Christmas Table Runner

Christmas Table Runner

Christmas Table Runner

I used the leftover fabric from the table topper to make this runner for another friend. It should look nice on her dining room table. It’s constructed on the diagonal – that’s how it’s possible to have the central “diamonds” overlap the triangles on the sides (with the addition of a narrow strip attached to the light strips to create the illusion of  overlap).

Took a bit of fiddling to piece the top and I made some mistakes that I took apart and redid – which is why the two mid-side triangles are a different fabric! (They were meant to be the same as the other red/green fabric). In the end, however it all worked out with the fabric I had on hand.

I chose not to bind the runner, instead attached the back using a “pillow case turn” – I just didn’t have enough of any one of the prints to do a complete binding and the point was to complete the runner without having to buy more fabric and, besides, I like the neatness of the finished edge – nothing to distract from the basic elements.


Blocks stacked, ready to chain stitch

Now back to the table topper – the pieces are all lined up on my sewing table ready to be chain stitched and the top assembled. It’ll take a couple of hours and it will be done, too.

Christmas Table Topper


Christmas Table Topper – in progress

Zippered bags finished, I’m back at work on a Christmas Table Topper for a friend. Her table is 34″ x 80″ extended – with my half-square triangles finished size = 5 3/4″ I’ll finish at 35″ x 80 1.2″ which will work on her table.

So back to half-square triangles – in this instance I have four strong printed fabrics with a light background. I wanted to try a truncated “Starburst” but the layout looked like nothing with my finished dimensions so I’ve opted for “flowers” with two different square print centres which will alternate from section to section. The square print fabrics are tying the coloured triangles together and providing some continuity to the design.

This is one end of the topper – there are two more sections of three rows each and a final end section of four rows for a total of 14 rows. I have backing fabric which I’m not going to bother to piece and I’m not planning on using batting but plan, instead, to use a panel of muslin to give the topper a bit of heft but no puffiness – balancing wine glasses on a quilt topper can be problematic. The muslin should provide just a small bit of substance to the topper. I plan on stitching all three layers using “stitch in the ditch” – but you never know, I might do something more complex once I get the topper assembled.

I’m also planning to use a pillow case assembly for the back – no binding, the back is placed on the top, right sides together; you sew around the outside (1/4″ – 1/2″ seam allowance) leaving an opening on one side so you can turn the whole thing inside out like a pillow case, press, hand stitch the opening closed, then quilt – the fastest way of completing a quilt.

No time tomorrow to work on this but I will likely be able to get the top pieced on Thursday. Finishing the topper will take no time at all. I’m not in a rush – don’t need to give it away until Christmas Eve.

Then a table runner using the same fabrics but NOT half-square triangles! I want something with more density for the runner.

So the Christmas sewing, which I never intended doing, is moving right along.

For the Mah Jongg Player

I heard from my friend Karen this morning:

I have an idea… if the larger bag could hold a Mah Jongg card, and a smaller matching little zippered change purse inside that could hold $3-$5 in change, you’d have a terrific gift for Mahj players no matter what the fabric, but especially if it were in an Asian pattern…

So here we are:


Small bags for the Man Jongg player

Didn’t take long to make. A trip to my scrap boxes for some small Asian fabric leftovers. Some batting and lining and zippers. Putting it all together went quickly as well.

Now to get it in the mail – just not today!


A Nova Scotia Blizzard

We’re being advised to stay at home, it’s obvious why. I’m not budging from the apartment!

Zippered Gift Bags

Zippered Bags

Zippered Bags

It’s that time of the year when I need to replenish my stash of zippered gift bags. I always try to have a supply on hand to use as gifts. Sometimes the gift is the bag itself, other times it may hold a surprise. Today I sat down to make 15 bags as gifts for the gals in the Friday afternoon knitting/sewing group here in the apartment building. There are 11 women who attend regularly to knit/sew for a couple of hours each week. I made some extras – just in case…

I started with two fabric collections like the one below – samples from fabric suppliers – I had three sets on hand from the day-long quilting workshop I attended a couple of weeks ago. There isn’t enough fabric to make much of anything – maybe a pieced place mat, sometimes a small table runner. But there is enough to make a bunch of bags.

Fabric Samples

Fabric Samples

I laid each fabric collection on my cutting table, used my ruler and rotary cutter to divide each collection into 4-6 triangular / quadrilateral shapes – enough to mix and match using a stitch and flip technique. Next I cut out thirty (15 x 2 for front and back of a bag) pieces of batting (from leftover pieces) 6″ x 8″. I also cut out thirty pieces of lining fabric from my leftover stash (same dimensions) in preparation for the bags. The last bit of set-up was to create 15 zippers from some zipper tape I had on hand, adding slides and cutting the zippers two inches longer than the bag width – in this case 10″ (I also stitched both ends across the tape to prevent the slides coming off while making the bags!).

Tip #1: It’s very helpful to use a zipper 2″-3″ longer than your bag – that way you can position the slide to one end, let it hang beyond the bag edges while attaching the zipper – no worry about hitting the zipper slide with your needle or having to veer around it while you’re sewing!

Tip #2: Take a  piece of batting and cover the surface by laying down a piece of cut fabric, place a second piece at one edge right sides together, stitch and flip, and press open. Keep adding pieces of fabric until the batting surface is covered. Press and trim to the size of the precut batting. 

Because my batting pieces were relatively small, to took me about an hour and a half to do all thirty pieces (two sides for each of 15 bags, right?). Working in production mode, I matched up two sides, two lining pieces, and a zipper and stacked all 15 bags beside my machine and began assembling the bags. I’m not going to give detailed instructions about making the bags, there are lots of helpful bag-making tutorials around but let me say one thing – lots of people bind the ends of their zipper, I don’t bother with the extra work. I find my zipper is fine incorporated in the bag side seams, but I will mention a couple of techniques that will make the bag-making go smoothly.

