Mug Rug Inspiration

1. mug rug swap, 2. Mug Rug, 3. Finished Mug Rug, 4. Mug Rug #7, 5. Mug Rug #6, 6. MUG RUG MADNESS, 7. Mug Rug, 8. Mug Rug 006, 9. Wonky Starburst mug rug - tutorial, 10. Ticker tape mug rug, 11. Mug Rug 'Shrooms, 12. FMF mug rug - sent to Shanz!!
I signed up for my first swap, and I am starting with the mug rug :) I love the idea of doing something small because it allows you to be crazy creative and try things that would be a little scary on a full-on quilt.  Thanks to Jenna at Sew Happy Geek for hooking this up! Can't wait to start making mine.

The Art of Leftovers

My hubby says there is an art to leftovers, you have to make them look new and fresh. So when I mentioned it was leftover night and that we were having  roast chicken hind quarters & various sides I got a look like I was about to serve a science experiment. In fact he protested to the point that he made pasta dinner with leftovers and it was delicious. I had to step up my dinner game so I came back the next night with Mexican Chicken Casserole. Hubby loved it, I ate a ton of it and even Baby J likes it. Here's how you make it:

A note about my measurements; I eyeball when I cook and  measure when I bake. The ingredient amounts are an estimation. You add how much you have on hand or what you like. love cheese add more, don't do dairy, don't put it in...it's your leftovers add what you like...olives, more spice -- go for it.

Oven at 350
In a 9X13" casserole dish add the ingredients layer by layer starting on the bottom:

1 can drained and rinsed pinto beans
2 cups cooked Spanish rice or regular rice as long as it is cooked
3/4 cup cheese, add cheddar, jack, colby -- what ever you got
2 cups cooked diced chicken (any part, breast, thigh, leg)
1 small can diced jalapeño
3/4 cup salsa
1/2 chicken broth drizzled over the top of everything
3/4 cup cheese over the top

cover and put in 350 degree oven for 25 min, then uncover and turn oven up to 425 degrees for another 20 minutes until top is golden brown and casserole is bubbling. Let sit for 5 minutes to cool so you don't burn your face off; then enjoy!

Concrete Cabin Block

Concrete Cabin Block

The Log Cabin block has always been a favorite of mine. It was one of the first quilts I ever made; this one to the left was sewn for my then boyfriend now husband and given as a Christmas present. He liked it, and it is still our couch blanket -- 10 years later! The wonkieness to this quilt was totally unintentional, I was a modern quilter way back then and didn't even know it.

I love the modern take on the simple log cabin block, it's all over blogland: Red Pepper Quilts, Film in the Fridge, Fresh Lemons Quilts. I am sure there are more out there, but these are the quilts that inspired me to try a new log cabin block and share the how-to with you.


more fabric choices
peek-a-boo flower











I started this block by tinkering around on graph paper and then cutting strips from yardage and after 3 attempts I found the perfect fat-quarter friendly method of cutting pieces out for these big, simple blocks. A note: You will see different fabrics throughout this tutorial. Please don't let that throw you for a loop. It took a few go arounds to get the instructions just right.  So without further ado let's get started:


Fabric Needed: 4 or more fat-quarters (FQ). 
Blocks made: 8 blocks from 4 FQ, add 2 blocks for every additional FQ
Finished Size: 11.5" square

note: all seams assume .25" allowance

Start by laying out the FQ  in a stack. Make sure they are as even as possible, it will help a bunch when you go to cut out the pieces. This method uses just about every square inch of fabric! 

Please read all the cutting instructions at least twice before cutting in the FQ, there is no wiggle room and you don't want to be left short.




First Cut Strips from FQ in the order shown
Cut Strips out of FQ on the 22" side so that strips are 18" long. You will have:
2 Strips 4.5" X 18"
3 Strips 3.5" X 18"
1 Strip 2.5" X 18"


Trim up excess when cutting out pieces
Before cutting pieces from strips line up the ends and place at 18" mark on cutting mat. First cut at 0" will be to trim excess. Once excess is trimmed start cutting into the strips for your pieces in the following order:

I am a visual learner, maybe you are too. This is what you should have
when all the pieces are cut out.
  1. From the first 4.5" X 18" strip cut out a strip 4.5" X 10.5". From the remaining 7.5" strip cut length wise 3 strips 1.5"X7.5". This will use all 18".
  2. From the second 4.5" X 18" strip cut out another strip 4.5" X 10.5". From the remaining 7.5" strip cut length wise 1 strip 1.5" X 7.5" strip and 1 strip 2.5" X 7.5" (this strip will be used to make a 2.5"X12.5" strip). There will be a long and narrow strip left over. 
  3. From the 2.5" X 18" strip cut out a strip 2.5" X 12.5". The remaining strip will be 2.5" X 5.5"; use this strip along with the 2.5" X 7.5" strip cut from the second  4.5" X 18" strip to make a second set of 2.5"X12.5" strips. This will use all 18".
  4. From the first 3.5" X 18" strip cut 2 3.5" X 3.5" squares. Then cut 1 3.5" X 4.5" strip. Then cut 1 3.5"X6.5" strip. This will use all 18".
  5. From the second 3.5" X 18" strip cut out 2 strips 3.5" X 8.5". There will be a small scrap left over.
  6. From the third 3.5" X 18" strip cut out 1 3.5" X 4.5" strip. Then cut out 1 3.5" X 6.5" strip. Then cut out 2 3.5" X 1.5" strips. There will be a few inches of scrap left over. 
You should have 72 pieces of fabric with a few small scraps left over. You should now have 2 sets of each cut piece expect for the longest strip the 2.5" X 12.5".
Did you catch the part about sewing two strips together to make up for the lack of 2 sets of 2.5" X 12.5"? I hope so, it is really simple; in order to make up for the lack of 2 sets of continuous long strips of 2.5" X 12.5" we will sew together pieces to make up for the missing set. Presto, 2 sets!

