keep those here in FL to quilt on the domestic machine. The larger throw or bed size tops still go to GA for quilting on the longarm. 

As far as being stressed by having UFO’s – for the most part I’m not as long as I maintain the high percentage of finished tops. If something were to happen to me and I were no longer able to quilt, I would choose a few tops to be professionally quilted for my family and the others would go to one or more of my fellow HeartStrings quilters to be quilted and donated. 

I keep all my finished tops and quilts in an online album to help keep up with them. A snapshot of some finishes from 2016 shows more finished quilts than tops but of course it doesn’t show the whole picture because as I said above, I have 27 finished tops waiting for quilting. 

Accuquilt’s GO

Published / by Mary / 9 Comments on Accuquilt’s GO

I’m frequently asked questions about using the Accuquilt GO in my quilting and I’ve responded in posts before – this one I will pin to the How To page so I can refer people back to it when new questions are asked. If you’re not interested in the GO, you will want to skip this long wordy post!

I bought the original GO pretty soon after it came out and have been using it in my quilting for years — I’ve collected dies over the years, some that I use more than others, and the GO works for the way I quilt. I’ve read reviews from other quilters who don’t like it so I can just tell you that it works for me and gets me to the piecing part of quilting faster.

The two biggest complaints I read about the GO is accuracy and fabric waste.

Because we’re cutting fabric rather than paper there will be some stretch as the die goes through the rollers. Accuquilt does a pretty good job of educating quilters on ways to get the most accurate cut but for me it boils down to ONE THING – send your fabric through on the lengthwise grain – it has less stretch.

The 2nd complaint is about fabric waste and in my experience it does use more fabric than traditional rotary cutting but I’ve got more fabric than I’ll ever use and I typically make scrap quilts so if I need more fabric, I just pull more off the shelf. There are ways to minimize the waste also – again, Accuquilt does a pretty good job with education – both written materials and videos. So check them out.

The next question I frequently get is about what dies someone should buy and really that’s not a question I can answer. I can show people the quilts I’ve made and the dies I’ve used. Click the link to go to my webpage and see examples.

GO Friendly Quilts.

I first bought the dies that cut unusual blocks that weren’t as easily rotary cut – Apple Core (haven’t finished that quilt yet!), Drunkard’s Path (LOVE the 7 inch one, haven’t used the 3.5 inch one yet), the Dresden Plate, the Tumblers – another favorite.

Then I bought Strip dies – I use my 2.5 and 2 inch strips dies the most but I also have the 1.5 inch and the 1.75 inch ones and use those less frequently.

The 3, 4, and 6 inch finished half square triangles have been some of my most frequently used dies.

I always recommend that people think in terms of which dies work together. I have the 3 inch half square triangle, the 2 inch strip die (finishes at 1.5 inches), the 3 inch finished square, the 6 inch finished half square triangle, the chevron die, the half rectangle die …. all of these work together to create blocks and quilts.

Accuquilt has tried to group these together in their QUBE’s but although I bought the 8 inch one for here in FL since most of my dies were in GA, I find myself a little frustrated because they don’t cut as many shapes at a pass as the individual dies. For example, I’m working on a quilt with 16 half square triangles in each block. The QUBE 4 inch half square triangle cuts 2 at a time x the 6 layers – just 12 triangles – I need to cut 16 background and 16 focus triangles for each block. My 4 inch finished half square triangle that’s in GA – cuts 4 at a time x 6 layers which is 24 – the cutting is done twice as fast.

So for my purposes the QUBE’s are not ideal for how I quilt and I won’t buy another one but will buy individual dies that have more shapes per die.

The latest question is whether someone should buy the regular GO or the electric GO. There’s a difference in price so if the regular GO is what you can afford, I say go for it! I used it for years and will still use it in GA to cut quilts. If you can afford the electric GO, that’s the one I would recommend you buy. I recently replaced Mom’s GO with the electric one, she’s never been able to crank the handle as easily as I can on the regular GO and as a result she would cut fewer layers at a time. The electric GO is very easy to use with no cranking needed so that’s another plus in its favor.

So, hopefully this answered some questions for you but I encourage anyone thinking about a GO to explore the Accuquilt website and their many videos.

Crossing State Lines

Published / by Mary / 1 Comment on Crossing State Lines

The 2017 Callenge tracker is working and our team (Chris and I) is up and running. I hate choosing names, I’m not very creative with my quilt names which usually consist of the block name and the quilt color, but we had to come up with a team name and since we’ll both cross the FL/GA border and will run/walk several times this year, I came up with Crossing State Lines. 

We’re on our way! I won’t bore you too often with updates but you will see some of our progress through the year posted here and as I said, I’ll also complete the Appalachian Trail virtual walk at Walking 4 Fun – about 600 miles left on that challenge I think. The difference between the two challenges are that I count all my steps on the Walking 4 Site but for the 2017 challenge, we’re only counting “exercise” miles not total steps. 