Tip #3: You’ve got one side of your zipper attached to one piece of the outside (fabric/batting) – align your lining piece face down on the zipper tape (not the batting side), making sure the sides are matching up with the sides of the fabric. Now add the second side of the zipper to the second side of the bag – and again place lining face down on zipper tape, sew.

You can see I do two seams to attach each side of the zipper – first sewing it to the main fabric, then stitching a second time to add the lining. A little more work, but it makes it much easier to attach the zipper within the seam. I find something always moves out of position when I try sewing main fabric, zipper, and lining in a single pass.

I now have the zipper attached to both sides of the bag (with the lining also attached). I open the bag flat and press the zipper seams on both the outer side and the lining side. Next I separate the lining from the fabric/batting, lining up rights sides of lining and rights sides of fabric. The next step is critical:

Tip #4: Start by sewing the side with the closed/back end of the zipper, starting at the lining (the slide is at the opposite side), stitch toward the zipper, folding the zipper down toward the fabric/batting pieces, stitch carefully over the zipper, finish seaming the fabric/batting. When everything is finished and you turn the bag right-side out, the zipper will be beyond the fabric/batting, not tucked inside.

Tip #5: Reach between the fabric/batting pieces and open the zipper all the way to the seam you’ve just completed! (If you make this routine, you won’t find yourself in the situation where you go to turn the bag right-side out and the zipper is closed!)

Now I sew the second side seam, again starting with the two pieces of lining right sides together, past the folded zipper which is pushed down toward the fabric/batting (zipper seams are up toward the lining), and on to the fabric/batting pieces. Now you have both sides stitched.

Next seam is along the bottom of the fabric/batting outside of the bag (remember, you’ve already opened the zipper before you sewed the second side so you can get into the bag later). Finally I sew a little distance in from each side along the bottom of the lining to form corners when I turn the whole bag right-side out – this lets me fold in the seam allowance easily so I can top stitch a needle width from the bottom edge of the lining before pushing it into the bag.

Tip #6: I use a 1/4″ seam allowance on the outside (fabric/batting) portions of the bag, but I use a 5/8″ allowance at the bottom of the lining – the bag itself is bulky and this makes the lining just that much smaller to fit inside the bag without a lot of bulk. 

Carefully reach inside the opening in the bottom seam of the lining, pull the fabric/batting through (remember, your zipper was opened after you sewed the first side seam!). Push out the bottom corners of the bag, as well as the end of the zipper where the slide is currently sitting, close the zipper, press the bag.

You’re done.

And I’ve got 15 new gift bags in my stash ready to give away!


Completed zippered bags

(Actually I used the third fabric collection and some quilted fabric from a coat I’d made last year to make 14 more bags so I finished 30 in all.)

Starburst Quilt – Finished

It’s called “Starburst” (pattern from the Missouri Quilt Company)  but with this combination of fabrics in this particular layout you don’t really see the starburst, unfortunately. I’ve also mentioned earlier that the background fabric didn’t set up enough contrast, particularly with the paler batiks to highlight the starburst effect.
However, I’m happy with the finished quilt. The dark narrow border and binding help strengthen the contrast and the quilting design used draws a bit of attention to the diagonal lines.

The back, on the other hand, I think has stronger contrasts:


While the dark elements blend into the backing, the lighter “framing” makes the whole design come alive. So on the whole, I’d say the quilt worked out quite well. It’ll get added to the collection.

Now back to “Wind Waiting” – the pilots need quite a bit of thread painting – that’s up next.

Death By Chocolate Brownies (Gluten Free!)


This is what they look like – VERY chocolatey and moist.

Here’s the recipe from Delicious Obsessions (click on recipe to see an enlarged image you can print):


Here’s how I make them:

In blender put: cut up banana, vanilla, 2 eggs, maple syrup and 3 tbsp of coconut (or almond) milk and blend thoroughly

In a medium size bowl: measure out the cocoa powder and baking soda (I use 1 tsp).

Add wet to dry and mix well. I add raisins, sometimes coconut, ground pecans. (You could also add candied ginger bits if you weren’t worried about cane sugar…)

Pour into a parchment lined 8×8 or 9×9 cake pan, bake for 25-30 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

This is important: let brownies cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.

The brownies freeze well. I get 16 servings from one pan – they’re so rich that I quarter the brownies, then quarter them again.

I serve with Hagen Das Limoncello Gelato (which contains, of course, diary):


Yum! The tanginess of the lemon with the intense chocolate is very satisfying. You can even go further and splash some Bailey’s Irish Cream over the whole thing but then, of course you’re adding more sugar and diary! But who really cares, right?

The recipe (without the additions) can be gluten, dairy, and grain free!

New Boring Socks


A couple of weeks ago I was in Wolfville for a Food/Film Festival. We wandered the main drag and I came across a yarn shop. My supply of variegated sock yarn was down to leftovers so I picked up four 100g balls of yarn. I knew they were subdued by looking at the balls but when the stash is as low as mine was I thought I should pick up one of each colour. Actually a mistake because the socks that knit up are so boring.

I tried livening up this pair with the light grey stripe and rose cuffs/heels/toes but no matter – what I got was a boring sock! I have three more balls left to work on. I gotta come up with some way of making the socks more interesting otherwise I’ll be bored to death working on them! And this was a women’s large size, for a friend who wears a size 10 shoe, so it took even longer to knit than my universal size for a 7/12-8 shoe size.