Moda ABC Book & ABC Game “Tutorial”

ABC Book

I have tutorial in quotation because this is a really simple item, there’s really not much to it, but I thought it would be interesting for people to see the different options. During the holidays I stopped by my LQS to take a look a samples for the upcoming classes, and I saw on the wall these cute ABC panels from Moda.

 Having a 2 and half year old son, and a 3 year old niece I just had to have both pieces. One of the girls at the shop told me I could make a book with it (that’s when I noticed the cover and the back), and that there is a pattern “somewhere”. I hit the internet when I got home, and “found” the wonderful Moda Bakeshop website. They do have a (legit) tutorial for how to make an ABC book, with clear pictures and a downloadable pdf. But they use the letters from the big “I love you” panel, and not the one I had just purchased… The main difference is that those letters are about 4″ square, so that you have enough space around the charm square to apply the letter with the decorative stitch. I also thought it would be too wasteful to cut the frame around the letters in order to use them in that application. I also started to think how I would use the “book” with my son, and how my niece would use hers. In order to keep bulk down the letters are placed back to back, well… like pages in a book! But knowing my son, and the fact that once he saw the metal ring the first thing he would do would be try to open it, and scatter all the letters around, I thought that having them as tiles that we could shuffled, and then rearranged (like a game) could be more interesting to him. On the other hand I can envision my niece sitting down quietly looking at the letters, and the idea of the pink book is a very cute one. This is also a wonderful project to use all of the leftover pieces of batting you collect when squaring off quilts.

So, here’s how I tackled both:

 – One Moda ABC panel in pink

 – One Moda ABC panel in blue

 – (22) 6×6 squares for back of the letters in the ABC game – Decorative thread to match.

 – Leftover thin batting, (24) 6×6 pieces for the ABC game, and (13) 6×6 pieces for the ABC book.

 – (13) eyelets for the ABC book

 – Metal ring

  Cut letters along dividing lines. Don’t worry about using a rottary cutter, you will square them off later while pressing. Actually if you ever wonder what “realigning the fabric grain while pressing” meant this is a very clear example of what a misaligned grain does to the image. Don’t try to be gentle here, you have to coerce the piece into a square. It does not have to be perfect, but you can definitely improve it with a good dose of ironing.

Before ironing

After ironing

 For the ABC Game I used the squares I cut with a rottary cutter as my guide to square the letter. For the book I did some checking using a ruler.

 Lay one piece of batting, one letter right side up, and a letter or a baking wrong side up.

For the game you can choose whatever piece you want, but for the book you need to be careful to keep the letters in order. From this point on the instructions for the book are the same as in the Moda tutorial (stitch around, turn, top stitch, install eyelets.) For the game I decided to free motion around the letters. This is a great way to practice free motion skills, and it makes the letters pop. There, you have two very cute approaches to learning the ABC!  

























Busy weekends…

Wow, the past couple of weekends where really crazy! I started to feel funky by Tuesday night, and by Wednesday I knew I had a cold. My son also had a stomach bug that prevented him from going to day care. So both of us stayed home Thursday and Friday. The main difference is that despite his diarrhea, he was his same old self, super energetic and non-stop busy-bee… mom on the other hand could barely stand up! My husband could not stay home either day, so I had to manage the best I could. The tough thing is that it’s been ridiculously cold in New England (I guess around the country), so I could not take him outside for him to burn energy. We could not go too far from the house because of his tummy issues, and I would not drive the way I was. AND the boy is the outdoorsy type, I mean he wants to be out and about all the time!

So by Saturday I was pretty beat up, but a bit better from the cold. We went grocery shopping in the morning, and early afternoon I had a meeting at my local quilt shop for a block of the month program called “The Queen and Her Court.” They are offering two colorways, floral and batik.

The session lasts about one and a half hours, we get to see new fabrics, news from the shop, show and tell, and a raffle. It was very nice, despite the fact that all I wanted was to lay down. I decided for the “floral” colorway, although I am extremely tempted to make the batik also. The program for the block itself it very reasonable (25 to join, then free if you complete the block and show up for the monthly meeting.) The quilt is pretty big too, 96″x108″. The finishing kits range from 133 to 145 dollars, and although reasonably priced for the amount of fabric I know that I will make the Civil War Tribute quilt, and I’m also enrolled on the “Buck-a-block” program… It’s very easy to get carried away with so many beautiful fabrics and designs waiting, but I do like finishing things, so I think I’ll stick to the plan. I also learned that they collect blocks for charity quilts, very easy nine patches the work out to be 12.5″ unfinished, so when I went home I manage to finish 3 of them. A lot more will come.