Ta-da! You are done cutting out your pieces for the Concrete Cabin. That wasn't too hard, was it? If it was please tell me! This being my first tutorial I want to know how I can improve!

Next step; Sew pieces together to make the Concrete Cabin Block: 
Start by laying out your strips one at a time in a pleasing manner starting with the center square. Mix up your fabrics and make 8 different blocks or 2 sets of the same 4 blocks.
Here they are laid out with dimensions ready to sew
Most of us have done a log cabin and know how to sew this one from here. So off you go and stitch these up! Have fun, play with your stash and make a whole stack of these fun blocks! I also want to see you blocks! Share them at the Concrete Cabin Flickr Group!

If you've never sewn a log cabin block, horary for trying new things! I've got your step by step photo instructions right here! 


Start by sewing the middle square to the smallest piece below it
and finger press the seam to the outside. Do this for all seams.

Next sew the strip to the right of the square

Be careful at the ends to keep seams straight and .25"

next sew strip above the square

Sew on last strip for the middle section

At this point I start using pins to keep my
lines striaght

Once all strips of middle section are sewn together set
seams by pressing out with an iron

before adding outside layer trim excess
all the way around block

Next add first outside strip, to the bottom of block

Work around counter clockwise just like the first set

another strip sewn to the top

last strip sewn onto Concrete Cabin!

Once again set seams with iron, pressing seams out

Lastly, trim excess around block to 12" square
only about .25" should need to be trimmed.

You should now have your first Concrete Cabin Block sewn! Isn't it cool?!! Have fun with this and please let me know how this tutorial worked for you. I would love feed back in order to make it better! I have also created a flickr group so we can share our Concrete Blocks with each other. I'd LOVE to see them!

Happy Sewing!


A little color...

I did our taxes yesterday....then I went and bought thread. A lot of thread, on sale. 
Machine Embroidery Thread; 40 wght

Polyester Sew-all, 40 wght

Polyester top-stitch, 30 wght
I'm excited to try it all out and of course to hoard it for a while and stare at the rainbow of colors. Tomorrow I will post the winners of the fat quarter 4-pack, really excited for this. Until then....

Work's In Progress #6

Hooray for week #6!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
 Let's do this one in pictures and lists. Two of my favorite things... But first a shout out to my finish of the Sexy Hexy Red's! So Excited!!! Plus there is a giveaway involved! Check out the full post and become a follower to enter to win a fat quarter 4-pack of the fabrics I used to make this quilt!
Not on the fence about this one; love it!
Leftover Bottled Rainbow strips are going to make a yummy zig-zag value quilt

Baby blankets for quilting practice.
One of my goals is to get better at quilting the quilt. To this end I made a bunch of baby sized lovelies to try out new techniques on. It's the perfect format, just a little bit of square with batting and backing -- no worries about messing up a whole big quilt with a new technique or my first attempts at free-motion.
FoolProof Machine Quilting technique. Lots more on this soon!
And I had planned on the free-motion quilting being a big part of these little guys, but I have changed course a little once learning about the Fool Proof Machine Quilting using freezer paper templates and stitching around them with a walking foot -- feed dogs up. It is brilliant and I want to share more about it with you later
A Small Mistake, a new motto. 
In trying new things mistakes happen, this small one above was fixable, the bigger blanket below, not so much. I 'forgot' to secure my scrap batting pieces together and once washed and dried it was a wad. But Hershel doesn't care. He has claimed this for his own. He's sleeping on it right now ;) 
But with these mistakes comes my new motto: Take the time to make  it right. 
Hershel gets a blankie when mom messes up!
Hooray! Small 9-patch is multiplying
That's it for me this week; I am busting some ass over here and getting things put together, it feels really good to complete some projects and get ideas for new ones. 

All in All:
Finished!: Value Quilt, Sexy Hexy Red's 
Needs Quilting: 
Baby Quilts: Love practicing quilting process on these little guys!
Hot - Cold; Asian Flowers both on long arm (long arm class this week!)
Needs Piecing: Small Nine Patch, Bottled Rainbows, off-set log cabin, new solids value quilt (all actively working on, yeah!)
Needs Cutting: My first modern is going to be my first tutorial!, moda scrap bag quilt, 1/4 bento box
Needs Design: a whole slew of fabrics to create with


New Projects: 1
Completed Projects: 2
On Going Projects: 10; down 1 from last week, not bad! 