Jan/Feb Goals

Published / by Mary / 2 Comments on Jan/Feb Goals

It doesn’t seem like much – get two UFO’s quilted and bound, pieced a couple tops, make some Heartstrings blocks, work on some knitting and crochet projects but we’ve got some company in the next couple months, a trip, and of course, some ambitious walking goals including a half marathon the end of February so I’ll start with these goals and if I finish them, I’ll add more!

Jan/Feb goals

Quilt and bind

  • Pin baste, quilt, bind woven quilt
  • Pin baste, quilt, bind churn dash quilt


  • Start and complete Dutch pinwheel top
  • Draft, cut, piece rectangle quilt
  • Make HeartStrings blocks – ?? Number of blocks and colors to be determined


  • Finish knitting Shine scarf
  • Crochet an animal – zebra?
  • Start birch leaf scarf

Just to be clear

Published / by Mary / Leave a Comment

2017 miles in a year is about 5.5 miles per day …. just to be clear:

Chris and I need to hit that goal with our combined miles. 

Both of us are only counting ‘exercise’ miles versus total daily steps. That means for him, his running miles and for me only the miles I accumulate in my exercise walks outside.

So yes, it’s a challenge but we think we can do it. For sure, if we counted all our steps in a day there would be no question about the two of us meeting the goal but the purpose of participating is to push ourselves. 

You can read about the challenge here – participation is anywhere from 1 person to 4 people on a team. Personally I think for Chris and I, two people, is perfect – doable but a stretch – which is why we didn’t invite Keith. 

Walking goals

Published / by Mary / 3 Comments on Walking goals

I mentioned that Chris and I are participating in the 2017 miles in 2017 Challenge (I’d link to the website but they’re having major problems right now) and within the yearly challenge there are monthly challenges so for January …

Just Log It January

We’re starting the 12 Monthly Challenges with Just Log It January. The objective of this month’s challenge is to start or continue a mileage streak. We are challenging you to run or walk at least 1 mile (or as many miles as you’d like) every single day for 31 days.

There was also an interesting tidbit in their email that said if you tell people about a goal your chances of success dramatically improve and I have to say that’s probably accurate in my case. It’s one reason I set goals and post them on the blog – it helps me stay focused and accountable. I don’t go crazy if I don’t hit them all but I do know you don’t succeed at any goal if you don’t try!

So here goes, 31 days where I walk at least 1 mile and for this 2017 challenge I’m not counting all my daily steps – just “exercise” mileage so that means getting outside every day for 31 days and walking a minimum of 1 mile. I can do it!

Name that block!

Published / by Mary / 4 Comments on Name that block!

EDIT: Sara wrote again and said she’s found it online called the Dutch Pinwheel and I found references to Colorado Block. Whatever it’s called, I still think it’s probably a variation of Jack in the Box as Sara first commented and we all know that there are blocks with multiple names!


I’ve had a couple questions about the quilt block I’m using and Sara commented that she’s seen it call Jack in the Box. I looked it up in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and there are a couple Jack in the Box blocks but they have what she calls an unpieced bar ( I call it sashing). So it appears that it is a variation of this block but the piecing of mine is simpler with all half square triangles. 

Can you see 1875 and 1877 below?

I’ve shared the photo of the vintage quilt I found on eBay before that provided the inspiration for my quilt but I’ll post it again here. 

Happy New Year!

Published / by Mary / 11 Comments on Happy New Year!

I hope you all had fun bringing in the New Year. We’re not party people so it was a quiet event here. Around 9 PM I fixed a Brie and fruit tray and Keith opened some champagne. We sat on the porch and talked some about the challenges we had in 2016 and our hopes for 2017 and then Keith took a little nap and I woke him up in time to walk down to the bay to watch the fireworks at midnight. 

As a reward for working so hard last week to finish up as much as I could, I got to start a new quilt today which also meant I got to use my new GO electric that arrived right before Christmas for the first time. Last night I drafted this quilt based on a vintage quilt I found on eBay.

Quilt size is 48 x 64

I’m using 4 inch finished half square triangles which will make the block size 16 inches finished (16.5 with seam allowances).

This afternoon I pulled out the GO ….

Pulled out the box of fat quarters that were purchased a while back ….

And I quickly realized that my plan to make this quilt scrappy wasn’t going to work with the fabrics I have. There are 16 HSTs in each block and while I don’t mind repeating a fabric if needed, I didn’t have enough fabrics of a similar shade in each color so plan B is to make the quilt as drafted. Luckily, I’m adaptable!

I’m using a light gray solid for my background and I’ve got the first 3 blocks made – I love starting a new quilt!