I spent the rest of the day doing  house chores, because I knew I would have to work on Sunday. You see, I have been crazy busy at work. My project is under construction, and it is at a very fast pace. I have been up to my eyeballs everyday just to keep my nose above the water. I had a ton of emails waiting for me, and the thought of having my Monday spent doing filing, and reading emails was depressing. Besides my little one woke up 6:30 that morning already asking to go out. The nail in the coffin was a beautiful Wheeler and Wilson model 8 waiting for me in Newburyport, a quaint coastal town about 50 minutes from Boston…

She was on the third floor on this house that has seen 4 generations of the family. The grandmother had just passed, and the daughters were doing inventory on the house. The machine is pretty dirty, but it is only dust (please disregard the mess in my kitchen.) One can see it was loved, and they told me she made a lot of quilts. The cabinet is also in good shape, although one drawer, and the drawer’s bottoms are missing. They also have some unfinished quilt tops, and they asked me if I could finish them!

As far as working on the next podcast, I am back to writing a lot of material. Recording time has really been the issue, not to mention that because of my cold I have no voice now… Last weekend was taken by the cake I made for my niece’s third birthday. I love baking, and cake decorating, and a few years ago I taught myself how to use (and make) fondant. It took me 9 hours to complete, and on Sunday we spend the day with her in Boston.

 It’s made with 3 layers of yellow cake, and one layer of coconut ganache, and one layer of passion fruit mousse (my own recipe!). I’ve made all 3 cakes she had in life so far, and the bear you see beside the cake was the topper of her first cake that my sister-in-law kept frozen all this time!  I keep a little “gallery” in my Webshots if you want to check them out.

In the middle of all this I manage to start a scarf to use the beautiful hand-spun yarn from Under the Plum that I won from Craftlit months ago. The lace pattern is from the “Woodland Shawl“, a free pattern I saw on Ravelry, and generously provided by Nikol Lohr, AKA Thrifty Knitter.

I’ve only knit for a couple of hours, but this thing is so quick I am almost done. The lace is beautiful, but very easy and I had it memorized in the 3rd repeat. Like all lacework it’s going to need some mighty blocking, but I’m very pleased with the way it’s turning out!

So I’ve kept busy the past couple of weeks, and I have several posts on pattern review on the way, and I will be launching podcast 3 soon. I can feel my mojo coming back! YAY!

PR: Calendar Quilt by Willowberry Lane

Calendar Quilt by Willowberry Lane: this is a stunner!

The piecing is done! Well, sort of (read on.)  This was my hand-pieced project for the past 9 months. This is a BOM, typically offered as a 12 month program, but my local quilt shop had a 6 month program. Each month I got two baskets, and in the last two months a lot of fabric for the center medallion and the sashing. I did not work on it for about two months, during my illness, but when I when back to work I worked exclusively on this pattern in order to catch up. 

A corner basket in the center medallion

I chose to join this BOM for several reasons. First of all the fabric combination, which is something I would never pick for myself. Then the fact I wanted a hand pieced project that would not bore me to death. The nice thing about this pattern is that every basket is different, and the difficult increases as the months go. I got an overdose of half-square triangles, too. I did not use the suggested BerriAngles, because since I was hand piecing I felt I was able to control the bias. 

I also got a lot of left over fabric. I planned my cutting very carefully. It  seems to me that patterns sometimes suggest the least efficient way to cut. I guess screw ups need to be taken into account… Still this is not a cheap BOM (is there such a thing?) so I made sure I got a good return. 

Speaking into screw ups… one thing I’ve learned was to check the designer’s website for errata. I noticed that the sashed basket  borders were not aligning with the center side stripes. I assumed it was my lack of precision, although in general I was pretty happy with the results. Only after all was said and done I learned that the stripes in the printed cutting instructions were wrong by 1/8″. It’s pretty obvious in the photo, and I know I’ll have to square it off after quilting. I might lose one of the vertical green stripes, sooo that’s why I’m considering it sort of finished. I have to do something about it, so I’ll sew the side pieces again. After all this work I cannot bring myself to accept this mistake. 