Have a great week everyone and slide on over to Freshly Pieced where there is a whole bunch of fabulous quilters sharing what they are up to. 

Sexy Hexy Red Finish & A Giveaway

Edited to add: I blogged about the changes in fabric & pattern modifications for this quilt here

Monday can be a great day when you've got a finished quilt to share! Any day of the week is special when that last stitch of binding is sewn and the quilt is out of the dryer and blowing in the wind. 

Quilt Dimensions: 70" x 74"
Fabric: Vintage Concord Design circa 1970's and Kona White
Backing: White Muslin
I started this quilt the beginning of February and finished just short of the end of March.



 This post is for the photos and fabric giveaway! Read all about the process of creating this quilt here
The Fancy Zig Zag stitch
Two fabrics, both with red paisleys! 
This quilt was fun to make; watching the large flower pattern form was the best part. I can't bear to part with a beauty like this so I have gifted it to me and my husband, it is the sexy hexy love quilt after all! 
Sew Happy.

Thanks for checking out my quilt finish! I can't say enough how happy I am to have found this quilt blogland and so to give a little back to that community I am hosting a fabric giveaway!!! 


The wonderful red cotton paisley I used in the quilt came from my Grandma's stash on a bolt; with coordinates! I am giving away a 4-pack of fat quarters to two lucky followers!

Here's what you need to do to enter:
1. Become a follower, yeah!
    if already a follower -- leave me a comment saying hi!
2. Leave me a comment letting me know you are now following Blue Bird Sews

That's it! I will pick 2 winners on Friday afternoon after this quilt has made the rounds at all the wonderful quilt blogs who host linky parties, I want to meet as many of you as I can! All the blogs I will be partying with this week are listed on my side bar, there are lots of great quilting blogs out there and I am either encouraged, inspired or educated by all of them!

For those of you who just want these fabrics and can't wait they are in my etsy shop which you can get to on the sidebar or at the shop tab at the top of the page.

Thanks again for stopping by -- woo-who for finishes!

3/25/2011, giveaway ended

Sexy Hexy Red #2

It's getting embarrassing; having to type all those sexy'es!
A little business to get-out-the-way before I share the process behind this wonderful quilt. This post is going to be long because there are so many aspects I want to share; but there will be pictures for those (like me) who love photos and follow along that way. About the pictures, please bear with me; the quality is not quite where I want it to be. But that should get worked out soon as my new little digital arrived this week and I am starting to play around with it.
~~~
The process begins
The Pattern: For those of you who blogged about Amy Butler, Thank You! After reading many raving reviews about her fabric and patterns I investigated and found the free pattern, Sexy Hexy Love. It immediately struck me and I got an idea. That pattern, red vintage fabric and Kona white. It was a perfect match, almost...


3 prints, 3 weights, 3 weeks.
The Fabric: My fabric stash is not your designer handbag. My fabric is multi-generational. Most of it comes from my grandmother's collection from the 60's-80's. It is fantastic. The pieces I had in mind for this quilt were just that pieces -- and not all the same weight, kinda a problem for me. So the project stalled for a few weeks at this point. Fabric chosen, cut out and waiting...Then a funny thing happened, I went to my grandma's house and there were 6 bolts of fabric matching what I had at home! It was like a Christmas miracle! I now had all the fabric I needed to make the quilt! So off I went!

Grandma's Fabric Stash, now My Fabric Stash, yeah Grandma!
glued but brilliant


The Sewing: Now the fun part, using glue to sew! That Amy, she knows how to make things work. The center hexagons are cut out on freezer paper and then folded over and glued in place. And it worked perfectly! The rest of the blocks went together fast and easy until the y-seams started showing up. They were a little tricky but after much wrangling and pinning they went together fairly well -- and really well to the untrained eye ;)

The Quilting: A simple outline was all this one needed, but I did that simple outline in a fancy zig-zag stitch with Sulky machine embroidery thread. What a difference that thread made! Ladies, if you are having problems free-motion quilting and you are using Coats&Clark like I do for piecing, try a spool and see what you think. It's worth the extra $3.
3 stitch zig-zag
My sewing machine Astrid deserves big props! Quilting this rather large (70"x74") quilt would have been a nightmare on my little old Brother, but it was no problem with Astrid's ample throat space, 2 lights and highly visible needle. Well done!

Finishing up: Sexy Hexy Red will get her binding on by the weekend in time for a photo op during the one sun break we are expecting on Sunday. Then it's off for a whirlwind week of showing her off all over quilt blog land. And for the occasion I will be doing a giveaway! That's right! Remember those bolts of fabrics from grandma's? I'll be giving away a fat quarter bundle of the 4 coordinating prints to 2 lucky followers, but more to come on that with the big reveal.
On the table safety pin basting
~~~
Thanks for reading about what I do, it so keeps me motivated. I doubt I would have finished up so quickly if it weren't for the comments, encouragement and posting, so cheers!
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