This is a simple one

I don't like this basket, I think it's weird

  One pleasant surprise to me was the tridimensional applique. I debated a lot which technique to use, and decided for this one which I had never tried. I was very skeptical for a long time. The amount of work is insane. I think I’ve spent about the same amount of time for the 4 corner baskets as I spent for the rest of the quilt. EVERY single piece of the flowers need to be made, and stitched in place. I typically love to work production style, but this time I finished one basket to see if the time spent would be worth its while. I have to say the result is outstanding, even with my mediocre applique skills! One thing I’ve changed is that I stitched in place all  the petals. The pattern suggests not to stitch the ends so that they move, but I did not feel comfortable about that. The stress during washing would make them weak wearing spots, and I was not about to see my work literally unravel. 

The 3D applique

  One does not realize how big this top is until it’s time to assemble. I opted for the queen size, which is a healthy 90×90 inches (the lap size is 70 inches square). When it came time to photograph this beauty I had to take it to my job where I have plenty of tackable surfaces. When I took the first two photos the results were really bad for such a nice piece. So the beautiful photos in this post are courtesy of my friend architect and photographer Mathew Fickett. Make sure to check out his Flicker account for some really great photography. 


And yet another basket...

I am very proud of this piece so far. Everyone that has seen it gasped at its beauty and complexity. I really want to be able to  quilt it, but will have to figure out the logistics of quilting such big piece. I only have a small kitchen table, so I’m considering going to my local quilt shop, or doing it at work. Overall I would definitely recommend this pattern, specially if you enjoy (as I do) what I call “long term relationship with a pattern”. The Monday following the end of it I did not know what to do with myself, but of course it’s never too hard to find something amazing to work on! 

The little 3D bud

Coming back

It feels like a long time, but when I put in perspective 3 and a half months have gone really fast, and for most of it I was definitely not in my prime… Physically I can say I am 99% ok, and expect to be 100% in about a year or so. Emotionally, for my own surprise and dismay, I did not do so well. There are feelings that have been hard to shake/dismiss, and although I hate to dwell in the past I cannot deny myself the grief for what I went through.

On the other hand I’m ready to move on. I’ve been quilting a lot. First with my mom’s help, and just a few stitches a day. It took a while for me to be able to even carry my “sewing room”( as I call my sewing bag) to work. So I worked on little things, that brought instant gratification. Over the holidays I gave myself the deadline to finish the kid’s quilts (for many reasons), and I could not be happier. I not only finished the “Name Game” quilts, but I made my son a “Thomas & Friends” nap time quilt to stay at his daycare.

The Thomas quilt

I love making things for kids, and to see their reactions when they receive the gift. My son is very possessive of his blankies. One of his teachers told me that typically he does not go down for nap time too easily, but when he saw his new blankie he shouted “Kaiden’s blankie”, and happily laid down to sleep. I could not imagine a better incentive to make him many more…

On Friday I finished my “Calendar Quilt” quilt top, a pattern from Willowberry Lane. I was really behind on this BOM because of my illness, but eventually I did catch up, and now it feels like it went way too fast.  I will certainly be posting pictures, and a pattern review next week. I also have many other projects I’d love to share and review. I got a few machines up and running, and I got started on others that need TLC.

In the upcoming weeks I plan on developing the vintage sewing machine portion of the blog, and I’m planning that episode 4 will be dedicated on the subject of the basics when considering purchasing a vintage sewing machine. Podcast 3 is halfway done, and I’ll let everyone know when I have a date for release. Things have been hectic at work, and my little one has not been napping on the weekends, so recording time has been a challenge.

Soooo, slowly, but surely I’m trying to come back. Once again many thanks to those that stuck around, to the many good wishes and support. It means EVERYTHING!

PR (pattern review): The Name Game

51Y88Mp5QHL__SS400_The Name Game is one of the many patterns in the “Fat Quarter Fonts” book, by Atkinson Design. The book describe a method of machine applique that is a crossover with paper piecing, where no fusibles are used. The patterns are designed for fat quarters and charm squares. The accompanying CD has 2 alphabets in two sizes, drawn in reverse. You can print the letters on foundation paper, than you layer the fabric for the letter, the background and the letter template all with the wrong side up. After pinning in place you just run the “sandwich” on your machine, following the lines on the paper. I made two quilt tops so far, one for my son and one for my niece. I used two very different methods, which I will describe further down.



I did the quilt top for my son’s quilt first.  I did not notice that the instructions tell you to cut 10″x10″ squares that will ultimately be cut to 9-1/2″ by 8-1/2″.  I can understand the background for the letters being cut larger to accommodate shifting while appliqueing but the other blocks generated a lot of waste pieces. Personally I stock my stash with 1/2 yard cuts so I got a lot of leftover fabric which I plan on turning into baby quilts to donate. I used all 100% cotton, and it’s an I Spy quilt.

For Kaiden’s letters I decided to use a satin stitch (basically a very tight zig-zag.) I used my Viking 6440 for the applique. For the piecing I used both the Viking and my black Singer 301. After you sating stitch you cut the letter as close as possible to the stitching. I have to say the final result is somewhat sloppy because there’s only so close one can cut to the letter before cutting into the stitches. I’m hoping that after the first wash the edges that are not stitched will fray off, and the finish will look better.





Lana’s quilt is all flannel. For her letters I opted for straight stitching along the lines of the letter, than I cut around that line leaving about 1/4″ of fabric. With the right side up I used an open zig-zag as the decorative stitch, but also to prevent the fabric from unraveling past that point. Once the quilt is washed the edges of the letters will fray for a very “fluffy” look.






Both quilts will have polyester batting since they will get washed a lot, and I did not want them to be too heavy. They will also have flannel backing for warmth in the New England winter. I bought flame resistant flannel for both, since that’s the part that will be in contact with the kid’s bodies.  I’m still deciding how I’m going to quilt them, but probably something very simple.

Because I chose to have a border of rectangles around Kaiden’s name, and he has a 6 letter name I think his quilt got to be a bit too big. If I were to make it again I’d let the name go from edge to edge. Lana’s quilt is a lot more manageable for a small child. I want them both to drag their quilts around, but I have a feeling my son will have a hard time once it’s done. Both absolutely love the top so far. When I brought my son’s top home (I took a full day class on a Saturday, so I was able to finish in about 6 hours), he would not let go of it. Thank goodness I zig-zagged all around, otherwise I would have no top left to quilt! He wrapped himself with it, and kept saying “Kaiden’s quilt, Kaiden’s quilt!”

Lana also loved her top, and I had a hard time getting it back from her. I will be buying the batting this week, so hopefully I can start quilting next weekend. My mother started one for my niece and she used variegated color thread and the result was stunning. I have to ask her for photos of it. I’m planning on making an alphabet quilt for my son, and I’ll probably use charm squares for this one. Overall a very nice and quick method to personalize not only a quilt, but also pillows, bags and anything fabric.

I won! And back to blogging…

When I started the blog I thought it would only be a place to post the podcast. But I don’t talk about my projects and FO’s on the show, first because there’s no time, second because that was not the format I had in mind. So I think blogging is the way to go. I have soooo much to share both in the sewing machine front, and the quilting (and some knitting), and my web adventures I’ll try to catch up in the upcoming posts. I want to review some of the patterns and techniques I experience with, and talk about the best machines for the job.

So yesterday I learned that I WON (do a happy dance) the Accent Wars competition in QN. Well, I had a tie for first place for best accent, but won for prettiest voice! I had a good laugh about it, I don’t think my voice is pretty at all, but getting bragging rights from a QN competition??? Priceless!

Work is going great for episode 3, and I’m waiting for a few interview requests. I also want to start developing the vintage machine portion of the show, and still deciding the best way to do it. Comments have been very helpful, so please keep them coming, as well as topics one want to hear on the show. 

The only sad thing is that summer is comming to a end. We’ve been cheated this season here in New England, although my family and I enjoyed tremendously visiting many wonderful sites in the area.

Kaiden and ducks

There’s a lot of beauty around here, and Kaiden got to experience a great deal of it. Next summer he’ll have even more things available to him since he’ll be (gasp) 3 year old! I just need to learn to like winter activities so that I can survive the cold with a toddler that is totally an outdoor type of person. Any suggestions?

WholeLottaSinger Podcast Episode 2

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Today I’ll say many thanks, talk schedule, and we’ll have part one of Dr. Kimberly Wulfert’s interview.
Many thanks to Bean Pickers Union for ‘Photograph’

Silencio for ‘Fim da Vida’ and ‘Desire’

Soundtrack by Ricardo Botticelli

Check out Antique Quilt Dating, Quilters Spirit and Women On Quilts

Womenfolk by Judy Breneman